I Fight Authority and Authority always wins

Those great lyrics to the John Cougar Melencamp song do often ring true with me. Indonesia has a complicated and often difficult yet easy to understand visa system and the rules can get murky or be very clear depending on your timing and who you talk to. My passport expired in 5 months last time I got my monthly visa extension and I was warned that I could not get another without a new passport. That inspired the last trip back to Bali to the US Consulate where a new one was to be issued, easy process but took time. It took so much time that my visa expired the day I got it back. Ruth, our wonderful agent tried in vain to get them to let me extend but it appears I hit one of those rare times where a few bucks and a wink did not work, so we were ordered out of the country.

Sam and I departed Bali and flew to Singapore to get the new visas, a two day turn around. Sam had not been to Singapore, it was my second visit. Singapore is a modern wonder city. It is super clean and safe, all at the cost of some liberties; littering or graffiti can bring a stiff penalty. Remember the American kid who was cained for spray painting graffiti? Many westerners were appalled at the crippling punishment and many said, “hit him again”, I was with the latter group. The results are a spotless city. Protesting anything is not legal unless permitted and in a special park for protesters. So here we have a safe, clean and mob free city. The cost of living is very high, as are incomes. I am so used to Indonesian prices that I gasp at any meal over four bucks. Singapore prices are more in line with Seattle than Asia.

There is no traffic, as a car permit is one hundred thousand dollars, so the only cars you see are real nice ones. We rode in a brand new Mercedes taxi yesterday Ferraris and Bentleys abound . Interesting side note, with all these hot cars on a small island with extreme law enforcement, the fad is to take the speedsters across the bridge to Malaysia where there is virtually no speed limit. The results are an astounding vehicle fatality rate of Singaporeans in Malaysia.

We arrived in town and got a cheap hotel, nothing is cheap in Singapore, in Little India. The Indian hotel guy called a guy who did visas, he said he could get ours in one day but wanted $350 to do this, I did not go for it. A great dinner of Indian food and a good night’s rest followed. The next day we were at the Indonesian consulate an hour before it opened and joined the already forming quay. We were asked to dress better, Sam put on long pants and I was given a bright green pair of work out pants, I mean green! We were told the visas would not be ready until Monday which was not going to work for me. I begged and pleaded and finally got to a real nice lady who agreed to get ours the next day.

Visas handled we went into tourist mode. Sam wanted to see the Botanical Gardens and knew I would be a pain if she took me so she bid me farewell for the day. I have seen most of the Singapore hot spots and they are amazing but I went for a sauna/massage instead. I found a bit nicer hotel in China Town. Singapore has amazing neighborhoods that represent its diverse culture; Little India and China Town are both spectacular and a real glimpse into those cultures. The Chinese medicine shops are filled with gruesome, often endangered species animal parts, remedies; rhino horn anyone?

He next morning I got our passports back, visas included, thanked all the people profusely and off to the airport we went. The Singapore airport is phenomenal, it may be the nicest airport in the world, I could live there. Sam really liked the electronic foot massage chairs, could hardly drag her out of one. the array of restaurants and shops is plentiful. There is free internet everywhere and even a TV watching area with lounge chairs and big screen tv’s to watch. On a past trip I had to spend most of the night in the airport, something I would horrified to do usually. I found a lounge with a couch to sleep on, shower and breakfast for under $20, made the night go easily. This trip we got smack dab in the middle of a fashion gala event, some new product that made “age not matter” complete with a covey of supermodels. I could not resist and asked for a photo, gee they were tall!!!

Transiting from ultra-modern Singapore to rustic Indonesia it is hard to think they are on the same planet it is more like a time warp than a plane ride. We were both glad to get back to Furthur and home. We are now good for another 90 days in Indonesia and ready for the next adventure, Gili Air here we come.