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Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok’s complete tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every two weeks and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island.

It’s been an exciting two weeks in Lombok with two special parades, each of a very different nature. The Ciokolata Top Model 2010 modelling competition and fashion parade held at Café Alberto in Senggigi attracted hundreds of spectators to see some of Lombok’s most beautiful models compete for prizes and trophies in the prestigious fashion event on 6 March 2010.

Then, on 15 March, Lombok’s Hindu community gave us a parade of a very special kind. Thousands of spectators gathered to watch the Ogoh Ogoh – fearsome and fantastic monsters created to drive away evil spirits – paraded through the main streets of Mataram on the day before Nyepi. The participation in the 2010 Ogoh Ogoh parade is expected to be entered into the Indonesian Museum of Records (MURI). Proof of how important our Balinese-Hindu community is in Lombok!

With the Easter school holidays just around the corner, now is your chance to visit this amazing island of stunning natural beauty and unique cultural events.

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Lombok Guide from the locations listed on page 42 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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The area of Sekotong, on the southwest coast of Lombok, has long been one of our favourite areas on this island of stunning and varied beauty.

Just south of Lembar Harbour, Sekotong is a large region of pure white sand beaches, unpolluted turquoise waters and sublime views of rolling hills inland and coral islands just offshore. Incredibly, the beautiful bays and beaches remain largely undeveloped, although astute investors and villa owners have been quietly snapping up land in the area over the past few years. It is the type of place that you want to keep to yourself… a place to build your ultimate villa and retire in peace, surrounded by natural beauty.

Tourists to the area are always amazed that Sekotong has so far managed to escape the developers’ attention and for that we should be grateful. However, this lack of development also means that travelling in the area is often difficult and mainly limited to day trips, as the lack of good accommodation doesn’t encourage overnight stays. There are a few small places to stay scattered along the main road, with a number of places further south around Pelangan, catering mainly to the surfing crowd attracted to the giant waves at Bangko Bangko on the southwest tip of the island.

Now Cocotinos is set to change the face of Sekotong accommodation standards, with the opening of their resort on the secluded beach at Tanjung Empat. The resort fronts onto over 300 metres of white sand beach and faces the three coconut-fringed islands of Gili Nanggu, Gili Tangkung and Gili Sudat floating out in the calm bay. To the south is a small private cove overlooked by a green hill, which will later feature more luxury villas.

Cocotinos Sekotong is designed along the lines of the Odyssea Asia group’s popular resort in Manado, Sulawesi, but is more luxurious, while still maintaining the cosy and personalised atmosphere which is the signature of the Cocotinos brand.

While the Manado resort is primarily focused on scuba diving (Manado being known as a diving haven); Cocotinos Sekotong will provide diving and much more. The white-sand beaches and calm bay facing the resort make the location ideal for relaxing getaways and various kinds of water sports, as well as being the perfect base for exploring the idyllic Sekotong countryside and island hopping to the nearby islands, which are mainly deserted.
When complete, Cocotinos will offer a total of 28 Rooms, comprising 1 double storey “Rinjani” Villa, 1 single storey “Tangkung” Villa, 3 “Water's-Edge” Villas, 16 Garden Villa Rooms and 7 Terrace Rooms.

If you are on a romantic getaway, you can opt for the exclusive double-storey Rinjani Villa with private rooftop facilities for sunbathing, the uniquely designed Tangkung Villa or one of the Water’s Edge Villas. Each one of these five villas is on the beachfront and has its own private plunge pool overlooking the sea.

The Garden Villa rooms are built as duplex units, with two rooms under one roof and interconnecting doors for families or groups wanting to share, while the individual terrace rooms are perfect for couples or friends on holiday.

Clever landscaping creates a natural garden of banana trees and local plants, screening the rooms for privacy, while still providing lovely views of the beach and island panorama in front.

Cocotinos owner TM Wong was involved in interior design for many years, before moving into development and construction. His resort at Sekotong is the result of many years spent designing and travelling, always looking for the best features in hotel design, while still maintaining the integrity of the culture and environment.

