You Name It, Jogja Has It

“You Name It, Jogja Has It” is our tagline for Yogyakarta, the Indonesia city most famous for its Borobudur World Heritage Site. Yogyakarta also known as Jogjakarta, or Jogja for short has something to offer for every type of travelers – cultural landmarks, historical ruins, white sand beaches, volcano trekking, river rafting, caving, orchard gardens, shopping and gastronomic tour, café hopping etc. Despite being the second most popular tourist attraction in Indonesia after Bali, Yogyakarta is still very much laidback with a relax atmosphere and friendly locals. If Jogja is not under the radar destinations for your next vacation, we believe the recommendations below will change your mind.

Sunrise Over Borobudur 

There are three main places to watch sunrise over Borobudur; Pethuk Setumbu Hill, Dagi Hill and within the Borobudur Park itself. Both Pethuk Setumbu Hill and Dagi Hill offer bird’s eye view of the temple with the menacing Mount Merapi and Mount Merbabu in the background. The 400m tall Pethuk Setumbu Hill is located about 4km from Borobudur or about an hour drive from Yogyakarta. The lookout point is a 15 minutes uphill trek from the carpark. To reach the lookout point in time for sunrise, you would have to leave Yogyakarta around 4am. Dagi Hill located within the extensive Borobudur Park is about 300m west of the Borobudur main temple. The 300m high hill is believed to be used as a watch tower during the construction of the temple in the 8th century. Today, its slopes are covered with beautiful pine trees with a clearing at its summit. A concrete stairs of 200 steps leads you through the forest up to the clearing. The best season to capture a clear sunrise is during the summer months from June to August when the air is less misty. If you prefer to capture Borobudur covered in mist, anytime will be fine as well. A sunrise tour within the temple complex provides the best opportunity to capture close up of the temple and its subjects in their best. The morning sun casting its long oblique rays on the temple will bring out the texture of its stone sculptures and reliefs. You will be given a special pass to enter the temple ground early in the morning around 430am before the hordes of tourists arrive.

Photo via phototips

Photo via phototips

Ramayana Ballet

The Ramayana Ballet is an outdoor dance and theatre performance held against the backdrop of the Prambanan Temple. The play is based on an ancient Hindu love story and follows the tale of King Rama and Princess Shinta, summarized in four scenes, namely the kidnapping of Shinta, Anoman’s mission to Alengka, the death of Kumbakarna or Rahwana, and the meeting of Rama-Shinta. The story revolves around the duties of relationships; the qualities of the ideal wife, king, brother and servant. Gods, mortals, giants, monkeys and beautiful women all come together to tell the colourful story of a courtship punctuated by a kidnapping and battles. This world class performance is a spectacular visual treat that combines classical dance, music, costumes, lighting and drama. The story presented in this performance is similar to the reliefs engraved on the Prambanan temple. The performance is held in the evening, 2-3 times a week from May to October.

Photo via triajijati

Photo via triajijati

River Rafting

The highlands of central Java is the source of many raging rivers that flow through the narrow gorge of the mountains to the Java Sea in the north and the India Ocean in the south. Some of the best rafting rivers in Java are found near Yogyakarta. Beginners or families with children can go for Sungai Elo, an easy grade 2-3 rafting river while experts can exhibit their skills at the grade 4 rapids of Sungai Progo. Novices eyeing for a greater adrenaline rush can try the grade 3-4 Sungai Bongowonto. It will be a test of personal perseverance and team spirit as you paddle your raft down the tumbling river with swirling rapids. The rafting duration varies from 1.5 hour for the easier rivers to 3 hours for the more challenging ones. It is usually done as a half day trip from Yogyakarta so that other activities like Borobudur tour can be done in the other half day.

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Photo via Norti Horti

Jomblang Cave

Enter Jurassic Park where mosses, ferns, bushes and even big trees remain untouched and preserved over thousands of years. The Jomblang Cave that leads down to the ancient underground forest is a colossal sink hole that measures 50m in width and 80m in depth. To reach the bottom of the cave, one has to abseil down via a single rope pulley system. Image hanging by a safety harness in the air while descending into unknown territory. The adventure continues after you touch ground. Jomblang Cave is just part of a cave complex in the area. A further 250m along the ancient forest is another gigantic cave called Goa Grubog with a subterranean river that flows out to the sea. Other than the endemic flora, interesting geological structures and adrenalin abseiling, the best highlight is unarguably the heavenly light effect created by the diffusion of sun rays through the sink hole. Jomblang Cave was discovered by the Indonesia’s Indiana Jones Cahyo Alkantana an entrepreneur cum explorer who stumbled upon the cave in the 1980s. Since then he has developed it into an eco-adventure site for outdoor enthusiasts.

Photo via jetjeprusyandi

Photo via jetjeprusyandi

Gumuk Pasir Parangtritis Sandboarding

You heard of skateboarding, wakeboarding and snowboarding. How about sandboarding? Enjoyed since the times of Egyptian pharaohs, sandboarding is a combination of snowboarding, surfing, and skating, only it is on sand dunes instead of snow, waves or streets. Good thing is you do not need to travel all the way to Egypt to try it out. There are natural sand dunes in Indonesia and they are just an hour drive from Yogyakarta. The 15km wide mini desert called Gumuk Pasir Parangtritis is formed by wind and water movement which brought volcanic sand from nearby Mount Merapi into the area – a phenomenon which has puzzled geologists for years. Try out different styles of sliding; standing up, sitting down or simply lying flat on your stomach – who knows you might have an innate talent for sandboarding.

Photo via wowshack

Photo via wowshack

Timang Beach Cable Car Ride

Game for an open-air cable car ride across crashing waves? What if the “cable car” is made of wood and operated via nylon ropes instead of steel ropes? The daredevil “cable car” is the only form of transport used by local fisherman to bring them across the narrow strait from the coral hills at Timang Beach to Watu Panjang Island. The rocky outcrop about 20 meters off the shore harbors a rich lobster colony. Upon reaching Watu Panjang Island safely, you will be rewarded with sweeping view of the beautiful coastline from Krakal Beach to the twin Turtle Island at Nglambor Beach. Timang Beach which faces the Indian Ocean is just one of the many beautiful beaches in the Gunungkidul district. Yeah beach hoping after your adrenaline rush!

Photo via fanswebld

Photo via fanswebld

Merapi Lava Tour

Get an adrenaline rush by standing on the slopes of Merapi – one of the most active and dangerous volcano in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Merapi has erupted regularly for more than 10,000 years and is believed to be the cause of demise of the Hindu Kingdom of Mataram in 1006. Ride on the legendary Jeep Willys to retrace the barren trail that was created during the major 2010 eruption which devastated a number of villages along its lava path. Along the trail is a truck size boulder that was hurled a few kilometers out from the volcano crater during the eruption. Visit an underground bunker which was built as an emergency shelter for the villagers in the event of eruption but which turned up to be the burial mound for the two guys who sought refuge inside. Witness the horror of the eruption in the Museum Sisa Hartaku (translated as My Remaining Treasure) – a modest museum created from the remnant of a house that was destroyed by the eruption. On display in the house are some of the surviving furnishings including one partially melted clock with its hands frozen at the time of eruption.

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Photo via shogunzack

Mountain Trekking for Novices

At 2565m above sea level, Mount Pra is the tallest mountain on the Dieng Plateau. Mount Prau (Prau means boat in Indonesian language), so named because the shape of the mountain looks like a boat. The mountain which takes about 3 hours to hike from base to summit is readily accessible via a 3 hours’ drive from Yogyakarta, making it an excellent day outing from the city. Unlike most mountain trekking routes, the trail up Mount Pra is along its ridge with unblocked scenery. During the hike, you will pass by vegetable and fruit plots, savannas blooming with wild daisy flowers and beautiful meadows called Teletubbies Hill. At the summit you will be rewarded with sweeping view of nearby and distant volcano peaks like Lawu, Merapi, Merbabu, Sumbing and Sindoro and down to the Dieng Plateau itself. Dieng Plateau which means ‘Abode of the Gods’ in Sanskrit is dotted with many fascinating geological and historical sites like the bubbling Sikidang Crater, the multi-coloured Telaga Warna Lake, and the ancient Arjuna Complex etc.

