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Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok's complete tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every fortnight and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island.

As we come to the end of June, Lombok's businesses are gearing up for what looks to be a busy high season. Already the island of Gili Trawangan is reporting heavy bookings for the months of July and August, and neighbouring Meno and Air expect the same, as European holidaymakers head for their favourite islands in the sun.

On the mainland, all the major hotels are preparing for a good season and many are racing to complete extensions or renovations to their properties. The first beachfront villas at the stylish new Qunci Villas development are nearing completion and already taking bookings, while Puri Mas Sunset Villas had their “soft opening” last week, showing off their fabulous new villas and beachfront pool to the local press. Visitors are certainly spoilt for choice with some of the new properties on offer in Lombok!

The Santosa Villas and Resort are pushing to finish the lobby of their beautiful property, with huge crowds expected this weekend for the first Lombok International Dance Championships being held in the Resort's state-of-the-art conference centre. Meanwhile, the Sheraton Senggigi Resort hasn't been able to find time for an official opening party for their new conference centre and ballroom facility… it's been booked solid since completion! It seems we can't build fast enough to meet demand at the moment!

Closer to home, we've had a positive response to the official launch of our website, with congratulatory emails from readers from around the world. Now you can read The Lombok Guide online, wherever you may be! Merpati Airlines has also joined our fan base, with an offer to distribute our popular guide across the nation. We've selected three locations to start with, so now you can pick up a copy of The Lombok Guide at Merpati check-in counters in Denpasar, Dili and Kuala Lumpur!

Pick up a copy or visit us on the web soon at www.thelombokguide.com and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself … like thousands of others, you'll be enchanted!

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Bounty Cruises got their new Bali-Lombok service off to a flying start with a series of promotional cruises for travel agents this month to celebrate the recommencement of their services to Lombok.

The new service started on Wednesday, 11 June, with Bounty bringing a group of around eighty Indonesian and South East Asian travel industry employees and agents to Lombok. The group boarded the fast catamaran in Benoa Harbour, Bali and cruised to the island of Gili Rengit, off Lombok's southwest coast.

After a leisurely tour of the island and a barbecue lunch, the group then sailed up the Lombok coastline to admire the stunning views, before arriving in Teluk Nara, on the northwest coast.

On Friday, 13 June, the Bounty returned with another boatload of travel industry personnel, this time from Australian and western agencies. The group were greeted at Teluk Nara by a crowd of local travel partners, members of the Lombok Hotels Association and representatives from the Department of Culture and Tourism.

These “educational tours” to introduce the travel industry to Lombok and to promote the new Bounty Cruises service continued for each of the scheduled trips on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

On Sunday, 22 June the big yellow catamaran once again docked at Teluk Nara with an assortment of travel agents and travellers to meet with local travel agents, the Lombok Hotels Association and members from the Department of Culture and Tourism. Guests were greeted by traditional Sasak dancers and enjoyed a buffet lunch supplied by the members of the Lombok Hotels Association.

Pak Gede Wiratha, Chairman of the Bounty group, said that response to the new service had been very positive and that all of the agents he had brought on the cruises were very enthusiastic about Lombok as a new travel destination. “The unspoilt beauty of Gili Rengit has impressed our clients, as has the stunning coastline of West Lombok. Many are eager to get ashore and see what else Lombok has to offer,” he said.

Bounty Cruises will provide transfers between Bali and Lombok three times per week: every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The boat departs Benoa Harbour (Bali) at 8.00am and stops at Gili Rengit on route to Teluk Nara (West Lombok), arriving at the local harbour at 10.30am. This will also allow travellers to make easy connections to the Gili islands. The return trip departs Teluk Nara at 12.30pm, returning to Gili Rengit to pick up day trippers before arriving back in Bali at around 4.00pm.

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Lombok will host the first-ever Lombok International Dance Championships on Sunday, 29 June 2008.

