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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.

On the short flight from Bali to Lombok, first time visitors are often heard exclaiming about the beauty of Lombok from the sky. Small islands lie just off the coastlines, floating in crystal clear waters with reefs and sandbars clearly visible. Our awesome volcano, Mt Rinjani, dominates the northern skyline, surrounded by ancient hills and mountains, while the rest of the island shines a brilliant green with the many rice fields laid out below. In the last issue we reported on our flight with Sky Aviation and in this issue, we are delighted to bring you a full page photo spread on page 20 of some of the amazing landscapes on this enchanting island.

We also visit Gili Air, the lesser-known Gili, which is set to take off in 2010. The Gili Islands are a major asset to Lombok tourism, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to their vibrant beaches every year. While everyone knows and loves Gili Trawangan, the word on everyone’s lips these days is “Air”!

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

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Gili Trawangan has been the most popular of the Gili Islands for many years. While all three of the Gilis have their unique charms, Gili T – with its bars and restaurants, white sand beaches and fabulous diving – lures hundreds of thousands of visitors to its shores every year.

Gili Air, the island closest to the mainland, has always existed somewhat in the shadow of its famous neighbour – and many of Gili Air’s fans like it that way – but it seems all that is about to change!

2009 saw unprecedented interest in Gili Air, with a number of investors from Java and Bali, as well as overseas, quickly seeing the potential of the island and snapping up land. Many believe the beaches on Gili Air are more beautiful, the water more pristine and the reefs more interesting, than the other islands. As a result, land prices on the island have soared and there are currently a number of new constructions taking place; some of them very fancy indeed, for an island whose rustic charm has lain in thatched huts and simple beachfront balés to date.
Leading the way in what is sure to be the significant moment in the evolution of the island is Scallywags Organic Beach Club. With a successful resort and beachfront restaurant already operating on Gili T, and The Beach Club well established in Canggu, Bali, the owners of Scallywags were quick to see the potential for early investment in Gili Air.

Perhaps it’s a mark of the experience and insights already gained in creating two beach resorts that have made the newest offering in the Scallywags empire more eco-friendly than ever before. With many water- and energy-saving systems already in place at their Gili T resort, Scallywags owners have incorporated a number of sensible and sustainable features into their Gili Air restaurant, with the aim of having as small an “environmental footprint” as possible.

The Scallywags building itself has a low visual impact on the superb stretch of beach it occupies. Built mainly from wood, thatch and bamboo, the colour scheme is mainly white, blending with the bright white sand of the beach in front. Particularly concerned that no waste or sewage be allowed to pollute this pristine beach, special septic and waste filtering tanks have been incorporated into the building’s construction.

A fresh water shower on the beach allows guests to rinse off the salt water from the sea after swimming. The waste water from this shower is then used to flush the toilets. Sewage from the toilets is then fed into special bio-tanks, where the waste is broken down by a biological process, resulting in nutrient-rich, clean water that is used to water the gardens on top of the tanks.

In the shady beer garden, the five trees that already existed on the site have been incorporated into the construction and guests sit on top of another eco-friendly device. Under the wooden decking are more tanks which hold up to 5000 litres of fresh water that is transported from Lombok so as not to draw on the limited water resources of the island, together with fresh rain water collected during the rains. Even the attractive slate pots placed strategically at the corners of the roofline serve a dual purpose, being ornamental vessels to collect rain water running from the roof.

The fresh water is used for the kitchen, where a special drain that can be automatically rinsed through has been built into the perimeter of the floor; making it easy to keep the area clean and hygienic. Running off the kitchen sinks are pipes leading to another specially constructed grease trap, ensuring that fatty wastes are collected and disposed of properly.

All this work shows an intelligent and responsible approach to bringing an up-market venue to a simple island with limited resources.

The eco-philosophy is carried through with an emphasis on organic produce used in the restaurant. Consultant Chef, Asier, has designed a menu that uses fresh, locally-grown vegetables and herbs, as well as local chicken and fish and other organic ingredients. Even the drinks are organic, with a range of fresh juice combinations, boutique beer brews and wines, and Narmada spring water all on offer.

