Tips for Ad­ven­tur­ers in Re­mote In­done­sia

Indonesia Expat - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Ham­bali

Across In­done­sia's 17,000 plus is­lands, there is some­thing for ev­ery­one – even the pick­i­est of trav­ellers. As the coun­try opens up fur­ther to for­eign tourists, vis­i­tors are find­ing that the beau­ti­ful des­ti­na­tions span far be­yond Bali and Pa­pua.

Many lo­ca­tions which show­case the coun­try's most exquisite scener­ies are not lo­cated on the beaten paths of Ubud or Bromo Moun­tain. Na­gari Par­i­an­gan in West Su­ma­tra, for ex­am­ple, has been named one of the best vil­lages in the world by Bud­get Travel. Bali's Mun­duk vil­lage or Baduy vil­l­lage in Ban­ten also of­fer unique ex­pe­ri­ences for any adventurer.

There are seem­ingly end­less hid­den gems just wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered across the ar­chi­pel­ago. But trav­el­ling to them may not be an easy task, es­pe­cially for for­eign­ers with lim­ited knowl­edge. Here are some tips to help you get the best out of your trav­els.

1. Have re­li­able lo­cal con­tacts

Trav­el­ling to Jakarta or any other ma­jor city in In­done­sia may not re­quire the help of a lo­cal as many cit­i­zens speak English. How­ever, ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion is still lim­ited in most re­mote ar­eas, so for­eign­ers will likely ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fi­cul­ties in com­mu­ni­cat­ing.

Trav­el­ling in a tour group with guides, tourists may not face many trou­bles with a lan­guage bar­rier, but for in­de­pen­dent trav­ellers it is a dif­fer­ent story. In re­mote ar­eas, lo­cal ex­per­tise is of­ten needed not only for com­mu­ni­cat­ing, but also to help with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, trans­port ser­vices and price bar­gain­ing.

For­eign tourists should keep in mind that while prices are lower, par­tic­u­larly at street stalls, most ven­dors will push for higher prices from for­eign­ers. Bar­gain­ing skills are es­sen­tial and it may be bet­ter to ask a lo­cal friend to get you the best deal.

2. Al­ways be pre­pared

Although com­mu­ni­ties in re­mote ar­eas are mov­ing quickly to keep up with technology, many vil­lages are still with­out ac­cess to in­ter­net or even elec­tric­ity.

To sur­vive days with­out WiFi ac­cess, vis­i­tors may want to buy a lo­cal SIM card for emer­gency use. Lo­cal telco providers usu­ally charge around Rp.70,000 (US$ 5.27) for 5 GB of data.

ATMs are also harder to find and trans­ac­tions are more likely to be done in cash. For­eign­ers and lo­cal tourists are ad­vised to bring cash for all trans­ac­tions.

Most roads in re­mote ar­eas are not well main­tained. How­ever, there are still plenty of op­tions to get around. Rent­ing mo­tor­bikes can be an op­tion on bet­ter roads. Prices for mo­tor­bike rentals through­out the coun­try range from Rp.66,000 (US$ 5) per day or be­tween Rp.265,000 and Rp.330,000 (US$20 to US$25) per week.

An­other safer al­ter­na­tive is to hire mo­tor­bike driv­ers but be sure to hag­gle for a rea­son­able price.

3. Be smart, savvy and safe

Lev­els of crime in the ar­chi­pel­ago as a whole are rel­a­tively mod­er­ate with pick­pock­et­ing and theft be­ing the most re­ported crimes.

That said, the type of crime dif­fers in each area of In­done­sia. In Pa­pua and West Pa­pua prov­inces, fre­quent vi­o­lent clashes oc­cur be­tween antigov­ern­ment groups and au­thor­i­ties amid po­lit­i­cal ten­sions. Per­mits from the Na­tional Po­lice Head­quar­ters in Jakarta are of­ten re­quired for for­eign­ers to travel to the area.

Maluku, Aceh and Cen­tral Su­lawesi are also prov­inces which re­quire vis­i­tors to be on high alert.

4. Stay fit and healthy dur­ing your trav­els

Un­like ma­jor cities like Jakarta, Surabaya or in Bali, re­mote ar­eas come with very lim­ited health­care op­tions. Ru­ral ar­eas of In­done­sia are prone to malaria, dengue fever, cholera and ty­phoid.

Malaria and dengue fever are car­ried by mos­qui­toes, es­pe­cially in Pa­pua and West Pa­pua, North Maluku, East Nusa Teng­gara, North Su­ma­tra and Kal­i­man­tan.

Ad­di­tion­ally, ru­ral ar­eas of­ten have lim­ited ac­cess to ster­ile wa­ter and clean food which may lead to a cholera in­fec­tion or ty­phoid.

Gen­er­ally, pre­ven­tion is bet­ter than treat­ment and so trav­ellers are ad­vised to ob­tain travel in­sur­ance and get their vac­ci­na­tions prior to the trip. For dis­eases like malaria, tourists should bring mos­quito nets and long- sleeved cloth­ing to pre­vent mos­quito bites.

5. Get to know In­done­sia’s ge­og­ra­phy

Over the past 15 years, In­done­sia has made plenty of head­lines for its nat­u­ral dis­as­ters which have claimed thou­sands of lives.

Lo­cated along the no­to­ri­ous Ring of Fire, the ar­chi­pel­ago is prone to earth­quakes, tsunamis and vol­canic erup­tions. Moun­tain­ous re­gions are also prone to land­slides and flood­ing.

In­done­sia boasts the world's most ac­tive vol­ca­noes, num­ber­ing 129, and which, while part of the coun­try's unique sights for trav­ellers, can be dan­ger­ous with re­search show­ing at least one sig­nif­i­cant erup­tion each year. Evac­u­a­tions of com­mu­ni­ties within a 6- kilo­me­tre ra­dius are stan­dard dur­ing erup­tions. Read­ers are ad­vised to check lo­cal news re­ports be­fore plan­ning travel.

6. Study up on social and re­li­gious tra­di­tions

In­done­sia is one of the world's most di­verse coun­tries with over 1,340 dif­fer­ent cul­tures and re­li­gions, all with their own tra­di­tions. When trav­el­ling the coun­try, one must rel­ish not just the nat­u­ral beau­ties of the land­scape but also the gen­er­ous hos­pi­tal­ity of lo­cal res­i­dents.

To get the most out of the ex­pe­ri­ence, it is im­por­tant to study the ba­sics of tra­di­tions and lan­guage of the des­ti­na­tion. Tourists are ad­vised to wear ap­pro­pri­ate cloth­ing and avoid be­hav­iours which may be pro­hib­ited by host com­mu­ni­ties.

There are seem­ingly end­less hid­den gems just wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered across the ar­chi­pel­ago. But, trav­el­ling to them may not be an easy task, es­pe­cially for for­eign­ers with lim­ited knowl­edge. Here are some tips to help you get the best out of your trav­els.

Im­age via berke­ley.edu

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