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Photo via randrytama

Kalibiru National Park

Kalibiru National Park situated in the Menoreh Mountains is the epitome of eco-adventure destination in Yogyakarta. This park is most famous for its unique lookout points – wooden platforms built on top of trees – where you can capture Neo Geo worthy pics of the tranquil Waduk Sermo reservoir in the midst of lush vegetation with pretty hills and endless sky in the backdrop. You can also stroll around the various trails to enjoy the fresh mountain air and greenery or challenge yourself in some adventure games like rock climbing, tightrope walking or flying fox.

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Photo via kalibiru wisata alam

Mangunan Fruit Garden

Mangunan Fruit Garden is an up and coming eco-nature hill resort in the vicinity of Yogyakarta. In additional to its refreshing atmosphere, it has one of the best sunrise view in the region. At dawn, the heavy mist casting over the forest canopy creates a magical phenomenon of sea of clouds. As the sun rises, the mist slowly disperses to reveal the meandering Oyo River on the valley below. It also offers an excellent lookout point of the Parangtritis beach with the Indian Ocean in the background. You can also try out the various fruits grown in the orchard like durian, mango, rambutan, orange, mangosteen, duku fruit, longan, guava, guava, star fruit, jack fruit, snake fruit and sapodilla.

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Photo via widarko hartono

Ullen Sentalu Museum

Museum lovers will not want to miss out the Ullen Sentalu Museum, voted by many critics to be the best museum in Indonesia. The privately run museum houses a vast array of artifacts that illustrates Javanese history from the era of the powerful Mataram Kingdom that built the world famous Borobudur. The physical setting of the museum – a charming colonial stone building surrounded by well-tend gardens in the midst of pine and cinnamon forest – is enough to set it apart from other museums in the country. The sprawling maze-like building consists of many interconnecting small galleries above ground and tunnel like galleries underground. The collection includes antique furniture, batik, topeng, kris, wayang kulit puppets, sculptures, paintings of kraton princesses and sultans (each with a story of its own), handwritten letters, love notes and black and white photographs of the royal family etc. The visit usually starts with an informative guided tour and ends with a serving of Ratu Mas, a secret herbal cocktail that is believed to bring health and beauty.

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Photo via thedustysneakers

Foodie

Yogyakarta is considered by many to be the culinary capital of Indonesia. Its most representative cuisine is Nasi Gudeg, a rice dish made from young unripe jackfruit stewed for several hours in palm sugar and coconut milk, usually served with egg and chicken. Yogyakarta is sometimes nicknamed “Kota Gudeg” (City of Gudeg). Gudeg Yu Djum located close to the Sultan’s Palace serves one of the best Gudeg in Yogyakarta. The stalk which is now helmed by its 4th generation also offers diners an opportunity to look at how Gudeg is made in its kitchen. The runner-up after Nasi Gudeg is probably Brongkos, a sweet and spicy rawon-like beef brisket soup cooked with spices, tolo and red beans. Warung Handayani located at Alun-Alun Kidul is the crown of Brongkos in town. Fried chicken diehards should not miss Ayam Goreng Kalasan – fried chicken pre-marinated with coconut milk – reputed to be tastier than Popeyes. Street food lovers will find their paradise in Jalan Malioboro with street eateries selling local snacks and deserts like satay, wedang ronde (glutinous rice ball in ginger soup), kelapa muda (young coconut drink), rujak es krim (ice cream rojak) etc. Café-hoppers will also not be disappointed as cafes selling coffee and gelato are big businesses in Yogyakarta.

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Photo via backpackfoodie

FAQ for Siem Reap

1. When is the best time of the year to visit Cambodia?
There are two distinct seasons in Cambodia; the dry season from November to May and the wet season from June to October. The dry season is further divided into two sub-seasons; the cool season from November to February and the hot season from March to May. The dry and cool season which has the best weather also coincides with the peak season to visit Cambodia. Temperature and humidity rise slightly during the dry and hot season with Phnom Penh and Siem Reap seeing peak daytime temperatures of 33°C and higher. The wet season is usually marked by a brief downpour in the afternoon which might slightly affect travel plan but there are still sufficient hours of bright sunshine for sightseeing. The wet season also known as the green season is an excellent time see the countryside at its lushest and to avoid crowd.

2. Do I need a VISA to visit Cambodia?
ASEAN citizens do not require a visa for Cambodia for up to 30 days. Nationalities of other countries can obtain tourism visa either on arrival or via eVISA online (https://www.evisa.gov.kh/) for up to 30 days.

3. What are the main languages spoken in Cambodia?
Khmer is the official language of Cambodia. English is quite widely spoken by young people especially those who work in tourism related industry while French is more widely spoken by the older generation.

4. What is the time difference between Cambodia and Singapore?
Singapore is one hour ahead of Cambodia. For example 12 noon in Singapore is 11 am in Cambodia.

5. What is the voltage in Cambodia and what adapters should I bring?
The standard voltage in Cambodia is 230V with a frequency of 50 Hz. There are three types of power supply used in Cambodia, types G, A and C with the primary power supply being type G.

6. What is the Cambodia currency?
Cambodian currency is called the riel (KHR). The exchange rate is around KHR $4,000 to USD $1. Riel is a non-convertible currency, meaning that you can only exchange for Cambodia currency (with USD only) within Cambodia – banks or moneychangers outside Cambodia will not accept or exchange it.

7. Is US dollars accepted in Cambodia?
US dollars are actually the de factor currency in Cambodia. Most businesses, especially hotels, restaurants, airlines, and souvenir shops set their prices in US dollars though change (especially small change) may be given in riel. Always carry some small riel for small purchases. 500 and 1000 riel notes are the most common and useful denominations.

8. Are there any Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in Cambodia?
International access ATMs dispensing US dollars can be found in most major tourist centres in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. There is a surcharge of USD 2-5 per withdrawal. Currency can also be exchanged at most banks, hotels or moneychangers in town.

9. Is credit card acceptable in Cambodia?
Credit cards are accepted in most upscale shops and restaurants in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. Visa, MasterCard and JCB are the most widely accepted credit card in Cambodia. AMEX is gaining wider acceptance while Diners Club is only accepted in a few places.

10. How do I get a Sim Card in Siem Reap?
Cambodia has a very competitive mobile markets; there are about 5 Telco for a population of 15 million. The SIM card providers are: Metfone, Smart, Cellcard, qb and Seatel. Metfone has the best 3G coverage outside of major towns in the provinces. Both Smart and Cellcard have good 3G coverage in major towns and tourist attractions though their connection might be patchy in  remote areas. By law to purchase a SIM card you need to bring along your passport with valid VISA (if applicable) to the telco office or booth for registration. However, this is not adhered by most retailers  who continue to sell SIM cards without the required IDs. You can buy prepaid 3G SIM card and/or top-up value easily from any telco booths, telco offices, phone shops or supermarkets in airport or town. Prices are generally low; you can easily get 1GB for 1 week duration for a couple of dollars.

11. Are there any good shopping in Siem Reap?
Siem Reap is not just about Angkor Wat and museums, it is also an up-and-coming shoppers’ paradise. Siem Reap is an excellent place to shop for quality and inexpensive Cambodian souvenirs, handicrafts, textiles and contemporary art. Besides the traditional shopping venues, new fashion and apparel malls and boutiques are also sprouting up every now and then. There are also dozens of night markets in Sieam Reap where you can stroll, shop and eat all night long.

12. What are the food options in Cambodia?
Bordered by Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam on three sides, Cambodia cuisine is very much influenced by its neighbours including China. There are noodle soups like Vietnamese phở and sandwiches like bánh mì. There are many dishes which are similar to Thai food but with less chili, sugar and coconut milk being used for flavoring. Indian inspired curries and Chinese style stir fry dishes are also commonly found in Cambodia cuisine. The main stable of Cambodians is rice while fresh water fish from the Mekong and the Tonle Sap make up a large part of the Cambodian diet. The pungent fermented fish paste Prahok used in almost every dishes is considered the sole of Cambodia cuisine. If Prahok is too much of an acquired taste for you, there are hundreds of restaurants serving all types of international food (French, Italian, Japanese etc) in Siem Reap and Phnom Pehn. Halal and vegetarian food can also be found easily in the cities.

13. Can I drink the water when traveling in Cambodia?
We strongly advise you not to drink water directly from the tap as it might not be safely treated. You should always drink boiled water or bottled water from reputable international or local brands like Dasani (Coca Cola), Evien, Kulara Water etc.

14. Is it customary to tip while traveling in Cambodia?
Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Asia; the medium wage is less than USD$200 per month. Many workers in the tourism and restaurant industry rely strongly on tips to supplement their meager income. Therefore we encourage tipping especially for good services.