The star-studded event will take place throughout the day on Sunday, starting at 9.00 am in the conference centre at Santosa Villas and Resort. The Championship finals will be held in the evening, starting at 6.00pm.

Mr Marcel De Rijk, world-renowned ballroom dancer, Vice President of the World Dance Council and international adjudicator, who also owns the delightful Puri Mas Boutique Resorts in Lombok, is once again responsible for bringing the world of Ballroom and Latin American Dance to Lombok.

Marcel has organised a series of fantastic dance events over the past several years, but this year's Lombok International Dance Championships is the pinnacle of his success, with top international dance couples from more than 15 countries competing in the event. The line-up of competitors includes internationally acclaimed dancers from Italy, Russia, China, The Netherlands, Ukraine, Poland, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Brunei, Macau, the Phillipines and national champions from Indonesia.

Performances by Latin American dance masters, Evgeny Ryupin and Yana Pokrovskaya from Moscow, as well as 2008 World Championship Finalists, Roberto Villa and Morena Colagrego from Italy, will be highlights of the event.
The international panel of judges and adjudicators is made up of 14 members from 11 different countries, including top trainer and three times Latin American World Champion Espen Salberg from Norway, together with past World Finalists Ratna De Rijk from The Netherlands and Ralf Lepehne from Germany.

Around 120 competitors and more than 200 supporters are expected to attend the Lombok International Championships. Already more than one hundred hotel rooms in the Senggigi area have been reserved for the attendees, with many of the visitors planning to stay in Lombok and relax after the big event.

The programme for the day includes practice sessions, followed by amateur and professional competitions in Ballroom and Latin American dance. The evening promises to be a glittering occasion with the Finals in both Ballroom and Latin American, together with prize presentations for each category. There will also be a presentation of a special “Lombok Dance Award 2008” for Amateur and Professional categories, with spectators voting for the top couples. Top prize money is Rp 100 million.

The Lombok International Championships promises to be a spectacular event, unlike anything usually seen in Indonesia. For tickets and enquiries contact Puri Mas on 693 831.

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Hatten Wines from Bali will be sponsoring the Lombok market with three different events planned for the weekend of 28 and 29 June 2008.

On Saturday, 28 June, the wine producer and wholesaler will hold a special wine training morning for employees of Lombok's top hotels and restaurants, hosted by UD Marina. Participants will learn about the Hatten range of wines and how the local wines compare with imported varieties, as well as having the opportunity to sample a selection from the range. The training will also cover correct wine storage and handling, plus selling techniques.

On the evening of the same day, selected food and beverage personnel, hotel and restaurant managers, and Hatten clients will be invited to a special tasting of the Two Islands range to be held at Square Restaurant in Senggigi Square.

The following day, on Sunday 29 June, Hatten Wines will sponsor the Indonesian Chef's Association Dinner to be held at the Sheraton Senggigi Resort, with wines from the Two Islands range being featured at the national event.
PT Arpan Bali Utama is the producers of both the Hatten range and Two Islands. They have been the leaders in the Indonesian wine industry since 1994, supplying locally produced wines to hotels, bars, restaurants and retail outlets. The wine is available throughout the country.

Hatten Wines have spearheaded the fledgling wine industry in Indonesia by concentrating on utilising grape varieties such as Alphonse Lavellée, Belgia and a local grape variety, which are easily grown in the warm Indonesian climate. Thus they were able to produce the first range of wines, including the popular Hatten Rosé, Aga White and Aga Red wines, Sparkling Tunjung, and Jepun Pino white and red styles.

The new Two Islands range was created in response to market demand for a good quality house pouring wine that was competitive in price and consistently available in Indonesia. As Chardonnay and Shiraz grapes are ideally grown in a cooler climate, these grape varieties are harvested in Australia and vintaged in the modern winery in Bali, creating a beautiful “unoaked” Chardonnay and a delicious medium bodied Shiraz.

