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Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok's new tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. Use the Guide to explore Lombok and check out the best hotels, restaurants and sight-seeing options, to make your Lombok holiday truly special.

Be sure to take advantage of the great discount offers for restaurants, hotels and other businesses on page 26. Just cut out the vouchers and use them for a free scuba diving try-out at any of the three Blue Marlin Dive centres conveniently located around Senggigi, or get discounts on hotel accommodation, meals, nightclub entry and sunset drinks. There are discounts on fresh seafood at Wrap a Snapper, or delicious Indian cuisine and exotic sheesha at Pesona Resort, on Gili Trawangan. Flicker Air and Water Sports are also offering discounts on banana boat rides so, if you haven't tried them yet, get together with some mates, or take the kids along for some fun in the sun!

Great cultural events are lined up for the next two weeks, with Lombok's unique Bau Nyale Festival starting on 24 February. This festival is one of the highlights of the Lombok calendar, with four days of traditional dance, music and drama being showcased in the stunning surroundings of Lombok's south coast. If you've never attended Bau Nyale, or if you are in Lombok between 24 and 28 February, head to Kuta and participate in this fascinating event.

Nyepi is coming up on 7 March and the “day of silence” will be celebrated by Lombok's Balinese-Hindu community, although all businesses in the tourism areas will be open for business as usual. One of the most exciting parts of the Nyepi tradition is the Ogoh Ogoh parade that takes place along the main street of Mataram every year, on the day before Nyepi. Thousands of people line the street, near Mataram Mall, to see the huge monsters, some of which have taken weeks to construct.

If you are in Bali, Bounty Cruises plan a return to Lombok for Nyepi with Bali-Lombok transfers available aboard their fast, comfortable catamaran. Most of the major hotels and resorts in Lombok are offering special packages for the weekend, so if you are looking for a great place to escape during Nyepi in Bali, look no further than Lombok!

Come and discover for yourself the magic of Lombok… like thousands of others, you'll be enchanted!

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One of Lombok's most famous 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.

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 24 to 28 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.

The festival commemorates the legend of the Putri (Princess) Mandalika, who was the princess of a large kingdom called “Yellow Flower”. According to local myth, this kingdom was famous throughout the land and Princess Mandalika was very beautiful, as well as being kind and well-loved by the people of her kingdom. When she was of suitable age to marry, princes and suitors travelled to the kingdom to ask for her hand. So many men wanted to marry her that it began to cause trouble between the different kingdoms and the Princess became unable to choose between them without her decision causing further strife.

Finally her father, King Kuripan, gathered all the rivals together and instructed Princess Mandalika to choose her husband before sunrise the next morning. Fearful of causing a war, instead of choosing one of them, Princess Mandalika declared that, even if she loved one of these princes, she loved her parents, her kingdom and the people of her kingdom even more. Local legend says that she then threw herself into the sea, saying, “Kuta”, or “Wait for me here”, in the local Sasak language.

Everyone searched the surrounding sea for the princess, but instead they found masses of colourful sea-worms, called Nyale. According to a local priest, or Dukun, the princess's body had been transformed into these sea worms, and thus they became a traditional symbol for the Sasak people. Some other legends say that the long strands of nyale worms are the princess's hair, floating in the water where she drowned. Whether or not the stories are true, the legend continues to be celebrated and has become a local parable of sacrifice and selflessness for the sake of the greater good.

Bau Nyale, for the people of Lombok, means “to catch the worms”. Every year around February or March, when the moon, wind and tides come together to produce the right marine conditions, thousands of Nyale appear and spawn in the sea. Hundreds of local Sasak people come from all around the island to gather on the beaches, remember the legend of Princess Mandalika, and to collect the ugly sea worms.

This year's festival is a four day event and includes the opening ceremony and a 10km run on Sunday, 24 February. Each day there are stick fighting (Peresean), cock fighting (Main Manuk) and other traditional activities from 3pm until late. On Tuesday night, there's a line-up of traditional dancing, drama, chanting and singing, to keep everyone entertained and awake in preparation for catching the Nyale. During the festival, when night falls, fires are built and the young people sit around competing with each other in a form of traditional rhyming poetry called Pantun; teasing and flirting with each other. It's also the time for music and singing, stick-fighting and other night time fun.