Healthy and delicious, the menu at Scallywags features dishes previously unavailable on Gili Air at very reasonable prices for the quality. Baguettes, Ciabatta, Tortilla Wraps and sandwiches from a bakery in Bali are available with a mouth-watering selection of fillings, such as Roast Chicken and Cranberry, or Roast Beef with Caramelised Red Onion and Horseradish, both priced at Rp 45 000. There’s a fabulous Tapas menu, organic salads with out of the ordinary ingredients, such as Beetroot, Apple, Blue Cheese and Walnuts, and desserts that sound wickedly decadent. We’ll be going back to investigate the Drambuie Chocolate Truffles and the Orange, Cinnamon and Tequila Cheesecake soon!

While some may lament the changes that are taking place on Gili Air, developments like Scallywags Organic Beach Club can only enhance the island’s appeal to a wider market, just as Gili T was once the domain of the backpacker crowd. Judging by the crowds at the “soft opening” of Scallywags on Tuesday, 9 February, we’re not the only ones who think this latest addition to Gili Air is a winner!

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A gorgeous new boutique has just opened two shops on Gili Trawangan. Innuendo, which has its main store in Seminyak in Bali, has opened a boutique in the Art Market on Gili T, just near the Gili Cat office, and another one on the main strip, just south of Big Bubble Dive. The boutiques sell a range of upmarket resort wear using beautiful fabrics and quality finishing… unlike anything else on the islands! There’s also a great selection of genuine leather bags and belts in fabulous designs, hats and accessories, and a small but lovely range of swimwear. Yet another feather in the cap for Gili T!

While still on Gili T, we notice the Beach House and ko ko mo Resort now have a beautiful new boat to add to their growing fleet. Kuda Laut (“Sea Horse”) is a spacious and sleek 9 metre half cabin cruiser, which makes the transfer from mainland Lombok to Gili T a pleasure (with very little chance of getting wet!) Although often used for speedy transfers, Kuda Laut’s main purpose is providing deep sea fishing trips for the two stylish resorts. Fitted with twin 115hp engines, she has a top cruising speed of 30 knots (58 km/hr). Kuda Laut is equipped with fishing rigs, rods, lines, trawling equipment, depth sounder, GPS and fish finder, for serious fishing trips. The good-looking boat comfortably seats eight passengers, plus a captain and a mate… making it a top catch for your next fishing expedition! www.beachhousegilit.com / www.kokomogilit.com

Ciokolata Boutique, on the main street in Senggigi next to Senggigi Jaya Supermarket, is gearing up for its first major fashion show and modelling contest: “Ciokolata Top Model 2010”. The fashion event will feature casual/trendy and resort wear from Ciokolata. Models will be chosen from two categories: Junior High/High School Students, aged 13 to 17 years, and University Students/General Public, from 18 to 23 years old. The pageant will be held at Café Alberto on Saturday, 6 March from 5pm until finish. This is bound to be a big night for Lombok’s fashionistas… get your glad rags on! www.ciokolata.com

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The island of Lombok is receiving a boost in tourism arrivals this year by being included on the itineraries of several major cruise companies. Twenty six cruise ships are scheduled to visit Lombok in 2010, with each cruise carrying between 500 and 2000 passengers.

International cruise liners visiting Lombok this year include “The World”, the world’s largest private yacht operated by ResidenSea; Seabourne; Sea Voyager; and P & O Cruises “Pacific Sun”, cruising from Fremantle Port in West Australia.

Lombok is part of the itinerary for cruises through the archipelago, often also visiting Bali and Komodo Island. The ships arrive at Lembar Harbour, the main port on the west coast of Lombok, where passengers disembark for a day of exploring the island before returning late in the afternoon to re-board the ship and cruise to their next destination.

While these cruise ship visits are a boon to both Lombok tourism and the local economy, lack of planning and organisation by the government is causing concern amongst tourism industry stakeholders. Of particular concern is the behaviour of “touts” and street peddlers at Lembar Harbour and in the popular tourism centre of Senggigi.
The sudden influx of so many visitors, who have just one day to spend in Lombok and plenty of money in their pockets, has proven to be a lure for every street seller and merchant on the island, with sometimes disastrous results. While guests are officially welcomed on arrival at Lembar Harbour and are greeted by traditional music and dance performances, once they exit the main arrival area they are being mobbed by people selling everything from day tours of the island, to pearls, sarongs, handicrafts and even coconuts.

The frenzy is understandable when we hear reports that these tourists are paying up to Rp 30 000 for a young coconut, while the going price locally is Rp 3 000. Some tour guides have reported earning Rp 3 million for a day tour to Senggigi.

