Bali has a unique culture, it’s stunningly beautiful and home of maybe the most friendly and open-minded people in Indonesia.
Mass-Tourism and Money have destroyed a lot of Bali
In my opinion after living there for 1,5 years, not much is left of this once so unique island and its culture. Instagram, business and higher living-costs than ever before have turbo-boosted Bali into the world of capitalism and we all are to be blamed for this. Of course also me.
Beautiful history and Stories
Have you ever heard the story of mystical, powerful meridians surrounding our planet earth? It is said that were two of these meridians meet, its a special place. For example Stonehenge, Gizeh and Nazca. The story goes that in Bali there are crossing dozens of these meridians.
What do you think after living there?
Lempuyang Temple (the gates of heaven), Mother Temple Besakih as well as Canggu (the digital nomad-mekka) have turned into nothing more than beautiful backgrounds for instagram-pictures or asian Disneyland. Very few to none of the magic is left.
Things started to get a bit… unusual at the Imigrasi. I texted the number I got from Nenggah, hoped for the best and went to the Imigrasi on my scooter relatively early in the morning.
The Imigrasi is feared and often hated by many expats. Long waiting queues and a feeling one is completly helpless to the quite spontaneous decisions of authorative people in a still fairly unknown country.
Okay, but so far nothing unusual, no?
It started when I sat on my chair in the waiting queue. I was quite tired and afraid of the things I knew that would happen soon, with all the people I neither knew nor understood. Insecure, scared and overtired.
Suddenly a local man appeared out of nowhere. He smiled all over his face and headed directly towards me. He sat down next to me, kept on smiling and asked me if I was Chris. I confirmed and followed him to the room where ones fingerprints and photos were taken.
From that point it started to get unusual
With the greatest polite- and friendlyness the people in the photo-room helped me to sit down and even handed the fingerprint-scanner to me. Smiling all the time and showing their best manners and behavior, so I got to be back where I had parked my scooter after max. 5 minutes.
Normally it takes around 2-3 hours for this process. When I left the building, the security even opened the door for me. When I was looking for the scooter, 2 men in uniform stopped me and pointed on my scooter which already stood there, held by 2 other men in uniform.
So I just had to sit on it, turn around the key and drive home. Felt a bit like valet-parking. So my first rough calculation was that I might be back around 12, but in fact I was home around 9:30a.m.. after a nice and pleasant trip to the Imigrasi.
It started all when I noticed I was close to missing out my date of entering Indonesia. I was very close to be more specific. In fact it was the evening before.
Every expat on a visit-, or tourist-visa is very eager to extend the visa or get a new one, simply because you will get charged 300k for every day you are in Indonesia without a visa when leaving the country. It doesn’t sound much, but like so many things here – it sums up quickly.
So what did you do?
I knew I needed somebody local being registered in Bali, so I took (or rather “sat” on) my scooter and basically started to think. Who could be my “sponsor”, who I could ask, who wouldn’t charge me for that favor and who is registered in Bali, because only rather few local people are.
So I simply drove in the yard of my neighbor Nenggah. I knew by his name, his dress and the dresses of his family he was “Bali asli”, an original natural-born Balinnese man. He said “no problem. I’ve got a friend working at the Imigrasi, just give me your passport!”
Then actually the first part of my weird story began…
I felt naked, vulnerable and helpless without my passport when I rode to the Imigrasi the next morning, because I had no idea what would happen there. From Nenggah I got a number that I should text in exchange for my passport.