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Indonesia, Kupang: Cruisers report on clearing-in here

By Val Ellis last modified Oct 16, 2017 03:25 PM

Published: 2017-09-15 23:00:00
Countries: Indonesia

Report received 15 September, 2017
Editor's Note: Due to a technical error this report was lost in the system. It has now been recovered however we are unable to find the poster's name to include.

Use of an Agent to obtain clearance papers in Kupang are no longer required. YOU CAN GO BY YOURSELF.

Don't trust the people on the beach who says that they are the agent. They will cheat on you. They will ask for 200-300 dollars just for the clearance which is free from Customs. Then if you want to go to the bank, or supermarket, or buy something, they will ask you for extra money that i think the money is really really to much.

Clearing in: Quarantine, Customs, and the Harbour Master are located close one to another at the Tenau Harbour, west of town, and Immigration is in a completely different location not far from the airport, east of town. Because the Harbour Master demanded paperwork from the other three to be completed first.

The logical order would be to visit Immigration first, then Quarantine, then Customs, and Harbour Master last.

You must walk a few meters from the Teddys Bar to find a taxi or motorcycle with normal price. Because the taxi and motorcycle in Teddys Bar will ask twice the normal price.

SO YOU CAN GO FOR CLEARANCE BY YOURSELF! DON'T TRUST AN ILLEGAL AGENT!


Indonesia, Kupang: Played like a Fiddle!
9 April, 2017

My recent costly experience of clearing into Indonesia at Kupang on Timor. This episode is somewhat embarrassing because I am usually more savvy to the slimy antics of two bit hustlers, but this time they played me like a fiddle. Dismiss my experience as an ignorant American at your own peril, as in retrospect; I acknowledge my errors were numerous. I write this to serve as a warning to other cruisers, that the agents I dealt with in Kupang are crooks and they are good at it.

Under the new visa system, we chose to seek “On Arrival” visas in Kupang due to the reported problems with renewing the “Social Visa”.  Additionally, the Indonesian embassy in Darwin was reportedly taking up to a week to process and grant “Social Visa’s”. We were anxious to get moving and the Indonesian embassy assured us the “On Arrival” visa would be granted for 30 days and be renewable for a one-time 30-day extension. We did complete and print multiple copies of the relatively simple on-line application at https://yachtersindonesia.id/ in Darwin before departure.

My wife, infant son and I approached Kupang in the predawn hours of November 28th, 2016 aboard our Westsail 32’. It was a long windless passage from Darwin, motoring most of the way. Clearly, this is not the best time of year to be headed W’NW but we are trying to make as much headway as we can before the NW’erly monsoon season kicks into full swing. Arriving after very little sleep, we easily scoped out an anchorage spot and dropped the hook for some sleep (L 10⁰ 09.433’ S, λ 123⁰ 34.598’ E) with six meters under the keel.

Not long after sunrise, a curiously stubby looking homemade workboat approached with two men.  The boat, maybe three meters overall, had what looked like a Briggs and Stratton motor mounted on a hinged stanchion centered both longitudinally and athwartship.  This air-cooled motor sat a good two meters above the keel and well above both the center of gravity and even the boats occupants with a long shaft tube leading down at a 45⁰ angle, directly over the transom to an exposed screw some distance astern. I later came to realize this is the typical mode of propulsion in Indonesia but most installations are much more elegant and seaworthy. One of the men introduced himself as “Ayub”, a tourist agent as the other man struggled to silence the loud PUT, PUT, PUT of the sputtering engine.

Ayub proceeded to sell us on the advantages of his clearance assistance skills. He quoted us US$125 to include the taxi services and all the fees, legitimate or not. He claimed to be much cheaper than the competition and able to complete the process in only four hours. After reading several other cruisers reports of arrival in Indonesia, I was anticipating lots of bribing required for a terminally slow bureaucratic process. From reading various sources, I had the impression that under the table handouts were the only way to keep the two or three day process rolling with any momentum at all.

We agreed to hire Ayub to assist with our inbound clearance procedures and met him on the beach shortly thereafter with numerous photocopies of the standard documents in hand. We all jumped into a spacious air-conditioned taxi for the ten-minute first leg to Quarantine.

The Quarantine officer was very friendly and spoke good English, (unfortunately, I didn’t get his name). He appeared to be good friends with our agent Ayub. After completing our paperwork relatively quickly, he advised us that we would have to pay IDR 170,000 for the services. I thought to myself, little concern to me as this will come out of Ayub’s  US$125. I did not question the likely dubious fee or even demand a receipt. The quarantine officer stated that there would be no need to inspect the boat. As it turns out, Customs advised me later, in actuality Quarantine rarely if ever inspects boats.

Next stop was just down the street a few buildings to Customs. Azar, the customs officer, was a smartly dressed young man who greeted us with a smile and spoke good English. He handed me a pile of blank forms and requested signatures on each before advising that he would be out to inspect the boat that afternoon. Our brief visit was concluded for the time being.

