Bali, though just a small island, caters to all tastes and expectations. There is the luxury of Sanur, the seclusion of Nusa Dua and the hectic pace of Kuta and Legian. Bali Java Getting Started will help to prepare you for trip to Bali and Java.
Most of the tourist areas are on beaches : Kuta, Sanur, Nusa Dua, Lovina and Candi Dasa. Ubud, in the Balinese heartland, is the exception. The quality of accommodation and eating places in Bali is very high these days, while there are still plenty of the older establishments left over from Bali’s days as a backpackers paradise. How Bali has changed. The accent is now on the up-market tourist who wants a good pool, good food and a comfortable room. The cheaper places are being upgraded to stay in the market.
Kuta, Sanur and Nusa Dua are all close to the airport and Denpasar at the southern end of the island. Candi Dasa is 80km away on the east coast and Lovina is 100km away on the north coast. Candi Dasa and Lovina cater to travellers who are after a quieter beach in terms of number of people and the water itself. Room rates are often a bit lower.
For those wanting to absorb the true rhythm of Bali, Ubud offers the Arts, culture and beautiful landscapes in a cooler village setting.
The thing that strikes a Westerner on his or her: visit to a developing country is the radical differences in our ways of life. Shopping and driving are two good examples. In the West fixed prices prevail but are rare in Indonesia. And the rules of the road in Bali or Java bear little similarity to those of Western countries, except possibly Italy.
If you really want to, you can easily be shielded from the dust, car exhaust and noise but they are part of the attraction for many. Nusa Dua caters well to those who want to be pampered. At Kuta you are in the middle of it. Java is different again. Slower but much bigger and people everywhere. Over 1,000 km from the ferry at Gilimanuk to Jakarta in the west, while Bali is a 100 km by 200 km diamond with 4 million people compared to 100 million.
Bali’s Climate and Clothing
Bali has a beautiful climate. Always warm with cool sea breezes and hill country. Java is hotter and more humid, and the wet season is more of a nuisance because the towns are bigger and flatter. The clothes that you take should be light cotton or poly-cotton tops with short sleeves and light pants, slacks or skirts. A warm long-sleeve shirt or light sweater is good for the highlands and the drive to and from the airport back home. Quite conservative dress is the norm in Java, while Bali is much more casual, especially by the beach. For both Balinese and Javanese it is normal for one’s legs to be covered whenever you are away from your house or hotel room. A length of batik wrapped around you the waist is suitable for men and women and shows the locals that you care, especially at Balinese temples.
The temperature is relatively stable throughout the year if you are near the coast, ranging from around 21 °c —34°c (75°f — 90°f) daily. The rainy season is generally around Christmas and lasts for three months. It is much dryer by the coast. Good months to go are around October and April.
Clothes and Medicine to Take
As well as light clothes take a pair of shoes such as runners sandshoes, swimwear (not green), skin moisturizer, U.V. blockout, antibiotic cream or powder, bandaids. insect repellent, soap, toilet paper and anti-diarrhoea tablets such as lomitol. Just in case, all of the above medicinals are available from an Indonesian pharmacy or ‘apotik’.
Also take a light towel, sunglasses, sunvisor, a small rucksack for day trips, torch/flashlight.
Vaccinations and Eating Out in Indonesia
Bali, the ever-dynamic isle of festivals, greets you with a vista of blue water and swaying palms. Whether your first look is when the plane dips its wings over Kuta reef or sunrise as your bus rolls off the ferry from Java, you can feel the excitement growing within. Bali Java before you go.
You are here at last, or more than likely for the second or third time. Bali, though only a small island, offers something for everyone – water sports, hiking, cycling, arts and crafts, magnificent food, breathtaking scenery, discos and most important of all, the Balinese people. Java, with its ancient temples, Kraton culture, batik and gamelan and numerous volcanoes, is harder travelling as it caters less to foreign tourists.
All international visitors to Indonesia need a passport valid for six months from date of entry and a ticket out of the country. Most Westerners and South-East Asians don’t require a visa beforehand to obtain a tourist permit on arrival from immigration – Visa on Arrival.
No vaccinations are formally required for visitors who arrive from Australia, Western Europe or North America, though some are recommended. Localised outbreaks of cholera and typhoid occur in Bali and Java, so both of these are suggested if staying long-term. Hepatitis A is also recommended.
With regards malaria, there is a thorough mosquito/ malaria eradication programme in force on Bali and Java so malaria is rare. Besides, malaria tablets have limited effectiveness. However, should you be travelling to other islands, especially out towards Papua do take malaria tablets as malaria is common in that area.
A wide variety of cuisine is served in Bali and Java, ranging from traditional sate and gado-gado to hamburgers, croissants and a-la-carte. In Bali there are many bar/ restaurants serving European, Indonesian, Chinese and seafood and/ or alcohol. Most Indonesian and Chinese meals are based on rice or noodles with meat and vegetables. Dessert is rare.
