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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 two weeks and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island.

It's almost time for New Year and across the island, hotels and restaurants are preparing for big New Year's Eve parties to celebrate the start of 2009. See our special feature on page 10 for an overview of all the best parties in town.

We hope all our visitors have a wonderful, memorable holiday in Lombok, and we wish all our readers, friends and advertisers a very Happy New Year and a safe and prosperous New Year in 2009!

As we head into a bright New Year, things are looking very good for Lombok. The island has had a huge increase in positive publicity over the past couple of months, sparked by the “Walk in the Stars” party at Qunci Villas, which saw publications such as DestinAsian, Cosmopolitan and Femme feature Lombok in their magazines. Recently there have been a host of articles touting Lombok as “the new destination”, including The New York Times, The Australian and the favourable Wall Street Journal review published this month.

Perhaps the rest of the world is about to discover what we already know: Lombok is a very special island of unspoilt beauty that captivates those who visit her shores!

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Guide from the locations listed on page 30 or visit us at www.thelombokguide.com and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself… like thousands of others, you'll be enchanted!

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For some, the way you start the New Year is symbolic of how the year will continue, so getting your New Year celebrations right is important! Fortunately, Lombok has a fantastic range of celebrations lined up to get the New Year off to a great start.

Use our guide below to choose the celebration that's right for you – whether it's a sumptuous dinner and show, a family event with turtle hatchings and fun for everyone, or a beach party with one of Lombok's top bands.

THE SENGGIGI BEACH HOTEL New Year's Eve Party promises to be one of the best on the island, with a Gala Buffet Dinner and party on the beachfront with one of Lombok's best live bands: “Not Bad Band”. New Year's Eve Packages start from Rp 2 350 000 for 3 nights in a Garden View room, per couple, including the NY celebrations. If you're already in town, join in the big party on the beach from 10pm onwards and dance the night away with Not Bad Band for Rp 250 000 (including Rp 150 000 bar credits)!

THE SHERATON SENGGIGI RESORT, Senggigi's only 5-star resort, has a range of festive season packages starting from Rp 3 325 000 for 3 nights, including dinner for two persons. On New Year's Eve join the sumptuous “An Evening with Batik” Gala Dinner and Garden Beach Party, with cocktails at the poolside, a Gala Dinner at Garden Beach View, Fashion Show, Live Band, Traditional Indonesian Dances, Fireworks and Door Prizes. Price is Rp 1 188 000++, including cocktails.

THE SANTOSA VILLAS AND RESORT have New Year accommodation packages from Rp 2 410 000 per couple for 2 nights, including breakfast. Price includes a Cocktail Party at the newly opened Gili Lounge with live music and traditional Gendang Beleq performance, dinner for two in one of the resort's two restaurants and entry to the New Year's Eve Party. Celebrate on New Year's Eve with “1001 Nights Party” for just Rp 125 000 nett per person, with DJ Dinno Lokollo (EARS Production Jakarta) and live music by Yankees Band, MC and attractive dancers, Door Prizes and Midnight Countdown with Fireworks.

THE HOLIDAY RESORT is offering families 2 nights/3 days in a Garden Chalet for just Rp 1 950 000, for 2 adults and 2 children. The package includes a special set dinner, airport transfers, breakfasts, pony rides for the kids, free use of the fitness centre and more. The resort celebrates an environmentally-friendly New Year's Eve with a special Turtle Release from their turtle hatchery and a tree planting ceremony, followed by a Cocktail Party and Gala Buffet Dinner, with displays of traditional and modern dance, live music, lucky draws and games… all for just Rp 650 000++!

QUNCI VILLAS AND QUNCI POOL VILLAS celebrate New Year's Eve, in style at either of Qunci's two beachfront restaurants with creative 4-course menus available at Quali for $60++ or at Quah for $50++, inclusive of a bottle of wine per couple. Choices include Grilled Squid Salad, Beef BBQ, Roast Chicken Roll, Pan-fried Snapper with Prawns, Grilled Chicken Breast with Yoghurt, Chocolate Pudding and more.

