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Preventions and Preparations

October 1, 2010
Going to Indonesia is fun and it’s nice to re-connect and see our friends and relative there.  But if proper preventions were not carried out, one could get sick and you can discount 70% to 90% of the fun and ended up with something as good as the photos you can see.  (You might as well just browse the net and re-connect with facebook!)  Anything could happen from diarrhea to insect bites, from getting a flu to polio, malaria, toothache etc.

I will list the preventions below which I will come back and refer to every time I want to go home to Indonesia because after a gap of a few years between each visit, I tend to forget the bad things and romanticize only the good.
 

Airports

It matters a lot which airport we land in.  Bandung Airport (Husein Sastranegara International Airport)  is convenient but few good airlines go there.  Once it was Merpati and their planes seemed to be rejected planes from other airline companies.  And Air Asia (2010) has arm-rests which were all broken and one can smell that the plane was not cleaned after different passengers sat on them.  In Jakarta (Soekarno-Hatta) airport, there’s rumours that your checked baggage would get robbed (or extra taxed) after coming out.  Plus it doesn’t help if family members of mine from Singapore (especially Sar Khor after hearing these rumours) insisted we NOT fly to this airport.

  • arrange for transportation to and from Soekarno-Hatta to Bandung
    in advance or if needed stay a night in Jakarta.
  • fly to Bandung but remember to bring lots of wipes.
  • always pack light because the baggage allowance is going to be
    much less than flight from US to Singapore.
  • reduce valuables or pack them on your body not the bags.

Water

The tap water is not drinkable.  And so preparing lots of Aqua bottles or getting ready those huge ten-gallons turned upside-down with a tap is very important.  Frequently we neglected that and for the first few days, we either have not enough water or are too lazy to buy or boil water, I go into stages of dehydration.  It’s not that they are not available, but the traffic is so bad, even going across the road to get a few bottles is a big challenge.

  • always call relatives or people who will pick us up to prepare
    gallons of water or a dozen bottles of Aqua.
  • look for nearby places to buy Aqua.
  • use drinkable water to brush your teeth.
  • try very hard to avoid gargling while showering.

Traffic

Zebra crossing is a laughing stock.  no cars let you go first on that black and white stripes.  But being aware that traffic might be a problem makes one plan ahead the hotel one might want to stay.  It’s not where it is, but how easy it is to go and come back from Opa’s house, Pajajaran Stadium etc.  For example, my father-in-law prefers we stay in Grand Pacific Hotel to Batoe or Gucci or Pelita Parahyagan because he can conveniently turn out from Jalan Pandawar (via Jalan Semar).  Now those hotels I listed are within 500 metres from each other, literally walkable!  Streets are one-way and so it’s essential to plan ahead so as not to spend hours (yes, it’s literally hours) on the road traveling only 12 to 20 kilometres.

  • always plan in advance where you want to go, plan only a few
    places not too many a day
  • always have plan B for heavy traffic (e.g. stay in IP or go to
    nearby factory outlets)
  • avoid sending Tina to Ciara dongong.
  • plan to meet all the friends in one place, instead of going to
    many places to meet each and every one of them.
  • take gangs and small road for walking.
  • arrange for transportation early.
  • plan to take small breaks even if there’s big lunch/dinner ahead.

Exercise

We exercise on a routine 5 times a week.  So when we travel, we expect to lower that to 3 times a week instead.  And each time, we should have at least 20-30 min cardio and about 20-30 mins stretching, warm-up/ cool down.

  • book a hotel with gym or has a gym (or Gor) nearby
  • sleep early to wake up early for exercise — when noon comes,
    exercise outside is impossible.
  • plan on places to wash up after exercising

Swimming

It is a gruesome task just to select the right swimming even though my father-in-law, my wife and Anton’s daughters love swimming.  First it’s finding the right place with respect to price/quality of pool and quality of food near the pool.  Then it’s arranging to go there.  There there’s lots of waiting and consideration for lunch/dinner that two hours for an exercise is a mission impossible.

  • if complications arises, it’s better to call off the swimming,
    otherwise, it could take the whole day for a 30 minutes swim
  • know where and how to go to a good swimming pool in advance

Food

Our daily food consists of whole grains and brown rice.  There is a good proportion of carb/protein/veggies in almost equal thirds as in Kelley’s diet for diabetics.  This nutrition balance will remain the biggest challenge for us.  In almost every trip, I had stomachaches, my wife & I inevitably gained some weight and I had constipation and had to constantly reach for water (that itself is a problem) because almost everything has MSG in it.  And my mother-in-law doesn’t cook, and resorting to food without MSG outside is difficult.

  1. Try cooking ourselves (but we felt like “why should we in a vacation?”)
  2. Eat only leafy green food (but it has to be cooked, otherwise diarrhea)
  3. avoid fruits and have plenty of it in Singapore later
  4. stock-pile whole grain bread in the hotel.

And of course, one of the best solution will be to cut short our trip to Indonesia and spend more time in Singapore!

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