Deported Because Of A Tweet: My Immigration Horror Story

As I type this I am locked in a cell in an Indonesian detention center. Why you may ask? Surely someone who has been traveling the world non-stop for five years is smart enough not to get himself deported. Well, apparently I am not.

However rather than being deported for some heinous act, like smuggling or getting arrested for a sordid deed, the details surrounding my deportation are far more comical. And also a bit disturbing in their implications.

I Am Being Deported Because Of A Tweet

It was a tweet that I knew was wrong and deleted five minutes later, but not before a friend turned psycho stalker had taken a screenshot of it. Now I have become the first person in history to be deported for a tweet.

When tweets go bad... you might get arrested abroad, locked up for 16 days and then deported because of a tweet

What Did The Tweet Say?

While I don’t want to repeat myself, let me just put it this way: I dropped the F bomb and kantor imigrasi (immigration office) in the same sentence and threatened to never return to Indonesia. This was of course an empty threat, as anyone who knows me or reads this blog on a regular basis knows that I love Indonesia more than my own birth nation. However in my aggravated state that day I didn’t think, I just hit ‘tweet’ — and now I am paying the price.

Samuel L Jackson's first tweet was &quote;can a mother fucker say fuck on here"
Samuel dropped the F bomb in his first ever tweet

Only in my beloved Indonesia, a country which worships Twitter and despises the F word, would such a thing ever be possible. The land that has shown me nothing but love for more than a year now has me in its cross-hairs.

While I’m not defending my actions, I still believe that this is he most absurd situation I have ever been in. Especially because other Indonesians have replied to me on Twitter saying “yeah fuck kantor imigrasi!” And while I greatly regret what I said, no amount of apologizing could undo the harm caused.


Deported Because Of A Tweet

When tweets go bad... Yes, guilty....I'm a bad tweeter. This is the story of how I got arrested abroad and deported because of a tweet

My Indonesia Visa Situation

I’m in Indonesia on my fifth visa. Despite having started a life here with a wonderful lady, obviously I am a travel writer and frequently on the move. As such I never spend more than two months at a time in this country which I now call home. That’s why a tourist VOA, valid for 30 days but extendable to 60, is perfect for me.

That’s all I need. I don’t make any money in this country so I don’t need a work visa, and a six-month social visa does not allow for multiple entries.

I’ve extended several of my prior visas and truthfully I’m usually late doing this. But that has never been an issue. You go to kantor imigrasi, tell them you need an extension, pay a fine ($20USD/day) if late and voila, you are granted another 30 days. In both Jogja and Jakarta, the two places I most often extend my visas, they never ask to see a departure ticket or anything like that. It’s an easy and painless process.

At least it usually is.

Passports belonging to digital nomads tend to be a bit full

This time I tried to extend my visa at a different location, one that wanted to see a departure ticket. So I bought one to Kuala Lumpur and gave them a copy with my paperwork and passport, intending to return next week after a couple brief trips around the country to retrieve my passport. Unfortunately things did not go as planned.

Tiga orang dari kantor imigrasi cari kamu.

While en route back from Jakarta the following week I start receiving WhatsApp messages: three officials from kantor imigrasi were at my house. Next they went to my girlfriend’s house, still searching for me. How they even found out about her or where she lives is still a mystery to us both — our relationship has never been talked about on social media or this blog until now.

Soon after that I received a call from immigration, telling me I needed to return to their office for a hearing. Immediately my heart sank. I knew this was about my deleted tweet. After all, immigration agents don’t comb the city looking for you unless they have a valid reason — or in this case a “big boss” back in Jakarta that was pissed and wanted my head on a platter.

I arrived back in Solo that evening and despite it being after closing time went straight to immigration. There were still a few employees there, however after a brief questioning I was instructed to return the next morning at 8:30am for an official hearing.

I Knew Right Then I Was Fucked

(See, I use that word all the time — not directed at people but rather to convey emotion or a horribly shitty situation.)

Knowing that was quite possibly my last night in Indonesia as a free man, I spent it drinking beer with my neighbors and having a laugh while waiting for the missus to get off work. Although I kept telling her not to worry, I myself was already prepared for the worst. And rightfully so.

The next morning I arrived promptly at 8:29am. The first thing the head boss said to me is: “Where are your clothes? Why did you not bring your stuff?” I knew right then I was fucked and sent a text to my wonderful beauty queen telling her so before I turned my phone off.

The Interrogation

From 8:30 – 5:30 (with a brief lunch break from noon to one) I was questioned relentlessly about what I have been doing in Indonesia so many times and, of course, that tweet.

First they held up a picture of me, the one I use for my Twitter image (and every other social media account I have). “Is this you?” “Yes, of course.”

Then they held up a photograph of my tweet. “Do you recognize this? Did you post this?” “Yes, but I deleted it five minutes later because I knew it was wrong.” From that point on nothing I said mattered — I was to be deported and blacklisted from ever returning to Indonesia, the country I most love.

You've Been Deported!

My Incarceration

After having a final dinner of nasi liwet with three gentleman from immigration — goodhearted guys that I am proud to now call friends — I was shown to my cell and at precisely 8:00pm the doors slammed shut and the padlock bolted into place. My freedom, my fun, and my life in Indonesia had suddenly come to a screeching halt.

Next Post Life In An Indonesian Detention Center

Derek Freal is locked up abroad again, this time in Indonesia. 16 days later he was deported because of a tweet.
Shit happens, and it’s usually embarrassing

Lessons I (re-)learned being deported because of a tweet

You mean besides the obvious one of watch what you say on social media, a lesson that has been learned time and time again by people around the world in a variety of shocking and laughable ways?

There is such a thing as too many followers. I’ve mentioned in a variety of places that there is nothing I won’t say…I’m a blunt son of a bitch, in both my social media and my writing. Some people love this, others I’m sure despise me for it. If I only had 1-2k followers, I could say F this and F that all day and most likely it wouldn’t make a difference. But with over 20,000 there is bound to be someone out there who will take serious offense. The more followers you get, the more you have to conform to a higher moral standard — especially if you use Twitter professionally.

There is no helping you so I'm just going to hang my head in shame.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. This entire situation started thanks to one friend turned psycho stalker, upset because I wouldn’t sleep with her. I know, crazy right? Usually it’s sleeping with someone that gets you in trouble, not NOT sleeping with them. At first I tried to maintain a friendship with her, however she was hellbent on destroying me to the point where she made herself look like a liar and attention-seeker to do so.

Respect the local culture. I always always ALWAYS respect the locals’ way of life and their culture. However as already mentioned, I also have a tendency to drop the F bomb and I usually don’t think before I say it. I even say it in Bahasa. Of course I forgot that I was warned by friends here never to say it outside of Jakarta, as the word is very taboo. (Many of you may even remember last year when I was taken into an immigration interrogation room and questioned for 45 minutes. That was also for saying fuck, although that time it was verbally done within earshot of an immigration official, not via social media. Unfortunately it would appear that I didn’t learn my lesson back then.)

There is no such thing as bad publicity, as The HoliDaze traffic shows after Derek Freal was deported for a tweet.
Turns out that being deported because of a tweet actually helped my blogging career πŸ˜‰

There is no such thing as bad publicity. For the first four days I was locked up there was quite the twitwar a-ragin’ online. While the vast majority supported me because they know I am a good guy and love Indonesia, there were also a few who said things like “dasar bule go home” and “get the fuck out of my country.” However in the first day or two that the story broke I gained hundreds and hundreds of new social media followers and traffic to my site skyrocketed even though I hadn’t written any new articles. In fact one day actually broke the record for the most unique traffic in a 24-hour period — and it was a Sunday, notoriously known as one of the lowest traffic days of the week.

Cut stalkers off before they cut you down. Had I just blocked this horrid wretch when she first went crazy, instead of allowing her to continue following me, this whole situation could have been completely avoided. Perhaps the most amusing part is that she is actually gloating about this online. Honey, you may think you’ve won, but in reality you’re just giving your country a black eye. Although I love Indonesia and will continue to praise/promote it, it will now become known as the country that deports people because they don’t like what was said on Twitter. And it’s all her fault.

I Know I Fucked Up…

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel." Β  Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

238 thoughts on “Deported Because Of A Tweet: My Immigration Horror Story”

  1. Dude, that is freaking insane. I am so sorry. DAMN!!! You should have added to your lessons learned list: “When Immigration asks you if you wrote the tweet, you simply say no, someone in my hostel used my phone.” That sucks man, are you banned for life?

  2. Holy Shmoley! I can hardly believe it, wow Indonesian jail and banned. Well, that will definitely make its way to your top stories list. Guess it’s time to find a new favorite country?

  3. Derek,
    Buddy I am so sorry this happened. I know you really love Indonesia and am sad that it appears you have been banned for life. Let me hear from you. I have not talked to you in a while and was getting nervous. Stay cool and let me know where you wind up. Just PM me on Facebook amigo.

  4. When I saw the link to this post on Facebook, I was sure it must be fake. I mean, who deports someone because of a TWEET and a BAD WORD?!? Ridiculous.

    • I wish it was a joke Amanda but unfortunately not. This is quite a dubious honor I have received, and one I should probably wait until I was out of the country to write about, but I couldn’t wait any longer. This article has been written and ready to go since my first night in lockup and it’s been six days now…

      • As soon as the immigration gentlemen find out about this blog post you will be in deep shit.
        The most important rule of travel in Indo as bule is the obey all the laws and never disrespect anybody.
        Java is not like Bali, you can’t run around like a raccoon and expect to be let off.
        I would be doing everything in my power to repair the hurt you have caused to kantor imigrassi.
        Offer full formal apology and pay a good amount of $$ the ease their hurt. The main problem you have is it may take years before you are deported. On the point of banned for life… Just renew your passport and photo back in country of origin and re-enter on voa. Indonesia doesn’t keep a data base. As long as you steer clear of your old hang out spots no one will ever know. (First hand knowledge for you).

        • Why do you think they came in the day after I posted this and took my electronics away? Several of the kantor imigrasi officials follow me on Twitter.

          Yeah, I’m not a fan of Bali, at least not the southeastern corner. Besides being too many bule it’s all drunken debauchery or yoga and hippies in Ubud. Nusa Penida is relaxing though.

          And yeah I apologized from the minute I was brought in but that didn’t matter. The second minister in Jakarta took my tweet personal and wanted to see me suffer (or so I was told by half of the kantor imigrasi employees on a nearly daily basis). And yes, I finally bought my freedom this morning, aided by friends around the world (Indonesia included) who all pitched in to contribute.

