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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.

Looking for somewhere special to escape the crowds and usual hype with your sweetheart? Look no further than Lombok! What could be more romantic than a walk along a deserted white sand beach, looking out over a sparkling clean ocean to a magnificent sunset over nearby Bali? Sip wine under the stars in a draped bale by the sea, dining on fresh seafood and top class international cuisine. Or lay back on the terrace of your sumptuous villa, listening to the sound of waves with no traffic noise to break the magic. In Lombok, it's Valentine's Day every day! However, our hotels and restaurants are preparing special treats for the day of romance on 14 February… see our special feature on page 10 for the best of the best.

14 February is also the date for Lombok's unique Bau Nyale Festival. This annual event, unlike any on other islands, is steeped in mystery, legend and tradition. Join in the festivities on the south coast, with Peresean performances starting daily in Kuta from 11 February. The big event, on Mandalika Beach on Saturday 14 February, will feature a night of traditional drama, theatre, music and dancing. Then join the crowds gathering slippery Nyale worms in the ocean in the early morning… there's no other festival quite like it! See page 18 for details.

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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Love is in the air in Lombok and, with Valentine's Day celebrated on 14 February, in this issue we bring you an overview of the best Valentine's offers from Lombok's hotels and restaurants… book a special night away, or a romantic dinner for two, to wow and woo your sweetheart!

The Holiday Resort in Mangsit is offering accommodation for two in a romantic Garden Chalet for just Rp 450 000 net per couple, including breakfast. Or if you are already in Lombok, enjoy the Valentine's Romantic dinner with complimentary Love Potion Cocktail, amuse bouche, and delicious choices including Croquette with Smoked White Marlin, Seared Black Pepper Tuna, Honey-glazed Roast Duck, Spiced Crust Barracuda, Beef Medallion with Red Wine Reduction and more, for just Rp 250 000 per couple.

Qunci Villas, also in Mangsit, is a perfect location for a romantic dinner on the beachfront. Choose from two 4 course candlelight dinners with entertainment by traditional Lombok dance performances. The Valentine's Set Dinner menu includes Smoked Salmon Wonton Soup, Grilled Baby Snapper, Beef Barbeque, Valentine's Chocolate Cake and a complimentary glass of wine for US $50++ per couple.

The Intimate Candlelight Dinner features Scallops, Prawns and Smoked Salmon, Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Spinach-stuffed Chicken Breast, Panna Cotta Lemon Tart and a bottle of sparkling wine for US $120++. For a limited number of lucky diners, an intimate candlelit dinner for two is available in a romantically decorated private bale. Book early!

The Senggigi Beach Hotel is holding a Valentine's Day Buffet Dinner from 7pm at Purnama Beach, with tables set up right on the sands of Senggigi Beach. Entertainment is a fashion show and live music from Ribax's Unplugged Band. Price is just Rp 150 000 net per person.

Sheraton Senggigi Resort offers a stylish Valentine's break with accommodation starting from Rp 788 000++ per room per night. Valentine's Dinner at Bawang Putih Restaurant in the resort includes live music and a rose for the ladies, together with a sumptuous 4 course menu for Rp 225 000++ per person. Enjoy Salmon Chowder, Beef Tataki, Grilled Imported Beef Tenderloin or Salmon Steak with Wasabi Mayonnaise, completed by Strawberry Yoghurt Cake with Pistachio and Grape Coulis. KITAS and domestic residents receive 15% discount.

Square Restaurant presents a choice of two 5 course fine dining menus, showcasing seasonal produce and the talents of chef, Wayan Budiana. The Valentine's menus are available on both Friday 13 and Saturday 14 February. Menu A offers Salmon Confit, Sea Scallop Meunierre, Roasted Boneless Duck, Yoghurt Sorbet with Dragon Fruit and White Chocolate Moelleux.

