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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 the festive season in Lombok and it seems the whole island has been partying up a storm! Now that the presents have been unwrapped, the turkey has been eaten and the Christmas trees are looking a bit worse for wear, we are all gearing up for the extravagant New Year’s Eve parties that are planned at top venues around the island.

No matter where you stay in Lombok, New Year’s Eve is a big occasion! Whether you’re dancing on the beach in Kuta or one of the Gili Islands, or jostling with the crowds in Senggigi, you can’t help but be swept up in the fun and excitement. For the best places to kick off the New Year.

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

Wherever you choose to celebrate the start of a new year on Lombok…

We at The Lombok Guide wish all of our advertisers and readers a magical festive season and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011! Selamat Tahun Baru!

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The whole world celebrates on New Year's Eve and Lombok is no different! The streets of Senggigi will be packed, the Gili Islands will be rocking and all around the island people will be celebrating as we say goodbye to 2010 and welcome in 2011.

For many people, the start of a new year symbolises the year to come… and our ideas of the perfect beginning to a new year are as unique as our individual personalities. For some, it may be the exhilarating freedom of being on top of Mount Rinjani when the first new dawn breaks over the mountains, or on board a boat off the Gili Islands preparing to dive over a fabulous reef, or poised to catch the next magnificent wave off the beaches on the south coast.

For others, it may be the closeness of an intimate dinner for two in a superb restaurant, dining on fresh seafood and sharing a bottle of champagne as the clock ticks toward midnight. For many, it is dancing to great music, surrounded by other happy people and the shared fun as the countdown begins, joining in the shouts of "Happy New Year!"

However you start your new year, Lombok has the activities, places and parties to satisfy everyone's personal desires. In this issue, we bring you the best the island has to offer to get your year off to a happy start!

Café Alberto celebrates New Year with "The White Party" – sure to be one of the hottest parties in town! Starting at 8pm, enjoy a full buffet including a seafood barbeque and a cocktail party. Be entertained with a fashion show by Ciokolata and live music by D Wayans.

Guests can party the night away with hip hop dance, and heaps of fun and games. Dress code: white (and glam, of course!) Tickets are Rp 350 000 inclusive. Phone 693039 or call Rahmi on 0813 3990 1602.

Santosa Villas and Resort kicks off the fun with "Aloha 31 December 2010". Guests are invited to a special pre-dinner cocktail party with fire dancing and a fashion show, followed by a festive buffet dinner with live performances.

After dinner, the "Countdown Party" continues with dancing to a live band and guest DJ, supper and lucky draws, ending with a countdown to midnight.

Tickets for the full night, including dinner, fashion parade and Countdown Party are Rp 995 000 net, or join in the Countdown Party only after dinner for just Rp 250 000 net per person. Ph: 693 090 for bookings.

The Holiday Resort in Mangsit always kicks off the New Year with a fabulous night of wining, dining and entertainment and this year they celebrate with "Batik Night", featuring the fabulous designs and motifs of traditional woven Batik fabrics. Naturally, there will be a fashion show of different Batik patterns and styles, complete with traditional entertainment including Keroncong music.

The huge gala buffet dinner features serving stations with an extensive range of dishes, both Asian and international. In addition to entrees, soups and salads, guests can feast on Indonesian, Chinese, ASEAN, and international specialties. There are too many tempting dishes to list, including Scottish Salmon, Wild Rabbit, Roasted New Zealand Leg of Lamb, Roast Sirloin, Ayam Taliwang, Gulai Kambing, Mongolian Seafood, Szechuan Chicken, Indian Lamb Curry, Beef Teriyaki Skewers and much more; plus a huge selection of desserts and pastries from the hotel's bakery.

Enjoy a full night of entertainment, fashions and traditional performances, plus dancing with Neo Marina Band, and lucky door prizes, all for just Rp 750 000 ++ per person. For reservations, phone 693444.

The recently opened Garden Café at Manna Kebun in Senggigi is staging "The most awesome Countdown Party ever!" Start the night with a New Year's Eve dinner in the resort's Begibung Restaurant for just Rp 250 000 (includes entry to the Countdown Party) and after, join the crowd in the Garden Café for a night of dancing and music.

Guest DJ's include MC Jojo, DJ Sub Soul Ja from Singapore, DJ Juicy and demonstrations by World Champion Flair Bartender, Kadek Sanjaya. Tickets to the Countdown Party only are just Rp 100 000, including the first drink free and a packet of Class Mild. Ph: 692999 for details.

