I take back all the bad things I said or insinuated about the Indonesian customs. It seems a lot has changed in 8 years.
I visited the Australian embassy and Aus-Trade on Monday to try to get some information and tips for the meeting with the Director General of Customs and Excise. They were worse than useless and could provide no relevant information. In fact I provided them with a lot of information and they did a lot to try to disuade me from even bothering to try to get the bike into Indonesia.
Today, I trotted off to the DG of customs and excise nice and early. Taxis are cheap, mostly in very good condition and well air-conditioned. Plus the drivers are good fun to talk to in the traffic and have been a significant contributor to improvements in my Bahasa Indonesia.
Arrived about 9:30am and was directed upstairs to the DG office without a problem. Offices are organised similar to my image of Australian political offices, with specific staff for each ‘Director’ sitting in one large open plan office off a main corridor directly outside the directors office – which is only accessible through the staff office.
The staff listened to me, asked politely if I would wait 1 minute (not a minute, always 1 minute) conferred and quickly (about 1 minute) came to the conclusion that this was actually the responsibility of the Director of Customs and Excise Facilities. Thought it was too good to be true. They walked me down to Facilities office which was very similar and introduced me to a chap their. He was very friendly, also listened carefully, had a closer look at my documents, particularly the carnet and said it should not be a problem, but that we had to check with the Technical department. Stating to get worried by this point. The Technical department seemed much more like the engine room. He took me straight to the man in charge which was nice and he promptly pointed out that they had actually walked me into the staff only area, so I was ushered outside to the waiting room and I was asked to wait 1 minute. All very friendly and the Facilities guy actually waited around and asked me the usual questions (How long you been in Jakarta? Where from in Australia? How old you? You single? Why you single?) until the Technic boss showed up about 3 minutes later. The Technic bosses biggest problem was trying to understand why Singapore wouldn’t send the cargo. He new what the Carnet was, said it should be all good as long as you have Carnet. Thank you very much. I asked for a letter to send to Singapore customs and he said he would need to put me in touch with a Customer Co-ordinator in Tanjung Priok, and that I would need to speak to one anyway for when the bike arrived. Starting to think this might be where the sting came in later, but was happy just to be told it was all ok. He rang his friend and confirmed that it was all good but I would need to see him in order to get the letter. Whole thing took about as long as it has taken me to write this blog post! About an Hour. Amazing!
I grabbed breakfast at the street warung outside customs and kept the locals entertained with my terrible bahasa Indonesian (at least I have the menus pretty much memorised!) Then jumped in a cab over to Tanjubng Priok. The Customer Co-ordinator centre is very much like an RTA with ticketing system, but my man back at Customs h/o had written down his ‘friends’ name and that meant I got to jump the que. Sweet, waited aboiut 5 minutes for him to finish dealing with his current customer then I was in – he looked over the documents, asked a few questions and again couldn’t understand what was wrong with the Singaporeans. He gave someone else a call about the letter and explained that nothing formal could be provided because it would be like a law (think of a personal tax judgement) so it would be easiest if he just email me the standard process and confirmed in an email that it was ok and I could pass that onto the Singaporeans. So that was what we did. My ‘Work’ with Customs was all wrapped up, including breakfast by 11am. Amazing.
No taxis in port, so I braved the motorbike ride back to the hotel. The guy didn’t know where he was going, so we drove around the national monument about 5 times, went past some big flash building which I assumed was the US embassy since the big placards being waved had a picture of Obama on them and the words ‘Antic American’. My security measures consisted of looking the other way so they couldn’t see I was a Bule. There was only about 50 of them anyway and they had that – its too hot to bother look. The Police were there but were looking pretty disinterested as well.