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A visit to the Indonesian embassy YOGYAKARTA - It has been a short while, but still I think about that one day that I was headed for the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Because I had obtained a nice booklet of maps of the city, and I also bought a monthly card for the LRT (city trains), I would be able to drop in there to bring my paperwork. The embassy opened at nine o'clock in the morning, like usual, so if I would get up at around eight o'clock I would have enough time to prepare myself. That is what happened. Half past eight the alarm of my telephone went off and I took a short shower. The train station of Chinatown - that's the place where I found a nice little hotel for the week - was located at about 300 meters from the hotel. I waned to the central station of Kuala Lumpur (KL Sentral) because you can take the monorail from there. This route brought me in the direction of the Indonesian embassy, however I still had to walk quite some distance. With a bottle of water that should be possible however. I also got the chance to use the monorail trains, because waiting until the one in Jakarta is finished would mean I was able to go to Kuala Lumpur a few more times, because that one won't be ready for some time being, if I read the stories about that.

Public transport here is - in contrary to the cities in Indonesia - slightly better organized. Taxi's and buses are abundant, but they will be in traffic jams just as much as other cars, unless you take the toll-roads, then the situation improves somewhat. What they lack in Indonesia is what could be a perfect solution for millions of people; a simple, safe, fast and not too expensive way of traveling through the city. A ticket for a single trip on one of the lines in Kuala Lumpur will cost you a maximum of 2.40 Ringgit, just over 6500 Rupiah. That's not too much, even for the non-tourist who has to use it on a daily use, because there is where the monthly cards come in handy. For 90 Ringgit you can use all lines of the LRT, and for an additional 30 Ringgit you can also use all buses of the LRT. What does a man has to wish for else? Still Indonesia has to learn a lot. It would be easier if they took a look at how their neighbors are doing, but some people just don't seem to realize that yet.

To the embassy after all

To get back to Indonesia; I was heading for the embassy. When I had left the monorail, I took the booklet with maps to take a look for the appropriate route. Street names here were not only used on maps, but the streets themselves had big and clear signs as well, in general clearly visible for the searching tourist. Not bad at all. Finding streets in Indonesia is a more complicated process, let alone finding the correct number since not all even and odd numbers are on the same side of the road. To make matters worse, in many times they aren't even logically numbered as well.

I didn't have a good idea about the distances I had to cover. It would be a few kilometers walking. On the map I noticed some roads being marked as highways. Hopefully I was able to cross them as a pedestrian in one way or another. If not, I had to look for an alternative route or take a taxi, because I didn't want to walk kilometers on an end because I just had to walk. No, it wasn't that bad as well. The route took me along somewhat standard quarters of Kuala Lumpur. Just like those in Indonesia, but it seems to be slightly more quite and more spacious here. In the morning many people are already traveling to and from their work. With this the people who provide the travelers with their breakfasts and lunches.

The road marked as a highway was more like a construction yard. At a big roundabout they were constructing a new fly-over, not just for one lane, but probably for about four, seen at the sheer size of the road. Construction is done at a big scale here. The traffic had almost come to a halt. Pedestrians using the small pavement along the highway moved a lot faster than the people in the cars on the highway. That must be a hell of a frustration, it looks like the Netherlands, but only 20 degrees warmer and some sunshine. After the construction zone it was about one kilometer walking left. Directly across one of the city's golf courses was a fairly oddly shaped, white tiled building. That had to be the Indonesian embassy for sure.

Correct, it was indeed. There was something more remarkable there. Two hundred, maybe even three hundred Indonesians - apparently; there was no queue formed - something that Malaysians are already learning - who are all eager to get in as it seems. The pavement in front of the building was kept clear by armed Malaysian police officers. Inside the compound of the embassy, no effort was done for that, no one was to be seen there at half past eight in the morning. "Visa?", I was asked from the edge of the sweating and noisy crowd. "Ya", was my answer, which got out directly since I was more orientating on the direction I had to go when the gate was opened. "You go there", and I was pushed in the direction of the gate, but via de Indonesian-free two meter wide pavement. With a small number of Asians and one British citizen - I found out later - I was waiting on the pavement, in fact already before the group of Indonesians.

This crowd of Indonesian people was for the biggest part the so-called TKI, Indonesians working abroad. They also had to comply with the formalities (or bureaucracy of that how you want to call it of course). They also had to go to the embassy. There I was brought until the entrance of the embassy via the cleared pavement, hundreds of Indonesians had to wait at a distance of at least two meters. They were all located on one of the lanes of the main road, closed by several orange markers and two Malaysian police officers at the pavement. We were all in the burning hot sun however. The fact that I was in front and I didn't have to worry to get in between hundreds of Indonesians made me somewhat more positive that I would be able to enter earlier. Yes, at moments like that your instinct probably resurfaces and you become a little bit egoistic.

We could get in

Just before nine o'clock something started to happen near the big gate. Some people started to push. They want to be in front to enter the gate earlier. The Malaysian police officers were on the pavement, between the few foreign visa applicants. Several non-official employees of the embassy took care of 'lost' Indonesians on the pavement. They had to get back down on the street again. This only worked with some pushing and moving in the crowd, but there was no other solution for this problem. Many people had been waiting here for hours already and with the day progressing slowly, it didn't get cooler directly in the burning sun. Then some movement behind the gate as well. Two officers from the Indonesian embassy brought several chairs and put them near a second gate. Then a sunscreen followed, which was put in between the chairs. I didn't have any hope this would be for the hundreds of Indonesian people outside the gate.