Menu B combines Foie Gras, Grilled Mahi Mahi, Roasted Lamb Rack, Coconut Sorbet and the irresistible Square Fallen Chocolate Cake. Indulge yourself with either menu for Rp 250 000 (+15%) per person.

The Beach House Resort on Gili Trawangan is offering a special 4 course Valentines dinner including a complimentary Valentine's cocktail on arrival and a decadent and sensuous dessert before you leave. Be tempted by the famous Beach House BBQ or the enticing European flavours from the kitchen, complemented by the largest selection of temperature-controlled wines on Gili Trawangan. Whatever you choose, you are ensured an unforgettable evening. Bookings are recommended.

Hotel Vila Ombak, also on Gili T, are offering a Romantic Valentine Package for Rp 1 999 000++ per couple. Price includes 2 days/1 night stay, airport pickup and speedboat transfer, Virgin Champagne Mimosa on arrival, buffet breakfast and a romantic candle light dinner for two.

The resort's Valentine Day Candle Light Dinner is a delicious 4 course meal, with a choice of cocktails to start. Tempting dishes include Seafood Margarita, Antipasto, Beef Fillet, Chicken with sweet peppers and balsamic, White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake or Kahlua Fudge Brownies, all for Rp 250 000 net per person.

If you're not heading home after dinner to cuddle with someone special, Senggigi's popular nightspot, Marina Café, is hosting a Valentine's Day Party with live music by Replay Band and special guest DJ Noly from Bali spinning the discs from 10pm 'til late.

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With Valentine's Day coming up, now is the time to show that special person in your life how much you care. And for the men who always forget Valentine's Day, now there's no excuse! In this edition of What's Hot! we bring you easy gift ideas close to Senggigi to surprise your special lady!

Ladies love clothes and both Ciokolata (next to Senggigi Jaya Supermarket) and Jo Je Boutique (next to Lian Senggigi in Batu Bolong) have a great range of fashions that are popular with Lombok ladies. Surprise your sweetheart by taking her shopping at either boutique and let her choose whatever she likes… the low prices wont break your budget! Or talk to the sales staff about a gift voucher, so she can choose her own gift later. Ciokolata also has a lovely selection of precious Autore Pearls if you want to surprise her with something very special.

If your budget doesn't run to Autore Pearls, you can still find a beautiful and lasting gift she'll treasure at House of Pearls in Senggigi Plaza (in the far corner, next to Rumah Bunga Spa). Classic pearl necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings are available featuring a wonderful range of freshwater and salt-water pearls. For the modern woman, there's a fabulous selection of designs using combinations of pearls and gemstones in stylish settings made from gold, chrome and silver. The friendly sales staff will help you with your choice.

Karyana Gallery, on the main street near Happy Café, has a good selection of gift ideas that she'll be sure to love. Apart from featuring the great artwork of local painter, Karyana, the gallery sells lovely candle-holders, an interesting selection of fashion jewellery, cushions, embroidered sarongs, wall hangings and other unique collectibles from around the island.

Lastly, the Korean Gift Shop, downstairs from Ye Jeon Korean Restaurant in Senggigi Plaza, has a huge range of gifts and home-wares. Everything from photo frames to scented oils, wooden boxes and mirrors, and much, much more. They also sell the best range of scented and decorative candles in Lombok… to help you set the romantic mood!

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One of Lombok's most famous and unique festivals, Bau Nyale, occurs every year when the weather, marine and seasonal conditions combine with local legend, and thousands of people gather on the southern beaches to celebrate the event.

Nyale are a rare type of sea worm that spawn in the warm waters around Indonesia at particular times every year, when the tides and weather conditions are right. According to local tradition, the worst of the monsoon rains cease after the Bau Nyale festival and conditions are right for rice growing and agricultural activities on the island.
Bau Nyale, or the Nyale Festival, takes place every year in the tenth month of the Sasak calendar, and will be celebrated this year from 11 to 15 February on the south coast. Perhaps the most famous site for celebrating Bau Nyale is at beautiful Seger Beach in Kuta; an area called Putri Nyale (Princess Nyale) by the people of Lombok. Celebrations are also held at other beaches around Kuta, including Selong Belanak and Kaliantan Beach on the eastern side of Awang Bay.

