Halt! Who Goes There?

First published 9 November 2016 


When you enter Bali you can buy a Visa on Arrival. It costs $25 and lasts something like a month. It’s easily renewable. Well, easily as far as anything bureaucratic is easy in Bali.

Longer term stays are made easier by obtaining a KITAS cheap nfl jerseys – a temporary residence permit which is valid for 6 to 12 months or, better still, a KITAP which allows you five years. Both allow you a ‘family route’ which permits work so you can feed the hungry horde. KITAP has lots of hoop-jumping attached so Iwent the KITAS route. My current one expires on 5 December but I’ll be in Canada then so I applied this week.

A month ago I’d gathered all the government forms and Martini had filled them in while I was in India, so Monday morning I rock up to Imigrasi with a happy, smiling face and an armful of documents and dutifully present them to the Customer Service desk.

The forms are an eye-opener. Apart from interesting questions such as height, weight, and hair and eye color, they ask the shape of your face (weary and wrinkled), your hobbies (!) and … wait for this … the color of your skin. Can you imagine asking that question in most countries?

I have ‘previous’ with Imigrasi. Quite serious previous.

My first encounter was when I turned up at Singapore airport ready to travel to Jakarta and the check-in lady told me I didn’t have enough space in my passport for the immigration stamp so I couldn’t travel.

Oh yes I do.”

“Oh no you don’t.”

“Oh yes I do.”

“Oh no you don’t.”

“Yes I do. Yes I do. Yes I do.”

She showed me theavailable space. I showed her where my many previous visits to Jakarta had resulted in Imigrasi happily overlapping stamps and stickers.

No, not possible.”


I asked to see her superior and she was adamant that she was the most senior ranking staff member in the whole of Changi airport. I persuaded her to let me on board but she was obviously of the vindictive persuasion because when I turned up at Imigrasi at Jakarta airport the guy looked at my passport and immediately said, “Come this way please.”

Off we go to a back room where six guys with guns cheap jerseys form a circle round a table where I am ‘invited’ to sit.

“You don’t have enough space for a visa stamp.”

“But in the past, you’ve overlapped them.”

“We can’t do that.It’s not allowed.”

“But you’ve done it. Look” I show them examples of beautiful overlaps.

“We can’t do it.”

“So, what do we do?”

“You go back.”

“I can’t go back, it’s midnight. There are no flights.”

“Tomorrow morning.”

“What do I do until then?”

“You stay here with us.”

“Can I have my passport?”

“No, we will keep that.”

So, I have to stay in Imigrasi all night. Martini manages to talk them into letting her through customs and security to talk to me but they won’t let her stay.

The following morning I am collected by a guy with his hand resting on a holstered gun.

“Follow me.”

I dutifully follow. He has a gun, I’m not going to argue.

We proceed in a north-easterly direction at a brisk pace and arrive at a boarding gate. He gives my passport to the boarding agent and then escorts me on board before any of the other passengers. I am seated on the very rear row.

“Can I have my passport please?”

The gunslinger ignores me.

The plane fills andwe take off en route for Singapore.

On arrival, I am cheap jerseys China told to stay seated. When the plane is empty a gun-toting guard comes on board and asks me to follow him. As we cheap jerseys nfl approach the cockpit he collects my passport and a letter from the pilot. We progress through Changi Airport towards immigration. Into a back room we go.

The guy smiles at me, examines the documents and says,

“Why didn’t you bribe them?”

“There were six of them. If it had been one I would have tried that.”

He stamps my passport and, grinning, hands it back to the guardian.

“Follow me.”

“Can I have the deportation letter? I want to frame it.”

“No, we need that.”


We move through the airport cheap tom brady jersey towards the taxi-rank. Once I am inside the taxi I am finally handed my passport and I launch the taxi-driver on his way.

The following week I was due to go back to Jakarta en route to Hong Kong so I got a temporary passport and applied for a real one to be collected in HK. Nothing is as simple as it seems, eh?

The temporary one works OK. Singapore has a question on the immigration form which asks if you’ve ever been refused entry. Indonesia does not have that question so I’m wholesale jerseys allowed in on my temporary passport.

When I arrive in HK I troddle down to the Consulate and ask to collect my new passport.

“We mailed it to you in Singapore.”

“Well, I’m not in Singapore and I won’t be for months and months.”

“Not to worry. Can you come back in four hours and we’ll do another one for you … on second thoughts, its nearly lunchtime, give us 20 minutes.”

Coffee calls. Twenty minutes pass and I return. The new passport is handed to me with no fuss, no hindrance, and no questions. Good old British diplomacy.

