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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.

As The Lombok Guide goes to print this issue, the US has just sworn in its first African-American President and, despite the country's economic woes and global outlook, there is a new sense of hope in America and a positive spirit of change. The excitement generated by this new leadership has created renewed optimism not just in America but throughout the world.

So the outlook for Lombok could be described in a similar way. With a new pro-active government in place committed to developing the island and an international airport well on the way, to paraphrase Barack Obama, “the world is about to change, and we must change with it”. With so much natural beauty and potential waiting to be explored, we think Lombok is more than ready to meet that challenge. Read our special airport report on page 10.

Chinese New Year is celebrated on 26 January this year so be sure to check out the special packages available at Lombok hotels and perhaps catch a Barongsai or dragon dance in the city. The Buddhist temples in Ampenan and Cakra will have big spring celebrations. As the Chinese community throughout Indonesia prepares to say goodbye to the “Year of the Rat” and welcome in the “Year of the Ox”, we wish our readers Gong Xi Fa Cai – congratulations and may you be prosperous!

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Guide from the locations listed on page 32 or visit us on www.thelombokguide.com and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself… like thousands of others, you'll be enchanted!

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Lombok's new international airport is progressing according to schedule and looks set to be ready for the planned opening by the end of 2010.

At a meeting at the Governor's office on Monday, 11 January, Governor Muhammad Zainul Madjdi said that his government is committed to the construction and opening of the much-anticipated international airport. He said that so far construction plans were running to schedule and that, barring any unforeseen problems, the airport itself would be complete by the end of 2009.

Major supporting infrastructure would take longer to complete, but was expected to be in place by the middle of 2010, and that the first flights would commence by the end of 2010.

Infrastructure required includes adequate water supply to the area, the completion of a new steam powered electrical plant near Lembar Harbour to meet electricity requirements, the completion of an international standard hospital (already under construction in Pagutan) and other supporting services for an international airport.

Governor Zainul appeared confident that these requirements could be met in the stated timeframe.
The Lombok Guide visited the site of the new airport in Tanak Awu, Central Lombok on Saturday, 16 January to view the progress first-hand and we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of progress since our last visit.

The site is a busy hive of activity with bulldozers, back-end loaders and dump trucks digging and carting huge amounts of clay and soil around the site. Sections of the apron are complete and the main runway is around 60% complete, with a cavalcade of vehicles laying the necessary 20cm deep layers of tarmac, and water trucks and steamrollers driving up and down smoothing out the surface.

In the centre of the site, behind the ornamental lake at the airport's entrance, construction is well underway on the new two-storey airport terminal building. The modern design, with a roof structure that looks like an airplane from the front angle, will initially span 12 000 sqm and be capable of handling 2 000 000 passengers.

Phase I of the runway at the new Lombok International Airport will have an initial length of 2.5 km and a width of 45m, making the airport suitable for landing Airbus 310's and Boeing 747's, and is within flight range of Australia, Japan, Timor, Taiwan and Korea. There are plans to lengthen the runway to 2.750 km in Phase II, between 2013 and 2015, then again to 3.5 km in Phase III, by 2028.

The estimated budget for Phase I of the development is IDR 665 billion (approximately US $72.3 million), not including land purchase.

Lombok International Airport (Bandara Internasional Lombok or BIL) airport is being constructed by Indonesian company, PT Angkasa Pura I (the managers of Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport) and is being carried out in cooperation with the provincial Government of NTB (Pemprov) and the Central Lombok Government (Pemkab Loteng), at an estimated cost of Rp 665 billion.

PT Angkasa Pura I is providing Rp 515 billion to develop all the airport facilities, except for the construction of the taxiway, apron and supporting facilities by the Government of NTB, equal to Rp110 billion. The Central Lombok Government will provide a further Rp 40 billion for developing the park car, access roads and supporting facilities.

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We think Qamboja Spa at Qunci Pool Villas is very hot! The purpose-designed spa features three luxurious treatment rooms, complete with al fresco bathrooms and gorgeous bathtubs carved from a single huge boulder, where guests can luxuriate in scented oils and flower petals under the bright blue Lombok sky. The therapists all have years of massage experience and also received specialised training in Bali before Qamboja Spa opened late last year… and it shows! Enjoy aromatherapy massages, Shiatsu, reflexology, body scrubs and wraps, manicures, pedicures and facials, or choose from a selection of pampering packages. Sheer bliss!