If a romantic dinner under the stars is more your style, you can't go past the New Year's Eve menu from Quali Restaurant at Qunci Pool Villas, on the beachfront in Mangsit.

The four course menu starts with Grilled Beef Salad and Clear Sour Turmeric Seafood Soup. For main course, choose from Pan-fried Sea Bass Fillet with Herb Stuffing or Grilled Chicken Breast with White Wine and Shallot Sauce. Finish the meal with Cream Cheese Custard Flan with caramel and boysenberry sauces. The price of US $65++ per person includes a special new year's cocktail and a bottle of red or white wine. Bookings recommended on 693800.

Lastly, for a different and unique start the New Year why not escape to your own secret island? Every year Secret Island Resort on Gili Gede (just off Lombok's beautiful southwest coast) celebrates New Year's Eve with an exclusive and intimate party far from the madding crowd.

Enjoy a traditional roast turkey dinner for just Rp 250 000 per person including a free drink, and afterwards gather under the stars for a fantastic fireworks display over the water. There are only two small resorts on this large, peaceful island, so it's easy to relax into the quiet charm of the southwest Gilis.

Simple but comfortable accommodation starts from Rp 200 000 per night (see discount voucher). In the morning, watch the sun rise over the Lombok mainland, walk along the deserted beach, or charter the Resort's speedboat and go fishing, snorkelling and island hopping around the stunning secret islands of the southwest.

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The shops on Senggigi main street between Galleria and the Art Markets are starting to fill up, with two new restaurants and a health clinic opening up in the past couple of weeks.

Choice Café is a new Indian–Arabian Café that opened recently in a small bamboo style shop on the strip. The café serves a good selection of typical Indian dishes including Briyani Rice, Tandoori, Chicken Tika Masala, Korma and freshly made Indian breads such as Paratha, Chapati and Poori. Arabian dishes include Majebus Rice with chicken, lamb or beef, Dejaj Meshwie, Marag Soup and Arabian Grilled Lamb.

We tried the Chicken Tandoori which was very good, as were the Arabian Beef Kebabs listed on the specials menu out front. There is also a selection of Indonesian dishes on the specials menu, together with Indian favourites such as Lassi, Falooda, Masala Tea or Coffee, fresh juices and more. After dinner, try an authentic Sheesha… the huge Sheesha pipes look magnificent standing next to the tables and imported tobaccos are available in different flavours.

Bumbu Café, in the strip of restaurants south of Happy Café, has been a popular eatery for both tourists and residents for many years. A second “bigger and better” Bumbu has now opened in the Art Markets strip, just north of Choice Café. The original Bumbu is still doing brisk business in the south end of town but owner, Toha, decided to open a second, larger café in the north end of town to cater for extra crowds and guests who prefer more spacious surroundings in the quieter end of town.

The new Bumbu serves the same delicious and authentic Thai dishes in its new location, as well as all the other favourites that have made Bumbu so popular, and still has the same relaxed, casual atmosphere with friendly staff. Old and new guests wanting to try out the new Bumbu will receive 20% discount throughout December.

• The final new addition to this strip is Medika Husada. The medical clinic offers a 24 hour service with a doctor on stand-by during the day. The downstairs area has a reception area and treatment room, while the upstairs area has beds and equipment for patients requiring observation for longer periods. Staffed and run by local doctors, the clinic is equipped to handle emergencies (with access to hospitals if needed), and basic medical problems for residents and travellers, and the doctors speak English. This one is very new, so we’ll bring you more details next issue!

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Tourism on Lombok

NTB wants to develop its tourism industry. Frequently newspaper articles mention predictions done by government officials about the growth of NTB tourism and almost always those predictions are very positive.
During TIME 2010 the organiser, Mr R Salim, said the event is expected to help the province meet its target of receiving one million tourists within two years, under its Visit Lombok Sumbawa 2012 program (Jakarta Post 12-10-2010). There are even goals aiming on two million tourists yearly in NTB (Lombok Times: Issue no 62, page 6). And former VP, JF Kalla, assured Lombok can host more tourists than Bali when the new airport is completed (LT: Issue no. 64, page 4).

According to all those predictions Lombok will soon not longer be the forgotten by tourists sister-island of Bali. But is this opportunism not too much of its kind? Isn’t it more realistic to conclude that Lombok and tourists both are not yet ready for “a big tourism-bang” on this beautiful island, even not when the new international airport has opened its runway?

