What A Difference A Nationality Made? (4)

I should have declared The Netherlands embassy my sworn enemy as I have never had any luck with them whatsoever. Last year I applied for a Schengen visa because mr.mck was going for a training and I decided to join him, and it took the consular here in Aberdeen 2 weeks to proceed the visa. By the time I got my passport and visa back, mr.mck has come back from Holland with gouda cheese.

This time, he has found out earlier he has to make another trip for a meeting, which conveniently is only a couple of days before our holiday. So instead of leaving the cold icy Aberdeen on Friday 6 AM, he could sleep warm and nicely the night before in Amsterdam, wake up in a more sensible time to catch the flight to Singapore at 10 AM. Knowing this, I quickly decided to join him as well. With three weeks left in my hand and complete paper, I marched down to the Netherlands consular and told the nice lady who served me that I wanted to join my husband to Amsterdam, stop over for one night before continuing our journey back to Asia.

She produced the infamous black book, read it thoroughly, found Indonesia on the list, looked at me and said that the visa process will take 5 weeks. 5 weeks!!!

I said it used be 2 weeks, not 5 weeks. What changes? She shrugged and gave the official answer, the process of ensuring my passport is clear to enter the other Schengen countries. With Switzerland joining the scheme, maybe it takes longer as another country must ensure I am not a terrorist (my thought, not hers). I tried to reason by saying with 5 weeks, it means I would never ever be able to join my husband to Amsterdam. Ever. He wouldn’t know his trip 5 weeks ahead. Even that, he would only get approval from his boss for ticket and accommodation only 2 weeks prior to his meeting. She said she couldn’t help me, because holiday and visitor visa isn’t business, isn’t making money, isn’t urgent, unless somebody dies. I almost said that could be arranged but I bit my tongue and excused myself.

She then gave me an insight, that marrying a British should make this easier, as I wouldn’t be a burden to the Netherlands government (her words, seriously!), as UK government will be responsible for my existence. But even that, she cannot guarantee it will take less than 5 weeks and she is obliged to say 5 weeks nonetheless. Then she suggested me to become a British, as it would save me from a lot of hassles.

Like I don’t know that.

Disappointed because I only could see the Schipol interior, again, for the hundred times, and wouldn’t be able to meet my cousin, I then proceed with our Cambodia trip. I know that my husband needs a visa, so I went to the Cambodia embassy in UK website and was delighted to find that they have the e-visa system which allow us to apply electronically. No frills, Stuart gets his visa in 30 minutes. Half-heartedly, I checked again the explanatory and couldn’t find Indonesia on the list. I did some research, including sending urgent email to my travel agent, wondering if Indonesian needs a visa to enter Cambodia. This is our first trip to the country, and we thought since it’s part of ASEAN, plus it’s right next to Thailand and Vietnam, the rule will be the same, he needs a visa, and I don’t. But no, surprisingly Indonesians do need visas to enter Cambodia, so I frantically apply for my own and got it in 30 minutes. I was so glad the embassy here has e-visa system, as in Indonesia it takes 3 working days and more expensive cost!

Days after our trip is fixed and arranged, I started making arrangement for another trip in June. But with my UK visa valid until September without the possibilty of renewing it earlier than August, I might have to, again, cancel the Euro trips and just take my friends down to Edinburgh and London. I tried to contact the Italian consular in Edinburgh but my email was ignored, probably because they think I’m too daft to understand the rule of having the UK visa valid 3 months from the departure date from Schengen countries. I am waiting for French consular’s response, wich I don’t think will change everything.

I envy Singaporean. Their lives must be a joy since they practically could travel anywhere without having to go through the painful process of applying for visas.

Who says holiday is fun? It never is, for an Indonesian…..

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Note: the image on the teaser is courtesy of Embassy of Indonesia in Washington DC.





  1. That is also one of my main concerns about moving to UK. Having a Danish residence permit in hand enables me to travel freely around the Europe continent and it’s not a hassle either to apply for UK visa from here. I don’t know why the Netherlands embassy treat you like that, you should have brought up the “you were stomping my people for 3.5 century thing” and see if it works.

    Isn’t it strange that Singapore and Malaysia and other ex-British colonies are granted free entrance to UK while we don’t get anything out of Netherlands? I’m bringing up the old wounds here πŸ˜€

  2. thewriter: it’s more bizarre because Malaysian and Singaporean are free to enter the Netherlands. I don’t remember they were occupied by meneer VOC!

  3. I don’t envy Singaporean because practically nothing worth to see during holiday in Singapore :)

    boys last blog post..Sign of the Times of Financial Crisis

  4. Just read all of your writing series about this issue and I am totally agree. Right now I am fortunate enough to finally get my working Visa for US but previously I was running out of fingers counting how much I could not working abroad (US and everywhere else) just because I am Indonesian.

