After dreading that I could not communicate well with Vincent's mother for a couple of weeks before they came, Nicole and Marc are finally here and things are not looking so bad.

In fact, it's been awesome. I have never been this busy since I quit my job at Fabio's, and it feels good.

In summary, their stay has been more effective for me to practise my French than one year learning at Alliance Fran├žaise. Of course the fact that Vince's mom doesn't speak English kind of pushed that to happen. At first I thought it would be more dreadful than a DELF/DALF test because this is my future mother-in-law we are talking about, but no, it is far from scary. Nicole tries as much as I do in communicating with each other. Of course a lot of times we throw each other a blank look, but as Inga said, body language works very effectively. :)

Here's the recap of their stay so far:
  • Saturday, 19th of June, they arrived at 7:30. We met Laurence at the airport when we picked them up and she told me not to worry. At home, I was happy with Nicole's small present of a necklace with a cupid pendant. She loves one of my black and white photos of an old woman in Tegal. I am going to print another one on canvas so that she can bring it home in two weeks.
  • Sunday, 20th of June, we went to Andy and Nicole's villa in Nusa Dua. Had such a great time. Joanne and David were there. Also Greg, Sandrine and their two girls. I decided that I liked Charlotte, their youngest.
  • Monday, 21st of June, Vincent went to work, so I took Nicole and Marc shopping at Seminyak and Legian area. It was kind of funny to see them. So excited to see anything. However, they didn't realise that their one step was two for me. I ended up really tired in the evening with my both feet swollen. Vincent was luckily being a good boy and giving me a massage.
  • Tuesday, 22nd of June, Vincent took a day off from the office and we went to Geger beach in Nusa Dua. Nice relaxing time. I got another massage from the ibu-ibu masseuses at the beach, which restored my energy completely. After my lesson (I was one hour late), we went to Warung Gossip in Kerobokan to watch the French national team got beaten up by the South African. They are now officially out of the 2010 World Cup. :P
  • Wednesday, 23rd of June, Vincent went to Jakarta to pick up his renewed passport. Nicole, Marc and I went browsing more shops near our place. They were both very tired from the tight activities the previous days so it didn't take very long. Marc was upset though because Nicole kept touching every dog and cat and this one small dog followed her every where. We had to tell her that it was not good to touch every stray animal here, but I left that to Marc. He speaks better French than me; Haha...
I don't know yet what we are going to do today. But hey, another fun thing perhaps.
This is an ad I saw in The Bali Times today. I am wondering if there is anyone meeting those requirements above would be stupid enough to apply to this job.

Businesses these days, they want the highest quality employees with the lowest pay possible. So sad.
Following my last post about how to retrieve your Indonesian driver's license the right way, I am now going to share how to get your bike paper (STNK) back. Again, the right way.

If it ever amazes you how quick and police services in reobtaining your driver's license (approx. 30 minutes), it should awe you more with getting your STNK back. Of course, the only way to do it is when you get the right information and you have all the right papers to bring. Here it takes only 15 minutes.

Remember though, the very first thing you have to do when your wallet/purse is stolen is to report it to the Police. Right away. They will issue a statement that you lost your important papers that can be useful to apply for new ATM cards, credit cards, national ID card, driver's license, motorcycle paper, ANYTHING you have lost in the mishap. It is like a magical piece of paper. Also ask a few copies instead of one. They normally give you only one. As you read in my previous post, it was used to get my SIM back. Now it is also used to get my STNK back.

The steps:
  1. Go to the SAMSAT (one roof system) in your city. In my case, I went to the SAMSAT in Renon, Denpasar.
  2. Always put your documents in a paper folder. The documents here are: the statement letter from the Police that you lost your STNK and your real motorbike blue book paper (BPKB) and the recommendation letter from the POLTABES, which I obtained after I got my SIM. That is why you have to do your driver's license first, then STNK.
  3. Go to the Leges department. Here they will crosscheck your data in their system, making sure that you already paid your bike tax, then they will issue a letter stating that it is true that you have no problem with your motorcycle taxation. You will need to pay Rp 10,000 here.
  4. Put the letter together with the other documents in the folder and go to the STNK Duplikat department. You will be given a form which you have to fill in, return the form with the rest of the documents to this department, pay Rp 60,000 and you will be given a receipt to take your STNK duplicate in 3 days working time.
All that takes 15 minutes.