When one cruise ship docked on Saturday, 6 February, passengers were pushed and pulled by over-eager vendors when they stepped out of the arrival area at Lembar Harbour. In Senggigi the scene was no better. Tour buses lined the main street carrying visiting passengers to the restaurants and shops in the tourist town.

Unfortunately, word had gotten around and mobs of street sellers swamped the tourists as soon as they arrived. Contrary to local rules, even the restaurants weren’t out of bounds to the frenzied locals intent on making a sale. Guests were continually harassed at the tables with large groups of sellers forming outside of the restaurants and, in one case, literally trapping the visitors inside.

One Senggigi business owner was so concerned, he called the police to ask them to come and control the situation. Two police officers eventually arrived but did not intervene. The distress on the faces of the guests was obvious.

“They visited Lombok for just one day; what impression will they take back home?” he asked, “What is the government going to do to get the hawker problem under control? Why are the police not managing the situation?”
These cruise ship visits are an important chance to showcase Lombok to a wider audience and a boost to the local economy, but intervention and control by local government is desperately needed. Lombok people are known for their hospitality to visitors, but the hawkers and touts are not representing our island in a welcoming manner.
A number of tourism industry representatives are now lobbying for better control and organisation of the visits… let’s hope the government is listening.

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Spas proliferate in Indonesia and the word “spa” is used to describe everything from lovely five-star pampering palaces to grubby hole-in-the-wall beauty salons.

The term “spa” is traditionally associated with water treatment, which is also known as balneotherapy. Spa towns or spa resorts typically offer thermal or mineral water for drinking and bathing. They also offer various health treatments. The belief in the curative powers of mineral waters goes back to prehistoric times and such practices have been used worldwide, but are especially popular in Europe and Japan.

These days a spa is usually any place that offers non-medical treatments for healing and rejuvenating the body. The International SPA Association defines spas as “places devoted to overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body and spirit”.

In line with this philosophy, a spa should also be a place of beauty that encourages relaxation and the feeling of being in a peaceful setting. With this in mind, the Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort has set about creating a beautiful spa environment on the beachfront of its extensive resort on Senggigi Beach.

A purpose-built main spa building sits only metres from the white sands of the beach incorporating a large massage room with facilities for two guests, including separate bathrooms. The massage tables face the sea, with a specially tinted one-way glass wall providing privacy from the outside, while guests can look out over the blue waters of the bay, enjoying the sight of sailing boats and wonderful sunsets while having their massage.
Outside is a shaded seating area for relaxing with a cup of herbal tea, with the beach on one side and a lovely fountain splashing on the other side. Across a small stretch of lawn, another area features a stretch of white sand surrounded by green plantings and statues. Here unique sun beds with curved canopies provide shade while guests lay back and enjoy reflexology treatments, manicures and pedicures.

Not far away, two balés sit on the lawns, covered with padded mattresses and cushions and screened by pretty white curtains. Guests can choose to have massages and treatments on these shady open-air pavilions with cool sea breezes and magnificent views out over the beach.

The range of treatments available is large, with many tempting pampering packages designed to while away the hours in this hedonistic paradise. The signature treatment of the Laguna Spa is the one and a half hour Ayus Lomi, Four Hands Massage – a  unique blend of Ayurvedic and Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi massage. Laguna Spa is the only spa in Lombok offering this unusual combination, based on the ancient principles of Hindu Ayurveda massage which uses specially blended oils and massage techniques to align the body centres and improve circulation, energy and overall wellbeing. This deeply relaxing treatment is performed by two well-trained therapists and combines the deep, rolling massage techniques used in Hawaiian massage; stretching and stroking muscles for ultimate relaxation. During the massage, warm scented oil is trickled onto the forehead (an incredibly calming effect) before being massaged into the face and head, where a lot of stress is trapped. The sensation of four hands massaging and soothing tired muscles is so wonderfully relaxing that you almost forget about the wonderful views through the big glass windows of the massage room.

In addition to this ultimate pampering experience, the spa also offers aromatherapy massage, traditional Balinese massage, reflexology, Javanese Lulur (body exfoliation and massage) and a range of specialty treatments, such as Body Firming Wraps and Facials.