SQUARE RESTAURANT offers diners a delicious choice of two 7-course gourmet menus to celebrate New Year's Eve, at Rp 375 000++ per person. Choices include Seafood Terrine, Fresh Tuna Tart, Beef Tataki, Norwegian Salmon, Yabby with Bok Choy, Lobster Tails with Vodka-infused Spicy Sauce, Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Roasted Lamb Rack, plus much more. Afterward, join the famous annual New Year's Eve Party at Marina Café with DJ Yunan from Bali and Simply D'Best from Jakarta and dance the New Year in!

THE BEACH HOUSE, Gili T's popular beachfront restaurant and bar, will no doubt be buzzing with a happy crowd to celebrate the start of a New Year at the biggest Fresh Seafood BBQ on the island, accompanied by live music and fireworks off the beachfront. If the seafood doesn't tempt you, try the delicious imported Australian steaks, marinated meats and chicken dishes, plus creative fresh salads and a fabulous selection of drinks and perfectly chilled wines to complement it all.

PESONA RESORT, the stylish Indian restaurant on Gili T, has a choice of 4 different set New Year's Eve menus all under Rp 100 000, with diners also receiving a half price cocktail of their choice. Choose from a range of delicious and authentic curries and breads made on the premises, including Chicken Tikka Haryali, Chicken or Prawn Vindaloo, Chicken Tandoori, Lamb Rogan Josh, Pakora, Samosas, vegetarian selections and home-made Indian ice creams. To round off a perfect evening, relax on the beachfront with a half price sheesha after your meal.

HOTEL VILLA OMBAK once again lights up Gili T for New Year. The annual Vila Ombak New Year's Eve Island Party has become a legendary celebration on the island, with traditional dancing performances, music by a top DJ and a live band from Bandung, Go Go and Fire Dancers, and more. Price is $65++ (children half price) and includes two cocktails, a bountiful Gala Buffet with a mind-boggling variety of choices, topped off with complimentary Champagne Toast at midnight and fireworks over the ocean. After midnight, party 'til the wee hours on the beachfront with a special guest DJ playing all your favourite music. NYE at Vila Ombak promises an unforgettable start to 2009!

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As reported in The Lombok Guide on 11 July, 2008 (issue 16), communities living near the hills in the southwest of Lombok have discovered gold!

When we visited in July, the grass-roots operation involved a handful of people processing small amounts of gold dug out of the rock deposits in hills near Sekotong and Pelanggan on Lombok's southwest coast. Locals were camped out on the hills digging loose rock by hand, while others carted bags of rock on their heads to the nearby village for “processing”.

It was a slow and labour-intensive operation, but around 400 people had benefited from the new source of income in the communities, which survive at mostly subsistence level, processing coral for lime and fishing.

When we returned last week, the operations in the small villages had been stepped-up considerably. Rumours of the gold deposits have brought prospective prospectors from as far afield as Java and Kalimantan. Those people, particularly those who have prospected for gold near mining camps in Kalimantan for years, have brought with them expertise and experience in processing the raw materials.

Now large numbers of the community have joined forces, with the men digging the ore out of the hills and women carting bags of rock to the central “processing compounds” set up at the rear of villages.

Enterprising locals are speculating by purchasing bags rock for Rp 10 000 per bag. This enables the women, who previously had no incomes or who earnt as little as Rp 5 000 a day farming or helping the fisherman, to earn up to Rp 150 000 a day by carrying as many as 15 bags of rock.

Primitive but effective metal rollers using pulley systems have been set up in the kampungs to crush the rock, which is then put through a basic sluice (using old carpet and the garden hose) to pick out the small chunks, and sometimes larger nuggets, of gold.

The final process involves a head man melting down the gold with a basic oxy-acetylene torch in a pottery bowl. The resulting nugget is dropped into a cup of cold water to cool down, before being admired by the waiting crowd.
In the short time we were there, the villagers processed and extracted at least 2 grams of gold. One of the local workers told us that, since July, the gold finds had totally changed the economy of the poor rural communities, adding that “everyone in our area has a new motorbike now!”

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Indonesian security forces stormed hotels and airports for simulated clashes with masked gunmen last Sunday in a massive anti-terror drill ordered in the wake of last month's deadly assault on Mumbai.

Sunday's exercise was the biggest part of a series of drills launched this week, with nearly 7,000 military and police personnel involved in simulated attacks and hostage-takings.

Heavily armed anti-terror police swarmed a five-star hotel in Jakarta where masked gunmen carried out a simulated attack like the ones in Mumbai which left 172 people dead.