Several minutes before nine o'clock a somewhat big guy with a loudspeaker walked to the gate. At some distance he stopped and put the loudspeaker at his mouth. He asked if it was possible to form a few nice queues, so the gate could be opened. And that didn't happen of course. Some people started shouting from the back of the crowd, others pushed a little in the front. Some words were exchanged between the 'guards' and some people inside the group. Step by step it looked like if queues were formed, but that was just a fata morgana. Asking to form queues for the second time just before nine o'clock didn't sort any effect as well. It was just a game that was played by the people from the embassy. Just some bullying to show the power they have compared to the people waiting outside. After that the gate could be opened as planned at nine o'clock, there were 'guests' as well, as would become obvious not too long after that.

Directly when the gate was opened, more people from inside the crowd started pushing. The Malaysian police officers had most likely been in this situation before, because they were watching on the high pavement with a big gun on their shoulders. Slowly the gate opened a little further. A group of Indonesians almost went on a rampage to the gate, all together, because there were not queues formed of course. From the side, someone shouted at us that we were able to use the main entrance. I didn't have to be scared I had to wait a long time there, the gathered crowd minus the many Indonesians was just a handful of people. At the other entrance a small gate was opened, we got an ID-card upon giving some form of identification other than a passport, because you needed that to get a visa of course. The card had TAMU 82 written on it. That many people had not gone inside for sure, but at least I had some form of an ID-card, something that the hundreds of Indonesian people at the other gate lacked.

Oops ...

Via a backdoor at the first floor I entered a small office, seemingly set up in a hurry or simply never finished. Two windows, an old black couch and a desk. Both windows were manned, 'femaled' actually but I think that word doesn't exist yet. After filling in the form I waited in a queue with some other people. The person in front of me didn't bring a copy of the passport and the entrance stamp to Malaysia. I got hot and probably got red in the face as well. I didn't bring that as well. Just completely forgotten in the stress. The solution was sounded easier than it actually was. "Downstairs you can make copies, after that just come back". And that is what happened. The British guy was also waiting for a copy, I could join that small crowd of people, because a bunch of completely unmannered Indonesians who tried to get their copy as fast as possible for that one Ringgit.

Pushing and pulling seemed to be accepted here. I was happy that there were no little kids here, because they would get into big problems for sure. I was on the right side against a blinded fence, so I only had to endure pushing from two sides. When the crowd got larger, pushing and pulling got worse as well. More and more people tried to push their hand and passport into the small hole in the window of the copy office. Sometimes that happened with quite some violence. I was hoping that the edge of the glass would be so sharp that some people would get cut, but the glass was probably already worn for a long time. It already lasted for about 20 minutes, in the burning sun. At that moment I no longer accepted being the crazy bule (Caucasian). I got out of the crowd, looking for an alternative. That proved to be a lot more easy that just waiting. The British guy was thinking the same. He was in a taxi before I did, but less than five minutes later we were in the same copyshop, making copies of our passports.

When I got back my passport, it had it's sixth new visa in it as well, ready to be stamped.
When I got back my passport, it had it's sixth new visa in it as well, ready to be stamped.

In fact it was just a matter of minutes before I was back at the embassy again. Still I had my TAMU 82 card around my neck, so I could easily enter the embassy again. Even better, I went via the entrance the Indonesians used and there was not a single person to remark me. Only at the next check I was asked to show the card. It was a simple plastic card which was easy to reproduce. But well, someone with bad intentions would not be stopped by something small like this. Back to the first floor. There I could submit my paperwork when it was my turn. Several minutes. Checking some details and then I was presented a 135 Ringgit bill. I could pick up my passport again coming Thursday. That was just three days, a whole lot faster than the eleven working days the Indonesian embassy in the Netherlands counts for processing a visa.

I was able to go, everything was finished and the coming days I would spend my time enjoying Kuala Lumpur. On the way out still quite some people at the entrance and on the area for the TKI. They still kept arriving, but somewhat slower and polite than earlier that morning. These people had probably taken a day off from work to arrange for their documents, it will cost them a days salary, payment for the proper documents and transport, because the boss will probably not pay for such expenses. They are cheap and they are able to do the 'nice' jobs, but don't ask additional questions of course. I noticed they were able of creating quite a mess at the representation of their own country. Candy papers, stickers, cigarettes were everywhere. It was just like home for them I guess.

Picking up the visa at Thursday afternoon was even more easy and fast than bringing it away. I was quite on time however there was quite some traffic jam on the main roads. I took a taxi from the Imbi monorail station, which saved me from walking the same distance I walked earlier, however walking was probably still faster I assume. At least I would not get dehydrated and I would arrive without a wet blouse. That's better as well when you enter an embassy. Again I gave my drivers license for the ID-card and I was able to get to the first floor again. It was half past four and there were about thirty people inside. Also people who didn't have a clue what documents they needed to apply for a visa. My amazement when they were actually properly told how to do things. I handed over my paper to the lady behind the window and could take a seat. A few minutes later I got my passport again. That was what I call speedy service. Where 'guests' meet with Indonesian people, there is some room for improvement, but the service here was just perfect.

Tags: travel, passport, indonesian, indonesia, visa, visit, photos

Posted in Travel @ 25 September 2006 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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