Attention to detail is what sets the designs apart. Simple and elegant rooms provide a chic, yet relaxed ambience; fitted out with modern conveniences that will satisfy discerning and gadget-savvy travellers. In each room there are ample power points for laptops, cameras and mobile phones. Edges of beds have rounded corners; lights can be adjusted for reading or creating ambience; even the light fittings are designed by TM, using natural materials. Day beds recline in window spaces, so that one can laze and read while looking out at the peaceful beach, and connecting doors open up on adjoining terraces so that families and friends can mingle. Natural materials are used throughout and eco-friendly features are incorporated, such as use of natural lighting through skylights, cross-ventilation for cooling, and traditional window designs fitted with mosquito screens that can be opened to let the sea breezes in.

“Inspiration for the design is a typical Indonesian village. For example, using traditional window designs for natural light and ventilation. But of course, we do it nicely… with style,” TM says, smiling.

All rooms are air-conditioned and equipped with TV, ceiling fans, safe-deposit box, and beautiful en-suite bathrooms with hot and cold water. Water’s Edge Villas, Tangkung Villa and Rinjani Villa also feature baths, rain showers and lovely garden areas.

The resort itself is well designed to take advantage of the sublime beachfront views while catering to modern travellers who expect the best. A large fresh water resort swimming pool overlooks the beach, with ample space for sun lounges on all sides. The spacious beachfront restaurant and bar has fabulous views, and again features attention to detail in the flexible lighting choices and the placement of power points near every table, to allow guests to use computers and charge electrical gadgets without having to return to their rooms.

There is also a digital studio, WiFi internet access, the Laleina Spa, a children’s playground, a Wedding Gazebo and Boutique Shopping area. The professional Scuba diving and sea sport centre is run by Odyssea Divers – Euro Divers International, who were responsible for Cocotinos Manado winning the “Excellence in Service” Award from Scuba Diver AustralAsia in 2009. The dive centre and facilities are superb, with a wet room, instruction room, tank filling depot and even an underwater camera docking station. For dive trips, the resort will use a 13.8m purpose-built fibreglass dive boat, while non-divers can explore the bays in canoes and traditional outrigger boats with sails.

“We will develop the dive market for southwest Lombok,” TM said, “we are hard core divers!’

With at least 12 islands lying off the southwest coast, just waiting to be explored, this is an exciting prospect for divers and snorkellers. Most importantly, Cocotinos will open this amazing area up to travellers who appreciate natural beauty, but still want modern facilities and luxurious accommodation. Cocotinos Sekotong is scheduled for opening in June 2010.

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Asmara Restaurant in Senggigi has decided to hold their popular “Stammtisch” twice weekly, rather than only on Friday nights. Stammtisch roughly translates as “round table” and is a chance for residents and visitors to get together in an informal way each week to talk and get to know each other around a common table. For music lovers, the regular Stammtisch will still be held each Friday night, with live entertainment, and for those who would prefer to chat around the table without any distractions, Stammtisch is also available on Saturday nights. Stammtisch is a great way to get to know people and, of course, enjoy the delicious food and warm hospitality at Asmara. Everyone is welcome to join in at the big table at the front on Friday and Saturday nights! www.asmara-group.com

Gili Nanggu, one of the beautiful islands off Sekotong on the southwest coast, is a popular destination for swimming in crystal clear waters and discovering the amazing snorkelling just steps away from the beach. Now Gili Nanggu becomes more accessible with Lombok Lestari Tours & Travel introducing their new Sunset Cruise to Gili Nanggu. Guests will enjoy a leisurely cruise on board Kelana (a comfortable and safe barge with landing ramps for easy access) from Lembar Harbour to Gili Nanggu, where they can enjoy time on the island, renowned for its soft white sand and clear turquoise waters. At sunset, gather together on the beachfront for a traditional fish barbecue with all the trimmings. Ideal for groups, social functions and parties. Contact 0370 693 411 for details.
The take-away roast chickens at The Beach Club proved to be so popular that the only complaint about them was that there were never enough to go around! That’s not the case any more, with more fresh chickens being roasted every day to keep up with the demand. Slowly roasted, stuffed with garlic and served with gravy, whole roast chickens are available for Rp 55 000 each and are a handy meal to pick up on your way home or to take on picnics. www.thebeachclublombok.com

A generous offer from Holiday Resort and a great way to help fund Rotary projects at the same time is now on! The Holiday Resort in Mangsit is upgrading the artwork in their hotel rooms and has generously donated their unwanted paintings to the local Rotary Club to sell. We checked out the paintings this week and there are some lovely pieces available, all still in very good condition and most with good quality wooden frames. Rotary is selling the paintings for between Rp 125 – Rp 175 000, including frames! All proceeds from the sale of the artwork will go to fund Rotary projects, such as cleft palate operations for local children and clean water filters for local villages. This is a great opportunity to update your own art collection or to decorate your home or villa… and support a good cause! Contact Anna on 0813 3956 7598 for details.

