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the route
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What are the roads like?

We’ve planned this trip to include a good variety of terrains and scenery including palm fringed coastal plains, traditional rice growing villages, and spectacular mountain valleys. The route includes the ‘musts’ of South Sulawesi such as Makassar, Tana Toraja, Sengkang and Bantimurung. It also includes lots of out of the way places such as the coast at Bunta Matabing, the traditional houses of Batu-Batu and the hot pools of Lejje and Camba.

What’s the traffic like?

Generally light. Makassar city and immediate environs is an exception. Also as you move into towns on the route traffic tends to thicken but nowhere does it reach problematic levels. And it thins as you move out of town.


Do we need to bring our own bikes?


Is hiring a bike an option?

Not at this stage.

Which style of bike would you recommend?

Hybrid. I would not bring a road bike. If you bring a mountain bike, go for 1.3”-1.7” slick tyres rather than nobby ones. However you may like to bring nobby tyres (and the right sized tubes) for the mountain biking that is available in Tana Toraja. Bike Fridays should be fine.

What do we do about spare parts?

The bike shops in Sulawesi have very limited ranges of stock. My strong suggestion is to bring spares of anything that you think you’ll need. Closer to departure I will distribute a list of spares and tools that we will carry.

Tyres and tubes?

ICC (Indonesian Cultural Communications) will carry a stock of tyres and tubes of the following sizes: YET TO BE DETERMINED These tubes will have presta (French) valves only and we will have a pump that handles presta and schraeder (car) valves.

Can we put our bags in the support vehicle?


How many spare tubes etc should we bring?

Let ICC know what sizes you’re using and we’ll let you know if they’ll be in our stock. If we will not have them in our stock, bring 4 (FOUR) spare tubes.

What sort of cycle shoes do you recommend?

I’ve worn regular cleated cycle shoes and found them to be okay. However if I could get a pair of really well aerated cycle shoes/sandals I’d take those.

What cycling clothes should we bring?

Cycle shorts, (cycle) top, sox and cycle shoes/sandals.

Should we bring bike lights?

Front and rear, yes. We’ll need the front light for at least the morning out of Sengkang when we’ll be leaving at 5 am.

Is there facility for re-charging bike lights?

Yes. They will be able to be recharged in most places. The power points take two pronged circular plugs. AA or AAA batteries are available in most places.

Bike locks?

In principle, yes. Ironically, I’ve always taken a lock but I’ve never used it because I’ve always kept my bike close to me or asked ‘street security’ to look after it while I’ve gone off to do something.

What are the bike shops like?

For our needs, very limited.

What technical skills will the support personnel have?

1. Changing and patching tubes
2. Adjusting brakes and gears
3. Adjusting and greasing bearings
4. Wheel true-ing
5. Replacing brake pads
6. Bleeding hydraulic brakes
7. Adjusting handlebars, stem and seat
8. Bike cleaning
9. Chain repair and replacing
10. Headset adjustment.


What non-bike stuff should we bring?

We’ll provide a WTBL (what to bring list) early October.


What clothing do you suggest we ride in?

Helmet, sunnies, cycle shorts, cycle shirt / t-shirt, cycle shoes/sandals.

What clothing should we bring for after riding?

Long baggy shorts, t-shirt, sandals, cap.

What are the “dress codes” that women, in particular, need to cater for?

Very generally Indonesians are more concerned with dress codes than Westerners are. However tourists are not expected to abide by their dress code. The most formal gear that you’ll need will be slacks / modest dress and a shirt with a collar and long sleeves. On the planned route there are no places that require long pants and long sleeved shirts. On the other hand if you plan to go to a government office or church or visit a family then the long daks and collared shirt will be the go. Regular cycle gear is fine for women.

Should we bring rain gear?

No. If we get wet when cycling after the rain has stopped we’ll dry out in a short time. If we’re not cycling umbrellas are usually available.

Should we bring a swimsuit?

Probably best to. But you can always swim in your cycle gear.

Should we bring lightweight, quick drying, bug-proof clothing?

