- Flight booking: some Indonesian airlines (like Express Air) will not accept non-Indonesian credit or debit cards. Therefore you will need to use a local agent to make a reservation for you. I have booked number of flights via an agent in Makassar, Mr Lili from Cempeka Travel. He was very helpful – he always provided me with choices, prices and times of the flights. I only gave him names, times and destinations and he reserved the tickets. As soon as he reserved he sent me PayPal link to pay the invoice. As soon as I paid, within few hours I received an email with PDF flight etickets. I only presented those bookings at the airport and it was all fine.
- Malaria: Many books and doctors inform about malaria risk in Sulawesi. I think every tourist MUST take precautions as malaria is a very serious illness. Ask the locals in every area you travel about the malaria risk, they will tell you. Don't forget to carry own mosquito net as some places do not offer one. Many people told me that Dengue is quite spread disease. It is also transmitted by mosquito.
- Sunshine: even when it is cloudy, make sure you put sunblock as you might get seriously burnt.
- Currents in Bira: I would suggest you only ask about diving and snorkeling the divers in Bira (dive instructors and the divers living there) as the Bira is famous for very strong currents which might be very dangerous. There has been already some dive accidents, when 5 Japanese divers were swept out and away from Cape Bira. Take extra precautions around Kambing Island.
- Baboons: on a way to Bara beach, via the forest path, you might be encountered with baboons. Be aware and careful. If you decide to climb a hill view point (from Bira Village), you might find baboons too. Stay calm and distanced.
- Motorbike hire: if you are staying in Bira for few days, I would suggest you rent a motorbike (ask at Salassa guesthouse in Bira) and you just tour round small villages (drop me an email and I will send you a map). Always ask for the directions if you are not sure. And when you ask, re-confirm it with another passer-by!
- Language Barrier: always carry with you basic Indonesian Phrases (for the directions) as it will be very useful for you becasue not many people in the villages speak English (drop me an email and I will send you basic Indonesian).
- Food: I experienced that the best lunches were in small local paces, called Warungs. When you enter village and you want to have lunch, just ask for Warung (have ready some basic food phrases). The portions are enormous and the prices are local.
- Photography: I found out that people in Sulawesi like when the picture is taken of themselves or they ask to take picture with you. Be patient and take picture with people if they ask you. Sometimes it took me like 1 hour session when the whole family of 20 people wanted to have a picture taken.
- Money Exchange and ATMs: I would suggest to change money in Makassar airport – they offer good rates and they always have enough money to be changed. There is no money exchange in Bira, Bau Bau or Wakatobi. There are ATMs in Bira and Bau Bau, but if you need to exchange cash then you must do it in Makassar. There is no ATM in Hoga Island, you find ATMs in Wanci.
This is me collecting valuable information for all of you...Travellers around Sulawesi and Wakatobi:)
Monday, 9 July 2012
USEFUL TIPS for travelling in Sulawesi