For beauty and skin treatments, Laguna Spa uses quality Biodroga from Germany; holistic and natural products on a par with Thalgo, Decleor and other top brands. A one hour Pure Cashmere and Silk Treatment infuses the skin with precious silk proteins and shimmering pigments, while Golden Caviar Facial uses pure caviar extract to refine and smooth facial skin, infusing it with vitality and radiance. Men can also benefit from the specially designed Men’s Vitality Facial to pamper and care for a man’s face, revitalising skin for a well-groomed appearance.
Don’t expect to find treatments like these at any of the local beauty salons or spas in Lombok… therapists at Laguna Spa undergo intensive training prior to commencing at the spa and quality control supervisors visit every three months to ensure the spa’s standards are being upheld.

Everyone can benefit from regular massages and skin treatments, especially those of us who live in the land of the equatorial sun. Laguna Spa encourages residents to take advantage of special KITAS and WNI discounts on offer to those who live in Indonesia. For total body, mind and spirit pampering, make your way to bliss on the shores of Senggigi Bay and the Sheraton.

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In the last issue of The Lombok Guide, we reported that new changes to the current immigration rules will now allow visitors to purchase a 30 day extendable visa on arrival.  The new rules, starting on 26 January,2010, allow foreign tourists from countries eligible for a “visa-on-arrival” (VOA) to be given a 30 day visa that can be renewed for an additional 30 days.

As part of the new changes, the previous 7-day visa, which could be purchased for US $10 has been abolished; with the 30-day US $25 visa being the only visa available to eligible tourists.

While some people have applauded the move, which allows tourists to remain in Indonesia for up to sixty days, others are critical of the new rules, particularly the abolition of the 7 day visa. The island of Batam, for example, has a healthy tourism industry made up of visitors from Singapore who come over to play golf. A $10 visa cost was acceptable to these short stay visitors, whereas a $25 fee makes the destination less attractive.

According to the Indonesia Digest, the new visa policy has increased the cost of a short family outing to Riau island for a day at the beach or a round of golf. Moreover, the new policy was introduced with little advance notice, disrupting existing holiday bookings made with travel agents, golf course and hotels in Batam and Bintan. The Governor of Riau has written urgently to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, demanding a review of the new policy.

Suggesting the move was taken without inter-departmental consultation, Firmansyah Hakim, (the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s Director General of Tourism Destination Development), was quoted by The Jakarta Globe as criticising the new policy.

 “I am worried the regulation would affect foreign tourists who make frequent short stays. We are going to ask the immigration department to sit down with us and hopefully we can come up with a solution,” he said.

“We hope this policy will extend tourists’ stays in Indonesia, giving them a chance to visit more places in the country,” he said. “The policy will also simplify the supervision of overstaying foreign tourists because there is only one visa option.”

Officials have depicted the new policy as a means to combat corruption within Indonesia’s immigration department. In 2009, immigration officials at the Denpasar Airport immigration office were caught embezzling Rp 3 Billion (US $300,000) in visa fees, obtained through misreporting of the 7-day and 30-day fees.

Some tourism figures are also unhappy that tourists are not automatically given a 60 day visa on arrival, removing the need for any renewal process and the still unclear cost of extending the original visa.

It should be noted that ASEAN nationals are exempt for the new visa policy and are granted a visa-free facility for their Indonesian visits.

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Local and national media are reporting news of suspected corruption and the misappropriation of precious tourism marketing funds at the Bali Provincial Tourism office.

In response to a growing number of negative reports in the media, a special investigative team from the Inspectorate of the Bali provincial government visited the Tourism office on Monday, 8 February 2010, to audit expense claims in connection with Bali tourism promotion and overseas sales missions.

The head of the public relations department of the Bali provincial government, Ketut Teneng, said, “We are serious (in handling) these discoveries of corruption. Moreover, we are very pleased that the media is playing a critical role to bring forth suspicions of budget violations within the government.”

According to Teneng, the audit team has accumulated a number of receipts in connection with the claim, suggesting that up to Rp 3 billion (US $300,000) has been corrupted from Bali’s tourism budget. He also said the current efforts to root out the corruption have the full support of Bali’s Governor, Made Mangku Pastika.

In a related development, Commission IV of the Bali House of Representatives held a hearing with the Chief of Bali Tourism (Kadisparda), IB Subhisku, on the formulation of (new) rules and regulations governing tourism enterprises. Those hearings, however, shifted focus from the formulation of new rules to the topic of the suspected corruption in the government agency headed by Subhisku.

