Visa Extension in Mataram Lombok

As Indonesia has a lot of islands and we want to explore at least some of them, we found ourselves wanting to extend our 30day Visa On Arrival. On the net we found information that Mataram on Lombok is an easy place to do that and in general we have to agree.
Here’s how we did it:

  • We wake up early and are at the Kantor Immigrasi Mataram when it opens at 8 to beat the crowd. We wake up relatively early and are at the Kantor Immigrasi Mataram at about 8:20am with one other person in the room for visa extensions.
  • A nice lady gives us some forms to fill out (in a red folder) and tells us which copies she needs. Theoretically that would be copies of our passport (the passport and the visa page) and of your return ticket out of Indonesia. We tell her that we travel by bicycle and want to take a PELNI boat out of Indonesia. She then tells us that we can also hand in a copy of our used inward flight ticket to Indonesia instead of an outward ticket. I don’t really understand that but am far from questioning this easy solution to our problem. No fake flight bookings needed, yay!
  • We leave the building and walk straight to the copy shop. We leave the building, look confused and the guy responsible for the car park walks us to copy shop nr. 1 to copy our passport pages and to copy shop nr. 2 (closed) nr. 3 to print our ticket off the internet (doesn’t work) phone via usb.
  • As we are well prepared with our own pens we sit down in a coffee shop to fill out our forms. We go back to the Kantor Immigrasi, use their pens and fill out our forms which is easy enough.
  • We hand in our forms, passport and copies to another nice lady. She tells us to write our name and passport information on the red folder as well and we do that. Then she gives us a number and tells us to wait until they call our number. In the meantime they check if everything is okay with your forms.
  • We wait about 15 minutes, get called and are handed a receipt with our information on it. We are told by a nice man to be back on Tuesday (counting from Friday this means two working days) to collect our passports with the visa extensions.
Please wear respectful clothing! This sign is posted just next to the entrance of the Kantor Immigrasi.
  • Due to our snorkelling trip we come back 3 days later and get our passports back. and find out that today is a public holiday and everything is closed.
  • So we come back the next day and pick up both our passports with the visa extensions. I can pick up and pay for my visa extension,  but Torsten is told that there is a problem with a supposed overstay from an earlier visit to Indonesia. It is not really an overstay as can be gathered from the passport stamps, and everyone understands that, but the mistake is in the system and so they can’t accept any payment for the visa extension into that same system. The again – very nice – guy tells us that he is unsure how long it will take to erase the supposed overstay out of the system as it has to go through their Jakarta office. Maybe tomorrow. Also worth mentioning we are not the only ones – this apparently happens to a lot of people – entering and leaving the country from different places can overwhelm their system.
  • So we come back the day after only to find out that nothing has changed. The same man tells us that he can return our passport and we may try again in Sumbawa Besar or wherever we go next. If we choose to wait here he cannot tell us how long it might take. As restarting the extension process in another place would mean more waiting time (at least 2 working days!) we choose to stick it out and wait right there in the Kantor Immigrasi.
  • And what do you know, after about two hours, just before their lunch break, Torsten gets called and is able to pay for his visa extension and gets his stamp. It seems that persistent waiting might have done the trick. Probably an extra phone call is less work than getting annoyed foreigners out of the office…
  • As we compare our stamps at home we notice that I only got 29 days of extension while Torsten got the full 30 days. It’s too late for us to do something about that but for everyone else: Better check while still in the office!
  • There is also photo and finger print taking involved, but they’ll explain it to you there and then and it is all done at the same office;)

So all in all I’d say that getting a visa extension in Mataram was quite easy. The people working in the office were really nice and explained everything. Also we didn’t need any flight ticket out of Indonesia. Torsten’s problem with the supposed overstay was a bit of a hickup but in hindsight we should have just waited the first time when we were told to come back tomorrow. I hope this information helps!



