ZSAT: The Great Southeast Asia Mishap / by Alice Zhao

Before I get to delve into our actual vacation, we experienced a major hiccup in our plans. We arrived in Singapore around midnight and took a nap in the airport hotel until our morning flight to Penang. Thinking we could just check in early, we showed up at the Air Asia counter only to be dealt a huge blow. Completely unbeknownst to me, there is a law that requires that your passport to be valid at least 6 months before expiration. Unfortunately, my passport was expiring in January of 2010 which wasn't even close to the minimum. In fact, the same law applied to Singapore except I was accidentally allowed entry by the customs agent (shhh!). At that point my heart dropped to my stomach and I had to hold back the tears. I was instructed to call the US embassy to find out my options except they wouldn't be opened for another hour. So in the meantime, I waited with monster sized knots in my stomach going through in my head all possible outcomes and calculating the costs we'd have to eat if we had to cancel all of our pre-paid hotels and flights and having to book new ones. I was also extremely ashamed and embarrassed that I failed to do this part of my research before we booked our flights.
To make a long story short and to spare you the boring details, I was able to get an emergency passport that was only valid for one year. And even better, the U.S. embassy was able to issue it to me within an hour. We quickly rushed back to the airport and though we missed our original flight, we were able to book a new flight on the same day (late afternoon). It was a crazy and frantic and gut wrenching travel situation. But once I had the new passport in my hands, I thought to myself, "Well, I guess this an an expensive lesson I will never forget!" I had to tell myself that it could have been a LOT worse. I could easily have been denied entry to Singapore which could have meant I'd probably have to purchase a round trip flight to Japan or any country that would let me in in order to find a U.S Embassy there! So hopefully ridiculous story and life lesson of mine will also help prevent any of you in the future from running into this situation. *le sigh*.
Jared took this lovely photo of me trying to call the U.S. embassy (and secretly ready to cry my eyes out)

Please check out this link to read up on passport/visa laws in you plan on traveling to any of the Southeast Asian countries.