The Curse of the Weak Passport

Philippine Passport

I’ve been cursed. Cursed with a weak passport. Or so I thought.

Prior to packing my bags and being ready to go, I usually browse the net to check if the country I’m going to requires a visa. I see the map below and wonder why the grey areas won’t allow me to enter their countries – free of paying visa fees and tedious arrangements. I’m not a criminal. 🙂 Do they hate us?

Visa Map

My passport ranks 76th in the Visa Restrictions Index. As somebody who aspires to travel the world, I would, of course, appreciate if I could go anywhere with as minimal hassle as possible. It all feels kind of limiting. Why Earth? Why are you making it hard for me to f&cking explore you?

However, as I mentioned before in my Vietnam post, I’m quite glad to be able to enter the ASEAN countries with ease. If you’re a member of the ASEAN states and you’ve paid some sort of visa fee at some point, then I’m afraid you’ve been scammed. As far as I know, we don’t require visas to enter Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Westerners pay a hefty visa fee to enter these countries. I think the frailties of our passports is subjective after all. It may be an “eye for eye” situation.

Germany

Germany has the most powerful passport which allows access to 177 countries visa free.

Of course, if I were to visit Western countries, visas are more than required. If I ever get to South America, then I’m in luck, since I can visit a good number of countries there visa free – Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and even Colombia. The fare I would have spent to get there would be relatively large, mind you. Howbeit, I do feel an eerie sense of calm that I wouldn’t need to pay anything to visit these countries as I reckon I would be spending a lot when I get there anyway. The reluctance is unwavering.

All of these subjective views of visas have been shattered after my trip to Korea. If I stayed in Jeju, I wouldn’t need to have a Korean visa, and it was a good run. I can also visit Hong Kong and Macau without visas. I know that these places are open to most people on the planet, but if your goal is to experience as much of the country as possible, you can go to these visa-free places and exploit a loophole in your quest. Perhaps you can claim that you’ve been to China if you visit Macau. Hong Kong, however, is another story since there has been disputes with the nature of its sovereignty.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan has the least powerful passport with visa free access to only 24 countries.

If I think about it more, I’m quite fortunate with my passport. I can visit Singapore and stay there for 30 to 60 days (if I apply for an extension) visa free. Whereas their Chinese relatives would have to apply for a visa to go there. Of course, Singaporeans travel to China visa free, but that’s another matter. The imbalance with countries you’re allowed to enter and aren’t is a very interesting dynamic.

It goes back to the concept of the imaginary barriers we have set on ourselves. Even in a futuristic version of the world, it is divided, and people still require passports to get to the other sanctum available. Aren’t we all citizens of one earth? Why have we imposed such strict restrictions on ourselves with regard to immigration? Is the freedom to choose where to stay, go, and live really so bad for us?

United Federation of Britain

As for me, despite the limitations of my passport, I’m quite proud of it. The struggle is real for travelers like me, but I reckon it makes travelling more worthwhile and an earnest challenge for us – a real achievement.