Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What should I expect if I choose a homestay?
A: All of our homestays are within walking distance to the Community Development Centre, where you will spend a lot of your time. Although basic, our homestay accommodation is very comfortable and easy to live in. Your family will cook three meals for you each day and you may be able to arrange for your clothes to be washed separately. All homestays are equipped with electricity, though unfortunately not hot water! Also, you will have your own room.
Q: What sort of food will I be eating?
A: If you choose our homestay option your family will cook three meals for you each day. Get ready for a lot of rice! You will eat mostly local food, where you will help yourself to a big bowl of rice and choosing from a selection of tasty toppings. These toppings are usually a variety of fresh vegetables and different types of meat. Your family will be happy to cater for vegetarian or other special dietary needs, and are happy to tone down spiciness for sensitive tongues! If you choose to find your own accommodation, nearby hotels and restaurants offer a range of local dishes.
Q: What is the weather like in Sembalun?
A: The weather in Sembalun is usually a lot colder than surrounding villages. If you arrive during the wet season (September – March) expect a lot of rain! Days and nights during the wet season are generally warmer than other times of the year, but still very cool, especially with a breeze. If you arrive during the dry season (April – August) the weather is generally very hot and dry during the day, and very cold at night.
Q: What is important for me to bring?
A: Pack for the above weather conditions, and remember that during the wet season umbrellas and raincoats are very useful! There are a range of small shops in the village where you can find most things if you forget. There’s no need to bring sheets or blankets, though sometimes it is a good idea to remember your towel. Donations of books or clothes for local families are warmly accepted, though don’t worry if bag limits are a problem. If you’d like to climb Rinjani its a very good idea to bring some warm clothes – gloves, beanies, thick socks, jackets etc. However, if you don’t feel like carrying warm gear through Indonesia it’s possible to rent or buy warm gear in the village.
Q: How can I keep in touch with family and friends?
A: At the moment internet connection in Sembalun is available, though quite unreliable. The best way to use internet in Sembalun is from our Community Development Centre, as are no internet cafes in Sembalun. If you’d like to keep in close touch with family and friends in it is a good idea to buy a mobile phone or sim card from Indonesia. Phone credit is very cheap and easily arranged once in the village.
Q: What is available in Sembalun?
A: Sembalun is a very simple village. Most houses have access to electricity, though current practices mean that many families continue to use local rivers as their main water source for drinking and washing. There are no ATMs in the village; it’s a good idea to take out the money you’ll need before you make the trip up to Sembalun. There is a hospital in Sembalun and a number of nurses live close to our Community Development Centre should you need any medical advice while you’re here.
Q: What if I can’t speak Indonesian?
A: We can’t wait to welcome everyone to our community. Indonesian speakers may find it slightly easier and quicker to adjust to village life, but non-speakers will have just as much fun! Our Community Development Centre is the hang-out place for lots of young people who can’t wait to practice their English – don’t worry if Indonesian is not your forte. We see every volunteer as very valuable for our community, and it’s great if locals are encouraged to speak as much English as possible.