On a different note: Getting Asthma and thyroid medication in Indonesia

Before I left for this trip I tried to research if I would be able to get my asthma and thyroid medication in different countries. As our trip spans over a few years, taking medication for the whole trip in advance is just not possible/practical. Unfortunately I found very little information back then, so if you too suffer from asthma and/or hypothyroidism then this might be helpful for you:
As I had some time in Lombok (Indonesia) because we are currently waiting on our visa extensions, I decided to go to a doctor to get prescriptions for my asthma (Symbicort Turbohaler) and my hypothyroidism (L-Thyrox). At least that’s what I thought I had to do. Turns out it was even easier than that.
The first step was finding a hospital. From a recent experience in Bali looking for rabies vaccinations I wanted to find a reasonably priced one but preferably one with english speaking doctors. Usually I don’t mind bumbling along with the little Indonesian I speak / understand, but when it comes to talking medication, blood tests and health I didn’t feel quite confident nor comfortable enough trying in Indonesian. So I tried researching hospitals  in the internet and found a few names but still didn’t really know where to go to. So I decided on a whim just to go to the Mataram Public Hospital which seems to be the main governmental hospital in Mataram. I then cycled to the address where it was supposed to be only to find out that no hospital was near. I asked around but people only directed me to a different hospital further away. I didn’t really understand the directions and ended up searching for nearby hospitals on Google Maps. So I went to Rumah Sakit Risa Sentra Medika next.

Screenshot from 2016-01-23 14:23:17

Once there I talked to a friendly receptionist (in english) and explained to her what I needed. I also brought my current medication and the packaging as well as a document that I suffer from asthma and need the Symbicort-Turbohaler (in English and German by my German doctor). The receptionist then told me that I didn’t need to see a doctor because I brought enough proof that I take the medication and therefore they can just sell it to me. As to the asthma-medication that is perfect for me because it saves the cost of a consultation. In regard to the hypofunction of the thyroid you need to do a blood test every half year or so to check if you take enough / too much medication. But I figure that can wait a few more month as I feel fine at the moment. The only downside was that they only have medication with 100 nano grams as hypothyroidism is apparently not a very common disease in Indonesia (that’s what the receptionist told me). That is fine for me but when you for example need 50 nano grams you might have to split the pills.

So basically what I want to say: Getting the Symbicort Turbohaler for my asthma and Levothyroxine-Sodium for my Hypothyroidism in Mataram (Lombok) was an easy affair in my experience and I recommend Rumah Sakit Risa Sentra Medika for that. I would also recommend bringing your old medication and packaging and if you’re still at home and thinking about it – some sort of document about the medication you’re taking from your doctor. That might also be helpful in border situations when someone asks about your medication.

Cycling Bali


Finally the day has come where we feel prepared enough to cycle Bali. Theoretically we could just go east towards the ferry to Lombok but as we want to see a little bit more of Bali we decided to make a loop in northern direction.


Finding our way out of Ubud takes a bit of time bit it is very much worth it as we land on tiny pathways in the middle of rice paddies, a few cafes and houses.


I love being surrounded by so much green!

On the first day of cycling we have a big climb of about 1000m ahead of us which is a bit daunting at first.


But being well rested and on such beautiful tiny roads it’s not too much of a challenge.


We land in a small town overlooking Gunung Batur and are planning to cycle around the volcano next to a beautiful lake. In the middle of the night our plans evolve in a rather different direction when my stomach protests against dinner. As the protests keep on coming violently we’re forced to stay here for one more night which sucks as we just started cycling again. But I’m not going anywhere like this.


A day later I’m feeling better albeit weak. The owner of our guest house advices us not to go along the lake as the road is supposed to be really bad and steep after the lake. As he is a cyclist himself we take his advice and go in the opposite direction. That means more climbing and weak as I am it is tough going. At one point about 2k after starting I feel like I’m going to faint and force myself to eat something although I’m not hungry at all.


Luckily we soon reach the highest point and it’s all downhill from there.


We stop at a small shop/eatery with lemonade in recycled bottles (cool!) and I force myself to eat some fried rice. Which is good because I need some energy for what lies ahead. This night we end on  a road next to a beach and accommodation is on the luxurious end of things. So we ask around and as it is already getting dark a local tells us a about a room which is in our price range. What we don’t know is that the room is kind of in his home but kind of not. And that there is no running water and we will end up taking a shower on the beach with some local audience. Let’s not speak of our toilet related needs here ;). In the middle of the night someone tries to enter our room and just smiles at us awkwardly when we talk to him. Our Indonesian is not good enough to ask him what he wants in our room and neither is his English.


All in all it was a bit of a weird experience. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind not having running water or finding alternative toilet solutions – we’re well used to the camping lifestyle by now after all. But there was a lot of stuff going on that night and I didn’t even understand half of it. Maybe it was about language barriers, maybe there were some local or family customs involved which I knew nothing about. Maybe we should have said no from the beginning. But I guess sometimes stuff like that just happens. In the morning I’m very glad to cycle off and the next few days are very different, once again.


We cycle along the coast to Amed, originally a fishing village and now well known in the tourist world for its diving and snorkelling opportunities. After last night we want to take it easy and rest for a bit.


Unfortunately it’s not that easy to find affordable accommodation but in the end we settle for a bungalow near the beach. It’s a bit expensive, a bit further away from eateries than I’d like and doesn’t have cellphone reception which is nice for calling families once in a while and to do some blogging and work. But oh well, the view is beautiful, the wind from the sea is refreshing and so we decide to take a short holiday here. There is time to bake and eat lots of pancakes…


… and to do some good old washing.


On top of that we rent snorkelling gear and explore an old shipwreck and some coral reefs. I’m totally and absolutely blown away by the underwater world. I have snorkelled in Croatia before and this is just nothing like that. There are so many colourful fish here and they come in all shapes and sizes. Some have stripes, some have dots, some come in swarms and some rather stay solitary. It’s mindblowingly beautiful, this other world.


Our last day of cycling in Bali takes us along the coast to the port town Padang Bai. After tackling some serious hills with the steepest gradients we have had so far, we get rewarded with beautiful views.


It is over the top exhausting but I’m fascinated that I actually manage to cycle up those hills instead of pushing. On our way to Padang Bai we buy snorkelling gear – we’re not going to be far from the ocean for a while!


And then, very soon, it’s only just a ferry ride which separates us from leaving our first Indonesian island! Lombok, here we come!

Culture shock and holidays

New routines

It’s been nine days since we’ve come to Bali in the middle of the night and so far I’ve had quite a few ups and downs. These are mainly rooted in the fact that our daily life here differs a lot from the life we had in Australia and it takes time getting used to all of that. Here are a few examples:


  • There is So. Much. To. See. Seriously. While Australia was a lot about wide open spaces and long distances between things for us, Bali is a small island and so far there is always things like houses, temples, people, dogs, chicken, food stalls and restaurants around. So our general pace has slowed down quite a bit but I don’t mind – it’s really interesting!
  • There is always someone around. While it was relatively easy to find a secluded (but still somehow accessible by road) space to camp in Australia, finding that spot would be a real challenge here. I miss being alone in nature sometimes.


  • Exchange rates are in our favour which makes for two of the most considerable changes in our routines. In Australia we mostly slept in our tent and occasionally in beds while staying with hosts. Here accommodation is affordable even with our small budget and so is eating out in food stalls and small restaurants. So we haven’t spent a single night in our tent so far and we haven’t even bought fuel for our stove yet. While that does have its upsides (a shower after cycling in hot humid weather is much needed and appreciated and we love trying all the local food!) it’s not all glittery and shiny for me. As mentioned above I miss being in nature sometimes and I also miss the easy choice of just setting up a tent. In some areas there is no guest house or it might be too expensive for us or we might not feel comfortable. But we need to sleep somewhere every night and tenting would make as a bit more independent instead of having to agree to a price or being uncomfortable. And I miss cooking which comes a bit surprisingly. But I think it’s again the independence of it. Even if there is a lot of food places around, sometimes it’s hard to find the thing we want / need. Most stalls only open at about 10am, so finding breakfast can be a challenge. (Of course there are minimarts but they mostly sell snack foods.) And sometimes when we decide we want to eat something we pass one food stall thinking there will be a lot more soon and there are not. And so on. Tiny complaints in the big picture but my point is, it takes some time getting used to.
  • I am White. I’m saying that matter of factly in a political sense. And being White changes our reality here in a very obvious kind of way. We get more attention from people whether that’s waves and Hellos from kids or more or less persistent sales pitches from shop keepers or guest house owners. Whether I enjoy the Hellos and waves or find the sales pitches exhausting it doesn’t change the fact that there are still persistent racist structures existing in our world and we live in different realities. And that changes interactions. That makes me sad and I hate it but it is true nonetheless.
  • New languages. It was amazing starting our tour in a country where I could speak the language fluently. That made for easy conversations and I absolutely enjoyed getting to know people on the road and having meaningful deep conversations. No such luck here. My Indonesian is not that good and neither is my Balinese. So I’m bumping along with a few words and trying to learn more and speaking with hands and feet in between. That somehow works mostly, is fun sometimes but often I long for more. As cyclists we’re bound to leave the tourist trail and meet people who don’t speak english and our future conversations will be different.

Changing perspectives

I could add so many more points but I trust you get the gist. It’s all about acclimatizing and adjusting at the moment and that’s exactly what we’re doing. As of yesterday we applied a new strategy that works really well: Being caught in a touristy area and having a hard time with all the things above we decided just to be on holiday.


You know, just relax, take it easy and don’t worry too much about getting it right at once. And somehow that simple change of perspective really did the trick: I’m not going to worry about being over budget because of not finding a place for our tent. Instead I’m enjoying our bungalow by the sea and going snorkelling today because soon we might not have this kind of tourist infrastructure. And yes, we’re going out for a drink tonight because I heard that’s what people on holidays do. And how fun it is to try and communicate in a new language! See, all about perspective!


Well, of course not all is going to change and adjusting is still going to be a process. But I want to make it an enjoyable one and one that I can cope with.


That said we also purchased fuel for our stove yesterday and had the most amazing banana pancakes and coffee overlooking the ocean today. Homemade. And later we’re going to write couchsurfing requests to get to know people on a different level. It’s all going to be good.

Resting and adjusting in Ubud


In order to take it slow we’ve given ourselves some time to fully get here and adjust. So we sleep long on the first day and only venture out to have the complimentary breakfast. It is delicious but oh so tiny! I am tempted to ask for more but they are already cleaning up. Oh well, at least we’re not cycling today.

We eat some cookies and nuts in our room and hang out, read and chill. Finally at 2pm hunger gets us out of the room again and we’re on a mission to find food. At the moment I miss having fully stocked food panniers and things like bread and spreads ready to eat. But of course we find delicious food and all is good again.


After that we wander around and take it all in. There is a lot to see.


Statues of elephants and quirky persons.


A lot of green surrounds us, there are coconut palms, water is flowing through canals and sometimes there are rice fields in the middle of the city. We see a lot of food stalls and I wish I would understand what they are selling. Learning the language and most importantly all the food words seems to be a priority for the next days.


The next days are quiet ones. We didn’t really have any fixed plans on when to move on but for now we’re really enjoying just being in one place for a bit. For the first time in months we have a room to ourselves and just that. No one around that we know which gives us plenty of opportunity to process all that has happened in the last months. For me that means that I’m catching up on some blogging which feels really good.


Torsten manages to get some work done and in between we go out to explore a little bit and mostly to find food. Each time we learn a few more words and understand a little more of what vendors are selling. We find the perfect Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) and Mie Goreng (Fried Noodles).


On the third day we move to a cheaper room which is on the edge of the city and just in front of a rice field. It is amazingly quiet and so relaxing. The owners are very friendly on top of that and provide a free flow of coffee and tea – nice!

To stay connected we buy sim cards which is an easy affair and works instantly. Getting a rabies vaccination is a bit more complicated on the other hand. Our budget in mind we didn’t feel compelled to do that in Australia and thought it might be easy enough to take care of that here. Well, not really. We call several clinics and none of them have the vaccine or do expect it any time soon. In the end there is one expensive clinic which is still reluctant to provide us with the vaccine as they usually only give it to people who have been bitten by dogs.

So we decide to skip it for now. Rabies is still an occurrence in many of the countries we are travelling to in the next months if not years. But as it is unlikely that we are cycling through very remote places from where we can’t hitch a ride to a hospital or even catch a flight to somewhere in a timely manner we’ll deal with it when we have to. We might still get the vaccination for peace of mind at a later point though.

In the meantime we rest, blog, work, read some more. Actually it feels really nice to slow down and just take it all in. For both of us.

To Bali

To the airport


One last beautiful dinner with the Canfields and Natalia and Pietr, two other touring cyclists, and we’re off to the airport. Some smaller complications occur as our airline wants to see outward tickets out of Indonesia or we won’t be allowed to board. It all resolves quickly once we learn that we can book ferry tickets to Singapore which we won’t use but it’s still the cheapest way. Mandy and Les stick it out with us, bring us huge coffees (who knows that these are going to be the last italian style coffees for a long time) and once more I’m humbled by their generosity and support.

And then finally it’s time to leave, time for hugs and goodbyes and for one or two tears. It’s all over too quickly but that seems to be the nature of our trip.

Arriving in Bali

A few hours later our flight arrives in the middle of the night and we find ourselves at a quiet airport. The exit area is half outside already and thus we feel the warm air and the first mosquitoes making their way towards us. I’m very tired, so we resolve to get some coffees and food at a rather expensive airport restaurant. But we need some energy before building those bikes back together. The reassembling takes some time and we attract quite a bit of attention. Some people come over for a little chat and some check the pressure in our tyres and test the handlebars. The sun is up as we’re done and it is very warm already. We buy some water for the ride to Ubud as we have yet to find batteries for our purifier.

Towards Ubud


A few days ago we received a voucher for a hotel from our airline and a bit atypically for us we decided to go for it. Usually we don’t bother much with booking ahead but we thought it might be nice to have a place to go to after that redeye flight of ours. Wanting to get out of the busiest area around Denpasar as quickly as possible we planned on a place in Ubud, a town about 40k away.


So we wheel our bicycles out of the airport and face the traffic. From the little research we did, traffic is supposed to be different here. More, louder and all of that. Here in Denpasar that seems to be true. It is seriously busy and crowded but we don’t mind as the drivers take care of us. No one yells at us all day which is quite the improvement in regard to the last months. Thus I feel comfortable riding slowly towards Ubud. After we make an ice cream break on the beach of course.


After that we continue to ride slowly and I’m overwhelmed by all the new impressions. There is So. Much. To. See! There are lots of people around, lots of temples and houses that look like temples. It is loud with continuous honking but occasionally we do find a quiet road. By morning it is already getting hot. We take lots of breaks for water and cold drinks, for food and to get our tyre pressure right.

The cycling is easy and flat but I feel misplaced somehow. My heart is still in Australia, I miss the Canfields and all the love there. Simultaneously I am excited to be here.  Finally we arrive in Ubud, find our room and rest. Maybe we’ll stay here for a few days and take a bit of time to adjust. After going so slowly for so long it seems strange to come here by plane and somehow I’m not quite there yet.


What stays – Reflections on starting out in Australia

So here we are, almost ready to catch that flight to Indonesia. A big part of me doesn’t even want to leave because of feeling far too comfortable in Cairns with beautiful people. But another part is excited about that new place waiting to be discovered. Only today have I started looking at some roads in Bali via Google Street View and some of it just looks amazing. Tiny roads with lush green scenery and houses and temples scattered about. But before embarking on that flight I want to share some reflections about our time cycle touring in Australia.
All in all it has been a great place to start out. While both of us have cycle toured individually before, we’ve never toured together or for such a long time. Here we encountered a few key factors which made it quite easy for us:

  • English is the most commonly used language. That made it easy for us to talk to locals and more so to have meaningful conversations. Or just to convey our needs for food, water, a place to sleep.
  • Australia is a big country and quite inhabited. That makes it easy to find a place to camp in nature. Also there are lots of camp sites for no or little money.
  • There are so. many. hosts. Warmshowers is really big especially on the east coast. So it was really easy for us to find hosts and we met so many amazing people through that site.
  • Supermarkets. While there are some isolated stretches where you need to plan your food supplies, going from Sydney to Cairns is usually not too bad. The supermarkets are mostly well stocked which makes it easy to get your supplies all in one place.

Of course we also faced a few challenges like road rage, long hilly stretches, the occasional rather racist approach and building up those energy levels. But all in all it was a great place to start out. We could concentrate on cycling, an building up energy, on coordinating our needs and ideas and if we needed something like new tyres we usually knew where to look for. What I’m unarguably most grateful for is getting to know all those wonderful people and still feeling connected to them. And what is maybe equally important – I enjoy cycling and cycle touring  more every day. Sometimes it’s over the brim exhausting but I’m learning more and more to deal with that. And then there are the many joys that come with our mode of travel: Spontaneous conversations with strangers-no-more, food that never tasted so good before, cycling in those cool morning hours, seeing kangaroos hopping over the street and enjoying the first cup of coffee in the morning just outside of our tent. And rest days. Seriously, just reading a book with a cup of coffee is the single best thing after cycling for five days.

So here we are, ready now, to catch that flight. See you in a little bit!