          They did say now that I only have a six-month ban, not a lifelong blacklisting as originally stated. I suspect this has lots to do with the media attention this story has received, not just in Indonesia but abroad as well. They even had news crews filming my release.

          Who would have known that one tweet deleted five minutes later could have caused all this? Oh right, it wouldn’t have if my stalker Jenny hadn’t made it her personal mission to get me in trouble. She even visited her local kantor imigrasi office to report this in person. Psycho stalkers suck.

          • Very glad to hear it’s only a six month ban; I felt uneasy thinking of someone getting blacklisted from their country of choice (imagined it happening to me: bad feeling!)

          • Thanks for the support πŸ™‚ Yes I think they were just trying to scare me at first, by threatening a lifetime ban. Luckily given the news spectacle this turned out to be, not to mention the sheer number of people (both Indonesian citizens and foreigners) that rallied to my defense, after buying my freedom I was told that I only have to wait six months before I can return to Indonesia. I just hope that I can make it that long. I miss my family there even while I was locked up and denied visitation…this whole ordeal has only gotten harder since leaving. And I dare say it’s even harder on them than me πŸ™

  5. Wow! What an insane story. It’s crazy to think that something that us westerners don’t even think twice about (swearing) can wind you up in such hot water over there. I’m really sorry that this happened to you and that you are forced to leave and never return to the place you love so much πŸ™ Stay strong, buddy!

    • Yes, definitely a tad bit insane. I am still in disbelief. The amount of Indonesian friends that have stepped up to my defense, several of whom have a quarter million followers on Twitter or more, combined with the fact that even the Ministry of Tourism has thanked me for all the great work that I have done promoting Indonesia…well, it’s just mind-blowing that this has happened. My whole life has now changed because of one tweet. And the worst part is that tweet was deleted weeks ago! Arrggghhhhhhh

  6. Yeah, I should have just denied it Benjamin but I didn’t think that would be the best of ideas. And after all, have to man up and take responsibility for my actions.

  7. Hahaha not so sure about that Stephen — they told me I could go anywhere I want, just not here. So I bought a ticket to Singapore but now they are like “wait a minute, you might have to fly back to the States before any other country will accept you.

  8. Damn! This is heartbreaking. To come from some stage as ‘liking’ a country to calling it a ‘second home’. Well, lesson learnt, Never gives psychos a second chance in life. Always a tough lesson, but necessary. Unfortunate for things to be panned out this way though for you. Hope, things work out better in the future for both you and your girlfriend πŸ™‚ All the best! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, I appreciate the support. Not sure what exactly is going to happen next but I guess time will tell. Luckily I’ve got some great friends that will support me no matter where the road may lead me πŸ™‚

  9. Sad, sad times pal gutted to hear about your injustice. Keep strong and this will all be over. Like I said to you earlier, it will make a good chapter in your book. Keep the faith dude. Keep your friends and fans updated.

    • Yup. After all, one cannot spend their lifetime traveling and not have an occasional injustice or two happen along the way. The important part is just to learn from it, learn to laugh about it, and never let it get you down.

      • So r u sure after 6 month u can return indonesia
        Because i am also waiting my deportation finish me also deport from indonesia they said can come after 6 month but i am worry about this can or no or need something or direct go like before only buy ticket and go ?if someone know about this pls tell me way

        • I was told six months at the time of my deportation. However, in the end I had to clear my name with immigration at an Indonesian embassy in another country before I could return. Basically this is just a matter of explaining what happened the first time and why it will not happen again. Thankfully I got lucky because the Indonesian government tried to downplay the “arrested, jailed, and deported for a tweet” thing so the official cause of my deportation in their computers was “overstay 15 days” — and guess what, I was locked up for 16. So rather than have to re-live the whole tweet inquisition, I just said “I love you country so much I was island-hopping and lost track of time, totally overstayed by accident, will not do it again.”

          In the end, it all depends on the cause of your deportation. If they said six months, most likely you are like me and just have to clear your name after six months THEN you can return πŸ™‚

  10. Yeah but how many other people can say they have a “deported” passport stamp Arnette? I’ve joined a very exclusive club — at least among law-abiding professional travelers.

  11. I learned that while the truth is usually the best option, its not when dealing with law enforcement and governments. The truth set you free – from Indonesia πŸ™

    I just cant believe they tracked down where you live…

  12. I had the exact same thought Matt Long lol — it would be cheap and save me the future embarrassment. Plus this one is already pretty full and it’s only two years old lol

  13. Yeah, turns out they can be pretty resourceful when they want to Benjamin Taller — shame that level of efficiency isn’t evident in other levels of Indonesian government.

  14. I’m fine Mike just not sure where to go next. Was originally planning Laos but I’m so far behind on my writing and other online work, I almost want to go somewhere I know well and settle down for a couple months while I get caught up on everything. Hmmmm…guess I have to decide soon…

  15. Man… I really had to check it wasn’t April 1st or something, but unfortunately not. There’s so much in your story that makes me saddened just by reading it, it’s not the good guys that need to be punished. Too many details here that made me raise my eyebrows too, but I guess nobody can say that the world is always a nice place. I’m sure you’ll be able to turn it into something more positive at the end, you’re a positive guy and remember, every exit is an entrance somewhere else. Btw, not as it matters much, but I have a similar story from a place you know well, also due to a four letter word incident, a word that everyone uses and somehow it is so totally misunderstood… Strange place, Planet Earth. Stay cool.

    • Very true Pal, all of that. Oh really, you have a similar story? Hmmm well I’m guessing that might be in the Philippines, as that is one country that I also know very well. Would very much be curious to hear about it, if you want to email me privately. In the meantime, thanks for the comment and the support. I’ll keep on keepin’ on, as they say, nothing is going to break me now πŸ™‚

  16. Yeah Mike Singapore was my first choice, although Malaysia would also be a good choice, especially since now my bahasa is a lot better. Not so sure Thailand would be the best of choices right now though πŸ˜‰ Also considering the Philippines.

  17. Sounds like a pickle Derek. Sorry you have to go through it. I learned early that just because one person/place bends the rules a little (paying your overage on extending your visa) it won’t always be the case and to never assume it will be.

    Dah well. You know what they say, when one door shuts (deadbolts and takes away the welcome mat) another one opens.

    All the best in this situation.


    • Thanks Shaun, very true. I’ve spent so long in Indonesia that I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security. And yup, I’ll continue on my way to different countries and enjoy a world of new sights and foods. The world is still my oyster — just not Indonesia anymore πŸ™

  18. And the worst thing? All those self-righteous racist pricks on twitter… Holier than thou… As if they’ve never done anything wrong in their whole lives. Shoutout to amrazing, hansdavidian and… Jakafe. What a slutbag.

    • Lol yup, those are the only three (well, aside from the crazy girl who started all this…she is their crazy glue that keeps that group stuck together) that have taken a personal vendetta against me despite the fact none know me in real life or have ever even talked to me on a Twitter before now. I’ve got people who are a lot more influential than them on my side but they refused to get dragged into the twitwar. Riyanni came to my defense and was then attacked by J’s followers for doing so. That’s crazy! But then again crazy people do tend to stick together — there is safety in numbers. That and when you are surrounded by other crazies, well you almost seem normal then. Almost.

  19. Oh no! This really sucks. All because of a tweet!? I’m sure that’s repeatedly on your mind but it is ridiculous grounds for deportation, especially from a country you have formed such a deep bond with. Anyways, I hope things get sorted out and you’re released soon. Good luck to you and your girlfriend!!

    • Yup, ridiculous it is. I can’t fight it though, I already admitting to the tweet. Lying about it would have only made things worse. At least because I’ve been 100% honest the guys here at immigration are friendly to me — well, all except for one who hates my guts. According to my girlfriend last time she was here and denied seeing me he said “Derek can commit suicide for all I care.”

      I still cannot believe for the good things if said and done for this country, I’m being judged for one angry deleted tweet instead of by my actions. I certainly didn’t learn the language because I hate this country — I learned it because I love it and want nothing more than to call it my home. It’s such a shame things had to turn out this way :'(

      • πŸ™ What an awful situation to be in! But who knows? Perhaps, the next chapter of your life holds something equally interesting if not more. Whenever you go to next, I’m sure it will be great πŸ™‚ Hang in there!! And just look at all the people who support you!!

    • Hahaha yeah I’ve spent a lot of time in the Philippines — been there seven times, most recently in January. But they only allow for me to stay 28 days and I need somewhere I can settle down for a few months and figure out my next plan of action. Plus if I go back there, where my ex lives, that’s only going to upset my girlfriend and I really hope she is strong enough to overcome this obstacle. Thanks for the support though, I really appreciate it πŸ™‚ Best wishes from Indonesia!

  20. Oh my gosh! When I went to read this article I was thinking “Come on… It’s got to be a joke, I sure hope it’s a joke”… Really sorry for you! That’s just terrible!

    If you need anything let us know! We’re settling in China in September if you want to come and visit, we can make you an invitation letter.
    Really hope you’ll be alright and that they will lift the ban!

    • Yeah, I’ve heard that same this from several people…”I thought this was a joke at first.” Well, I really wish it was.

      Thanks for the support. I’m not sure where I’ll go next. They want me to buy a plane ticket back to the States and then another back to Asia — what a waste of money! And the thought of spending three or four days going back and forth on airplanes doesn’t exactly sound like fun. I’ll keep you updated though πŸ™‚

  21. I’m highly considering it AJ, I love it in the Phils and have several great friends who live there. However the only problem is that 28-day visa. I Ned somewhere I can settle down for 2-3 months and really get caught up on work.

    • Unbelievable, so pity for it happend to you. I praying all the better things come to you and your gf. Laos and VietNam (my country) should be good next destination because Vietnam not yet developed much, they welcome foreigners and a little afraid of expats, cheap there too. Welcome and lets me know i can help you something or not.

      • Thanks Hai πŸ™‚ I actually just came back from spending here months motorcycling Vietnam….beautiful country and delicious food πŸ˜€ Thanks for the invite back, not sure where I’m going to end up now but want to stay close so that when my six-month ban is up I can return to Indonesia in time for Christmas πŸ™‚

  22. Somebody gave me the link to your blog. I am trying so hard not to comment… but I can’t. So here it is:

    1) Sorry that you have to find yourself in immigrations whirlwind. It’s frustrating. I know. Hope that things get sorted for you soon. No, seriously.
    2) You are NOT the first one to get deported because of a tweet. And no. Not just in Indonesia. Go ahead, google it. Countries have the right to deport any national whom they think can be a potential national threat. Say what you want about being considered a ‘national threat’, but at the end of the day, it is not up to YOU to decide.
    3) Overstaying, no matter how you insisted that it’s not “such a big deal”, is wrong (I guess you know this already). Repeat offenders are being put in detention in many immigration offices. This is nothing new, nor should be surprising.
    4) I am not going to comment offer your spat with that famous ‘celebtwit’ (but wow lookie look I’m commenting!), but eeeh… maybe I won’t.