Traditional small Balinese or Javanese restaurants are called ‘warung’ where a smorgasborg-type selection is served by the proprietor.
Another popular Indonesian cuisine is ‘ Padang’ where you serve yourself. Padang is named after a town in Sumatra. A multitude of small dishes of different courses are stacked high in the front window of a typical Indonesian restaurant. Normally, when you enter the restaurant, one of each of the courses is placed before you on the table. You pay for what you eat. If you start any dish where there aren’t easily divisible pieces (such as fried chicken) you have to pay for the whole dish. It is best to share with others if you try Rendang and other Padang specialities.
Bali Java Getting Started
Bargaining in Indonesia
Bargaining is very common in Indonesia. The amount the price can drop varies with the type of shop, the item purchased and the time of year. Souvenirs such as batik cloth, t-shirts and wood carvings can sometimes be bought for half of the starting price. though of course this depends on the starting price. On the other hand, up-market boutiques, cassette shops, most shops in Denpasar and shops in major hotels have fixed prices (harga pas).
Because of this confusing situation, it is suggested to spend the first few days just browsing, assessing prices and quality. Bargaining techniques are outlined in more detail on page and in two of the language dialogues.
Office Hours in Indonesia
Government offices open from 8.00am to 3.00pm : from Monday to Thursday, from 8.00am to 11.30am on Friday and from 8.00am to 2.00pm on Saturday.
Banks open from either 8.00 or 8.30am to Noon or 2.00pm from Monday to Saturday. Business offices open from 8.00 or 9.00am to 4.00 or 5.00pm and possibly on Saturday morning.
Time Zones in Indonesia
Bali and Java are in different time zones. Java is one hour later than Bali.
Changing Money in Indonesia
Credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, Diners or American Express are widely accepted in Bali at the more up-market shops, restaurants and hotels.
In Bali, money changers give the best rate, while in Java one of the following banks can be found in most towns: Bank BNI, Bank BRI, Bank BCA, Bank Mandiri, CIMB Niaga.
ATM machines are NOT CONSIDERED SAFE unless they are in a special area that is under 24hr security, due to the possibility of skimming of your data. The best ATM machines are inside any of the banks listed above.
Tipping in Indonesia
Tipping is not required in Indonesia. Government taxes and service charges are included in package holidays or are added to the bill in up-market establishments if you arrange it yourself on a pay as you go basis.
Voltage in Bali and most major towns in Java is 200-240 volts (50 cycles). Other areas with local power generators that haven’t been converted may be 11O volts. The plug has two round prongs and no earth, so be careful if the floor is wet. Adapters are available at most duty free shops. Some losmen in Java don’t have sockets in the room.
Photography Tips for Indonesia
Bali is like paradise for photographers because there is so much beauty, colour and smiling faces.
Most Indonesian’s don’t mind having their photos taken, but if you want to take close-ups you should ask permission. Just a simple “may I?”. Give people a little space.
Don’t crowd them when they are at ceremonies. Photography is allowed in most places of worship, but avoid using a flash where possible. You shouldn’t take photos of the military or people bathing.
Avoid taking photos between 11 am and 2pm as the glare is too strong. If you do, use a polarising filter. At other times, use a sun-screen filter.
Types of Accommodation in Indonesia
On both islands places to stay range from First Class luxury with 24 hour room service and swimming pool to budget ‘losmen or penginapan’ used by poorer Indonesians and Western backpackers. On Bali most accommodation is by the beach, while on Java it is in the larger towns as beach resorts are limited.
Big discounts apply to package tourists to Bali so it is a preferred way to travel. If you haven’t made bookings the best time to arrive somewhere is around lunch-time so that those who are checking out have left and there are still rooms available.
The cheapest places to stay often have squat toilets without an automatic flush and manual dipper showers, so be prepared for very different facilities if you plan to do it cheaply.
Medical Advice and First Aid for Indonesia
In a tropical climate, all cuts and abrasions have to be treated carefully, and usually with anti-biotics if your injury comes in contact with non-sterilized water. Kimia Farma is a pharmacist/chemist with branches in most towns in Indonesia. It also markets pharmaceutical products under the same name. Medical advice for Indonesia:
Take with you a small First Aid and Medicine Kit containing sterile gauze, antibiotic cream (mycin), antibiotic powder and waterproof band-aids.
If something serious happens, go straight to the nearest hospital. The Emergency or Outpatient Section is usually reliable and well-equipped, and very moderately priced. Should a serious illness develop, get on the first available plane home. Complications are too common to risk it.
Avoid sunbaking between 11am and 2pm. At other times use an ultra violet sunscreen. UV sunscreen/blockout is expensive in Indonesia, so take it with you.
Upset Stomach and the Water
Upset stomach and diarrhoea (Bali Belly)are dreaded by all travellers to Indonesia and other developing countries. If you take a few precautions it can be kept to a minimum. Diarrhoea is usually caused by too many chillies in the food, or seafood and meat that hasn’t been properly refrigerated. It occurs soon after eating, lasts for a day and then goes away. The highest risk is from shrimps/prawns.
