"Considered counsel from an honest man of the realm
tis greater value than gold to he who sojourns upon mysterious kingdoms...
Do we but know the ways of our host, much hardship might we shun." Alfonso de Tena, 1825, from the original Spanish
Based on extensive experience, Cilu Bintang Estate provides advice and support while planning your sojourn in Indonesia - feel free to contact us. We hope the following is of assistance.
There is so much to see on Banda Neira, walking soon becomes the preferred form of transportation. Strolling through the town, colourful discoveries enhance every turn, and should fatigue overtake you, antique bicycle-powered rickshaws or motorbike taxis called ‘ojek’ are available.
To visit the other islands, taxi boats leave from the main pier in Nusantara to Banda Besar, Hatta, Rhun, and Ai. Cilu Bintang Estate maintains a fast, comfortable speed boat for the requirements of our guests, or traditional local boats may be arranged upon request for several hours or a day.
You will be amazed how many people on the Banda Islands speak English and the charming way children greet you with a cheerful ‘hello mister’ or ‘my name is ...’. However, with a few easy-to-learn expressions in the local language, called Bahasa Indonesia, your visit will be more rewarding. Many islanders are shy, so a greeting in their own language brings smiles dawning like a spring morning. There are also easily downloadable translation apps for smart phones that are quite helpful.
For Cilu Bintang Estate guests, free high speed WiFi is a given. For those with smart phones, local prepaid SIM cards are readily available for a modest fee. Currently, 3G is only available on Banda Neira. Inexpensive international communication is available by dialing 01017 before the country code, followed by the number desired minus the initial zero.
For the convenience of our guests both Visa and Master cards are accepted by Cilu Bintang Estate . Exchanging money outside major centres such as Jakarta or Bali can be expensive. Cilu Bintang Estate recommends you exchange a reasonable amount of money before arriving in Banda. Due to low volume, the exchange rates on Banda are not advantageous. As an alternative, the ATM machines at Ambon airport accept Visa and MasterCard, although the limits for a single transaction cause the various banking fees to mount up quickly. The exchange rate offered by banks in Ambon is poor.
Currently the ATM at BRI Bank on Banda Neira accepts MasterCard and occasionally Maestro or Visa. Due to the minimums and exchange rate, this option should only be employed for ‘emergency’ transactions.
It is advisable for visitors to have an appropriate level of travel and, if required, dive insurance when visiting these islands. In the rare case of misfortune, there are two well-qualified doctors on Banda Niera. On the outer islands, medical services are sparse.
Although there is an active Christian community, and the Bandanese are far from fanatical, the islands are predominantly Muslim, which requires men and women to dress modestly. The Bandanese are quite tolerant, but they do not appreciate visitors strolling the town in swimwear or skimpy attire. Outside of Cilu Bintang Estate, for women, bare shoulders, midriff, and knees, or low-cut tops are considered insulting. Nothing will be said, yet your welcome in shops or cafes will not be so warm or friendly.
Alcohol, tobacco, and recreational substances:
Indonesian tobacco products are inexpensive, especially at international airport tax-free shops. If you enjoy rolling your own, it is advisable to pack a supply of tobacco and papers, although some airport shops may stock them.
Strong spirits are expensive and not easily available. Quite good Indonesian brewery products are readily available and reasonably priced. Homemade palm wine, the fermented sap of palm trees, and a distilled version called ‘sopi’, is cheap, of dubious quality, and widely available. Since sopi is also employed to clean windows, strip paint, and restore dead batteries, consume it at your peril.
Warning: Indonesia is extremely strict on illicit drug use.
Banda Island night life:
Beach bars, pubs, and night clubs are non-existent on the Banda Islands, although every weekend someone throws a ‘party’ or two. Since everyone enjoys seeing new faces, the local wildlife will happily invite you.
Toiletries and sundries:
Most toiletries are easily available and cheap in Indonesia. Chances are good you will find your favourite brand of shampoo, toothpaste, or deodorant at the local shops. Be advised, Asia hand lotions often contain skin whiteners. If in doubt, ask the shop keeper. Warning: Tampons are unknown and Asian condoms are a different size, so be sure to bring your own.
Disposing of dead batteries
Disposing of dead batteries in an environmentally friendly manner is difficult on the Banda Islands. Please respect the island environment by using rechargeable batteries for your equipment. Cilu Bentang Estate will happily provide a place to recharge them.