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Congratulations to Ciokolata Boutique on staging its first Ciokolata Top Model 2010 modelling contest and fashion show, held at Café Alberto on 6 March 2010.

Café Alberto was packed with hundreds of enthusiastic friends and spectators for the Show, which featured some of Lombok’s most beautiful and charming models competing for prizes at the prestigious event. Models competed in two different categories: Junior High/High School Students, (aged 13 to 17 years), and University Students/General Public, (from 18 to 23 years old).

Winners in Category A (13-17 years)

1st: Mutiara Gansa, 2nd: Putri Ramadhani and 3rd: Original Bertuyes.
Runners up in this category were 1 Isabelle Marchesi, 2 Jessica Elvina and 3 Cyndi Anestasia.

Winners in Category B (18-23 years)

1st: Lingkan Maniska, 2nd: La Doro and 3rd: Dessy Kurniawati.
Runners up were 1 Moch Rifqi Hidayat, 2 Laela Hidayati and 3 Lalau Pratama Qisan.
Prizes were also awarded for:
Best Catwalk: Lingkan Maniska
Most Photogenic: Angela Thirza
Best Costume: Cyndi Devina
Best Beginner: Komang Ayu Larasati

Winners received trophies and prizes from Ciokolata and Autore Pearls, as well as spa, hotel and restaurant vouchers provided by sponsors, which included some of Lombok’s top businesses.

The evening not only showcased the beauty and talent of Lombok’s young models but also the designing talent of Ciokolata owner and designer, Widi Bruno. In a few short years Widi has made her mark on the local fashion scene with her distinctive designs, featuring feminine florals, quality fabrics and flirty styles.

Many of the designs are now on sale at Ciokolata Boutique in Senggigi, next to Senggigi Jaya Supermarket. Well done Widi and all those who competed… we look forward to next year’s fabulous fashion event! More photos in Local Scene on page 20.

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As the fine dining trend set by Square Restaurant and Quali and Quah Restaurants at Qunci Villas continues, we set our sights on the often-overlooked Kebun Anggrek Restaurant at the Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort.
Sheraton is a name synonymous with quality throughout the world and the restaurants within these hotels are usually of top quality also... and so it was that we visited Kebun Anggrek last week to see if this restaurant can be added to the fine dining venues of Senggigi.

Kebun Anggrek Restaurant is reached down a flight of stairs from the luxurious reception area at the Sheraton and is a large, airy restaurant which overlooks the pool area and gardens to the beach. Polished marble floors, comfortable seating arrangements, soft candles and attentive service add to the ambience of a fine restaurant.
The restaurant regularly features buffet and theme dinners for Sheraton guests, which outside guests are welcome to take advantage of. One such is the Barbecue Buffet held every Saturday night, with fresh seafood including crabs, prawns and fresh fish, as well as imported steaks, and a huge selection of salads, desserts, and other accompaniments available for just Rp 175 000. The buffet breakfasts, which feature around 108 dishes for Rp 108 500, are also great value and very popular.

But it was the fine dining side of the restaurant we were here to investigate and so we turned to the extensive menu on offer. As one would expect from an international standard resort, there is a large range of western and popular local dishes to choose from including seafood, pasta, meats and a special children’s menu.

There is also an exhaustive drinks list available which includes popular juices, cocktails, spirits, beers, aperitifs and liqueurs. The Sheraton has possibly one of the best selections of Champagnes and sparklings in Lombok, with Mumm and Dom Perignon both listed, as well as a good range of Australian and local wines at reasonable prices. House wine (Jacob’s Creek) is available by the glass at Rp 110 000; a bottle of Lindeman’s Bin 50 Semillon Chardonnay at Rp 400 000.