Early in the morning when the first Nyale appear, (this year predicted to be around 3am on Wednesday, 4 March – although no one really knows for sure!), people rush into the ocean to catch as many of the sea worms as possible. It's an awesome sight when the first Nyale are caught, with hundreds of people standing up to their waists in the shallow water, flashlights shining, trying to catch Nyale with nets, buckets or whatever is available.

The highlight of the ceremony occurs when the local priest or Dukun wades into the sea to observe the spawning Nyale and predict the future rice harvest, based on the number of sea worms. A good catch is a sign that this year's rice harvest will also be good. Nyale are traditionally associated with fertility, and as part of a ritualised ceremony, the sea worms are ground up and placed in irrigation channels around fields to help ensure a good harvest.

Once the future has been told by the Dukun, the people collect the worms to eat them for a special annual feast. Nyale are eaten raw, steamed or fried, or sometimes made into Pepes Nyale. In this popular local specialty, the Nyale are mixed with coconut and spices, then wrapped in a banana leaf and roasted over the fire. The sea worms are rich in protein and are also believed to have aphrodisiac properties, so the feasting takes place with much merriment and gusto!

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The island of Lombok was host to an important national forum aimed at strengthening ties between Indonesia and the Middle East recently. Delegates for the Indonesia – Middle East Business Forum arrived in Lombok on 18 February and stayed two days, attending the Forum and touring special places of interest on the island.

The main forum took place all day on 19 February at Santosa Villas and Resort in Senggigi and was opened by key speeches from H E Primo Alui Joelianto, from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the President's Special Envoy to the Middle East, Dr Alwi Shihab and NTB Governor Serinata.

The Forum focused on discussion between the delegates on how to encourage and improve Middle Eastern involvement in trade, tourism and investment in Indonesia. Up until 2007, besides the already existing Middle East investment in Indonesia, there are more companies in the Middle East that have committed to, or expressed an interest, in investing in Indonesia. Those investors are Al Tuwairqi with Krakatau Steel (with an investment value of US $250-500 million), EMAAR Group in Lombok/Jakarta (with a value of around US $500-600 million) and Dubai World in Bali/Jakarta. There are also a number of major banks and institutions which plan to open branches in Indonesia.

Attending the forum were representatives from the EMAAR Group, Al Tuwairqi, Dubai World (Qatar), Qatar Islamic Bank, Dalla Al Barakah, Arab Bank, Abu Dhabi National Bank (UAE) and Kuwait Investment House.

Representing Indonesian interests were directors and deputies from the Ministry of Economy, Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board, Department of Trade, Garuda Indonesia, the Directorate General of Immigration, Department of Finance and the Provincial Government of West Nusa Tenggara, among others.

The Forum included information sessions on Indonesian foreign investment laws, taxation regulations, immigration policies and laws, the role of Garuda Indonesia in promoting tourism and opportunities for trade, tourism and investment in Lombok and Sumbawa. There were also one-on-one discussions and consultations with attending delegates on ways to encourage and improve investment in these areas.

On the second day of the Forum, 20 February, focused on visiting handicraft production centres, investment areas and tourism destinations. The delegates visited PT Budaya Mutiara (the pearl cultivation centre) in Sekotong, as well as enjoying a sight-seeing tour of the area. They then visited the Centre for Marine Cultivation in Sekotong for an inspection and discussion on shellfish, lobster and grouper cultivation, before having lunch at the Sundancer Resort.

In the afternoon, the delegates visited Banyumulek to see Lombok pottery production; and Rungkang, the centre for wooden handicrafts and cukli (pearl inlay). The island tour finished with a trip to Malimbu, north of Senggigi, to watch the sunset before returning to the Sheraton Senggigi Resort.

The Indonesia – Middle East Forum comes hot on the heals of news of major investment by EMAAR International, with plans to develop two resort hotels, a golf course, condominium complex and supporting facilities in the south of Lombok. If the development goes ahead, in conjunction with the construction of Lombok's international airport, the Middle East is potentially a huge market for Lombok and Indonesia. According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, more than 90% of visitors to Indonesia are for holidays and business, and figures from Tourism Australia show that Middle East tourists spend an average of US $2 977 per visit to Australia, 27% of which is for shopping to take home.

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Lombok has no shortage of talented local artists, although there is too often no place for them to showcase their work or to receive the recognition their talents deserve. Karyana Gallery has just opened on the main street of Senggigi, next to Angels Café, and is a lovely little gallery featuring the work on one of Lombok's very talented local artists, Karyana.

