Many times we have been asked by people here, what is it that we do. Today, for example, I was asked what my business was, or was I a student, or was I a teacher. Other times we have been asked if we are here with the UN, AUSaid, US aid, or with an oil company. To all of these, we just answer that we are tourists, here on a tourist visa. This of course is the reality, as one is not permitted to work on a tourist visa. (Today, at school, Erik had to write what it was his Dad did for work…he just left it blank).
Whilst still in Norway we obtained a 60 day tourist visa, which we could extend for 30 days, and this we could do for a total of 4 times. This means that we could be in Indonesia for a grand total of 180 days, after which we must leave the country. Well, as I write this our visas are being processed for an extension for the 4th and last time.
The first time we extended the visas I, Peter, went to the local immigration office here in Kupang not totally knowing what to expect. However, it went okay. I quickly found a tall policeman who spoke quite good english (quite a rare thing here…someone who is both tall and speaks quite good english). He helped me in getting the correct application forms, and saying what else I needed to apply.
This meant I needed a copy of:
the photo/ID page in my passport, plus the page of the 60 day visa, plus the stamped page which was obtained on arrival, plus the exit destination form page, plus 2 letters from an Indonesian `sponsor` verifying that we are upstanding citizens and that they would be to a point responsible for us, plus a copy of their ID card. And this had to be done for each member of the family, that is 5 copies of everything! Oh, and of course don`t forget to hand in the actual passports too. Plus payment.
A few days later we returned as a family where we had our fingerprints taken by the police, and they also took our photo. Not long afterwards we got our passports with the extension stamp, which we then immediately had to go to the photocopy shop to make a copy of that page to give immediately back to the police. For every visa extension application I normally have to make 5 visits to the immigration office, in little over a week which is how long the process takes. So once the process is successfully completed you get 30 more days in Indonesia.
Next time around, we did the same with all the necessary copies, minus the photos and fingerprints. However, they told us that we needed 4 new small photos of each family member (in 2 different sizes). I took them to immigration, but then they said I needed to fill out another application form (because we would be staying more than 90 days), and also needed one more copy of ALL the previous copies, letters, passport pages etc. Afterwards, 30 more days.
The 3rd time of going to immigration, I thought, `This time, double-check everything we need beforehand with the police`. I did, and thus a few days later walked into the immigration office quietly confident that everything was correct and in order. Suddenly, Jesus appeared before me!…Well, actually a policeman called Jesus. That is what his name-tag said. Anyway, this time they needed 2 extra copies of EVERYTHING that had already been copied! So, back to the photocopy shop where they were almost on first name terms with me. But eventually, 30 more days.
Now, this 4th time, I had gotten a bit fed up of sweating away in a very warm photocopy shop making 3 copies of everything times 5, that is 15 copies of all our family`s papers. So, we decided to buy a printer/photocopier, something we didn`t even have or really need in Norway. But, what a life-changing decision…now we can copy as many times as we want, without getting too sweaty. Anyway, so I drove to immigration, only to find that I could not park in the car park as the staff were playing volleyball. I once again thought it wise to check what it was I needed for this final extension. They gave me the relevant information, and in fact the staff at the immigration have been good. Yes, it is a bit bureaucratic, but they are helpful, and some of them speak english. We had been told by locals that corruption/bribes at times occurred and were almost expected for an application. However, we have not experienced that in any way. No corruption, no bribes, no problems. In fact they have been quite friendly.
So today I went back to immigration and saw that some of them were playing table tennis. They said that there was an error with their system, so I must return there on Monday. They assured me that we would get the necessary extension this time too. Let`s hope so, as we have already bought plane tickets out of Indonesia. So where are we heading to?…
Kupang is not too far away from other countries, and we had thought that when we have to leave the country, we would go somewhere close by. Darwin, Australia, is around 800km away. Dili, East Timor, is even closer. Singapore is further away than both those. So logic dictates that we shall be flying to…Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which is the furthest away of all of them. There are currently no direct flights to either Dili or Darwin so getting there would be quite expensive, and to stay in Singapore is expensive too, so KL is the cheapest and,hopefully, best option. 5 weeks from today we go there. Once there we will apply for a new visa into Indonesia, which will mean beginning the extension process all over again…