In the lead-up to Bau Nyale, this year's events will commence on 11 February in Kuta with Peresean performances every day. Peresean, or stick fighting, is a traditional sport in which two muscled competitors pit their strength and wits against each other, using heavy sticks to strike at each other's bodies and shields made from toughened cow hide to prevent the other from striking a blow. Contestants train for years to hone their skills, often returning from fights with bruised bodies covered in red welts. It's a genuine fight, accompanied by much enthusiastic encouragement from the crowd. A referee is on hand to make sure things are kept fair and don't get out of hand.

The main Bau Nyale festival will take place on Saturday, 14 February – an unusual way to spend Valentine's Day, if you are so inclined! On Saturday evening, huge crowds will gather on the beach to watch the celebrations, which traditionally include a parade with this year's Princess Mandalika – a legendary Lombok princess who is believed to have thrown her body into the sea near Putri Nyale, and thus was transformed into the nyale worms. The evening also includes traditional dance and theatre performances, local music, and fun activities.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, when the first nyale appear, a dukun (local priest) will wade into the ocean and foretell the conditions for the coming year, and whether to expect good or bad harvests. Thousands of spectators will then splash into the sea to catch the nyale worms, which are considered a delicacy by the local people.

Bau Nyale is a unique event, interwoven with fascinating traditions and legends, which attracts visitors from afar every year. If you are planning a trip to Lombok, now is the time to visit. If you are already in Lombok, head to Kuta for the weekend and join in the celebrations… everyone is welcome!

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Hash House Harriers is a great way to keep fit, meet people, and see the real Lombok! LHHH
meets every Monday and Friday at 4pm.
Phone 632550, 624804 or 6646606 for details. Special thanks to Sid Blade for these photos.

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Seen in Sandik

Who are you calling a bucket head?!

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The Bali Government Tourist Office has issued guidelines for local residents and visitors for Nyepi – the day of absolute silence that will mark the dawn of a new year on the Bali-Hindu calendar.

On Wednesday evening, 25 March 2009, streets across the island will be clogged by revellers out in force to watch teams of young men from local banjars parade large Papier-mâché floats through the streets in the Ogoh-ogoh Parade. Police will maintain a high profile presence in order to contain any excesses by parade participants and spectators who are often “well-oiled” with rice wine.

The celebrants will eventually find their way back to the village homes before 6 am on Thursday morning, 26 March, when local rules dictate that island residents must enter into a 24-hour period of silent reflection during which:

No lights may be lit.
No work may be performed.
No amusements enjoyed.
Silence must be maintained.
People must not venture outside the sealed and silent quarters.

The silence remains in absolute effect for 24-hours until 6 am on Friday morning, 27 March 2009.
Tourist visitors and non-Balinese residents of the island are expected to heed local tradition which brings the entire island to a ghost-town-like standstill.

· Hotel service staff will be compelled to stay at their place of employment during the 24 hour period as travel between home and job is not possible.
· All roads will fall silent and be available for use only by emergency vehicles.
· Hotel guests must stay on their hotel grounds for the 24 hour period during which they will be able to enjoy most hotel facilities and services. Guest rooms will have their curtains drawn and outside lighting at hotels will be dimmed or extinguished during the Nyepi period.
· Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport will be closed with no flight operations allowed during the 24 hour period. Technical and emergency landings will be permitted, including medical evacuation flights, but crew landing at the airport between 6 am on 26 March until 6 am the following morning will not be allowed to leave the airport terminal.
· All Bali sea ports will be closed during the 24 hour Nyepi period.
· The once monthly tsunami alarm testing that occurs at 10 am on the 26th of each month will not take place on 26 March.