Everybody knows that there’s a global financial crisis going on that won’t be solved in a few years. Many people lost their jobs and/or lost money. Statistics show us that in Europe many people did not book a far-away holiday this year. America, South-Korea and Japan are also suffering seriously under the crisis. Also in these parts of the world people are in the middle of a financial survival. And some time ago, Garuda finished a weekly flight between Australia and Bali, because of the small numbers of tourists booking flights to Bali since the end of 2008, which also has to be seen as a bad result of the current crisis.

But even when there was no global crisis going on, the opportunism may be too big, because there are more good reasons to temper that opportunism.

Lombok and especially the Senggigi, Sekotong and Kuta areas not yet have the main facilities most (western) tourists expect when they pay a lot of money for a tropical holiday, such as sufficient four- and five-star hotels, (family-) entertainment (-parks), good roads, (accessible) sidewalks, boulevards, international high-standard healthcare, reliable flight-connections, etc. It will take at least a few years to realize all those facilities.

And what about the power-supply? The current power-supply is far from ideal and for sure too weak to host a million tourists a year. Also the freshwater-supply can become a problem.

During TIME 2010 NTB, the Head of Culture and Tourism Agency, Mr Aryadi said, “We have between 600,000 and 700,000 tourists visiting the Province annually.” Another official report mentions 537.000 visitors in NTB in 2009. Maybe these numbers are right if they are based on the numbers of incoming passengers at the gates of the airport and the harbours, but all those visitors for sure are not always tourists!

NTB tourism is growing, that’s a fact, but growing very slowly. And most of the real tourists stay in the Province only for a few days. Backpackers usually hit the road again after a short stay, local visitors spend just a short holiday, many western tourists fly over from Bali to Lombok, also for just a couple of days, and most of the NTB tourists only visit the three Gili islands. With other words, those tourists don’t really fill the hotel beds all over NTB and the NTB wallet.

Spiteful is the fact that the Lombok authorities no longer support the International Lombok Triathlon. This event was a top merchandising product. Better and cheaper than any other event that ever has been organised.

And what about big sister Bali? For sure Bali never will give up her pole-position on the grid of Indonesian Tourism.

On Lombok lives also the common opinion that the new airport, when it’s fully operating, will lead to a big tourism boost on the island. But, as mentioned before, more needs to happen to make Lombok a famous tourist-destination. Lombok already has an international airport. Only a new one on itself will not make any difference in the number of tourists (or visitors…).

Another point of concern is the circumstances for foreign investors. Corruption, bureaucracy, rigid visa rules and real estate laws for sure will discourage potential foreign investors. Dubai investor, Emaar, really tried it, but failed.

And what about the environment? More tourists mean more cars and buses and that leads to more air pollution. And how to handle the annual garbage of one or two million tourists?

To sum up, to get many tourists to Lombok, to keep them here for a couple of weeks, to assure they will come back again and to make sure they feel happy here, Lombok first shall have to work very, very hard, invest a whole lot of money itself, be co-operative towards foreign investors and then must be patient. Opportunism and enthusiasm are good human qualities but it needs more to realize goals.

However, the most important question is the following one: Does Lombok really need to become a famous tourist destination?

Today Lombok is still beautiful, green, safe, religious, clean and peaceful. Today there are no traffic-jams, no pub-crawling half-naked tourists, no crowded beaches, no drugs dealers and hookers on every street corner during nighttime and no disco-streets. Today the freshwater-supplies are still sufficient for inhabitants and tourists and since a few weeks the power cuts have declined.

Should Lombok not stay as it is now, with a majority of traditional farmers and fishermen? Only famous for its handicrafts, pearls, seaweed and salted duck-eggs? And go on with hosting - compared to Bali – just a few tourists? Or concentrate on eco-tourism?

Isn’t it worth while to keep it like it is? Isn’t it very important that Lombok keeps his own identity and dignity???



Pariwisata di Lombok

NTB ingin membangun industri pariwisatanya. Sering disebutkan di dalam beberapa surat kabar tentang perkembangan pariwisata NTB yang diprediksikan oleh orang-orang pemerintahan dan hampir selalu prediksi-prediksi tersebut adalah sangat positif.