15. What are the opening times of the Angkor Archaeological Park?
The park opens everyday from 7.30am till 5.30pm. However some temples and sites within the park have different opening times; Angkor Wat Temple opens at from 5.00am till 5.30pm while Bakheng Hill opens at from 5.00am till 7.00pm.

16. Are there any specific dress code for visiting the Angkor Archaeological Park ?
Angkor Wat is considered a holy religious site by many Cambodians. Visitors should dress politely and modestly as they would to visit any religious place. Visitors are required to wear pants or skirts below the knees and a T-shirt that covers the shoulders. Spaghetti straps, mini-skirts and shorts are prohibited. Visitors can and are frequently turned away by the park authority when wearing revealing clothing.

17. What type of footwear should I wear for visiting the Angkor Archaeological Park?
You will be doing a lot of walking as the Angkor Archaeological Park covers a very large area. Some of the trails connecting the various temples are not paved and are rocky with tree roots. You should wear sturdy covered shoes (running shoes are fine) for visiting the Park.

18. Is there a map for me to visualize the scale of the Angkor Archaeological Park 
Refer to the two links below which provide good maps to visualize the scale of Angkor Wat.
http://www.visit-angkor.org/project/angkor-map
https://www.google.com/streetview/#angkor-wat

19. What do I need to bring along for the trip?
A comprehensive packing list will be provided by us upon trip confirmation.

20. Are medical supplies easy to find in Siem Reap?
Medical supplies are readily available at pharmacies and supermarkets in Cambodia. U-care (http://www.ucarepharma.com/) is the biggest and most established pharmacy with many branches in Siem Reap. You will be able to find in U-care most of the medicine brands available at home.

21. Do I need vaccinations?
The vaccination and immunization required depend on the length of your stay, the activities you plan to undertake as well as your personal health conditions. Since most vaccination and immunization have to be done a few weeks in advance before departure in order to be effective, it is important for you to consult your doctor early. Kindly refer to these links for more info: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/cambodia

22. Is travel insurance provided in the package?
Travel insurance is not included in the package. We strongly recommend you to procure your own travel insurance before embarking on the Cambodia trip. You may also procure travel insurance through us: http://iwannatravel.com.sg/aigtravelguard. For more information, please refer to the brochure (http://iwannatravel.com.sg/downloads/AIG_TravelGuard_Brochure.pdf) and policy wordings (http://iwannatravel.com.sg/downloads/AIG_TravelGuard_PolicyWording.pdf).

Posted in FAQ

FAQ for Endau Rompin

1. Where is Endau Rompin National park?
Endau-Rompin National Park, straddling the states of Johor and Pahang is Malaysia’s second largest national park after Taman Negara. The National Park is named after the two major rivers Endau River and Rompin River which flow through the park. The park is actually divided into two areas; Endau Rompin Petai and Endau Rompin Selai. Endau Rompin Petai covers the eastern half of the park with entrance near the town of Kahang while Endau Rompin Selai covers the western half of the park with entrance near the town of Bekok. As of now, we only organize trip to Endau Rompin Petai.

2. How do get to Endau Rompin National Park?
The nearest town from Endau Rompin Petai is Kahang which is about 2.5 hours’ drive from Singapore. From Kahang, you have to travel for 1.5 hours via 4-wheel drive on unpaved road to Kampung Peta jetty located at the edge of the National Park. A further 45 min boat ride down the river will bring you to the first campsite at Kuala Jasin. Thereafter you have to trek for 1.5 hours to the second campsite at Kuala Marong where you will be camping for your stay in Endau Rompin.

3. What is so special about Endau Rompin National Park?
Endau Rompin is considered to be one of the last remaining lowland dipterocarp forest in Malaysia. The park is rich in flora and fauna like tigers, elephants, sun bears, and is believed to be the last refuge in Malaysia for the highly endangered and elusive Sumatran rhinoceros. Endau Rompin is unique from a geological and ecological standpoint. Its landscape was shaped by volcanic eruptions more than 240 million years ago. Ancient volcanic rocks like ignimbrites can still be clearly seen on the ground surface at some of the waterfalls. Its mountains are flattish topped sandstone plateau massifs and isolated from the main mountain range of Peninsular Malaysia, as a result of which bears a number of endemic species like the Gollum’s toad.

4. When is the best time to visit Endau Rompin National Park?
The best time to visit the National Park is during the non-rainy season from late Feb to early Nov. The park is also opened to visitors during the rainy season from Nov to Feb. To avoid sleeping in waterlogged tents during the rainy season, you can choose to stay overnight in the Orang Asli homestay which we can help to arrange. However due to the limited homestay availability in the village, booking has to be made at least one month in advance.

5. Who are the Orang Asli?
Orang Asli meaning ‘original people’ are the aboriginal inhabitants of the Peninsular Malaysia. They are believed to have migrated to Malaysia from other parts of Asia about 6000 to 8000 years back. Their total population is about 14,457,300 representing a mere 0.8% of Malaysia population. There are officially 18 Orang Asli tribes, categorized under three main groups according to their different languages and customs. The Orang Asli who lived in Endau Rompin belongs to the sub-tribe of Orang Asli called Jakun. Unlike the Malay Muslim, the Jakun are most animism in their religious belief.

6. Will there be chances to interact with the Orang Asli?
Orang Asli are exclusively engaged as guides for treks within Endau Rompin National Park. The Orang Asli guides are generally very friendly and like to interact with their guests to share with them their intimate knowledge of Endau Rompin and its environs – the place where they called their home. If time permits, the guide can also bring you to the Orang Asli village in Kampung Peta for a short visit.

7. What are the chances of wildlife sighting?
The chances of seeing small mammals like wild boars, gibbons and birds like hornbills and eagles is quite high. However, it is not likely that you will stumble upon bigger size mammals like elephants, tigers, sun bears as they are usually nocturnal animals and shy of people. However, you will definitely be able to see telltale signs of their presence during the trek; elephant dung, camera traps for tigers and sun bear claw marks on tree trunks are a common sight.

8. What is the difficulty level of the trek?
On Day 01, you will trek for 1.5 hours on relatively flat ground from the trailhead to Kuala Marong campsite where you will set up tent for the night. On Day 02, you will trek for 5-6 hours to Buaya Sangkut Waterfall and back to the campsite. The trail is undulating with some relatively steep sections but scrambling is not required. For Day 03, you will visit Upeh Gulling and Tasik Air Biru which are about 30 min return trek and 20 min return trek from the campsite respectively. Thereafter you will trek for 1.5 hours back to the trailhead. On all days, you will need to wade through some streams and knee level deep rivers. The rivers are usually slow flowing and there are ropes set up across the river to assist your crossing. Overall this trip is not very challenging and is suitable for beginner hikers. However, please take note that your guide might take another route if the usual routes are not accessible. So always bring more water than you think you need.

9. Do I need a trekking stick for the hike?
A hiking stick is useful for providing extra stability and traction when going uphill and reducing strain on joints when going downhill. It is a good to have but not absolutely necessary for this trip.

10. What clothes should l wear for the trek?
Dri-fit long sleeve T-shirt and pants will be useful to prevent insect bites and scratches, but it is still a personal preference as many hikers like to trek in short sleeve T-shirts and shorts. However, please do not wear any military/camou style clothing.

11. What types of footwear are recommended for the trek?
A pair of covered shoes with good traction and ankle grip to protect your feet from sharp rocks. Sandals and sports shoes are not recommended. Do trim your toe nails before the hike as long nails might rub against your shoes especially when going downhill causing subungual hematoma which is also commonly known as “black toes”. As there are leeches at the park, anti-leech socks will be useful. You can also purchase anti-leech socks at the park.

12. What is the accommodation like during the trip?
You will be camping in tent throughout the trip. It is also possible to stay in Orang Asli homestay instead of camping. However due to the limited availability of homestay in the village, booking has to be made at least one month in advance.

13. What are the camping equipment provided in the package?
2-man tent (~2 kg) with groundsheet and portable gas stove (< 1 kg) for cooking are provided in the package. As porters are not included in the package, you have to carry them up and down the trail yourselves. These equipment will be collected from the guide before your hike.  We do highly recommend you bring along your own tents if possible. The tents are provided by the park and we cannot guarantee their quality.

14. What other camping equipment should i bring along?
You should bring along some lightweight Aluminium mess tin (for cooking dinner and/or boiling water) and cutlery (forks and spoons). Sleeping bags and mats are good to have for added comfort but they are not an absolute necessity. Night temperature at the campsite is cool but not cold. Thicker or extra clothing can be worn to sleep to keep warm in lieu of sleeping bag. The camping ground is flat and non-rocky.

