Friday, December 18, 2009


1. Happy to be home in Singapore, Day 65 of the trip, 17 December. Woke up at 3.45 am to catch the China Airline flight at 6 am from Surabaya. It must be the last remaining flight that still had seats going to Singapore from Surabaya; possibly because it was the least popular due to its ungodly departure time. But, it was impossible to get a seat on the other flights; so we had no alternative if we want to get back to Singapore soon. It is holiday season and the seat situation is not likely to get better.

2. Unfortunately we left without resolving the shipment of the Pajero back to Singapore. It is now parked in Calvin Siddon's house in Surabaya waiting for Surabaya Customs to clear the re-export of the car back to Singapore. Calvin is the GM of PT Freight Express, the company handling the shipment of my car in Surabaya.

3. Basically, we are still stuck with the customs paperwork at Surabaya on the re-export of the car. The day before, 16 Dec, Glenn and I went to the Port Customs office as we had an appointment to see the Director General. We were told that he had to give his special approval as they had yet to receive the document from the Customs in Entikong, my port of entry. This was news to us as we were under the impression that only a new IMI letter was needed and this was promptly sent by IMI last Friday. According to the customs procedure, a document is needed to be sent by the port of entry to the port of exit before the exit port grants the re-export. And this is needed despite the Carnet properly endorsed by Entikong Customs. With modern communication, one would expect that this could be done fairly quickly through email, fax or telephone. But, we had waited a week and are still waiting. At any rate, we left very disappointed. We left the Director General's office without seeing him, as he told his staff that no meeting was necessary as the procedure had to be followed and we just had to wait for the document from Entikong Customs before the car could be stuffed into the container and shipped. Period.

4. I repeatedly told Mr Yudi of Surabaya Customs that as I entered Indonesia legally through Entikong, as shown by the Carnet endorsed by Entikong Customs, and I had documents to prove that I am the owner of the car, I had every right to bring my car back to Singapore. Even if Entikong Customs did not follow the procedure fully, this was an internal matter for the Indonesian Customs to handle. Since the Indonesian Customs was not about to confiscate my car for the reasons above, it should deal with the internal matter separately and should not delay the shipment of my car back to Singapore. I received no response each time I explained this. It could be that Glenn's interpretation was not good enough; but I doubt it.

5. I decided that I had enough of the waiting; first it was the IMI letter, then the document from Entikong Customs. And I had no commitment from the Customs there how many more days I would have to wait for the re-export approval. I reckon I am not going to sit around and wait for the Indonesian Customs to sort out its internal procedural requirements.

6. I am now leaving my car in the good hands of Toll Global Logistics and PT Freight Express to find the most expedient way to ship the car back to Singapore for me.

7. It was an unproductive week in Surabaya. The time could have been better spent seeing more of Java. But, out of necessity, we had to eat and we found ourselves going back to these 3 places as they serve great local dishes at great value: Bon Amis, Bu Kris and Indo Laut Seafood. We have a simple rule - go where the locals go if you want good food at great value; and we were not disappointed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


1. Have been in Surabaya since Thursday, except for a weekend trip to Tretes, a hill resort about an hour drive from Surabaya, waiting for the Customs to approve the re-export of my car back to Singapore.

2. At Surabaya, Freight Express, the local partner of Toll Global Logistics, is helping with the shipping of my car from Surabaya to Singapore. Last Friday, I followed Glenn Richardo and Rudy of Freight Express to meet with a Mr Yudi from the Surabaya Port Customs. After Glenn explained to Mr Yudi our requirement, Mr Yudi pulled out a printed document and explained to us in Bahasa (Glenn interpreted) the regulatory requirements governing the re-export of the car. After browsing through our documents, and after we explained to him the Carnet, he said Surabaya Customs did not receive the letter from IMI, which according to the IMI letter, a copy was sent to Surabaya Customs. According to the regulation, he said that the IMI should have included a Police permit for my self drive holiday in Indonesia and a travel itinerary. As I had already ended my trip, he agreed that it was pointless getting the Police permit. He lamented that Entikong Customs should have pointed this out. He said that he would consider approving the re-export if IMI issues a new letter that would address the issue of Police permit and include my travel itinerary.

3. On the same day, Diyah Yanuardani of IMI was so kind to write a new letter to Surabaya Customs supporting the re-export of my car. As Yudi was out for meeting the whole day of yesterday (Monday), we are still waiting for him to approve the re-export licence. Glenn hopes to catch him the first thing in the morning today. Once done, we could then proceed to stuff the car into the container, in time for the ship departure on 17 Dec.

4. Over the weekend, Li Hoon and I decided to take a short trip to the nearby hill resort of Tretes. We were exploring Batu but settled for Tretes as it was nearer. At about 700 m high, we were looking forward to the better and cooler air up on the hills at Tretes, as against staying put in Surabaya. A convenient weekend getaway for residents in Surabaya, Tretes (and nearby Trawas) has many hotels. The trip took 2 hours and we arrived at Tretes at about 1 pm. The traffic jam at the Sidoarja Mud Pool south of Surabaya slowed us down by about an hour. After scouting around, we checked into Royal Tretes View Hotel for 560 000 Rp (US$60), inclusive of breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner. We liked the view from the room and the friendliness of the staff (in the picture are Tanti and Ais, 2 of the very friendly ladies). Hotel looked busy and we were told there were 150 government officials there for a meeting.

5. It was reading, more scrabbles and just lazing around for the rest of the day. Food, unfortunately, was disappointing - cold and certainly not salivating. On the positive side, it had a 4 man band playing during dinner time, playing English and Indonesian songs. Not bad at all, while we ate and played scrabble.

6. Woke up early the next day to visit the nearby Kakek Bodo (literally mean Stupid Grandfather) waterfall; a short drive from the hotel. We were surprised to see the same band getting ready to play. We were even more surprised when it started to play at 6.30 am, blasting away the music from the electric guitars and the drummer happily banging away the drums. I was sure it was a very effective wake up call for all the guests in the hotel. I asked the receptionist why so early. She said it was to entertain guests when they had their breakfast. Thought it would do the hotel more good if it put more focus on food instead.

7. It was a 300 m easy walk up the hills from the gate to the 40 m high Kakek Bodo waterfall. Lots of trees and greenery along the footpath, and food stalls were been set up for the day. It was Sunday, and they must be expecting a good crowd. Young boys and girls were already there, with more arriving; mostly young couples. Looked like it was a favourite place for boys to bring their girlfriends. Swimming was not possible at the waterfall. However, the attraction had a swimming pool near the entrance, which already attracted a group of boys, playing in the pool with their clothes on. We did not loiter long at the waterfall, as there was nothing much to do other than swimming in the pool which we had no intention of doing.

8. On way back to Surabaya, we decided to take a route across the hills through Trawas, Mojosari, Pugging and Krian, bypassing Sidoarja Mud Pool. It was certainly a much more pleasant drive; a scenic drive across the hills and passing paddy fields, without having to contend with the frustrating slow traffic at the mud pool area.

9. We have put ourselves for flight out of Surabaya on Thursday, 2 days from now; keeping our fingers crossed that the customs procedure would be sorted by then.