Helmet, sunnies, cycle shorts, cycle shirt / t-shirt, cycle shoes/sandals.


What is the weather like in January?

See here for weather information.

Will there be mosquitoes?

In some places, yes. Riders will be supplied with coils for use in hotel rooms at night. These give off smoke that generally keep them at bay. Very few, if any, of the rooms have mosquito net frames. You should also bring some rub on mosquito repellant.

Will there be cooler weather anywhere (that we need to pack for)?

It will be cool (approx 22˙C) at Puncak (Saturday 17) and in Batutumongga (Sunday 18).


What sort of food will we be eating?

Breakfasts will be nasi goreng (fried rice) or sweet breads with tea and coffee. Lunches will be at warungs along the way. They will be rice or noodle based. Dinners will generally be fish, beef or chicken dishes. The support crew will be scouring the countryside for local fruits and local village snacks (kue kampung). There will be very little western food. Dairy produce will be light on.

What extras should we bring?

I never take any ‘extras’ but if you expect you’ll have cravings for this or that then bring them.

What’s the drinking water like?

You can get bottled water just about everywhere. It’ll be available on the support vehicles and drinking water is always supplied in hotel rooms. As a rule Indonesians boil water before drinking it.

What nutritional supplements should we bring?

Possibily vitamins and some electrolytic drinking powders.

Will there be places to buy nuts or high protein snacking food?

Probably not. We’ll be making an effort to provide the group with kue kampung or local village snacks. These are usually made from cassava, or sticky rice, palm sugar and coconut flesh. Easy to pig out on. Lots of carbs, pretty low on protein.

Should we bring our own protein bars?

If you think you’ll miss them or need them, then bring them ‘cause you most probably won’t be able to get them on the way.

Will I be able to get boiled eggs?

By the kilo.


What inoculations do you recommend?

My firm recommendation is that you consult your GP (as soon as you can because some of the vaccinations need to be taken months before departure) who in turn should consult the most recent Health Department recommendations. Be aware that these change from time to time.

Has anyone gotten sick on any of your trips?

On non cycle trips, yes. The two most common complaints are diarohea and the common cold. Everyone should be prepared to have a hopefully short bout of diarohea as our foreign digestive systems get used to the new (Indonesian) environment.

What medicines do you suggest we bring?

Most group members are experienced travellers so I won’t make any specific recommendations. Suffice to say don’t forget to bring your favourite medications for diarohea, cold and flu..


How should we prepare ourselves physically for the trip?

First, make sure you get necessary vaccinations several months before departure. Second, have a dental check up. Third, start your build up sooner rather than later. Build your strength and endurance levels slowly over the four months before the trip. I would suggest that you include good doses of hilly terrain in your preparation. As a target I’d suggest that sometime late December choose a one week period when you do a sequence of a 60km, 80km and 100km day rides. If you can do these 3 day rides without rest days in between you should manage well in Sulawesi. If you need rest days in between the actual ride will be just that much more of a challenge, leastways in the first week. In your preparation don’t forget to do lots of stretching, and swimming if you can.


What is the best way to get to Makassar?

This depends on where you’re coming from. But regardless of your start point you will need to go Jakarta, Denpasar or Surabaya. You cannot fly direct to Makassar from either Sydney or Singapore.

Can we do any better than the 20 kg limit on our baggage?

These days it is really hard to get extra allowances. GA and QF will probably not allow passengers more than 23kg because flights will be full. 7kg carry on luggage is allowed.


How useful is Bahasa Indonesia in Sulawesi?

Very useful. As useful as French in France. Bahasa Indonesia is the official national language of the country. It is spoken throughout Sulawesi. There are many other languages spoken in Sulawesi but none are as useful as Indonesian. Indonesians warm quickly to foreigners who make the effort to learn Bahasa Indonesia.

How can we learn about the culture of Indonesia?

Several things 1. I’d like to ask group members to share websites, book titles etc that they’ve found useful. I’ll be setting up a mechanism to do this. 2. The Lonely Planet guidebook on Indonesia is good and I’ve received reliable recommendations for their phrasebook as well.