15. Where can I buy sleeping bag and mess tin?
Sleeping bag and mess tin can be bought from Army Market in beach road (http://armymarket.sg/), DG online (http://www.dgsoldiertalk.com/), Decathlon (https://www.decathlon.sg) or from outdoor supplies shops in Velocity @ Novena Square (http://www.velocitynovena.com/)

16. Do I need any specialized equipment for the trek?
This is a relatively straightforward trek along well defined path. Except for a good pair of covered shoes and headlight, you do not need other specialized equipment for this trek.

17. Will a packing list be provided to the participants?
A comprehensive packing list will be provided by us upon trip confirmation.

18. Are porters available for hire at the National Park?
Porters can be hired to carry the camping equipment and/or personal belongings from Kampung Peta jetty to Kuala Marong campsite and from Kuala Marong campsite back to Kampung Peta jetty. Each porter can carry up to 15 kg. The weight carried by the porter can be shared among the group. It cost SGD 50 to hire a porter for the one way trek between Kampung Peta jetty and Kuala Marong campsite. Therefore it cost SGD 100 for a two-way trek from Kampung Peta jetty to Kuala Marong campsite and back.

19. Will meals be provided during the trip?
Meals are not provided during the trip. You would have to bring your own food from Singapore. Trail food like bread, energy bars, biscuits, apples, nuts and raisins will be good for breakfast and lunch. Food to be cooked like instant noodles, spaghetti and canned food like sardines and luncheon meat will be good for dinner.

20. Are there portable water source along the trail?
There are no portable water source along the trail except at Kuala Marong campsite where there is clean tap water for drinking. According to the National Park, the water is piped from spring water source in the mountain. However, as the water is untreated, we recommend you to boil or treat with water purification tablet before consumption.

21. Are there shower and toilet facilities at the campsite?
Cold shower is available at the campsite but you would have to bring your toiletries. We strongly recommend you to use only biodegradable shower foam and shampoo so as to reduce impact on the environment. Basic toilets are also available.

22. How many guides will be provided for the trek?
We have a maximum guide to trekker ratio of 1:8. For example, 1 guide will be provided for group size of 8 pax; 2 guides will be provided for group size of 9-16 pax etc.

23. Does the Orang Asli guide speak English?
The Orang Asli guides are able to speak and understand conversational English.

24. What is the Rubbish Deposit?
Each trekking group has to pay a refundable rubbish deposit of 100 MYR to the National Park HQ before the climb. This deposit can only be paid in cash on the day of climb. Every hiker is also required to fill in a rubbish declaration form at the National Park HQ to declare the personal items that he or she is carrying up the mountain. After the climb, the national park officer will check the items that the hikers bring down to ensure that nothing (no trash) is left in the mountain. The deposit will then be refunded in full if the items declared tally with what the trekkers have. Otherwise, the deposit will be confiscated by the National Park HQ. It is every hiker’s responsibility to take care of the mountain by not littering and carrying their rubbish down.

25. How much tips is appropriate for the guide?
Tipping is highly encouraged especially for good services. A ballpark figure would be around 80-120 MYR to each guide for the whole group.
Is there mobile reception in the National Park?
There is no mobile reception in the National Park. Take it as a good opportunity to part with your phone for a while.

26. If I do not wish to camp, are there accommodations and meal options?
Yes, full board is available at Kampung Peta where there are family chalets and meals  will be taken care of. For the chalet option, you will still have a chance to take the boat ride to visit Upeh Guling and Tasik Air Biru. Other activities include tubing, animal traps and blowpipe demonstration. However, you will not be able to visit the Buaya Sangkut Waterfall as it is a long hike and only suitable for the camping itinerary.

27. Is travel insurance provided in the package?
Travel insurance is not included in the package. We strongly recommend you to procure your own travel insurance before embarking on this trip. You may also procure travel insurance through us: http://iwannatravel.com.sg/aigtravelguard. For more information, please refer to the brochure (http://iwannatravel.com.sg/downloads/AIG_TravelGuard_Brochure.pdf) and policy wordings (http://iwannatravel.com.sg/downloads/AIG_TravelGuard_PolicyWording.pdf

Posted in FAQ

FAQ for Flores

1. Where is Flores?
Flores (Flowers in Portuguese) is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, a group of islands in the eastern half of Indonesia. Its land area is about 20 times bigger than Singapore but its population is only one-third that of Singapore.  It is located to the east of Bali (about 500km as the crow flies), west of East Timor and south of Sulawesi. The peoples of Flores are almost entirely Roman Catholic Christians whereas most other Indonesians are Muslim – the result of its past colonization by Portugal.

2. What are the highlights in Flores?
Flores has long been a springboard to Komodo National Park – home of the famous Komodo dragons (largest lizard in the world) – but the island has much more to offer. The western end of Flores with its archipelago of beautiful Savannah islands – Komodo, Rinca, Padar, Kanawa, Seraya – offers some of the best diving and snorkeling spots in Indonesia. Heading east, highlights include the UNESCO Heritage Site of Wae Rebo – a remote highland village which is only accessible via a 4 hrs uphill trek, Liang Bua Cave dubbed as “Hobbit Caves” where remains of miniature humans (Homo floresiensis) were found and the traditional Ngada villages of Desa Guru Sina, Desa Langa, Desa Bela, and Desa Lina Tiwa. Further east are Riung 17 Islands Marine Nature Reserve and the tri-coloured Kelimutu Lake which changes colour at different times of the day. The volcanoes dotted island with its numerous mountains (Mount Mbeiling, Mount Inerie, Mount Ebulobo), waterfalls (Cunca Wulang, Cunca Cami) and hot springs is a trekking paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

3. When is the best time to visit Flores?
The best time to visit Flores is during the non-rainy season from March to November. All the national parks including Komodo and Kelimutu National Parks are opened 365 days a year but be prepared for muddy roads and cloudly skies if you visit during the rainy season from December to February.

4. Why Flores?
Flores means Flower in Portuguese and it is indeed endowed with unspoiled nature and rich cultural heritage. Unlike heavily touristed Bali, the local population in Flores is not dependent on tourism for their livelihood. Coupled with its rugged and mountainous landscape that has hindered access to the island’s interior in the past, Flores has remained pretty intact pretty intact from the negative aspect of tourism. Flores is largely devoid of tourist horde and you can have large portions of it as a traveller to yourself.

5. How to get into Flores?
There are no direct flight between Singapore and Flores. The most convenient way to enter Flores is via a transit flight from Bali. Garuda Indonesia and Wings Air offer daily connection between Denpasar In Bali and Labuan Bajo in Flores. The flight time is about 1hr 20 min.

6. How is the road conditions in Flores?
Major towns and destinations in Flores are connected by paved roads which are well maintained and relatively free of potholes. However, due to the mountainous terrain, the roads are generally narrow, steep and winding with average driving speed around 30km/hr. Most other roads in Flores are unpaved with potholes. One needs a four-wheel-drive or car with good suspension to travel on these dirt roads.

7. How is the telecommunication network coverage in Flores?
Telecommunication including 3G is readily available in most part of Flores including Komodo National Park except in more remote places like Wae Rebo. Many hotels and restaurants offer free wifi services for their guests. A local pre-paid sim card with 2-4 GD data bundle typically costs less than 150K IDR. Telkomsel has the best coverage in Flores and their simcard brand is called SimPATI.

8. Is tap water drinkable in Flores?
Tap water in Flores is not fit for direct drinking. Generally you would have to buy bottled mineral or distilled water from supermarkets or convenient stores though some hotels do provide free drinking water.

9. What are the food choices in Flores?
Labuan Bajo has a quite a diverse dinning scene with wide selection of western restaurant bars and warungs (small eateries serving local food). Cheap and fresh seafood is readily available along coastal towns while in Flores interior, food is usually more locally inclined but some hotel restaurants do do serve delicious western food.

10. What are the general recommendation for vaccination and immunization?
The vaccination and immunization required depend on the length of your stay, the activities you plan to undertake as well as your personal health conditions. Since most vaccination and immunization have to be done a few weeks in advance before departure in order to be effective, it is important for you to consult your doctor early. There are some risk of Malaria and Dengue in Flores. Kindly refer to these links for more info: https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/index.html https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/

Posted in FAQ

FAQ for Xueshan

1. When is the best time to climb?
The recommended period to climb Xueshan is during the dry season from October to December. From late December to March, the mountain will be heavily clad in snow and crampons would be needed for the ascent. Another good time to climb is during late spring from May to early June when the mountain is blooming with beautiful wild flowers but is also the plum rain season with occasional light showers. July to September is the typhoon season which contributes to occasional landslides and slippery trails.

