Red hats

Allowing plenty of time for getting back to the airport, I went to knock on Tim’s hotel room door to see if the guys were ready.

“You do have my passport, right?” said Tim.

“No. I don’t.” (Thinking to self “why would I?”)


There ensued a frantic search through the contents of two rooms and four suitcases. No sign of Tim’s passport. I would have said this was uncharacteristic for Tim, but then, there was that time when he managed to leave behind at JFK all our cruise and return tickets.

It was the loss of his passport in Bangkok that saw the launching of what we henceforth referred to as Disaster Tours.

The latter trip had started off badly when the four of us found ourselves at the gate, waving goodbye to the KLM 747 that we had expected would transport us to Amsterdam, whence we would continue to Colombo.

Somehow, the flight we had been told was “wide open”, had managed to fill up completely. When you travelled on airline discount tickets, that kind of thing happened all too often. You could never feel secure until you were in your seat and past the flight’s point of no return, as it was not unusual to find yourself unceremoniously ejected even after boarding. Staff travel benefits were a wonderful concession, but using them could be seriously stressful.

So there we were, adjourned to Tim’s living room with stiff drinks and re-assessing our planned holiday. I can no longer remember precisely what we had in mind. I think it wasn’t all that different to what we ultimately achieved, only we had to do it in reverse order and we’d lost a precious day.

Next evening, we had better luck and were able to connect in Amsterdam to Bangkok, where we could stay only a single night, flights to Colombo being only two a week, which was another reason Tim’s mislaying his passport was somewhat unnerving.

Upon arrival in Bangkok, badly jet lagged and flattened by the unaccustomed heat we had traipsed around, trying to persuade someone to re-write our free Thai Airways tickets to read Bangkok-Colombo instead of vice versa. With no money having to be calculated, you wouldn’t have thought it could be a problem. It was a big problem.

Back at the hotel, our rooms were being cleaned. We had arrived early in the morning but the accommodating hotel staff had allowed us to leave our baggage inside. That was where Tim made a potentially drastic mistake. He laid his passport on the chest of drawers.

The cleaners came along, found the document and assumed, quite reasonably, that it had been left behind by the previous occupant. When our efforts to find the wretched thing came up empty, we worked out what must have happened.

However, Tim had already inquired at reception and been told “no passport was found.” How could we now, tactfully, go back and explain what we suspected had happened, without giving offense? By then we were running out of time and ill-disposed to spend precious minutes stroking potentially ruffled feathers, but Tim managed to find suitably obsequious words and soon we were en-route back to Don Muang airport……

Temple of the Dawn, Bangkok

Sorry I have no better picture to offer, but these were the “official” Disaster Tours hats, created by Tim for our second Antarctic cruise. The image is a penguin.

That trip had potential for disaster too, but I guess the smiles tell all.

Yes, there were drinks, but *never too many…


*Though Tim found the perfect remedy for sea-sickness in drinking sufficient quantities of “Barman’s Iced-tea” to render him unconscious for the duration of the dreaded Drake Passage.

9 thoughts on “Red hats

  1. Enjoyed your story!
    My biggest fear is losing or forgetting my passport. Occasionally I have a recurring dream that I get to the airport but forgot my passport, then have to take a taxi to wherever to retrieve my passport. By then, I missed my flight.
    Which smiling one are you in the photo?

  2. Thank you, Carolyn, for the entertaining adventures. You had exceptionally interesting life compared with mine, as dull as dishwater!


  3. Even though I read this story a few years back (Dec 2020 – could it be?), it’s nice to read your travel stories again! There are no rules in our house – it is after all just the two of us – but there is one rule! Our passports must always be in one specific travel bag (even while we travel) … that’s the one thing I don’t want to lose!

Leave a Reply