Next stop was a 30-minute ride out to Immigration, near the airport. Upon entrance into the busy lobby, we were ushered past some 30 or 40 people presumably waiting to see an officer, directly to a cubicle in a back room. A jovial officer joined us shortly to inspect the paperwork.  He laughed and joked with our agent Ayub in Indonesian and never spoke a word of English. Stamped our passports, completed some additional forms and waved goodbye.  I saw Ayub pass him a pack of cigarettes with a new lighter and what looked like IDR 100,000 folded underneath.  No one ever asked the type of visa we were requesting and frankly, I didn’t know there was more than one type of “On Arrival” visa.

Next, we proceeded all the way back across town to the port area where Quarantine and Customs are located to visit the Harbor Master.  It struck me as odd at the time but our agent Ayub seemed almost afraid to accompany me into the Harbormasters office. In fact, he had the taxi driver accompany me to translate if necessary. The Harbormaster who was also quite friendly, advised that they needed nothing from me until 24 hours prior to departure.  Was our agent unfamiliar with this procedure, why had we come all the way out here to be told to go away? Still running on hardly any sleep, I was just happy to be finished.

Returning to the beach landing area of our dingy, I settled up with Ayub and he in turn paid the taxi driver IDR 400,000 for his work. The total came to slightly more than the agreed US$125 but not enough to quibble about. We headed back to our boat to await for Customs and get some long deserved sleep. As it turned out, the weather picked up some and Customs never showed up.

The next day, we ran into Azar, the Customs officer, in town. He advised that he would be conducting the inspection at 1200 LMT aboard. While waiting, we met another cruiser and talked about the clearance procedures. When this other cruiser heard that we received free “On Arrival” visas, he warned us that we would not be able to renew this visa. Heading back out to the boat for the inspection, Azar arrived around 1330. Azar asked us if we had any alcohol or cigars but the inspection was cursory and brief. He completed some paperwork and advised us that we would need to collect the final on-line version from him later on. He offered to bring it down to the beach for us but we agreed to meet him in his office before clearing out. As the others, Azar was very friendly, efficient, spoke good English. On top of that, Azar never asked, hinted, or implied that some under the table payment was required. To the contrary, he stated that Customs never does.

Now back to this visa issue of non-renewability. This was going to become a problem for us as we plan to need at least two months to even scratch the surface of Indonesia. We ran into a well know agent named Charles near the meeting point of Teddy’s Bar. In retrospect, Charles clearly had us marked from the word go. He confirmed that our visas could not be renewed and that if we had wanted the option to renew, we were required to purchase “US$ 35 On-Arrival” visas on arrival. He was surprised that neither our agent, Ayub, Immigration, nor the embassy in Darwin had mentioned this fact. Never the less, he would help us out “Free of Charge” out of the goodness in his heart to get to the bottom of this. He offered some solutions such as flying to Singapore or Dili and back via Bali to obtain new visas but assured me that what was done was done and Immigration simply could not rectify the error at this point (one day after clearing in). His friend the travel agent would be more than happy to make the arrangements of course.

Weighing our options, it was feeling not the least like being stuck between a rock and a hard spot. When we decided, to hell with it, we would just take our 30 days and deal with the consequences, suddenly the options started to become considerably less time consuming and expensive. In other words, when we refused to play ball, Charles apparently feared losing his meal ticket. At this point, he offered to arrange a meeting with his friend, the immigration officer.  “Let’s just go talk to him and see if there is something he can do”.

So, we sat down with Charles’s buddy in the same back room cubicle of the Immigration office we had visited initially. Charles explained the predicament and the two of them spoke for some time in Indonesian. The Immigration officer got up and explained that he would need to clear this alteration with his boss upstairs. He returned only seconds later, quicker than he could have even reached the stairs, let alone explain the issue to his boss. Returning to his seat behind the desk, the Immigration officer, with a big smile said, “You help me and I will help you”. I am kicking myself for not getting his name, especially after he urged that I not discuss this meeting with the boating community.

Back into the taxi as the US$35 per visa has to be paid to a specific bank in town. The taxi driver drove with his horn crowding the motorcycles out of the way as he raced to make the round trip back to Immigration before the officer finished for the day. We returned with time to spare and the visa payment receipts in hand. But before going into the office, Charles advised that a bribe was going to be necessary. I was expecting as much but asked what kind of money are we talking about here. Charles advised IDR 1,500,000 would be appropriate. Now considering this Immigration officer probably earns around IDR 250,000 for an eight-hour day, IDR 1,500,000 for ten minutes of corruption must be good work when you can get it. I bitterly handed Charles IDR 1,300,000 and said that that was going to have to be close enough.

I am doubtful the Immigration officer received the entire “donation” as Charles grasped at the cash like a crazed drug fiend and disappeared around the corner for some personal time with the money. Never the less, the Immigration officer received enough to generate a big smile and a STAMP, STAMP, STAMP in record time.

