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Bali & Thailand general questions

Posted by mitchell456 on 1/10/2009 at 21:56

Hi everyone

Im off to Thailand & Bali in about 10 days. I have a few basic questions. I have read loads on the forum pages so forgive mr if I am overlapping something previously stated.. Here 'tis:

1. water - aquatabs, iodine or boil it? (I have heard about the huge land-fill issue caused by plastic bottles there)

2. rainjacket or umbrella or just get wet (oct & nov 09)

3. take or not take malaria tablets?

4. does Lomotil work well if I get a belly bug?

5. does Air Asia only allow 100mls fluid (I'm taking cabin bag only) or 100mls per container (eg: I need contact lens cleaner, soaker, bacterial handgel, waterbottle, citronella tea tree oil etc)

6. running shoes or sandals?

7. should I take mosquito repellant ot buyt it there it?

8. Travellex cash passport (eftpos or debit card). Is it any good (ie: is it readily accepted, is it safer than taking my own card, are they reliabel, do they charge too much)

9. passport holder - neck holder or waistband holder?

10. casual loose clothes or cargo-style pants made of heasvier material (but all those pockets mmm)

11. anything else I may have left out that you think I could use..

12. DFAT recommends not going to Bali - is it as dangerous and prone to (current) terrorist attacks as they say..?
thanks in advance

Michelle in Adelaide

#1 mitchell456 has been a member since 26/9/2009. Location: Australia. Posts: 18

Posted by somtam2000 on 2/10/2009 at 07:26 admin

Hi Michelle,

1) Aquatabs
2) Personally I'd go with a very compact umbrella, not you can be very cheap ones when you're up here.
3) Unless you're travelling well off the tourist trail, no. See this story for more info for Thailand (Bali does not have a malaria issue at all):
4) Yes it does, but you're better off only using it if you need to travel, otherwise go back to basic foods till your belly settles.
5) I think it is per container, but probably better you check with AirAsia to be sure.
6) Sandals
7) Either way works - easy to buy here, perhaps a little cheaper, though probably a wider range of choices in Oz
8) Can't help on this one - am not familiar with the card.
9) Personal pref is for a waist one.
10) Loose tops, cargo pants are what I pack - like you I love all those pockets!
12) I live in Bali and it's chockers full of Australian tourists at the moment, I'd say DFAT's advice is very conservative.


#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,941
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Agoda coupon: Get an extra 7% off selected properties with the coupon code

Posted by mitchell456 on 2/10/2009 at 22:02

Thanks, Somtam2000 for this info and the weblink - it helps a lot. I can imagine people coming to Australia for the first time and their questions....should I be afraid of the giant kangaroos that jump down the main street etc.

A couple more questions - for you and anyone who would like to respond to me (regarding my first time in Thailand and Bali):

1. should I bring currency with me or get it there or should I bring $US or $Aus.

2. Will I worry about accomm (at all) before I get there or will there be a barrage of hopefuls at the airport waiting to whisk me away to their hostel?
(Consider that I would intend to get there early in the day with some time)

3. re: Aquatabs - can I get them there or will I bring a whole supply? Will I get questioned about them at any airports or are they commonplace and well-known?

4. has anyone heard of a 'Steri Pen' which uses ultra-violet light to sterilise water? I found out about it today. Can they be purchased over there (cheaper than here)? They're over AU$240 in Adelaide (the Journey LCD model). Im thinking it could be worth it. Any history with this?

there'll be more, I'm sure - thanks for being so patient with me :)

Michelle In Adelaide (but not for long!)

#3 mitchell456 has been a member since 26/9/2009. Location: Australia. Posts: 18

Posted by DLuek on 2/10/2009 at 23:27 TF writer

This may not be super helpful, but my advice is to lighten up a bit. You're not going into a war zone or some uncharted area in the bush of Africa.

I agreed with Somtam on all his answers to your previous questions. As for your subsequent ones:

1. Up to you. You can change US or Aus. $ easily in Thailand at the airport or major banks (never been to Bali). In Thailand you can't use US currency to pay for everyday things as you can in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, so I would only bring the extra US or Aus. currency in case of emergency (but I would definitely bring U$ 500 to 1000 just in case).

2. I would not book any guesthouses/hostels in advance unless arriving late at night. But I also would not allow anyone at the airport to bring me to their choice of accommodation. Ignore the touts at the airport and just catch a marked metered taxi to an area where there are a lot of guesthouses (do your research beforehand and have at least one address and phone # of a guesthouse that sounds good to you to give to the taxi driver. (Again I've never been to Bali so this advice is really only for Thailand).

3. I would bring them from home.

4. Never heard of it.

Good luck,


#4 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,298
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Posted by mitchell456 on 3/10/2009 at 06:01

Hi DLuek

Thanks for this - it's helpful. Also the 'lighten up' suggestion was good too.
Just about everyone I have talked to here so far (including DFAT Aus govt - seem to regard Asia like a war-zone. I was surprised and starting to get a bit reserved about it all. I've never been there (and am 51, so probably more vulnerable than when I have travelled elsewhere, before.

