Dolphin & Whale Biology/Conservation
in Tropical Asia
Accommodations/Things To Bring
Bring clothing that you would wear for outdoor activities during southern Ontario's summer. Loose-fitting clothing that allows for plenty of movement is recommended. It is also wise to bring something warmer like a long-sleeve sweatshirt (or equivalent) for indoors (air conditioning in Taiwan is often fully on or off so it can be quiet cold indoors).
Water-proof sandals are often useful for swimming, light hiking/walking, general use (e.g., Tevas, Chacos, etc.). Light rain gear may be useful (we will aim to be in the field during the best weather days)
Travel light and bring only what you really need (the course is only about two weeks long and there are facilities for laundry nearby). We recommend that you bring one main check-in and your carry-on luggage (check with the airlines for size –Hong Kong’s airport is very strict with the size and weight of your carry-on bags).
Sun protection (we will be spending considerable time outdoors)1. Sun block - at least SPF 30 is recommended
2. Clothing with UV protection is a good alternative to sun block (and also helps keep mosquitoes at bay).
3. Hat of some kind to protect you from the sun (however, wind can be a factor in keeping your hat from flying off your head and into the sea)
4. Sunglasses - look cool but make sure the optics will filter out at least 99% of the harmful UV rays. Polarized lenses are quite useful at times and looking into water (cuts glare), a brown lens is best in bright light (orange to yellow lenses are good in low-light conditions). Sunglasses do not have to be very expensive - many sunglasses made for sport fishermen are adequate.
Travel light and bring only what you really need (the course is only about two weeks long and there are laundry facilities nearby). We recommend that you bring one main check-in and your carry-on luggage (check with the airlines).
Accommodations and Bedding
In Hong Kong, we will be staying in local vacation houses (small apartments) that have a small
kitchenette (refrigerator, hot plate, kettle, some kitchenware) and bathroom.
Larger flats will have multiple bedrooms
with a living room. Smaller flats are small bachelor type apartments but may have
two or more beds. While in the field, you
will be staying at local "hotels", motels
or other similar kinds of accommodations (and sharing with some of your classmates)
but quality can vary greatly. Bedding will be
available (but cleanliness may vary). So, we have always preferred to bring
bedding - a sleeping bag liner (cotton or polyester/cotton blend) is
often sufficient in this climate. For those who tend to be a bit more
thermally-challenged (women tend to be a bit on the cooler side), a
fleece sleeping bag liner, thin summer or "tropical" bag
(rated to about 5oC or higher) or even an over-bag for sleeping bags,
should be more than adequate. Taiwanese beds or sleeping surfaces
tend to be a bit on the hard side so if you need some padding it may help
to bring a small ThermaRest-type inflatable camping mat. If you
are a light sleeper, you may want to consider bringing some ear plugs
and eye shades. Towels are not always available in the hotels so you may
bring a small, quick drying towel as well (there will be no towel provided
Mosquitoes are common year-round with summer being worse. Although not common, some mosquito-born diseases are present in both Hong Kong and Taiwan including: Japanese encephalitis, dengue fever (including the haemorrhagic form) and malaria. Sometimes outbreaks can occur. Mosquitoes will get indoors and can make sleeping difficult so we often travel with compact mosquito nets for our beds just in case - they are not very expensive and available at many stores including Canadian Tire, MEC, etc. Cone-shaped ones are usually more compact and easier to hang but rectangular ones are more comfortable to sleep under. No-see-um netting is not required and can be more stifling in the tropical climate
In order to reduce the environmental footprint of this course on Hong Kong and Taiwan, we suggest that you bring your own reusable eating utensils (cutlery, chopsticks, etc.) and a reusable bowl or plate rather than using local disposable chopsticks, which are not all that great for the environment nor your health (they are treated with chemicals to retard fungal growth in a very humid climate). Reusable water bottles (and some people like mugs for hot drinks) should also be brought.
This is a biology field course and you will be looking for animals from a distance during surveys so binoculars are very important. I would recommend something that is fairly compact with a magnification of 7x or 8x (most people find anything larger than 7x or 8x magnification to be very shaky and difficult to use on a boat). 8x42 or 7x50 are good options. The first number is the magnification and the second can be thought of as representing the “brightness”). However, there is a compromise with the weight of the binoculars; the higher numbers of magnification and brightness are generally heavier. You will also need your computer for doing your course work.
In Taiwan, it's pretty much the same as in Canada. The only thing that may be a problem is finding three-pronged outlets. Older buildings tend to only have outlets with two slots. HK is on a different power system and have different outlet configurations (sometimes several kinds). At the airport, there are some N. American type outlets but make sure the power supply is fine for whatever you want to plug in. HK generally uses 220-240V (compared to N. American's 110-120V). Usually your notebook power source is fine with inputs anywhere from 100 to 240V but check the information on the back/bottom of the power source. Some of your other devices may not be usable in Hong Kong (check the power ratings). Both power transformers and adapters for plugs can be purchased at Canadian Tires, The Source, MEC, CAA stores, etc.
Money Access and Currency Exchange
All meals will be provided while we are travelling in Taiwan. There is a small meal on the airplane to Hong Kong from Taiwan so if you want more food, you can buy that at the Taipei Airport while we wait for our flight
In Hong Kong (9-10 days), you will be responsible for almost all of your meals. There are many choices from fast food to bar/grill types to fancier restaurants. Prices are in general cheaper than in Canada (varying from about $3-5 CAD to about $20+ CAD). There are also two pretty well-stocked western-style supermarkets and a bakery nearby that offer a wide variety of local and western foods for those wishing to prepare simple meals (your accommodations in Hong Kong have full-sized refrigerators, hot plates and some pots, pans, kettles, utensils, etc.).
In Taiwan, exchanging currency at the airport is probably the easiest.
In Hong Kong, you may be able to withdraw cash (local currency) directly from ATM machines. Cash (USD or CAD) is probably the easiest to convert to local currency but traveler's cheques (best in USD) can also be exchanged in a local bank. Major credit cards are accepted by some of the restaurants and supermarkets in Hong Kong. Near our accommodations, there is a money exchanger and a HSBC bank branch with ATM machines.
For the most recent currency exchange rates, consult the Bank of Canada website (http://bank-banque-canada.ca/en/rates/converter.html) or www.oanda.com (however, don’t expect to get the rates shown as the exchangers will be charging you fees or different exchange rates for their services).