How to extend an Indonesian tourist visa (Solo update)

For the first half of my story in Indonesia this summer, I had to extend my tourist visa. This time, I did it in Solo’s immigration office. I was worried that they might send me to the capital of the province (Semarang, two and a half hours away), but luckily I could do everything right in Solo. This leads me to believe that you should be able to extend your visa at any immigration office you find, but no promises.

See my earlier post for an overview of the process. In Solo, everything worked exactly the same way, with one crucial difference: almost no foreigners go to the Solo immigration office. When I walked in the building, it was swamped with Indonesians,1 but by the time I got upstairs and wound my way to the back of the building, there was only one other person hanging about.

This crucial detail means that it was much easier and more pleasant to extend my visa in Solo. I was able to go in every morning just after opening, get my business done, and get out very quickly. The service also felt more personable, simply because there were less people traipsing through there every day.

The only annoyance was that the three day process still was carried out, even though it seemed like I should be able to submit all my papers and pay on the same day. On the flip side, in Jogja I sometimes was told to come in the afternoon, but in Solo I was able to get everything done in the morning. They were also flexible about what day I came in to pick up my passport, something I might be afraid to ask about in Jogja.

And let me just repeat this: there was literally no waiting. No crazy lines and numbers, no lost documents. One morning, I was in and out in eleven minutes. So much nicer than Jogja. The only drawback is that Solo’s immigration office is further from the city than Jogja’s.

1As it always is–what are they all doing there?

Serat Yusuf, or how I spent my summer vacation

As I mentioned earlier, the first part of this summer I was in Indonesia just doing language study. I was lucky enough to get a last-minute scholarship, which meant that I got to study with two university professors in the Javanese department at UNS. It was awesome. My teachers were great.

On the last day of classes, I got to take a field trip to one of the libraries in Solo so that I could practice my reading. These days, Javanese is written in Latin script, but it also has its own script that was used up through the first half of the 20th century, so I needed to learn that too.

It was really interesting getting access to manuscript libraries in Indonesia. Technically, I could have just walked in on my own, but it felt too strange to do so. What would I say? What explanation could I give? So having my teacher bring me in and introduce me to everyone really helped. Now I feel like there’s a bridge and I can now go back to those libraries on my own.

This library that I visited on my last day is probably not like what you’re picturing. It was one room, with shelves to the ceiling covered with glass and low tables. When my teacher wondered aloud how they reach the high shelves, the answer was that they don’t put any books up there.

And those books? They were all manuscripts. It was totally exciting and also totally intimidating. Am I at the point in my studies where I can work with manuscripts?

The answer was apparently yes. My teacher asked for something unique and out came Serat Yusuf. A manuscript from 1729. And when I say from 1729, I mean that particular copy was created in 1729, copied from an earlier version. It tells the story of the prophet Yusuf.

Just looking at the manuscript was amazing (you can see a photo of it here. its opening pages were illuminated and covered in gold leaf. Though there was some damage from bugs, overall the manuscript was in very good condition. It was beautiful.

And then came the hard part: actually reading it. Four hours later, I’d gotten through exactly four pages and so far nothing had happened in the story. but a month before I wouldn’t have been able to read it at all, so I still felt pretty accomplished.