Sunday, 9 March 2014

Visa Run Singapore

Every year I have the (mis) fortune to have to go and have my working visa renewed or have a new one placed in my passport due to my working terms and conditions with my Indonesian employer. This means that I have to be sent to Singapore to get my new visa.

For some, Singapore is a great place to visit and travel through and enjoy the sites, the city and the attractions like Universal Studios, China Town, and Sentosa. However for me, its a day trip. Starts at 4am and ends at 11pm or later when I finally get back to my house. Singapore is wonderful but in a day its just a place to sit and wait so I can go back to Jakarta and be all legal for another year.

So setting off in a taxi just before 4am on Friday meant waking up at 3.30am which is never enjoyable. Happily everyone was asleep and remained so when I left. The trip to the airport takes less than 35 minutes at that time in the morning and so there I was at Terminal 1 queuing to get into the building when I am told I am at the wrong terminal. I needed to be at Terminal 2. That annoyed me. Whether the taxi driver took me there by mistake or I believed the Internet and departure websites for Jakarta Airport which state Lion Air flies internationally via Terminal 2 or maybe I was still asleep made no difference, I still needed to get to the correct terminal. 
Hailing a taxi, the cheeky sods wanted 30k to go 10k journey. I offered them 20k but 2 refused and started shouting when I just got out of the taxi leaving the car door open. A kindly bluebird picked me up, stuck on the meter and took me to the correct place. I gave him 20k for his trouble and then found my way into Terminal 2.
This Terminal is a mess. For Lion Air there were no signs, no staff and no direction or screens telling you anything. So, after asking several 'staff' there I was put in a long line of people each with 6 bags in one of the 2 lines to check in with. After 15 minutes of standing still, I asked someone else and they told me I was in the check in line for Bangkok and I needed to change lines. So I did. Then after another 10 minutes I was eventually able to check in for my flight.

(JT*) Lion Air 154
(CGK) Jakarta, ID to (SIN) Singapore, SG
Last change to status more than 3 hours ago
Scheduled Departure:Scheduled Arrival:
11:15 AM - Sun Mar-9-20142:00 PM - Sun Mar-9-2014
Departure Terminal:   1
General Flight Notes:

  • We do not have the necessary data sources to detect the departure of this flight; however we can detect the arrival of this flight.
The information above is from telling me I can fly to Singapore from Terminal 1 with Lion air when it is Terminal 2.

Actually to get to the plane, we boarded a bus, went out of Terminal 2, past Terminal 1 and to the Cargo area where the plane was waiting. So that was exciting and a waste of time.

Immigration this year was a breeze and the office was almost polite and then after grabbing a Starbucks Coffee I headed to the information board for confirmation of flights. My ticket said D4 but the board said E4, who to believe? This is Indonesia so something is always wrong. So I headed to E4 and asked. I was told to go to D4 and as I walked there someone announced the change in departure gate for the flight. 

The flight to Singapore was simple enough. Being surrounded by Bank Mandiri staff on a weekend to Singapore they looked confused to see a western man sat in the middle of it all, laughing because he was watching The Family Guy on his tab but hey its my flight as well.

No issues getting through Singapore Immigration after walking the mile or so to get stamped out, it is a big airport. 

Driving through the city the driver used his GPRS on his Samsung Phone to get me to somewhere near China town and the journey involved going through a long tunnel and past the container port which was nice and despite going too far and not getting to the correct place, he told me to walk a little bit and I would find the street easily (where as he never) and he apologised so that was nice.

The old place to hand your passport over was outside McDonalds in Orchard Road but now you have to go to the actual office of the agent and do it under cover and that felt a little less dodgy. Handing over 2 passports because one was full and one was not was met with, 'I am not sure how we do this but we will try, come back at 4.30'. So I did.

views of Singapore
Waiting outside the building with the other people collecting visas that day is always interesting. Everyone looks either hungover or dead tired or very excited. I go with the dead tired look. Eventually some man turned up with a ruck sack full of passports, handed mine over and to my delight my new 11 months (never know why its not a full year ever) visa is in my new passport so that means I can retire my old one.

I headed then back to the Airport via the MRT which is the simplest and quickest option and was back in Changi 45 minutes later.

Views of International Departures Singapore
No issues with checking in or immigration but I never expect any, the wait for the flight was nice enough. 

Happily the flight back to Jakarta was on time and so that made a change. I was sat in row 10 and some fool in front of me decided to fully recline his seat into my space so I stuck both knees into his back and kept moving until he complained directly to me. I told him to sort his chair out which he did and the rest of the flight was simple enough.

After the bus trip across the airport like the one to get to the plane to fly to Singapore, I got stamped in by Immigration, again with no concerns and stepped back into the smoggy hot air of Jakarta at 10.40. By 11.30 I was home. 

Next stop is the Immigration office in the city to get finger printed and photographed like every other year.

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