Food prices are surprisingly reasonable and compare favourably with other restaurants, with Caesar Salad or Lobster Bisque both offered at Rp 45 000; Beef Lasagna is Rp 50 000 and Rigatoni Cassalingga with Prawns, Rp 65 000. Lobster Thermidor is on the menu at Rp 175 000, as is Roast Duck L’Orange at Rp 85 000, Norwegian Salmon with Green Peppercorns at Rp 140 000 or, from the local menu, the popular Ayam Taliwang at Rp 55 000 and Crab in Padang Sauce at Rp 65 000. (Note: all prices quoted are subject to 21% government tax and service charge.)

For starters, we chose the Roasted Tuna Salad at Rp 45 000, which came beautifully presented, with thin slices of seared tuna layered on potato slices with caramelised onion and fresh tomato. The tuna was perfectly cooked, almost rare at the centre, with a delicious pepper crust. Garnished with Wasabi Mayonnaise and sliced black olives, the combination of flavours was superb.

The Roasted Lamb Rack for main course was equally delicious, both to look at and to taste. Two very tender New Zealand lamb chops, cooked medium-well as requested, accompanied by roasted pumpkin, green beans and fried tomatoes, with a rich homemade mint sauce, was a satisfying and tasty dinner for Rp 110 000.
Desserts in Indonesia are so often boring, with the usual tired offerings of fruit salads, banana splits and ice creams, but not so at the Sheraton. Apple Cinnamon and Raisin Strudel with Vanilla Sauce (Rp 37 000), or Coffee Profiteroles (Rp 30 000) competed for attention, but it was the Tiramisu (Rp 32 000) that won our vote. Rich Italian cream cheese and mocha cake, enhanced by a full flavoured coffee sauce, was a smooth and creamy sweet finish to a very good meal.

Throughout the meal we were entertained by the Sheraton quartet – a talented group of guitarists, double bass and percussion whose vocal harmonies provide a soothing backdrop to the overall good taste of Kebun Anggrek.
To further tempt diners, Kebun Anggrek offers a 3 course set menu dinner for between Rp 175 000 and Rp 200 000 per person. Selections are made from the ala carte menu and change daily.

For the growing number of people who see dining as a total experience, rather than just a meal, Kebun Anggrek at the Sheraton must be added to the list of fine dining venues in Senggigi… perfect for romantic dinners and special occasions!

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Emaar Properties, the Dubai-based property developer that had agreed to develop a 1200 hectare resort in south Lombok but lost the development rights when a final deadline expired on 31 December 2009, has entered a new bid to the local government.

Emaar Properties dismissed a report that it had pulled out of the long-delayed $600 million tourism project in Lombok, saying it had submitted a bid to the government tender launched last month.

“Emaar has submitted an ‘expression of interest’ to the Bali Tourism Development Corporation in accordance with the tender procedure recently launched by the government of Indonesia,” Emaar said in an e-mail to the Jakarta Globe.

On 8 March 2010, the Al Khaleej newspaper in the United Arab Emirates quoted Mohammad Supriyadi, the Indonesian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, as saying Emaar had abandoned the Lombok project.
In January this year, the national and local governments both announced that they were “giving Emaar the boot”, after the property developer failed to meet final deadlines for commencement of the development.
The government then opened the development to tender in February 2010.

BTDC president director I Made Mandra confirmed that Emaar was willing to invest in the project but said the company still had preconditions that needed to be addressed, including infrastructure and land acquisition.
However, I Made said Emaar would not receive any preferential treatment during the tender process.

Last week, Gita Wirjawan, chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), said Emaar was among five parties that had submitted bids during the tender process, the results of which would be made public in May. He added that Emaar was allowed to participate in the tender after the company “convinced” him of its interest in the project during his recent trip to the Middle East.

It is believed that the other potential investors are from India, Tunisia and 2-3 potential investors from Asia who have not been named.

The Head of the Investment Agency West Nusa Tenggara (BKPM NTB), Yakoub Abidin, responded to the return of Emaar properties, saying, “… the Mandalika Resort Project is open to anyone”.