I didn't get any immunisations - and don't anticipate going to areas that are too remote..I'd love to hear from others who didn't get immunised when they travelled to Thailand and Bali (and lived to tell)...

Any other comments from you, Somtam, or others are most welcome.

warm regards
Michelle :) (Adelaide, and not afraid!) - you get cornier as you get older heh.

#5 mitchell456 has been a member since 26/9/2009. Location: Australia. Posts: 18

Posted by furneburner on 3/10/2009 at 08:19

Hi Michelle,

I might be stupid, but i've never had immunisations in any of my travels through cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam or Malaysia. Call me careless, but i hate needles!

Don't bring US dollars, just take your Aussie dollars from home, and your ATM card. However, be prepared to pay fees for your atm card unless you check out this:

Moreover, only take out large amounts of money at a time in Thailand as your have to pay 150baht per transaction ($5 or so AUD)

Don't ever go to a hotel someone wants to take you to from an airport or bus station. They generally get paid comission, so the price you pay will be higher.

As for the water purifying, maybe i'm insensitive, but your not going to save the world by drinking water that is not bottled...Glass bottles in Thailand are generally recycled, and water is available in glass.

#6 furneburner has been a member since 5/9/2009. Posts: 180

Posted by somtam2000 on 3/10/2009 at 08:39 admin

1) Do any money exchanging in Asia -- you'll get a better rate than in Oz.
2) Agree with DLeuk
3) I've never heard of them so can't help -- I had to Google them when you first mentioned them. Also as per furneburner, glass bottles not uncommon... or take a refillable bottle and make use of water vending thingys.
4) Info on Steripen is here seems prices on Amazon cheaper than in Oz, but not sure if they deliver o/s.


#7 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,941
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Posted by bubibi on 3/10/2009 at 10:19

mitchell456, I've been to both Bali and Thailand, I highly recommend please do preview for accommodations from this reference site (, check the accommodation rankings, ratings and comments, and do check the price from the accommodation official websites and booking websites such as,,,, and many more, you can also book it from the website by credit card, sometimes booking websites offer great deal of price.

#8 bubibi has been a member since 2/10/2009. Posts: 9

Posted by mitchell456 on 3/10/2009 at 16:48

Thank you Somtam, DLuek Furneburner and bubibi - everything that you have said is very useful to a newbie like me :) I'm touched by your generous answers and helpfulness in sharing your info and experience.

I also visited a friend of mine today who has travelled a lot and she gave me some great tips. I was a bit scared about the Malaria thing though when she said that a friend of hers died from Malaria, and once when she was really sick (3 quilts and shivering, thought she had Malaria, but was some other strange bug.

From what I have read about natural therapies, raw garlic, raw onions, salt and water will help with many tropical diseases.

Anyone know about this?

Anyone know what to wash socks, sleep sheets and other various clothes items in, to repel mossies?



#9 mitchell456 has been a member since 26/9/2009. Location: Australia. Posts: 18

Posted by greenman42 on 3/10/2009 at 20:29

I travelled to Bali and Thailand, I didn't bother with vaccinations or malaria tablets, and lived to tell. Nowhere I went, was I advised that I should have. I'm not planning any for my second trip either, it doesn't seem to be a concern in the popular tourist areas.
As for the mozzies, take all the proper repellents, spray or rub on. Don't rely on garlic to keep them away, they're used to thai chilli!
For your clothes and bedding, a few drops of citronella or T-tree oil will help, but make sure you can tolerate the smell.

#10 greenman42 has been a member since 18/9/2009. Posts: 63

Posted by mitchell456 on 3/10/2009 at 21:07

Thanks Greenman
Im glad that you lived to tell, and I appreciate your suggestions

thank you

#11 mitchell456 has been a member since 26/9/2009. Location: Australia. Posts: 18

Posted by DLuek on 4/10/2009 at 01:58 TF writer

You will not get malaria in Thailand unless you are in one of the very few areas affected by it like some of the northeastern region near the Mekong River, and you are unlucky enough to get bit by a mosquito that carries the disease. Even in an area such as this, simple mosquito repellent should do the trick. I've spent a good deal of time (several months) in Thailand over three different occasions and have travelled all over the country, and I have never even worried about malaria.

It sounds like your friend did more to scare than to help you. I have a friend who spends half of the year every year doing anthropological work way out in the bush with a native tribe in Ethiopia. He's had malaria twice and neither time has it been life-threatening, or even much more than a nuisance.

Also, in regard to general safety, I always think it's funny when people from my home (US) ask me questions about Southeast Asia like, "Is it dangerous - aren't you scared of crime, tsunamis, wrongful imprisonment, disease, etc.?" I always tell them the same thing... I literally feel TEN times safer walking around a city in Thailand than I do a comparable city in the US, where we have way more violent crime. To me, Thailand is a very safe place (unless you find yourself on the back of a motorcycle taxi of which the driver seems to have gone mad!) My point - relax, be smart, but don't be there's no need to be so overly worried that you don't enjoy yourself.

