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Published by Noor Trienekens on

Make sure to plan ahead! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a travel medicine consultation at least 4-6 weeks ahead of your departure, to receive guidance about your trip and vaccinations and medications you may need. Although we are happy to provide suggestions, you should defer to the advice of your healthcare provider.

For immunizations, your provider will likely recommend:
• Updates on routine vaccinations (MMR, Tdap, Varicella, Polio, flu)
• Typhoid vaccine
• Hepatitis A vaccine
• Some travelers may consider Hepatitis B vaccine, rabies vaccine, or Japanese encephalitis vaccine. We do advise travelers to get a rabies vaccination.

Risks are an inherent part of any travel. To stay safe in Sukadana and the rest of Indonesia, we recommend the same strategies you would use to stay safe in any new place: be cautious, ask questions, learn about the towns/cities you are in, know where the more risky locations are, use common sense, and be aware. Indonesia experiences periodic acts of political violence, civil unrest, and terrorism, but exposure to this is quite uncommon in Sukadana and the rest of Indonesian Borneo. Visitors should be most vigilant about these issues in Jakarta and other travel hubs. Please review the U.S. State Department website for the most up-to-date travel warnings, advisories, and other precautions.

This is a sample list of what you will need to submit as part of your application. Exact requirements vary by consulate, so please read your consulate’s specific instructions carefully.
• Passport with at least 2 blank visa pages
• 1 copy of your itinerary into and out of Indonesia
• 1 copy of an invitation letter written by your Indonesian sponsor
• 1 copy of the Indonesian sponsor’s ID card
• 1 copy of the online application form
• 1 recent passport photo
• Check or money order for $50 made payable to the consulate (i.e. Indonesian Consulate General, San Francisco)
• Prepaid self-addressed envelope for the return of your passport

One requirement for the Social Cultural Visa is a Letter of Invitation from an Indonesian sponsor, which is ASRI. Health In Harmony coordinates this process on ASRI’s behalf. In order to draft the letter, we will need the following information from you:
• A copy of your passport photo page (make sure the image is clear and legible)
• Your home address
• The location of the consulate where you will apply
• Your travel dates and itinerary—both into and out of Indonesia
Detailed instructions will be given to you once you have access to your visitor portal.

The majority of visitors will need to apply for a Social Cultural Visa, either by mail or in person at your nearest Indonesian consulate. Before applying, you should check that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in Indonesia. If your passport will expire in under six months from arrival, you will need to apply for a new one prior to applying for a visa. You will also need to make sure your passport has blank pages, as your Indonesian visa will take up one full page. The Social Cultural Visa allows for stays of up to 60 days (including date of departure and arrival), and it covers educational visits, and visits to NGOs. For U.S. applicants, the visa application can be found here: https://consular.embassyofindonesia.org. Mail-in applications generally take up to two weeks to process. Once your visa application is approved, you have 90 days to use the visa to enter Indonesia.

We have a local contact that you can use to book domestic flights. Her name is Alex Tiket, She does not charge additional fees and this is good to use for groups.
In general we recommend the airline Garuda as it is the safest and most reliable. In addition this domestic airline is located in the same terminal as the international airport. You can simply walk upstairs and re-enter. Instead of going out of the terminal and go from there. They can book these flights online or there is an Indonesian Travel Agency we work with.

Flights from Jakarta to Pontianak generally allow only 20 kg (44 lbs), while flights from Pontianak to Ketapang only allow 10 kg (22 lbs) per passenger. Be aware that you may have to pay overweight baggage fees. If you do not wish to change terminals in the Jakarta airport, Garuda domestic flights depart from the international terminal. If you use an airline other than Garuda, we recommend leaving some extra time for your terminal transfer, as the airport can be a challenging place to navigate.

Most international itineraries will route you through Jakarta. From Jakarta, there are a couple options for travel, both requiring a full day of travel. One option is to fly from Jakarta to Pontianak (approx. 1.5 hours) and then to Ketapang. Once you arrive at Ketapang an ASRI driver will pick you up from the airport from where it’s a 2 hour drive to Sukadana. — Alternatively, some international itineraries can bypass Jakarta and will route you straight to Pontianak. Below are some great hotel options in Pontianak if you have an overnight layover. We also have a local travel guide who will be happy to assist you. Contact Alex if you’re interested.

From the United States and other locations outside of Indonesia, you should budget two full days of travel to Sukadana. Once you have confirmed your on-site dates with Health In Harmony staff, you will book your international flights to Jakarta (or in some cases to Pontianak). There are multiple airlines that serve the Jakarta airport, with most of the options arriving in the afternoon or evening.

Once you have purchased your flights, please send these to Health In Harmony so we have your itinerary on file. Round-trip international travel arrangements must be made before you can apply for your visa.

For personal travel and hikes, you can dress more casually and wear jeans or capris. In general, culturally respectful clothing means items that are loose-fitting and provide full coverage, especially if you are visiting remote communities. This means not wearing any of the following: tank tops, short shorts/skirts, low-cut tops, crop tops, tight yoga pants/leggings, or see-through clothing.

For women, during your free time and on weekends, active wear, long loose fitting shorts (below the knee), and short-sleeve shirts are acceptable as long as the shirts are not too low cute. For men, shorts, athletic wear, and t-shirts are acceptable.