    So yeah, there’s that.

    • Well thank you for resisting the urge not to comment and sharing you’re thoughts πŸ™‚

      1) Well, as much as it sucks it is my own fault for tweeting what I did. Now I am paying the price. At least I have lots of great friends who support me and know that I was just angry.
      2) interesting, I didn’t realize that. Going to google it now. And although I don’t see myself as a national threat, especially given all the wonderful things I have to say about Indonesia and all the foreigner travels I have given advice to on traveling Indonesia (both in person and via email/, as you pointed out it’s not my decision.
      3) Yeah, I guess you’re right. I’ve overstayed in other countries before but as long as I pay the fine, none have ever mattered. Guess I’ve just been lucky. However personally, the way I see overstaying is this: “I like this country so much I’m going to stay a few extra days and pump more of my hard-earned money into their economy, as my way of giving support.” Of course not all see it that way.
      4) I didn’t want to get dragged into that twitwar but it was going on for two weeks before I finally spoke up. Sure, I know that probably makes me look like less of a man, but I could only take so many rumors and lies before I had to set the record straight.

      Thanks again for your response, I appreciate it πŸ™‚

      • Hmmm… on number (3)… I have never ever ever heard anyone describing ‘overstaying’ as a way to ‘give back’ to the country. Had I used that argument when I was staying abroad, the officials would look at me, and laugh (probably with their asses off). It IS that funny.

        There are many ways to give back to the country (as you have so often stated in your blog), but breaking the regulation is NOT one of them.

        • up to now I still can’t help laughing when I hear random people say ‘overstaying is breaking the law, or a crime. LOL.
          Dude, a friend of mine, Indonesian was overstayed for more than one year in the USA. Never been sent into the jail, the yfederal just sent her back home, to Indonesia *never lock up*. And, I know a British overstayed in the USA for more than 2 years, they never sent her to jail. The immigration sent a paper that she must leave the country on certain dates. Because, she’s a British, The UK and USA have a good connection with each other, if this happen to South American country citizen or from Third world countries, those overstayers will be deported. It depends on how good the bilateral relations.

          For Indonesia and Singapore, if you overstayed not more than 60/90 days is not a criminal offense. You only need to pay Fine, and the case is over. What Derek said it’s true, Overstay Visa is ‘another bonus’ for imigration officer, they expect you’d be overstayed.. 20 buck/day, bro. But, if you overstayed in Singapore, more than 90 days, well, the punishment is canning. πŸ˜› , They still adopted old British law. Those, who overstayed more than 90 days in SG, majority of them are not traveler or expat.. but those nationalities comes from third world countries that they have intention not to come back to their countries for good. Traveler wouldn’t do that, and there’ no canning punishment in Indonesia for overstayer. ONLY FINE!!!!! GET THAT IN YOUR HEAD, PLEASE!!!!!

          • Yes, THANK YOU! I’m tired of those same few people calling me a criminal because I overstayed one or two days and had to pay a fine. Grow up. (Not you, them.)

          • Shinta, I don’t know how and where you got your fact. But overstaying your visa in Indonesia IS breaking the law. That’s why they charge you the fine for. They can do so because you’re breaking the law, not because they’re having a ball.

            There’s no canning punishment in Indonesia for overstayer? Think again. Over 60 days stay means 5 year of prison sentence or a fine of IDR500,000,000 in Indonesia. Derek didn’t overstay for more than 60 days, obviously. Although he IS a repeat offender. Having overstayed his visa for 5 times (I hope altogether those are still less than 60 days).

            Shinta, I don’t know if you’re Indonesian or not. But if you are, you can understand this (Derek speaks Bahasa Indonesia too I presume):

            Pasal 83 UU 6/2011
            (1) Pejabat Imigrasi berwenang menempatkan Orang Asing dalam Rumah Detensi Imigrasi atau Ruang Detensi Imigrasi jika Orang Asing tersebut:
            a. berada di Wilayah Indonesia tanpa memiliki Izin Tinggal yang sah atau memiliki Izin Tinggal yang tidak berlaku lagi;

            Pasal 85 UU 6/2011
            (1) Detensi terhadap Orang Asing dilakukan sampai Deteni dideportasi.

            Pasal 119 UU 6/2011
            (1) Setiap Orang Asing yang masuk dan/atau berada di Wilayah Indonesia yang tidak memiliki Dokumen Perjalanan dan Visa yang sah dan masih berlaku sebagaimana dimaksud dalam Pasal 8 dipidana dengan pidana penjara paling lama 5 (lima) tahun dan pidana denda paling banyak Rp500.000.000,00 (lima ratus juta rupiah).

            So yes, people ARE being put in detention, and deported because of overstaying. And that is because they are breaking the law.

            Derek kept saying that if it was all because overstaying, he would have been deported weeks ago. So he believes that must NOT have been the issue. Of course, we all here will never know because we couldn’t get the immigrations side of the story. All I can see from here is that he’s a repeat offender and it might raise the flag. THEN there’s that tweet incident. That obviously didn’t help.

          • Yes, I know that after 60 days overstaying goes from being a fine to a criminal offense that requires mandatory jail time, regardless of nationality. That is the point where, IMO, it becomes a crime. Before that it is an accident, a simple oversight. An “oopsie.”

            Take for example speeding. If you speed in the US you get a ticket with a fine. NO ONE considers you a criminal. You have to get quite a few of those before that would happen and you would be labelled a “repeat offender.”

            However I know an expat that has been living in Surabaya for eight years on a tourist visa. He frequently overstays a month or more at a time before leaving. But he just pays his fine, spends a few days in Timor Leste or the Philippines, and then comes right back. He has admitted that there have been a couple times where immigration has pointed this fact out to him and told him to start getting a social visa, but he has never been detained, denied entry, or be deported because of this…in eight years! Why? Because he hasn’t tweeted about it. And of course because I’m sure the government loves that extra income from all his fines.

            As far as me overstaying, I was wrong in the tweet when I said I had overstayed 5 of 6 visas, I’ll admit that. I’m only on my fifth Indonesian visa now and according to kantor imigrasi records I overstayed two of them, for one day and two days respectively. And that is according to them, not me.

            All I’m saying if they were really that upset about me overstaying, that would have been the focus of my “hearing,” not this tweet and a hundred questions about it…why did you send it, how did you feel then, how do you feel now, etc…

            And yes, I speak Bahasa and understand that text you quoted.

          • There is nowhere in my response that I stated overstaying (under 60 days) is a criminal offence. Read again. Breaking the regulation? For sure. That expiration date on your visa stamp is there for a reason. It is A regulation.

            I quoted the regulations because you (Shinta) said that overstaying doesn’t equal breaking the law. Which somehow escapes my logic. Breaking the immigration law in this case will get you civil penalties (fine, or at some severe cases… civil proceeding – like deportation, which is usually preceded by detention). I am just stating it as it is. Nothing new. Nothing surprising, as I said.

            Derek, your friends had stayed for years under tourist visa. Overstayed A LOT. And never got caught. But why? Oh I don’t know. Why do some serial killers have never got caught? All I know is two wrongs never make it right.

            Now. As I also mentioned earlier, this whole thing doesn’t necessarily unfold because Derek overstayed his tourist visa (again and again). But it might have raised the flag (or at the very least didn’t help his position in front of the immigration officers) when he was questioned for his tweet.

            And yes, people HAD BEEN deported because of a tweet before. Not just in Indonesia. It’s unfortunate, it’s an overreact. But countries have the right to do so.

            So as you can see, Shinta, I’m not playing the blame game here. I’m just simply stating it as it is. This whole situation happened because one thing lead to another. And I guess, unlike so many others here, I don’t fall for people playing victim too easily.

  23. Ouch!!!
    Sorry to hear this ‘horror’ story Derek. I don’t even know how to comment of this insanity, but I laughed at your pictures, the mugshot πŸ˜‰

    This mental girl really suffer mental disorder and really need to see a mental health professional, psychologist or psychiatrist. I hope it will help her.

    Hopefully, you could go through with it, I know how frustrating dealing with my country immigration, Should I make a typed tee design; “Fuck Kantor Imigrasi” ?? and sell it online for the sake of #FreeDerek hashtag??

    • Lol thanks, I tried to make the article as humorous as possible, despite the gravity of the situation.

      That sounds like a good t-shirt — just cut me in on a small percentage of the profits lol.

      Hopefully everything will work out in the end. In the meantime, thanks for the support. Best wishes!

  24. I would be really curious to hear the Immigration department’s side of things. A few things that you seem to be glossing over:

    1) You said β€œFuck Indonesia,” not just β€œfuck the immigration department.”

    2) Reading through all your old tweets, it seems like you never actually apologized. Instead of instantly apologizing, admitting you were wrong, and asking for forgiveness, you seemed to double down on your criticism of the immigration office and instantly dive into a twitwar with some locals, defending yourself by saying you were just angry because how stupid immigration was being, and trying to play the victim – that everyone was attacking you for one bad thing you said despite all the good things you’ve said. If you had actually sincerely apologized and not been so defensive at people who were rightfully upset with you, this would likely not be an issue. If I’m wrong, and you actually did make a legitimate apology, please link to it.

    3) On twitter and in your blog, you’ve said that you live in Indonesia, you have done some jobs here for local entities (tourism video, TV appearances, modeling, various sponsored trips), and that you continue to work online from within the country (worldwide income is taxed in Indonesia, no matter if your paycheck comes from the United States or not). So, really, you should not be on a tourist visa. They probably ignored this somewhat before, but it seems like they started to question things (hence your initial problems at the immigration office), especially since you’ve overstayed 5 out of 6 of your visas. You’ve also admitted on twitter and your blog how you like to drive around while drunk (something that is not respectful to local culture in a Muslim country, by the way). With your outburst cursing the office and Indonesia, it’s no wonder they’ve taken a closer look – you really have no one to blame but yourself.

    It’s unfair of you to be so outraged and to blame this girl, and make Indonesia look bad. You are the one in the wrong, you are the one that has been playing outside of the law. And you got caught. Yes, it sucks to deal with the consequences of that, but you have to lie in the bed you made.