Karyana was born in Mataram and has been painting for most of his life. His style is quite different from that of many of Indonesian artists, who tend to paint traditional scenes of local people and places. Although Karyana started his artistic career painting realism, over the years he has developed his own unique style and his work can now be described as unique contemporary or modern art.

Karyana likes to experiment with all types of media, including oils, acrylics, pastels and watercolours. He also likes to mix his own paints, rather than using pre-mixed brands, so that he can achieve distinctive colours and effects. The results are stunning original artworks, all perfectly framed, in an assortment of sizes with very reasonable prices starting from as little as Rp 350 000.

His work has already been successfully exhibited at the Oberoi Resort and at the Newmont Batu Hijau mine site on Sumbawa; and the Sahid Legi Hotel in Mataram commissioned paintings from him when they redecorated their city hotel. In addition to his own impressive collection of artwork for sale at the Gallery, Karyana also accepts portrait work and commissions for individuals, hotels and villas.

Incidentally, the word “Karya” means “masterpiece” in English… a very appropriate description for the artwork of this talented local man!

Karyana Gallery also has a beautiful selection of unique home décor items and gift ideas. Jewel-toned cushion covers, wall hangings, mirrors and table lamps, combined with the paintings and other decorator items, creates an Aladdin's Cave of interesting things to tempt shoppers. There is also a lovely collection of resort jewellery, with necklaces, bangles and rings made from wood, shell and semi-precious stones. It's the perfect place to pick up something special to take home, or a unique gift for a friend.

Pop into Karyana Gallery soon, or contact Karyana on 0818 540569 or email: info@karyana-paintings.com

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During 2007, PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara (PT NNT), the giant mining company operating in Sumbawa, released funds equal to Rp 26.7 billion for community development programmes. The funds were spread through a variety of programmes, including improving infrastructure and conditions in the society, and administered by PT NNT, the West Sumbawa Institute of Economic Expansion (YPESB) and Yayasan Olat Perigi (YOP), which is fully financed by Pt Newmont.

Every year, PT Newmont budgets around Rp 25 billion for its community development fund, but increased its funding in 2007 by another Rp1.7 billion to include some unscheduled infrastructure projects.

During 2007, Newmont carried out a total of 75 infrastructure projects, with 9 projects still on-going. One of biggest projects is the development of the Tiu Sepit Dam in Tongo Sejorong. Construction of the dam has cost around to Rp 7.35 billion and is expected to provide irrigation for 90 hectares of farming land. Construction of the facility is complete, with the 6.7km irrigation channel due to be completed this year.

Besides construction of the new dam, PT Newmont also constructed a new Multipurpose Building in Tongo, a Clean Water System, a Puskesmas (Clinic) in Tongo and other community projects.

In the area of health, PT Newmont is working to reduce malaria, with the number of positive cases in the area dropping to only 1.5%, compared to 4% in 2006. This is the result of conducting malaria prevention programmes in the area surrounding the mine. The mining company has also had positive results in reducing the number of malnutrition cases in the area, through a programme of supplying food supplements and nutritional education in three nearby districts.

Meanwhile in educational, PT Newmont gave 941 bursaries to local students, and assisted in the education of another 500 students during 2007; as well as providing teacher training, practical language programmes, and operational funding aid to schools, among others.

Through Newmont funding in 2007, YPESB has conducted pilot programmes and development of micro-businesses such as healthy daily food production, development of local handicrafts and support of local entrepreneurs. YPESB have also conducted a coastal area community development program for the harvesting of sea grass and fish processing, and potential tourism development programmes in the region surrounding the mine.

The other group funded by Newmont, YOP, also conducted community development programmes, which included supplying plough equipment to 10 local groups, and provided capital funding to local entrepreneurs and businesses, including more than 500 farmers, fisherman and traders.

PT Newmont will continue their community development commitment in 2008, including 50 planned infrastructure projects in the region surrounding the mine. YOP will also open a branch office in Seteluk and Brang Rea to accommodate the requirements of those communities.

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The debate over the formation of a new sub-province for North Lombok continues. The latest figures released by the West Lombok Government estimate a cost of Rp 3 billion to establish a new regional sub-province in the north. Lombok is divided into three sub-provinces: West Lombok (Lombok Barat), Central Lombok (Lombok Tengah) and East Lombok (Lombok Timur). Until now the entire north of the island has been under the jurisdiction of East Lombok.