Pada acara TIME 2010, pengorganisirnya, bapak R Salim mengatakan acara tersebut diharapkan membantu propinsi untuk mencapai target mendatangkan satu juta turis di dalam dua tahun, sejalan dengan program Visit Lombok Sumbawa 2012 (Jakarta Post 12-10-2010). Bahkan dikatakan bahwa NTB mengejar target kunjungan dua juta turis ke NTB setiap tahunnya (Lombok Times: edisi 62, halaman 6). Dan mantan wakil presiden Jusuf Kalla, yakin bahwa Lombok akan mendatangkan turis lebih banyak daripada Bali pada saat bandara yang baru beroperasi (Lombok Times: edisi 64, halaman 4).

Mengacu pada semua prediksi-prediksi tersebut Lombok tidak akan dilupakan lagi oleh para turis yang mengunjungi Bali. Tapi apakah ini tidak terlalu banyak mengharapkan keberuntungan? Bukankah lebih realistis bahwa Lombok dan turis belum siap menghadapi perkembangan pariwisata secara cepat dan besar-besaran, walaupun pada saatnya nanti bandara internasional yang baru telah beroperasi?

Semua orang mengetahui bahwa telah terjadi krisis finansial secara global, dan masalah ini tidak akan teratasi di dalam beberapa tahun kedepan. Banyak orang kehilangan pekerjaan dan uang mereka. Statistik tahun ini menunjukkan bahwa di Eropa banyak orang tidak merencanakan untuk berlibur ke tempat yang jauh. Amerika, Korea Selatan dan Jepang juga menderita sangat serius dalam krisis ini dan meraka berada dalam keadaan bertahan dalam hal finansial. Dan beberapa waktu lalu, Garuda menghentikan jadwal penerbangan mingguan antara Australia dan Bali, karena jumlah turis yang memesan tiket ke Bali sangatlah sedikit sejak akhir tahun 2008, dan ini terlihat sebagai dampak negatif dari krisis yang sedang terjadi.

Bahkan seandainya tidak ada krisis global, harapan-harapan ini mungkin terlalu tinggi, karena masih banyak alasan-alasan yang lebih bagus untuk tidak berharap terlalu tinggi.

Lombok dan khususnya area Senggigi, Sekotong dan Kuta belum memiliki fasilitas utama yang sebagian besar diharapkan oleh turis mancanegara ketika mereka membayar biaya mahal untuk liburan tropikal, seperti hotel berbintang empat dan lima, fasilitas hiburan, jalan yang bagus, trotoar yang memadai, fasilitas medikal yang bertaraf internasional, jadwal penerbangan yang dapat dipercaya, dll. Akan dibutuhkan beberapa tahun untuk merealisasikan semua fasilitas tersebut.

Dan bagaimana dengan masalah penyediaan tenaga listrik? Tenaga listrik yang ada sekarang adalah jauh dari ideal dan bisa dipastikan terlalu lemah untuk memfasilitasi sejuta turis setahun. Juga penyediaan air bersih bisa menjadi masalah.

Pada acara TIME 2010 NTB, kepala Dinas Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata, pak Gita Aryadi mengatakan, “Kita memiliki antara 600 000 dan 700 000 turis mengunjungi propinsi kita setiap tahun.” Laporan dari pejabat yang lain juga menyatakan 537 000 pengunjung di NTB pada tahun 2009. Mungkin jumlah-jumlah tersebut adalah benar berdasarkan jumlah kedatangan penumpang di pintu gerbang airport dan beberapa dermaga, tetapi semua pengunjung tersebut sudah pasti tidak selalu turis!

Pariwisata NTB sedang berkembang, itu kenyataannya, tetapi berkembang dengan sangat perlahan. Dan kebanyakan dari orang yang benar-benar turis menetap di propinsi hanya untuk beberapa hari. Turis yang memiliki budget sedikit biasanya kembali melanjutkan perjalanan setelah menetap untuk waktu yang singkat, pengunjung lokal hanya menghabiskan liburan mereka dalam waktu yang singkat, banyak turis mancanegara terbang dari Bali ke Lombok, juga untuk dua hari saja, dan kebanyakan turis di NTB hanya mengunjungi tiga pulau Gili. Dengan kata lain, turis-turis ini tidak benar-benar mengisi tempat-tempat tidur  hotel di seluruh NTB dan yang pasti tidak mengisi dompet NTB.

Sayang sekali pemerintah Lombok tidak mendukung International Lombok Triathlon. Acara ini adalah salah satu sarana terbaik untuk mempromosikan Lombok. Lebih baik dan lebih murah daripada acara lain yang pernah diselenggarakan.

Dan bagaimana dengan kakak pulau Bali? Sudah pasti Bali tidak akan pernah melepaskan posisi tertingginya di dalam tingkat pariwisata di Indonesia.