    • I’m certainly not saying I was right but the majority of my friends responded to me via DM of SMS / WA rather than further dragging the issue on in the public spotlight. Trust me, I’ve apologized hundreds of times to hundreds of people I hurt with my angry comment. But I’m not going to try and respond individually to each of those people who attacked me, people who don’t know me and are just drama lovers of celebitweets. A lot more people came to my defense than chose to attack me, and that should be proof of my good nature, kind spirit, and love of Indonesia.

      In regards to my life in Indonesia, I have received no money for any of that stuff. The film I did with a friend to promote tourism. My entire trip was comped but I was not paid. The TV was a game show and we didn’t win — so once again I didn’t receive a cent. Both were just fun experiences that gave me tons of new friends and connections here in Indonesia. People who want me to find a job here and officially become a citizen.

      I have done zero sponsored trips here, I don’t know why you would think otherwise. The Ministry of Tourism reached out to me and invited me on one, but as I will be deported before that begins, looks like I won’t be doing that. I have however been given a few complimentary stays at places in exchange for social promotion. Again, no money ever traded hands.

      The modeling audition was for a company that wanted to sponsor my work visa. I have not done any modeling in this country yet but they did agree to sponsor me. Shame I won’t be able to take them up on that.

      In addition to all that which you’ve mentioned, I’ve also done presentations at various schools in Indonesia on behalf of Save Sharks. Again, for free.

      And how exactly does Indonesia even tax “worldwide income”? This blog makes no money, it’s a hobby. My money comes from designing tours, composing tweets for companies, and selling articles to other sites / magazines — articles that haven’t even been about or written while Indonesia. When I’m here I’m too busy having fun with friends to be productive. I also make some occasional money doing web site design and debugging, but that was while I was on my three-month trip to Vietnam.

      No, I have not overstayed 5 of my 6 visas. I’m only on #5 now! Kantor imigrasi has all the records and trust me, they were discussed in full. 2x 2-months, 2x 1-month visits. But those records were only examined after my extension was already revoked because of that tweet.

      • You made a public comment, so there should have been a public apology as well. No where in your hundreds of tweets during that time do I see an actual apology–only excuses for why you were mad. If you did apology, please link to it!

        Before Japan, I lived in Indonesia for a number of years. Whether actual cash, or just goods and services, you still need to report that. Foreigners on tourist visas cannot get any sort of compensation, in cash or otherwise- and technically shouldn’t be volunteering either on a tourist visa. It is the same in the US – people have to report all compensation, even that not in cash form. And yes, in Indonesia, just like in the US, you are taxed on all income, made in your home country or abroad.

        Sorry, I was off by one on the amount of visas/overstays you have had. Although, you yourself said you overstayed 5 of 6 visas, multiple times.

        • Yeah, I said a lot of things that hour — because I was mad and wasn’t thinking. You can’t take every tweet as 100% factual. Lots of stuff is just said for laughs or RTs. I’ve tweeted stuff in foreign languages that I don’t even know the definition of, solely because local friends say it will be funny.

          Well if tourists can’t even volunteer to help out the locals then that is pretty shitty. Got news for ya, most of us do. And we take great pride in it.

          I’ve never heard of any country that makes foreign tourists pay taxes on comped hotel stays. Every travel writer in the world does this. That’s one of the perks of being a travel writer/blogger. So you might as well just try and throw every travel writer on the planet in jail.

      • Doesn’t matter if you received money or not, it’s still considered working and imigrasi tends to … get picky about it from time to time. As far as it goes, you do say you’re generally late extending your visa, and while paying the 200rb per day gets you off the hook, it’s still in the system. If you rack up too much overstay they’ll eventually start to dig.

        Unfortunately it seems the tweet (and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that psycho woman may have embellished a few things here and there towards the imgrasi officials) was the catalyst that got it all started.

        On a shinier note…

        When you get your passport back (most likely at the airport right in front of the gate), take a look at the stamp that’s in there. If the stamp stating you were deported is blue, you can pretty much return at will – you’re not on the blacklist. If it’s red, you’ve been blacklisted as well and you’ll have to wait a minimum of 6 months before you can apply to have the blacklist entry removed.

        • True, imigrasi can get picky from time to time. But none of that even came up in my “hearing” — I was interrogated about a tweet and then locked up. Simple as that.

          As far as overstaying goes, one of my good buddies here has been living in Surabaya for eight years — on a tourist visa — and he frequently overstays a month or more at a time. He’s never been deported, although he does admit that a few times the immigration guys will make a comment to the tune of “dude you really need to start getting social visas, you must have enough friends here that would be willing to sponsor you after being here for so long.”

          Yes, that woman (who’s name I won’t say but am assuming you already know) has embellished and just straight up lied about a variety of different things. Every day I have people sending me photos of her tweets going “OMG do you see what she is saying now?!” I’m sick of it. It’s become social media harassment.

          And yes, although I was told at first I would be permanently blacklisted from Indonesia I have now been informed that I will only be banned for six months. Didn’t say anything about having to “apply” though. But that’s one upside to this whole affair, at least, beings able to return later this year. Got to find the sunny side when/where I can.

  25. This is so embarassing how my country did this to you. This country worship social media more than their God i think. I admitted Indonesian Immigration law is too strict, overstayed for one day in Aussie & SG they didn’t ask a penny. Just be apologetic & told them the reason they understood.
    I respect you for promoted my country & i have heard from many people that you volunteers in many events here.
    And shame on that lil naughty girl jenny and her groupies who caused all these hassles on you. I heard that she is a Bule hunters

    • Yes, she is. I’ve heard that from about a dozen different people who were shocked when they saw me tweeting that we were going to travel Indonesia together. Several of them said they wanted to warn me in advance by none did…oh how I wish they would have lol. But now I know. I’ve had several other encounters with bule hunters in the past who only want me because I’m white or for my money. As such I’ve avoided as many of these type as I can.

      And you’re right, I’ve never met another country that worships social media as much as Indonesia. But that’s what of the things I love about this country because I am a “Twitter boy” lol. When I first got off the plane in Jakarta over a year ago and tweeted that I was in Indonesia, I was overwhelmed at the response. I never knew I had such a large following here. Everyone wanted to be my tour guide or translator, offered to let me stay with them or show me the best warungs to eat at, explain to me where to go, what to do, what to see, etc. As such I fell in love with Indonesia very very fast, and still love it now despite this issue. But I tweeted it, now I’ve got to pay for it. The only thing I’m fighting here is the lifetime blacklisting, which I have now been informed will only be a six-month ban from returning. Although not happy about it, I can live with that.

      What I find funny here too is the only reason I’ve overstayed in Indonesia before is because my visa either expired on a weekend or a holiday and kantor imigrasi was closed. Visa extensions take between 3-8 days, depending on which office you do it at, and during the whole time they hold onto your passport. That means I cannot travel and must sit in one city. So I do my traveling first, then turn in my passport for the visa extension while I take a few days off the road and relax.

      But either way I have learned a lot from this whole experience — and none of it changes my love for this country πŸ™‚

  26. Your a travel writer. You should know most of those countries in that part of the world barely even have the vaneer of freedom. You should be thinking how lucky you are to be a westerner who can just leave.

    • You me be thankful I’m being deported and not having jail time, or thankful because I have a foreign passport and have the freedom to come and go from the country when I want?

    • Dave had several of his facts wrong, including the amount of times I have been here and the number of times I’ve overstayed. But if I was being deported for overstaying, why didn’t they just deport me over two weeks ago? Why was my “hearing” an interrogation about a long-since deleted tweet and not about how long I’ve been in the country? And why I am still locked up as I type this?

  27. Im so sorry to know that, lesson learnt from ur story, short it out which one u can share or not. And still a question from me, how did they know ur gf address? Hmmmm…. anyway.. keep move on πŸ™‚ n smile…

    • That is the million dollar question! My neighbors know we are dating but they don’t know where she lives. I know where she lives but couldn’t give the address if my life depended on it. And we never talked about it on Twitter before either. Honestly it’s a huge mystery and I even asked immigration but they wouldn’t say. So alas, the mystery persists…

  28. Dude, I’m an Indonesia guy. It’s a shame what those fucking immigration bureaucrats are kicking you out over a small indiscretion like that. Especially seeing that you are doing a good thing promoting the country through you blog.

    But yeah, first and foremost you should apologize for the outburst. Not get into a flame war. Only after that can you start explaining your side of the story.

    Not saying what they are doing is right, but you don’t come out as entirely sympathetic to Indonesians. Especially if they don’t know you personally.

    • All very good points Bowo. As the say, hindsight is always 20-20. But I made my bed and now I had to lie in it, regretfully. however I learned a lot from this whole experience, as I’ve mentioned, and am looking forward to my return to Indonesia. I’ve been given a six-month ban instead of a lifetime blacklisting, of which I am very grateful. Means I can return to Indonesia and work on making it up to everyone here by continuing to praise and promote the country I love so dearly πŸ™‚

  29. As the saying goes, “this too shall pass” your situation now is beyond terrible, but will definitely benefit numerous travelers heading to this country. I hope no one will suffer the same fate that you are going through right now (being detained) for a tweet and aggravate by a “stalker” … just revel in your hundreds of new followers and skyrocketing stats! πŸ™‚

    • Yes, I hope that the lessons I’ve learned firsthand will benefit others. They say everything happens for a reason but I have yet to figure out what the reason is behind this. Not he reason it happened, obviously, but rather the reason in the grand scheme of life.

      As far as stats go, today set a new record for most traffic in a 24hr period and this article has received more comments in it’s first 12hrs of publication than 90% of my other articles have in their entire length of existence. As much as I wish this traffic spike was for a different article or crazy adventure, I can’t do anything to change that.

  30. OMG! you still locked up, seriously?!.
    I feel so sorry for you. For me, this is one of many most absurd laws and situations from my country I ever seen, I hope your problem get resolved very soon. Is there any way to make you out or deleted from blacklist? because I think it’s very unfortunate for you if you can’t back here again, especially you have your lovely girlfriend.

    • Yup, still locked up as I type this. But at least I have my phone and tablet still, although my pulsa is nearly habis.

      Good news though: I’ve been informed that I will no longer be permanently blacklisted, only banned for six months. So that’s something to be happy about at least. Now the only question is: will my fiancΓ©e wait for me?

  31. Oh my goodness! I use to live for some years in Indonesia, I had problems with Kantor Imigrasi in Solo and in Jogja but it never went that far! They also came to my home, mostly to ask what was I doing there and checking if I was working or not while I was on a social Budaya Visa.
    I had problem with the police when I went in Solo to the office next to Mangkunegaran to ask a paper for my insurance saying that my camera and my phone went missing from my Kos, I spent something like 5 hours with 7 or 8 policemen trying to find something bad about me that they could get some korupsi…
    Many other things that are nothing compare to what is happening to you! If there is anything I could do for you – I’m in France but I could know someone who could help you – just let me know, do not hesitate to write me if you need.
    All the best and hatiΒ²!

