December 6th 1983

posted in: The way back | 0

Balinese art – film poster and wooden carving

We had decided that we had had enough of Kuta, + were today heading to Ubud.  Along the way, tho’ we were off to Denpasar, mainly because we wanted to go to immigration to extend our visas.  I should also give Val’s version.  She later claimed that it had been her intention to visit immigration to check things out, but I was under the distinct impression that, having abandoned our intention of leaving thro’ Kalimantan, we were definitely agreed that we would extend our visa in Denpasar.

Anyway, in Denpasar we left our bags with our old friends at the bus company – we reckoned they owed us at least that – + then headed for the Immigration Office.  It would have been a reasonable walk, had it still been where our yellow guide said it was.  Unfortunately, it had moved, so there we were, in some noisy suburb, hot + sweaty after our walk, with no idea where the place was.  Val was all for abandoning going to the place altogether, but figuring she was acting more out of pique than from sense, I overruled her.  We called in a t a local hotel, + they were very helpful, ringing up the place to get the right address, as well as calling the American Express office at Sanur Beach to see if they were holding any mail form us (they weren’t.)

So, next stop was Immigration – catching a trike bemo there cost us Rp1000.  We entered, noting the Proper Dress/Improper Dress poster on the wall.  According to them, proper dress approximated what the British businessman used to wear in 1950 or so.  First off, we were rushed Rp3000 each for the forms with which to apply for the extension – now there’s corruption at work for you.  Val was opposed to carrying on at this stage, but I’m afraid I overruled her again, + from then on we were pretty much committed.  We managed to clear a few hurdles.  At first we were told the process would take 4 days, but we managed to persuade the guy to do it there + then.  Then we were told we needed an official stamped letter from the hotel where we were staying, but the guy was overruled there.  And it finally came to the point where we were almost done… except we didn’t have the cash to pay for it all.  Not entirely surprising – each extension cost Rp31,500.  They wouldn’t take a travellers’ cheque, + it looked as tho’ we would have to return tomorrow (tho’ this would also give us some useful thinking space) but then a fellow traveller kin the place offered to change some US dollars for us, so we took him up on that, after 5 mins or so deliberation.  And then, half an hour of bureaucracy, + we were done.  Val was furious, mostly at me, at the way in which she had been bulldozed into spending one heck of a lot of money for dubious return.  And in the end I was inclined to agree with her.  I had imagined the extension would be for an additional 30 days.  As it turned out, it was just for 15, meaning we were paying the Indonesian government over  $2 a day each simply to remain in the country.  Which is all part of the folly of arriving in Irian Jaya.  Those people flying in to Denpasar, Jakarta or Medan get 60 days automatic, + for free, while we had got 30 days, + had to pay thro’ the nose for an extra 15.  Ah well, we live + learn.

We did get a lift back to town with the boss of the dept., which was the only good thing about the whole enterprise. We collected our bags, + headed for the bus station for Ubud bemos, but once again the yellow guide let us down badly.  This time, tho’, the problem was more easily solved – we just took a trike bemo to the right place.  As usual, immediately we arrived there we were besieged by guys wanting us to travel with them – what it is to be popular – but I refused to be hassled + insisted on seeing the vehicle, + even managed to get the price down to below the normal fare – quite an achievement.

It was a short ride – distances are next to nothing in Bali, + then we were in Ubud.  We had chatted with an Oz couple on the bus, + they had told us about a couple of the places in town, + when we arrived, took us to one of them – Tjanderi’s, an Ubud institution, both as a place to eat + stay.  We had a drink there, + then went looking for a place to stay while Val minded the bags.  Tjanderi’s was full, + also slightly seedy, so I don’t know that we would have stayed there.  After looking round, I found a place for 1500 for the 2 of us.  It was only after I returned with Val + the bags that the price went up, so we had to look again.  Fortunately, we ran into a middle-aged Kiwi guy + his family who was staying at a very fine place, or so he said.  And so it proved to be.  A little too fine, in fact, since the proper rate was Rp4000.  It was only after John the Kiwi put a lot of pressure on the caretaker there, + we had almost left, that he came down to Rp3000.  It was very nice tho’ – well worth the money.  It was quite late by now, so soon after we went out to eat, patronising Tjanderi’s + enjoying the food very much, tho’ it was a little spoilt by sitting at the same table as an opinionated, provocative + generally obnoxious Australian.  Fortunately there was also a Swede there – much pleasanter company.

Our encounter with bureaucracy let us down, and all the worse for me apparently railroading Val into making a decision. But actually, on reflection, it was not as though we had a lot of choice. We did need to extend our visas, and the fact that we were coming from the east and hence incurring higher charges was not a situation we could alter. But definitely a good idea to move on from Kuta, which really was the sort of tourist venue we have always tried to avoid, enjoying neither the cost nor the associated culture. Ubud is very much seen as a cultural highspot, so hopefully would be more to our taste.

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