2. How does the permit system work?
You need to have 2 types of permits to climb Xueshan; a National Park Entry Permit (issued by the National Park) and a Police Permit (issued by the Police). The National Park Entry Permit is meant for entering Xueba National Park while the Police Permit is meant for entering any high altitude area within the National Park. Application for the National Park Entry Permit has to be submitted to the National Park before the balloting date, which happens one month before your climb date. The Police Permit can be applied on the climb date. As the accommodation at 369 cabin is tied to the National Park Entry Permit; you will be guaranteed a bunk bed space if your National Park Entry Permit application is successful.

3. What is the booking process like?
To increase your chance of getting the National Park Entry Permit, you should book the trip with us as early as possible – at least 2 months before your climb date. We will require 50% deposit to proceed with the National Park Entry Permit application. The permit application result will be known one month before your climb date. If the permit application is successful, you are required to pay the balance payment in full to confirm your climb with us. If the permit application is not successful, we will refund the full 50% deposit back to you.

4. How does the typical hiking itinerary look like?
Day01: In the afternoon, transfer from Taipei to Nan Shan Village (南山村) in Yilan  (~5 hrs. drive). Overnight in homestay at Nan Shan Village.

Day02: In the morning, check-out from homestay and proceed to Wuling Farm and the Police Station nearby for the climb registration and the Police Permit application respectively. Proceed to trailhead to start your trek towards 369 Cabin (三六九山莊). Overnight in dormitory at 369 Cabin.

Day03: Wake up early in the morning for the sunrise summit trek. After sunrise, trek back to 369 Cabin for breakfast and check-out. Descend back to the trailhead where your transport will be waiting to fetch you back to Taipei.

5. What are the accommodations like?
Both accommodations in Nan Shan Village and 369 Cabin are dormitory bunk beds styles accommodation with shared toilets.

6. Are sleeping bags provided?
Sleeping bag will only be provided at 369 Cabin while winter blankets will be provided at Nan Shan Village.

7. Are there showers at the lodges?
Hot shower is available at Nan Shan Village. There is no bathing facility at 369 Cabin.

8. Are meals provided during the trek?
All meals will be served in the lodge by the lodge’s kitchen for the whole duration of the trek. Meals are usually Chinese style dishes like porridge, soup noodles, rice with vegetables and meats, etc. However, utensils are not provided and you will have to bring your own utensils (mess tin, fork and spoon).

9. Is drinking water provided during the trek?
There is no water source along the whole trail except at the lodges. Boiled water will be available for top-up at the lodges for free. Please bring along a heat resistant water bottle for the refill.

10. What is the trail’s terrain like?
The trail is well defined and marked with distance markers showing the distance travelled. The total trekking distance from the trailhead to the summit is 10.9km. The trail leading from the trailhead (2180m) to 369 cabin (3100m) is 6.9km long. This section of the trail is moderately steep; mostly gravel path with wooden bridges along the way. The trail from 369 cabin to the summit (3886m) is 4km long. The section of the trail is relatively steep especially the last 500m where some scrambling is required.

11. How long is the trek and how many hours do we trek each days?
The hiking distance and durations are:
Day 01: Trailhead – 369 Cabin – 6.9 km (6 hrs)
Day 02: 369 Cabin – Summit – 369 Cabin – Trailhead 14.8 km (13 hrs)
(Timings are estimated and depended on the individual trekker’s physical stamina and conditions).

12. When is the summit day and how is the climb like?
The summit day is on Day 02 of the trek. You will wake up around 2am for the summit climb. It takes about 4 hrs to reach the summit (for sunrise if you can reach on time) and another 3 hours to descend back to the camp site. If you do not wish to attempt the summit climb, you may stay at the lodge to wait for the summiteers to return.

13. What is the temperature like in the mountains?
Temperatures vary with altitude and seasons. Night temperatures at 369 cabin can be below 0 degree Celsius in winter months while summit temperatures can be below -5 degree Celsius before sunrise.

14. What clothes should l wear for the trek?
A quick dry synthetic material shirt (can be either short or long sleeve) as the base layer, a good quality fleece jacket/woollen pull-over as the middle layer and a thick wind proof jacket as the outer layer. Waterproof and wind- proof trekking pants will be desirable as well as a pair of woollen gloves, beanie and scarf for additional cold protection.

15. What types of footwear are recommended for the trek?
A pair of trekking shoes (that you have worn before) with good traction. Mid or high-cut shoes are preferred over low-cut ones for better ankle grips and to prevent loose soils from getting into the shoes.

16. What is the difficulty level of the trek?
Climbing Xueshan is tough; but anyone in reasonable shape should be able to manage to climb the mountain within 2D1N. You are expected to carry your own personal daypack of 6-8 kilograms. Normal hiking throughout except for some scrambling towards the summit. No rock climbing or technical climbing skills are needed.

17. Do I need trekking sticks for the trek?
Hiking sticks will be useful for providing additional traction when going uphill and reduce strain on joints when going downhill.

18. Do I need any specialized equipment for the trek?
This is a relatively straightforward trek along well defined path except for the summit trek where some scrambling is required to gain your foothold over steep ground. Except for a set of cold wear, a good pair of trekking shoes, a headlamp, trekking sticks and crampons (for winter climb only and will be provided), you do not need other specialized equipment for this trek. Upon booking confirmation, a detailed packing list will be provide to you to help you pack for your trip.

19. What are the training required to get myself prepared for the trek?
Exercise at least twice a week; comprising of either mid-distance jogging (~5km) or stair climbing (~60 stories height) at least 6 weeks in advance should be sufficient to condition your body for the climb. A longer period of conditioning is required for those who are unaccustomed to physical exercise.

20. Where can I store my extra belongings/luggage which I do not wish to carry up the mountain?
You may store your extra belongings/luggage in the vehicle and collect them after your trek.

21. Will porters be provided for the trek?
Porters are not included in our standard itinerary for this trek as you can leave your extra belongings/luggage in the vehicle. However, we can help to arrange for a porter if you require one.

22. How much does it cost to hire porter?
Porters are available for hire but very costly at SGD380 per porter for the whole trip. Each porter can carry up to 25kg, therefore the cost of the porter can be split among the group.

23. Is high altitude sickness a problem for the climb?
Xueshan’s height is high enough for altitude sickness to be of a concern. Refer to the link below for more info on high altitude sickness: its symptoms, prevention and treatment: http://www.traveldoctor.co.uk/altitude.htm

24. Is travel insurance provided in the package?
Travel insurance is not included in the package. We strongly recommend you to procure your own travel insurance before embarking on the Xueshan trip. You may also procure travel insurance through us: http://iwannatravel.com.sg/aigtravelguard.

25. Can you pick me up or drop me off at another location instead of Taipei City?
While it is possible to arrange an alternative pick up location, there might be extra transportation cost which we have to pay the driver. Note that Taoyuan airport is located 50km west of Taipei City so there will also be extra cost for direct airport pick up.  Just let us know your requirements and we will ensure any additional cost is known up front.

26. Will there be a refund if the climb is cancelled due to weather?
For the safety of hikers, the National Park might cancel or halt the climb in the event of adverse weather (heavy downpour/snow or lightning risk). As this is considered an act of god (out of human control), no refund will be made to the clients.

29. Do you rent hiking sticks and crampons?
Yes, hiking sticks can be rented at SGD 4.8 for one piece and crampons can be rented at SGD 28 for a pair. These will be passed to you before the hike.

Posted in FAQ

FAQ for Mount Semeru

1. When is the best trekking season for Mount Semeru?
The best trekking season is during the dry season from April to November. The mountain is usually closed to hikers during the rainy season from December to March.

2. What is the difficulty level of the trek?
Mount Semeru is considered a tough trek (more so than Mount Rinjani); trekkers are expected to trek on steep slopes and uneven terrain for a duration of 8-9 hrs daily for 3D2N. Porters will be provided throughout the climb but you are expected to carry your own personal daypack of less than 5 kilograms. Normal trekking throughout except for some scrambling towards the summit. No rock climbing or technical climbing skills are needed. Summit sunrise climb is entirely optional, climbers who would like to conserve their energy instead could choose to have a longer rest and wait for their teammates at the campsite.

