Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vogue-U Potion - How do you react if you lost your passport overseas....!!!!

Well it did happen to me in 2005 in KL.

Let me share the experience and hopefully all of us will be extra careful in the future..... InsyaAllah.

Before I begin, praise to Allah, the Almightly, the most Gracious and the most Merciful....

During the mid-term school holiday in 2005, my hubby and me went to a seminar in KL together with my friends (my ex-secondary school classmate and her ex-colleague). Besides the seminar, all of us also extended our stay with other members of our family for hooray2 and shopping as well.

My ex-classmate booked a family suite at Flamingo Hotel in Ampang for all 3 families to bunk in for 3 days 2 nites.

Since the 2-nites seminar was held at night, we decided to spend the day with our family members for fun, shopping and relaxing. We even went to one of the waterfall resort at Hutan Lipur Kanching (just outskirt of KL town towards Rawang). Our children had a good time there, swimming and picnic all.

Picture 1 - Picnic n Relax at Hutan Lipur Kanching - Selangor

Picture 2 - Having a cool dive in the make-shift pool at the 5th floor waterfall of Hutan Lipur Kanching

Picture 3 - Shopping at Suria KLCC

On the last day of stay in Ampang, my friends decided to check-in another hotel nearer to Puduraya so that it would be easier for them to take the coach back to S’pore the following day. As for my family, considering we were driving, we decided to go back that very night. However we hang out in the hotel with my friends after dinner that night until very late before deciding to drive back to JB.

The hotel did not have a proper parking lot, thus hubby had difficulty in finding a parking space. The road around Puduraya was congested as it was Sunday evening. In the end hubby decided to park opposite Puduraya, behind the Indian Temple, after going through the road for uncountable times. The place was quite remote but many cars parked there due to the heavy and congested road.

OK to cut short the story, after hanging out, we bid goodbyes and exchanged hugs with my friends at the hotel. We walked towards our car that was parked behind the Indian temple. It was quite a distant away. Upon reaching our car, hubby took his car key and unlocked the car via remote. Suddenly we realised it was not possible and suspected something was not right. We noticed the latches were up and obviously the car was not locked. My hubby queried whether he locked the car before we left it there. We confirmed we heard the beep sound and the latches went down simultaneously to lock the car when we left it there. Hubby advised us not to touch anything yet while he scouted around the car to see whether it was forced opened. At that point, my heart was beating fast and had expected the worst. We saw that the driver’s door was ajar and hubby quickly opened and as predicted we had been robbed. The coin compartment was on the front passenger’s seat with all the coins tossed all over the seat and floor. My children quickly opened the back doors to check their things at the back seat. Suddenly my youngest daughter gave a loud scream and said her sling bag was missing. My hubby consoled her coz she said her ez-link card was inside the sling bag. We told her we could get her ez-link card replaced when we reached S’pore.

My hubby pulled up the lever to check the booth compartment. And thank God, our luggages were intact. At that point of time, I suddenly realized and almost had a heart attack coz our passports were in my daughter’s sling bag…..OMG!!!!!! I told hubby and he became furious and questioned me why did I transfer the passports into our daughter’s sling bag. I was still in shock and only said “At least we are all still alive dear!!!” My husband was the lucky guy coz his passport was in his pouch all the time and followed him everywhere he goes.

Before lodging a police report, we combed the area and drains, including underneath our car. Just to make sure, in case the robber/s threw the sling bag around there. I called my friend’s husband’s hp but too bad there was no answer coz the next day he told us he put it under silent mode.

Before going to the police station, hubby queried whether S’pore Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and S’pore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) have a webpage. I said we can try to check. We went to a 24-hr internet cafĂ© opposite Puduraya. Hubby and children waited in the car, while I registered to use the net. Upon surfing the net, I managed to surf the ICA webpage and abled to get a 24-hr support call in S’pore Embassy. I called and managed to speak to a Mr Brian (forgot his full name). He advised me to lodge a police report, which I told him I was going to do.

Since embassy is only open during office hours, Brian suggested we stayed another nite in KL and came back to embassy the following morning together with our passport photos (to be taken the next day) and the police report. He would do all the necessary things to report our case to ICA. He told me to relax and not to worry and that we had done the correct thing.

After that, hubby went to Bukit Aman Police Station to lodge the report. Luckily I had all my children’s records and passport nos with me so the process went through smoothly. However it ended quite late around 3 or 4am. Hubby said if we were to check-in a hotel at around that timing, obviously we would overslept as all of us were shacked. He was also worried to drive back to his late mum’s home as she might be puzzled and wondered what could have happened to us. So we decided to doze in the car for a while and then dropped by his late mum’s home to bathe and freshen up. In order not to make his mum worried about us, hubby just told her we had bunked in with my friends in the hotel and rushed there only to bathe considering too many people wanted to take the shower. After bathing, hubby helped to get the children ready. My late mum-in-law wanted to prepare breakfast for us but we declined stating that we want to rush back to S’pore and we could simply just have a quick bite on the road. We bid farewell to her. Hubby said it was too early to get a photo shop and decided to go to a M'sian Passport branch office in town as there was an instant passport photo booth there opened as early as the Immigration Branch Office (around 8am). Hubby waited in the car while I brought my kids to get a photo shot each. After that we proceeded to S’pore Embassy. After registration at embassy’s guard post, we headed into the embassy office where there was a long queue of people applying for visas. I went to the query counter and requested to see Brian. In just a few seconds, Brian approached us. After introducing myself, I passed him our photos and police report. He consoled us and told us to relax while he processed the necessary things for us. Later a Chinese guy came out and approached us at our seats and introduced himself as the officer-in-charge and also consoled us not to worry and the embassy would be doing their best to assist us as much as possible. Brian then approached us again and said he had faxed the police report and other details to ICA and they had to wait for their verification before the embassy could endorse the temporary passports to us. Both of them assured us that everything would be fine.