A military helicopter was seen flying over the hotel building with anti-terror police squads descending on a rope to the roof in a simulated bid to rescue hostages.

Other drills this week saw simulated sea-based attacks in the strategic Malacca Strait, and attacks in airports, sea ports and Jakarta's stock exchange building.

Indonesia has not suffered a major attack since the 2005 suicide bombings on Bali that killed 20 people. The attacks on India's financial capital encouraged Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to mobilise its security forces in anti-terror drills.

Top security minister Widodo Adisucipto said that following the drills Indonesia will revise its anti-terror security measures to improve its capacity to tackle possible attacks.

“We will for sure make some evaluations based on this week's exercises; what needs to be improved in order to have a more effective mechanism and entity in tackling terror attacks,” the minister told reporters after witnessing the drill.

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EU policymakers have welcomed a move by Indonesia to slap tougher safety laws on its airlines.

Indonesian-registered aircraft were banned from EU airspace last year following a series of crashes. The new regulations, passed on 17 December, 2008, incorporate safety standards recommended by the industry's international body, including the creation of a safety committee answerable to the President which would investigate crashes.

“The European Commission congratulates the Indonesian authorities on the passing of the aviation law through the House of Representatives,” it said in a statement. “This was one of the elements called for by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and is a significant development for the improvement of air safety in Indonesia.”

“The new committee will be held responsible directly to the President and carry out investigations of aviation accidents,” Transport Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said. Violators of the safety procedures will also face tougher penalties of up to five years' jail and fines up to Rp 500 million (US $46,000), he said.

Transport Minister, Jusman Syafii Djamal, said the EU should lift its ban as soon as the ICAO approved the new regulations. “If the ICAO approves our standards, the EU will have no reason to ban us, except on a discriminatory basis,” he was quoted as saying by The Jakarta Post.

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Photos and Text by Sid Blade

Take 60 “Open” and 30 “Junior” surfers, add heaps of enthusiasm, and you have the makings of a surf competition!

After the recent successful “Grom Contest” in Senggigi, Lombok it was the open surfers turn. The two-day competition was attended by surfers from all round Lombok, including Kuta, Gerupuk, Desert Point, Mataram area and, to the north, Senggigi, Kerandangan, and Gili Trawangan.

Unfortunately, the swell was not so big for the event with “Hughy the Surf God” not turning on his wave machine to maximum size. Needless to say, the contest went on with some fine displays of small wave surfing, with the occasional bigger set to make things interesting.

On the day of the finals, the reef at Senggigi in the early morning was bone dry - you don't get it much harder to surf than that! Did that stop these keen surfers? No way! They just waited for the rising tide and, as soon as the reef was covered with water, they were into the semis and finals. The enthusiasm of the Lombok surfers is awesome.

Saturday saw the elimination rounds in both the junior and open events. Everybody expects big waves for surfing comps, so to judge and watch these surfers milk each wave shows you sometimes have to perform in less-than-perfect waves to consider yourself to be a good surfer. It was impressive to see the maneuvers being performed, considering the swell.

Once the surfing was completed for Saturday, many of the surfers stayed in the large tents erected right on the beach, sleeping in bunks there. Didn't matter where in Lombok they came from, they all got along; even though they were surfing against each other, with a hint of rivalry between the different areas they came from.

Sunday the finals of the Juniors, and the semi and quarter finals/finals of the Open, were conducted. The surfing was watched by many spectators, as Senggigi reef and the set up for watching a surf contest is very good. This attracted many people who were just walking along the beach. So it was to the delight of the crowd, if a good wave was had, this in turn was responded to with cheers and clapping. Everybody, spectators and competitors, was having a great time.

The finals were evenly matched in the “Under 14” event, with two Senggigi surfers matched against two Gili Trawangan surfers. The Open event final was even more of a mixed combination of surfers from around Lombok, with two surfers from Senggigi, one from Kuta, Lombok, and one from Gerupuk. During the weekend there was no particular standout group of surfers from any one area.

The prizes consisted of Rp 1 million for 1st place, Rp 750 000 for 2nd, Rp 500 000 for 3rd and Rp 200 000 for 4th place in each division.

One day in the future, I'm sure Senggigi will turn on some really big hollow waves for a contest, as it surely can do. This would be a “must see” because Senggigi reef shows very little compassion when the swell gets big and it would be spectacular to watch the surfers get into the drops (going through the blender).