3. How long is the trek and how many hours do we trek each days?
The whole trek takes 3D2N to complete. The trekking durations are: Day 01 ~ 10 hrs; Day 02 ~ 11 hrs; Day 03 ~ 4 hrs. (Timings are estimated and depends on the individual trekker’s physical stamina and conditions).

4. When is the summit day and how is it like?
The summit day is on Day 02 of the trek. You will wake up around 1 am for the summit climb. It takes about 4-5 hrs to reach the summit (for sunrise if you can reach on time) and another 3 hours to descend back to the campsite. If you do not wish to attempt the summit climb, you may stay at the campsite to wait for the summiteers to return.

5. What is the temperature like in the mountains?
The temperature in the day is around 5 – 20 degree Celsius. At night, the temperature is usually below 5 degree Celsius. At times, it can drop to below zero degree Celsius especially towards the summit.

6. What clothes should l wear for the trek?
A quick dry synthetic material shirt (can be either short or long sleeve) as the base layer, a good quality fleece jacket/woollen pull-over as the middle later and a thick wind proof jacket as the outer layer. A waterproof and windproof trekking pants is desirable and a pair of woollen gloves, beanie and scarf for additional cold protection.

7. What types of footwear are recommended for the trek?
A pair of trekking shoes (that you have worn before) with good traction. Mid or high-cut shoes are preferred over low-cut ones for better ankle grips and to prevent loose soils from getting into the shoes.

8. Do I need a trekking stick for the trek?
A hiking stick is highly recommended for the summit climb as the terrain towards the summit is very steep and consists of very fine and loose volcanic soil that may cause one to slip down easily.

9. Do I need any specialized equipment for the trek?
This is a non-technical climb; except for a set of cold wear, a good pair trekking shoes, a headlamp and trekking sticks, you do not need other specialized equipment for this trek. Upon booking confirmation, a detailed packing list will be provide to you to help you pack for your trip.

10. What is the accommodation like on the Semeru trek?
You will be camping in a tent with sleeping bag and sleeping mat provided.

11. Is high altitude sickness a problem for the climb?
Semeru is high enough for altitude sickness to be a concern. Refer to below link for more info on high altitude sickness; its symptoms, prevention and treatment: http://www.traveldoctor.co.uk/altitude.htm

12. How much drinking water will be provided during the trek?
Each person will be allocated 3 litres of drinking water (mineral water) for each day of the trek. The bulk of the water will be carried by the porters. Topping up of water into your water bottle/bag will be done at each resting point or anytime during the trek when your water supply runs low.

13. Do the guide and porters speaks English?
Our guides are conversant in English but most porters can only understand simple English.

14. Will porters will be provided for the trek?
Porters will be provided to carry communal luggage like tents, sleeping bags, food, drinks, cooking utensils etc. You may hire additional porters to carry your personal belongings at SGD 30 per day per porter. Each porter can carry up to 25kg, therefore the cost of the porters can be split among the group.

15. Where can I leave my extra luggage during the trek?
You can either hire additional porters to carry your extra luggage during the trek or leave them in the vehicle. After the trek, you can collect your luggage from the vehicle. Please do not leave any valuables in the vehicle. We would not be held responsible for any losses or theft.

16. How much tips is appropriate for the guide and porters?
Tipping is highly encouraged especially for good services as the porters are local villagers who work as porter during the hiking season to earn extra cash.  A ballpark figure would be around IDR 300K to the guide and around IDR 100K to each porter for the whole group.

17. What are the meals like during the trek?
Breakfast: Toast with jam, scramble egg, cereal, pancake etc.
Lunch: Sandwich, fried rice, noodle soup, Gado-gado etc.
Dinner: Spaghetti, rice with vegetables and some meat, fried noodles etc.
Others: Fruits, coffee and tea etc.

18. What is the health check up about?
All trekkers intending to climb Mount Semeru are required by the Semeru National Park to obtain health clearance from a local clinic in Indonesia. The heath check-up consists of some health questionnaire, weight and height measurement and blood pressure measurement. The fee for the health check-up will be included in our package price. This will be done on day 1 at Tumpang.

19. Is it safe to climb Mount Semeru?
Mount Semeru is the highest peak in Java and has been active for decades. The volcano is constantly spewing black cloud of ash and sand – sometimes once an hour, sometimes as often as 10 minutes. There have been a number of fatalities, but it is a popular and safe hike if you hike with care and treat the mountain with respect. As Java’s highest peak, it is one of the finest hikes in Indonesia.

20. Is travel insurance provided in the package?
Travel insurance is not included in the package. We strongly recommend you to procure your own travel insurance before embarking on the Mount Semeru trip. You may also procure travel insurance through us: http://iwannatravel.com.sg/aigtravelguard. For more information, please refer to the brochure (http://iwannatravel.com.sg/downloads/AIG_TravelGuard_Brochure.pdf) and policy wordings (http://iwannatravel.com.sg/downloads/AIG_TravelGuard_PolicyWording.pdf.

21. Is it possible to arrange trip extension to other places of interest around the region after the trek?
Yes, we can help to organise and arrange to other places of interest like Mount Bromo, Mount Ijen, and Malang etc. Let us know your preferences and we would be happy to provide you with your personalised itinerary.

Posted in FAQ

FAQ for Borobudur

1. When is the best time to visit Borobudur Park?
Borobudur in Java has its dry season from April to October and a wet season from November to March. The dry season also coincides with the peak tourist season and can be sweltering in the day. Incidence of rain is higher during the wet season but there are still some pockets of excellent weather.

2. When is the best time of the day to visit Borobudur Park?
The best time of the day to visit Borobudur is during early morning to avoid the scorching sun as well as the tourist crowds, or late afternoon to catch the beautiful sunset from the top of Borobudur.

3. What are the sights within Borobudur Park?
Other than the main highlight of Borobudur temple, there are also two interesting museums; Karmawibhangga Museum and Samudra Raksa Museum. Karmawibhangga Museum is an archaeology museum which exhibits the temple’s history, restoration work and thousands of original stones carvings and relics from the temple. Samudra Raksa Museum is a maritime museum which focuses on the ancient maritime Indian Ocean trade among Indonesia, Madagascar, and East Africa, popularly dubbed as “the cinnamon route”. From the top of Borobudur, you will enjoy a panoramic view of the Kedu Plain with the majestic Mount Merapi in the background. You can also visit the two smaller temples of Pawon and Mendut which are a few kilometres away, forming a straight line corridor with Borobudur.

4. How long does it take to visit Borobudur Park?
It takes at least 2 hours to visit the main temple and another hour to visit the Karmawibhangga Museum and Samudra Raksa Museum.

5. Are there any specific dress code for visiting Borobudur Park?
Borobudur is considered a holy religious site by many Indonesians. Visitors should dress politely and modestly as they would to visit any religious place. Shorts and mini-skirts are prohibited. Visitors are also required to wear a sarong whilst visiting Borobudur. If you do not have your own, one can be borrowed at the entrance gate.

6. What is the itinerary like for the Borobudur Sunrise Tour?
Your driver will pick you up from your hotel at 330am for the Borobudur sunrise tour. Upon reaching the Borobudur Park, you will climb up to the top level of Borobudur to wait for the sunrise. After sunrise, you can explore the temple at your own leisure for 1-2 hours before the busloads of tourists arrive. An additional cost of up to $25 per pax is required for upgrading your Borobudur tour to the Sunrise Package.

7. What are the opening hours of Borobudur Park?
Borobudur is opened to visitors daily from 6am to 5pm. Visitors who sign up for the Borobudur Sunrise Tour will be allowed to visit the temple from 430am onwards.

8. Is it recommended to hire a local guide within Borobudur Park?
We recommend you to hire a local guide within Borobudur for a guided tour of Borobudur. The local guides are licensed by the Borobudur Park Management and are well versed with the history of Borobudur. The guide would be able to explain the reliefs in some details and enhance your tour experience. The guide can be hired on the day itself at the main entrance to Park for 75,000 – 100,000 IDR per hour for the whole group.

9. Are there any special events to look out for in Borobudur Park?
The Borobudur Park hosts an open air dance performance of the Mahakarya Borobudur once a year. The Mahakarya tells the story of the conception and construction of the temple, interweaving the stories of the Saliendra dynasty and local life of the 8th Century. It is a colossal masterpiece performance involving more than 250 dancer against the backdrop of Borobudur at night. On Vesak Day or Buddha’s Birthday (aka Waisak Day in Indonesia) which falls on April or May, an elaborate and colourful multi-day Buddhist festival is held at Borobudur, culminating in a candle-lit procession from Candi Mendut to Borobudur.

