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Indonesia forum

Last minute advice for trip needed

Posted by travelinchen on 19/7/2011 at 19:36

Hi there,

so, my partner and I now have about less than a week before we fly to Indonesia (traveling through Java and Bali, with a trip to the Gilis for a month). We are soooo excited, but of course also a bit nervous as this is our first time to Indonesia.
We thought about a few questions which might sound silly to someone who's already been there, but would make our planning so much easier.

1. we previously thought that we don't need vaccinations or malaria tablets given that we'll only be in Java and Bali, but I'm getting a bit unsure now about this after reading in the LP Indonesia. Would you recommend any las minute vaccinations and/or anti-malaria medication?

2. We'd like to go snorkeling on the Gili islands, but don't have any snorkeling gear yet (mask and snorkel) -- can we rent or yet better buy it there or should we buy it beforehand?

3. So, it'll be Ramadam while we're still in Java, so we'd like to adapt to the local customs as much as any possible. The biggest issue seems to be drinking water during the day, as the locals might find it offensive if we drank in public. So we're just wondering if anything has some experience here and what's the best way to behave? (obviously, not drinking is not an option, since we're not used to the weather)

4. What's the local dress code in central, east java? I read things more generally about Indonesia, but this seems to differ across this vast country. for instance, is it custom for javanese men and women to wear short Tshirts or rather long sleeved shirts etc?

5. I take antidepressants and diazephane for the flights -- will I encounter problems there in Indonesia when I have it on me and they search me? I have a handwritten note from my doctor at home, but i'm not sure that's enough

6. Finally, if anyone happens to have a packing list for the areas (like, what definitely to leave at home and what definitely to take) -- that would be awesome! (but obviously, only if you have it readily available, I just like to compare with mine)

two very excited Indonesia first-timers

#1 travelinchen has been a member since 23/1/2011. Posts: 67

Posted by SBE on 19/7/2011 at 20:50

1. Doesn't sound like you're going anywhere with a big malaria risk. What kind of vaccinations were you thinking of?

2. Personally I always have my own snorkeling gear though you will be able to rent and/or buy in the Gilis I expect. Rental gear is usually not that great (leaking masks etc) and paying for gear every time you want to go snorkeling adds up after a while. Have a look see what's available back home in your local sports shop. There maybe more choice and it could also be cheaper than buying it once you get to the Gilis.

3. Don't worry too much about Ramadan. Non Muslim places will be open during the Chinese owned restaurants. People don't expect non Muslims to fast but best to try and not drink a large bottle of water in their faces while they're dying of thirst! Just use common sense and courtesy.

4. Dunno, haven't been to central Java. Take a loose long sleeved shirt to put over a T shirt when necessary. Ordinary T shirts are usually fine but very skimpy tops would be inappropriate (especially during Ramadan). I wear light 3/4 length trousers most of the time everywhere in SE Asia ...not too skimpy but not too hot either!

5. I've never been searched once coming off a plane in Indonesia. If you do get searched then the doctor's note should suffice amply.

6. Not very good at packing lists...I just throw everything into a bag an hour before heading to the airport usually. (And quite often forget something)

Perhaps if you post YOUR list people could comment about what to leave behind and what might come in handy. You can always buy stuff once you get there too.

#2 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,019
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Posted by SBE on 19/7/2011 at 20:55

PS. You don't say if you smoke but not smoking is also part of the fast during the day. A lot of Indonesian men smoke so lighting up a cigarette in their faces would also be a bit discourteous during Ramadan.

#3 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,019
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Posted by travelinchen on 21/7/2011 at 15:45

Thanks a lot for that. :-) Yeah, the smoking thing is a problem for my partner but he'll manage.

One thought concering Ramadam: We're wondering whether you see animals being slaughtered and lying around slaughtered etc in easy sight (I mean, not on the meat section of a market). I really hope to be able to avoid seeing any animal cruelty, even though I'm of course aware that standards are different from my home country (where things are not too great either). It's a very sensitive topic for me..

#4 travelinchen has been a member since 23/1/2011. Posts: 67

Posted by MADMAC on 21/7/2011 at 17:19

I'm afraid animals, which at least in Thailand are referred to as "it", are not treated very humanely most of the time. But I doubt you'll see animals being openly slaughtered, as this is usually done in slaughterhouses. Maybe you might happen upon it in a village.

#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by travelinchen on 21/7/2011 at 17:34

I know, it's so horrible and part of me feels bad about going and wanting to close my eyes. I'm well aware these cruelties happen, even while traveling where, bu I can't cope with seeing it. Since we're following a rather beaten track, I hope even in the villages we won't come across this.

#6 travelinchen has been a member since 23/1/2011. Posts: 67

Posted by SBE on 21/7/2011 at 19:44

I've never noticed much animal slaughtering going on during Ramadan. Where I hang out mostly in off the beaten track Indonesia (not Java, I'm no expert on Java I'm afraid) people mainly eat fish anyway. Great seafood stalls get set up in the evenings during Ramadan. Meat is a rare luxury ...if you can call it that. Once at the end of Ramadan my homestay host made a special meal consisting of totally inedible chicken so tough it was impossible to chew and swallow; the chicken had obviously spent a very happy free range life running about to get THAT sinewy... and some goat meat (a bit better ) instead of the usual freshly caught fish. And then about ten different cakes which his wife had specially baked god knows how as they didn't have an oven, just an open fire round the back.

Anyway, it's another festival about two and a half months after the end of Ramadan where they do a bit of slaughtering. It's called Idul Adha (the festival of sacrifice) in Indonesia though it has different names elsewhere. Something to do with Abraham's sacrifice of his son to show his obedience to god's will. You won't be there for that festival though so it's unlikely you'll trip over any animals getting slaughtered.

