Apparently I’m sticking with this “take three weeks to write a new post” plan. Except, this one is less inspiring and exciting and more depressingly informational.
Have you ever feared losing something abroad? Wondered what to do if you lost your passsport, or your phone was stolen? What about not having a source of money? Well...have no fear. I decided to accidentally participate in this fun social experiment where I had my bag stolen and therefor my passport, wallet, phone, and generally important belongings gone. Though this has been a stressful and frustrating few weeks trying to navigate all of these issues at the same time I figured the best thing I could do is take these sour lemons and attempt to make lemonade by sharing and hopefully helping future people who find themselves in a similar situation (or at least one of my shitty situations).
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR PASSPORT IS LOST OR STOLEN?
Scary, right? Have no fear. It’s a pain in the butt, but really not that bad.
Step 1: make a police report. You can do this where it was stolen ideally or if you left the area (like I had) you can do this at your local police station. The biggest recommendation I have is, bring a Thai native speaker. If I had gone on my own, I don’t think I ever would have received the help I had. Not because the Thai police aren’t willing but because of the communication barrier. I don’t believe they would have fully understood what I needed, especially not in the detail my Thai friend could explain. Luckily you have a lot of teachers or your coordinator at your school who would be more than willing to help you.
Step 2: Go to the US embassy website and make a passport appointment. YOU NEED AN APPOINTMENT. Fortunately I only live an hour and a half outside of Bangkok so it wasn’t hard for me to travel in but you’ll have to go to Bangkok or Chang Mai. When I first went to make an appointment there wasn’t one available for the next few weeks. I knew this wouldn’t work because of the timeline on my work permit and visa extension so I emailed the embassy explaining it was an emergency situation. With this, they were able to sneak my name on the list so don’t give up.
Step 3: Go to your appointment. Get there early, the line was long even for my 8:30 arrival. The process there was fairly easy to follow but it just took a long time. I spent nearly 3 hours, checking in, then checking in at a new window and getting a number, which then led me to a new window where I re-explained my story and then got a new number...for a new window....you get the point. It was a lot of back and forth but everyone there was extremely helpful. And on the plus side since it’s the American embassy you’re surrounded by English speakers who can help if you are confused of what to do next. Just be ready to drop money on a new passport, $200 to be exact. And yes you read that correctly, $200 US dollars. AND VOILA! You’re new passport will arrive by mail in 2 weeks. Just make sure to hang on to the tracking number.
Step 4: Go to immigration to get your new passport and visa restamped. I haven’t done this step yet, but I can only assume my Thai friends and coordinators will again be more than willing to help.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR PHONE IS STOLEN?
Step 1: Don’t panic. Easier said than done if you’re guilty like me of being addicted to your phone but seriously, stay calm. Remember, it’s just a phone. You’re fine, you’re alive, you’re not alone. A phone is replaceable.
Step 2: IF YOU HAVE AN IPHONE OPEN FIND MY IPHONE AND PUT IT ON LOST MODE RIGHT AWAY. It will prompt you to write a message. I recommend having a Thai friend translate and type it in Thai since more than likely if someone was to find it, they would read Thai.
Step 3: If you weren’t like me and had all these bad things happen to you at once and you’ve only lost your phone, then go to the closest police station and make a police report.
Step 4: If you’ve waited it out, and still no luck, maybe it’s time to get a new phone. You could always go the cheaper route and get a small burner phone. Or invest money into a new one. I personally, just decided to get a new phone as to not waste more time or money. I knew I wanted an iPhone so I did some research. There did seem to be options for second hand apple devices for cheaper. Most things I read recommended going with a native Thai speaker so they could help with bargaining and understanding the price. I personally had a hellish few days and just wanted to be sure I got a good phone, that would work, and would have insurance in case my luck still hadn’t turned around. I found iPhone prices were the same here as they were at home to outright buy...aka, they aren’t cheap.
Step 5: Finally you’ll need to go to AIS or whatever phone company you had your SIM card with seeing as, if your phone was stolen or lost I’m guessing with it went your SIM card. Show them the police report which hopefully included the word SIM card (your Thai friend hopefully made sure of this). Explain what happened. Most likely they’ll easily be able to give you a new SIM card, with the same number, no questions asked.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR WALLET IS STOLEN?
This should hopefully be the easiest and fairly simple if this is the only thing lost or stolen. In comparison to all my other issues, this seemed like a breeze.
Step 1: CANCEL YOUR CARDS. Make sure there is no way they can be used. Hopefully you’ll be able to do this over the internet but if not, you can use a family or friend at home who can help to call. My boyfriend would call me on one phone and then used another phone to call my banks, allowing me to indirectly speak to the banks.
Step 2: Make a police report. Again, I really recommend having a Thai speaker with you. I could see the process being really confusing for both you and police without a native Thai speaker.
Step 3: Buy a new wallet. And forget the rest. Unfortunately I doubt you’ll get the cash back you had in there and just pray no one is taking your target credit card on a weird shopping spree or using your drivers license to... well I honestl don’t know what you would use someone else’s drivers license for once you turn 21.
WHAT TO DO IF ALL THE OTHER THINGS LIKE YOUR JOURNAL, CHARGERS, EARPHONES, CLOTHES IN YOUR BACKPACK ARE STOLEN?
GOOD NEWS! You’re not alone. Welcome to my life. But seriously...whatever. It’s all replaceable. It sucks, it’s frustrating, it’s not cheap. But, it’s all replaceable so...
Step 1: Mai pen rai. Move on. Go shopping. Lazada is your best friend. You’re poor now.
Biggest take aways. MAI PEN RAI. It’s not the end of the world. Believe me that wasn’t easy for OCD me to realize never mind to relay through words but it’s true and I’ve learned it the hard way. There is a solution for everything, just take it one step at a time. And if you’re lucky like me you have friends and family to help you, support you, and sometimes just listen to you complain. Without my roommates Alli and Jenna, my Thai friend PK, and my friends from orientation Shree and Keenan, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I’d probably still be in Bangkok wondering the streets hoping to stumble upon my things. Also, Thai people are kind. They want to help, your school wants to help, your Thai friends want to help. I can’t express how important it was for me to have a Thai community to rely on to help with translating to police and other companies. Sometimes it really just is a language barrier and with a little translation, problems can be solved. And finally, OEG/CIEE are there to help. This is quite literally what you have paid for and a huge reason why you’ve chosen the right company to work with. Between facebook messages, line messages, and phone calls,Kristen and Chris from OEG consistently made sure my questions were answered, I felt supported, and most importantly... I was ok. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if I am now flagged in their phone’s as “dis bitch again”, outwardly they were always more than willing to help and offer advice. You may be away from your US home and family but you ARE home here in Thailand and have a Thai family and community supporting you, it’s ok to need help.
Hopefully you never need this blog post or find yourself at a police station as often as I have over the past two weeks but for you poor suckers who do, I hope this helped!