The possible formation of a North Lombok sub-province is still in discussion, after a recommendation by the Area Council Delegation (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah) that the area be given individual regional status. Final approval is expected to be decided by the DPR in March 2008.

The proposal comes about as a result of years of calls by the region to be recognised as a separate province within Lombok, in order to facilitate development of the area, particularly farm and plantation development, tourism and ranch development.

North Lombok has a population of around 215 000 residents spread over 34 villages in five districts. The area includes the popular Gili islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air – which have become major tourism assets for Lombok and are capable of remitting around Rp10 billion in funds to the proposed sub-province per year. Also in the region is the five-star Oberoi Resort, with a tax revenue equal to Rp 4 billion per year.

Planned plantation developments in North Lombok include cacao, mangosteen and durian cultivation. Also proposed is farm development, such as cattle and horse ranches, because of the area's suitable climate and lack of theft in the area.

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Bali's First International World Yoga, Music and Dance Festival begins on March 5, featuring world headliners from all three disciplines. Jakarta gets its own special launch at Rumah Yoga, with a workshop by international celebrity David Morino.

Madan Kataria, Ananda Leone, Nyoman Cerita, Janet Stone, Baba Kauna, Jamie Janover, I Ketut Arini and Tina Malia join some of the world's most accomplished musicians, dancers and yogis converging on Indonesia for the first Bali Spirit Festival. This unique event fuses yoga, music and dance from East and West in an 11-day cultural celebration in and around Ubud, Bali's artistic and cultural heart.Ubud is already a key part of the world's literary scene thanks to the annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, which attracts authors of international acclaim. Now the spotlight is on headliner performers from the world of music, dance and yoga. Spanning the period from March 5 to the 16, the Bali Spirit Festival 2008 comprises three distinct 'acts': the three-day Nyepi SILENCE experience; INHALE, five-day Yoga Retreats with honoured yogis such as James Nemer, Mark Whitwell and Janet Stone; and the celebratory conclusion of the festival, EXHALE – four transformative days and nights of creative exploration and collaborations through yoga, dance and music, including concerts, kirtans, dance performances, and conscious dance gatherings.

A fascinating feature of EXHALE is the series of global master classes and collaborative workshops, which include Laughter Yoga with Madan Kataria, West African dance with Baba Kauna, Sensual Dance with Nyoman Cerita and Ketut Arini, Sacred Belly Dance with Jacqui Lalita, and esoteric Sufi chants with Fanna Fi Allah.

With our partner Woven Media and a collaborative effort with Cudamani Foundation, we are highlighting the rare performances of Bali such as Gambang and Slonding, and welcoming with open arms unique global collaborators including Australia's Mystic Beats, renowned dulcimer and percussion virtuoso Jamie Janover, Lombok's Sanggar Rinjani dance collective, pure-voiced songstress Tina Malia, the young qawwals of Fanna-Fi-Allah, the fantastic DJ Scotty and Bali's own internationally acclaimed jazz-gamelan fusion artist, Balawan.

Kick-starting the world's first Bali Spirit Festival is renowned musician, singer, songwriter and Advocate for Peace, Michael Franti, in a pre-Festival benefit dinner concert on 2nd March for the Bumi Sehat Clinic, our highlighted cause for the 2008 Bali Spirit Festival.

According to Festival Director Meghan Pappenheim, the Balinese see the start of the Hindu New Year as a time to contemplate and nurture seeds of spiritual renewal. “Through the first Bali Spirit Festival, we offer the chance to refresh and rejuvenate ourselves, and to be full of energy and enthusiasm for the future.”

For information about ticketing, and online purchase of INHALE Retreats and EXHALE four-day passes, please phone Jen Richardson on 0813 3729 0712 or visit: www.balispiritfestival.com.

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On 7 February, Lombok was treated to a fantastic cultural performance to celebrate Chinese New Year. The celebration of Chinese New Year in itself was a unique event as, in the past under restrictive Indonesian laws, no Chinese celebrations or Chinese national holidays were acknowledged or allowed to be publicly celebrated. It is only since 2002 that Chinese New Year was officially recognized as a public holiday in Indonesia.

The event, organised by Sahara Restaurant & Club and The Lombok Guide, was originally planned to be a low-key inaugural celebration, featuring a dragon dance through the centre of Senggigi. However the event turned into much more – thanks to the amazing skills and performance of a little-known “Barongsai” or Dragon/Lion Dance troupe, based here in Lombok.

