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ROADS AND TRAFFIC

What are the roads like?

All of the roads we’ll be travelling on are sealed. But sometimes, usually due to rains, sections of them are in a state of repair or disrepair.


What’s the traffic like?

Generally light.


What are the drivers like?

Friendly, tolerant and accommodating.


What is the terrain like?

The first two days, from Sengkang to Palopo, will be undulating. From Palopo to Toraja and Enrekang, hilly to mountainous.


Will there be a daily riding plan?

The general plan will be to start before dawn. To keep the group together there will be frequent stops, the frequency being determined by terrain, distance for the day, riding strength of the group etc. These stops will facilitate re-grouping, replenish water bottles, enjoy a snack, have a stretch, take photographs, interact with the locals who invariably are welcoming and friendly.


Is the emphasis of the trip on cycling or touring?

We’re touring on bikes. I want to encourage a spirit of using the cycling to explore the culture through which we’re passing, rather than cycling for cycling’s sake.


BIKE STUFF

Do we need to bring our own bikes?

Yes.


Is hiring a bike an option?

Not at this stage.


Is buying and re-selling a bike an option?

Yes


Which style of bike would you recommend?

Hybrid or mountain bike are the go. I would not bring a road bike. Bike Fridays will be most welcome.


Which tyres should I use?

If you bring a mountain bike, bring 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.


How should we prepare our bikes?

Get your bikes fully serviced before departure.


What do we do about spare parts?

Bring parts that you could need. Our suggested list of parts and tools is: multi tool, patch kit, quick link in case of broken chain, chain lube. The bike shops in Sulawesi have very limited ranges of stock, so, if in doubt bring it.


Will we need lights?

Yes, front and rear, because on some mornings we’ll be starting before sunrise.


Pumps?

The support vehicle will have a pump that handles presta and schraeder (car) valves. But bring a small one just in case you get separated from the group.


Do we need panniers?

No.


Can we put our bags in the support vehicle?

Yes.


What sort of cycle shoes do you recommend?

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


How many spare tubes etc should we bring?

Two.


What cycling clothes should we bring?

Cycle shorts, long sleeved top, cycle sox, cycle sandals, Osama head scarf, sunnies, summer arm warmers/coolers


Is there facility for re-charging batteries?

Yes, in most places but maybe not in the village stay. The power points take two pronged circular plugs. AA or AAA batteries are available in most places.


Do we need bike locks?

No. You will never be far from your bike. If you are it will be stored away or support staff will be looking after it.


What are the bike shops like?

There won’t be any outside of Makassar and we’ll only be there for a day.


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.


NON BIKE GEAR

What non-bike stuff should we bring?

We’ll provide a WTBL (What To Bring List) in early January 2010.


CLOTHING

What clothing do you suggest we ride in?

Helmet, sunnies, cycle shorts, long sleeve shirt, cycle sox (dark color), cycle sandals / shoes, sunscreen.


What clothing should we bring for after riding?

Long baggy shorts, t-shirt, sandals, cap. Ladies are advised to wear long sleeves rather than short sleeves.


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 all their dress code. The most formal gear that you could possibly need will be slacks / modest dress and a shirt with a collar and long sleeves.


Should we bring rain gear?

No. If we get wet when cycling after the rain has stopped we’ll dry out quickly. If we’re not cycling umbrellas are usually available so no need to bring one.


Should we bring a swimsuit?

Yes, but you can always swim in your cycle gear. Women, to avoid un-necessary attention are advised to swim in long sleeved loose fitting tops.


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

That's the go.


CLIMATE

What is the weather like in February?

It should be ‘wet’ but weather predictions are hazardous there days. It will be hot (30 C degrees plus) in the middle of the day. The nights and mornings in Toraja will be cool (around 20 C) so bring a sweater.

`
Will there be mosquitoes?

Yes. Bring mosquito repellant, mosquito nets. You will be supplied with mosquito coils.


Will the mosquitoes be malaria bearing?

Highly unlikely..


