Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Trip to Singapore

One of the drawbacks of living and working in Indonesia is that you have to go to out of the country at certain points to renew your working visa and if your visa is like mine then that means annually.
At some point over the past few months there has been a glitch in the system resulting in Immigration not being able to grant me permission to renew my existing visa and so since January I have been on a tourist visa which is apparently perfectly legal and not dodgy at all and I have accompanying letters to prove it. I also never saw my passport for 2 months as it was living in Immigration either at Kota Tua or in Kunginhan and the panic from above has resulted in me getting a new passport as my current one has less than 4 empty pages left and that is a source of concern and technically makes life harder when you try to leave the country, however as that is a source of discomfort that is all I am prepared to say about that in my blog.

So finally I was given the nod and told I would be off to Singapore for the day to renew my visa for the year and on Friday last week I went.

The day started at 3am because I had a taxi booked at 3.30. By 4.15 I was in the airport terminal and queuing to check in for the 6.30 flight to Singapore with Lion Air. You have to pay the airport tax at the counter of 150,000 idr and then from there get through immigration. Immigration depending on the officer and the mood he or she is in can be either really simple or very stressful with them asking far too many questions about what you have been doing, where and with who. Luckily for me I am just stamped out and there were no problems.

I have not flown internationally for a year and so the departure area whilst still shut and depressing at 4.30am has changed a little. Starbucks is still there if you turn to the left and head towards gate D and now before that is Old Town Coffee, which as I was too lazy to walk to Starbucks was a welcome place to sit and drink rather good coffee and also they do some great fried eggs on toast.
Fuelled up and full of coffee I met one of my teachers who was also getting her visa and went to the boarding gate.
Jakarta Airport has actually installed some security, belts and shoes off, phones etc off and in a tray and lots of manual checks which was both annoying and good to see at the same time.

Even at the Airport, there are traffic queues

The flight from Jakarta to Singapore was on time and no problem. Nothing of any real interest happened nor should it. I was next to an exit so I had extra leg room and that was good. I cant sleep on planes so I remained awake while the man sat next to me did a good job at trying to keep the whole flight awake with his snoring.

Landing at Singapore we traversed the security, got stamped into the country without any issue, got into a Smart Taxi and $23 Sing Dollars later were with the agent who collects and processes the passports. The meeting place is by the Hilton hotel and for new teachers and people working in Indonesia it all seems  a lot dodgy but it works so why worry.
By 10am the day was ours and for the next 6 hours we were free to do what ever we pleased. My teacher went off on her own and I stumbled to a restaurant to eat and wake up.
After a while I got bored so I took a walk ending up in a place called Redhill. From there I jumped on the MRT to China Town.
China town was busy and bustly and there was quite a lot of things to do there. I had a good wander round and then got suddenly tired and bored and so jumped back on the MRT and back to ION mall and Orchard Road.

At 4pm the Agent arrived at the designated meeting spot (McDonalds) and with my passport and visa all correct, I met my teacher and we jumped back on the MRT to the Airport to catch the last flight home and get some sleep.

Lion Air was only 25 minutes late taking off so we got back around 10.40pm and after another hassle less Immigration encounter we were met by our driver and took home. With my teachers living and working in Puri Indah it is now a mere 20 minutes on the toll from the airport and once she was dropped off, it was or rather should have been a fast tol road home. However, Indonesia being Indonesia and Jakarta being Jakarta, we did not realise that once 10pm comes then all the trucks that are banned from entering the city during the day, enter the city and so it took an hour to go from Meruya toll to Tomang where we promptly got off the toll and 40 minutes later, I was home.

It was a good but rather long day (at 21 hours all ) but I am pleased to have my visa and for a change it was a good trip and a nice day away from the city.

Happily enough I wont have to go back for some time now which is even better news....
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