Tropical maladies, immigration offices and other quirks of life in Bali

This is the end of my third week of retirement. The first two weeks were basically a mass of semi-connected travels from one island to another (via a second) and from one country to another – Indonesia to Singapore. The third week has been rummaging through the debris and collected items of a five-year stint in Sumbawa.

Today I had something of a break from the moving and unpacking in that I passed through my final stage of the retirement visa: the trip to immigration for photos, fingerprints and the final signing of documents; and the trip to the police station for more fingerprints. These days if you live in the Singaraja area, you can do all this at the Singaraja branch of the immigration office. That is one very welcome change that has happened over my past 19 years of Indonesia (next month is the 19th anniversary).

Before the Singaraja branch opened, it was necessary to drive down to Denpasar and then hope that you had all the correct documents and could get things processed in a day (rarely happened). So, today I had my first chance to view the immigration office in Singaraja. It’s a small building, but seemingly of sufficient size for the business at hand, although there were a number of folks who were waiting for what seemed to be a while. The personnel are efficient and fairly uninterested in long conversations (or at least with me). What really surprised me was the number of foreigners waiting around to process visas. There were 9 during the hour period that I was in the office – seven that looked to be older than me, one young man with his Indonesian wife and a small child, and one woman with a young daughter who seemed rather harried.

I was discussing the number of expats in the office with my agent who said that there are many foreigners, especially on retirement visas living in the Singaraja area now, although most of them live in the tourist area of Lovina, that stretch of small villages just to the west of here. The immigration office has a sign up over the counter where foreigners line up for service. The sign has cartoon rendition of two foreign couples – one couple is dressed in what might be called smart casual, the other couple is dressed like most of the tourists you find on the streets of Kuta with sandals, shorts, singlet. The text advises people to dress appropriately. Out of the nine expats in the office, I was the only one dressed appropriately. Nonetheless, everyone was taken care of – a bit of a distance from the past when almost twenty years ago, I brought my then teenage son in with me to try to extend his visa. He had an earring, bandanna and a tattoo. We were helped but I was advised to have him dress appropriately next time or we wouldn’t be served. My how times change.

Why is it that Indonesians who pride themselves on politeness will frequently begin talking to someone else in the middle of a conversation with you?

Back to moving. A lot of mildewed books and ruined photographs. If you move to the tropics, remember to protect your valuable photos and books. Fortunately the worth of the books is only in their research and sentimental value to me. I love books and still mourn the thousands of books that I gave away from I decided never to return to the States as a resident.

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~ by drbrucepk on July 5, 2008.

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