Writing from the international terminal in Hanoi, where Jenn and I will be getting on a plane to Laos in a few minutes. Thus ends an incredible day-and-a-half of scrambling to replace my passport and, equally important, to obtain an exit visa that would allow me to continue on to Laos and the remainder of this trip rather than languishing in Hanoi for three business days while immigration officials processed a replacement visa at standard speed.
Very, very long story short--a full account will follow soon--Jenn and I managed in the last 24 hours to get an emergency, replacement passport; a handwritten English-and-Vietnamese-language police report; and, this morning, an expedited visa in super short and impossible order. This work included several pitched battles with our hotel; the recruitment on the sidewalk of a university student/translator who was a godsend; both help and not-so-much-help from the folks at the U.S. embassy; and an airport driver who functioned as a fixer.
Anyway, lots of characters to discuss and plenty of insight into Vietnam's seedy officialdom. Glad to be wheels-up in a few.