    • Thanks for sharing Marie. Yeah, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from various travelers, expats, and locals about imigrasi officials and polisi here — however I’ve never had any issues…at least not until now.

      Well I’m still in lockup but hope to be released soon. No one I know, even those with connections, have been able to pull any strings yet, so I’ve given up on that. I appreciate the offer though πŸ™‚

      Thanks again and best wishes from Solo!

  32. Hi Derek!

    I am sure it is not really pleasant to have such experience. All will get better soon. Maybe next time it would be wise to think before writing something on social media (always remember what has gone to the internet will stay there no matter how many times you delete it). Aaand please write more and get rid of those crazy b*tches! And maybe make your private twitter account with highly selected followers. πŸ™‚

    • Yup, so true.

      Actually I did make my Twitter private for a few hours recently but the only problem is I use it to promote my work and my friends writing as well. When your profile is set to private RTs are disabled, and I count on those to help spread my message, increase my readership, and grow my following. So it’s back to public. “Hear ye, hear ye, calling all stalkers” lol just kidding πŸ˜‰

      Anyway, best wishes from my final days in Indonesia.

  33. Wow! That is a harsh punishment for a swear word on Twitter. I had no idea Indonesia was extremely against that to the point where they would deport and ban you for a good amount of time. It’s a bit scary to think they somehow found out where your girlfriend’s house is, whether they found out on their own or someone else ratted her out. Then again, the United States is able to track our whereabouts by spying on our phone calls and tracking our credit cards and who knows what else. Anyways, what a story and I hope everything works out in the end. Best of luck Derek, glad to read you can return in 6 months at least.

    • Thanks Samantha. Yeah, being tracked in the States is a horrible reality — one that most Americans either are oblivious too or still convinced it is in “their best interests” HA! But Indonesia has neither the infrastructure or the resources, so that is quite amazing. It just goes to show when the gov’t here wants to get something done, they can. But all too often they don’t.

      Another interesting thing is lots of citizens here have tweeted “f— kantor imigrasi” since this whole issue came to light last week, but they don’t seem to care about that. However I’m a foreigner and there is money to be made off locking me up. Some of the comments from imigrasi employees themselves prove that, but I’m not about to quote anyone here for fear of reprisal, reprimand or worse against them.

      • It’ll be Ramadhan soon. There’ll be a rise in theft and muggings as expenses increase leading to Lebaran. And with this, naturally, comes more extortion.. Higher numbers of police on the roads, immigration doing sweeps, etc. I dare say a few hundred early on in this story would’ve resolved this issue for you and you would’ve never seen the inside of a cell. I hope they are being kind to you nonetheless.

        • Yeah, I was here last year before and during Ramadan, definitely noticed the difference. Thanks, yes, they were kind at first, letting me keep my phone and tablet with me, but eventually they grew tired of me and kept trying to ship me off to prison on Papua. Luckily I just finally bought my freedom a couple hours ago…wheeeew πŸ˜‰

    • Yeah, definitely my most popular article to date — at least in terms of hits, not comments. Over 10,000 views in less than 24hrs. Not to mention I’ve had several interview requests from around the globe come in since. However this is certainly not what I want to be known for πŸ™

  34. Wow! So sorry to hear about this. It really is crazy the power that social media can have. I hope that things work out for you and you’ll figure out a way to return to Indonesia one day! In the meantime, it’s a good lesson for all us other bloggers out there.

    • It is. Of course in countries like Vietnam, where locals don’t even know what Twitter is, something like this would never happen. However here in Indonesia they embrace Twitter an unbelievable amount. As one commenter pointed out, “this country worship social media more than their God.”

      But there are several lessons to be learned here, and I will definitely not be forgetting any of them anytime soon. I just hope no other bloggers find themselves in a similar situation because it certainly isn’t fun.

  35. Wow man. That’s tough. I really feel for you. On the bright side, you didn’t get any body parts removed. (I hope) Seriously, I know you will land on your feet. Good luck my friend.

  36. Yes Tim, I do love Indonesia. But all good things must come to an end, or so they say. Luckily there are plenty more places in the world begging for me to explore them πŸ™‚

  37. Wow, quite an amazing story! Good thing you’re still smiling (we think) – you’re going to have lots to write about anyway :-). We just got back from Indonesia a week ago. Before going, we had to think about the 30-day visa (which we could get upon arrival at the airport) and then extending on location, or going to the trouble of sending in our passport and buying a 60-day visa in advance. Now we’re glad we got the 60-day visa in advance (which we needed as we were there for 6 weeks). Keep strong!

    • Yup, still smiling. And that’s always been my problem with visas, having to relinquish your passport to get one. I’m always on the move and as such always need a passport. Even getting the extension here in Indonesia is annoying because during that time I cannot go anywhere far or fast, as they confiscate my passport. That means to hotels, no plane rides, only buses and friends houses.

      Hope that y’all had a great time in Indonesia! πŸ™‚

    • I didn’t want to get into that here but she was the one who took the photograph and has since been leading the smear campaign against me on Twitter by telling lies and just downright making up stories. Twitter has been the main battleground of this war, which in Indonesia is a popular trend known as a “twitwar.” As one of my good Indonesian friends told me yesterday, “I haven’t logged in to Twitter in over three months but I did today to see the twitwar. Horrible, nasty stuff.”

  38. Shocking story….I’ve heard about it as soon as the news were out. Now I have one more reason to be scared every time I go trough immigration. Last time I entered Thailand I had so many stamps in and out that they took me to a room and started asking me questions… Like you, I wasn’t careful with the timing to renew my visa and once i overstayed 1 month. I was freaking out because even if the rule is “ohhh nothing will happen, you pay the fee and it’s ok”….sometimes it’s not your lucky day…. long story but i knew that if i ended up in jail in Thailand….that was it. I’m sorry to hear your story and how it went for a stupid tweet. Indonesian people are lovely. I’ve been there and loved the country, so i’m even more shocked. I’m just back from the Philippines after 4 months living there and it’s a lovely country with some similitude’s with Indonesia… Think about it! If you need more info, just send me a message and I’ll be happy to help. Cheers and good luck!

  39. Clelia Thanks for that info. Yeah, I only did a visa run once and even that kinda freaked me out. Also, it feels really out of character for Indonesia- it’s also one of my favorite countries having been there twice and both times I really enjoyed it. But yep, living in Vietnam from 2010-2013 taught me not to speak anything against nor for the host government.

  40. Hi. I’m from Indonesia. From Surabaya, to be precise. I accidentally stumbled upon your blog from a link in Facebook, and I’m sorry for what you’ve experienced here in Indonesia. I myself never knew that immigration office can be holding that much “grudge” upon a simple tweet. And while there’s a lesson you might have to learn, there’s much bigger lesson the immigration should learn too. And your damn screwed up follower. I hope there’s another time when you will be able to visit Indonesia, and hope you will re-experience the warmth and love this country can offer, despite all the problems you have had. Cheers and good luck from Indonesia.

    • Ahhh I like Surabaya, have some good friends there. And yup, I’ve learned my lesson, yet somehow I doubt immigration has learned anything from this whole ordeal.

      Now they say I will be able to return to Indonesia, but not for six months. Still that’s better than a lifetime blacklisting. Anyway thanks for the support, best wishes from Solo πŸ™‚

  41. All I can say is, “gilaaaaaaa, parah abis. Norak banget.” JK. I love Indonesia (grew up there) but still… their mindset is still ancient sometimes. I assume they have nothing to do and just pick on a random bule. Like seriously? Over a tweet? C’mon man. Just focus on the upcoming election. Seriously. Still mindblown. wth wth wth.

    • Lol. Yeah, apparently they don’t have enough to do. I could see if I’d done something serious but really, for this?!? I agree with what you said: focus on the election, don’t worry about some random bule who other than one angry tweet has spent the last year praising and promoting this wonderful country.

  42. I never knew Indonesia is a police state until now. Their mmigration people got so much time on their hands they can comb thru every tweets. Am sure Facebook accounts are scrutinised as well. They are F*****NG CRAZY!

    Anyways, why not come over to the Philippines. Its a fun and better place than Indonesia. You don’t have to learn Tagalog to be understood. Everyone here speaks and can understand English. We, Pinoys, love entertaining foreigners (except Chinese). You may get to enjoy it here so much you’ll be tempted to stay for good. You can diss us on social medfia every now and then. Maybe we’ll kick your butt. But we’ll never deport you unless you commit a heinous crime.

    Try to email me if you plan to visit. I’ll arrange something for you. Good luck.

    • Yup, crazy crazy crazy. You know I’ve actually spent a lot of time in the Philippines. I dated a girl in Subic from 2008-10 and made about a half dozen trips there. However after we broke up I didn’t want to return, as all my memories there were with her. I only finally returned there back in January and remembered how much I enjoy that country.

      The only problem is that I already bought a ticket to Singapore after they told me to, but then they wouldn’t let me catch my flight. They won’t let me fly anywhere except the US because they are worried I’ll be denied entry because of the “deported” stamp in my passport. Then I have to turn around and just buy another expensive plane ticket back to this corner of the world.

      Either way I plan to return to the Phils at some point this year and will give you a shout when I do. Take it easy and best wishes from Indonesia!

  43. Wow. Visas and immigration officials. Bane of our existence. One of the reasons why I moved my travel base from Taiwan to Philippines. The Philippines has one of the easiest visas to hold on to. Extend every 2 months for up to 16 months. Come and go as you please, just start the 16 month timeframe all over again.I met one guy at the visa office who said he’s been doing it since 2008.

  44. Hi… I just read this article. This is not supposed to happened, being deported just because of tweet F? It is just ridiculous when I read your story.

  45. You should’ve just give them like $500 lol
    If you love Indo so much why don’t you just marry an Indo chick? claim them to be US Citizen and travel the whole world together!
    You get you indo from the girl, and world traveling at the same time lol ;D

    • Yeah I thought of that but I’m not going to rush a wedding just to keep myself from being deported. What a great story to tell to the kids “yeah he proposed to me from his jail cell” hahaha

  46. Thanks Dave Ryan Aguirre Buaron Clelia Mattana DrifterJournals JR Riel I’ve only done VOA in the Phils but it it’s really that easy for a real visa, sign me up. Know an express visa service where I could get one within 24hrs maybe?

