PART 1. Bangkok.


Arrived late at night on August 7.  Happy to see that the driver I’d hired to take me to the hotel was there with my name on a sign (love that).  He was friendly, and his car was clean and new and functional (these things are not guaranteed). I enjoyed playing with my new smartphone while sitting in Jakarta traffic. The hotel was a lovely bed and breakfast with a lush tropical garden and pool (as suggested by Geoff).

jakarta bed & breakfast

The next morning, the quest for the research permit continued. I, for some reason, decided not to follow Geoff’s advice about hiring someone, and instead decided I wanted to experience this all first-hand…fortunately, I had the assistance of a local volunteer – an eager and bright undergraduate who would be joining my research team – who I’d asked to help me find my way around Jakarta.

Wednesday, August 8
RISTEK: I receive letters & instructions from a helpful man:

  1. “First, go to the Police HQ to apply for a travel permit.  You can pick that up the next day.”
  2. “Then you need to go to the Immigration Office here to request a letter to Immigration in Samarinda, and also to request an extension of the deadline to register at that office, since you are supposed to report within 7 days of arriving in the country.  You’ll be charged 200,000 rupiah each day after that.  But since you might be in Jakarta until 7 days after, you should ask for this extension.”
  3. “Then you need to come back here on Friday, because the official who needs to sign your research permit will not be here until Friday.  You will pay then – USD 250 or about 2,500,000 rupiah.  Then you take that permit and the Police travel letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs.” (Paying over “a million” anything does give one pause, even if the exchange rate is ~9500 rupiah: 1 USD).
  4. “Ministry of Home Affairs will give you a letter one business day later.  This letter is for the governor in Samarinda and the police in Balikpapan.”
  5. “Then you can leave Jakarta, and apply for your KITAS in Samarinda, report to the governor, and report to the police in Balikpapan with a copy of the KITAS.  While you are waiting for the KITAS, maybe you can start your research…your local counterpart can discuss with you.”
so many letters. for getting more letters.

Met the local volunteer.  We went to MABES Polri – Police headquarters: Once we found the correct office (took us several tries, wandering around in the hot, humid yet dusty, air – it’s the INTELKAM office, for your future reference), it was smooth.

Next stop: Immigration Office – “You have to report to Samarinda by the 15th at the latest.”  “Ah…but…the letter I just gave you asks for an extension until the 22nd.”  “Yes. Go to Samarinda by the 15th.”  At that point, I was optimistic that I’d be done in Jakarta by then, so I didn’t pursue the matter further.

Next: Lunch…for me…and overview of project with volunteer.  I felt bad eating in front of the volunteer, who was fasting, but I felt like I was about to pass out.

discreet daytime eating behind a screen

Thursday, August 9:
MABES Polri: Dropped off my claim slip, waited about 40 minutes until my name was called, picked up the travel permit.
Immigration Office: Picked up the letter, the purpose of which remained unclear.
Another mall-time lunch.

eating in malls seemed easiest during hot days + ramadhan. did you know that a&w now serves veggies burgers?

Friday, August 10:
RISTEK: The very helpful man who had conversed with me on Wednesday did not seem to recognize me.  “Yes, who are you?  What do you need?”  But I got my research permit and forked over 1,300,000 rupiah that they asked for.  I decided I would not question this discount.

Ministry of Home Affairs: Last major step!  Then good to go!  Just have to pick up the letter on Monday, and… “They say you can pick it up on…Thursday,” translated the volunteer.  “…Thursday?”  “Yes…the officials who need to sign are on holiday already.”  “Thursday…the 16th…ah.”

Quick sidebar to assess the options.  The volunteer arranged for an employee in her father’s office to pick up the letter on Thursday and mail it to my collaborators in Samarinda, so that I could go ahead to Samarinda and report to immigration there.

research permit and travel letter. i feel so official.

Booked a flight to Samarinda for Sunday (wow, look at me, living on the edge with all these last-minute flight bookings!).  Alert the patient, helpful, and wonderful Danielle and Budi (local collaborators) that I will be arriving at their home in a couple of nights.


Website Built by

%d bloggers like this: