January 2024 Newsletter

Welcome to the first edition of my monthly newsletter for 2024! As we dive into the highlights of January, it's been a month filled with unexpected twists, from visa hurdles to spontaneous travels.

Let's start with the not-so-pleasant news about my residence permit in Budapest. In November 2023, my university dropped the bombshell that my permit would become invalid due to my student passive status in Fall Semester 2023. Surprisingly, this information wasn’t covered during the orientation, and I hadn't received any official notification from immigration. This created a bit of chaos, especially since I was in Nias Island at the time, making it impractical to rush to Jakarta for a new permit, plus the returned flight to Jakarta cost €380. 

With the Hungarian Immigration Office not accepting long-term visa applications from January 1st to February 29th, 2024, and my flight scheduled for February 6th, I faced a dilemma. The best solution emerged – applying for a tourist visa, allowing a 90-day stay in the Schengen area. This choice was crucial to save my non-refundable flight ticket.

Navigating this situation wasn't easy. Unsure about my residence permit status, I sought assistance from a Hungarian friend in Budapest who directly contacted the immigration office. After two weeks of anticipation and a result indicating the necessity of applying for a new visa, I decided to take a short trip to Bali. Bali, with its tranquil beauty, provided a much-needed escape. Nusa Penida, away from the tourist hustle, was the perfect spot to unwind.
Little did I know, the process of applying for a short-term visa had changed. The Embassy of Hungary now required applications through VFS Global, incurring an additional cost of 200.000 IDR. Small setbacks aside, the journey continued.

Returning to Jakarta after spending 5 nights in Bali, I was delighted to retrieve my repaired iPhone XR, which had met its demise in Nias. This enabled me to share moments from my Bali trip on WhatsApp, and a surprise awaited me the next morning. A Spanish friend messaged, questioning if I was truly in Bali. As fate would have it, he was there too. In a spontaneous move, I caught the next flight to Bali, chronicling the adventure in an article titled "Smart Traveling: Affordable Luxury Escapes." However, a lesson learned the hard way – my supposedly water-resistant iPhone was not as resilient as I thought. I didn't know that after changing the battery, it is no longer water-resistant. Due to this oversight, my iPhone became non-functional again.

As the month drew to a close, a call from the Embassy of Hungary in Jakarta brought a glimmer of hope. I could apply for the long-term visa, though the result wouldn't be ready before my scheduled flight on February 6th. The embassy advised applying for a residence permit visa before leaving Indonesia, ensuring a smoother process upon my return. 

Stay tuned for the next installment as February unfolds its surprises!

Highlighted moments: 
1. Catching up with UPH friends

Staying connected with former classmates, fellow UPH alumni, is a cherished tradition for me. Each time I'm back in Jakarta, our meet-ups are a delightful mix of coffee gatherings and dinners, with Plaza Indonesia often serving as our chosen meeting spot. These rendezvous can be spontaneous or planned a day in advance.

On one occasion, after spending a couple of enjoyable hours at Joe & Dough, we decided to elevate our evening by having dinner at Cloud Lounge. This exquisite establishment, nestled in the heart of Central Jakarta on the 49th floor, boasts a sophisticated rooftop lounge offering breathtaking views of the city. While the price tag may not be the most budget-friendly, the experience is undoubtedly worth the investment, allowing you to immerse yourself in something new while overlooking the stunning Jakarta skyline.

It's worth noting that there is a minimum spend of 1 million rupiah for a round table, suitable for 3-5 people. However, if you opt for a seat at the bar, there's no minimum spend requirement.

2. Encountering a Colombian Traveler

During my second visit to Bali in the same month, I arrived at Denpasar airport around lunchtime, feeling quite hungry. Opting for an economical choice, I decided to grab a meal at the airport Warong, a local Indonesian restaurant known for its affordability compared to other F&B establishments labeled restaurants. As I was eating my lunch, a white lady with a big backpack and a pack of lunch in hand took a seat nearby.

“It’s spicy!” I exclaimed. 
“I like spicy food,” she responded. That simple comment sparked a conversation, leading to her asking if the seat next to me was free. She moved over, and our discussion continued.

Ximena, a Colombian lady visiting Bali from Australia for the first time, had booked a room in Ubud. She inquired about online-based transportation options to get to Ubud, and I suggested comparing prices between Grab and Gojek. It appeared she had done some research, as both mobile apps were already installed on her phone. She opted for Gojek, which cost her 318,000 IDR – a more economical choice than Grab. Later, I discovered there's a bus service from Kuta to Ubud, offering an even more budget-friendly option—a lesson learned for both of us.

Before we found her ride to Ubud, I handed Ximena my social media card, hoping to stay in touch. We exchanged a hug as she entered the car. After 16 days, she reached out via WhatsApp, showcasing the beauty of unexpected connections.

Other moments

One evening, accompanied by Kake Martin, I had the pleasure of sharing dinner with Madame Suryati Harefa and Monsieur Ali, an Indonesian couple residing in Paris. Our chosen venue was a Vietnamese restaurant located in the vibrant Grand Indonesia. During their sejour in Jakarta, I met them a couple of times while lingering at their favored haunt, Djournal Coffee.

.... more other moments are in the PDF version.