    • Serves you right braw serves you right. What have those innocent officers ever done to u that u scoulded them. They should have whooped yo ass. I wonder why do they even let u use a pc right now u spread hatred. They should put u in a hole

      • Spread hatred? More like the truth. I was told nearly every day “if it wasn’t for your tweet and Jenny you wouldn’t even be here. We don’t care what you said. But the second minister in Jakarta, he upset and wants you to suffer.”

        Besides that I have nothing but love for Indonesia and if you read my blog for even two seconds you’ll see I’ve written nothing but wonderful things about this country.

  47. You get visa free entry for 30 days, before that’s up, go to the nearest Immigration Office, they’re all over the country, and apply for a visa. They will give you 30 days, total 60 days from arrival. Before that expires, go back and extend, this time for 60 days. If you are doing it in the main office in Manila, they extend for 6 months. You can technically do it for up to 16 months, then it’s time to do a visa run. There are fees for every extension, and they always vary depending if it’s your first, second, third, so on extension.

  48. As most of the things that need to be said are already said, just two little things:

    Blocking your stalker on twitter would not have hepled at all. Its just too easy to make a new account or ask your friends. Its Indonesia man – they know everything or at least find out everything and you know that – I guess.

    “Tiga orang-orang dari kantor imigrasi cari kamu.” – It should be “Tiga orang…” the “tiga” already indicates the plural πŸ˜‰

    Good luck finding a new favourite country and please let me know as soon as you found one as nice as Indonesia!

    • Oops, I didn’t even noticed I had typed that twice….thanks for the heads-up! And yes, you’re right, I do know that now. My how this country loves drama lol πŸ˜‰

        • Actually I wrote org2 at first, then had to correct myself….or rather incorrect myself lol. What can I said, had a lot on my mind when I was typing this post. I had corrected it now though. Was finally really a cpl hrs ago and given my electronics back. Now I have four flights and 48hrs before I’m back in a country that over a year ago I swore I would never return to. But only for a week or two, then off somewhere else — but as far as where exactly that will be I have yet to decide.

  49. I found, as far as Southeast Asia region goes, Philippines and Cambodia were the easiest visas to get. Cambodia was easiest, just pay for a one-year visa up front. Philippines a little more of a “hassle” in that it has to be extended every 2 months. I love both countries, but I chose Philippines because I’ve made a lot of Filipino friends during my travels, majority of people speak English, I love the food, the culture is so dang creative and colorful, and my pops was originally born in the Philippines, so sort of like a trek back to the fatherland for me, or something like that. Anyway, keep us posted on your next step!

  50. Thanks very much for all the info DrifterJournals JR Riel but my problem is the immigration officials will not let me fly anywhere except the USA because they fear I will be rejected by the new country’s immigration for having a “deported

    • I’m so sorry about your chase. Have you tried to get some information if there is the right for you to appeal? It might cost you lots of money if you will have to get the Indonesian lawyer to help you through the court(if the appeal is possible) but will that be worth for you or not? The other option is if you can write a personal letter to the authority, explain your situation, how you feel sorry about it, how you really love Indonesia and then ask if they can help you. 1 exsample for you, even the Australian woman who got the death penalty in Indonesia, she had got the amnesty from our persident last year. It will maybe cost you lots of money, there will be many big effort to make it done and the question is will that be worth for you?

      • Never got the option of any lawyer or appeal or even real court. My “hearing” was held in the boss’s office and once I admitted guilt, well that was it. Even my embassy was no real help. But anyway after over two weeks being locked up I was able to buy from freedom and am now on my first of four flights back to my home country. Will spend a week there and then find somewhere new to go. Tp jgn khwtr, gw akan kmbl k Indo dlm 6 bln πŸ™‚

  51. Hmm that’s a tough one. I know there’s a Philippines Embassy in Jakarta, but not sure if it would be able to process within 24 hours. Best to look for travel agencies there I guess, who specialize in Filipino Visa processing. Or with this timeframe, any travel agency that can process you a visa to any nearby country within 24 hours, and then figure it out from there. Haha, complicated situation you’re in, man. I hope for the best.

  52. dude sorry for that but i have same problem like but u in this case i cant return to your country which is US because the immigration wont give me visa to come back. i been living there for almost 6 years with clean records and no overstay somehow immigration just dont like people come to the country that they love so much, i made a lot of good friends there US is already my second home, i wish someday that every part of the world can become one and make peace so there will be no visa or passport to travel required

    • Damn bro, sorry to hear. That sucks. Yeah I’ve heard from many people that the States can be very strict and strange with their visa practices and who gets approved/rejected — often for no reason! It sucks being denied the right to stay in a country that you love and have so many friends in that you now call it a second home, doesn’t it?

      I agree with your last statement. It would be nice if the world could become one and people weren’t so restricted to where they can live / visit based solely upon where they were born. Such a shame…

  53. That’s a completely shitty situation. The tweet wasn’t even a threat of any kind. I’ve been deported a few times but never for something that lame. Hope you get somewhere safe.
    It’s even more ridiculous given your tireless efforts to promote travel there. Love the jail selfie!

    • Yup, definitely. It’s not even that F is that bad of a word there…I mean it is yes kind of, and certainly isn’t used as freely as it is in the States, but even so quite a few of the officials would say “oh fuck” when they saw it was the wife calling. But because I used it against the immigration office, well the second minister in Jakarta took personal offense and made me the target of his vendetta. Live and learn, right.

      I’m back in Texas, arrived shortly after midnight. Had beers with friends catching up, then slept all day Sunday and Monday. Finally getting back up and online now…wrote so much while incarcerated I’ve got the next two months of posts covered at 3x a week. The only upside to being in there…

  54. Well you are lucky enough, there’s so many locals get in jail or sue over status or mention on social media like twitter and facebook. You probably still in Indonesia if that “stalker” not report your tweet. There’s cyber law, so watch out with your status or mention (critics are fine but not too offensive). And you have that visa problem so there’s like double situation and strong reason for immigration to deport you. Sorry to hear that man.

    • Yup, I was told quite a few times that it was only because the “second minister in Jakarta is upset with your tweet, wants you to suffer” that I was locked up. But after over two weeks of being locked up I’m finally free and now have interview requests coming in from several news outlets around the globe. There were even news crews filming my release this morning, although I’m uncertain whether their coverage will have a positive, negative, or neutral angle. Certainly won’t be a simple “deported for overstaying” story, as not only is no one jailed for over two weeks because of that but also because that is not exactly newsworthy and doesn’t warrant film crews outside my cell.

  55. For those who are buying his defensive and whining story on how he has been “treated” unfair just by so called “a tweet”, despite the mistakes that he has done that he reluctantly admitted and apologized publicly for those mistakes by keeping giving excuses, you go search first.

    There are many cases that are similar if “it is truly” because of the “tweet, which I doubt it was the main reason he was being deported.

    • What mistakes have I done, or admitted to? You mean overstaying two of my four prior visas, once for one day and once for two? Pffft that is nothing, no one cares. In fact I dare say kantor imigrasi likes it when westerners do that because then they have to pay a fine.

      In regards to it being solely about the tweet, I was told quite a few times that it was ONLY because the “second minister in Jakarta is upset with your tweet, wants you to suffer” that I was locked up. But after over two weeks of being locked up I’m finally free and now have interview requests coming in from several news outlets around the globe. There were even news crews filming my release this morning, although I’m uncertain whether their coverage will have a positive, negative, or neutral angle. Certainly won’t be a simple “deported for overstaying” story, as not only is no American jailed for over two weeks because of that but also because that is not exactly newsworthy and doesn’t warrant film crews outside my cell.

  56. I try and keep this short, As soon as the gentleman in immigration find out about this blog you will be in deeper shite. You say you are a “pro” when it comes to bule travel in Indoneisa. But the main rule you have forgotten is there are two sets of laws in indo. 1 for locals and 1 for bule or londo. You have posted in your recent blogs about how reckless life can be and you can live a loose life there. I highly disagree and have first hand knowledge. The main rule any “bule” must obey in any part of Indonesia is always respect police and government officials.
    Deportation can take up to 8 years in Indonesia (There is a ton of things going on behind the scene that you have no idea about) currently there is about 4000 immigrant galap in Indonesia waiting for deportation. There is no body in the holding cells where you are because they have be moved to the jail down the road. You will be moved too if you don’t get the ball rolling and get your self out of this mess.
    Advice would be write a formal apology to Captain immigration man with sufficient $$ included (pay a dodgy lawyer to help you).
    It appears from your previous post that you are good at bribes on a “kampung level”, but this is a bit more serious then bribe’ing a local cop. You need to get in with the people with power and talk to them about “anything” you can do to pay your own way out of the country. This is not the USA or Aus, they can tahan you for as long as they want with no charge. Every night you stay in that cell your “hotel” bill rises, last time a checked it was between $800-1200US a night. Or pay nothing and be transferred to jail and wait to be deported with the other approx 4000 VISA jumpers.
    On the other point of banned for life, Not possible in Indonesia unless you have an official criminal record. Indonesia does not keep a data base. As soon as you renew your passport and photo you will be a new person. Just don’t go near anybody who might remember you and stay off twitter.
    Anyway good luck, respect the Indonesian authorities and stop posting false info about traveling in Indonesia.

    • Yeah, true all of that, they were about to send me to a jail in Papua until I bought my freedom this morning.

      What previous post? I’ve never bribed anyone in Indonesia, never had to.

      In regards to the blacklisted for life part, they now say I will only be banned for six months. So that’s something at least.

      The impossible part is to stay off Twitter. I’m a Twitter boy, always have been. Screw FB and all those other SM.

      Besides, nothing on my blog or my Twitter is false. I speak the truth, blatant and uncouth as it may be, and I always knew that one day this would get me in trouble. Lesson learned.

  57. Sorry to hear that Derek. I know how you love the country- it comes through in what you write. But I can’t believe they let you take photos or have your camera phone in prison. Like really? lol. On the good side, your blog traffic from all this will undoubtedly take down your server. πŸ˜‰ There’s always an upside to things. But until then, be safe and hoping everything turns out for you!

    • Yeah, it did indeed take down the server temporarily lol….this thing went viral as all shit! Of course they ran in and confiscated all of my electronics from me the second that happened. But now that I’m out I have received interview requests from several news outlets around the globe.

      And yes, I still love Indonesia. Luckily I only have a six month ban instead of a lifelong blacklisting. I suspect this was due to the media coverage this situation has received, both in Indonesia and abroad. There were even news crews filming my release this morning.

  58. Dude, this is so fucked up.. One thing I really hate about Asia (although I love Asia in general) is their ability to make a big deal out of nothing. I also always curse to express my feelings so I totally understand your point.