10. Are there any restaurants/eateries within Borodudur Park?
There are no restaurants/eateries within Borodudur Park (except at the 4 star Manohara Hotel which resides within the Park but expect to pay more for the convenience and setting), but there are quite a number of nice eateries outside Borodudur Park. Once nice eatery is the Paksi Coffe House (Jl. Badrawati, Ngaran I, Borobudur) which serves Indonesian food and Indonesian coffee at a reasonable price.

11. Can you recommend some restaurants at Yogyakarta?
1. The Sawal
Cuisines: Indonesian
Address: Sekarpetak RT/RW 01/37 No. 1 (near Kasongan) Bangunjiwo, Kasihan, Bantul, Yogyakarta 55184,Indonesia
Telephone: +628174119452
Notes: Call ahead for reservation, Restaurant is located at Betul, 45 minutes drive from central Yogyakarta
2. Milas
Cuisines: Vegetarian
Address: Jalan Prawirotaman 4 No. 127B | Parangtritis, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta 55153, Indonesia
Telephone: +622747423399
3. Kesuma Restaurant
Cuisines: Indonesian
Address: 827, Gang Sartono | Mantrijeron, Yogyakarta 55143, Indonesia
Telephone: +6285100245027
4. Hani’s Restaurant & Bakery
Cuisines: European
Address: Jl Prawirotaman 14 | Prawirotaman, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Telephone: +62274374789

12. Any other advice for visiting Borodudur Park?
Remember to bring an umbrella and sunblock lotion along to shield yourself from the harsh sun rays.

Posted in FAQ

FAQ for Yushan

1. When is the best time to climb Yushan?
It is possible to climb Yushan all year round. However, there could be a possibility for your hiking permit to be cancelled due to typhoons during the summer time (July-September). The recommended period to climb Yushan is during the dry season from October to December. From late December to March, the mountain will be heavily clad in snow and crampons would be needed for the ascent. Another good time to climb is during late spring from May to early June when the mountain is blooming with beautiful wild flowers.

2. How does the permit system work?
You need to have 2 types of permits to climb Yushan; a National Park Entry Permit (issued by the National Park) and a Police Permit (issued by the Police). The National Park Entry Permit is meant for entering Yushan National Park while the Police Permit is meant for entering any high altitude area within the National Park. Application for the National Park Entry Permit has to be submitted to the National Park before the balloting date, which happens one month before your climb date. The Police Permit can be applied on the climb date. As the accommodation at Paiyun lodge is tied to the National Park Entry Permit; you will be guaranteed a bunk bed space if your National Park Entry Permit application is successful.

3. What is the booking process like?
To increase your chance of getting the National Park Entry Permit, you should book the trip with us as early as possible – at least 2 months before your climb date. We will require 50% deposit to proceed with the National Park Entry Permit application. The permit application result will be known one month before your climb date. If the permit application is successful, you are required to pay the balance payment in full to confirm your climb with us. If the permit application is not successful, we will refund the full 50% deposit back to you. We recommend

4. Is there another way to get guaranteed National Park Entry Permit?
The National Park does provide non-balloting slots to foreigners for weekday climbs (Sunday to Thursday).  However, slots are very limited (24 foreigner slots with maximum of 4 Taiwanese guides) and application has to be made more than 4 months in advance.  If possible, we do recommend that customers go for these slots. A suitable itinerary will be departure from Taipei City and overnight at Dongpu on Saturday, start trek on Sunday and overnight at Paiyun on Sunday, summit and return to Taipei on Monday.

5. What if I do not get the permits?
If we fail to get the permits, we can arrange alternative 2D2N climbs such as Xueshan (Snow Mountain) or Nan Hua Shan.  These mountains also work on a permit system but is less popular than Yushan.  Generally, we will be able to organise a trek for you as long as you open to other mountains.  However, if Yushan is your only choice, we suggest that you do not buy air tickets to Taiwan before the permits are secured.

6. How does the typical hiking itinerary look like?
Day 01: In the late afternoon around 500pm, transfer from Taipei City (metro station or hotel) to Dongpu Lodge (東埔山莊) in Nantou (~5 hrs. drive). Overnight in dormitory at Dongpu Lodge.

Day 02 (or Day 01 of trek): In the morning, check-out from lodge and proceed to Tataka Visitor Centre (塔塔加遊客中心) and the Police Station nearby for the climb registration and the Police Permit application respectively. Proceed to trailhead at Tatajia Anbu to start your trek towards Paiyun Lodge (排雲山莊). Overnight in dormitory at Paiyun Lodge.

Day 03 (or Day 02 of trek): Wake up early in the morning for the sunrise summit trek. After sunrise, trek back to Paiyun Lodge for breakfast and check-out. Descend back to Dongpu Lodge where your transport will be waiting to fetch you back to Taipei.

7. What are the accommodations like?
Both Dongpu and Paiyun Lodge are dormitory bunk beds styles accommodation with shared toilets.

8. Are sleeping bags provided?
Sleeping bag will only be provided at Paiyun Lodge while winter blankets will be provided at Dongpu Lodge. You need not bring your own sleeping bags.

9. Are there showers at the lodges?
Hot water is available at Dongpu Lodge, but note that the bathing facilities are basic. (E.g.: Bucket, Kettle) There is no bathing facility at Dongpu Lodge.

10. Are meals provided during the trek?
Meals will be served in the lodges (Dongpu Lodge and Paiyun Lodge) by the lodges’ kitchens for the whole duration of the trek. Meals are usually Chinese style dishes like porridge, soup noodles, rice with vegetables and meats, etc. However, as you will still be on the trail during lunch time on day 01 of the trek, lunch will not be provided by the lodge and you need to bring along trail food. On day 01 of the trek, breakfast and dinner will be provided while on day 02 of the trek, breakfast and lunch will be provided.

11. Is drinking water provided during the trek?
There is no water source along the whole trail except at the lodges. Boiled water will be available for top-up at the lodges for free. Please bring along a heat resistant water bottle for the refill.

12. What is the trail’s terrain like?
The trail is well defined and clearly marked with distance markers every half KM showing the distance travelled and the remaining distance to Paiyun Lodge/summit. The trail leading from the trailhead at Tatajia Anbu (2600m) to Paiyun Lodge (3400m) is 8.5km long. This section of the trail is relatively gentle. The trail from Paiyun Lodge to the summit (3952m) is 2.4km long. The section of the trail is relatively steep especially the last 500m where some scrambling is required.

13. How long is the trek and how many hours do we trek each days?
The hiking distance and durations are:
Day 01: Tatajia Anbu – Paiyun Lodge – 8.5km (6 hrs)
Day 02 Paiyun Lodge – Summit – Paiyun Lodge – Tatajia Anbu 13.3km (11 hrs)
(Timings are estimated and depended on the individual trekker’s physical stamina and conditions).

14. When is the summit day and how is the climb like?
The summit day is on Day 02 of the trek. You will wake up around 2-3am for the summit climb. It takes about 3-4 hrs to reach the summit (for sunrise if you can reach on time) and another 3 hours to descend back to the camp site. If you do not wish to attempt the summit climb, you may stay at the lodge to wait for the summiteers to return.

15. What is the temperature like in the mountains?
Temperatures vary with altitude and seasons. Night temperatures at Paiyun Lodge can be below 0 degree Celsius in winter months while summit temperatures can be below -5 degree Celsius before sunrise.

16. What clothes should l wear for the trek?
A quick dry synthetic material shirt (can be either short or long sleeve) as the base layer, a good quality fleece jacket/woollen pull-over as the middle layer and a thick wind proof jacket as the outer layer. Waterproof and wind- proof trekking pants will be desirable as well as a pair of woollen gloves, beanie and scarf for additional cold protection.

17. What types of footwear are recommended for the trek?
A pair of trekking shoes (that you have worn before) with good traction. Mid or high-cut shoes are preferred over low-cut ones for better ankle grips and to prevent loose soils from getting into the shoes.

18. What is the difficulty level of the trek?
Climbing Yushan is tough; but anyone in reasonable shape should be able to manage to climb the mountain within 2D1N. You are expected to carry your own personal daypack of 6-8 kilograms. Normal hiking throughout except for some scrambling towards the summit. No rock climbing or technical climbing skills are needed.

