Monday, April 5, 2010

Rp 2.3 million, a hefty airport fee

We had an unexpected encounter when we tried to leave Indonesia for the long Good Friday weekend.

Dear Hubby's passport was stuck with immigration department due to his work permit application. The agent he hired to do the processing promised him the passport by 3 p.m on the same day we're supposed to catch our flight back to K.L. Later that evening, Dear Hubby received an email from the immigration department stating that his passport won't be ready until the following Monday. However, they will issue a letter to say that he's allowed to exit Indonesia without a passport due to unforeseen circumstances. To exit Indonesia without a passport is one thing but to enter Malaysia without a passport? Seriously, how stupid can immigration officers be?

Fast forward the story....Dear Hubby managed to get back his passport at 5p.m with some help. We rushed to the airport, proceeded to check-in and tried to clear our passports at the immigration counter when Dear Hubby was asked for the exit stamp. Of course we were puzzled. We were then escorted to a room at the side. The officer explained that an exit stamp is required before he is allowed to leave Indonesia.

Feeling confused, Dear Hubby made calls to the agent asking him to clarify the matter with the immigration department. Soon after, the officer told us that in order to let Dear Hubby exit Indonesia without the stamp, he has to prove that there's an emergency situation back home that requires immediate attention. So I said how are we supposed to 'prove' an emergency anyway (not like we have one). That was when the officer sat down for a while and said, "Saya bisa tolong bapak. Ada 'tiga'?" (I can help you. Do you have 'three'?). By 'three', he meant 3 million rp.

Both of us emptied our purse and wallet only to find 2.3 million rp. The officer refused, saying that it's not going to be enough for all of them while pointing to all the immigration officers out there. He suggested Dear Hubby make withdrawals from an atm around the corner to make up for the balances. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Dear Hubby doesn't have a local bank account yet. After some persuasions, the officer finally took the money, stashed it into one of the drawers and proceeded to process the 'exit stamp'.

I looked out the tiny cabin window as the plane took off, feeling wonderfully relief that Dear Hubby is with me despite the fact that the so-called airport fee is more expensive than both of our return tickets that trip.

*FYI, 2.3 million rp is equivalent to about RM800 or US$250.

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