A great two days of surfing and laughs was had with the Senggigi Surf Riders (S.S.R) Competition. Special thanks must go to the sponsors, the judges, and Senggigi Surf Riders themselves – a job well done!
Keep surfing, and hangin' ten forever, Sid Blade

Thanks to the sponsors: Beya and Rinjani Diving Club, Social Dept of West Lombok, Tourism Dept of West Lombok, Lombok Post Newspaper and Trans 7 Television
Placing in the finals was as follows:
Under 14 years: 1st Salim - Senggigi, 2nd Dodo - Gili Trawangan, 3rd Made Davin - Gili Trawangan, 4th Dani - Senggigi
Open division: 1st Onchon - Senggigi, 2nd Mol - Kuta, Lombok, 3rd Ong - Senggigi, 4th Rizal - Gerupuk

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Seen in Gili Trawangan

4 beds for Christmas!

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The shortage of alcohol supplies across Indonesia, and particularly in Bali, are attracting coverage in the international press, as this article published in The Australian newspaper on 20 December shows:

Australian tourists heading to Bali for Christmas be warned: it's going to be a dry festive season, with booze almost completely unavailable on the Indonesian island after a months-long customs crackdown.

Even had there been any decent wine available, there's little in the way of cheese and crackers to go with it. Most imported foods have disappeared from shelves across the country as government regulations, previously sidestepped by merchants, are strictly enforced.

“This is terrible ... it's ruining the industry,” Bali Tourism Board chairman, Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, told The Weekend Australian.

Imported spirits, even if they're available from old stock, are going for well over US $100 ($145) a bottle as scarcity, plus import duties of up to 400 per cent on any alcohol that does make it through official channels, drive prices sky-high.

The number of Australians visiting the island is rapidly returning to pre-2002 bombing levels, with figures to September this year showing a 55% leap in arrivals over the full 2007 year. The only national group visiting in greater numbers is the Japanese, who made up almost 20% of the more than 1.1million foreign arrivals to September, compared with 15% for Australians.

Australian restaurateur, Janet de Neefe, a long-time resident of the central Bali town of Ubud, says the shortages are definitely cutting into her business.

“We get a lot of Europeans coming through here, and the French think it's abominable that there's no wine,” said de Neefe, the author of a book on her experience of marrying into the tightly-knit Balinese community and helping to establish a fine dining industry there.

“People get very grumpy if what they want isn't available, but it's not just wine - it's all sorts of foodstuffs; obscure things like Filo pastry are just not available.”

Besides the excise problem, the issues are twofold – absolute national import limits on alcohol, which used to be openly flouted by smugglers but are now being rigidly enforced; and strict labelling requirements on imported foods, overseen by the Food and Drugs Monitoring Agency. Both are the result of a drive towards more transparent Indonesian governance.

“The only good aspect is that it's probably increased consumption of some of the local drinks, like arak and brem (rice wine, largely produced at village level),” De Neef said. “And I'm pretty sure beer consumption has gone up.”

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On 13 December, Kompas reported that the government would postpone the implementation of new import regulations due to take effect from 15 December, 2008.

The new regulations, intended to protect local industry and Indonesian markets, will now only come into effect on 1 February, 2009, to facilitate a smooth transition and avoid any possible marketplace disruptions over the coming holiday period.

The new import rules are set forth in by the Minister of Trade's Regulation Number 44 of 2008 published on 31 October, 2008.

Those regulations stipulate that the importation of garments, stockings, electronics, toys, food and beverages must enter the country only via registered importers.

Registered importers, in turn, must submit annual importation plans stipulating specific amounts and types of items they wish to bring into Indonesia. In a further effort to end smuggling, the new regulations also restricts to importation via the ports of Jakarta, Surabaya, Semarang, Medan and Makassar.

When contacted by the press on 12 December, Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said the postponement was necessary due to “technical implementation considerations in the field.”

In a possibly related but separate development, it is known that President Yudhoyono ordered that immediate action be taken by Minister Pangestu to alleviate current importation bottlenecks following a meeting earlier in the week with Bali's Governor Pastika, in which concerns were raised regarding the critical shortages of food and beverages being experienced by the island's tourism industry.

