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Central Java Questions in preparation for take-off

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May 11th, 2009, 07:15 PM
  #1
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Central Java Questions in preparation for take-off

Yikes and yippie, we leave in 11 days: 2 nights Losari, 3 nights Amanjiwo, 2 nights Yogya Hyatt; then 4 nights Qunici Villas, Lombok, 10 nights Bali. Can any of you advise about:
1. usefulness of carrying lots of $1 bills in Java
2. ability to cash crisp $100 bills
3. using my cell phone and computer
4. tipping customs, rates
5. bermuda shorts ok on resort grounds?
6. favorite mosquito repellent
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May 11th, 2009, 08:52 PM
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1. I don’t see any advantage to carrying around US$1 bills and using them for tips or paying for things. For tips, they will really not be welcomed as the locals will have to exchange them for local currency. (Plus tipping is not really necessary, more on this below.) For paying for things, if you pay in foreign currency you will get whatever exchange rate the merchant decides to give you (which will probably not be very good) and will be given change in local currency. You will appear to be a rather clueless tourist waiting to be taken advantage of. You are better off learning to use the local currency so you can learn to figure out what is a value and what is a rip-off when making purchases.

2. I would not bring a lot of cash, but would make a withdrawal at the airport ATM in Yogya and thereafter at other ATMs as necessary, as exchange rates will be best. If you must, you can exchange cash at the airport, and hotels and banks. You will find ATMs to be rather prevalent in Yogya. You won’t be able to exchange US$100 bills in smaller shops too easily, I venture to say you would have about the same success there that you would in getting change for a US$100 in a small shop in the US when making a small purchase. Shops have trouble making change in many cases, and for those that can you will often get handfuls of crumpled and dirty bills. Torn bills are sometimes the subject of dispute, don’t try to give them and don’t accept them in return. If you really only have US$100 bills, exchange them at a bank or a money exchanger. The only places I can see where you may not have easy access to an ATM are Losari and Lombok for which you can plan ahead by just bringing local currency from an ATM in Yogya or Bali.

3. Assuming you have a dual/tri band phone which will work in Indonesia, cell phone coverage should be quite good in towns and probably on hotel grounds, but may depend on what local carrier your home carrier in the US is signed on with in Indonesia. Rates may be quite high using your US carrier. If you have an unlocked US phone (rare in the US), then you can buy a local SIM card and get good local service for a low fee. You could also buy a local phone and then a SIM card, not sure it is worth the time and trouble to do that. Not sure what you are planning to use the phone for. If you want to make local calls to restaurants, asking your hotel to do this may bring better results, or calling on a hotel phone may work just as well (although watch local charges). For international long distance, an AT&T calling card and a land line may work just as well too. Not sure whether you really need to lug a computer around, but if you do, in the Hyatt and Aman you will have access in your room either from a line or you may have wireless (coverage on wireless could be slow or spotty) note that most hotels charge a fairly hefty daily rate for access. You will also find cybercafés in many places and this may be a better option to just check e-mails or download pictures rather than lugging around laptops as these offer free access or access for a very small hourly fee. See http://www.cybercafe.com/ for a list of places. Also, the Aman, the Hyatt and I believe the Losari (assuming you are staying at the coffee plantation) all have business centres with computers to which guests generally have free access to check e-mails and download pictures from their cameras to a disk. (Bring disks as you may not be able to buy these readily.) Given all this, I don’t really see the need to bring a computer.

4. As for tipping, as with virtually all of Asia, service is almost always included on restaurant bills, check the bill. This is often the case even in the smaller restaurants, where it may appear as a towel/tea charge. Otherwise, you can tip something like 10% at most. But if service is included in the bill, then no other tip is expected. Tipping of taxi drivers is generally not expected although you can leave change, i.e. if the fare is 12.50 you leave 13 Rupiah. At hotels, tipping of bellman, etc is optional but seems to be done; you can also leave a general tip at the end for the whole staff which can be divided among everyone. I generally tip bellman about US$1 per bag.

5. I personally do not find the Javanese to be strict on dress other than requiring modest dress in mosques, i.e., no tank tops or miniskirts (to the best of my recollection, when visiting a mosque head scarves for non-believing women are not required but I would have one handy just in case). While a Moslem country, it is not Saudi Arabia or other places in the Middle East. Women do dress modestly and many wear head scarves and long dresses, but dress rules are enforced by custom and not law. Foreigners are not expected to act in the same manner. So shorts would really be fine anywhere if you felt the need to wear them. I would not go topless on a beach out of respect for local modesty (which is actually not just Moslem modesty).