Returning to Teddys Bar with Charles in the cab, remember he was doing this out of the goodness in his heart. The taxi driver wanted IDR 225,000 for the three hours. I did not expect Charles to work for free but when he asked for an additional IDR 1,300,000 for his services, it was clear to me that I had been played from the beginning.

To summarize, Quarantine appears to be on the take demanding illegitimate fees. Officer Azar at Customs was professional and honest. Both of the despicable officers at Immigration made it clear ahead of time that an under the table bribe was required for their service. The agent Ayub charges vastly too much given the economy, especially considering his poor knowledge of the system. The agent Charles is nothing more than a vile common crook. Charles’s knowledge of the system is much better and he uses that to manipulate and extort as much money as he thinks he can get away with.

I should have known better than to get into a situation like this. If I were doing it all again, I would have landed on the beach with my papers in hand, caught a cab out to Quarantine and Customs, demanded receipts if charges were levied, proceeded to the bank (PT. BANK RAKYAT INDONESIA (PERSERO) Tbk.) for the “US$ 35 On-Arrival” receipts, and finished up at Immigration. Never would I have bothered with the Harbormaster (until 24hrs prior to departure) and certainly would have given the likes of Ayub and Charles a wide berth. If one felt they needed an agent, I have since been told an agent by the name of Napa is much better  and a charge of IDR 300,000 is more reasonable.

On a positive note, one stellar individual we came across was Roberto. He lives in a lean-too shack on the beach to the left of the main city beach, in front of the three story yellow and red apartment building with his family. Distinguishable by having only one leg and a crutch modified to work in the sand, Roberto is maybe the most trustworthy, sincere, friendly individual in Kupang. He works harder than most bipeds I know. He was exceptionally helpful in assisting us with diesel, potable water, and laundry all the while keeping an eye on our dingy free of charge.

At the time of writing the Indonesian Rupiah to United States Dollar exchange rate: 1 IDR = 0.000074 USD,

Rp 1,000,000 IDR  =  $ 74.00 USD.

 

PS After spending a total of five months cruising Indonesia, I have nothing but glowing remarks. We only scratched the surface of these fantastic cruising grounds. With the exception of the previously named bad apples, the Indonesian people have been wonderful, welcoming, honest and sincere. I cannot speak highly enough about the visit. We anticipate clearing out of Indonesia on Bintan Island within a few weeks.

Tim Christensen
S/V Margarita

 

Indonesia, Kupang: A Very Smooth Check-in & Obtaining a Cultural Visa
11 August, 2016

A report from Yacht Segue on their arrival at Kupang and a recommendation for an agent if requiring a cultural visa.

In short, our check-in was absolutely AMAZING!!!!

We arrived in Kupang one day before the Sail2Indonesia rally from Australia and chose to use an agent, Mr. Frenky Charles, to help us.  While an agent really isn't needed any more, we DID need a sponsor for Immigration.

It was the best US$200 we've ever spent.

We'd contacted him while in Dili for sponsorship for a Cultural Visa.  He was TOTALLY responsive and provided the documentation required by the Indonesian embassy the day after we asked him.  Upon our arrival in Kupang in the early afternoon, Frenky was waiting onshore for us and quickly whisked us through, in order, Immigration, Customs, Quarantine, and Port Captain, within two and a half hours -- and most of this time was spent in a taxi, as Immigration is at one end of town and the rest at the other!  He knew everyone in each office and we never had to wait for processing.  We were back on board Segue before 5:00 pm.

Frenky was a huge asset during out time in Kupang and we spent much time with him touring the area -- we were even invited to his home to meet his wife and family.  Lovely man.

Frenky's Contact Information on the website is correct -- he may switch mobile phones once in a while but is ALWAYS super responsive by email (frenkych@yahoo.com)

New Electronic Check-In

A note about the new electronic check-in system, the "Yacht's Electronic Registration System -- YachtERS"  I LOVE this new initiative!  We had completed the registration process when we first checked into Sorong some months ago.  When it came time to check back into the country in Kupang, all we needed to do in the Customs office was update the "Itinerary" section of our Yacht Profile (using their computer) and we were done.  So easy!

Logistics info:

Most yachts anchor in front of "Bar 999".  It's as good a place as any with a good mooring area and a small bay where there are boat boys that will take care of your dinghy for $5.00/day.  As one contributor noted the small bay is a bit ugly, so we felt that the small amount the locals asked to haul the dinghy up and down the beach to be money well spent....

We anchored in sand in 10 meters at:  10° 09.5210' S / 123° 34.4330' E -- SUPERB holding.  Didn't move so much as one meter even during the strong afternoon thermals.

There are a couple of "Hypermarts" in town which are the closest thing you'll find to a "Western" supermarket.  Take the #10 Bemo from "Bar 999" (and we were NEVER charged more than locals, rph3,000 per person - GREAT value!).

Yacht Segue
www.sailsegue.com

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