    Btw I wonder if they’d let you out, if you said someone hacked your twitter account…

    • Yeah, I should have said that from he start lol — you aren’t the first to suggest it. But I was honest and admitted it as soon as they held up that photo. All my honesty got me though was over two weeks locked in a cell :/

      And yes, I love Asia too but people here do tend to make a big deal of nothing — and not worry about the big stuff. Sometimes I love this but other times (like now) I despise it.

  59. I agreed with one of comment above, Derek. You should change the title, “Deported because of a tweet & crazy stalker on my Tour de Horror project then turn out my immigration Horror story”
    Though, I don’t know who she is, but I feel you,dude. It’s unfair. Majority of Indonesians used to read 140 characters of twit, most of them don’t really get your ‘real’ points here, that there’s someone who maybe very powerful sent you to jail because the twitwars they made to you couple of weeks ago. They only focus on your overstaying issue, I’m sick of reading the comments on FB forum about your case.

    Dude, I already lost contact with you more than 24 hours, I dont know what can I do to help you, I rarely pray, but now, I think I want to pray for you πŸ˜› … I hope they ley you out.

    • Yaaaa, gw bebaaaaaaaas! Finally back online. And yes, I know what you mean about some Indonesians used to short tweets and unable to comprehend the full details (and attempts at humor) of this post. Glad you do though πŸ™‚

      I need to post in that FB forum with the real details dlm bhs…what’s the link?

    • Yeah, that’s one way of looking at it….I’m part of an exclusive group now, at least among law-abiding travel writers :/ Definitely going to get a new passport now. Darn thing is almost full anyway and it’s only two years old hahaha

  60. Be safe dude and maybe lie a bit low until you are no longer in detention. Your online profile may be rising but you may not want tensions with local authorities to escalate. I guess you’re there and know best. Good luck

  61. I, too, live in Indonesia ( Jakarta ) and I’ve gotten pissed at a few things here. Posted about them on facebook, out of anger, but deleted them minutes later. We’re human. We have emotions. Sometimes those emotions are hard to reign in at a moment of complete utter bullshit. I feel bad for you that you were even questioned about the tweet. Let’s face it, if you had tweeted how much you love Indonesia’s immigration system you wouldn’t be behind bars, even though you over stayed. It reminds me how truly precious freedom of speech is. It also reminds me that we aren’t in Kansas anymore.

    • All so very true. Hey I’m back in Jakarta now, awaiting my flight to Dubai. You know I was even told if just the local kantor imigrasi office had seen the tweet, no worries. But my stalker not only tweeted KI she went to her local branch to report me in person. Crazy! So yeah, the second minister in Jakarta got upset and “wanted me to suffer” — or so I was told by countless officials here.

  62. Sorry to hear of this unfortunate situation, but I think it is a lesson learned. I have always feared getting on twitter drunk and saying something stupid. Every time I wake up hungover, when memory is a little fuzzy, I check my social media accounts and make sure I did not say something stupid. I am glad to hear that the lifetime ban is only a 6 month ban. Still a penalty that does not fit the crime, but less harsh.

    • Definitely, many lessons learned Ted. Ahhh glad to hear I’m not the only one with that momentary fear after a particularly fuzzy night πŸ˜‰

      Yeah, I tried explaining to the authorities all the good I’ve been doing as far as volunteering and promoting the country online, not to mention how many well-known Indonesians were coming to my defense, but they didn’t want to hear it. Still, could have been worse. They were literally trying to ship me off to an Indonesian prison on Papua!

  63. Good Golly Miss Molly!! As tragic as this story is, it is also hilariously funny – partly due to your writing style! Lol. But how insane! Deported because of a tweet – but hey look on the bright side – you’ve blazed a trail – you are the FIRST person ever to be deported because of a stupid tweet! Lol. At least I now know to be very careful as to what I say on social media.! My heart bleeds for you… :-/

    • Hahaha thanks Deevra, I appreciate the response. Yes, I took a bad situation and tried to explain it in a somewhat humorous way — mostly to ease my own discomfort at being locked up, rather than of the readers amusement lol πŸ˜› But glad you enjoyed it nonetheless. Thanks for the support πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for the support Beth, it’s been a wild experience to say the least. But at least I’ve been released from my cell and am safely out of the country. Now, onwards!

    • I’m finally free! They even had new crews filming my release. What an ordeal! Lesson learned though. Really surprised and thankful for the outpouring of support and concern that friends and readers had shown for me across several different SM platforms, most notably FB πŸ™‚

      Anyway, thanks for thinking of me and hope response finds you well. Have a great weekend, enjoy it for me — I’ll be spending my next 48hrs on airplanes and in airports, fun fun. But at least it beats a cell.

  64. Mate, lessons learnt! Social Media is a powerful toy, so we should be super careful when tweeting, facebooking or publishing our blog posts. Sorry to hear that!!

    • Yeah, I was looking forward to crossing paths with you over a beer too. Damn. Well I’m back in the States for now, probably not for long. Just enough time to unload and reassess my travel plans. Six months until I can return to Indonesia…but I’ll be back in Asia before then. Keep in touch and we’ll definitely find somewhere to meet up!

    • Yes, I’m finally free and back on the road, just in a different hemisphere now. Wow, you aren’t kidding! That tweet really disrupted my entire travelin’ life…still trying to figure out what my new plan is :/

    • Hahaha well wish I did have some company in there…time dragged by really slow without anyone to interact with. But on the plus side I’m free and back in Texas briefly. You here?

  65. Awww… this was so unfortunate! I can’t imagine being deported from a country you’re crazy about! And yes, be extra careful with girls. They are too crazy. I’m a girl. I attest to that πŸ˜€

    • Yeah Ruth, it was a rough experience…to say the least. But could have been much worse. They were about to ship me off to a prison in Papua before we finally bought my freedom…wheeeew!

      And yes, that’s one lesson (among many others) that I definitely learned during this whole experience. That and your embassy is really no help at all. But I’ll leave that rant for a new post πŸ˜‰

    • And you good sir are a dick. But there is one is every group, so I won’t hold that against you.

      I’m more curious why I am a dick? Because I said something on Twitter than almost all of my friends in Indonesia have said also, just not on social media? Or because I love Indonesia and have spent over a year of my life learning the language and promoting this magnificent country to the world? Shame we will never know because you’ve entered what I can only assume to be a fake email address and will never receive this response.

  66. Man that seriously sucks. I’ve been getting occasional (mild) flak by Indians for simply being honest about how shitty things were there at times, so I completely relate about venting your frustrations on twitter only to reconsider moments later. It’s a story to share and I hope you get out of there soon! If not I’m Stalin a private jet and some Colombian heavies to break you out of there.

    • Yeah, I’m always torn when I have to write things that are bad about a country I love, or when I have so many friends that I love there (because they will inevitably be offended as well).

      At least I’m safely out of the country now, before they shipped me off to prison in Papua. I want to see Papua but not like that (at least not for my first visit there…second or third trip sure).

      Now….WTF to do? Mexico / Central America again? TBEX? Elsewhere…? (hope you’re coming to TBEX bro)

  67. My first reaction was, “This has to be a joke, they’re not that efficient.” Then once I realized it was real, I was shocked, then angry. Speaking as one Indonesian, this is NOT how most people would want them to spend taxpayers’ money. Most government offices do things really slowly and everything is paper-based, yet they have the resources to track and follow up on random comments made on Twitter? I don’t usually swear, but what the fuck???

    If you weren’t so well-versed in everything Indonesian, I would suggest bribery, but I’m guessing you’ve already tried asking for “damai”. Anyways, glad to see that you’ll be able to re-enter the country after six months. Sending good vibes your way.

    • Sorry for my late response, but yes I’m safely on foreign soil now and out of Indonesia, beginning my six-month sentence. And yeah, this just proves that kantor imigrasi can be efficient when they want to (or in this case where they had the second minister in Jakarta yelling at them). Shame we don’t see such fast response from other levels of gov’t there. But I still love the country and am eagerly awaiting my return πŸ™‚

      No more VOAs though, they say, I have to have a preapprvoed visa. So there is a chance I can be denied still. All depends…

  68. Hey Derek, I know we had correspondence a few weeks ago and it looked like this might be the outcome, now I have the full story.

    Really sorry to hear how things turned out and it has really turned your world upside down. What of your girlfriend and the future? Are you in Malaysia now?

    Also very sorry to hear of that crazy stalker girl, some people really can’t handle rejection.

    I guess from how you tell the story the use of the f word is really not acceptable in Indonesian culture. With this knowledge I think we should always be mindful of local cultures no matter how they may differ from our own.

    Your story now highlights what more and more people discover, social media can get you into a lot of trouble. Many celebrities and sport stars are finding this out too.

    From a young age I’ve always been reluctant to use foul language, it is very rare that I do. Even in moments of rage I find myself considering my choice of words, not always but often.

    Each to their own of course and I know your style of expression. It is what works for each of us.

    I hope you settle somewhere you like just as much as Indonesia.

    Drop me an e-mail once you are settled to let me know how things are working out.

    Thinking of you my friend.

    • Yup this really turned into quite the sordid spectacle. Even had news crews filming my release. But at least I learned a lot from it. Funny thing is I never used to swear at all when I was younger but over the years now I find myself cursing a lot when conveying emotion or if it’s a funnier way to properly convey a situation to my readers. Although I do regret my inappropriate use of the s-word in this post, which only further reinforces why I need an editor.

      Anyway in the end rather than a permanent blacklisting I have been given a six month ban with mandatory visa approval prior to return (in other words, no more VOAs). So hopefully I can return to my family there in time for Christmas. As far as what’s next, not sure…but somehow have a feeling I’ll be in Mexico for TBEX and then maybe Central America again while I wait until my ban lists. Not really sure…will let you know soon though! And let me know if you will be in Mexico for TBEX. Best wishes buddy πŸ™‚

  69. This post has left me seriously depressed! I have never been to Indonesia and I’ve only recently discovered your blog and read a couple of your posts, but I can already tell how much you love that country and it sucks that they’ve kicked you out!

    Great that you’ve taken a somewhat positive view though and shared your lessons, hopefully this will help to minimise the number of people that have to learn them the hard way!

    • Thanks for the support Catherine. Yeah, it quickly unfolded into an unfortunate public spectacle thanks to the extreme amount of effort put forth by one individual and a couple of her online followers. They actually had news crews filming my release! And yes the government tried to say publicly that I was deported for overstaying. Yeah, right, how many people who overstay are treated to a two week lockup and featured in countless news articles — some of which were full of dubious “facts” and interesting allegations — not just in Indonesia but abroad as well. This may sound arrogant but let me rephrase that: how many Americans? But I guess saying that makes them feel better.