Di Lombok telah sering kita dengar pendapat tentang bandara udara yang baru, ketika bandara sudah selesai dan beroperasi nanti, akan memberi peningkatan besar bagi dunia pariwisata di pulau Lombok. Tetapi, seperti yang sudah disebutkan sebelumnya, banyak yang harus dikerjakan untuk membuat Lombok sebagai tujuan pariwisata yang terkenal. Lombok sudah memiliki bandara internasional. Dengan hanya memiliki bandara yang baru tidak akan membuat perubahan jumlah kunjungan turis.

Hal lain yang mengkhawatirkan adalah situasi yang harus dihadapi oleh para penanam modal asing. Korupsi, birokrasi, peraturan tentang visa yang tidak fleksibel dan hukum dalam hal kepemilikan tanah sudah tentu akan mematahkan semangat para penanam modal asing yang berpotensial untuk menanamkan modal di Lombok. Penanam modal dari Dubai, Emaar, telah mencoba, tetapi gagal.

Dan bagaimana tentang lingkungan? Semakin banyak turis berarti semakin banyak mobil dan bus dan itu akan mengarah kepada semakin banyak polusi. Dan bagaimana cara menanggulangi sampah tahunan dari satu atau dua juta turis?

Untuk meningkatkan jumlah turis yang datang ke Lombok, untuk menjaga agar mereka betah tinggal disini selama beberapa minggu, untuk meyakinkan bahwa mereka akan kembali lagi dan memastikan bahwa meraka merasa senang disini, Lombok pertama-tama harus bekerja sangat, sangat keras, investasikan banyak uang dari pulau Lombok sendiri, bekerjasama lebih baik dengan para penanam modal asing dan haruslah bersifat sabar. Kesempatan dan keyakinan adalah kualitas manusia yang bagus, tetapi dibutuhkan lebih banyak lagi untuk mencapai tujuan-tujuan yang diharapkan.

Bagaimanapun, pertanyaan yang paling penting yang berikutnya adalah: Apakah Lombok benar-benar butuh untuk menjadi tujuan pariwisata yang terkenal?

Hari ini Lombok masih cantik, hijau, aman, beragama, bersih dan tenang. Hari ini tidak ada kemacetan lalu lintas, tidak ada pub dengan turis-turis yang setengah telanjang, tidak ada pantai yang sumpek dengan banyak orang, tidak ada penjual narkoba dan pelacur di setiap ujung jalan pada malam hari dan tidak ada banyak diskotik di jalan-jalan. Hari ini persediaan air bersih masih mencukupi untuk penduduk dan turis dan sejak beberapa minggu ini pemadaman listrik sudah berkurang.

Apakah Lombok tidak harus tetap seperti sekarang ini, dengan mayoritas petani tradisional dan nelayan? Hanya terkenal dengan kerajinan tangan, mutiara, rumput laut dan telur bebek asin nya? Dan lanjutkan seperti apa adanya sekarang, dengan hanya beberapa turis? Atau berkonsentrasi dalam hal pariwisata ramah lingkungan?

Bukankah lebih baik untuk menjaganya agar tetap seperti sekarang? Bukankah sangat penting bagi Lombok untuk menjaga identitasnya dan harga dirinya???


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Senggigi Hackers Amateur Golf Society celebrated Christmas with a family barbeque at Ebano R & R in Setangi

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

QUESTION: My name is Jock McSporren from the highlands of bonny Scotland.  I have come to the island of Lombok to experience this tropical paradise and to escape the clutches of the Inland Revenue. It is much cheaper to live in Lombok than it is in my home town of Loch Ness. Besides that, there are no monsters here (unless you count some of the ladies in the Happy Café, where I can get my sinuses cleared for free; my favorite price!) I often call in there for a wee dram afore bedtime. 

I am looking for a cheap place to rent. I have heard there are some nice places in Senggigi which are not too expensive. Do you know of anyone who could make me an offer I canee refuse if you ken my meaning, Jimmy? Incidentally, it is not true what you hear about the Scots. They are not mean, just careful with their pennies. Glasgow kiss; stitch that Jimmy!

MR FIXER: I will put you in touch with my friend George. He will make you an offer in an accent you can’t understand. I recently heard a rumor that he is so mean, he looks under the bed every morning to see if he has lost any sleep.

