A breaking news item from Hanoi: My passport and Indonesian work permit were stolen from my hotel room this afternoon. I figured this out after dinner tonight and Jenn and I then spent almost three hours trying and mostly failing to get the hotel staff and later the manager to help me make a police report. As of this writing, no report has been taken. I'm heading back to the police station tomorrow morning and then off to the U.S. Embassy to get a replacement passport. The Indonesian papers are going to be another can of worms altogether.
Having your passport heisted is bad but turning for help to the hotel staff and having them suddenly forget how to speak English or how to call the police for help is worse. The desk staffer refused to call the cops and then got his manager on the phone. When I pressed the manager to call his cleaning staff at home and ask if they knew where the documents were, he said he would do it tomorrow. I said that was too late and that I wanted to file a police report. The manager insisted that I wait and when I said I didn't want to wait, he hung up on me.
After I called the U.S. embassy and the police on my own, the hotel manager eventually showed up and since that underwhelming arrival has consistently refused to believe the passport was lost inside his building. Surely I lost it from my bag in the street. He more recently started claiming that I directly accused him and several other members of his staff of stealing the passport. I didn't, and I'm not exactly sure where this line of obfuscation is headed. But the manager did try a couple times to explain that, in Vietnam, U.S. passports are so cheap to reproduce or fake that they're not worth stealing. He guessed one might sell for about $2. I asked if he was serious. Of course. Very serious.
Promises to be a long day tomorrow, and a couple long days down the road back in Indo. Will write with a fuller accounting shortly.