I planned to take an early bus to Czestechova before leaving there around 1pm to arrive in Warsaw sometime past 3pm. R told me I that the bus is going to have a stop somewhere near their place, and my host Tomek can take me there on his way to work.
Alas, that wasn’t what happened.
When I was double-checking and re-packing, I realized something important is missing – actually something very important: a green document holder, which contains some Taiwanese postcards, the little Polish badge Pawel from Olsztyn gave me, copies of my flight electronic tickets and insurance proof, and some used opera tickets. Oh, and also my passport and the ticket for the upcoming opera Queen of Spades in Warsaw!
I tried to remain as calm as possible under such a circumstance and took everything out carefully and quickly to check and check and check. That document holder is no-where to be found.
I’m never someone who carries this type of holder, but this is a lovely present from my best friend V back home. So the postcard he wrote to me with a photo of Taiwanese sky lantern, and all the stamps and visas – including the still valid (and annoying-as-hell-to-obtain) US visa – all gone.
I remembered having received the SMS our Foreign Affairs Ministry always sends as soon as a Taiwanese arrives somewhere abroad, the SMS that encloses an emergency number. I turned on Skype (and pushed away the annoying dog, which barked threateningly as a consequence. Gosh, what a timing) and made some calls. They soon arranged someone to call my Polish number, and the conclusion is: I can either get a passport with a chip in it, and that’ll take three weeks, or I can get a passport without, and it may be issued on the same day, provided needed procedures are taken care of. Luckily I have scanned copies of my lost document and could email to them right away, and the other things to do are: filing a police report and having passport photos taken. (I did bring some passport photos just in case, but they seem to be in that green holder as well.)
In mildly rainy weather I arrived at the police station not too far away from main train station, and the (probably only) police officer who can speak English kindly helped. She even offered to find information about “my embassy,” although what she found was that of People’s Republic of China and not my country, namely Republic of China. She insisted that, while she understands the distinction between the two countries, that PRC embassy’s website says that all people from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan should go to them for help. Well, there’s no point of arguing, so I thanked her and left.
I deposited my big luggage near Train Station and went to various places in town to search again. No luck at all, as can be imagined. The only thing left to do is to get a train ticket to go to Warsaw. Oh, and just in case that all photo salons are closed by the time I arrive in Warsaw, I quickly found a place in Kraków and had the passport photo taken. With all the perspiration and the hair gel it washed down, I felt like a refugee.
While on the train, I remembered one more place I didn’t return to search. I took out my travel guide, found the phone number, and called that restaurant. The woman who answered the phone kept repeating the passport for their wi-fi, and luckily I was able to hand my phone to a Polish passenger nearby and to have her talk on my behalf. No, still no sight of that document holder.
Luckily our “non-embassy” occupies an office in the big commercial building at Emilii Plater 53 and not too far away from Warsaw’s Central Station (which is called “Centralne” and not another small station named “głowne”). They’ve done all the checks before I arrived, and I got my new passport within half an hour, I think.
The rest of the day is not eventful, which is not saying that I preferred otherwise. I just felt mildly frustrated, after all this, after sweating a lot for trying to follow some ridiculous instructions to find the place I was to stay, and after some futile efforts at a place, even though in the end someone showed quite some gratitude, which was nice.
And thanks to the football event, the taxi driver I encountered took some big loops even though I had the map on my hand and knew for the whole time exactly where we were going and weren’t; I even yelled at him, telling him to cut the crap.
But to give Warsaw credits due, some people are incredibly nice – when I was dragging my impossible half-handicapped trolley suitcase around, looking for the first place to stay, one lady around 45 or 50 years old came to me and said, “I don’t speak much English; do you need help?” and another old couple passing by, seeing this, also stopped to enquire in Polish whether they can help. Also, when I was taking the bus for the first time and trying to check where to get off, a lady answered to my question with smiley enthusiasm and, after making sure I would head for the right direction, wished me a great time in Warsaw.
Towards 9pm something unexpected happened, though – I somehow managed to meet a Taiwanese L who I actually chatted online before, and while I’ve never been someone who prefers Taiwanese or any other particular peoples for friends or whatsoever, it felt great to meet a fellow Taiwanese who laments similarly about the kind of foods it has (and doesn’t have!) here in Poland. Oh, all the glorious foods in Taiwan…
After 42 days of traveling and the frustration for the day, a fellow Taiwanese really lit up my night.
護照用相片：22+5 = 27
Kraków – Warsaw：49.5