How can we learn some basic phrases?

The Lonely Planet Indonesian Phrasebook.


Do we need to take out our own insurance?

Participants will need to provide ICC with a copy of their insurance policy before starting the trip.

What sort of insurance should we have?

Comprehensive travel and medical insurance.


Is there any civil strife anywhere near our route?

No. In the late 90’s, early 2000s there was some civil strife in Central Sulawesi. This no longer exists and in any case it was several hundreds of kilometres away from our route.

How safe is it to leave our things in our rooms?

I’ve never had anything stolen from any hotel room in Sulawesi. However, make sure your room is locked.

Is it necessary to lock our bikes when we stop for a drink etc?

Out of Makassar most restaurants are open air and hence afford a view of where bikes are left. In any case ‘street security’ is usually available to look after parked vehicles (including bikes).

Can we leave surplus cases and baggage in a secure place in Makassar?

Yes, at the Makassar Golden Hotel.


What currency should we bring in cash?

You should get Indonesian rupiah as soon as you can at the last international airport. Outside of Makassar it is not likely that vendors will accept anything else.

How much cash do you recommend?

I would not change more than USD 200. I’d get anything more from the ATM.

Would you bring travellers’ cheques?


Do they have ATMs?

All of the towns that we stay in will have ATM facilities. I’ve never had a problem with any of my VISA cards.


If we make purchases on the trip, can they be transported back to Makassar for us?

Yes. By using Tiki courier / parcel service.

Is it difficult to arrange shipment home via post or some other way?

There is a courier service in Indonesia called TIKI. I’ve fond them to be most reliable for shipping both inside Sulawesi and internationally.

Do you have any hints for shipping bikes to avoid extremely high excess baggage charges?

Given the limited amount of time that we have and the lack of familiarity with Indonesia I would advise avoiding anything to do with shipping bikes: Too complicated. Travelling light in the non-bike department is probably the most reliable approach. Most bikes weight 10-15kg, plus the shipping box, close to the 20kg limit. If you are light, use the argument that you are lighter than the average traveller so you should be allowed to carry some excess at no extra charge.

Is there a chance of losing my bike in transit?

My experience is that international luggage gets better treatment than local luggage. I’d strongly suggest that you do not send your bike as unaccompanied luggage

How do I pack my bike for shipping?

I strongly suggest you get a bike box from your from local bike shop. You will need to take the pedals and front wheels off, as well as deflating both tyres.


Is the internet available on our tour?

In Makassar and Rantepao yes. In other places, most probably not, but internet services are expanding as I write.

Can I buy an Indonesian cell phone sim card?


Will there be landlines where we’re going?

Yes. Look for ‘wartel’ or telephone warungs.


At the start of the trip (Sunday 4th January) is our accommodation booked?


Is accommodation booked for the final day of the tour (Friday 30th January)?



Do we need visas?

You will pick up 30 day visas on arrival at the airport. If you are planning to stay more than 30 days you should arrange a two month visa before beginning the trip.


What’s it really like?

There is a wide variety. In Makassar, Rantepao Jeneponto and Palette the rooms are of a high standard. In Takalar, Bantimurung and Camba the rooms are simple but adequate. Lots of variety in between. All have ensuite bathrooms. All have running water. All will be supplied with towels.

What are the toilets like?

In most of the accommodation the toilets are of the sit down variety. In most places along the way they will be of the squat variety. Some of the toilets will have automatic flushing facilities. In most places the toilets will need to be manually flushed. In Makassar and Rantepao toilet paper will be supplied. In most of the other places water will be the cleansing agent.

What are Indonesian toileting procedures?

In essence water is used instead of paper. The traditional toilet is a squat toilet with a small tub of water and ladle beside it. The ladle is held in the right hand and water is poured into the cupped left hand. The left hand is then used for cleaning. The operation is finished off with a soaping and rinsing. There’ll be further explanation at the orientation before we start cycling. In the meantime you should get VERY used to squating because in many (most) places sit down toilets will not be available. Those who have hip and knee flexibility will find squatting easier than those who don’t.

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