I woke this morning with only one task on my job list – “Visa”! So after a good nights sleep I headed down to the reception of my hotel to find out how to get to the Hana Express office at Tras St, on the other side of Singapore! Turns out, there was a bus leaving from the stop right outside the hotel which could take me straight there!
However before I go any further, I want to explain a little more about the process I went through to choose Hana Express because that in itself cause me quite a lot of angst. Firstly, the big question is why did I get someone else to get my visa when I could just have easily gone to the Indonesian Embassy myself and applied for it? The answer is quite simple: I am a chicken! In the past, when I did a visa run to Singapore, I always did it myself however the process was never simple.
My very first time visiting the Embassy began with my being refused admittance because I was wearing shorts. In hindsight now after my 6 weeks in Java, it is hardly surprising however I had just come from Bali and it was a shock! It was also really annoying because I was with 2 young children and as the Embassy is only open for 1/2 a day and I had gone by public transport, I lost a day! I also had many other issues with completing application forms and providing necessary paperwork. The Indonesian Embassy is a living, breathing bureaucracy which thrives on red tape. So to avoid any stress, I went online and did some research. The first company I was tempted to use had glowing reviews and my sponsor, Pak Agung also recommended them, however the most recent review was from 2009. With nothing more recent, I returned to the internet and this time found Hana Express. They had very recent recommendations by expats who had used them as recently as late 2012. So I sent an email to them and within a day had a reply agreeing to help. HIs reply included a list of the paper work I had to provide:
I was very impressed with the detail of this especially as I’d rung the the first company as well and all I’d been told to bring with me were the letter, the $160 & a copy of the KTP! As I emailed them with less than 24 hours to go before flying out, I didn’t scan a copy of the sponsor letter. I just kept my fingers crossed that it would be ok and if not, that I would then have time to ask Pak Agung to write me another.
However another fact also came to light while doing this last bit of research. My tourist visa could have been extended! I had no idea until then that my 211 Tourist Visa could have actually been extended 4 x1 month and had I done that, it would have given me till 10 November & then I could have flown out and come back the same day with a VOA (visa on arrival) to keep me going for the last month. However, my flight to Singapore had been booked and paid for and everything else was all set to go, so I came anyway!
So, back to this morning! I hopped on the bus and travelled the 19 stops to the Amara Hotel. A short walk around the back of the Amara Hotel was Tras St and not far along I found the Lian Huat Building. A man sitting near the lift took one look at me and asked straight away if I was looking for Hana Express! However the most reassuring sight was the queue of people standing outside the Hana Express office. I was so reassured to see them all there and from that moment knew I could hand my passport over with no qualms. When it was my turn, a lovely man took all my paperwork including Pak Agung’s sponsorship letter. He was happy with the content of the letter, however unfortunately the letter was addressed to me not the Indonesian Embassy. At that point, I thanked my lucky stars I had not gone to the Indonesian Embassy myself and that I had paid someone else to do it for me! They told me not to worry and that they would organise it all! He also offered to drop my passport back to my hotel as he was coming out to Little India anyway! So I left everything in their capable hands and felt a huge weight leave my shoulders. I felt like cheering through the open window while waiting for the lift!
At 4:30pm, my doorbell rang (what; I have a doorbell?) and there was a fellow from the Hana Express Office with my passport complete with visa!!