Actually I saw much more cruelty to animals in the Christian areas of Indonesia. Once near Manado my quiet afternoon snooze in a hammock was brutally interrupted by what sounded almost like human screams and dogs yelping piteously. The villagers were slitting terrified pigs throats and kids were clubbing dogs on the beach to death for a wedding feast next day. Really barbaric. I declined an invitation to the wedding feast as I didn't fancy the food on the menu and moved elsewhere, out of earshot of the deafeningly loud music that went on for about 3 days non stop. The village appeared to only have one CD which they it played over and over 24/7 ... getting any sleep at all was not an option.

And the funeral ceremonies in Rantepao on Sulawesi (also a Christian area) sometimes involve the ritualistic slaughter of hundreds of buffalo. Those big ceremonies are supposedly the main thing tourists go to see but I've never been to one. Plenty of other interesting things to see and do around there that does not involve killing terrified animals to demonstrate what a wealthy bigshot you are. Just never really appealed to me, other people do find it a fascinating cultural experience though.

Sounds like you have a few stereotypes which will no doubt be dispelled after your trip to Indonesia travelinchen. Ramadan is an important spiritual time so it's quite important to be aware of what is and is not socially acceptable. (Read up a bit more on that maybe. to avoid unintentional gaffs). This said, as long as you show respect for their customs and beliefs, I think you'll be amazed how friendly and laid back most Indonesian muslims are towards westerners! Not sure about Java (as I said, I don't know it well) but in places I have been you often feel like some sort of famous hollywood celebrity ...smiling friendly people constantly coming up and asking if they can have their picture taken with you so they can show off their western "friend" to their acquaintances. Facebook is all the rage in Indonesia BTW...some people don't have an email address but they all seem to have Facebook accounts!

Anyway, be sure and try and write a trip report for TF when you get back with your impressions. Have a great trip! [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img]

#7 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,019
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Posted by travelinchen on 21/7/2011 at 20:40

Thanks very much, that was really informative and partly reassuring (oviously, the thing about the village is beyong horrible). I didn't want to give the impression that I think that animal cruelty is connected to the religion, rather it has to do with the protection of animals by law and recognition of their rights etc. It's more that I remembered that some holiday in muslim Indonesia includes the rather public slaughtering of animals and I was wondering whether this also happens on Ramadam. But you're totally right, I'll definitely try and find out more about the *meaning* of Ramadam, not only the practicalities

#8 travelinchen has been a member since 23/1/2011. Posts: 67

Posted by travelinchen on 21/7/2011 at 22:01

but I have to admit that I'm getting slight earthquake-volcano eruption-plane-train-crash-ferry-sinking etc panic. Am I the only one getting this before traveling?

#9 travelinchen has been a member since 23/1/2011. Posts: 67

Posted by SBE on 22/7/2011 at 06:53

Do not panic. I don't think Bromo has erupted since February! (Keep an eye on that though). As for the rest... well I haven't died yet. If it looks like certain death then I find having a little snooze helps. When you wake up you're either dead or still alive. I sometimes travel with an accident prone Scottish friend and he hasn't got that gift....just looks at me incredulously every time I drop off just as we're about to have a major road accident or something. I once fell asleep on the back of a motorbike after we'd nearly been run over in a car chase by gun wielding Thai mafia... woke up when he stopped for some noodle soup about an hour later.

Do you have travel insurance BTW.

#10 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,019
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Posted by busylizzy on 22/7/2011 at 07:57

SBR - your stories remind me of when I was in a hotel on the west coast of the South Island (New Zealand) last September. I woke up to the feeling that someone was rocking my bed back and forth. Then I heard a bottle half full of water sloshing around on the kitchen table. "It must be an earthquake" I realised - then rolled over and went back to sleep. Woke up in the morning to find out that Christchurch (on the other coast) had been hit with a big earthquake that took down several buildings in the CBD. It wasn't til later that day that I realised how non-chalant I had been during the night!

Likewise, I also fell asleep on the back of a motorbike in Vietnam. And that was only two days after being a fairly nervous passenger who kept imagining my internal organs being spread across the road.

Moral of the story travelinchen - relax, and everything will be fine!

#11 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by travelinchen on 22/7/2011 at 22:36

Guys! not really sure you stories help against the fear ;-)
But I think today I feel much more confident about the natural disasters.

Has any of you taken Indonesia Air Asia before? I am actually aviophobic, so uuuuh

#12 travelinchen has been a member since 23/1/2011. Posts: 67

Posted by SBE on 23/7/2011 at 02:22

Yes, I've flown Air Asia Indonesia tons of times. It's much nicer than European budget airlines like Ryan Air and they have a good safety record.

Unless things have changed very recently its the only Indonesian airline company you can book online from outside the country.

You can book and pay (in cash) for Air Asia tickets at the airport once you're in Indonesia but it'll probably cost you more than booking online now.

#13 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,019
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Posted by travelinchen on 23/7/2011 at 03:15

Yes, we booked our tickets a while ago online. tbh, I only care about the safety aspect. Ryan Air is really s*** and as my partner points out you actually have to put some effort in it to be worse than Ryan Air when it comes to feel, space etc. But they are safe enough and safety controls are strict in Europe. (not saying that I'm not scared when I fly Ryan Air, I am)

#14 travelinchen has been a member since 23/1/2011. Posts: 67

Posted by MADMAC on 23/7/2011 at 23:38

"But you're totally right, I'll definitely try and find out more about the *meaning* of Ramadam, not only the practicalities"

Eid Al Fitr - the good part of Ramadan!

#15 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

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