The new section of the Mataram Mall is coming alive and is now sporting a couple of interesting new eateries. Elements, on the second floor at the south end of the Mall, is a new modern restaurant with cool air-conditioning, comfortable banquettes and a delicious selection of western and Asian snacks and meals. We love their range of fresh juices, specialty coffees and teas, and the meals are great value. Clean and comfortable, with professional and friendly staff… this is a great place for lunch or dinner, or a refreshing break while out shopping!

We're also loving Top Ten Restaurant in Mataram, on Jl Caturwarga (the road back from the mall), just after the Islamic Hospital. Three visits and three excellent meals, so far! The restaurant specialises in quality Chinese food and also has cold beer, a huge range of fresh juices and smoothies, as well as good coffees and exotic teas. Try the Ayam Goreng Kong Po (chicken and cashew nuts), Tami Cap Cay (crispy noodles with chicken and veges), Ayam Pandan Wangi (marinated chicken wrapped in pandan leaf parcels)… all under Rp 35 000 per dish. There's a huge variety of fish, crab, squid, chicken, meat and vegetarian meals on offer and the restaurant also offers home delivery and in-home catering for parties. Top Ten is spacious, clean and top value!

The Cellar Party at Square Restaurant is back on again! Three and a half hours of free-flow wines, accompanied by delicious canapés and nibbles from the Square kitchen, live music and good company, all for just Rp 300 000 per person is unbeatable value… especially in these times of import restrictions and extortionate duties on wines! The next cellar party is on Friday, 6 February. Wine lovers, raise your glasses!

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The Novotel Lombok Mandalika Resort chose the New Year to celebrate the earth-friendly changes the resort has made in 2008. In preparation for their “Green Globe” qualification this year, the hotel hosted a “Good to Green Party” for their guests on New Year's Eve.
For the green-themed party, guests were presented with green traditional Sasak headdresses and green patterned sarongs to wear on the night. Green decorations, with a nature theme were used and even the usual party horns were replaced with bamboo instruments.
With a sumptuous buffet dinner and traditional dance and musical performances, followed by a live band, guests danced the night away on the stunning beachfront at Mandalika.


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The Lombok Hotels Association has swung into the new year with a new Chairman and the Association's first meeting with the new NTB (Lombok and Sumbawa) Governor.

Members of the Association met at the Governor's office in Mataram on Monday, 11 January 2009, to discuss ways in which the Association and government can cooperate in developing tourism in Lombok and work together in creating a dynamic future for the island.

Lombok's Governor, Muhammad Zainul Madjdi, was appointed to office on 17 September 2008 and has made a number of sweeping moves in the past few months to cut through bureaucracy and corruption at government level. He welcomed the opportunity to meet Association members and was happy to discuss ways in which the tourism industry and government can focus joint efforts on tourism development and promotion.

Topics at this first meeting included street lighting and the general appearance of Senggigi, progress on the new Lombok International Airport and the upcoming TIME (Tourism Indonesia Mart & Expo) to be held in Lombok in October 2009.

The Lombok Hotel Association (LHA) is an organisation of Lombok's hotel owners and managers that was incorporated in 2006, to represent and act as one voice for Lombok's hotels. Casa Grande, the hotel Association prior to the LHA, operated from 1995 until 2006.

The governmental meeting was the first official role for new Chairman, Marcel Navest, who was appointed the chairmanship in December 2008. Marcel took over the position from retiring Chairman, Ian Henderson, Assistant Manager of the Senggigi Beach Hotel. Ian will be leaving Lombok at the end of January to take up a new position as General Manager with the ACCOR hotel group.

Marcel is the director of Puri Bunga Hotel, a fifty room hotel located opposite the Art Markets in Senggigi. Marcel has a long association with Lombok and a deep understanding of the history of tourism on the island. He first came to Lombok as a teenager in 1988 and his family purchased Puri Bunga Hotel in 1991, which meant he was a frequent visitor to the island. Marcel then moved permanently to Lombok in 2003, to supervise renovations at the hotel, which re-opened in 2006.

Marcel joined the LHA last year and has been an active member ever since. “In the past year I have seen government and industry working separately and autonomously. I hope that we can create a good relationship between the LHA and the government, so that we can focus our efforts together,” he said.

In his new role as Chairman, Marcel said, “I envisage LHA as being a strong organisation that represents the hotels in Lombok and builds a strong relationship with government and other tourism stakeholders”.