In response to legislator’s questions, Subhisku said his office has summoned the suspected official (identified in the press with the initials IG PA).

“I have called him in order that he can explain and be held accountable for these allegations. I am new in Bali Tourism Department, while these cases occurred between 2002 and 2008. I am not in a position to say if these occurrences are the responsibility of my predecessor before I hear IG PA’s explanation,” explained Subhisku.
Subhisku also asked IG PA to provide an explanation to the Provincial Secretary, underlining “…if mistakes have been made someone must take responsibility.”

Upon hearing Subhisku’s response, the Vice-Chairman of Commission IV, I Ketut Kariyasa, offered his comments. He said there must be a call from the Head of the Bali Tourism Office demanding a final and complete resolution of the case. Kariyasa said that it was his understanding that the cost of renting stands at trade fairs was always part of the provincial tourism budget. Now, he maintained, it appears that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has also allocated money for stand rentals.

“This has to be investigated. Let's not let some stupid official destroy the name of Bali tourism in the eyes of the public and the travel industry. And if the charges are true, those responsible must be brought to justice before the criminal corruption process,” demanded Kariyasa.

Another member of Commission IV, Cokorda Kartiyasam, told Radar Bali that third parties, such as hotels, always also paid for their booths following travel marts. “Before, I also paid. This must be explained and the expenses justified,” said Kartiyasam.

Separately IB Subhisku told the press that he welcomed any efforts to bust open this or any other case of corruption, insisting that anyone fond the be involved must be called to justice and every single rupiah must be accounted for.

Rumours of corruption in the Bali Tourism Office commenced when an anonymous party sent data and chronologies of suspected malfeasance to the Bali Tourism Office. The alleged modus operandi involved the falsification of receipts and reports to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

There are also indication of double-debits taking place for promotional stands costing Rp 120 million (US $12,000), with the same stand being charged twice – once to the Ministry in Jakarta and again to the provincial tourism office in Bali. The corruptions are said to have taken place between 2002 and 2008 and involve Rp 3 billion (US $300,000).

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The spectacular landscapes of our island are revealed when we take to the air with Sky Aviation

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(Tongue-in-cheek answers to your personal building problems)

QUESTION: My name is Hariento Nagasaki and I come from Japanese and I come for horiday in Rombok. I have just bought a rovery virra with sea view and am rooking forward to letirement and rots of karaoke singing in future with rovery rady I met who also does massage with happy ending. After singing evening with rovery rady who sing Flank Sinatra “My Way” vely nice, I come back to virra to find clacks appearing over windows and doors. What is cause of this? Some clacks vely big. What can do?

MR FIXER: Apart from your obvious speech impediment, it sounds like your ploblem, sorry problem, is caused by the lack of lintels (or rintels) above your doors and windows which inevitably results in cracks. This is a common design flaw in Lombok.  Most so called architects here have never heard of them. It is not a difficult problem to avoid when building but is quite difficult (not to mention dangerous) to rectify after construction.
A reinforced concrete lintel can be manufactured on site using a standard rebar box section encased in concrete. Leave to cure for at least 7 days and insert the lintel above doorways and window openings, ensuring at least 15cm overhangs at each end. Why such simple construction techniques are not standard practice is beyond belief. Any architect who fails to incorporate lintels into openings ought to be made to commit hara- kiri with his own theodolite, if he has one. Most of them don’t even know what one is and have just bought an Archicad 12 programme from Ruby’s supermarket, forget to read the instructions, and call themselves architects. I wouldn’t mind, but lintels are provided in the programming, as are other essentials to design like doors and windows. No lintel, no happy ending. Now I’ve got that off my chest, I feel like a song. Anyone for karaoke?

QUESTION: For several years now, my semi-retired husband and I have been coming to the beautiful island of Lombok to spend 3 or 4 weeks vacation in our luxury 3-bedroom villa with swimming pool and spectacular sea view overlooking the bay of Senggigi.  Life is so enjoyable here with 14 full time staff to cater for our every need. We have a cook, 3 cleaners, a driver, 4 full time gardeners, 3 security staff, a pool maintenance man, 2 others who do something or other, and a general handyman who is quite handsome.  Despite having a general handyman, (who is very good looking), my husband insists on doing little maintenance jobs himself. Just the other day, he went round with a can of oil and a cloth and oiled all the door hinges and window catches. He even greased the sliding entrance gates at the bottom of the driveway, so they now glide open without making a sound. Unfortunately this now means that I have no early warning system when my husband returns unexpectedly from his interminable golfing afternoons. As a result, he nearly caught the handsome handyman and me in a compromising position. Did the hinges and gate need greasing, or is he on to me and the handyman?

