We organised our visa extensions yesterday, in what has to be, the most dodgiest experience we’ve had on this island. Real Cloak’n’Dagger type stuff.
I’m surprised we didn’t have to wear sunglasses, hats, trench coats and use password phrases like, “a wet duck, flies at night”…well, maybe we did, but it was all in Indonesian. Here’s the run-down…
Our friends give us the number of a lady to call in immigration that can help process our visa extensions, quickly, without having to queue up for hours and without getting ripped off. Some people use agents to help them and are charged Rp. 1,000,000 (about a hundred bucks), when it should only cost about Rp. 400,000 (around $40). The idea being that they still take all your stuff to be processed, and they pay immigration Rp. 400,000 and pocket the rest themselves.
So, to avoid that, we go straight to the source. Unfortunately, she only speaks Indonesian, so we need our Balinese friend (and quasi-Aussie family member), Gusti, to call her up for us and find out all the info we need. Gusti makes the call, sets up an appointment for a couple days away.
TWO DAYS LATER:
The streets to Kuta, where we need to meet up with Gusti, are blocked off for a re-enactment of the Bali Bombing at the Memorial site. The only way we could get to Gusti, is to scoot down the wrong way on a one way street along the beach, then cut back in down a side alley. We’re swerving around people, riding on the footpath, people yelling at us for going the wrong way, very Bourne Identity.
We get to immigration, and we wait out the front while Gusti calls her again, but instead of going inside…we have to meet her round the side of the building at the staff entrance. She asks how we got her name, we reveal our contacts, she takes our passports and Gusti’s I.D. and disappears into another building to make photocopies. Then, we give our money to Gusti, he goes in and pays her the money (Rp. 450,000 each), then tells us he’ll pick up our extensions next week and bring them to our house. All done in under 5 mins. No queuing up and no need to even go inside the freakin’ building!
So whether she processes our extensions for Rp. 400,000 and keeps a meagre Rp. 50,000 for herself, or processes them without a fee and pockets it all herself, is strictly a…needs to know basis. And it’s probably best for us, that we needs NOT to know.