Jakarta Culture Shock

Well, “culture shock” is perhaps a bit overblown, but moving to Jakarta to start my internship, I immediately started to notice little things that were markedly different from my calm life in Central Java. Let me present them to you in a small list.

Obviously Jakarta is a melting pot and moreover isn’t a place where people would have spoken Javanese anyway. Still, it feels funny not to be able to fall back on my Javanese pleasantries when I want to butter someone up.

Bahasa Betawi
Basically, people really do say lu and gue here for you and me, which is weird because I’ve only ever seen that on TV. Fun fact: These pronouns are actually borrowed from Hokkien.

Food prices are so high! A meal that would have cost me less than Rp 10,000 now costs almost Rp 20,000. Ouch.

No driving
I’m only here for a short time, so I decided that it’s just easier to not rent a motorbike, though I think I would if I stayed here longer. Without a motorbike, I have to rely on buses and trains, walking, or Go-Jek. And I will say that Go-Jek has been amazing. No more bargaining with strange men over every single ride!

The first thing anybody every mentions about Jakarta is the traffic. And they’re right. Jakarta is full of bad traffic and traffic jams. What people usually fail to mention is that all the traffic causes a lot of pollution. Now, I won’t try to say that this is anything like China levels of pollution. That said, now that I spend more time walking around outside, I find that I wear a face mask a lot. When I don’t, I end of significantly more sneezey for hours afterward.

Water dispensers
For some reason, most of the water dispensers I’ve seen here have the water jug hidden somewhere inside the dispenser instead of perched on top of the dispenser. This is a little thing, but it’s still so strange. If the water jug is inside, you can’t see when it’s about to run out.

Already-brewed tea at a small eating establishment is apparently not a thing in Jakarta. Most of the time when I eat out and want my standard iced tea, I’m either handed a bottled tea or a glass with its own tea bag. If I’m lucky. One time I got a strange glass filled half with tea and half with a mysterious, clear liquid that didn’t seem like it was sugar.


How to extend an Indonesian tourist visa (VOA)

As of right now, passport holders from 169 countries can receive a free visa on arrival to enter Indonesia. These visas are good for thirty days and cannot be renewed. However, there also exists another visa on arrival, which costs $35. This is the old VOA and is available for passport holders from countries not on the above list or for people who planned ahead and want to stay in Indonesia for more than thirty days. This is possible if you first get the paid-for visa and then go to an immigration office to renew the visa.

Getting the VOA
This trip, I obtained my visa on arrival in Jakarta. I was worried that with the new free visa system it would be very hard to buy a visa, but it was actually quite easy. There’s a counter set up just to pay for visas and though the woman working there at first wondered why I wanted to buy a visa, she understood immediately when I said I hoped to stay more than thirty days. I paid in US dollars and used exact change, though I expect she would have given me change. I’ve heard that sometimes they won’t make change, though, so keep that in mind and plan ahead.

Extending the VOA: Day One
Extending your visa on arrival takes a total of three days. On the first day, I arrived at the Yogyakarta Immigration Office just after it opened and was seventh in line. I had to fill out a form that, excitingly, had both Indonesian and English on it (I remember the days when the forms were Indonesian-only). All of the questions were fairly simple, though you do need an address and telephone number for your “organization” in your home country.

I then had to turn in the form along with one copy of my passport, my visa, and my plane ticket out of the country. Don’t be like me and forget to bring a copy of your plane ticket. However, if you do, there’s a print shop across the road and down the first large street to the west. It’s a ways down the road past two photocopy places, but it’s walkable if you’re on foot. After turning all of this in, I was told to come back on Monday (it was a Thursday) to pay for the extension.

Extending the VOA: Day Two
My second day (third business day) in the VOA process did not go as smoothly as I would have hoped. Ideally, you arrive at the Immigration Office, pick up the packet that you filled out before, pay for the visa extension, have your picture and fingerprints taken, and leave. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to pick up my paperwork right away because, for some reason, it hadn’t been processed yet. This led to a total time at immigration of at least three hours, which was more than I would have liked.

Besides the waiting time, however, everything was simple. The cost was Rp 355,000.

Extending the VOA: Day Three
On the final day of the extension process, you arrive to pick up your passport. In my case, it was not the next consecutive business day, but the day after that. I was also told to come at 1:00 PM, as was everyone I heard talking to immigration officials while waiting during my other two visits.

When I arrived, the counter wasn’t open yet. I think some people had already stacked their receipts at the counter and were waiting to collect their passports, but I waited till someone arrived at the counter before turning my receipt in as well. People were then called up one by one to write their name and passport number in a book and then you’re done!

Overall, the process was pretty simple. Just remember to bring all the documents that you need so that you don’t have to go trekking around to find a printer. Also, if you’re trying to plan your schedule, know that I was told to skip a day in between each of my visits to Immigration–the three days were not consecutive. Finally, be prepared to wait a while. In the end, though, you should get your extension.