First unveiled in May 2007, the Lombok project was envisioned as a 1200 hectare resort that would transform south Lombok’s beachfront into a world-class tourist destination. It was planned that the project would be run by Emaar and the BTDC through a joint-venture company, PT Emaar Lombok.

However, over the past year Emaar’s participation in the project has been repeatedly described as questionable by Indonesian officials, as the two sides became involved in disputes over various issues, including poor road access and land-acquisition problems.

In June, the two sides set a 31 December 2009 deadline to finalise the deal. In January, the government said Emaar would be given one more chance, adding that it was “game over” for its protected status as a partner in the project.

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The Rotary Club of Mataram had an opportunity to show off the results of its labours last week when senior member of the Rotary Club of Calgary, Alberta, Lloyd Flood, visited Lombok.

Lloyd was instrumental in helping Lombok’s Club start the highly successful “Clean Water Project” which has seen the charity organisation install more than 1100 water filters in villages throughout Lombok since 2007.

After Rotary Mataram member, Len, visited the Calgary Rotary Club while researching ways to provide clean water to villagers, the Canadian Club decided to fund the Lombok Club for the first stage of their project… and thus the Calgary-Mataram connection was formed.

Rotary Mataram used those funds to manufacture the first water filters in Lombok and installed them in the village of Kebun Talo. They have since installed more water filters in Penujak, Mangsit, Bungati and other villages in Lombok, bringing clean, germ-free water to over 11 000 local people.

Lloyd, who is an active 82 year old Rotary member, lived and worked in Indonesia from 1970 until his return to Canada and has a deep love of the country. “I’ve lived and worked in Indonesia for a long time and the country was always good to me… now it’s time to give back,” he said.

During his visit, Lloyd and members of the Lombok Club visited villages where the water filters are installed and spent time in North Lombok, where Rotary is carrying out a major project in the Gondang and Gangga regions. Over 100 new water filters have been installed, and a new well built, in the villages of Karang Jurang and Lendang Bagian, where they will provide clean water to between 300 and 400 people.

At the nearby school, SDN 3 Genggelang in Gangga, Rotary has built a new toilet block for the children, with four toilets. The North Lombok projects are presently around 75% complete. Lloyd and the Rotary team visited the school and joked with the students who are obviously excited about all the attention their school is getting.

“The work being done by this Rotary Club is fantastic,” Lloyd said, “There are only 10 people doing all this! They have courage and continuity… and they have heart. Without them this wouldn’t be possible.”

The Calgary Rotary Club is the largest club in Canada and even has a teen branch, which carries out projects close to the teenagers’ hearts. It is an important way of preserving the tradition of Rotary and involving younger generations to work in the spirit of Rotary. The Rotary Club of Mataram, Lombokwas established in 1987 to find ways for the more fortunate members of our community, expatriate and Indonesian, to help those less fortunate. One of the most successful activities in recent years has been the cleft lip operations, which funds life-changing operations for Lombok children, in addition to the “Clean Water Project”. 

Pausing to consider the ten members of Rotary Mataram who work so hard to complete the many projects in Lombok, Lloyd said, “Hopefully, when I’m gone, there will be an understanding that this infrastructure is so necessary…”

Members meet on Wednesdays, 5.00 pm at The Office Bar and Restaurant in Senggigi.  Meetings are not too formal and all interested people are welcome to attend.

If you would like to get involved in the Rotary Club and its mission to help to improve the quality of life of the local community, please contact Howard Singleton on 08123757740 or Club Secretary, Lily Heyder, on 081339599154.

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Fabulous fashions, beautiful models and stylish entertainment with Ciokolata Top Model 2010 @ Café Alberto

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As Mr Fixer takes a short holiday this issue (and as we hear the news that the Lonely Planet writer is in town!), he leaves us with this tongue-in-cheek piece on travel writing…

As an amateur writer and backpacker, I have been travelling Indonesia’s fascinating islands for years. By far the best place I have found is the Gili Islands near Lombok. Just last week, I had the most fabulous experience I would like to share with your readers. 

To keep travelling costs to a minimum, I quite often seek the opportunity to share a room with a friend. On the boat over, I met two twin sisters from Denmark who were equally keen to share a room. The scheme we cooked up was that one of the sisters called Helga and I were to rent a double room and because the sisters were identical twins, we could sneak the other sister Lotti into the room later. They would never know the difference! 

