Thursday, October 1, 2009

Clearing into Bali

Monday morning we did the paperwork dance and officially cleared into Indonesia. What a very, very pleasant surprise! This clearance process was so simple and easy and pleasant. Glad we did not let the agent or the rumors deter us from handling this clearance ourselves. Also, very glad we cleared in at Bali and not at Kupang. Friends went to Kupang and found it is indeed impossible to clear in there by yourself. Absolutely must use the services of the local agent and pay him $250 so he can bribe the Kupang harbormaster. The harbormaster threatens you with a large bond unless the agent clears you in. We assume the harbourmaster wants to accept his bribes from a partner-in-crime rather than the hundreds of individuals that clear into Kupang annually. What a racket these guys have got going over there.

We had the first taxi drop us at the Bali Marina in Benoa so we could collect our CAIT (cruising permit). We had applied for the CAIT back in June while we were in Mackay, Australia. Had to wire the money for the agent's fee via Western Union and total cost after all the fees was $240 USD. Then we were able to obtain our 60-day visas at the Indonesian Consulate in Darwin (without a sponsor letter -- which the agent insisted was required and would cost an additional $140 USD plus Western Union fees, so the total would have been closer to $190 USD and we still would have had to pay the actual visa cost at the Consulate). The visas cost us $60 AUD each. By this time we were fed up with the agent at Bali Marina. The agent insisted that we could not get the visas without paying him for that sponsor letter, and also insisted that we could only clear in and out at Benoa unless we paid him $600 to avoid the boat import fee. He insisted that unless we paid him the $600 that we would not be allowed to stay in Indonesia longer than 20 days and that we could not clear out at Nongsa near Singapore. What a crock!!

We arrived at Bali Marina and told the agent that we wanted our CAIT and we would handle clearance by ourselves. As he handed us the CAIT he was still insisting there there were "big difficulties for import fee on boat" and that we needed to pay him the additional $600 in order to avoid these "big difficulties." Bill told him to just hand over the CAIT and we would deal with whatever difficulties arose. We had already printed 6 copies of the CAIT that the agent had emailed to us, but we wanted the original CAIT to show to the various officials.

As we walked out of Bali Marina there were several taxis and drivers milling about. One of them told us we could walk to the Harbormaster, that we did not need a taxi because it was nearby. I asked him to take us anyway because he knew where it was and we didn't. So we piled into his very nice air-conditioned little van and within minutes were at the Harbormaster's office. There were 13 people, all in nice clean uniforms, and all doing absolutely nothing. There were half-dozen Indonesian locals waiting in the outer office, but our taxi driver took us right through to the inner offices and told them we had just arrived and wanted to clear in. A man handed us a form with 5 carbon copies, which we filled-in and submitted to him along with copies of our boat documentation, clearance from Darwin, the CAIT, and our crew list. Bill had printed 6 copies of each of these items because we knew each office would want a copy. The Harbormaster was most impressed with our crew list because we had a color photo of our boat printed in the upper corner of the crew list, as well as the normal basic boat details. This crew list with the color photo proved to be very popular in each office we visited. Everyone was all smiles and handshakes and no one asked for any fees or even hinted for any bribes or gifts. They gave us the completed and stamped form along with the 5 copies to take to the other offices required for clearance. One office finished in less than 10 minutes.

Next was the Immigration official, which was just a short taxi drive away. Glad we didn't try to do this walking because it was hot and we had no idea where the various offices were located. We were in and out of Immigration in less than 5 minutes. Again, he loved our crew list with the color photo of the boat. Having the visa from the Consulate in Darwin stamped in our passports sent us immediately on our way. Second office finished.

Next was Quarantine; again just a short taxi drive. In and out in 10 minutes. Again, both officials there loved the crew list with the color photo of the boat. Did not even ask us a single question about what items were onboard. Third office finished.

Next was Customs; very close by. They also loved the crew list with the color photo of the boat. They stamped our form, kept a copy of everything (each office requires a copy of everything), and told us goodbye with smiles. No request for any fees and no hint of wanting a bribe or gift. They were very cordial and professional and we were out in minutes. Fourth office finished.

Last was Navy; a bit longer drive but still nearby. All of these offices are situated relatively close to one another but the buildings are not well marked and having a taxi driver makes it all so much easier. The Navy guy was also impressed with the color photo of the boat on our crew list. Think we may have started something that other cruisers might want to emulate. And, again, no request for fees and no hint of wanting a bribe or gift. Fifth office finished. We had our clearance in -- properly signed and stamped by all 5 government offices.

We were done!! Totally cleared into Indonesia. No hassle (except what we experienced at Bali Marina, above). No fees. No bribes. Not one mention by any official about the supposed temporary import fee of 25% of the value of your boat. Not one mention by any official about a "bond" by an agent instead of paying the temporary import fee. No problem with clearing in at Benoa, Bali and then clearing out at Nongsa, Batam near Singapore. No problem staying 60 days in Indonesia because we had obtained the visa at the Consulate in Darwin. This entire process was so simple and pleasant. I have decided that and/or Bali Marina is a total rip-off. Bali Marina charged $50 USD more for the CAIT than friends paid to another agent. And Bali Marina wanted twice the fee for the supposed required sponsor letter for a Visa than our friends paid the other agent. And that $600 fee to obtain a bond in lieu of the temporary import fee is plain bullshit. Stay clear of the bandit at Bali Marina and clear yourself in, folks. It is easy and free. Just have all your paperwork in order and arrive with a friendly attitude and smiles on your faces and the officials respond likewise. Just make certain you have the CAIT and the visa prior to arriving in Indonesia. Avoid Kupang unless you are willing to pay the $250 bribe to the agent there. And by all means use a different agent than Bali Marina or to obtain the CAIT.

After finishing this clearance process we had the taxi drop us at Makro for shopping. For all his services we paid the taxi driver 100,000 rupiah -- roughly $10 USD. After loading up on fresh produce and some of the very limited breads (they don't eat western-style breads in Asia so there isn't a huge choice), we hailed another taxi back to Serangan where our boat is moored. The odd thing was that all 3 taxi drivers that day were named Wayan. That struck us as odd, but if you read our posting on Bali Culture you will understand why Wayan is such a common name.

Tuesday our friends Michael and Linda on S/V B'Sheret arrived. We had transited the Panama Canal with B'Sheret rafted on our port side, and had last seen them in Darwin. They had already cleared in at Kupang so were free to do as they pleased on their first day in Bali. The 4 of us hailed a taxi and went to the Bali Marina restaurant for a great lunch. That restaurant and bar is the one nice thing at Bali Marina and we would recommend it. Then we went to Carrefour center in Kuta. Carrefour is a huge supermarket, usually found in French islands. The Carrefour center in Kuta is 4 stories tall. The supermarket is on the top level, and the first 3 levels are filled with various shops. We spent the afternoon shopping and found Crisco!!!!! In fact, it is butter-flavored Crisco which is exactly what I have been searching for. It was on the cookie shelf between chocolate and vanilla. Guess they don't have a clue what Crisco is. There is a picture of cookies on the Crisco label, so we guess they thought it was a can of cookies. I have been looking for Crisco or some sort of shortening that does not require refrigeration since we arrived in New Zealand last November and was down to the last 1/2 cup of our last small can. So I bought 10 small cans of Crisco. That should last a long while regardless of how much baking I do. Bill thought I was over-buying but since shortening hasn't been sold in the last 8 countries I wasn't taking any chances on finding it in the next 8 countries. After all, butter does not make a decent pie crust. Nothing beats Crisco for flakey pastries. So I bought all the little cans that were on that supermarket shelf.

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