This was to be our last day in Belitung before we set off for the the Kumai River – a two night/ two and a half days sail away.
Our main objective was to get our cultural/social visas extended. These visas can be renewed several times to allow you to stay in Indonesia for six or seven months. We went to the Immigration office first thing and started off in an entrance lobby in the building that fronted the road where we waited for a while until eventually someone came along and directed us to a building in the back.
As we stepped into the air conditioned cool of the Immigration Office we realised this could be a long process – the place was crowded with people, some local people I think were applying for passports, others possibly for work visas. We were given some forms to fill out (which required information about our sponsor and a copy of our original sponsor letter) and then were told to go next door to the stationery shop and buy each of us a red folder.
The two skippers duly went off but returned with yellow folders instead of red! Horror of horrors the stationery shop had run out of red folders so Capt’n Birdseye with his designer cap on, decided to buy yellow ones as this was the closest on the colour spectrum to red.
Clearly yellow ones would not suffice as yellow folders were being used for the Indonesians applying for passports. Only red would do so Captain Yantara was sent back to the stationers to make sure there were no red ones. They had definitely run out but undaunted Captain Yantara came back with blue folders. Grudgingly these were accepted.
We then had our finger prints and photos taken and paid the fee and thought that was it but apparently there were checks that had to be made before the visa was renewed and we were told the passports would be ready for picking up the next day.
We hadn’t realised that the process would take so long – after all, it was only a visa extension and all the relevant checks must have been made when we made the original visa application. We explained that we had planned to leave the following day to go to Kumai and a day’s delay would have meant we wouldn’t be there on time to meet our friends and be there for the start of our tour up the river.
We were extremely grateful to the kind Immigration official who said he would do his best to get them processed by the end of the day.
In the meantime we had some lunch at our favourite restaurant in Tanjang Padang – Unique Bistro – and bought some final provisions for our trip at the market and enjoyed a very good coffee with a man we had got chatting to in the market. He had excellent English – all self taught by listening to Radio Australia and the BBC World Service.
Just before 4pm we were back at the Immigration Office and after only a short wait our passports were handed back to us. We were very grateful to the Immigration officer who had rushed them through and who had stayed back after the office had closed to do the final checks and stamp the passports.
It was to be Hannah’s last night in Belitung so we went for an explore of another of the little islets near to where we were anchored.
There was not another soul in this gorgeous spot and it felt like our own private paradise. We found a well built summer house perched on top of a rock which was a great place to sit a while and take in the wonderful view. Our daughter also found a tree suitable to climb – which of course she had to do.
It was a great way to spend her last afternoon in this undiscovered and idyllic spot.
Earlier in the day we had walked along a path at the back of Ringgo’s warung in Kelayang Beach and Around the small headland had discovered a brand new restaurant – we were literally amongst their first dinner guests – called Crabby Hut.
Unusually for this part of the world the buildings were designed to please the most discerning tourist – an open-sided bar, thatched roof surrounded by palm trees, white sand and trimmed gardens.
When night fell we landed on the beach in our dinghies and were in for a wonderful surprise.
There on the white sand was a beautifully laid candle-lit table complete with white tablecloth, sparkling silverware, long stem wine glasses and everything just so,
A beautifully presented meal in such a wonderful location was an amazing way for our daughter to spend her last night in Belitung.