#12 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,298
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Posted by mitchell456 on 4/10/2009 at 10:19

Thanks DLuek

I appreciate your words - I suppose that you can teel that Im trying to cover all bases before I go so that I can enjoy my time there with out too much culture shock. I think that just prior to going somewhere new can be quite stressful. Its only a week and a bit before I go (and still so much more to do in finalising things here to do with work and a recent sewage blocked pipe and subsequent flood and cleanup I had thoughout my flat.)

Its only been this last week that Ive been able to research properly (internet access, no longer having to supervise tradespeople as well as work at my job...blah blah blah.) and so Im putting myself under a bit of pressure to be prepared.

Im also trying to travel with just a day pack (now thats a challenge!) cos Im just so darned tired of lugging stuff that I may need to places. I dont go overseas very often, so this is a biggie for me :)

Starting to ghet excited about it, and sooo looking forward to living a completely different lifestyle. I would love to live in a commmunity/communal place.

Does anyone have any experiences of staying in monasteries, communes or small communities in Thailand or Indonesia? Ive stayed in monasteries (and also worked in a meditating college when there was one here in Australia)??

Im appreciative of being able to communicate with all of you- and your responses have all been so helpful.

warm regards
Michelle (Adelaide)

#13 mitchell456 has been a member since 26/9/2009. Location: Australia. Posts: 18

Posted by bubibi on 4/10/2009 at 23:59

I have never stayed at any monasteries since accommodations aren't so expensive if you can find budget one. As far as I know, in Bali you can stay in Pura (Hindu Temple) if you come from far place and intent to participate in religious activity, I'm not sure if they are available for tourists. In Thailand, I think some Buddhist temples allow it.
Check this forum :

#14 bubibi has been a member since 2/10/2009. Posts: 9

Posted by DLuek on 5/10/2009 at 00:02 TF writer


I know how you feel. Last time I travelled for 5 months my girlfriend and I had so much to do before leaving that we didn't sleep for 2 days. It can be stressful, and I didn't mean to downplay your concerns.

While I don't know of any commune type places (although I've heard they exist) in Thailand, I have some experience with monasteries. I spent a couple weeks at Wat Sanghathan just north of Bangkok last May, and had a very good experience there. It's a fairly large, traditional monastery in the Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada Buddhism, set over a large semi-wooded area that was once a durian plantation. At the time I was there I was the only foreign meditator, but they do usually have a few in residence, and an American monk named Phra Frank does an outstanding job with helping the foreigners and providing them with meditation instruction in English. There is also a German nun associated with Wat Sanghathan who is very well respected and she provides teachings in English as well. Wat Sanghathan has two branch monasteries, one in central Thailand near Phitsanulouk, and another near Khao Yai National Park. These are both smaller and in more remote settings. I believe the center at Khao Yai offers week-long retreats starting the 1st of each month (although I think you can stay at any of the centers virtually any time). If you're looking for a traditional monastery where you'd be mainly around Thai people, any of these may be a good choice. The website for Wat Sangathan and it's branches is:

I've also spent time at Wat Nong Pah Pong outside of Ubon Ratchathani far out in the east of the country. While this is mainly a Thai-speaking monastery with no nuns in residence, a nearby branch monastery, Wat Pah Nanachat, was founded by western disciples of Ajahn Chah, and English is the chief language used for all instruction. Like Wat Sanghathan, this is a traditional forest monastery, and you would need to take on 8 precepts and take part in the daily routine of the monastery (also you may have to write a hand-written letter to reserve accommodation in advance). Wat Pah Nanachat, along with several other monasteries in the lineage of Ajahn Chah from all over the world can be found on the web at:

There are also several other monasteries/centers that offer instruction in English throughout Thailand. Some of the more popular ones amongst foreigners are Wat Suan Mokh near Surat Thani in the south (, Wat Doi Suthep, which sits on a mountain overlooking Chiang Mai (, Thailand Vipassana Center also near Phitsanulouk (, and Wat Kow Tahm on Koh Phangan (

A good site that describes and gives directions to several monasteries/centers throughout Thailand is

Happy researching,


#15 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,298
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Posted by DLuek on 5/10/2009 at 00:17 TF writer

I misspelled the Wat Suan Mokkh. It's

#16 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,298
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Posted by mitchell456 on 5/10/2009 at 08:39

Thanks bubibi and thank you DL (and for your sensitivity). for so many great leads :)

I have plenty to research now - much appreciated.

Ive worked in child protection for some time and was wondering if anyone here knows much about that (perhaps Cambodia, but Thailand or Indonesia if you know of it). Do I need to take my clearance papers, should I contact them in advance or is it accepted to just turn up and lend a hand? Ive heard that some orphanages prefer longer term workers so the lives of the kids arent (any more than they already have been) disrupted. Do you know about this?

warme regards
Michelle (Oz)

#17 mitchell456 has been a member since 26/9/2009. Location: Australia. Posts: 18

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