QUESTION: I have been on the beautiful holiday island of Lombok for a few weeks and have just read a letter to you from the Japanese man with the speech impediment.  I wish to ccccccccc… cccccccc… complain about the ffffff…  ffffffff….  fact that you see fit to publish such sh…sh…sh shabby articles.  Are you taking the pppppppp… Mickey?  If you persist with such puerile attempts at humor, I shall be fffffff…  ffffff….  forced to write to your editor.  It makes my blood boil that you are allowed to print such sh….  sh….  sh… shameless rubbish. I wish you and your publishers would just   fffff….  fffff….. fffff….. forget about it!  Yours faithfully, FFFFF..FFFF…FFFF…  ah! forget it!

QUESTION: The first time I came to Lombok was 18 years ago. I hardly recognised the place! I have only been here for a few weeks, spending most of my time looking up old friends and returning to the favourite places I remembered. I hired a car and travelled all around the island. The new road to Bangsal towards the three Gili Islands has made such a difference. Having recently retired on a modest pension, it is my intention to stay and buy a small plot of land and build a small villa. My children have grown up and have found their own lives in Europe, so I find myself single and free of obligations. My wife and I are divorced. 

The break-up probably began on our honeymoon when my wife refused to wear the sexy underwear I bought her as a wedding present. “Why don’t you wear it?” she said. So just to spite her, I did. It was wonderful! The sensual feeling of silk and lace next to my skin filled my senses. I have been wearing sexy underwear ever since. I even used to wear it underneath my sergeant’s uniform. That’s when I got found out and I was discharged early from the Police Force with a reduced pension. It didn’t stop me though! Sometimes I fix my car wearing a full wedding dress. I’m even wearing some crotchless panties now!

MR FIXER: I can’t wait to go home and take my wife’s knickers off. They’re killing me!

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The continuing La Nina weather phenomenon continues to bring harsher than normal conditions during the rainy season in Lombok and Bali.

The Bureau of Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) Selaparang Station predicts that strong winds with speeds of up to 40 km per hour will continue to plague the NTB region in coming months. There is also the potential for a tornado to occur, if the formations of cumulonimbus clouds are active in the area. Cumulonimbus (Cb) is a type of cloud that is tall, vertically formed and dense; usually involved in thunderstorms and other intense weather.

The adverse effects of the strong winds have already resulted in damage to homes locally and caused fallen trees and branches; as well as very high waves at sea. Currently, high waves are reaching three to four meters and boats and fishermen are warned to check sea conditions daily.
Several fast boat transfers to Lombok and the Gilis have been cancelled in the past week, due to high waves and sea conditions being considered to dangerous to safely make the crossing from Bali to Lombok. The high waves are also caused by the low pressure centre in the sea south of Java and to the west of Australia.
Current weather temperatures are still relatively normal, however, with an average of around 32 degrees Celsius.

La Nina often follows an El Nino weather pattern, as experienced at the beginning of the year, and is the result of warmer than normal sea surface temperatures that are 0.5 to 2 degrees Celsius higher than normal. These warmer temperatures create stronger flows of westerly winds across the Indonesian region. High levels of condensed water in the upper atmosphere therefore results in more rains across the region.

The Bureau and other authorities in the region predict that, as a result of La Nina, the rainy season will last for an extended period this year; probably until March or April, 2011.

Meanwhile, Balidiscovery.com has stated that “Any remaining doubts that global climate change is well and truly upon us, should be swept away by news that sections of Bali’s capital city of Denpasar were hit by a hail storm on Thursday afternoon, 16 December, 2010”.

Heavy rains affected Denpasar and surrounding area beginning at around 3:30 pm, including confirmed reports of exceedingly rare ice storms that fell on the Jalan Gunung Agung and Jalan Merpati areas of the city.

According the Kompas.com and Radar Bali, the sound of ice pellets bouncing off buildings and parked vehicles created something of a panic, causing people to seek cover in their homes and places of business. One observer told the press that the ice crystals measured 1 x 1 centimetres, with other comparing the size of the hail stones to a human thumb.

Some residents reported cracked car windshields and limited damage to residential roofs as the result of the hailstorm, which lasted for between 10-20 minutes. Trees also tumbled on some streets, bringing down power lines and causing interruption in electrical service.

At approximately the same time, a lightning strike in the nearby village of Pangsan in Badung’s sub-district of Petang is blamed for the death of a 30-year-old man, I Nyoman Sudian. The man was farming in a field when he was struck by a lightning bolt and is said to have died instantly.

Representatives of the Bali Meteorology Department have said that the incidents of rain, hail and lightning are all in keeping with the transitional season now underway in Bali and the continuing effects of La Nina.