The LHA meets regularly to share knowledge, experience and information, and to cooperate in solving problems. They also aim to coordinate with and lobby the government for effective development and tourism promotion. The Association currently has fourteen members and is open to membership from eligible hotel owners or managers.

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The discovery of a stone sarcophagus in the village of Keramas in the sub-district of Blahbatuh, Gianyar on 12 January 2009, provides further evidence of existence of advanced cultural settlements in Bali dating back at least 2,500 to 3,000 years.

Shaped out of two pieces of stone to resemble a turtle, the important archeological discovery has a length of 1.5 metres, a width of 1 metre and a depth of 2.5 metres. When discovered the stone vessel contained a large quantity of human bone fragments.

The sarcophagus was uncovered by two local men who were quarrying for building stones at a depth of around 3 meters.

Once the workmen knew that their discovery was not a large stone, but an artefact with historical significance, they contacted the local village chief and the nearest police stations, which quickly cordoned off the site while waiting for representatives of the government archaeology department to arrive on the scene.

Later, the Chief of the Archeology Department of Denpasar, I Wayan Suantika, confirmed an estimated age of between 2,500-3,000 years for the sarcophagus.

A preliminary examination of the human bone fragments suggest an age dating from 300 and 500 BCE.
Suantika told NusaBali that such elaborate burial vessels were traditionally reserved for religious or traditional leaders. The sarcophagus is in the shape of a turtle and, according to Suantika, includes stone handles to permit transport of the coffin to the burial site. The shape of a turtle reflects a belief that the animal depicted would deliver the deceased to a final resting place.

According to Suantika, this is one of 12 sarcophagi discovered in the Keramas area of Bali.

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Six local people have died, 8 have been injured and others are believed trapped underground in a landslide in Sekotong on Saturday, 17 January 2008.

The locals were killed while unofficially mining for gold on Mt Montor, in central Sekotong on Lombok's southwest coast, where gold deposits have been discovered and where much of the local community have been involved in prospecting for gold over the past year.

Those killed are A. Haris, Pongoh and Sayid Husin (all three from Sekotong), Haji Taufiq (Kedaro), Kasan and Ubud (both from Sekaro). The eight injured miners were rescued over Sunday and Monday and are being treated for injuries, some serious.

According to other miners, there were around 20 people trapped under the ground on Saturday. Searchers found the four bodies and rescued another five injured miners but despite desperate attempts to move large rocks on Saturday, Central Sekotong District Chief, Lalu M Guntur Gagarin, said on Sunday that heavy equipment would be required to find the other victims.

Workers had cut two tunnels as deep as five metres into the hillside and many people had entered when a sudden landslide trapped the workers. Although there was no rain at the time the landslide occurred, the hillside had been made unstable by local farming practices, the digging of the miners and previous rains. A boulder as large as a small house has sealed access to the tunnels.

NTB Search and Rescue Teams, police and the Red Cross were called in to assist with the search for the missing, but were forced to await the arrival of excavation equipment to move the boulders and rocks. The excavator arrived on Monday afternoon, but was unable to reach the site of the landslide because of the steep incline and unstable surface on the mountainside. The site of the accident is around 700 metres above sea level.
Search and rescue attempts are further hampered by the remote location of the landslide, which can only be accessed by foot after a three-hour climb or by off-road vehicle. The area has no roads and communication is difficult on the mountain.

According to local reports, this is the second time miners have died in the area. The first accident, in July 2008, claimed four lives on Mt Lendek, in nearby Bare Kedaro.

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Both Tempo Interactive and the Jakarta Post quote Indonesian hotel and restaurant business people as calling on the government to urgently reduce the 300% luxury tax now being imposed on liquor. Calling for at least a 50% reduction in the current tax tariff, Carla Parengkuan, Executive Director of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), said, “…the current tax, which is 300 percent, is too high, so liquor is very costly.”

Parengkuan blames high liquor prices as causing distributors to place small orders for sales stocks, a factor that has reduced supply and prompted the already high prices to increase even further. There is little doubt, according to the PHRI executive, that the high cost of liquor is costing Indonesia tourism traffic.

Also concerning, she said, is the presumption that the onerous customs duties now being sought for liquor virtually guarantee that smuggling will increase over time.

A Jakarta Post report said that the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI), the Indonesian Retail Business Association (Aprindo), and the Indonesian Modern Market Supplier Association (AP3MI) are forming a single chorus complaining that new custom rules are impacting badly on their businesses.

The sudden dramatic increase in the cost of luxury goods will also mean that wealthy Indonesians and expatriates will do their shopping abroad, reducing much-needed local spending.

