Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tips for Traveling on Rainy Sumatra Days

Mount Kaba hike

You will encounter iffy weather if you visit Bengkulu province or other provinces of Sumatra during the rainy season. In Bengkulu province and its neighboring provinces including South Sumatra & Lampung province, the rains normally start from October to March (peaking in December - February) slightly later than the north parts of Sumatra. The weather is still hot and more humid in the coastal areas, but at higher elevations tend to be cooler.

Traveling in Bengkulu province during the rainy season especially within the wettest months December – February can be very challenging and inconvenient for most travelers. The December to February rains can come in sudden tropical downpours, and or it can also rain nonstop for a whole day. If you want to go backpacking to try a rainy season escape or a very adventurous trip that many travelers miss out on, perhaps in the rural or mountainous areas, it will require not only willpower but also preparation and a lot of patience. Make sure you carefully plan what to wear on a rainy day and bring the right gears. Here are some important tips from real travelers and my own experiences for traveling on rainy Sumatra days:

General rules: planning and preparation are half the battle. 
First identifying which regions you want to visit & stay, what you want to do and how long you want to travel before packing for your trip to Bengkulu province to get a greater understanding of what will be needed.

Suggested items to bring

Going rural
  • A light waterproof rain jacket (heavy plastic raincoat might be too warm to wear in the coastal areas).
  • Four of five t-shirts should be enough. The weather at higher elevations tend to be cooler, you can layer t-shirts for warmth instead of strictly winter clothes. You can buy extra t-shirts at low prices in many places in Sumatra if you need more, but if you are a big and tall person it will be very difficult to find plus size t-shirts. 
  • Two or three pairs of convertible long pants for backpacking, hiking or for any outdoor activity you may partake in. They can keep you warm when the temperature drops and can be turned into a stylish pair of shorts when the temperature bubbles up. 
  • An emergency kit. It can help with some unpleasant situations that arise while on the travel trail, especially if you plan on hiking or going rural. It can be adapted to your needs, type and length of travel, and destinations. The basic emergency kit should include at least the following items:
    1. First aid kit & enough medication for your entire stay. It is best to keep your medications in their original containers with clear labels, officials at ports of entry may require proper identification of medications.
    2. Ready-to-eat canned food and drinking water.
    3. Cellular phone.  We suggest you to bring a cellphone or buy a cheap cellphone and a local SIM card in Indonesia for your communication needs.
    4. Multipurpose utility tool like a Swiss army knife.
    5. A flashlight, the waterproof one is recommended. Power outages are frequent in Sumatra during thunder storms. 
➤ Don’t bury your emergency kit at the bottom of your travel bag. Keep it handy in case of an emergency.
  • Sturdy hiking boots for going rural or hiking.
  • Waterproof bags and zip lock bags (for use in protecting your camera equipment, electronic devices, travel documents, emergency kit, etc).
  • A folding umbrella.
  • Extra socks to wear while wearing shoes/hiking boots.
  • Sandals/flip flops.
  • An extra towel. It almost always comes in useful! 
  • Rainy season is also mosquito season, so don’t forget to bring mosquito repellent and anti malaria tablets especially if going rural.  Recommendations for suitable drugs to prevent malaria can be found at www.cdc.gov/malaria/travelers/drugs.html
  • Locks for your luggage, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
We greatly recommend that you go through a final checklist once you think you have got all items with you.

Don’t bury things you needs such as emergency kit, extra clothes, or drinking water at the bottom of your backpack or travel bag. If you are going to go backpacking, your backpack has to be balanced or you could fall over. Don’t make your pack too heavy at the top or bottom, it’s best to keep the heaviest items close to your back. Access and balance are the keys to packing well. 

That is all that we can write. Remember that a Sumatra escape or adventurous trip during the rainy season is only suitable for those who enjoy slow travel and don’t mind stopping for one or more days due to weather disruptions.

Tips for driving safely on rainy Sumatra days, click here!

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