A one-of-a-kind activity, many visitors actually flock to Bali to enjoy the unique experience of seeing an island of 3 million inhabitants go absolutely silent for 24 hours.

Below are Nyepi activities to witness:

Tuesday, 24 March, 2009 - Meklyis or Melasti. Processions of Balinese Hindus across the island bear effigies from their temples to the ocean for purification ceremonies on Kuta and Sanur beach.

Wednesday, 25 March - Tawur Agung Kesanga Ceremony. Sacrificial rites are held starting from 12 noon to appease spirits of the underworld followed by ogoh-ogoh parades in the evening of large Papier-mâché effigies resembling evil spirits through local streets.

Thursday, 26 March -Nyepi the celebration of the Icaka New Year 1931.

Friday, 27 March - Med-Medan - a traditional celebration held in Banjar Kaja, Sesetan, South Denpasar that sees young unmarried men and women gather in a local square to douse each other with water and exchange furtive kisses. Thought to bring good luck, the fun starts at around 3 pm.

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Jakarta Post reports that Bali's Governor, Made Mangku Pastika, has now confirmed that Bali will move ahead with plans to build a second airport near its northern shore. This announcement came after an order from Indonesia's Vice President, Jusuf Kalla, decreeing that the expansion of Bali's current airport in Tuban must move ahead and be completed by 2011.

Vice President Kalla has apparently brought to an end the long-standing debate on the future of Bali's international airport by instructing that a Rp 1.2 trillion (US $108 million) expansion must be completed by 2011. Declaring there was no immediate need to extend the length of the current airport, Kalla directed that the current expansion of the Ngurah Rai Airport should be completed by 2011, declaring the expanded airport sufficient to meet Bali's transportation needs through 2020.

Rejecting calls to make the current runway long enough to handle jumbo Airbus 380 aircraft, Vice President Kalla discounted the importance of creating an airport capable of handling the super-jumbo at the end of a 12 hour flight from the US or Europe. According to Kalla, “the cost exceeds the benefit if we extend the length of the current runway to accommodate airplanes that handle 500 passengers.”

Bambang Darwoto of the airport management authority said the current 15,000 square meter domestic terminal would be moved to the larger 70,000 square meter international terminal. Darwoto also said that the Vice President vetoed the idea of building a mall between the international and domestic terminals, saying the airport was not a transit facility but a destination airport.

Also on tap for the improved airport is more apron space to accommodate more parked aircraft, a four floor parking facility, and a new control tower.

In 2008 the Bali airport handled an estimated 5 million domestic and international passengers.

Governor Pastika made the announcement regarding a second airport for Bali following a meeting with Bali's Provincial Legislative House of Representatives, telling the press that the plan has been endorsed by both the Vice President and the Minister of Culture and Tourism. It is believed that the new airport will be built in Buleleng Regency, North Bali.

Those supporting the second airport point to the under-capacity of the Ngurah Rai International Airport and the need to balance development patterns between Bali's North and South. Experts believe that the presence of an airport in Buleleng would stimulate a surge of tourism development along the northern coast, which remains economically depressed in comparison to the southern regions of the Island.

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The Bali Safari and Marine Park witnessed the blessed arrival of a baby male elephant born at the park on 25 January, 2009.

The proud baby boy of two Sumatran Elephants – “David” and “Tini” – the yet-to-be-named offspring was assisted into the world by two veterinarians and a team of elephant keepers following a 22-month-long pregnancy. “Baby's” weight at birth was a healthy 70 kilograms.

Believed to be the first elephant born in Bali in modern times, mother and son are being kept in a separate enclosure at the zoo. According to the Bali Safari and Marine Park officials, the baby elephant will undergo a 3-month adaptation period before being shown to the general public.

The birth of the new baby brings the elephant population at the facility to 38, comprised of Sumatran, Indian and Thai pachyderms.

