I spent most of today applying for a new passport. It expires in January 2008, but most countries require you to have more than six months valid when you apply for a visa. It takes up to 10 working days to process, but the guy at the embassy said it could be done in a week.

The photo requirements are much stricter now and it cost US$233 for a 64 page passport. I thought it would be worthwhile paying for the extra pages. Payment could only be made in US dollars, which I did not have. This seemed pretty ridiculous to me. I went to two banks and both did not sell US dollars. One bank suggested I go to a gold seller to buy dollars. I ended up going to a big hotel who exchanged the money for me at an unfavorable rate, but I didn’t have much choice.

By the time I had the photos, money and paperwork the embassy was closed for lunch. I went back at 1:30 pm and they were “temporarily” closed. I had to wait another 15 minutes, for them to collect my cash.

Fortunately, I still have my old passport as wherever you go travelling in Vietnam you need to show your passport and some hotels will even keep it throughout your stay.