It worked like a charm! All 3 of us unpacked our backpacks, cleaned our teeth and whilst I was strapping my laptop to the bed, Helga gave me the eye. Within minutes, we were having sex standing up against the wardrobe. Lotti, in the meantime, was in the bathroom. Later, we all went down to the beach and bar area for some lunch and a few beers. I always take my Lonely Planet guidebook with me to help check out the local hot spots and during a casual conversation with the girls mentioned that I was a travelling writer.  

When I came to pay the bar tab, the owner took me aside and said it was “on the house” and gave me a knowing wink. At the next bar we visited the same thing happened, only this time the bar owner insisted on giving me a tour of the island to visit his other bar and his friend’s small hostel. Two meals and at least 6 beers later, I arranged to meet Helga and Lotti later, as they wanted to go shopping.

Feeling a bit worse for wear, I went back to the room to take a shower. Then Helga walked in and started taking a shower too. Well, within minutes we were having sex again. After the “shower” I told Helga I was in love with her and she said her name was not Helga; it was Lotti.  You could have knocked me down with a feather!

Just then, Helga came in and said the hostel owner had given us back the money for the room and had invited us all to dinner at a fancy restaurant that had just opened called Gollywogs or some such place. By now, I was past caring. What was going on? Did they think I was Ali Campbell or something on a world tour tasting “red, red wine?”  Then it hit me! The girls had mentioned that the bar owner had dropped a hint suggesting that it was about time the Lonely Planet people got here and that he was looking forward to seeing his review in the next edition. I could hardly turn down the offer of a free meal and more free drinks, so I thought I’d better go with the flow. 

As a travel writer, I thought I’d better do some serious bar research, so off I went in search of more bars. By 3am my beer consumption was beginning to lessen as I was spilling most of it down my T shirt, so I thought I had better get something to eat. I staggered over to a nearby establishment that was still open to inspect the menu and to see if I could get a free sampling, as by now the whole island thought I was from the well known travel guide and my cover was already blown. 

The waitress suggested that I come back after she closes. “We can talk more then”. I didn’t eat anything, but we ended up having sex in a chair and then on one of the tables in the back corner of the restaurant. I made a mental note to write to the guide book people with a review about the Gili Islands that says “The friendliest island I have ever visited. All the bars and restaurants are a pleasant surprise….. and the table service is excellent!”

(This one’s for you, I.S… enjoy! – Ed)

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A nation-wide police campaign against terrorist cells has produced high-profile victories for Indonesian police authorities and provided President Yudhoyono with additional credibility during an official visit to Australia and prior to the planned visit by US President Barack Obama.

A series of raids by highly-trained officers from the elite Densus 88 squad included a shoot-out on 1 March 2010 in Pamulang, Tangerang, West Java, in which three terrorists were killed.

Among the dead was 40 year old Dulmatin, a man with a US $10 million price on his head for his role in helping to mastermind the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people. The reward offered for the Dulmatin was part of an official bounty offered by the US government and will reportedly not be claimed by the Indonesian police.

Dulmatin, a former student at a religious boarding school set up by Abu Bakar Bashir, was once incorrectly reported as killed by Philippine authorities in the southern part of that country, after fleeing Indonesia in 2003.
Dulmatin, whose real name was Joko Pitono, had operated under a number of aliases including Abdul Matin and Maktarmar. An international terrorist, thought to be an expert in explosives, he had contributed to terrorist acts in Indonesia, the Philippines and Afghanistan prior to his death.

Leaders and politicians both at home and abroad have lauded the Indonesian police for their slaying Tuesday of wanted terror suspect Dulmatin.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Wednesday praised “the professional operation by Indonesian authorities”.

“This is difficult, hard and dangerous work,” he said in a televised press conference. “I congratulate the Indonesian authorities for this.”

Rudd added the efforts by the Indonesian police to undermine terrorist networks in the country had proved fruitful.
Praise for the police was also forthcoming back home.

“Two thumbs up for the police’s success,” the Democratic Party’s Ramadhan Pohan, a legislator with the House of Representatives’ Commission I on intelligence and foreign affairs, told The Jakarta Post. “Terrorism is the enemy of civilization.”