Pangestu explained: “Our reasons are practical. We do not wish to disturb the smooth flow of merchandise during Christmas and New Year. In addition, the readiness of our surveyors (to handle the new rules) was also a consideration.”

It still remains unclear how the delay in the implementation of the new custom's regulations will assist Bali's current severe shortage of imported food and alcoholic beverage.

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The hereditary Sultan of the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta has declared his opposition to a tough new anti-pornography law which has stirred fiery debate ahead of elections next year.

Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, a candidate for Presidential elections due around July 2009, said the bill threatened national unity based on respect for the cultural and religious diversity of the mainly Muslim archipelago of 234 million people. He said the anti-porn law introduced recently with the backing of Muslim parties was “the most terrible thing in the process of building our nation.”

The law criminalises all works and “bodily movements”, including music and poetry, which could be deemed obscene and capable of violating public morality, and offers heavy penalties.

Critics from the Christian and Hindu minorities, as well as many moderate Muslims, say the new law threatens regional traditions such as certain costumes and dances, and encourages vigilante attacks.

“The leader of our nation must be able to build tolerance between the citizens so they live side by side in peace. For me, this cannot be negotiated,” the Sultan told foreign journalists. “If all Indonesian women wear Islamic veils no one will wear their traditional clothes, from Aceh province to Papua.”

Hamengkubuwono is regarded as semi-divine by many Muslim Javanese, whose Islamic faith is mixed with earlier Hindu and animist beliefs.

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After drinking, assaulting, stealing, wounding and killing in Bali, Brazilian tourist Guilherme Guedes gets a “cakewalk” sentence of only three months in prison.

The 24-year-old Brazilian man irrevocably shattered the lives of numerous Balinese when he went “wild” after a full night of partying on 18 September, 2008. Early on that morning, a very drunk Guilherme Guedes violently attacked a Balinese man driving a delivery truck and broke the window of the truck. After biting the truck driver's hand and beating him about the face, Guedes then stole the vehicle and embarked on a zigzag chase through the streets of Kuta.

In a drunken stupor, the Brazilian drove the stolen vehicle into a group of Balinese on their way to the morning market, killing a 26-year-old mother and sending 4 others to hospital with broken bones and other wounds. After that accident Guedes was cornered by an angry crowd who stripped him and began administering summary justice before he was rescued by police who arrived on the scene.

While in most jurisdictions such behavior might have resulted in decades behind bars, the now contrite Gilherme Guedes has benefited from the leniency of Balinese judges and the forgiveness of his victims' families. The Brazilian, who is a student in Australia, received a sentence of only three months, minus time served, from Judge IGN Adhi Wardhana last week.

In rendering the remarkably lenient sentence, the panel of judges cited the man's age, his polite demeanor before the courts, his willingness to pay the cost of educating the victim's child and other restitutions, and the fact that the man was still a student.

Guedes' attorney, Erwin Siregar, rejected claims that his client was punished too lightly. According to Siregar, Guedes had accepted responsibility for his actions, paid restitution of Rp 60 million (US $5,500) to the truck owner, purchased a new motorbike for one of his victims, and agreed to pay for the education of the dead woman's child.
The judges also took into consideration statements from the injured victims and family of the deceased woman who had accepted Guedes efforts at monetary restitution and sincere apologies for his thoughtless acts.
Credited with time served since his arrest on 18 September, 2008, the Brazilian will be eligible for release from prison before Christmas. Prosecutors who demanded 6 months imprisonment for the man are thought to be unlikely to appeal the Court's lenient sentence.

Meanwhile, Drs. I Nyoman Sarjana, a community leader in Legian has roundly condemned the leniency of the sentence given to Guedes, claiming the judges showed the weakness of Indonesian judges when confronted with a foreign criminal. Sarjana, who was accompanied by I Nyoman Enteg, one of the men struck by the truck driven by Geuedes, told Denpost that beyond any good behavior shown by the Brazilian during the course of the trial, the punishment of the court does not match the crime. Pointing to Enteg who must still walk with the aid of a cane because of the injuries the Brazilian inflicted, Sarjana said that if a driver is found guilty of driving while intoxicated abroad he can lose driving privileges for several years. He complained that in the case at hand, three months imprisonment did not address the death, injuries and material damage that resulted from the Brazilian's criminally irresponsible behavior.

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