Hotels and restaurants that rely on imported goods to maintain high stands of food and beverage are complaining that not only are prices much higher, but availability is becoming an increasing problem. Moreover, crucial cooking ingredients used in relatively small quantities are in short supply as importers see no profit in undertaking the complicated and costly import permits procedure. One PHRI official pointed to the difficulties being experienced by Japanese supermarkets and Japanese restaurants where ingredients, such as Japanese soy sauce and wasabi are drying up.

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The captain of a ferry that sank off Sulawesi Island on 12 January, leaving up to 335 people dead, is facing five years in jail for negligence, Indonesian police said last Monday.

Only 35 people survived and nine bodies have been found since the 700-tonne Teratai Prima sank in heavy seas whipped up by a tropical storm in the Makassar Strait with up to 370 passengers and crew on board.

South Sulawesi district Police Chief Ruslan Nicolas said Sabir, employed by ferry operator PT Bunga Teratai, was in police custody and would be charged with negligence causing the death of another person. National police spokesman Abubakar Nataprawira said the captain would be charged with ignoring a storm warning when he set sail from Pare-Pare on the afternoon of January 11 for the overnight journey to Samarinda, on Borneo Island.

He would also be accused of setting sail in a ferry that exceeded its passenger capacity, Nataprawira added.

Those are his acts of negligence that will be proven soon in a trial,” he said.
Officials have said the weather was calm when the ferry left port but about 10 hours later it was hit by a severe storm with waves up to four metres (13 feet) high. Survivors said most of the passengers were asleep at the time and the vessel sank so quickly that they had little chance of escape.

The ferry's manifest showed some 250 passengers and 17 crew were aboard, but officials said the ferry may have been carrying 103 people more than those listed. Indonesians rely on ferries which connect the main islands of the massive archipelago, but accidents are common and safety regulations are badly enforced. The disaster is the worst of its kind in Indonesia since December 2006 when a ferry sank in a storm off the coast of Java, killing more than 500 people.

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At a special ceremony in Jakarta on December 23, 2008, President Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono presented John Fawcett of the John Fawcett Foundation with the prestigious Satyalancana Kabaktian Sosial Award for his outstanding humanitarian work in Indonesia, especially in providing free cataract surgery to the poor in Bali, Kalimantan and Nusa Tenggara Barat.

Fawcett is Founder and CEO of The John Fawcett Foundation, headquartered in Bali, which works primarily in providing sight restoring cataract operations to the poor, a task he has been pioneering since 1991.
Over those years the projects have provided surgical assistance to over 25,000 cataract patients otherwise unable to pay or access the sophisticated surgery that can return their sight.

Curable blindness is a major problem in Indonesia, where 4 million are blind, and 3 million are curable, mostly with cataract surgery.

Fawcett said, “In Indonesia the most effective way to get the cataract surgery to the poor is by mobile surgical units which visit the villages, screen the people and stay a few days to operate and ensure safe recovery to each patient, then move on to the next area.”

“These mobile clinics with a staff of one ophthalmologist, four nurses and two drivers, can screen over 50,000 people in a year, perform up to 10 cataract surgeries a day and cost as little as $150,000 per year to run and service.

Fuel and travel costs are so high the poor cannot afford to travel to the cities, and we take the service to the patient. The highest incidence of blindness is amongst the poor, and it is the poor who remain blind, and will stay blind until someone provides free surgery.”

The air-conditioned mobile eye clinics are equipped with high-quality surgical equipment including microscope, sophisticated sterilization, biometry, and slit lamp for pre- and post-operative assessment. Microscopes are fitted with an assistant's piece and digital camera for video image capturing for teaching purposes. The mobile clinic tows a 21kva diesel generator which provides stable power for operations in remote village areas.
In order to meet the shortage of skilled ophthalmic surgeons able to carry out effective, safe and affordable cataract surgery, the Foundation has an active surgical training program for Indonesian ophthalmologists focusing on small incision cataract surgery.

The Australian foundation which bears John Fawcett's name and is governed by a Board of Australian business people, is supported by tax deductible donations from Australia, the UK and the USA, and also receives private funding from Indonesia and other countries.

It is structured as a legal action arm in Indonesia through the Yayasan Kemanusiaan Indonesia (YKI), which conducts its activities. YKI also won a presidential award in 2006 for being the best humanitarian organisation in Indonesia.