I actually thought with the former bureaucracy that I would be totally bored waiting for my papers to be processed. And therefore, I had John Grisham's novel The Appeal with me. But again, no bullshit at the Police department. They were quick and effective and I must say I am very proud of them.

Now I have to go somewhere to read my novel. Reading it at home will only make me fall asleep. :p
How many of you makes your SIM legally? Until this moment, approaching 31 years of living in Indonesia, I have NEVER known anyone - including myself - who gets their Indonesian driver's license legally. The calo (illegal agents) practice is so much widespread and though they charge 2 to 3 times more expensive than the legal price, they do help save a lot of time of the applicants by tipping one police officer to the others to get things done in a wink.

It has been over three months since my purse got stolen, and I only equipped myself with the letter from the police that my papers were stolen. But I knew that it could not stay that way forever. So after I got some fee of a photography project I did recently, I went to the police office on Jalan Sangyang Kerobokan yesterday to retrieve my SIM. This time, legally.

I suppose it is an easier procedure to prolong your SIM's term or retrieve it when lost than to apply a new one. If you have to do it in Denpasar, Bali, this is the list of things that you need to do:
  1. Go to the same police station that issued your last SIM and ask for the printout of your old driver's license at the PRODUKSI SIM department. On a piece of paper you have to write your full name, the address stated in your old SIM and your birth of date.
  2. Get a doctor check up on you and make him make a good health statement of you. Next to the POLTABES - 1 minute walking from the SIM office - there is a small clinic that is probably good only to give the health statement. I giggled when I went there, but hey, it was easy and fast. It costs you Rp 25,000.
  3. Go to the Bank inside the SIM office and pay Rp 60,000 (for retrieving lost SIM or prolonging your SIM). Rp 75,000 if you make a new one.
  4. Submit the letter from the police that you lost your papers + the SIM printout + the proof of payment to LOKET 1.
  5. Wait until you are called. It took me less than 10 minutes.
  6. They will give you a registration form that you need to fill in then submit it in the LOKET KOREKSI SIM, next to Loket 1.
  7. Wait until you are called. Took me 2 minutes.
  8. Take the documents they gave you back to LOKET 4 - SIM production and photo booth. Here they will crosscheck your data. Takes less than 5 minutes.
  9. Get your photo and thumbs finger prints taken. Takes less than 5 minutes.
  10. Submit the documents to LOKET PRODUKSI SIM 8 CETAK SIM
  11. Wait until you are called. Took me less than 5 minutes.
  12. You get your new SIM.
Total time: 30 - 45 minutes.

The moral of the story: If it takes only 30 minutes of your time to get your driver's license rightfully, why would we need to hire a calo? Although not perfect yet, but I have noticed that the government institutions are getting better and more efficient with their services since Yudhoyono became a President. Most have no more bullshit with delaying the process as it was in the former days, and that prevents bribery. I am not denying that it still happens (corruption). Even when I got my printout, one of the officers was offering me his "magic help". But you know, it just takes a polite no to take things right. And the money will go to the right departments. And hopefully after some time, it can be used for the better sake of that department. And hopefully it will give advantage to us when they are better taken care of.

It takes a while to educate people, but it does not mean it is impossible. I'd rather be on the positive side that things can change, and it has changed, and it will always change.
I am actually far from the proper description of being a superstitious person. But the last so many happenings in the past 3 months were way too overwhelming for me not to become superstitious.

