Travel Advice

INSURANCE

Please take care of your own insurance. Your national travel agent or the office that sells the plane ticket should advice you. What we will do is to make sure that resources are available in the form of transport, medical care, pharmacies etc in case of need.

FLIGHT

The first recorded flight from Amsterdam to Jakarta, then Batavia, by KLM took place in 1923, incredibly enough with a single-engine plane. Scheduled passenger flights started in 1929. The airplane model then was Fokker FVII with three propeller engines. The plane was built of plywood and canvas on metal tubes, and of course the cabin was not pressurised. Cruising altitude was about 3000m and the pilot found his way by following highways, railway lines, coast lines etc.

By 1938 the flights were regular, using the iconic, all-metal twin-engine Dakota DC3, designed in 1936 (many DC3s are still flying). The pilot would follow well-known land marks and when evening came he would look for a suitable airfield. The first touch-down from Amsterdam might be Sofia or Belgrade. The passengers would disembark, go in to town for a dinner of local delicacies and sleep in a hotel bed, while the pilot and co-pilot looked after the plane. The next morning the plane took off again, perhaps to Aleppo, and so on. The trip took seven days.

Today Garuda Indonesia makes the flight in 15-16 hrs.

In 2007 EU issued a ban, for safety reasons, on Garuda and all other Indonesian airlines to fly into Europe. This caused irritation in some Indonesian quarters, to say the least. But eventually the outcome was positive. A dedicated effort went into improved safety and efficiency. EU lifted the ban after two years, and Garuda has for all practical purposes been accident-free since then. For the domestic flights in our travel packages we only propose Garuda or its affiliate, low-fare Citylink.

THE LANGUAGE, BAHASA INDONESIA

Bahasa Indonesia is the national language of Indonesia. The country has more than 17,000 islands of which about 7,000 are said to be inhabited. It is also said that there are more than 700 langages. To communicate with each other across the many language barriers the Indonesians use Bahasa Indonesia, which for that reason is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world!

It has its roots in classical Malay spoken at royal courts in the old days, and it has been the lingua franca of the archipelago for hundreds of years. The languages in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei are very similar. With the Independence in 1945 it was declared the National Language. The reality is that a majority of Indonesians learn B I at school as second language after the language in the region where they are born. You can make yourself understood with B I practically everywhere in the country

In that light it is a blessing that B I is easy to learn. The point is to learn words, the vocabulary. We foreigners are often helped by the big volume of loans in B I, from Portugese, Spanish, Dutch and more and more English. (Aside from that there are many loans from Sanskrit, Arabic and Chinese, obviously people have been travelling around here ever since!).

Gender is seldom marked in B I. Mostly the word is the same regardless of gender (e g He and She are both Dia, Swedish “hen”. ). There is no special plural form – sometimes you mark plural by just repeating the word, like kanak-kanak children. Grammar can be said to be “absent” or next to it – once you have accumulated a certain number of words you make yourself understood by placing the words in the suitable order – syntax. – A very nice discovery you will make is that Indonesians tend to shine up when you try some Indonesian words and they will be happy to explain to you how you should really say.

On arrival we will provide you with a two-page list of words and phrases that will hopefully help you around for a start. Pronunciation is relatively easy – it follows the spelling quite closely.

PRACTICALITIES

Please bring your mobile phone. And take normal care to avoid losing it!

Mobile phone coverage is usually good in cities, towns and along major highways.

An sms to Sweden will cost SEK 4.10

We will provide you – if you wish – with a sim card of an Indonesian operator when you arrive, with IDR50.000 prepaid. You need to inform us beforehand about your chip size – micro or regular. (A local sms costs IDR350.) You can fill up your account in stalls along the road or most everywhere, just ask for pulsa.

The sim card we give you will have numbers you need if you wish to contact us. (We will of course note down your number so that we can reach you in case.)

Country code to Sweden is +46, to Indonesia +62, area code for Jakarta (0)21.

The Indonesian currency is Rupiah or IDR. In mid-October 2017 the exchange rate is about

1US$ = 13 500 IDR
1SEK = 1 650 IDR

ATM (bankomat) can be found easily in cities and towns. Please note that the bank in Sweden or elsewhere may charge a certain amount every time you use your card for cash withdrawal – this varies between banks. (SEB in Sweden, for example, charges SEK35 each time you withdraw in Indonesia; this is regardless of the amount you take out.)

HEALTH

Based on personal experience I would say that it is easy to catch cold in tropical urban settings – you walk around and get hot and wet with sweat, and then you step into an office or a shop or a restaurant with air-conditioners at full blast!

You may wish to go to a clinic to update your vaccinations before you go. Please let the doctor advice about what I mention below:

Stomach problems: an Indonesian drinking-water revolution has generally put an end to that – bottled water is available practically everywhere, so the problem is narrowed down to watching out for poor hygiene in poorly managed eateries – or just stay away from them.