For women, full-length pants (no jeans) or a long skirt, paired with a nice shirt that covers the elbows, is appropriate dress during the week. For men, we suggest button-up or polo shirts with nice slacks — no shorts or jeans.

The electricity in Indonesia is 220V. Laptop computers and most modern electronics do not need converters, but other electrical appliances (shavers, hair-dyers, etc.) are usually voltage-specific and would need a converter. For adapters, Indonesia uses type C and F (European style) plugs. You can either bring adapters from home, or they are available in local stores.

While the internet is often unstable, it is accessible in all ASRI buildings and at some of the houses. Visitors with a local SIM card are able to use their phone as a hotspot but we also invite our visitors to be okay being “unplugged” a bit during their time in Sukadana.

The best place to purchase a local SIM card is at the Jakarta airport. You will have to provide a copy of your passport. SIM cards and data are relatively cheap. There is also a place to purchase SIM cards right outside of the Pontianak airport, if you are not traveling through Jakarta.

Your cellphone can work by purchasing an international travel plan through your cellphone provider. If you have an “unlocked” phone, meaning you are able to insert international SIM card, you can purchase a local SIM card at the airport. This will give you cellular data, as well as a mobile hotspot for wifi.

Yes, you are welcome to bring your laptop but you must be aware that the humidity can sometimes cause electronics to slow down of malfunction. It is also important to note that there is wifi in all ASRI buildings and in some of the houses.

You may travel by car when visiting some of ASRI’s programs. It is safe to travel in vehicles but just like anywhere else, you must wear your seatbelt.

ASRI provides bicycles, bike helmets, and bike lights for you to travel around Sukadana. There are a relatively small amount of cars and Sukadana is close enough to commute easily by bike.

No, but there are 5-gallon dispensers of water available at all ASRI buildings (including housing) as well as in many restaurants and hotels. Since potable water is readily available, there is no need to bring a filter or water purification tablets. ASRI aims to set an example in the community and reduce plastic as much as possible. We encourage our visitors to do the same and discourage the use of disposable water bottles and the use of straws.

The weather is hot and humid with frequent rainfall. Both men and women will be expected to dress culturally appropriately despite the heat.

Indonesian cuisine is predominantly rice-based, with meats and vegetables cooked in rich, flavorful sauces. Sambal, or chili paste, is always served on the side. Proteins include seafood and chicken and on occasion beef and goat. It is not hard to find good vegetarian options, as most meals will include freshly-made tempeh or tofu, eggs, and/or vegetable dishes. There will be a wide array of seasonal fruits, though fresh salads and other raw vegetables are not very common. You will be on your own for breakfast and weekend meals. Lunch and dinner on weekdays are provided by ASRI staff.

There are bed nets at the ASRI housing accommodations and we recommend using them. If there is a problem with your net, please contact our Planetary Health Coordinator Etty.

There are homes that are shared by ASRI staff and visitors. Houses are separated by gender, although married couples can stay together. The houses are all within a 10-minute bike ride of the ASRI offices. Each ASRI house has a bathroom, kitchen, multiple bedrooms and a shared living space. Bedrooms have a bed with a mosquito net, a fan, and wardrobe space for personal belongings. The houses each hire a pembantu, or helper, who does laundry, shopping, cleaning, and cooking for the house. The accommodations are basic with squat toilets and a bucket used to shower.

You will be provided an invoice from Health in Harmony staff that outlines the visitor fees associated with the number of weeks of your visit. On this invoice will be a fee submission page for you to pay online. We encourage people to use our online payment system.

Visitor fees are due two weeks prior to departure. You can find your invoice in the Client Portal that is set up for each visitor.

Health in Harmony’s Program Manager, Noor Trienekens.

Yes – but always make sure to hand these to our Planetary Health Education Manager or staff at ASRI so that they can distribute the toys to the ASRI kids and Teens program. This is to avoid any expectations of foreigners being associated with bringing gifts when visiting Indonesia.

Yes, there is a ‘Wish List’ that ASRI staff has put together, found here. Please reach out to the Health In Harmony Program Manager for more information on traveling with medical supplies and donations. We don’t accept medical supplies and medications beyond the expiration date.

Many visitors bring small gifts or souvenirs — locally known as ‘oleh oleh’ — as tokens of appreciation for the staff. The aim is to keep it simple and enjoyable to all members of the staff (30+ people). Examples include special items or trinkets from your hometown or chocolates, teas, or other treats to be shared at lunch. Present your gifts to the whole staff during lunch with the staff, rather than giving gifts directly to one person. Please try and avoid carrying items wrapped in a lot of plastic, as the ASRI clinic aims to be zero waste and plastic free as much as possible.

Western food is not easily available in Sukadana. You will want to bring coffee, tea, and breakfast meals such as protein bars or oatmeal. You also will want to get your cash in the Jakarta or Ketapang airport, as the ATM in Sukadana is not always equipped with money. You also will want to bring all beauty products and medications. Backup chargers for your phone and laptop are also recommended as you won’t be able to purchase one in Sukadana if they break.

We encourage visitors to pack relatively light—both for ease of traveling during the many legs of the journey and to be mindful about how many things you are bringing into communities that may have very little. You will be able to have your clothing washed on a regular basis, but in this humid climate, some items will take 2-3 days to dry. To be brief (more details in our Visitor Guide), you would want to bring shoes to take on and off easily, raingear, modest and comfortable clothing, bug repellent, a water bottle, and basic hiking gear.

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