Let's recap it.
  • On the 4th of March, a thief broke in to my house by breaking one of the windows on the first floor. I suspected that it happened when I was at home because whoever had this evil doing did not climb upstairs and steal more valuable things like laptops, surround speaker or my precious camera and lenses. Things missing were my purse that had only about Rp 300,000 (but it meant a lot to me!) and my very important papers, a mobile phone that I bought 2 years ago which cost Rp 500,000 that I suspect wouldn't be worth more than Rp 250,000 now and even the coins my maid collected and saved on the dining table that we reserved for parking fees. It was not a big robbery but it still made me paranoid in case these thieves dared to do more on their second visit. I keep a knife under my bed ever since.
  • Not long after, I went to Fabio's place for lunch and parked my motorcycle in front of his house. When I was about to leave, I saw one of the mirrors was gone and the other one was left half unscrewed.
  • I suffered from lymphadenitis, an infection on the lymph (Bahasa Indonesia: Kelenjar getah bening) right on the left side of my bikini line. It first felt like I had a very small lump far inside my skin that I could only feel by pressing the surface of the skin hard. In one week, it got bigger and another small lump appeared on the right side of my bikini line. In two weeks, it got so big that naked eyes could see that there was a lump under my panties. One night I had a terribly high fever and I hallucinated that I saw my father. I thought it was very serious so I took myself to an international clinic in Bali, SOS, and got diagnosed that I had this lymphadenitis. The doctor immediately ran a blood check on me to know if it had spread to other parts of my body. Lymphadenitis appeares to be a relatively curable infection IF treatment is early. A few days late, I may have developed a cancer. I couldn't walk properly for 3 days afterwards.
  • I had never had allergies of any kind before and I was always proud of that. But it just so had to happen that the antibiotics that the doctor gave me was rejected by my body. There were red rashes all over my right face and I felt so terrible. I went back to the clinic and was given another type of antibiotics. I just had to remember that next time if a doctor wants to prescribe me an antibiotic I should tell him/or that I am allergic to Penicillin. That is weird. I am pretty sure I was given penicillin before and I was okay.
  • Our kitten, Geisha, was the next to be sick. She was weak for 2 weeks and became not greedy anymore as she was always known to be. Vincent finally took her to a vet and after a week, she got better and active again (read: naughty). That did not last very long. One morning, I had a tukang to fix my broken waterheater and she got out to eat the grass. I let her do that while I was busy with the tukang. Then I heard a cat howl that did not belong to Geisha so I checked it out. A black cat that was three times her size was threatening her. Vincent came out and tried to hush away the black cat. And only when he did that, the cat attacked Geisha and bit her back. Geisha was terrified and ran and hid inside the compartment that kept our water pump. She was sleeping the whole day that day and died less than 24 hours after the attack. I blamed myself for being a bad mother and not protecting her from that evil cat. We wept for 2 weeks until...
  • Vincent lost his passport and KITAS blue book - 2 very important papers for every expat in Indonesia. We looked around the house literally everywhere. We even removed the furnitures to see if they somehow fell down. Nothing. My maid helped to look for it every where but they just disappeared. I had terrible nightmares for days where Geisha alwas appeared in the beginning or the end of the dream and the rest was spent on forcing my unconscious brain to remember and think where these papers could be. These dreams did nothing good but giving me revelations of other things that had gone missing: my red CDMA phone and the certificate of my ring. The mornings when I woke up all sweaty, I would get up and looked for these things that I saw were missing in my dreams, and they were indeed gone. I went to look for my actual ring, and it was still there. It was only the papers that disappeared.
  • I formerly did not speak much to my neighbours next door. But the one on my right side just approached me and said that someone was trying to break his window - same MO like when my house was broken in. The next day he came to me again saying that there was this large 2 meter cobra that got into his kitchen at midnight. Not long after the neighbour on my left knocked my door and said that she saw a huge snake crossing the path in front of my house and then hiding in my water pump compartment. And also that she caught two men wearing helmets trying to break her window too. I never really saw the actual snake maybe because I don't have a garden like they do. But the story from Karen freaked me out. Now we were thinking that maybe Geisha did not die from the black cat's bite, but maybe from the snake's. Think about it: would your kitten die from a cat's bite in less than 24 hours without any open wounds?
Anyway, Vincent has been so much under pressure since if he did not do anything about the papers right away, his arse is on the line and he can be kicked out of the country soon. That means my arse is also on the line. And there was still the dispute of his sister's villa in Canggu that never seemed to end and he had to take care of everything because he was the only one residing in Bali that they could ask help from. He wouldn't normally complain about it, but with all the things that are in his hands now, he really does not need anymore burden.

Lately I have been thinking if it was the house. I can hardly remember any single good thing that happened to us since we moved to this new house in January. There have been pains and more pains. And unlike the rule of wheel of life that I believe, all these bad things happened in only a short time. I really, really can't help being superstitious after all these. Maybe it was an exaggeration. Maybe I just need someone or something to blame. Maybe it was just the effect of watching too much TV Series Supernatural. But I need an explanation, logical or otherwise, why we had these in our life when before, things were always looking good even in bad moments.

I am still stressed out and just recently started to pray again to God. But whether it is superstition or not, I am definitely moving to another house next year. I'll start hunting for houses again next month.