Indonesia Inquiry

Keeping Healthy While Traveling or Living Abroad

June 2, 2011 Travel & Living Abroad Travel Advice 0

Keeping healthy while traveling or living abroad is a priority.  The following bits of advice are starting points to maintain one’s health and well-being in Indonesia. 


Indonesia Publications has useful information in general and specifically about health-related issues at  Scroll all the way down on the page until you see the heading “Staying Healthy.”


== Dentists ==

* Ask co-workers, colleagues, and friends for dentist recommendations.  A lot of referrals happen by word-of-mouth.

* There are dentists who have private practices, but there are also dental services available at general hospitals and special dental clinics.


== Hospitals ==

* Hospitals vary in quality, care, and technology.  There are some private, foreign-oriented clinics in the major cities, namely Jakarta.

* Please see the separate posting titled “Hospitals in Indonesia” for a list of locations.


== Insurance ==

* International health insurance is recommended.  This is especially helpful if you need to travel outside of Indonesia for further healthcare (e.g., Singapore).


== Massage ==

* Creambaths are highly recommended.  Hair salons offer creambaths at reasonable prices.  It typically involves hair washing, a hair conditioner, head massage, neck massage, and sometimes arm massage, too.  Men and women get creambaths.  Creambaths are a great stress-reliever.

* Full-body massages (Javanese, Balinese, Swedish, Shiatsu, etc.) are available at massage places.  They are usually one hour long.  Customers usually undress, but keep their undergarments on.  Some places offer showers afterwards to wash off the oils or lotions.

* It is typical to tip whoever gives you a massage.

* Beware of massage places that do not focus on massage, but rather offer other “services,” particularly for male clientele.

* Refleksi is a type of reflexology (kind of massage/healing practice) for the legs and feet.  Refleksi is available at many hair salons.  The process can be very painful for sensitive people, but the end result is arguably worth it with increased circulation and flexibility if done correctly.


== Pharmacies ==

* Pharmacies (apotik in Indonesian) are usually available in large cities across the archipelago.  Check out the following link for more information:


== Traditional Healing/Medicine ==

* Jamu is popular throughout Indonesia.  Jamu comes in liquid, tablet, and ointment form.  Jamu ladies often go door-to-door selling different concoctions for almost every ailment possible.  There are also jamu to improve your physical and mental health (i.e., it’s not just for when you are sick).

* To prevent mosquito bites or minimize the itch of bites, use Minyak Gosok (rubbing oil). It is from Makassar, South Sulawesi and sold all over Indonesia in chemist/medicine shops, small shops, and supermarkets.  This jamu is just for dabbing on your skin. It is often more effective than other obat nyamuk (mosquito repellent) like smoking coils, chemical sprays, candles, and lotions. Though many people tend to use all of these things!  Be careful, though, as Minyak Gosok can stain clothing and other materials.


== Travel Health Advice ==

* Keep hydrated.  Drink plenty of bottled water.

* Try snacking throughout the day to keep your energy up.

* Wear sunblock!

* Wear mosquito repellent.

* Avoid touching animals.

* Need advice about air travel with babies?  Check out .


== Vitamins ==

* Generic and name-brand vitamins are located at local chemist/medicine shops and malls.  Generic vitamins are significantly cheaper than name-brand vitamins, however, and usually just as good.

* Multi-vitamins are rarely available, so you may have to find individual vitamins and combine them yourself.


== Women’s Physical and Mental Health ==

* Talk with other women travelers and expatriates about their experiences to share strategies and have a sympathetic ear.

* Exercise and eat well so as to minimize stress.

* Take vitamins.  Generic vitamins are available at local pharmacies.  Multi-vitamins are hard to find, so you will probably have to buy separate packets that fit your needs.  Name-brand vitamins are usually quite expensive.

* Because your body can be worn down from work, stress, weather, etc., you may need to be more aware than usual of things like your menstruation cycle, iron intake, vitamins, etc.  Keep track in a journal, notebook, or online if that’s helpful.

* Birth control pills (known in Indonesian as “KB”) are available and relatively affordable; in many cases, you don’t need a prescription.  Because birth control pills are usually meant for married Indonesian women, beware of potential sensitive questions, stares, or confused looks at the local pharmacy.  It’s best to walk in, specifically ask what you want, pay, and get out in an efficient manner.  A popular general brand is Microgynon, but check with your general practitioner or gynecologist (overseas or in Indonesia) about what works for you.  Women often bring their own pills from overseas, but this can be expensive and insurance companies may not allow you to purchase several packs at once.

* For women researchers, know that you may not be in the mood to conduct research after a bad experience regarding gender harassment or discrimination.  It may take you a few hours to a few weeks to mentally get back into things.  In the meantime, you can work on smaller or different tasks to keep you busy and still contribute to the progress of your project.