The visa challenge begins

Getting a visa that would allow me to stay in Indonesia for a long period of time was a DSC_1312 priority when I returned to Batam. The alternative is a 30-day visa on arrival that you have to renew, surprisingly, every 30 days. Actually, it’s more like 28 days; you take the ferry to Singapore ($40) and return on the next ferry. You have to endure lines for immigration on both ends, as well as the security checks, and the inevitable being taken aside to ask why you are coming and going so often.

My first thought, and research thereof, was to get a retirement visa. This one is a little expensive but has better long-term benefits. For example, you don’t have to leave the country to keep it renewed. And it’s renewable annually by just paying a fee ($750-yikes!). But I kept hearing about a business, multi-entry visa. But when I checked that one out and did a little more digging on the retirement visa it became apparent that I needed some professional help.

I’ve mentioned Okusi Associates before. They provide a variety of business services, such

Pop-up restaurant sets up in vacant lot

Pop-up restaurant sets up in vacant lot

as acquiring visas or setting up an Indonesian company. Their owner is a consultant to and investor in Smiling Hill. They have an office at Harbor Bay, so on Monday I took a taxi there and met with a nice lady who recommended the business visa. No waiting, by the way.

To give you an example of the difficulty difference in gaining one or the other, Okusi charges Rp2 million for the business visa and Rp15.5 million for the retirement visa. I addition, the fee for the business visa is $200 annually, vs. the retirement visa fee of $750 annually.

The main negative about the business visa is you have to leave the country every 60 days,

Maybe an hour later

Maybe an hour later

which means a ferry ride and back to Singapore, with all the hassle baggage that goes with going through immigration and security on both ends. You also have to have a local business as a sponsor, which I fortunately have.

The Okusi lady also gave me a list of the documents my sponsor would have to provide. these are the nine items:

  1. Article of association;
  2. Investment permit;
  3. Domicile certificate;
  4. Company tax ID;
  5. Business registration certificate;
  6. company deed of establishment;
  7. Company letterhead;
  8. ID card for local people; and
  9. Permanent business license.

What I need to provide:

  1. Copy of passport with at least 18 months of validity;
  2. Copy of Curriculum vitae;
  3. Copy of degrees/diplomas;
  4. 2 passport photos 4×6;
  5. Manpower department report;
  6. Title of position;
  7. Location of work;
  8. Country to collect visa; and
  9. Marriage certificate and birth certificate for dependents.

I asked two companies if they could sponsor me. One agreed. Now I’m waiting to meet with the wife of the owner to go over the details Actually, under Indonesian law, she’s the owner, not her expat husband. He’s currently offshore at work, probably on an oil rig somewhere. The details involve providing nine documents related to the company. Hopefully, my sponsor has those and is willing to share. Otherwise …

I’ve included with this post two photos of one of the “pop up”restaurants you see here. The

In front of my apartment

In front of my apartment

lot this tent is on was vacant an hour before the first shot was taken. The second shot was a half hour later. Meanwhile, a similar structure was going up even closer.

 

Exploring the neighborhood and other tidbits

It is easy to get confused as you walk around the streets of Nagoya. The storefronts all look

Kampung bule street outside my apartment

Kampung bule street outside my apartment

the same – every block seems to have several small restaurants (warungs), at least two small stores selling sundries, sodas, and other stuff, maybe a small hotel, probably a ladies retail store with windows stacked with women’s purses of all colors, and several ojek drivers at each corner. To a newcomer, one street looks the same as the next. So I’ve learned to navigate using tall buildings, such as the Panarama Hotel, which sits about a block from my apartment.

It seems as if half the population is engaged in the food trade in one form or another. Small warungs carve out space in the sides of the buildings, offering very limited menus, often maybe just one or two dishes, such as ayam penyet ( chicken and rice), ikan bekar (BBQ fish) or any of a variety of noodle-based items. Larger restaurants usually are on the street corners, serving 30-40 people with a more extensive menu.

Then there are the “pop-up” warungs, appearing nightly as if by magic in what had been

Pop-up warung outside my front window

Pop-up warung outside my front window

empty space along the roadside. Gas-fired grills, open tenting and plastic chairs with folding tables are the decor, but the food is fresh and cheap. And last are the small push carts, evident especially at night, that serve single items such as sate ayam for a quick bite. I have a favorite who works kampung bule at night, selling fresh-cooked sate ayam in a sweet sauce. Definitely Javanese. Eight small sticks go for about $1.75, a nice late night snack.

There are two of the pop-up variety that appear nightly in front of my apartment building. I had some chicken and rice under the sky one night for less than $3. I plan to try the other soon. The smell of grilling chicken and fish often wafts up to my open apartment windows.

DSC_1413

Inside the plaza I discovered

The small groceries that also line the streets are almost as varied. Some are very small, offering a limited selection of food and household needs. There are numerous Circle K’s, Batam’s answer to 7-11. Larger stores appear every two blocks or so, and there are larger markets within plazas and malls. I found one today as I was exploring in a new direction from the apartment.

I headed toward the Panarama and first found a bustling outdoor clothes and garment market. It was about noon so the vendors

Part of the merchandise outdoor market

Part of the merchandise outdoor market

were all hurriedly breaking down their stalls and heading home I assume), only to return the next day very early in the morning. Looks like you can get linens, shoes, various items of clothing, sunglasses, hats and much more here. I will check it out earlier in the day soon. There should be very good bargains.