19. Do I need trekking sticks for the trek?
Hiking sticks will be useful for providing additional traction when going uphill and reduce strain on joints when going downhill.

20. Do I need any specialized equipment for the trek?
This is a relatively straightforward trek along well defined path except for the summit trek where some scrambling is required to gain your foothold over steep ground. Except for a set of cold wear, a good pair of trekking shoes, a headlamp and trekking sticks you do not need other specialized equipment for this trek. Upon booking confirmation, a detailed packing list will be provide to you to help you pack for your trip.

21. What are the training required to get myself prepared for the trek?
Exercise at least twice a week; comprising of either mid-distance jogging (~5km) or stair climbing (~60 stories height) at least 6 weeks in advance should be sufficient to condition your body for the climb. A longer period of conditioning is required for those who are unaccustomed to physical exercise.

22. Where can I store my extra belongings/luggage which I do not wish to carry up the mountain?
You may store your extra belongings/luggage at the Dongpu Lodge or in your vehicle and collect them after your trek. We recommend that you keep your belongings secured with padlocks. Do not leave any valuables behind in the lodge. We are not liable for any loss of your belongings.

23. Will porters be provided for the trek?
Porters are not included in our standard itinerary for this trek as you can leave your extra belongings/luggage at the Dongpu Lodge. However, we can help to arrange for a porter if you require one.

24. How much does it cost to hire porter?
Porters are available for hire but rather costly at about SGD 380 per porter for the whole trip. Each porter can carry up to 25kg, therefore the cost of the porter can be split among the group.

25. Is high altitude sickness a problem for the climb?
Yushan’s height is high enough for altitude sickness to be of a concern. Refer to the link below for more info on high altitude sickness: its symptoms, prevention and treatment: http://www.traveldoctor.co.uk/altitude.htm

26. Is travel insurance provided in the package?
Travel insurance is not included in the package. We strongly recommend you to procure your own travel insurance before embarking on the Yushan trip. You may also procure travel insurance through us: http://iwannatravel.com.sg/aigtravelguard.

27. Can you pick me up or drop me off at another location instead of Taipei City?
While it is possible to arrange an alternative pick up location, there might be extra transportation cost which we have to pay the driver. Note that Taoyuan airport is located 50km west of Taipei City so there will also be extra cost for direct airport pick up.  Just let us know your requirements and we will ensure any additional cost is known up front.

28. Will there be a refund if the climb is cancelled due to weather?
For the safety of hikers, the National Park might cancel or halt the climb in the event of adverse weather (heavy downpour/snow or lightning risk). As this is considered an act of god (out of human control), no refund will be made to the clients.

29. Do you rent hiking sticks and crampons?
Yes, hiking sticks can be rented at SGD 4.8 for one piece and crampons can be rented at SGD 28 for a pair. These will be passed to you before the hike.

Posted in FAQ

FAQ for Mount Stong State Park

1. Where is Mount Stong State Park?
Mount Stong State Park is an off the beaten track forested gem with several prominent mountain peaks, pristine rivers, multi-tier waterfalls and limestone caves located in the Malaysia State of Kelantan. The area is also home to a variety of flora and fauna like deer, elephants, tapirs, tigers and Rafflesia – the largest flower in the world etc.

2. When is the best time to visit Mount Stong State Park?
The best time to visit Mount Stong State Park is during the non-monsoon season from March to October. The incidence of rain is much higher during the monsoon season from November to February.

3. How to get to Mount Stong State Park?
The gateway to Mount Stong Park is the small town of Dabong (~7km to the Park Entrance) which can be reached by an overnight train from Johor Bahru. Alternatively our guide can also pick you up in a private transport from either Gua Musang (reachable from KL via coach) or Kota Bahru (reachable via flight from Singapore).

4. What does the typical hiking itinerary look like?

Day 1: Explore limestone caves (~ 2 hrs exploration) followed by a hike (~2 hrs) to Camp Baha where you will set-up camp for the night.

Day 2: Hike to the summits of Mount Stong (1422m), Mount Baha (1309m) and Mount Ayam (1504m). Depending on your fitness level and interests, you can climb one or two summits in one day. It is possible to climb three summits within a day but this is only recommended for very experienced and very fit hikers.

The typical routes and hiking durations are:

  1. Camp Baha → Mount Stong → Camp Baha: ~ 6-8 hrs return hike.
  2. Camp Baha → Mount Baha → Mount Stong → Camp Baha: ~ 10-12 hrs return hike.
  3. Camp Baha → Mount Baha → Mount Ayam → Mount Stong → Camp Baha: ~ more than 16 hrs return hike.

Day 3: Hike up the seven-tiered Stong Waterfalls (~4 hrs return hike) followed by a hike (~2 hrs) back to the trailhead for your transport back to Dabong.

5. What is the difficulty level of the hike?
This is one of the most challenging and strenuous hikes in our offerings. Interested hikers should be comfortable with walking on slopes for prolonged hours (up to 10 hrs daily) for 2-3 consecutive days. There will be some river crossing so be prepared to get wet. Please do not underestimate the difficulty.

6. What are the training required to get myself prepared for the hike?
Exercise at least twice a week; comprising of either mid-distance jogging (~5km) or stair climbing (~60 stories height) at least 6 weeks in advance should be sufficient to condition your body for the climb. A longer period of conditioning is required for those who are unaccustomed to physical exercise.

7. What should I do if I cannot catch up with the others during the hike?
While your mountain guide will keep a watch out for everybody, you should not feel embarrass to voice out if you need help. Always stay with the group and stay on trail. Safety is of utmost importance.

8. What should I do if I am injured or feel sick during the hike?
You should stop climbing and inform the guide of your injury or sickness. The guide will assess your condition and determine the necessary course of action. For mild conditions, you may either rest at one of the checkpoints or descend back to the campsite with your guide.

9. What type of accommodation is used during the hike?
You will camping in tent at the Camp Baha campsite. The campsite will sever as your base for the exploration of Mount Stong State Park.

10. Are sleeping bag and mat provided?
Sleeping bag and mat are not provided. They are good to have but not a necessity.

11. Are there shower facilities and toilets at the campsite?
There are simple camp toilets but no shower facilities at the campsite.

12. What clothes should l wear for the hike?
Dri-fit long sleeve T-shirt and pants will be useful to prevent insect bites and scratches.

13. What types of footwear are recommended for the hike?
A pair of covered shoes with good traction and ankle grip to protect your feet from sharp rocks. Sandals and sports shoes are not recommended. Do trim your toe nails before the hike as long nails might rub against your shoes especially when going downhill causing subungual hematoma which is also commonly known as “black toes”.

14. Do I need a trekking stick for the hike?
A hiking stick is especially useful for providing extra stability and balance during river crossing. It also helps to provide additional traction when going uphill and reduce strain on joints when going downhill.

15. What are the other essential hiking gears for the hike?
You will also require a headlight (in case it gets dark before you return back to campsite) and a poncho. Upon booking confirmation, a detailed packing list will be provided to help you pack for your trip.

16. Are rations and water provided during the hike?
Rations (breakfast, lunch and dinner) will be provided by the guide for the whole duration of the hike. Water (either bottled mineral water or boiled water) will be issued by the guide during meal times.

17. Can I hire porters for the hike?
Porters can be hired to carry your personal belongings but have to be hired well in advanced; at least 2 weeks before the trip.

18. Where can I store my extra belongings/luggage which I do not wish to carry up the summit?
You may store your extra belongings/luggage inside the tent at the campsite but do not leave any valuables behind. We are not liable for any loss of belongings

19. How much tips is appropriate for the guide?
Tipping is highly encouraged especially for good services. A ballpark figure would be around 100 MYR to each guide for the whole group for the entire trip.

20. What should I do if I don’t feel well after the hike?
Sore knees and aching muscles are common after the hike, rest for a few days and you should start to feel better and be back to normal. If you still feel unwell, or suffer from other ailments, please consult a doctor immediately.

21. Is travel insurance provided in the package?
Travel insurance is not included in the package. We strongly recommend you to procure your own travel insurance before embarking on the Mount Stong State Park trip. You may also procure travel insurance through us: http://iwannatravel.com.sg/aigtravelguard. For more information, please refer to the brochure (http://iwannatravel.com.sg/downloads/AIG_TravelGuard_Brochure.pdf) and policy wordings (http://iwannatravel.com.sg/downloads/AIG_TravelGuard_PolicyWording.pdf

Posted in FAQ