Google+ Badge

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Visa me Indonesian

I’ve been married for just over two months and time has come to plan a trip back home to the UK to show Yohana exactly what England is all about. To say that she’s excited is an understatement and she actually gave me a list of things that she wanted to do. In no particular order they included horseracing (I’m hoping she means watching, not riding) visiting a friend in Nottingham, castles, waterfalls and, oh yes, the Eiffel Tower.

For a moment I thought the same general knowledge that led her to believe that “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” was an accurate biographical retelling of Honest Abe’s younger life, ridding the world of demons, was encouraging her faith that the infamous tower was in fact in the UK. But no, she know’s it’s in Paris, and that Paris is in France, and wondered if it would be possible to go there at the same time as visiting the UK.

I was about to reel off a list of reasons, including distance, currency, language etc when it dawned on me that going from London to Paris must be similar to going from Jakarta to Bandung. With a bit of research it would appear that Bandung is 273 miles from Jakarta and the journey takes about 4 hours to get there. By car. London to Paris, on the other hand,  is only 211 miles and by using the Eurostar train, takes  2 hours and 15 minutes. In comfort. No traffic jams. Turns out we could even begin our journey in Darlington.

This all seemed to be fitting into place nicely but as with all best laid plans of mice and men, something was going to go wrong. I say wrong but I guess it’s just beaurecracy. France requires a different visa to the UK. Yep, let me repeat that with added perspective. France and the UK are in the European Union. They have trade links established to bring the European Community together. I can travel freely between all member states on my European British passport but it would appear that purchasing a British visa doesn’t allow Yohana the same freedom. The same visa that will allow us to enter France would also, if we chose, allow us to enter a number of other European countries, just not the UK, It would appear this is what happens when you use your veto too many times in the European parliament to say no to mandatory Bratwurst for breakfast. Both the UK and Euro visa, called a Shengen visa, would need to be applied for in advance.

Curiosity piqued, further investigation showed just how many countries will allow you to buy a visa on arrival (cheap option) and how many will expect you to buy it in advance (always more expensive). It all depends on nationality, different countries have different entry requirements. For instance, Indonesia offers sixty-five countries visa on arrival for the cost of $25 US Dollars.

So what about as a British Passport holder? Let’s look at the numbers. The number of countries that i can enter with a visa on arrival is increased to 167.  THERE ARE ONLY 196 COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD ALTOGETHER*. Yes, there are 29 countries where I have to apply in advance to enter, if they’ll let me in at all. Which countries can’t I enter this way? Well, that would be the likes of Noth Korea, amongst the few left. Actually of that 167 it’s free to enter many places too...French Guyana anyone?
*this figure changes quite often.

Now I know it’s a wiki site but it still provides a lot of  useful  information
According to the "Henley Visa Restrictions Index 2012", holders of a British citizen passport can visit 167 countries visa-free or with visa on arrival
The grey means a pre-arrival visa is needed, everything else is available visa free or VoA.

Lets compare that with the ability for Indoenesians to travel. Once you take out the black (diplomatic visas) and orange (special exemption) then you’re left with the dark blue (no visa) and light blue (visa on arrival) The red, by the way, is Indonesia itself.

So Indonesians can travel VOA to Senegal and Chad, where I have to apply for a visa in advance.....hmmm. I wonder what made Indonesia and Chad come to this arrangement. Maybe hundreds of Indonesians had a visit to Chad on their bucket lists and this encouraged the Indonesian and Chad governments to come to an arrangement. 

I saw some provocative pictures recently of the Indonesian President being honoured by our Queen for his excellent work in turning Indonesia into a democratic country with multicultural values. Trade-wise it doesn't increase faith in Indonesia enough to alter the visa situation though, does it.

what comes next in the sequence. Nationalism, Jingoism, ????

The road to a rational conclusion means being able to see the good and the bad in any situation, both sides of the coin as it were. This conclusion will always be subjective because it draws on things like your experience and upbringing among many other factors. The fact that you can perceive things that are bad, means only that you're observant, not necessarily critical. To be able to point out the good and the bad makes you a commentator, potentially creating debate among a community or informing others with little or no experience.

Sometimes foreign commentators when giving their opinion about a country, travel writers for instance, encounter nationalistic pride, or jingoism in extremes that say "who are they to comment on our beaches, or politics" So a counter argument for instance. Should only Cadbury be able to point out that their chocolate has flaws as well as some awesome taste experiences? Defensive behaviour limits an outcome, as often it is unnecessary (an opinion is still an opinion even if there is an excuse for the situation) or it can be intimidatory (we don't want to say anything negative in case it upsets one or more individuals).

Here's a short quiz to agree or disagree with. It's best if you are as honest as possible and have some support for your conclusion. That way your reasoning can be considered constructive.
1. Traffic problems in Jakarta are getting worse.
2. Jokowi will sort them out
3. The appointment of Jokowi/Ahok is evidence of multicultural changes in Indonesia.

I don't always agree with everything I hear, read or what is said directly to me, but I understand the commentator's right to their opinion and don't take it as a threat to everything I hold dear. Much the opposite really, on reflection I may see something that needs changing.

I'm a foreigner. I wasn't born in Indonesia but it's been my home for four years. I met and married Yohana, the most beautiful person I've ever met, who also happens to be Indonesian. She accepts my comments about Indonesia, sometimes she agrees and sometimes she doesn't. I'm looking forward to hearing her thoughts on the UK once we've visited but she agrees that I'm entitled to an opinion.

I'm not trying to change the way Indonesia is, just commenting on what I see. A very small minority of Indonesians believe this is unacceptable, that we should just accept inadequacies and keep quiet. Again, it's an opinion I respect, but ultimately disagree with.Indonesia considers itself to be advancing in terms of multiculturalism. I agree, we just need to keep reminding the minority.

A friend of mine is experiencing the same thing so by way of support, good luck J.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

interview #1

so placement interviewing a 10 year old student earlier
me :i want you to ask me 3 questions
her : ok, do you know any diseases
(Q2): do you know any diseases about the back....I know some diseases
(Q3) Have you ever eaten marrowbone?

some days i ask myself, is it me?