Far more serious than any of these are stomach problems caused by water that hasn’t been boiled long enough. This may result in amoebic dysentery. The usual signs are intense abdominal pain and constant diarrhoea. In Indonesia, if you are offered water to drink or it is in a container such as a teapot or a thermos flask, it is pretty safe to assume that it has been boiled, because Indonesians suffer the same problems. The exception is water from travelling vendors who may not have adequate facilities to boil it. Be especially careful in Jakarta and Surabaya because travelling food vendors sometimes use water from open canals to wash the dishes and utensils due to an acute water shortage.
The best remedy for diarrhoea is to eat only boiled rice. If it is persistent, drink water with salt and sugar to replace bodily fluids and prevent dehydration.
When brushing your teeth, use boiled water or at least rinse out your mouth with it afterwards.
It has recently been discovered that raspberry cordial drink will stop diarrhoea. Concentrated cordial powder is now available in Australia or you can buy liquid cordial in Indonesia if need be.
Dogs and monkeys, two animals that are thought of as being friendly in the West, can be very vicious in Asia. Because Dogs aren’t usually regarded as pets in Indonesia they aren’t patted and cuddled. The result is that when you go to pat them they will snarl and may bite you.
This can be extremely dangerous as there is rabies in Indonesia. If bitten go straight to the nearest doctor or hospital.
The Monkey Forests at Ubud or Mengwi are beautiful places to visit but watch out for the monkeys. If you have seen the American Express advertisement set at a temple in Thailand you will know why. The reason that the monkey took the bag was that it probably thought there was food inside. Feed the largest male first and then the others. Don’t go too near the very young ones or their mother may defend them. Don’t put any food in your pocket or bag. Show them your empty hands when you have no food left and they will soon go away.
PERSONAL SAFETY IN INDONESIA
It is always best for your personal safety in Indonesia to leave your valuables at the hotel rather than carry them with you. This applies all over Indonesia. Bag snatching does occur. As long as your room door is locked at all times you have no need to worry.
If you are staying at the same place for a week or so, deposit your passport and other valuables with the manager and write down what you have given him.
Leave it at home as Balinese love to slip off your rings and try them on for size. They will give them back but you will worry about how to ask them without offending.
Put your money in your bag while still inside the bank. Separate the money into two groups. One wad of less than $50 for daily use so that you don’t flash a great pile of money all the time, and so draw attention to yourself and risk theft. Keep another $100 in another pocket.
Indonesian Law for Foreigners
The three most important aspects of Indonesian law for foreigners are road rules, immigration and drug enforcement. Rules of the Road are outlined separately, and immigration restrictions are hard to flaunt because your passport details must be given whenever you rent a room.
Of greatest concern to Indonesian authorities is the fact that Bali has become known as a drug haven and that drug abuse is no longer restricted to Westerners, but is also having a damaging effect on the youth of Indonesia. In the past year, Westerners have been sent to jail for periods of up to 15 years for possession of as little as one joint of marijuana. If you are caught trafficking, they throw away the key!
Many of the Indonesians offering drugs for sale on the beach are, in fact, police informers, and plain clothes police wander amongst the hotels at random. Mushrooms are also illegal, and of course narcotics are a real no-no.
Even more dangerous is attempting to take drugs back to the West, especially Australia, as all Australian airports have trained sniffer-dogs to detect drugs.
Another prohibited act in Bali is prostitution. Many Balinese are concerned about the spread of prostitution because it is not a part of their traditional culture and they consider it a degrading activity. Fortunately, as yet no Balinese girls have resorted to the oldest profession.
Extend Your Visa – Work or Study in Indonesia
It is possible to extend an Indonesian visa to work or study in Indonesia, and get a semi-permanent visitors visa. Jakarta and Yogyakarta are the easiest places to find out about positions. Living in Jakarta is really much like capital city living anywhere else. Extend Indonesian visa.
English teaching is open to all Australians, Canadians, Americans and British, being native speakers. Previous experience is not always necessary, and qualifications should include a Bachelor of Arts in English, but sometimes can be overlooked. Provided you live a reasonably Indonesian lifestyle, it is possible to earn enough to live in Jakarta and other major towns in Java. Consultants teaching Indonesian industry workers offer the best money and often placements outside of Jakarta. Extend Indonesian visa.
As a student on a formal campus you are quite restricted, and need a very advanced level of written and spoken Indonesian, so subjects most commonly studied include traditional dance, gamelan and Bahasa Indonesia. Jogja is a good place to study because it is a student town, and its cost of living is one of the lowest in Indonesia. Also it is possible to tutor Indonesian students in English on the side.
In Bali, Ubud or Peliatan are good places to stay if you want to devote a few months to learning Balinese dance or gamelan.