Two Islands are available at wholesale to the industry. Selected retail sales are available at the Cellardoor - Hatten Wines and from Lotus Distribution in Bali. The wines are also available by the glass or bottle at most of the better hotels, bars and restaurants throughout Lombok.

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The idyllic island of Gili Meno – one of the three “Gili Islands” off the north coast of Lombok – will be the focus of a tropical wellness retreat from 23 July until 1 August 2008.

Michelle Lockett, who owns a retreat-organising company called “Be Free to Dream” in England, is organising the retreat which includes a 10-day course, accommodations in bamboo bungalows and breakfast.

Short one and two day courses and workshops are also being offered to residents and tourists currently in Lombok and Bali.

Leading the course will be Tim Marris, a cranial osteopath and 30-year health practitioner from England. For those who wish to participate, there will be simple yoga sessions aimed at beginners and morning group meditations before breakfast.

”Students will learn how to be more in harmony with time and how this brings greater mental clarity and balance. They will explore how this imbalance with time causes anxiety and depressive tendencies,” Michelle said. Other topics include overcoming mild addictions and goal setting.

“In all, it will be a powerful 10 days designed to 'move people forward' in a comfortable but powerful way; in body, mind and spirit,” Marris said.

Students will learn about how the body heals itself, how to enhance this process and how to increase the growth, health and vitality in the body. The course will also touch on “centering” and how this powerful resource can bring greater success and harmony to many aspects of life.

Michelle said she attended a weekend course by Tim Marris in England and was struck by his knowledge and calm presence. “I was able to view life with an excited anticipation,” she said. “I've been able to keep using this knowledge. After having pain in my shoulder for 16 years as a result of an old skiing accident, the pain has gone. I am 'living in the now' much more and have a bright outlook on future plans. I'm taking my daughter to attend the course on the island because what a great advantage to have this knowledge at 13.”

Gili Meno was featured in a New York Times Bestseller book by Elizabeth Gilbert, called “Eat, Pray Love”. Reeling from a contentious divorce, a volatile rebound romance and a bout of depression, Liz Gilbert decided to spend a year travelling in Italy, India and Indonesia. "I wanted to explore the art of pleasure in Italy, the art of devotion in India and, in Indonesia, the art of balancing the two,” she writes. The book has gone on to top bestseller lists for over a year and has put the small Lombok island on the map in self-awareness circles.

Participants will travel from around the world to meet on the peaceful tropical island of Gili Meno and retreat organisers have already received enquiries from Hong Kong, across the United States, Europe and New Zealand.
Jeffrey from Boulder, Colorado. said he looks forward to sea breezes and 85-degree air, along with diving and snorkelling. “Fresh sea food, white sand, turquoise waters and the teaching of Tim Marris,” he said, “This sounds like 'a must' for me.”

Michelle is currently on Gili Meno and can be contacted for enquiries and bookings on 0813 5301 9441. Please see advert on page 45 for price details.

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A Danish student and his university professor are currently surveying the bird life in the Rinjani National Park, with a view to long term study of Lombok's birds.

Professor Jens Mogens Olesen first came to Lombok two years ago and decided that, as so little is known about Lombok's birds, the area would be good for a study programme. “Because Lombok is on the other side of the Wallace Line, I noticed the vast difference in flora and fauna between Bali and Lombok,” he said. “Little is known about the area, so it makes sense to study it and see”.

In September 2007, Professor Olesen returned with student Daniel Wisbech Carstensen, who is currently studying a PhD in Biology. The pair surveyed several locations including Ambon and Seram in the Maluccas island group before settling on the Rinjani National Park in Lombok as the most suitable location.

Daniel has been staying at the Lembah Rinjani homestay in Sembalun where he has become a familiar sight heading off into the jungle with his binoculars. Although Daniel says there are not a high number of bird species in the area, this makes it easier to identify and classify the species that do live in Lombok.