While waiting at the embassy, my friend called back coz her husband realized there were a coupled of missed calls from my hp. I told them the scenario and they were shocked and decided not to go back to S’pore until we were cleared. I told them to go off considering they did not have any other transportation besides the coach only. They checked out the hotel late and went to Puduraya to check the available timings for the return trip to JB. They decided to hold back their return trip until all of us were cleared as there were coaches to JB on every hour. I was touched by my friends’ gestures and cried.

By late morning, our temporary passports were ready and Brian informed us that we need to surrender them to S’pore ICA checkpoint upon arrival. He said he was not sure about Malaysia’s Immigration ruling and suggested we dropped by their KL office for verification.

Before going to M’sian Immigation Office Head Office, my hubby took out some cash from the bank to prepare for any fee incurred. It was Murphy’s Law as the roads leading to the government buildings had changed and hubby was having a hard time making u-turns all the way to and fro until we finally managed to turn in the correct route. We could see the buildings but yet there was no through road leading towards them and we kept missing the right turnings. And by the time we reached there it was after 12 noon or so and I knew the poor children were hungry but were still in shocked. We bought some savouries sold near the government bldgs just to fill up our empty stomach as all of us did not take any breakfast so far.

We approached the information counter and relaid our dilemma to the officer who was fidgeting all the time and was having a discussion with another colleague. He told us to go down to the ground floor to purchase the application form no. so and so. My hubby mentioned that we were not applying for visa or anything but just to report that we shall be carrying temporary passports and needed them to verify the endorsement from our S’pore embassy. He gave us a queue no. and insisted us to get the forms and filled up the necessary information.

After paying and getting the forms, we went back to the passport office (couldn’t remember on which floor it was). Both, hubby and me filled up all the 4 forms individually and then sat in one corner to wait for our queue no to be called. When it was our turn, we approached the counter and to our shocked the officer said our documentations were all in order and we did not need their verification or so whatever. He said just passed the temporary passports at the M’sian checkpoint counters in JB and the officers will stamp the normal departure/exit date behind it. My hubby was very furious with the information counter officer for the hustles and making us wasted a few hours there. He was too tired to argue and told the officer we wanted to go back to S’pore right away. Before we left, hubby suggested to take lunch in one of the stalls near there considering it was already almost 3pm.

While taking our lunch, I called up my friends and told the scenario. Just in time, they managed to get the 3pm or so return trip to JB.

After lunch, hubby drove all the way and had stopped for toilet and “solat” break at highway’s R n R in Seremban and another one in Machap I guessed.

Alhamdulillah, everything went smooth at M’sia and S’pore checkpoints. However at S’pore checkpoint, we were escorted to their office where we had to surrender all the temp passports to them.

We were all so tired and rushed home immediately.

So dear all, pls look after your belongings carefully, especially traveling documents, and doesn’t matter whether you are in homeland or overseas. Never take things for granted and I’ve learnt a hard lesson here.

Nevertheless, Alhamdulillah, thank you God for giving me the courage to handle the situation smoothly. I was also grateful to Brian, his superior and support staff at S'pore Embassy for the attention and support rendered to us even though I had to bother him at very wee-hour. To my beloved friends, Mazni and family, Gee and family for the moral support and unconditional love rendered to us during our dilemma. To my beloved husband and children, thank you for the patience, cooperation and being together to encounter the dilemma. Last but not least to all of you for being patient in reading my long-winded story…huhu….

So.... stay cool always and think of solutions before reacting…… Lots of Luv to all….. muacks muacks.


rasp said...

sib baik things went smoothly with a few hiccups je kan sis...

but true...don't panic coz it will only make matter worse ...

PearL said...

mak pah, i remembered losing my passport many many moons back, during study trip to Australia. When i realised i lost it, i cry macam nak gila..My classmate console pun tak jalan..apa tak nye, dah time nak to to airport nak balik...So i pun takut lah kena tinggal kan...But my lecturer ask me to retrace my steps and lucky i actually forgot to take my passport at the bank earlier on whilst changing money!!!! hehe..Hiya, me so the crybaby.
But yes, Alhamdulillah, no harm happen to you and yur family....


Gembo said...

Mrs G: Before our trip that day, I asked Mr G to photocopy each of our passport.. incase this happens.. I even thought to myself - am I being over cautious? Reading this entry, I smiled to myself and thought - thank God I did that..;p

cik syahira said...

thanks for the info mak pah.

mrs.g, that's a good idea. i'll photocopy mine too.

Mak Pah Vogue said...

yes rasp - sometimes when we panicked, our brains also will get jammed rite...hehe. Tapi Alhamdulillah...mmg kdg2 bila kita dlm keadaan terdesak, segala mcm kemungkinan akan kita cuba atasi.

adui pearl - kesiannya.... sbb tu skrang mak pah klu ada apa2 details atau dokumen yg mustahak, i akan rekod dan simpan baik2. Biar ler org nak ckp apa, asalkan utk kemudahan kita jugak nanti.

Mrs G - betul tu, biarlah orang nak ckp kita ni "over-reacting" tapi like i mentioned, ini sumer utk kemudahan kita sbb kita tak tau, musibah yg nak berlaku tak dpt kita hidu kan.

syahira - dun mention dear, these real life experiences are good info to share and it will benefit all parties. better be prepared than sorry. Tapi my fren ever kena robbed kat JB, dorang takkan nak ke KL to do the temp passports kan. So dorang cuma produced the police reports jer kat immigration checkpoints for both M'sia n S'pore.