Indonesia Travel

Visa Struggles: Killing Time in Bali

November 7, 2016
Spectacular sunsets.

While our trip plans have been very dynamic throughout the past 10 months, we had always planned to explore Indonesia. Once we finalized the date for meeting my parents, we were left with a little over 6 weeks to explore Indonesia before our flight to Australia.

Enter the visa nightmare.

Indonesia offers a free visa on arrival for 30 days, but it can’t be extended. Because we planned to stay longer, we had to get a paid visa on arrival ($35) which can be extended once.

Unfortunately, we’ve been spoiled by how easy visas are in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. Just show up and it’s free. Especially in Malaysia— visitors get a 90-day pass without any paperwork!

Of course, we could have gone to an Indonesian embassy ahead of time and applied for a 60-day tourist visa. There was an embassy in Penang, where we spent 3 weeks. But we were lazy.

“We’ll just extend it in Bali. No big deal.” We’ve never actually extended a visa before. We expected the process to be pretty simple.

Our AirBnB hosts, both expats from Bulgaria, told us that if we wanted to extend the visa on our own we would end up making 4 or 5 trips to the embassy/immigration office. They offered to connect us with the visa agent who helps them. We’d hand over our passports and the agent would take care of the process. All we have to do is show up at the immigration office for a scheduled photograph.

It sounded like a reasonable process, so we paid $120 USD on top of the $70 we paid for our initial visas (ouch!) and handed over our passports.

Bali is Our Hotel California

We waited to hear from the visa agent. The following week, we sent her a message asking when we should meet for our photograph. She told us that the computer system had been down so our photo still wasn’t scheduled.

A couple days later, the agent told us we had an appointment for a photograph. We tried to make sense of the broken English in the her messages. Apparently we were meeting a different person for the photo.

We showed up at immigration. We messaged the guy. We waited around. We tried to make sense of his messages, then finally found him.

Getting our photo and fingerprints done took less than 5 minutes. Secret Agent Man told us that it takes 3 days to process our visa after the photo. So we waited.

Throughout this process we were unable to book our flight out of Bali or make plans for the next island in our Indonesian journey. As each day passed, I nervously recalculated whether we’d have enough time to complete our planned itinerary in Flores.

We were finally able to pick up our passports 5 business days after the photo. In total, we waited 13 days to get our visa extension. Definitely should have planned ahead.

Killing Time in Paradise

Here are a few highlights from our unplanned extra time in Bali.

A cool art exhibit in Ubud which juxtaposed traditional Hindu-influenced art with modern graffiti.

A cool art exhibit in Ubud which juxtaposed traditional Hindu-influenced art with modern graffiti.

Motorbiking around the Bukit (southern peninsula).

Motorbiking around the Bukit (southern peninsula).

One of Bali's ugly and overcrowded beaches.

Our quest to find the secret beaches was a success.

Cotton candy skies.

Cotton candy skies.

Bali is popular because it's freaking gorgeous.

Bali is popular because it’s freaking gorgeous.

We also found the spot where everyone takes wedding photos.

We found the spot where everyone takes wedding photos.

Schuyler tried surfing. I watched. Apparently it’s hard.

Schuyler tried surfing. I watched. Apparently it’s hard.

Two words: Indian burrito.

Two words: Indian burrito.

"Where is everyone?"

“Seriously, where is everyone?”

Water features at a Hindu temple.

Water features at a Hindu temple.

Henna tattoos on the beach.

Henna tattoos on the beach.

Lovely scenery at Ubud's famous rice terraces.

Lovely scenery at Ubud’s famous rice terraces.

We visited a temple where people bathe in purifying holy water.

People taking a purifying bath in holy water.

We met another traveling couple from Arkansas!

We met another traveling couple from Arkansas!

Schuyler tried surfing. I watched. Apparently it's hard.

Schuyler tried surfing. I watched. Apparently it’s hard.

Our Halloween celebration.

Our Halloween celebration.

Another day of waiting = another glorious sunset.

Another day of waiting = another glorious sunset.

I definitely wish we would have planned better so we wouldn’t have paid so much. But it wasn’t a struggle to fill our extra time in Bali and there are definitely worse places to wait around. Now it’s on to the next island!

 

 

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