A little further down the road, I came to a 3-4 story plaza that just screamed at me to go inside. The first floor was mostly electronics and appliances. The second floor contained a department store (i.e., clothing) and a large grocery offering mostly packaged foods at local prices (The Hypermart at the Nagoya Hill mall is higher priced). I picked up a few things and noted this as a place to frequent on a regular basis because of the prices.

Indonesia visa

DSC_1421

Stopped for an ATM and this guard insisted I take his picture

I’ve been hyperventilating about getting a retirement visa so that I can stay in Indonesia long-term but I’ve been worried about the process. There is a lot of documentation you need, and after doing a little research about all the steps you have to take, including multiple trips to immigration and the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore, I was getting a little worried. For example, what I first read was that I would need a travel agency to provide me a sponsor letter, which I did through a friend who owns an agency. But it turns out that only a select few travel agencies qualify and hers was not one of them. There is an agency in Bali that provides the service for a fee but they wanted me to come to Bali and that would mean making two trips there as well as to either Jakarta or Singapore. This was starting to get expensive.

My plan had been to enlist Sylvia’s help, go to the immigration office in Batam Centre and

Outdoor merchandise market

Outdoor merchandise market

try to do the whole thing by myself. This has the advantage of avoiding maybe $750 in fees to an agency. But I’ve decided to do what I did when I moved to Costa Rica and hire an agency to handle all the paperwork and legwork. There is one located in Batam, at Harbor Bay (Okuisa & Associates). The owner is a small Smiling Hill investor and has been advising their ownership on business matters for years. I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and spend the money. I will still have to make maybe two trips to Singapore but the process will be handled by experts. The cost will be somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000. Each year, renewal will cost an additional $750.

Why spend this much? Peace of mind mostly. Less hassle, too, as the alternative is to get aDSC_1419 new 30-day visa every month, requiring a trip to Singapore on alternate months. I’ve always said to let the experts do those things experts do. I don’t do plumbing; I hire a plumber. Tomorrow morning I will go to their Batam office and get the process started, which I understand may take up to two months to complete.

Internet is out so a little jalan-jalan time

 

 

 

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Jalan-jalan means walking around and is what I say to the ojek drivers when they ask if I

Back alley entrance to the apartments on left. The row of buildings are the back ends of bars, one after the other

Back alley entrance to the apartments on left. The row of buildings are the back ends of bars, one after the other

need a ride. They usually just shout out “Mr. Mr.” and move their hands as if they are accelerating a motorcycle. I say jalan-jalan and imitate walking with two fingers. Anyway, the Internet was out this morning (except, strangely, I could access Facebook but nothing else) so I had some time on my hands and decided to try to find a dry goods store I was told was located next to the wet market I visited yesterday. Apparently, you can buy coffee, sugar and other boxed and bagged goods there at wholesale prices.

With my trusty (and getting ragged) backpack and camera, I set out exploring. You will see

front of my apartment building. My apartment is windows upper left. Great view of the strete scene below.

front of my apartment building. My apartment is windows upper left. Great view of the strete scene below.

some photos here when my walk was interrupted by a shower. I was standing under cover and noticed these people trying to move their goods out of the rain.

The wet market was bustling but I could not find the dry goods store, despite walking around the market twice. Finally, I picked up a few vegetables, kind of because they looked so good, but also some to go into a soup I’m making today. Two heads of looseleaf lettuce came to $1.75; three chicken legs $2,50; four small tomatoes, three heads of garlic, three handfuls of shallots and three large carrots, $2.50.

Managed to find my way even though I thought I was lost. Next time, I’m going to count

I bought tomatoes, carrots, shallots and garlic here.

I bought tomatoes, carrots, shallots and garlic here.

how many ojek drivers ask me if I need a ride. Eventually, they will get the message that I’m not the typical bule tourist.

Made a nice discovery last night in my apartment building. I was wondering if there was access to the roof and found it. The roof is open air with a section under a big cover. Great place to sit at night or even for coffee in the morning. Also a good place for me to start another herb garden. Just need to find soil and carry it up four flights of stairs.

Late update: A friend showed me an alternative Internet access – Smart page – and I’m now

Almost any kind of salted/dried seafood you would want. Not for me though.

Almost any kind of salted/dried seafood you would want. Not for me though.

online.

Last night: Made a delicious soup – chicken thighs, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, shallots and a chicken package flavoring mix. The packaged mixes run 20-40 cents here vs. $1.50-$2 in U.S.

This morning: Reached out to my Facebook friends regarding cable TV and insurance for my retirement visa. Nice to have friends. Sarijan from Smiling Hill said he will take me to both this afternoon and Heni told me where the cable TV office was, near City Walk, about a 10-minute walk.

Ventured out to find the local laundry I was referred to, and after wandering around a bit and asking directions from people who did not understand me, finally found Ratu Laundry. Two young ladies who did not understand me, took all my dirty clothes, weighed them and I paid Rp45000 ($4) for 5 kilos (11 pounds). I will pick it all up tomorrow, cleaned and pressed. That’s Rp9000 per kilo and I was told it would be Rp7000 but there was no way to communicate that so just went with the flow. Each Rp1000 is about 9 cents.