I would like to know who makes up the entry/exit requirements for different countries, who decides if they're actually going to be enforced and why there never seems to be a straight answer available about what we are going to encounter at each new location. From PDX to New Zealand and into Australia, the most “hassle” we had was from the American Airlines ticket agent in Portland asking us if we had a return ticket from NZ. Obviously our answer was “No”, to which she replied that we may find that troublesome. The basic theory being that the countries want to be sure that once you get in, you're able to get out. No overstaying your welcome. Almost all countries have some rule like this on the books, but of course there are ways to get around this requirement – flash a credit card or bank statement showing “available funds” to purchase a ticket, sweet talking or greasing palms. All of these we have now seen work.
The part that really bugs us is when the rules seem to be applied completely at random, by people they have no bearing on. When we flew from OZ to Bali we ran into one such ticket agent at the Pacific Blue counter.
Ticket Nazi. “May I please see your proof of onward travel?”
Adorable World Travelers “We're actually doing a trip around the world and don't have any future tickets booked quite yet. We're only planning on staying in Bali for two or three weeks though.”
“I'm sorry, you need an onward ticket.”
“We don't have one.”
“You'll need to get one.”
“You suck.” (I wish.)
So we had to go spend the next hour at one of the travel agents that were located in the airport. (ie: super cheap...) We had to lock how long we wanted to spend in Bali and then make the call that we were going to then go to Singapore. Not exactly a decision, or a purchase, we were really wanting to make on the spot. But ok, we did it. Future tickets in hand we run screaming back to the Pacific Blue check in counter as we're now on the verge of missing our flight to Bali. Proof of onward passage provided, getting checked in was a breeze. What's even more confusing is that nobody at the Australian customs/immigration or Bali customs/immigration gave a rats ass about our onward travel. “Hope you had a good stay in OZ. Hope you have a nice stay in Bali.” Aren't they the ones who are supposed to be worried about how long we're staying?!?!
At least now that we're on mainland Asia we can claim overland passage from country to country and won't have to worry about having future tickets in hand for the next few months. I guess this is just one of those fun little parts of traveling that will make our adventure more exciting.
By the way, getting in and out of Bali and Singapore was a complete breeze. See, no interesting story there (ie: no jack ass counter agents to mess around with).