His particular area of interest involves nectivorous birds (birds that eat nectar from trees and plants), of which there are quite a few in the National Park. “Three main species exist in the area in quite large numbers,” he said. “In particular I'm studying the Sunbird and two types of Honeyeaters, which are true nectivorous birds.”

“It's an interesting study, as so few people have studied the birds in Lombok or tried to classify the species here,” he said.

Daniel hopes to gain permission from the Indonesian government to conduct a formal study of the birds in the National Park and, if there are sufficient results in his findings, do his thesis on Lombok's birds.

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The lead up to local government elections has started in Lombok with the Governor, Pak Lalu Serinata, being officially put on leave, as is customary before a new governor is elected.

Throughout Indonesia local elections are taking place, with each island or province voting for new leaders during the next month or so.

In Bali, the City of Denpasar will deploy 1 200 personnel to ensure the coming race for the governorship of Bali on 9 July, 2008 goes smoothly. The contingent of 1 200 Balinese police officers from the Denpasar precinct represents two-thirds of the 1 801 police personnel assigned to the island's capital.

The Denpasar officers will be distributed across 925 polling stations in the capital and will be placed on continuous duty starting from 5 days prior to Election Day. In anticipation of the election, intelligence officers from the Denpasar police have identified polling places meriting additional security, with only 96 of the 925 polling places rated as “safe”, 829 rated as “sensitive”, and 518 more as “extremely sensitive”.

In Lombok, police personnel will be stationed at polling booths in the city, as well as throughout the small villages across Lombok and the surrounding mountain areas for the NTB elections on 7 July 2008. In addition to a heavy police presence, nine units from the regional Police Resort (Polres) and one unit from the mobile brigade (Brimob) will be involved in controlling voters on the day.

Polda NTB will also be called upon to provide personal security for all of the candidates during the election.
5 010 polling stations will be located throughout Lombok and another 2 210 booths will be located across the neighbouring island of Sumbawa.

Elections are traditionally a volatile time in Indonesia, when emotions and party loyalties can run high. Non-essential business in the region of polling stations is probably best delayed until a later date.

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Jetstar, the Australian budget carrier, has announced their intention to operate three flights a week (four times a week during peak season) between Perth and Bali starting on 27 October, 2008.

The new service utilising A320 aircraft will complement a thrice-weekly service between Perth and Jakarta scheduled to begin on the same date.

The announcement of the new service was made by Jetstar's Group General Commercial Manager, Bruce Buchanan, in a speech before the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE).

The new Perth-Bali service will replace Qantas Airways' terminated service over the same route.

To help celebrate the new service Jetstar offered special introductory fares of AU $179 one way between Perth to Bali. Those tickets, in limited quantities, were reportedly sold out shortly after they were put on sale. Normal "every day low fares" on the new Perth-Bali route will start from AU $249 one way.

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided US $19.4 million in funding towards the US $33 million purchase of an ailing Bali bank by the Portland-based Mercy Corps. A non-profit foundation, Mercy Corps will acquire Sri Partha Banks and its operating licenses to establish an institution specialising in micro-finance programs to assist small entrepreneurs, typically unable to access loan money from other sources.

Provisionally renamed as the “Bank of Banks” (BoB), the acquisition and start-up funding will come from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and Dutch sources. The new bank will strive to move away from the "hand-out" format of assistance to the poor to a more sustainable institutional format that can offer micro loans and savings accounts, provide insurance, mortgage finance, remittance services and mobile banking.

Aiming to eventually serve 16 million Indonesians by 2011, BoB is said to be seeking to serve their clients via cell phones, ATMs and the Internet. Observers have applauded the project, saying that the model can be quickly expanded to other countries in the region and is capable of permanently lifting 45 million people out of poverty over the next decade.

"Bank of Banks is expected to revolutionise the way microfinance works in Indonesia and beyond," said Neal Keny-Guyer, Chief Executive of Mercy Corps.

PT Bank Sri Partha has two dozen branch offices. The new owners plan to move the headquarters to Jakarta.

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