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In December Indonesia's national newspaper, The Jakarta Post, published an article about Lombok titled “So Near, and Yet So Far (Lombok)”. While the article was largely complimentary about Lombok's many attractions, the writer made some harsh comments about Gili Trawangan, particularly referring to drug use, the loss of a sense of community and the influx of building developments on the island.

In the open letter below Gili T resident and local businesswoman, Diane Somerton, responds to those comments:

I am writing in response to the article 'So Near, And Yet So Far', written by Ms Imogen Badgery Parker, in the December issue of The Jakarta Post (the Weekender).

I must disagree with Ms Badgery Parker's portrayal of the building construction presently taking place on Gili Trawangan. Whilst there are developments currently underway on the island, most are off the main beach front and those responsible for building along the beach are making every effort to minimize any disruption and negative impact on tourism. In fact, many businesses have chosen the quieter months of the year to embark upon refurbishments and extensions to their properties. Most developments are involved in providing fresh water and private power supplies, as well as implementing recycling and green energy efficient systems on Gili Trawangan to further improve its facilities.

As to the diminishing sense of community, Ms. Badgery Parker could be no further from the truth. There has never been a greater alliance and sense of co operation between local residents, businesses and ex-pat's on the island. Over the last 12 months, a number of councils have been established on Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air, with direct reporting lines to Lombok. These councils provide advice and support for local businesses, schools, conservation activity, utility supplies and have, in co operation with the police, implemented measures that are acting as serious crime deterrents. A recent crack-down mid-year saw many perpetrators of drug trafficking arrested and removed from the island. There have been few incidents of drug abuse recorded since then and the general consensus amongst residents and businesses is that the cleaner and more drug-free Gili Trawangan remains, the more the island will prosper. Gili Trawangan rightly deserves its moniker as 'the party island' as, of the 3 Gilis, night life here is licensed until 2am.

Visitors continue to flock to the Gilis and do, as Ms Badgery Parker points out, come for 2 days and so often stay for a week or longer. There are few places in the world that provide such a spectacular back-drop, relaxed and safe environment along with the opportunity to experience some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world. We, on Gili Trawangan, are committed to preserving the natural beauty that we are so fortunate to live in, whilst endeavouring to provide increasingly better accommodation and facilities.

Di Somerton
Gili Trawanganite

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The First Inaugural Annual Bali Dive Safety Symposium has been hailed as a resounding success by diving and medical professionals in Bali and Gili Trawangan, Lombok.

Attended by 70 participants in Bali and 65 participants on Gili Trawangan, the symposium reached a direct audience of over 100 dive professionals and more than 30 medical and Para medical professionals hailing from all regions of Bali and the Gili Islands.

Dr. Tony Lee, Medical Director Hyperbaric Health Asia, was ably supported by Mr. Peter Manz, Indonesian Regional Manager of Hyperbaric Health, in the provision of an informative, and enjoyable symposium.

Proceedings commenced with abeginning brief history of diving and the beginnings of hyperbaric medicine, presented by Peter Manz. This was followed by Dr. Lee's polished explanation of the Diagnosis and Management of Diving Related Decompression Illness. The presentations concluded with a spirited question time, further demonstrating the industry's thirst to enhance their its knowledge.

A number of positive initiatives have been proposed as a result of the Symposium. The organisers hope to work with diving and medical professionals, regional government and the local private sector, to bring these initiatives to fruition.

Rolf Michels, of Vila Ombak Diving Academy, a PADI Instructor and Para Medic, said “I learnt more about the history, diagnosis and emergency management of diving related Decompression Illness in this one day than I have in my entire career as a diving instructor and Para medic. It would be great if we can do something similar again next year”..year.

Michael Cortenbach of Bali Diving Academy said “As an organiser and sponsor, we were very pleased to see the industry embrace this positive initiative. We are confident the information was relevant and attendance at the inaugural event was considered good use of the participant's time. The success of the symposium paves the way to pursue the goal of an annual event. We hope to announce the focus topic and speakers for the 2009 event sometime in the first quarter of 2009.”

The First Annual Bali Dive Safe Symposium was organised and funded by Hyperbaric Health, Bali Diving Academy with the support of Bali Chapter of Gahawisri (Indonesian Watersport Operators Association,) Dr. Dr. John Lippmann of Divers Alert Network Asia Pacific, Hotel Vila Ombak, Vila Ombak Diving Academy, Gili Cat, and Manta Dive.
For more information on hyperbaric medicine in Indonesia and the region please visit: www.hyperbarichealth.com

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