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By Di Somerton

The recent rare but heavy rains have brought much relief to the parched countryside on Gili Trawangan. Unfortunately, along with the rains come high tides and an increasing deluge of rubbish washed up from the surrounding islands, some of it travelling all the way from Bali! Over the past weeks, the usually pristine beaches along the north and south shores of Gili T had become a veritable rubbish tip of other peoples' garbage.

That is, until the people of Gili T – ever keen to keep our island clean and our beaches tourist-friendly and safe – organised their first Beach Clean Up Day of 2009. Over 350 children from the Sekolah Desa Gili Trawangan, funded and supported by a number of western businesses on the island working in cooperation with the Village Head, Pak Zaenudin (Dino), got together on Saturday, 24 January to tackle the beachfront. With rubbish bags in hand, much enthusiasm and smiles on their faces, the group set about cleaning up the sea, sand and shores of their island home.

After 6 hours, a mountain of bags filled with rubbish was collected and will be sorted locally for recycling. Further Beach Clean Up Days are planned for the future; the next planned for the end of the rainy season, in time for the onset of the peak tourist season.

The group also plans to tackle the annoying mosquito problem that descends upon Gili T at this time of the year. All of the water reservoirs created by the recent rainfall will be treated with “Abate”, thus eliminating the mosquito larvae and breeding grounds. This process of mosquito extermination will be continued as needed over the coming months.

Well done to the children of Gili T and everyone who participated in the Beach Clean Up Day… Let's keep our island beautiful!

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Hotel Vila Ombak on Gili Trawangan has appointed a new Restaurant, Bar & Entertainment Manager and this dynamo of energy has big plans for the island's premier resort.

Andy Walker, who hails from Sheffield in England, came to Gili Trawangan to complete his Dive Master qualification with Big Bubble Dive, which is operated by his sister, Anna. He then planned to complete an IDC Dive Master course in Bali but, within a short space of time, landed himself the challenging new job at Vila Ombak.

Meeting with Andy last week, he outlined some of his plans for the resort over the coming months. His first mission is to create a new band to provide entertainment at the resort six nights a week. In a unique twist, the resort will audition local musicians in a small-scale version of Pop Idol, complete with Indonesian judges to choose the best of the performers. Once the winners have been selected, they will be put together to rehearse and perfect their music as the Vila Ombak Band.

Competitors must be local residents of Gili Trawangan, or willing to make Gili T their home if they are selected. The band will consist of 3 guitarists, 2 vocalists and 2 percussionists. The first audition was held on Friday night, 30 January 2009.

Andy also intends to breathe new life into Vila Ombak's beachfront bar, which will be renamed the “Blue Bar”. Plans include beach bonfires, live music from the new band and a range of beachfront activities for island residents and tourists.

Vila Ombak's restaurant will also get a facelift, with a new fine-dining menu to be introduced soon. There will also be theme nights available, with all-you-can-eat buffets featuring cuisines from around the world every night. Andy wants to make the buffets good value for people living on the island, as well as hotel guests, with one fixed price and no tax and service charge tacked on.

This is just the start for this energetic and enthusiastic English entrepreneur… we're sure we'll see a lot of exciting changes at one of our favourite resorts over the coming months!

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The newest addition to Gili T accommodation is the budget-priced “Snapper Bungalows” located directly behind the island's popular fish and chip shop, “Wrapper Snapper”.

The small development has five newly-renovated bungalows in a small private garden, only steps away from one of the best beaches and snorkelling areas on Gili T. Each room has its own bathroom, a spacious bedroom and outdoor terrace.

Prices range from just Rp 100 000 to Rp 200 000 (for an air-conditioned bungalow) per night, including continental breakfast. As part of the deal, guests are also invited to use the freshwater swimming pool and facilities at The Beach House Resort. Phone (0370) 624217 or 0878 6512 2524 for more details.

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