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Once again, contaminated arak is being blamed for the deaths of people in Bali.
Repeating a deadly pattern that claimed 26 lives last year, locally produced alcohol tainted with methanol has sent at least 23 people to the hospital, two of whom have died.

Those warded at Denpasar’s Sanglah General Hospital all come from the Klungkung district of East Bali and were transferred to the capital for more intensive treatment. After drinking locally produced arak those subsequently hospitalised exhibited nausea, headaches, blurred vision and sore eyes. The methanol-laced drink, if not fatal, leaves victims with permanently damaged internal organs, ruptured mucous membranes and damaged brains.

The victims had consumed the tainted arak while attending a religious ceremony at Batur Temple in Klungkung. Police are attempting to trace the contaminated drink back to its vendor via a local shop in Klungkung.

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Mounting pressures to finalise key health care reforms in the United States are delaying a visit to Indonesia by US President Barack Obama.

Originally expected to visit Jakarta between 20 and 22 March 2010, the President’s departure from the US has now been postponed until 21 March, with an expected return to Washington on 26 March 2010.

With visits also scheduled for Guam and Australia, a three day delay in Obama’s trip may mean that the Indonesia visit will take place 23-25 March, but this is speculation at this point with the final dates and stops yet to be announced by the White House at the time of going to press.

Originally planned to coincide with US school holidays, the President planned to bring his wife and two daughters on the trip. However, the latest indications by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs is that Mr Obama will be traveling to the Asia Pacific without his family.

The President’s visit to Indonesia, a country with the world’s largest Moslem population, will come on the heals of a massive police crackdown on terrorist cells that has in recent weeks resulted in the arrest of 31 and the death of 8 suspected terrorists. Among the dead is 40 year-old Dulmatin, a man sought for international terrorism and his key role in the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people.

The Presidential visit to Indonesia originally planned for stops in Jakarta. Obama was scheduled to arrive at Halim Perdana Kusumah Air Base, visit the State Palace, join a state dinner, discuss bilateral matters at the palace and then visit the Kalibata Heroes’ Cemetery in South Jakarta.

Other items on the agenda, including a visit to his old elementary school in Menteng, Central Jakarta, and a tour to Borobudur Temple near Jojykarta, had not been confirmed. There is also speculation that Obama will visit Bali. It is unclear if the delayed schedule will now also result in a change of cities to be visited by the official US entourage.
The Jakarta Police say the capital is secure for the upcoming visit by the US President, despite a slew of violent protests last week. Since December, there have been three official protests against Obama’s visit.

“We’ll increase our supervision across our jurisdiction,” city police Intelligence Unit head Sr Comr Irlan said last week. He added the public was still welcome to stage protests during Obama’s visit, but under greater restrictions on when and where the planned protests could be held.

“For one thing, no protests can be held anywhere in the vicinity of Obama,” Irlan said.

“This isn’t special treatment; it’s the standard operating procedure for all state guests.”

He added protesters would also not be allowed to stage rallies at key locations, including in front of the State Palace. He said the police would only permit protests that were related to Obama’s visit when the protest coordinators submitted a permit to the city police.

The visit by Obama is being trumpeted as a return of sorts, given that the President spent four years in Jakarta as a child. Obama moved to Indonesia at the age of 6 with his mother, Ann Dunham, and Indonesian stepfather, Lolo Soetoro. He first attended the Fransiskus Asisi Catholic Elementary School, and later the Besuki State Elementary School. He left the country at age 10.

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The Beach House Resort staff party is always a great event and this year the mammoth party included staff and family from ko - ko - mo Gili Trawangan Resort and Wrapper Snapper.

Using their ever expanding fleet of boats and not satisfied with one party, staff and their families – totalling over 400 people – were ferried to the beach on beautiful Gili Air for two parties on Sunday, 6 March hosted by Matthew, Diane and Linda representing all three businesses.

There was fun and games, competitions, lots of food and gifts for every child, including some of the local Gili Air kids who couldn’t resist all the excitement! Staff members were awarded major prizes for “Best Improved Performances” and everyone joined in the fun and had a wonderful day out!

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