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Uluwatu Villas – The Real Balinese Experience

Bali is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the world. Located in the archipelago of Indonesia, it has plenty of gorgeous white sand beaches and a strong Hindu culture. The Balinese people are probably the most spiritual people on Earth. It is no wonder that for Indonesians, Bali is known as the Island of the Gods.

The moment you arrive in Bali, you will feel the balance between pleasure and leisure of this paradise island. Bali has many places to visit and plenty of activities to do. You can see traditional dances, witness cultural events or traditional ceremonies, do all sorts of water sports or enjoy the nightlife scene. At the same time, Bali also offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere that you can’t get anywhere else in the world.

If you are looking for a more quite getaway, you should stay away from the more touristy places such as Kuta. The best way to enjoy Bali is to go to the more secluded areas like Uluwatu. Uluwatu is located in the southern tip of Bali. It is famous for its Pura Luhur Uluwatu, a Hindu temple that is located on top of a steep rocky cliff overlooking the ocean. It is probably the most stunning temple on the paradise island. Uluwatu is also famous for its traditional dance, the Kecak. And if you happen to love water sports, Uluwatu also has the most perfect beach for you.

If you choose to stay in Uluwatu, it is best if you rent your own private villa. Not for the faint hearted, most of the villas in Uluwatu are located on top of a cliff, overlooking the sea. There you can enjoy the cool sea breeze and the relaxing sound of sea waves all throughout the day. These private villas do not only provide you with beautiful scenery, but they also provide you with the comfort and luxury of a five star hotel. You can get a private driver, cook as well as butler.

Imagine staying in a luxury villa surrounded by a gorgeous garden of frangipani and palm trees. Picture yourself watching the sunset from the terrace, enjoying a romantic evening with your loved one. Staying in a villa will definitely provide you with a quiet and relaxing getaway, where you can be far away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, and be entertained by the beauty of the nature that is around you. There is really no better way of spending your holiday in Bali other than this.

How to Extend a Visa on Arrival (VOA) In Indonesia

I have recently extended my Indonesian visa on arrival (VOA) in Bali. It took about a week, three visits to the immigration office, and Rp251,600, but it was a lot easier than leaving the country to get a new one.

Luckily for me, I live near an immigration office (in Singaraja), so the whole process only took about an hour in total, including journey time. If your nearest office is further away, then you’ll need to decide whether it’s easier to make the 3 trips or just one trip abroad instead.

In my case I needed a sponsor, but I’ve heard of other people not needing one. When you do this for the first time, I suggest you take a suitable local person with you just in case. They can always help with translation and filling in the visa application forms.

Also, I didn’t need a photo, but I’ve heard of other people beings asked to provide one, so it’s probably best to bring one just in case. It’s always a good idea to carry a few passport photos when you visit an immigration office as you never know when they might ask for one. These should be with a red background.

Since I used my wife as a sponsor for my visa, I had to provide a copy of our wedding certificate. Presumably, if you use someone else, this won’t be necessary.

I had to fill in 3 forms. One of these is a sponsor’s letter, which my wife completed. The others I completed myself (with some help from my wife as one is entirely in Indonesian). One of the forms needs a “materai” (stamp) which costs Rp6,000. You stick in on the indicated square at the bottom of the form and both you and your sponsor sign so that your signatures overlap it.

The second time I did this, they asked me to bring in my return ticket, presumably to prove that I was going to leave the country.

One small but important detail: make sure you complete the forms in black ink and in capital letters, otherwise they could be rejected. Really! Oh, and it’s a good idea to dress reasonably well when you go into the immigration office, so vests, shorts and flip-flops are out, as are mini-skirts and skimpy tops. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie, but at least long trousers/skirt (jeans are fine) and shirt or t-shirt.

You also need to provide photocopies of your passport (showing your identity details and current visa), your sponsor’s identity card (KTP), and your marriage certificate (if your spouse is sponsoring you).

5 days after dropping the forms off, I returned to the immigration office and paid Rp250,000 (equivalent to 25 US dollars).

3 days after that, I returned to pick up my visa. Oh, and I had to pay Rp1,000 for them to photocopy my passport with the new visa stamp in it.

I was initially concerned that, since the whole process was going to take a week, I would end up overstaying on my original visa (which ran out 2 days into the process), but this wasn’t a problem as I dropped off the forms before my visa expired. Ideally, you should go in one week before your visa expires but, even though I didn’t do that, they back-dated the new visa to start from the day my original one ran out. Nice!

Apart from the reduced hassle of doing this (compared to leaving the country on a visa run), there’s another advantage: the visa stamp they use only takes up half a page in your passport compared to a full page for the standard VOA stamp.

I hope this helps clarify the process for you.

One final tip: don’t listen to anything they tell you in Denpasar airport about this as they have been giving out inaccurate information there. For example, they may tell you there’s an immigration office in the airport, which isn’t true. There is one nearby, but not in the airport itself. They’ve also been known to tell people they can get their VOA extended while they wait, which is simply not true. I suggest you save your energy and avoid asking about this in the airport.

Good luck and happy travelling!

Go Pro Diver?

As a PADI MSDT and former dive center owner, I have seen many that have gone on to the pro diver ranks and become working divemaster or instructors. I have also seen where divers have gone down the path to become employable as a divemaster or instructor and had very little luck in finding work that would sustain them financially for any length of time. Do you really want to keep on subsidizing your diving career?

So what are the things that you can do to make it so that if you do go down the pro diver path and get all of the safety and dive certifications needed to qualify as pro diver, that you find meaningful work in the dive industry.

I would say that the number one thing is don’t stop at divemaster! The reason is simple; there are more dive masters than there are instructors. Dive instructors can work as dive masters but not the other way around, so a dive center when given the chance to hire a divemaster or an instructor, if they have one slot, they will take the instructor more times than not. The exception would be dive masters that have lots of local experience, might get the nod over a brand new instructor. There is a saying around the dive industry that you can never have too much lead or too many instructors.

Look on the scuba diving boards and see what jobs are being offered and what jobs are being sought, and then look at what are the additional qualifications that are being required.

As a general rule the more languages that you speak, especially if you are in big backpacker scuba destinations like Koh Tao, Bali or Sihanoukville, the higher the likelihood that you will get picked up by a dive center to work for them. Popular languages like Japanese, French, German and certainly English if that is not your mother tongue, are always in demand. If you are fluent in more than one language, increases even more your chances.

Equipment and Compressor repair. Having a dive live aboard and having some one that can repair equipment on staff, can be a huge relief for the boat owner. As a general rule, people who know how to fix equipment usually know how to prevent problems. They understand the importance of maintenance, and are not intimidated by machinery.

Develop a relationship with a dive center. If you have lots of time around a dive center they have a known quantity in you, they know that you know the local dive sites, they know how good of a diver you are, and that you are familiar with the dive centers operations.

Each dive center is a little bit different and having someone that already knows the system makes you easier to train. In Hawaii, before I jumped into diving full time, I use to get phone calls asking me if I could come in and lead divers when they would be short staff. They knew that I had a regular job, but I let them know that I was always available if they needed some coverage. I was lucky in that my regular job it did not matter if I took days off as long as I gave them 24 hours notice.

Get jobs selling dive equipment, even part time, nobody really likes to do it but dive centers love people that have sales experience, even more so if it is selling dive gear! Guess what dive shop owners spend a lot of time on? That’s right, buying and selling dive equipment.