Weather experts are expecting storms and rain to remain part of the local weather picture until April 2011, with the peak season for storms predicted in January and February.

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On 1 January 2011, the Indonesian government will eliminate the law regarding the payment of “fiscal” tax, or the prepayment of income tax at airports.

Formerly all Indonesian residents (including expatriates living in Indonesia on residency visas) were obliged to pay Rp 1 million (US $111) each time they departed by plane from Indonesia.

On 1 January 2009, this policy was changed, abolishing the payment for anyone able to present a tax registration card (NPWP); while the fiscal tax payment increased to Rp 2.5 million (US $277) for those not registered as taxpayers.

Beginning in 2011, travellers will no longer be required to show their tax registration (NPWP) in order to be exempted from making the prepayment on income tax.

”The exemption from the ‘fiskal’ applies for everyone at every airport,” said Iqbali Alamsyah, from the public affairs section of the Directorate General of Taxation.

Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Taxation is estimating that the introduction of the “free fiscal tax policy” will have a significant impact on domestic tourism.

Speaking at a tax socialisation seminar in Bogor, West Java, on 4 December 2010, Robert Pakpahan, the director of business transformation at the tax office, said, “Before, the fiscal tax was put in place to dissuade people from shopping and travelling abroad; urging them to take domestic holidays instead.”

Pakpahan warned the removal of the fiscal tax may increase the possibility that Indonesians will now travel abroad.

“But we cannot restrain the forces of globalisation. All we can do is to try to make domestic tourism more appealing,” he added.

Pakpahan admitted the fiscal tax charged to departing Indonesian residents was a practice peculiar to Indonesia, with most countries only charging an airport tax.

“Over time, we have to be embarrassed by this (fiscal) policy. But with each departure there is now the concern that more people will prefer to shop and holiday overseas,” he said.

He explained how the tax office had used the fiscal policy in early 2009 as a tactic to persuade people to register themselves with an official tax number (NPWP).

Pakpahan said, “At this point in time, the number of registered tax payers has reached 18 million people. This compares to 2008 when only 8.81 tax payers were registered, increasing to 13.86 million in 2009.”

He said the latest surge in tax registrations was due to the introduction of a “sunset policy” for delinquent tax payers; the introduction of a “free fiscal” policy for registered tax payers; and differential tax rates for people with NPWP and those with no tax registration.

At present, nearly 60% of Bali’s tourism arrivals originate from the Indonesia domestic travel market.

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A group of disabled French tourists has just spent five nights on Gili Trawangan. The trip is the brainchild of Alain Comoli who, for the last 25 years, has been travelling all around the world in a wheelchair.

Alain believes that his disabilities and limitations should not prevent him from travelling and he has his own special motto – “Nothing is impossible”. Alain comes from the south of France and has established his own association “Handi Vers Horizons” with its website: www.handivers-horizons.fr.

The association brings together other disabled would-be-travellers and arranges tours. Alain says he loves Indonesia with its “very rich and unique culture” but he has always been surprised in his travels that he does not often see other disabled travellers.

This year, six people in wheelchairs, aged from 26 to 73 years old, came with their French helpers first to Denpasar, Bali. There they met up with three Indonesian assistants and spent two weeks site-seeing in Bali. In the program that Alain had arranged they visited the typical Balinese tourist spots -  Kerta Gosa, Tanah Lot, a Kecak dance in Uluwatu, the Monkey Forest, Jatiluwih, the volcano in Batur Bedugul area and its lakes, Legong Dance at Ubud Palace, Bali Bird Park and others. They then travelled by fast ferry directly to Gili Trawangan.

Alain said that the participants highly appreciated the quiet and charm of this island paradise and it remained the highlight of their trip. They particularly liked the “dream beaches”. They also enjoyed staying at Gili T Resort because of the friendly staff and easy wheelchair access at the resort and restaurant.

Alain and Handi Vers Horizons are already planning a second trip to Gili T for next June. Until then, “Bon Voyage!”

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As we reported in the last issue, the Rotary Club of Lombok has produced a beautiful new Lombok calendar-- just in time for the New Year!

The high quality “Images of Lombok 2011 Calendar” features stunning photographs of Lombok landscapes, places and people; and makes an ideal souvenir or gift for New Year. Send some home to family and friends, or present your VIP guests and business associates with a useful and lasting memento of Lombok.