    Sad, isn’t it? And you are absolutely right about the government and foreign minister ignorance of this issue. It supposed to be an ongoing lobby, especially since Indonesia is open 24/7 to other 63 countries.

    Been reading your writing for a while, great writing! Thanks

  5. Boy: if you are a Singaporean you don’t spend your holiday in the country, you go abroad :)

    Avianto: thank you. Yes we are kind of unlucky for being citizens of a country that is famous for terrorism, corruptions, and natural disasters. The skepticism of the country we apply the visa for is the most hurtful one. Congrats on finally getting your green card!

  6. yo nit… I’m actually seriously thinking of being a Sporean citizen… HAUehAUEhaUHeae, for mission lah what else… πŸ˜€

    Reading your post on this visa thingy, make me even more convinced. But I’m kinda sad letting go of my ‘green’

    @boy: yeah, true what anita said. I don’t like spending my holiday in Spore (where I’m staying for 3 years+ now). When I see holiday coming, I quickly arrange for mission trip… heheheheh, need to get out of this place to refresh myself.

  7. Hahaha, your statement remind me of a couple of years ago when I was abroad, somebody asked me what’s the news from Indonesia and I answered “Beside bombings, riots/demonstrations and natural disasters – there are nothing newsworthy, I guess”. Pathetic, eh?

    And it’s not green card… yet. It’s just a temporary working visa for skilled worker. It was also a long and painful process just to get the visa plastered in my ‘garuda loyo’ passport. Heh.

    aviantos last blog post..New Yorker

  8. I commiserate with you.

    The French embassy in Jakarta (not even in here!) infamously rejected my Schengen visa application for travel to France from UK because, according to them, I will be leaving for London “way sooner than your date of entry to France” – which was a little over two weeks. I mean, what?!
    And the woman who stomped me back there wasn’t even French, she was Indonesian.

    I had better luck with the Belgium VFS in London; my visa came out within just under two weeks (applied in late Nov for a trip this weekend.) It was for a meagre one-entry, five-day trip (as opposed to the three-month, multiple entry type I wanted), but that was better than having to cancel the Eurostar tickets.

    With possible internship trips to Milan and Paris, I better start asking now so I can lodge my visa application once again, and get the necessary papers sorted before they are needed. Ah, the non-joys of being stranded in UK island, and back home people are singing praises about how easily it would be to hop to continental Europe… not! πŸ˜€

    p.s. don’t let go of your indon nationality for now as it may come in handy later on

  9. Nelotte: I thought if you have Singaporean PR you are actually Singaporean and don’t need to apply for visas? Yeah people easily talk about letting go their nationality (I do, in this blog, many times) but actually it’s not that easy. No matter what, we still are Indonesians, and changing passport is like changing our face….

    Avianto: at least you’ve got one now. Some people are not that lucky.

    Marsha: yes, my friends also cannot believe why I haven’t been explored Europe yet. My husband’s friends also like to pop the idea of spending the weekend in Portugal, or even Dublin, until they are told that I need a visa, I can’t just hop on the plane and go! I should try your strategy as I really want to go with my girlfriends. The Italian consular doesn’t reply my email, the French consular replied but only to tell me to check on their website for the rules. Really, their attitudes is the most irritating one on the application process!

  10. come to think about the bad experience I had with Danish Embassy in Jakarta, it was the Indonesian (front-desk) staff who made a lot of fuss and rude. It’s not even the Danes. I wonder what kind of syndrome these people (Indonesians who work in foreign embassies) have? Jealousy toward people who applied for the visa? False-power syndrome (because they thought they could determine who could get the visa or not – which I highly doubt) or bule-minded syndrome (once working in a foreign embassy, they tend to think as a part of the community – whatever that is *rolls eyes*

    Seriously, I was downright pissed off at the local staff at Royal Danish Embassy in Jakarta. Thank God I would never have to deal with them ever again!

    the writers last blog post..Trash equals treasure

  11. nit, a Spore PR still have to apply for visa to go places lahhh hehe. As long I’m still holding that green passport, they still consider me as Indonesian… and I do love that green passport, letting it go kinda hard to do. Anyways, I still have a few more years to think abt it lah πŸ˜›

    nelottes last blog post..ERICA!!!!!

  12. Was the bad experience (and the nightmare, I’m sure) enough for you to change nationalities? Think of the benefits and everything though…

    It sounds very tempting. I’d do it in a heartbeat. Jeez, call me patriotic. Actually I get that from anyone. Figures. LOL.

    therrys last blog post..Not Our War To Fight For

  13. Nelotte: I have time until 2010 to think whether I should become a British…. hmmmm
    Therry: well, I don’t know. Imagine to come to Indonesia as a visitor and have to apply for a visa, it’s kind of bizarre. And how about if suddenly I won a lotto and want to buy Bali?? πŸ˜€

  14. whew.. being a grown up sucks. haha. the last time I traveled abroad was when I was six. I wasn’t aware of too many things back then. or now. xD so, being a British helps, eh? I’ll keep that in mind when I go expat-hunting in Bali. haha. anyways,, I hope people would be nice to you on the June-trip! XP

    yoanityas last blog post..No more emo-whinning about thesis, YAY!!

