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trip advising

  • deacon

    Joined Travelfish
    20th July, 2011
    Posts: 3

    I am thinking about heading to Southeast Asia for 4 weeks or so in December and January. I was looking for any good advice for everything on tips to island hop, hostels, border crossing within the region, and good dive sites. I know that the area is relatively inexpensive but what is a good price range to keep in mind for the explorers that have destined here. I perfer to stay off the beaten path and to stay in hostels or a hammock on the beach, (sorry to whom it concerns, but tourists with hats and fanny-packs are of little taste to me). Also what is the best airport to fly into price wise, and the "chicken bus" considerations, as they are called in S. America. I am dive qualified and love nature. Any advice is good.
    Thank you.

    #1 Posted: 20/7/2011 - 09:18

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  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
    Joined Travelfish
    14th April, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 1946
    Total reviews: 5
    Places visited:
    At least 2

    Expecting other people to spend an enormous amount of time and effort helping you decide where to go on holiday in SE Asia without doing ANY prior research yourself whatsoever is a wee bit optimistic deacon. Bear in mind that it's your holiday not theirs so you do have to do a little of the work yourself!

    Anyway, here are a few things I'll tell you for free.

    1. December- January is peak tourist season in most of SE Asia so you won't be alone. Anywhere with good, inexpensive diving is likely to be very busy at that time of year. You've chosen the wrong time of year to avoid fellow tourists and with just a month it'll be hard to get way off the beaten track and get back to civilization in time for your flight back home. Some Indonesian islands just don't have regular cheap and regular transport options so unless you fancy walking and swimming vast distances, your allotted time of one month is going to limit you somewhat in regards to remoteness and getting away from the hordes.

    eg. Extract from a very old email a friend sent me regarding the feasibility of crossing the island of Borneo from the Malaysian side (where cheap Air Asia goes) overland to the port of Banjarmasin in order to catch a fortnightly (maybe) Pelni ship to some islands where I wanted to go snorkelling.

    "I just had a quick look at the venerable Indonesian Handbook by Bill Dalton, a far more serious tome than LP and the like. It was banned in Indonesia (possibly for giving too much detail on how to bribe your way through closed areas) and I think went out of print. It does cover the trans-Kalimantan route ("rarely done, very rarely in fact") which it says was done a couple of times in the mid 1980s. It involves going up the Kapuas river from Pontianak to a place called Bungan, the last section being through some interesting rapids. The you walk for a couple of days to a longhouse. Then 2 more days walk through the jungle, eating local things you don't find in Waitrose. 2 weeks gets you to the E/W Kalimantan border. Then if your guides are "willing to continue", get them to build you a raft to get down to the headwaters of the Mahakam river. A walk in the park..."

    If that's the kind of hard core "off the beaten track" exploring you want to do deacon, then you'll need a lot more than a month!

    2. Hostel accommodation isn't the norm in SE Asia. It's mostly hotels ranging from 5* to moldy rat infested pits, guesthouses and beach bungalows. In the more remote areas you may have to stay with the locals and facilities tend to be very basic ...think no running water coming out of taps, no phone signal and very little access to electricity. (And don't expect the locals to speak a word of English if you want to get far off the beaten track either).


    3. It's rather hard to suggest places when you have such strict dress code requirements for fellow tourists.

    sorry to whom it concerns, but tourists with hats and fanny-packs are of little taste to me

    So what kind of look would be acceptable to you? Something like this perhaps?

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8675349@N06/5956549423/in/photostream

    People often wear hats on beaches to avoid getting sunstroke in the blazing sun but walnut whip dreads, an umbrella, a large coconut palm frond or a tablecloth would work too.

    4. You posted in the Indonesian part of the forum and Indonesia does indeed have some of the best diving in the world. Unfortunately December-January is the height of the rainy season in Indonesia. Lots of rain and big waves and diving conditions could be less than ideal. Being on a deserted beach in the pouring rain where non of your stuff or your bedding ever feels dry and there are zillions of hungry mosquitoes feeding on you isn't everyone's idea of paradise even if it is totally devoid of other tourists wearing hats and fanny packs.

    Does the weather matter to you? If so, then you are almost certainly going to have to share beaches/diving etc with other people at that time of year. Many other people will be on holiday for a month too and many will have exactly the same wish list as you do (except for the strict *look* requirements vis a vis fellow travellers).

    #2 Posted: 20/7/2011 - 17:41

  • deacon

    Joined Travelfish
    20th July, 2011
    Posts: 3

    @SBE

    Thank you for the advice and info.
    reason for posting in Indonesia was because it was the only country where it seemed to have a lot more mixed advice on getting around, well more than the others. Flying into Bangkok and making my way to the islands of Indonesia seemed adventurous enough though the email from your friend is what I am accustomed to.

    Also I do understand with 6.8 billion people in the world its getting harder to get away from other travelers. What I meant was that I don't like places like Cozymel or resorts on the beach where people won't can't venture out on their own with out their hands being held. I know it is a different culture and region but people are the same no matter where you go. This is what I meant by hat and fanny pack.

    http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSM4FzDi-JikIOku20UiKFtFIxVWCouIM9dVRtQYVJ4D7eaH8uq

    As for the research it was more for some tips or info. I have done a lot of research but still have never been there. What is described in a book is not the same as first hand experience or people that are familiar with the area. Not to mention tips from trekkers, in my history, are usually better than what is mostly publicized in the mass.

    I will have a round trip ticket in to Bangkok then from there trek out. The bungalows and dorms is perfectly fine with me. I was just wondering how accessible they were as in availability.

    #3 Posted: 20/7/2011 - 20:36

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
    Joined Travelfish
    14th April, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 1946
    Total reviews: 5
    Places visited:
    At least 2

    I will have a round trip ticket in to Bangkok then from there trek out. The bungalows and dorms is perfectly fine with me. I was just wondering how accessible they were as in availability.

    Yes, but where do you want to trek out to? What country? It's hard to say how accessible and available bungalows and dorms will be without knowing where you're going. Do you still want to go to Indonesia in spite of the weather?

    #4 Posted: 21/7/2011 - 05:06

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