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

It will be cool in Batutumongga and Limbong. So bring a light sweater.


FOOD

What sort of food will we be eating?

There will be an effort to provide authentic Indonesian food. There will be an extra effort to provide local specialities. No effort will be made to find Western food. Western food will not be available outside of Makassar and Rantepao.

In Makassar and Rantepao the hotel breakfasts will include international food. Breakfasts in other places will be nasi goreng (fried rice) or sweet breads, tea and coffee.

Lunches will be at warungs (small roadside cafes) along the way. They will be rice or noodle based. Dinners will generally be fish, beef or chicken dishes. An effort will be made to always provide vegetables and fruit.

The support crew will be scouring the countryside for local fruits and local village snacks (kue kampung). There will be very little or no western food. Fresh dairy produce will be available only in Makassar but tinned milk is usually available.


How will vegetarians manage?

IF you let us know WELL AHEAD OF DEPATURE vegetarian needs can GENRALLY be catered for, but not always.


Will it always be possible to get clean water?

Yes.


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. Drinking water is always supplied in hotel rooms. As a rule Indonesians boil water before drinking it..


What nutritional supplements should we bring?

None really. Electrolytic drinking powders are available in Indonesia (Pocarisweat).


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

No. We’ll be making an effort to provide kue kampung or village cakes. 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...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.


HEALTH

Do we need to bring a first aid kit?

No. There will be one in the support vehicle.


What inoculations do you recommend?

Please 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?

Yes. The two most common complaints are diarohea and the common cold. Everyone should be prepared to have a short bout of diarohea as our foreign digestive systems need to get used to the Indonesian environment.


What medicines do you suggest we bring?

Medications for diarohea, cold and flu. If you forget to bring them there are plenty of these medications available in Indonesia.


FITNESS

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 slowly over the months before the trip. Include good doses of hilly terrain in your preparation. As a target I’d suggest that sometime early in January select a 3 day period when you do a sequence of a 40km, 60km and 80km day rides.

If you can do these rides, 3 days in a row, 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. In your preparation don’t forget to do lots of stretching, and swimming, to relax the muscles.


TRAVEL

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.


INDONESIAN CULTURE

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. Berlitz Indonesian Phrasebook with CD is also a good option.


INSURANCE

Do we need to take out our own insurance?

Yes.


What sort of insurance should we have?

Comprehensive travel and medical insurance.


SECURITY

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.


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

No. As a general thing our support staff will look after our bikes when we’re not riding them. In any case, out of Makassar most restaurants are open air and afford a view of where bikes are left. Also ‘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. Our hotel will allow us to leve bike boxes etc there, for no charge.


MONEY ISSUES

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?

No.

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.


CARGO, POST, COURIERS

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

Yes.


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.


How do I pack my bike for shipping?

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


COMMUNICATION

Is the internet available on our tour?

In Makassar and Rantepao, yes. In other places, most probably no, but internet services are expanding as I write.


Can I buy an Indonesian cell phone sim card?

Yes.

Will there be landlines where we’re going?

Yes, but not for pubic use.


ITINERARY

Will accommodation for the first (1 February) and last night (12 February) of the tour be booked?

Yes but I recommend that you arrive Sunday 31 January. You may like to mention if you can help with booking for Sunday 31 January.


Is accommodation booked for the final day of the tour?

Yes.


TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

Do we need visas?

You will pick up UPON ARRIVAL VISAS at the airport. If you are planning to stay more than 30 days you should arrange a two month visa before beginning the trip.


ACCOMMODATION

What’s the accommodation like?

In Makassar and Rantepao it will be close to ‘the best’. In all other places it will be ‘the best’ but, just in case, bring some silk liners if you’re concerned about bed sheet cleanliness.


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 along the way the toilets will need to be manually flushed. In Makassar 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 squatting 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.

Soap is not always supplied, so bring your own or consider bringing along “wet-ones” or anti-septic hand cleaning gel.




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SITE LAST UPDATED: 13 October 2009

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