MR FIXER: It’s always a good idea to oil hinges, catches and any outside moving metal parts regularly. In this humid climate, oxidization of even non ferrous metal parts can be a constant problem. To prolong the life of door hinges, catches and even door handles, I recommend a light oiling. Don’t worry though. It won’t be long before the oxidization process will begin again and your sliding gate early warning system will be in full working order. Your secret is safe with me and your other 14 employees, and everyone who reads The Lombok Guide.

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The Lombok Guide welcomes Mr Franky Rumamby, who has recently been appointed as the new Executive Assistant Manager at Santosa Villas and Resort.

Franky has a long history in the hospitality industry, from attending Les Roches Hotel & Tourism School in Bluche, Switzerland and starting his career as a waiter in Switzerland, through to working his way up in a series of hotels and restaurants throughout Sweden and Switzerland.

He returned to his native Indonesia, to take up an Assistant Food and Beverage Manager position at the Grand Hyatt in Jakarta in 1990, before moving to Australia where he trained in project development.

In 1996, Franky relocated to Bali where he was responsible for the overview and completion of the Bali Nirwana Resort, and the 5 star Le Meridien Hotel & Resort, opened in November 1997. He was then seconded by the Nirwana’s holding company, Pt Bakrie Pesona Rasuna, as General Manager, responsible for event organization.
His experience in event organisation has spanned major Award shows in Indonesia, such as Miss Indonesia and Miss Asean contests, corporate events of major companies including Indonesia Citibank Beetlemania programme, Panasonic Dealers Gathering, and the Inaugural Asian Beach Games in Bali in 2008. Other events have included music production and concerts, such as the Bali Memorial Concert in Bali, and the recording of a music album by local Indonesian artists.

With such an interesting and varied career, Pak Franky brings a number of important skills to his new position managing the popular Santosa Villas and Resort in central Senggigi. Maybe we’ll even be seeing Lombok hosting some major national events in the future?

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The Holiday Resort in Mangsit celebrated 14 years of successful operation in Lombok on 22 and 23 January, 2010.

To celebrate the Resort’s birthday, all staff and management gathered in Nusantara Restaurant for a big party, HORLO style.

In his opening speech, General Manager, Mr Stefan Leu thanked all employees for their continued support and dedication during the past 14 years. Speeches and formalities were followed by a lucky draw and games, and the evening ended up with everybody dancing and singing the night away!

Happy Birthday to one of Lombok’s nicest resorts!

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In a traditional ceremony dating back centuries, North Lombok regency and the Gili Islands celebrated “Mandi Sapar” on Wednesday, 10 February.

The Mandi Sapar ritual is not an Islamic or even a Sasak ceremony, but has been performed by residents on the Gilis for as long as they can remember. The tradition was originally started by the Bugis people from Sulawesi, who are believed to be the first inhabitants of the islands, and is intended to drive off evil spirits and to cast away bad luck.

The Mandi Sapar ritual is conducted on the last Wednesday of the “Safar” month in the Islamic calendar, which is believed to be an ideal time for retrospection. In the local Sasak language, the tradition is called Rebo Bontong, or “Last Wednesday”.

Hundreds of residents and tourists took part in the rituals held on all three islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Tourists also took part in a parade led by North Lombok Regent, Ridwan Hidayat, carrying offerings to the sea. At the peak of the ritual, a miniature fishing boat carrying the main offerings was launched into the ocean.

During the ceremony, dozens of turtles were released back into the sea together with the offerings. The turtles are endemic to the islands and had been rescued from poachers or environmental hazards. They were then rehabilitated in preparation for releasing them back to their natural environment off the shores of the Gili Islands.
In a modern meets traditional twist, crowds were also entertained by local bands on both Gili Trawangan and Gili Air after the ceremony. Island residents also prepared a feast to share, and visitors enjoyed eating together and tasting the local foods.

The ritual was a wonderful opportunity for visiting tourists to experience local culture and an authentic ritual. After the solemn part of the ceremony, the crowds raced into the water to mandi (bathe) – both locals and tourists – with no one on the shores safe from being chased and splashed, amidst much laughter and fun!

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