I have a few questions on Indonesia.
1. Is there a problem getting a 2 month visa, the website and lonely planet say you need proof of exit and bank statement as well as a host of other things. Ideally I would like to stay longer but may have to fly to KL and back for another visa.
2. I haven't seen any trouble reported so im assuming Suliwesi is okay to travel althought is it best to avoid some parts still. Same with other trouble spots in INdonesia.
3. I have been travelling through laos, vietnam, cambodia and thailand for 3 months now with no malarials on the advice of this website and really haven't needed them but what about indonesia and borneo malaysia. is there more risk?
4. Im sure I can find this from LP but is there a paticular area that is good for rock climbing.
thats all the questions I can think of for now, im sure I will have more though, hope to be there in the next 2 weeks.
Great website by the way, helped me loads over the past 3 months
#1 mattsmith has been a member since 28/4/2009. Posts: 4
1.I got my 2 month visa in Bangkok. Pretty straightforward though they did want a flight ticket out of the country (they keep a photocopy). I think it took 2 or 3 working days to process, sorry can't remember exactly, but I do remember they only open for about an hour in the afternoon which is when you have pick up the visa. They didn't ask for a bank statement. Might vary according to which consulate you use. I've heard that it's possible to extend a tourist visa inside Indonesia but never done it. Maybe Somtam knows.
2. Sulawesi didn't strike me as particularly dangerous but there has been trouble in central Sulawesi in the past. On a previous trip to Sulawesi I met tourists who said the police were preventing tourists boarding the bus to Poso for security reasons but it wasn't happening when I was there this time.
I arrived in Poso at about 1am after a gruelling 16 hour bus ride from Rantapao. Lots and lots of passport security checks by military-looking blokes between Tentana and Poso. We also had one "security check" by some chaps in flipflops with guns just as we were entering Poso. The bus driver and his helper seemed distinctly more nervous about them than the guys in uniform. Everywhere else on Sulawesi was fine.
3. There's DEFINITELY a malaria risk in Sulawesi, particularly the central region. A friend of mine with came down with Falciparum malaria (the deadly kind) while we were in the Togians. There is no quick,easy or particularly comfortable to get to a good hospital from there unless you charter a helicopter or something. I got her to the nearest rather basic hospital in Ampana ...that involves a 4-5 hour trip on a crowded public boat that only runs a few days a week. There were no actual doctors in the hospital when we arrived but when the tests came back positive for the deadly kind of malaria they eventually managed to find one in a mosque.
Surprisingly they do have good antimalarials available at the hopsital in Ampana but you have to ask for them. If the lab tests show falciparum, ask to get treated with an Artemisia-based drug straight away. It's effective and has relatively few side effects. When I asked if they had any Artemesia they said they had but they only used them once the patient was in a coma. Most local people can't afford it so they usually try chloroquine first, even though there's resistance to it, and then heavy duty quinine drugs which can have bad side effects. The malaria ward at that hospital was full to overflowing with malaria cases BTW, but they did have a few private *VIP* rooms in another wing of the hospital available.
While I was in the Togians in November/December I met two other tourists who'd contracted malaria and heard about several others. When I was there in March, a dive instructor I know was ill with it. It's definitely a higher risk area than the ones you've been travelling in so far.
I'd advise you to carry a curative dose of Malarone (12 pills) with you. If you do catch malaria that should at least enable you to get to a decent hospital for blood tests and further treatment if necessary.
However it sounds like you're already in SE Asia and Malarone can only be bought in Hong Kong and Singapour AFAIK. If you can't get hold of any you could take doxycycline as prophylaxis ...but be sure and take it properly, according to the instructions. If you don't complete the course or forget doses you might as well not bother taking it at all. It does cause photo-sensitivity in some people unfortunately.
And do all the usual mosquito bite prevention stuff as well of course.
4. The area around Toraja has a lot of spectacular cliffs and rock faces but I don't know if there's any organized rock climbing...there might be as it's quite geared to tourism there. Lots of trekking guides.
There are a few pictures of my trips to Sulawesi on my flickr site if you're interested.
Thank you for the reply, great help.
Really looking forward to it now, especially after looking at all your photo's seems like it will be a lot more challengine than Thailand.
Really looking forward to the $10 huts with all your food and tea and coffee.
Where abouts in Sumatra were you when you saw all them Orangatans?
And this is more a question for Somtam but is it possible to get contact solution fopr hard/gas permeable lenses in Indondesia, the only place I have been able to get it so far in SE Asia is Bangkok.
#3 mattsmith has been a member since 28/4/2009. Posts: 4
"Really looking forward to the $10 huts with all your food and tea and coffee".
Oops must change the descriptions under my old pics! Those were 2006 prices. At the time that place cost 80,000Rp a night.
When I was at that resort at the end of last year they'd raised prices to 135,000Rp a night. Expect to pay about 150,000-180,000Rp a night on full board in the most of the resorts in the Togians now. You can check exchange rates online ...they change a lot in Indonesia but in March it was about 10,000Rp to the US dollar. Be sure and take enough cash to the Togians too... there are no ATMs or banks there. Accommodation is paid for in Rupiah but dives and dive courses have to be paid for in Euros (not US dollars).
Also there seemed to be more tourists about this last trip even though I was there in low season...could be something to do with the new Air Asia routes to Makassar and Manado. The accommodation on the Togians was 100% full last high season (July/August) apparently. Wasn't too busy in low season but certainly not as quiet as before. Might be an idea to try and book ahead if you're planning to go in the summer...if you can. Not all the resorts have a website and some islands have no telephone signal at all. The ones that do have very limited reception.
Orang Outangs can be found at Bukit Lawang. The incessant attention from touts wanting to take you to see them can be a bit tiresome. They were even on the bus from Medan and I had a few more or less camping on my balcony.
However at the time Bukkit Luwang was still recovering from a disasterous flash flood that had wiped out most of the resorts and killed many people.
I think things have improved now, guest houses rebuilt etc so maybe the tout pressure has lessened since I was there. Good idea to ask around to find out what a reasonable price is beforehand however.
The logging and destruction of the jungle in northern Sumatra mentioned in that link is unfortunately pretty obvious BTW... you'll pass miles and miles and miles of palm oil and rubber tree plantations on the way to Bukkit Luwang.
Now that I am back from my trip I thought I would answer a few of my own questions.
1. I got my 2 month visa in Tawau, Sabah Malaysia. They did it in 45 mins and I didn't need proof of exit either just a had to show a visa card. I also heard you could extend the visa though people were payign varyignamounts depending on where it was extended, $70 in Bali, $100 in Manado.
2. I didn't see any trouble in Suliwesi and absolutely loved it
3. In the end I didn't take my Malarial tablets properly so gave up taking them all together and was fine in Borneo and Suliwesi. Though I could have been fortunate who knows.
As for the Togean islands they were beautiful I stayed atr Lestari for Rp75,000 ($7.50) a night inclusive of meals.
#5 mattsmith has been a member since 28/4/2009. Posts: 4
That's great - thanks for the report back.,
Out of curiosity, where did you go in Sulawesi -- I'm heading there in a week or so -- thinking South Sulawesi either Pantai Bira or Kendari/Bau Bau -- got two weeks and was thinking of just getting a bike in Makassar and going exploring from there.
#6 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,643
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Glad you enjoyed your trip Matt. You were lucky to get into the Lestari! It's the cheapest place to stay in the Togians and every time I've tried it's been full, with people sleeping in the restaurant waiting for a bungalow.
I don't take anti-malarials either and never caught malaria but it is a real risk in central Sulawesi, particularly if you go in low season when there's more rain.