Dengue and malaria, both are mosquito-born, and there is no vaccine for them. Both are unpleasant to say the least. (I have had malaria twice and dengue four times so I know.) Dengue is more common here in Indonesia than malaria. As to malaria one can take pills as prevention. Nobody I know does so, because the malaria problem is quite limited. And some pills are said to have negative side effects. The best thing to do is to avoid mosquito bites as much as possible. The mosquitoes are usually most active in the evening. You should expose as little skin as possible, and use mosquito repellent and mosquito coils/ incense, plus a mosquito net at night, . In the daytime there is usually much less of a problem, but watch out for mosquitoes inside houses, for example under tables or chairs where they may seek refuge from heat and desiccation.

Hepatitis is rare, but please talk to the doctor in the clinic where you get your vaccinations! The cause is different kinds of virus spread through poor hygiene. There is vaccine available against types A and B. Note that the vaccination needs at least two weeks to take effect.

ALCOHOL – Indonesia is very much influenced by Islam, and Islam does not allow or does not encourage the consumption of alcohol. Nevertheless beer is available most everywhere and in particular in areas visited by tourists. (There are three indigenous brands that I know of: Anker, Bintang and Bali Hai. I cannot judge on their relative quality. Well chilled they all work fine as thirst quenchers. )

Stronger stuff is available in hotels and restaurants for tourists, and a few supermarkets. Alcohol is expensive in Indonesia.

A local brew is prepared by tapping the juice from the inflorescence of a palm that grows wild in some forest areas, and then fermenting it in bamboo containers or clay jars. Sometimes it is coloured red by means of some herb. Another kind of “home brew” is based on rice fermented in clay jars. When still “young” the brew is cloudy. After storage for some weeks it clears up and tastes better. It plays an important role for example in Dayak ceremonies, where it is called Tuak. In Bali a similar drink is called Arak. (My personal experience with tuak is not so good; it is apparently quite acidic and I react with hyperacidity, not to mention the headache.)

The Swedish Embassy came out with a warning early 2014 after a young Swede had died in Bali from consuming methyl alcohol (träsprit) without realising, sold as drinkable alcohol for an attractive price in a bottle that apparently looked genuine. So there is a reason for being watchful.

NEED TO KNOW BEFORE THE TOUR

It may rain, we are often in the rain forest. Bring a light plastic raincoat with hood for your head. You will only use it during down-pours, so it does not have to be very sturdy. Bring plastic bags with some gadget for closing them well, where you can keep cameras, passport etc dry in your backpack, and a rain-proof cover for your backpack. (Umbrellas in the forest are not practical.)

A pad, e g of plastic foam, to sit on when resting – in the forest the ground is always moist.

Bring a towel, or better two, big enough so you can wrap them around your neck, to wipe sweat and protect against sunburn.

A wide-brimmed hat is nice when the sun is strong – can usually be found along the road or in the market.

Long-sleeve shirts and jeans for the trekking, shorts and light sandals or slippers for resting in the camps.

Mosquito repellant and shampoo – but they are not allowed in your hand-carried luggage. Personal medicine, band aide, A small knife is always useful, but remember that you have to stow it in your check-in luggage.

Boots or canvas shoes (like Converse, but high enough). Make sure you have tried them out or worn them in already. Woollen socks.

Torch light or head lamp with extra battery, to find your way to the toilet at night.

Camera with accessories, maybe an extra battery if you take plenty of pictures, mobile phone, power bank – there is seldom any signal once we are inside the forest, but in the towns there is. Recharging batteries may be difficult when camping in the forest. In the villages there is electricity.

We provide tents where needed, mattresses, bed sheets, mosquito nets, lamps, leach socks, life vests, pillows or cushions for boat rides etc

Our Tours

  • Get-away Jungle Craft
    We visit a Dayak tribe to observe how they maintain their connections with nature and traditions
  • Trekking in Gunung Leuser
    GUNUNG LEUSER is one of the biggest remaining areas of unspoiled nature in the world.
  • Rainforest Knowledge
    […]
  • Livelihood in Gunung Leuser
    We follow the main road along the Geumpang River, from Ketambe and upstreams towards Blangkejeren, making stops along the road to visit farmers and farms.
  • Banda Aceh One-day Tour
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  • Carita Beach and Krakatau Volcano
    Sea the panorama, the beauty and expanse of sea and white sand, and a dormant volcano with a violent past of Banten, West Java.
  • Bali Classic
    Land in Denpasar, rest in comfort at a beach resort, swim in the sea, listen to explanations regarding Balinese culture and other Balinese traits you will encounter later.
  • Sulawesi Toraja Tour
    Toraja is an area in south-central Sulawesi,and also the name of an ethnic group, famous for intricate funeral rites and for spectacular, very unique, housing architecture.
  • Komodo Archipelago Odyssey
    Komodo has become famous for the Komodo Dragon, the biggest lizard on earth, but it deserves visiting also for its archipelago with islands all around the horizon, and for its diving waters with corals and Manta Ray.
  • Into Dayak Country
    An unfogettable experience in the forests and on the rivers and lakes in the interior of Borneo, or the Heart of Borneo, in the company of the people who live there.
  • Heart of Borneo
    This trip is a combination of boating, trekking, jungle camping and staying with Dayak tribes, the indigenous people of Borneo in the places where they live.