The CNY celebrations started on the beachfront at the Senggigi Beach Hotel, where the hotel was celebrating with a special Chinese buffet and New Year party. Guests were treated to a fantastic demonstration of traditional and modern Chinese martial arts, featuring some top athletes, all trained in Lombok. The highlight of the evening was the Lion Dance, performed by two agile and highly entertaining “lions”, in a skilful display of athleticism and theatre.

From the hotel, the Barongsai troupe progressed to Sahara Restaurant & Club in the Senggigi Plaza, where a large crowd of local Indonesians, tourists and resident Chinese were waiting. There the crowd of around one hundred were treated to another wonderful Lion Dance performance, accompanied by drumming and traditional music. Eager local Chinese fed traditional red envelopes containing money into the mouths of the hungry dragons, much to the delight of everyone watching. Chinese belief is that the Barongsai bring good luck on New Year and red envelopes are traditionally offered to the Barongsai when they visit.

From Senggigi Plaza, the parade continued to Senggigi Jaya Supermarket for more blessings and envelopes, and then proceeded along the main street of Senggigi, gathering a crowd of excited spectators who followed them to Restaurant Taman for another performance in front of surprised guests of the restaurant. The procession then danced and drummed their way to Square Restaurant in Senggigi Square, where another New Year celebration was taking place, before making their way back down the main street and home.

All in all, it was a highly successful first-time celebration of Chinese New Year in Senggigi and we're already planning an even bigger event for next year! Special thanks to Eric at Sahara Restaurant & Club and to those businesses who participated in the event, and especially to the incredibly talented members of Bangau Putih Rinjani, who performed the Lion Dances and Wushu demonstrations that made the celebrations so special.

About Bangau Putih Rinjani

The Pak Hok Pai Association is an International Kung Fu/Wushu school, and the International Wushu Federation is based in Hong Kong, with branches all over the world, including Indonesia.

“Wushu" is the correct term for all Chinese martial arts; therefore Kung Fu and Wushu were originally the same. During the last thirty years, Wushu in Mainland China was modernized so that there could be a universal standard for training and competing. In essence, much emphasis has been placed on speed, difficulty, and presentation. Consequently, Wushu has become an athletic and aesthetic performance, and a competitive sport, while Kung Fu or traditional Wushu remains the traditional fighting practice. Most of these arts also use traditional weapons and these are also included.

Although still in the budding stages in many countries, Wushu is an established international sport. In 1990, Wushu was inducted as an official medal event in the Asian Games. Since then World Championships have taken place with 56 nations participating. Wushu reigns as the most popular sport in China, and is now being considered for the Olympic Games.

The Pak Hok Pai Association was originally brought to Indonesia by Wushu Master, Cheung Kwok Whew, who was a citizen of Hong Kong but born in Lombok, Indonesia. Master Cheung brought with him his pupil, Fong Tin Chuen, also born in Indonesia, and who still had family in Indonesia. Fong Tin Chuen trained some of his family members in Wushu / Kung Fu, one of whom, Bayu Artha, became his top pupil in 2001.

Fong Tin Chuen participated in traditional championship events for International Kung Fu / Wushu organised by Shaolin and followed by Kung Fu teachers all over the world. Fong Tin Chuen represented Indonesia at the event and won first place in the Toya Movement Championship and Unarmed categories. Since that time, Fong Tin Chuen has developed Wushu in Indonesia with his student, Bayu Artha.

In 2003 the Malaysian branch of Pak Hok Pai organized a championship between the Wushu schools of 21 countries, including Indonesia which was represented by Fong Tin Chuen and Bayu Artha. Both were awarded first place champions for Unarmed and Toya categories.

In 2005 the Pak Hok Pai was given permission by the Governor of NTB to develop Wushu in Lombok and the branch was given the name of Bangau Putih Rinjani (White Crane of Rinjani).

In 2007 Bangau Putih Rinjani sent 6 athletes to participate in the Wushu Championships in The Philippines, competing against by 16 countries and, again, they were awarded top in their categories, bringing home 7 gold, 2 silver, and 2 bronze medals, and were named as the most awarded team in the Championships.

For information about Wushu in Lombok, please contact Bangau Putih Rinjani at Jl. Beaq Ganggas No.2 Cakranegara or phone 0370 622351.

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