  15. yeah… Dutch embassy is among the those hassle-makers… and least friendly ones. Cambodia rules, indeed!

    for me, i guess i have become numb since i usually have 10-12 international trips a year and most likely 6-8 of them need visas. so i have to deal with not only visa hassles, but also airport security…. and all crazy things coming with ‘being indonesian’, including being jailed in istanbul! so yeah….. i just enjoy and have fun with hassles, i guess. and enjoy telling crazy stories about it…

    but well, yes…. you have a choice to become Brit….. so…take it? *wink*

    mers last blog post..[iF] Contained, uncontained

  16. Yoanitya: oh please, no expat-hunting. I’ll introduce you to ‘real’ Brits from here. Ugh, is that the axe I see your bofriend is chasing me with? πŸ˜›

    Mer: wwhhhattt?? jailed in Istanbul??? Do tell what happened! 6-8 visas must have driven you up the wall, including the most notorious Australia. You should share with us!

  17. coba bikin visa schengen di belgian embassy atau german.. kayanya jauh lebih gampang d drpada belanda. belanda emang nyebelin..

    rima fauzis last blog post..Bloody Bird Terrorists!!!!

  18. Rima: peraturannya adalah Schengen country yang jadi first entry point atau yang paling lama ditinggali. So if I don’t pass Belgium they will ask why I apply to Belgium embassy. Bisa aja nyoba, kemungkinan juga ditolak….:)

  19. I remember when I was living in Germany, and planned to travel by car to Italy for a two-week holiday. We’re a party of five and I was the only Indonesian. We were planning to drive down from South Germany, pass through Switzerland to Italy – the shortest route. But we couldn’t do it because I didn’t have the visa for Switzerland (my travelling companions, Germans and Mexicans, had no problem). I called the Swiss Embassy in Frankfurt and was told that since I am an Indonesian I couldn’t apply for the visa from Germany, I had to go back to Indonesia and apply from there. WTF? The Embassy staff said as an afterthought, Malaysian citizens can apply from here, but not Indonesians.. sorry. Sheesh, how unfair is that? Finally we had to take a longer route via Austria to reach Italy.

    It’s sad that Indonesia is such a low ranked country in the world, maybe our diplomats (and Government) should treat other countries better so they could treat us better!

  20. Mia: a friend of mine had the same problem and it was worse because she was part of the study tour group from UK (and everything was supposedly handled by the school) and she was detained at the custom as the Swiss government got a tip off that 2 Thai girls were entering the border to smuggle drugs. She couldn’t speak French nor German and they pretended to unable to understand English. After a few hours she managed to tearfully call her guide who rushed in and took the matter in his hand.

    Now Swiss has joined Schengen scheme since December 2008, but it means it takes a longer time to process the visa.

  21. Mia: If you were living in Germany (and held a residence visa), Switzerland should allowed you into the country for 2 weeks. I did it and did not had any problem with the border custom officer. When was this happened? Mine was 2004.

    aviantos last blog post..New Yorker

  22. I think Malaysian foreign ministry has very good diplomacy, because they are free to enter lots and lots of countries. not just in Europe bu also other continents. try http://projectvisa.com to make comparison. even when they need visa, they sometimes can get it for free..hah!

  23. The first time I was to accompany Lee to Canada (a nearby neighbor of the USA….) I went to the post office to apply for a passport and they wanted a birth certificate.
    Not a hard task if one lives near where one is born.
    I however was born a long long long way away from hwere. Contacting the hospital to find out how to get a birth certificate was every bit as hard a hoop to jump though as any.
    Long story short, my passport arrived two weeks after I needed it!
    Then again, I kept it for the following year, and the next two after that.

    If I ever catch that danged bin laden jerk standing around, I’m going to give him SUCH a kick in the butt!!!

    bonemans last blog post..

  24. Boneman: but at least they have your data in their system, imagine if you have to do it in Indonesia…..

  25. Nit, just got to read this post yet again, and I’d say give up your Indo passport if you don’t think you’ll ever go back here. I have a few friends back in NZ who gave up their Indo passport and never looked back, and they don’t have problems entering Indonesia (though I have heard some horror stories of immigration officers poking fun at them, and making it difficult for them to enter the country).

    I kinda wish I got my NZ passport – tau tau dah expat kan di Indo:P

    Speaking of expat hunting, I need tips of where to scout and network with them here in jakarta

    Miss Lai Lais last blog post..On Love Letters of Great Men

  26. Miss Lai Lai; will send you the message via facebook re your last query :)

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