      Live and learn. What I find eye-opening is that I’ve said a lot of worse things in various countries in tweet-form (for example tweeting about how I was drunk but about to drive back to the hotel) that hypothetically could be grounds for imprisonment and/or deportation. That’s some very sobering news, especially for someone like me who uses Twitter on an hourly basis and responds to tweets in realtime except when traveling somewhere without cell reception.

      I’ve also learned another positive lesson: all reporters sound nice and will pretend to be on your side during the interview, but not all really are. But it’s okay because I’ve certainly benefited from all the exposure. Having people talk about me and fight so staunchly for/against me despite having never even met me in real life (or in some cases specifically because they had) is an interesting thing to observe as well. Not one that I rather enjoy but an interesting experience nonetheless. However the amount of positive things — and now one negative — that I have done in Indonesia as a foreigner in such a short time is astonishing. Or perhaps because of it. Either way I would be a fool not to return as soon as my ban is lifted and pick up where I left off.

      161 days to go.

  70. I’m so sorry!

    Oh, what a way to go… I guess you will laugh about it in time but yeah… I’ve heard from a few bloggers and journalists this week about things they’ve written (often off-handedly) getting them into trouble, but deported over a tweet? Now that’s something!

    • Oh I’m laughing about it already. In fact I was laughing about it my first night in the cell, then shit got serious for a while, then the laughter eventually resumed. The one comforting fact from the get-go was “this is going to make one fuck of a story!” That would hopefully have given me the strength to endure six months in an Indonesian prison, which is what they were trying to do after confiscating my possessions — that happened the day after this post was published.

      Now, I know publishing an article criticizing the Indonesian government while incarcerated at one of their facilities is beyond ballsy, it’s stupid and downright insulting. However in my defense (not to anything you said, just in general) I thought I was leaving the day I posted this. You see, on the second night I was locked up they made me buy plane tickets to Jakarta and then Singapore for Wednesday the 11th. Since I thought I was leaving that afternoon I published this at around 1-2am figuring that I would be safely out of the country before they noticed it. Turns out I was wrong. They wouldn’t let me leave that day because the flight wasn’t to my home country and instead started talking about sending me to prison, first in nearby Semarang and then off in Papua.

      At that point I was immensely thankful the post was out there because if by some chance the government did decide to lock me in a deep dark hole somewhere, at least people would know where to begin searching for me.

      I mean, I could understand if I had tweeted something serious like a threat or matter of national security…but seriously for using the F word? That is over-the-top. This whole event has been. Going to an Indonesian news site and seeing four different photos of me attached to articles alleging a variety of wild claims; now that was strange. Being told by the immigration officials that it was the second minister in Jakarta who wanted to see me suffer; not my best day. (Nothing quite like being the object of a power-tripping politician’s personal vendetta, I tell you what.) Engaging in an I dare say “only in Indonesia” experience, the tweetwar, not just once but twice; well, I’ve been joking around that I am turning Indonesian and that just proves it. I even heard from a couple friends saying that they had received calls asking for details on what happened and/or they to pick sides. They all declined. In fact a lot of my Indonesian friends stayed quiet on the subject, although most just chose to follow it rather than partake and instead messaged me privately via WA. One friend even remarked about the tweetwar “yeah I haven’t been on Twitter in three months and then I heard the news so I logged in just to watch, not even tweet. Nasty stuff.” My friend Riyanni stepped in to my defense and started tweeting about my situation to her 250,000 followers and then some of Jenny’s 18,000 followers attacked her….that is crazy. This lady is a freakin’ national icon, everyone 20 and older knows/love her. And you are going to attack her for supporting me? So yeah after seeing that most of my Indonesian friends with large followings decided to steer clear of the whole ordeal and not get involved.

      Out of curiosity a few days ago I tried to check my social media standings. I wanted to know if this was indeed a case of good publicity or instead perhaps proof that bad publicity does in fact exist. From what it appears I gained around 500 new Twitter followers and only lost four from Indonesia: my stalker and two of her friends, plus one of my really good buddies in Jakarta. That one is rather perplexing because he is a really cool dude and he drops the f-bomb occasionally too. I sent him an SMS but haven’t heard back. Thought maybe he is just embarrassed to be seen associating with me on Twitter but he didn’t reply to my message so now I don’t know what to think. Anyway I also gained over 100 new Instagram followers and 150 new page likes. And thanks to this article going viral I now have a new record for most traffic in a single day, not to mention interviews and online news articles about me in a half dozen countries. Not what I want to be known for but alas, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Except for what priests do to little boys.

    • Yeah, wild shit that’s for sure. Ever since my blog traffic and social media numbers have been up. Say what you will about controversy but it certainly helped my career.

      However on the flip side, I just finished a monthlong press trip through Sri Lanka with 40 other top travel bloggers and one of them (I forget who but think maybe Laurence of Finding The Universe) mentioned that for better or worse, every one of us bloggers on that trip was known for one article. This just happens to be mine. Funnily enough, there was only one blogger on that trip who didn’t know the story: Jill of Jack & Jill Travels, who coincidently just so happens to be Indonesian. What are the odds lol

  71. Just knew you from Huffpost about Top Male Travelers today and all I can say is that, you are one bad-ass son of a b!tch, man. (please do not take it the wrong way, it’s a crazy compliment)

    I admire you not for the mess you’ve been through, but for the fact that you still maintain a positive outlook in life despite of everything that happened. Not everyone can stand all of that crap. Such a free-spirited persona you’ve got in there.

    Stay bad-ass man, that is the whole point of being who you are and people that are gonna like or hate you are none of your concern. That’s make you different and great from the rest. πŸ™‚

    • Hahaha thanks brother, appreciate the support and the awesome compliment. Definitely always felt my blog was kind of, ummmm….shall we just say different. Cheers to plenty more awesome adventures in 2016 and hey if anything ever goes wrong on the road, just remember this: even the worst travel experiences eventually become funny in hindsight πŸ˜‰

  72. I remember saw your face on the news i watched, and i read about it also. Now reading the story from your pov, i can’t help but laugh a little (sorry). When you angry or upset, just stay away from social media!
    Anyway, beside the bad thing happened, at least you have good story to tell eh?

    Leason learned, good luck πŸ™‚

    • Hahaha yeah not my finest moment. Ended up helping my career….but was nearly two years before I was able to set foot in Indonesia again. That was tough. Too long. Felt amazing to be back but it doesn’t feel like the home it did before :/

  73. Dear Derek,
    I was trying to get some additional information on living in Indonesia and luckily I fell on your blog.
    I admire your courage and I understand why you can’t have the same feelings again. I also understand why my wife keeps warning me when I use the F and S word at home :))
    Hoping to receive more smiling news
    Thumbs up

    • Hey Celal, appreciate your comment. I did finally return to Bali earlier this year but yeah, it’s not the same as it was before. Still love my Indonesian friends though and practice chatting in the language whenever I can. However given my lucky streak — get this — I recently made Thailand my home base after seven years as a nomad — but now with the King’s passing, there is a lot of uncertainty as to what will happen to non-retired expats living here.

      Oh Asia, the gift that keeps on giving πŸ˜‰ The adventures never stop.

  74. indonesian here…
    i think you did nothing wrong,
    there is so many big case (celebrity,politician for example) in indonesia which is actualy a HUGE exaggeration.. i never understand indonesia they bring small stupid unnecessary matter very very seriously, so absurd..
    i think mostly because there are so many stupid simple minded social media user in indonesia mostly the younger generations…

  75. Since you asked, I would say I have not heard others who really know you in Indonesia what their version of the story is. That said, you must have assumed all nations you go to are just like the USA, or Canada. Welcome to reality!

    A lot of folks who do not get around like you do assume everyone is the same, all laws are same, and all law enforcement also same. I have experience with asylum seekers, and I can tell everyone that what we offer them is strange to them and even scary…such as non-profits and pro-bono lawyers saying “it is free.” They FEAR due to usually back home if an agency offers something, it is government owned, and it comes with a secretly hefty price tag that “free help.”

    So it sucks to be in jail, but it is a good warning to privileged white people that money does not always save you, and if you fuck up, you are going to one day pay the consequences. I am only glad you didn’t get shot.

    • Thanks David, I’m certainly glad that I didn’t get shot either. Things could certainly have gone worse. But IMO as long as you learn from your fuck-up(s) and never repeat the same mistake, you haven’t really fucked up too badly. You’ve just gotten a firsthand lesson that you will never forget. However you did raise a good point about the differences in life in the west versus elsewhere, with regards to governments and law enforcement.

      All that having been said, my dear David, don’t you know what they say about assumptions? πŸ˜‰ When this happened I had already been traveling the world for 5 years and had long since opened up my eyes to reality. What shocked me about it was how the Indonesian government wasted X number of man-hours and resources searching for me. And how quickly they were able to determine who my Indonesian girlfriend was and come knocking on her door — despite the fact we had never once spoken about our relationship publicly online. To this day how they connected us is still a mystery. Maybe phone records? Hacked email? Sounds crazy, I know, but all we are certain of both then and now is that it the government did not learn of our relationship via social media. And then from her it was easy to start connecting the dots. (In this case the “dots” being my web of Indonesian friends.)

      On the plus side, since you brought up my friends there, proud to say that I’m still friends with everyone from my circle in Indonesia. Check my blog archives or social media. Between the film in Siak and the nationally televised game show, I became friends with some amazing (and well-known) people in the country. None of them influential enough to change the mind of the second-in-charge of Indonesian immigration, unfortunately, but they were all public figures who stuck by me then and stick by me now. We still chat. And we wouldn’t be if I was lying about any of this.

      As my buddy Laurence of Finding The Universe put it, all bloggers have one post that they are most known for, and for better or worse, this is mine. Three years later and I’m still known as “that guy” and I’ll probably never get another work offer from Indonesia, but at least I have one helluva story to tell. And I haven’t seen the inside of any other jails since….except for that one in India, but let’s save that story for another day….it didn’t made international news…

  76. Wow! What an insane story. It’s crazy to think that something that us westerners don’t even think twice about (swearing) can wind you up in such hot water over there. I’m really sorry that this happened to you and that you are forced to leave and never return to the place you love so much πŸ™ Stay strong, buddy!

    • Thanks for the support, Joshua. Turns out that I was only banned from returning for six months — although I did have to get special permission from the Indonesia embassy to have my name removed from the blacklist. It also turns out that once somewhere says that you are unwelcome, well, that country never really feels welcoming ever again. I’ve only been back the once since my deportation (for a video project) and probably will never return again…although I do still speak the language and love meeting Indonesian travelers.


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