Instant photo booth nightmare.

It must have been a record breaking silence since the inception of this blog, but I can assure you that it is well justified. In my 13 days of absence from blogging, I have managed to travel 6,663 miles up north, made some progress in what I’m going to do for the next one year and completed my long to-do list before the trip. Apart from all those, I have also discovered new things about myself, like the fact that I think I may possess slightly below average level of intelligence.

I know that some people will rush to refute me on this. All my life people have called me smart. But sometimes I suspect that it was all a cover up, that they are employed by my parents to put me in a bubble and make me think that I actually possess certain level of intelligence. My latest encounter with an instant pass photo box heightened this suspicion.

I was about to apply for my UK visa and I got to the visa application centre before realising in horror that I have been using the same ID photo for the visa application for the past 2 years (and we were supposed to only submit pictures taken within the last 6 months). Not wanting to risk not getting my visa rejected because of some silly old photo, I decided to make use of the instant photo booth facility at the application centre. Although expensive, 12 dollars at the point in time seemed like a pretty good trade off compared to the risk of not being able to enter the UK.

I went to the booth, and tried to follow the instructions on the screen. It seemed easy enough. First I needed to adjust the seat height so that I would be at the correct eye level with the camera. I even pat myself on the back a little for understanding some of the instructions in Japanese. I sat down, pressed some buttons and took the photo.

The result: I was off centre, one of my shoulders was out of the frame and I wasn’t even looking at the camera.

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My passport full of visas.

As much as I like travelling and will go the distance (literally) to be somewhere I want to see, there is one pet peeve about it that has never quite grown on me: visa application.

To me, the trouble and the money spent seem to serve as a rite of passage to see how much you really want to visit the country. Unfortunately, being an Indonesian who aspires to see as much as the world as possible, this is something that I have to live with unless my dear homeland ever allows for dual citizenship. It is doubly annoying when everyone around you in Singapore never seemed to have to apply for any visas – they can just buy a ticket and hop onto a plane to virtually any countries they wish.

I’m ranting so much clearly because I am in the midst of applying for another visa. In anticipation of my BIG trip in July, I would need to whip myself up a UK visa before the end of next month. Even though this is the fourth UK visa that I’m applying over the past four years, I still am nowhere good at it. Partly because the amount of information they requested is ridiculous, and partly because life would be so much easier if I had had the sense to just retain a copy of my latest application form as reference. Which I obviously had not.

So here I am, flipping through my passport to jot down the list of countries that I have visited over the past ten years. TEN years. Good thing they limited the entries to 10. Otherwise I would spend a whole day just flipping through my passport till the pages tear and still I would not be able to complete it properly.

As I went through each entry, I realised over the years I have collected quite a considerable number of visas. For the benefit of those who almost never have to go through the pain of applying for visas (no bitterness here), here are how visas of different countries look like.

For a start, the Chinese visa – one that most people who have been to China would have seen.


Continue reading “My passport full of visas.”