TED Rule 13

Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia

I know I’m late, I missed a TED rule last week. No worries, I’ll add one more soon! During the past two weeks, I’ve been to crazy big durian Jakarta, then Bandung to meet some friends for the week-end. As my visa had to be extended, I came back to Jakarta to start the process. Now I’m on the road again, crossing the Java island to reach Bali and Lombok, where I should arrive next monday to meet another friend.

Since the beginning of my trip in Indonesia, I faced some visa challenges with authorities. Let me summarise quickly two little stories:

– When I arrived one month ago to Jakarta airport, the immigration guy asked me if I had a return ticket. I’ve been to Indonesia many times before, and never had to show a return ticket to get the visa. Unfortunately this time they asked, and I did not have one. The immigration guy transferred me to his boss desk, where after talking for some time, the boss told me “No worry, you help me I help you”. I asked how much, expecting a small amount of money. When I saw the number he was writing, I laugh… 1 000 000 rupia (=81 Euros). It is more than the minimum monthly salary in Indonesia (900000Rp), more than my fly ticket to and back from Kuala Lumpur. I manage to live decently with less than 200.000Rp per day. Well, so I laugh nervously and the guy took it bad. Angry, he told me I had to buy a return ticket now and left to find a travel agency representative. Then I waited. 10min… 20min… After 30min I wrote a fake email on my iPod touch, with the date and number of a fake ticket out of Indonesia. I then went to another immigration guy asking naively where his boss was, and if I could go. When he asked for my passport and if I had a return ticket, I showed him the iPod. He just stamped my passport and let me go…

– When I came back to Jakarta airport one month later to extend my visa, it was in different office, but I had the same problem. You can tell when you cannot enter the office because a fat official with a strange smile takes your shoulder and say: “You want to extend your visa, I can help you if you help me”. I just said I will not. It removed his smile, I had to leave. I managed to find a friendly young woman official who gave me the address of an other immigration office in central Jakarta. The day after I was there, and one more day to get the visa extension, the official way!

I never had corruption problem before in Indonesia, so I knew it is just some wrong apples, most of Indonesians are honest and very helpful with strangers.

Unfortunately sometimes I had to pay. When dealing with the police, there is no escape… They arrested me twice on my motorbike, always finding something wrong (no lights during day, no papers with me). Although it was a reasonable price (50Rp and 100Rp), the money get directly to their pocket.

At a different level, corruption is way bigger in India. And Shaffi Mather, successful entrepreneur, has a very good idea to fight it

Imagine you’re being asked to pay a bribe in your day to day life, to get something done. What do you do?

At my level, in a country where I am seen from far away as a tourist, how do I avoid bribes?

I managed to get the visa and extension without paying bribes. For the police, here is my new way to avoid corruption:

my anti corruption mask!My anti corruption mask! Now I am wearing it any time I ride my motorbike. The mask with a jacket and helmet makes me much more difficult to see from the police. I am not anymore a tourist riding a bike, I am Anonymous inside the huge mass of Indonesian motorbikes. Well… so far it worked.

Any other ideas?

TED rule 13: Avoid paying bribes