Once in a while, I have to leave Indonesia to renew my visa. The time for the short trip came again and travelling arrangements had to be done.
I needed a place that is:
- Outside Indonesia
- Not too far.
Initially, I wanted to go to Bangkok but enticed by a fellow traveller friend, I bought tickets to Kuala Lumpur, as it fitted my three requirements better. Especially, the one with the price.
All that glitters is not gold.
The lowest ticket price that I found came with a questionable hour of the outbound flight – 6 AM. I felt great when I was buying the ticket but closer to the departure date, I realised that it wasn’t so great after all. Getting to the airport in the middle of the night was going to be tricky.
I was thinking about it for a few days, worrying what I could do to make my life easier, when suddenly, life brought me the solution: Yanny asked if I needed a lift to the airport!
When the departure date arrived, I woke up in the middle of the night to find out that Yanny was already in Canggu, energised after a night out.
Half asleep, I dragged myself to her car and crawled inside.
While swishing through dark, empty and foreboding streets of Kuta, we conversed about philosophical matters. This wasn’t easy as my brain was still in the shut-off mode. Yanny must have got impatient with my mumbling as she suddenly looked straight at me and said, Laura, you look terrible!
This took me by surprise. I should have taken those words seriously and prepared myself for worse things to come but I only laughed, thankful that there was no mirror in sight.
At the airport by 4 AM.
When I approached the emigration desk, I handed in my passport trying to look like the good girl that I am. It’s the strangest thing but every time I come in contact with officials, I get a numb throbbing in my belly. As if I was some ubercriminal trying to outmanoeuvre the law. It must be genetic memory, right?
That was exactly how I felt when I was clutching the emigration bench at the Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali, trying to look super innocent all the while.
I’ve been in situations like this dozens of times and nothing ever happened, so I was shocked when the emigration official snarled and with satisfaction said, You overstayed your visa.
I gaped at him. Half asleep, I thought that my mind was tripping.
Your visa expired, he waved my passport in front of my nose. It was until the 16th of October. Today is the 17th, the man tapped his watch.
I looked at him, dumbfounded. Slowly, the meaning of his words started reaching my brain. Overstayed. Visa. Expired.
How was that even possible? I extended the damned thing.
The 17th of October has been four hours long…
Go there, he pointed his finger in an undisclosed direction. You have to pay. 300,000 Rupia*.
The mention of money woke me up in an instant as I already drained my bank account to the limit. 300,000 Rupia? How can I afford it? What about food in Kuala Lumpur? I don’t really have to eat, do I?
This is when I usually start a magic chatter, which wiggles me out of fines and tickets.
I looked at the man in front of me. His cold, impatient eyes told a story of a person annoyed with every single bule** on this island.
I couldn’t be bothered to open my mouth.
He took my passport and started walking without waiting for me. I sighed and followed the black uniform.
The march finished at the airport emigration office where another official was sitting behind an uncomfortable desk. Alright. New man, new possibilities… I was just about to turn my magic chatter on but then I remembered that I was in Indonesia, the country where they put you to jail for everything.
The man in front of me didn’t look like a random traffic policeman ready to take a bribe. He was a Great Airport Official and demanded to be treated as such. I processed it, sighed again and went to the ATM machine, feeling down and hungry already.
Right then, a thought sparked in my mind. If this is the worst that is going to happen during this trip, then this is gonna be a great trip!
Using ATMs is like gambling for me and when I heard the noise of the cash being counted, a wave of relief washed over my body. I can leave Bali. I can go to Kuala Lumpur. I’m not gonna go to jail. I took the money, went back to the Great Airport Official’s office and gave him the notes with a smile.
Wanna know how was Kuala Lumpur? Stay tuned!
* About $20.
** Bule = a tourist.