10 April - RPS Partnership
Travelling to Indonesia?
Indonesia is a popular tourist destination, and one which is visited by hundreds of foreigners each year. The culture, the weather and the sandy beaches are a huge draw to the thousands who will spend time on Bali, Java and other islands in the area.
It is still important to be aware of the main risks, whether on holiday or working. Crime, terrorism and natural disasters are real risks and should not be underestimated; but they must be kept in perspective to the likelihood of them happening.
Below is a brief outline of the risks with advice on how best to avoid them and have a pleasant stay in Indonesia.
The risk of crime such as pick-pocketing, having bags and jewellery snatched while walking, and credit card fraud is a risk and more common in some areas than others. Criminal gangs have also been reported to sell alcohol contaminated with methanol which has been sold in packaging that replicates well-known brands. Several people have died from this. Sexual assault and robberies have also occurred due to other counts of drink spiking in Bali, Lombok and Gili Island.
Advice: Maintain a low profile and avoid overt display of wealth.Be aware of what you take with you when walking in touristy and other crowded areas and stay alert. Be aware of drink spiking and do not accept any drinks from strangers. Make sure that you can watch your drink being made.
There is a high risk of terrorism in Indonesia as in Europe, and attacks have happened which targeted public and crowded places. The holidays and other public events are at particular risk.
Advice: Stay away from public places and large gatherings of people, especially on Christmas and New Year (late December), Chinese New Year (next on 25th of January 2020), Nyepi (Balinese New Year; next on 25-26 March 2020), Easter (19th of April – public holiday), Ramadan (May 6 to June 3 2019), elections (17th of April 2019) and Independence Day (17 August).
The risk of natural disasters in Indonesia is high, and the island nation is situated on a ring of fire in the pacific. The most common and severe are volcano eruptions, tsunamis, flash floods (monsoon season November to March), earthquakes and forest fires (dry season – April to September).
Advice: Pay attention to local news and guides and follow their guidance. Be aware of safety precautions in areas of high risks of natural disasters.
Other areas for thought
Legal system: The rule of law in Indonesia is not always as strong as you imagine, and corruption is not uncommon. It is also a conservative country, and there is a strict zero tolerance policy on possessing, trafficking or manufacturing drugs. The police are known to raid venues foreigners go to, and you may be forced to take a blood or urine test. Gambling is also illegal.
Advice: Follow local rules and laws and avoid taking drugs and gambling.
Transport: Public transportation can be a problem in terms of crime, extortionate pricings and even sexual violence; this risk is higher for women. Ferries can also be dangerous; in 2017 alone, the Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency recorded 1687 boat accidents resulting in 680 deaths. There have also been attacks against ships in and around the waters of Indonesia, especially in the Sulu and Celebes seas.
Advice: use registered taxi companies such as Bluebird, Silverbird or Express group. Avoid using ferries that are overfilled, ensure you know where your lifejacket is on the ferry..
Culture: Indonesia is conservative, so do cover up when walking around.
Advice: Cover up to show respect; wear long sleeved tops and bottoms, and consider a shawl to cover your hair when entering a holy place like a mosque. Bali is Hindu and may not be as conservative as are the islands offshore.
There tends to be more mosquitos around water, so be aware of this if you are in a flooded area or near the coast.
During the monsoon season there is also a risk of dengue fever. Recently there has also been a small outbreak of vaccine-derived version of polio on Papua New Guinea with spread to Indonesia. The World Health Organization has assessed the risk to be low.
A few people get bad cases of diarrhoea and vomiting, so ensure you drink clean water and eat freshly cooked food, not food that has been standing on the hot plate for hours.
Advice: Make sure you have taken all the necessary vaccines, including relevant polio vaccinations before you travel. Make sure to have documents stating what vaccines you have taken with you. Take mosquito repellent with you as this is good against sand flies on the beach.
RPS Partnership has just returned from working in Indonesia, so do contact us should you require any advice or training on firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: RPS Partnership on Java and Bali, Indonesia