6. I don’t have a favourite repellent, I am one of those people who are not bothered at all by mosquitoes. I do like the fragrance of a good mosquito coil though, but you can find those for sale all over Asia.
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May 11th, 2009, 08:53 PM
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1. usefulness of carrying lots of $1 bills in Java
$1 bills are always welcome. Alternately you could go to a bank on arrival and get a stack of 10,000 Rupiah notes.

2. ability to cash crisp $100 bills
Can be done but they need to be new and unmarked. There's a lot of counterfeiting in Indonesia and money changers are fussy.

3. using my cell phone and computer
Cell phone maybe not unless you have international service. You can buy a chip or card on arrival for use in Indonesia. You'll be able to use your computer just about everywhere, either with wireless or a hotel connection.

4. tipping customs, rates
10,000 Rupiah is good for just about everything. 20,000 for exceptional service. I like to be generous with the concierge ON ARRIVAL -- 50,000 to 100,000 -- as it always pays off later. I usually don't add anything at hotel restaurants as the fixed tax is so high. For outside restaurants I like to end up around 10%. Some restaurants automatically add a service charge; some do not.

5. bermuda shorts ok on resort grounds?
Bermuda shorts are OK everywhere. Indonesian are less puritanical than reported.

6. favorite mosquito repellent
I go with OFF aerosol, but then I'm not too particular.

Sounds like a great trip. Look forward to hearing all about it.
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May 11th, 2009, 09:28 PM
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you will need an indonesian sim card for the phone...i bought one in bali at a shop...camera/7/11...

no need for $1 bills i don't think

deet will do the trick...

have a ball and keep us updated

bob
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May 11th, 2009, 09:33 PM
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I find that a combination of Old Spice and Off will scare away most thing.
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May 12th, 2009, 07:46 AM
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Hanuman, I think she only wanted to scare off mosquitoes not people!

Robbie, I also wouldn't use US$1 bills. Just use rupiah. ATMs are a godsend, and you'll find them readily.

We use a repellant that contains about 25% deet. It comes in tiny (perhaps 3" high) spray cans so we can each carry one in our waist-pack.

Have a wonderful trip!
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May 12th, 2009, 03:14 PM
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Robbie, no advise here, only insane jealousy(Wow Amanjiwo!). Hope you both have a wonderful trip!

Aloha!
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May 12th, 2009, 04:43 PM
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Ahhh, Central Java and Amanjiwo - fabulous.
Don't miss the lemon custard pancakes for breakfast by the pool and if you're into cooking, my better half who is an excellent cook really enjoyed the personal cooking class. If you will be using an Amanjiwo driver, do ask Sean to make Rohmad available for you - simply a most wonderful gentleman.

Computers and wireless internet service in the library but not in the rooms at the Aman. At the Hyatt there was wired service in our room and wireless in the public areas.

The hotels will exchange $100 notes for you but of course not at the highest rate. Outside of Yogya proper there will be few places that are convenient other than the hotels for exchanging money.

Your itinerary sounds great. I can't wait to share your trip vicariously. You'll have a fabulous time. Can't wait to return to Java and Bali but my wife has another trip to Italy in mind first.

Bon voyage.
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May 12th, 2009, 06:43 PM
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As always, you veterans deliver. I will follow the money advise. I'm relieved to hear that dress is a bit more relaxed than I imagined. Becalm, I'd read your report so I already put down the pancakes and Rohmid in my notes. My 30% deet is sticky and messy and makes me want a shower as soon as I've stepped out of the shower and slab it on me. I bought some spray, hopefully tidier. Thanks for your good wishes all and Hawaiiantraveler I'll try to down play Amanjiwo if it will spare your sanity. Scratch that, I can already hear some of our worsmiths ringing in. And Hanuman, Off and Old Spice will scare me off, I don't want to be back in my teens in a tent. Thanks to all again. Will write from the road unless I come up with some other niggling questions.
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May 12th, 2009, 06:44 PM
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Marmot and Cicerone your expertise is so great. Special thanks.
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May 12th, 2009, 06:56 PM
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Robbie have you tried Avon Skin so Soft as a mosquito repellent? It works here in HI and works wonders on your skin in the process. Have a wonderful time!

Aloha!
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May 12th, 2009, 06:59 PM
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That's The Avon skin so soft w/picaridan(sp)
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May 12th, 2009, 08:16 PM
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HT, I didn't know that there is now a SSS with picardin! In the past there was citronella in it, which was only marginally effective. I'm not an Avon person, but I might have to try it.
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