That’s encounter #1 with Indonesian Imigrasi. Here’s #2:

When I moved to Bali my intent was to start a small swim school and do some basic stroke technique coaching. Island living beckoned. I did a deal with a new sportscenter who offered me the use of a 6-lane Wholesale Jerseys 25m pool and I produced some wicked flyers and posters.

One day I get a call from Imigrasi.

“You have to come in to talk to us.”

“OK” …..

“You don’t have a work permit.”

“No, not yet. I’ve applied for one.”

“But you don’t have one.”

“No, but I haven’t done any work.”

“But you intend to.”

“Yes, but I haven’t done any.”

“It is illegal to intend to work before you have a work permit.”

“Show me the law.”

Which he dutifully did. Indonesian laws are published in Bahasa Indonesia and in English. The wording was clear. Intent is a crime.

“Hmmm …. So what do we do?”

“We deport you.”

“You don’t want to do that.”

“Yes we do.”

“I don’t want you to do that. How do you feel we deal with it?”

“I’ll ask my boss.”

He vanishes for some minutes.

“My boss says ten million will cover it.”

Ten million Indonesian Rupriah is around $750. Never accept a first offer, right?


“How much?”

“One million.”

“I’ll ask my boss,”…..

“Two million.”


I wander down the road to find an ATM coz I’m sure a check or a credit card won’t pass muster with the culture of Imigrasi. The two million goes into an envelope. I return to the office.

A witness has materialized at the shoulder of the junior officer. I guess he’s there so they have plausible denial if I complain to a higher authority. The junior guy slides my file across the desk. I surreptitiously place the envelope inside the file and slide it back across the desk.

“Wait here.”

He returns.

“All is good.”

“What do you mean, all is good?”

“All done.”

“I can go?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Nothing else? No record? No problem?”

Blank look. “About what?”

“OK, goodbye.”

So, as I say, Imigrasi and I have previous.

Now to this week:

My Bali phone cards need feeding and I know I’ll have to speak to Martini during the Imigrasi encounter so I go to Telkomsel first. They can’t process my Indian credit card. It takes forever. I am behind schedule. I arrive at Imigrasi at 11:05.

I present the KITAS renewal documents at Customer Service and ask them how long they need my passport for?

“At least one month.”

“You can’t have it that long; I need to travel next Sunday.”

“Maybe three weeks.”

“No, not possible.”

“Anyway, we close at 11:00. Come back tomorrow.”

“No, that won’t do. I have to get the process started.”

They point me in the direction of desk number five.

Imigrasi has moved premises since my first two bad encounters. Everyone seems much happier. The queues are nowhere near as long. I’ve actually seen tourists air-punching and dancing as they move away from the agents. Can’t be weed coz Bali operates, imposes and uses a death penalty for drug convictions.

The guy at desk five listens to my story and offers ten days.

“No. I have to go back to India next Sunday.”

“Show me the ticket.” I do so.

He goes through all the documents.

“Where is the letter from your sponsor?”

“It’s there,” showing him an unintelligible document adorned with an old-fashioned postage stamp which is signed across and beyond.

“No, the letter is another document. Have everything back here by two o’clock and we’ll process it.”

Martini is my sponsor. I send her a sample sponsor letter and start driving to meet her. She also needs to print out my flight ticket and I need to photocopy everything. The Whattsap/Messages/email system decides to play silly-buggers. Eventually, sitting outside her office, I manage to transfer the files. She arrives with newly stamped and signed letters, printouts; the whole eight and a half yards. What a difference a half yard makes.

I spare no horses to get back to Imigrasi, arriving at 1:27 pm. Result!

…… “Where’s the Family Card?

“What Family Card?”

He points to an item on the document list. I text Martini: it’s in the house, on the third shelf from the top under the second star from the right and straight on till morning.

The horses are whipped into a frenzy. Isn’t it infuriating when someone continually texts you while you’re driving to ask if you’re there yet?

I ransack the third shelf from the top and find two different documents which look as if they may fit. Off I go, reading as I drive. I arrive at desk number five at 1:58 and 46 seconds – 74 seconds until the bureaucratic drawbridge is lowered, tomorrow never comes and I have to revert to being a visitor.

All the documents check out.

“Come back at 2 pm tomorrow for photo and payment.”

It is now 2:25. My phone rings.

“Papa, have you forgotten to pick me up from school?” Oh dear.

Tomorrow does arrive and I do the payment, the photo, and the fingerprints. The fingerprint guy is a Manchester United fan. Aren’t they all?

“Collect your passport at 2 pm on Friday.”

Assuming I do actually collect wholesale nfl jerseys China the passport at 2 pm on Friday I am a happy bunny.