The Day I was Accussed of being a PROSTITUTE in Bali

April 2011.

So it was my first time in Bali. There I was, with my big backpack, wearing shorts, singlet and flipflops (It was so hot in Phuket when I left, around 36). My naturally brown skin was browner than ever, actually bit reddish-brown. My long black hair, air-dried and smelled like sea-water (salty!) I got my passport stamped and the stamp said I’m allowed to stay in Bali for 30 days. Sweet as!

My passport

My passport

I had no idea that I was being watched since the moment I got my passport stamped. I was almost about to exit when this lady grabbed me by the hand and asked me if she can have me in her office. I was confused. What did I do? What’s going on? As we approached her office, I then read the sign, “IMMIGRATION”. I then told myself, “Ok, relax. You got your passport stamped and they didn’t find anything illegal in your bag. Relax Tin.”

Then the interrogation began…

Immigration Lady: How are you?

Tin: I’m great.

Immigration Lady: So, you plan to go around Bali. How long to you plan to stay?

Tin: Yeah, I’m gonna go around, see places. I’ll be here for a few weeks.

Immigration Lady: Do you have any bookings, reservations on where you’re going to stay? Where do you plan to stay the longest?

Tin: Yes, I do have accomodation bookings (showed her the print out with receipt) Depends, but I’m really keen on hanging out in Ubud.

Immigration Lady: Where were you before flying to Bali?

Tin: I was in phuket. I spent 2 weeks there with my friends.

Immigration Lady: Do you have any proof? Do you have any documentation about your flights to Bali and also out of Bali?

Tin: Yeah, of course. (showed her my passport with the stamps when I entered and exited Phuket) Here you go.

Immigration Lady: You’re on holiday, right? So, where’s your permanent address? Do you have any other form of ID? Can I see it?

Tin: I’ve been living in New Zealand for the last 4 years. I am a permanent resident, you can see it there in my passport, my residency. Yes, I do have other ID’s (showed her my NZ Drivers Licence, Registered Engineers Licence and all other ids I can find in my wallet. I even showed her my very old voters ID from the Philippines.)

Immigration Lady: Aside from this engineers id, do you have any proof that you are actually working as an engineer in NZ?

Tin: (I’m already annoyed with her, but I remained calm.) Yes, I do. If you look at that old passport that is stapled to my new passport, you will see my old working visa. It’s noted there that I can only work as a civil engineer in NZ.

Immigration Lady: (She nodded, sighed and gave me a very sarcastic smile) your parents must be very proud of you. (those words came from her nose!)

Tin: Well, hopefully they are. (This is starting to make me hot with anger already… I’ve been in her office for almost half an hour!)

Immigration Lady: Ok, this is enough for me, for now.  (I thought, “WTH? Woman! What else do you need from me??? My University Diploma?)
Thank you. You can go now.

I sighed and smiled. She watched me as I put all my stuff inside my backpack. She saw my SLR Camera and asked me how much I got my camera and where I bought it. She doesn’t look pleased that there’s nothing she can do to not let me stay in Bali. I don’t know what this woman’s all about.  I really felt her disappointment. When I was done checking that I have all my stuff in my bag, she offered me a sprite in can as I was about to open the door and leave. I told her, “No, thanks” but she insisted. I accepted the drink and opened the door. The man standing outside her office (I’m not sure who he is but he probably works at the airport too) told me “Sorry. A lot of Asian girls go to Bali for prostitution, especially in Kuta. They know there are lots of tourists in Kuta.” I gave him a blank stare and left.

I felt insulted and angry as soon as I exited that airport. I felt degraded. My heart was pounding so hard and I had that feeling of wanting to scream. I was in her office for almost 45 minutes. I lost the people I met during my flight that I was supposed to share taxi with. I was so angry. I took a deep breath and forced myself to calm down.

I look homeless. I don't look like a prostitute.

I look homeless. I don’t look like a prostitute.

While waiting in line for the taxi service, I thought of what reasons can justify what just happened to me.

Filipinos, though not required to have a visa to enter ASEAN countries, are still doubted to some degree, of intentions on entering such countries.

Yes, I don’t need a visa to go to Indonesia as it’s a member of the ASEAN, I got my stamp. They still doubted my intentions on being in their country. In some way, I can’t really blame them so much. Filipinos don’t really have a spotless record when it comes to overseas travel. No offense meant my Kabayans, but it’s a reality we all have to face and endure.

So, when these things happen, the only key is to be calm. If you know you have nothing to hide, just be calm. I am not the best at being calm and believe me, it took great effort to stop myself from shouting.

 

A few days later, guess what? I got asked again if I am someone’s “girlfriend”. Yes, I quoted it. I was inside a van on it’s way to Amed and I was sitting beside this French guy. We stopped at a petrol station to fill up and one guy kept looking at me from the door of the van. Later on, the French guy went down to buy a drink and when he went back inside, he was laughing. He told me, “That Balinese guy, he shook my hand and told me, I did well on getting a beautiful Balinese “girlfriend”. I cleared though that you aren’t my “girlfriend” and that I only met you at this ride to Amed Beach! ”

I told him what happened to me at the airport and we just both laughed at my luck regarding my looks here in Bali! I looked homeless that time. I didn’t look like a prostitute!

I just laugh about it now…

Anyway, thanks for reading and happy travels everyone! :)

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