The calendars are available for just Rp 75 000 each; or those wishing to purchase them in bulk can buy 20 for Rp 1 million, reducing the price of the calendars to just Rp 50 000 each. These can be used for promotions and gifts, or resold at the recommended retail price of Rp 75 000.

Rotary is a non-profit organisation and proceeds from the sale of the calendar will be used to fund ongoing Rotary community projects in 2011.

We would like to thank the following people and businesses, which have shown their support for this worthy cause by purchasing calendars in bulk: Gili T Resort; The Office Bar and Restaurant; Sekolah Nusa Alam; Peter Cranfield; Mark Heyward; Dr Huub (Dental Development Foundation Indonesia); Asmara Restaurant; Asmara Collection; Holiday Resort; Windy Beach Resort; Jeeva Klui; Geoff McCarthy; Lombok Property and Villas; Qunci Villas; and Scallywags Resort.

So far a total of 560 calendars have been sold. Hurry, stocks are limited, so make sure you get your copy now!
Calendars are available at The Office Bar and Restaurant, Asmara Restaurant, Lombok Property and Villas, the Holiday Resort, Windy Beach Resort, Qunci Villas, Senggigi Abadi and Senggigi Jaya Supermarkets, and Sekolah Nusa Alam. On Gili Trawangan, purchase from Gili T Resort and other popular island resorts and restaurants.

For bulk purchases, buy direct from The Office Bar and Restaurant, or phone Howard: 0812 375 7740 or Mark: 0811 417 004.

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Copyright © 2010 Mark Heyward

What does the Rotary Club of Lombok have in common with the Lombok Hash House Harriers? The answer is that they both care about the children of Lombok. The two organisations recently got together to provide a water storage facility for the isolated school and community of Duduk Atas.

In the past, the Sasak community scattered up on the hills behind Batu Layar, the village just south of Senggigi, did not have a school. Because of their isolated location, the community is often marginalised and left out of the development on the coast. The families on the hill make ends meet by growing local fruits, keeping chickens and taking work as unskilled labour when they can get it. Most are illiterate, having never had the opportunity to learn to read and write, so manual labour is usually the best they can hope for. Schooling was not available on the hill and, for most, it was too expensive and distant to attend schools down on the coast. 

In 2003 all that began to change. The community established a small school. Back then classes were conducted on the verandah of the mosque. “SDN 5 Filial Duduk Atas” operates as a branch of the local primary school, which is located on the main road just south of Senggigi. Now the children can go to school in their own village.  

The Rotary Club has been supporting the fledgling school since 2004 and now the Lombok Hash House Harriers are also helping out. On a recent visit to the school, we spoke with Howard Singleton, the Rotary Club’s former President.

“When the Rotary Club first heard about the school we got together and supplied cement and basic building materials to enable a temporary classroom to be built,” said Howard. Initially there was no land available for the classrooms. But that problem was solved when Pak Aini, the village head, donated his own land adjacent to the school building.

Volunteer labour was supplied by the villagers and the first classrooms were built. Seeing the demand and the help of Rotary, the local government came to the party and provided an additional classroom. In 2010 two more rooms were constructed, giving the school a total of six classrooms which qualifies it for independent status.
Once again Rotary was able to help, with funding from “Face This”, a group of young people from Holland who came up with the innovative idea of selling trendy t-shirts using drawings from the children of Duduk Atas. International residents of the Hill have also paid for more land for the school and funded construction of a community clinic for use by posyandu (a community health clinic).

Duduk Atas is a poor community, but rich in community spirit. The demand for education is strong. The school, which clings to the steep slopes, half hidden amongst the trees, now has around 200 children crammed into its classrooms. A further 30 adults and young people come to the school in the afternoons for functional literacy lessons. Pak Sahirim, the school’s Deputy Head, is proud of his school. His smile says it all. “Last year, our second class graduated from primary school. Almost all are now enrolled in junior secondary school,” he boasted.

But there was still one problem. The isolated community has no permanent water supply. This makes it difficult to maintain standards of hygiene and sanitation. This time the Lombok Hash House Harriers, a group of social runners living in Lombok, helped out. With a large donation from the Hashers and voluntary advice from Pak Agus, a local engineer, the school has constructed a water storage tank. This will enable them to provide water through the dry season and teach good hygiene habits to the children.

Why not get involved in the Rotary Club and its mission to help to improve the quality of life of the local community? If you would like to know more about the Club, contact Club Secretary, Lily Heyder 081339599154. 

Mark is an international education consultant and co-founder of Sekolah Nusa Alam in Lombok. (0370) 647514 nusaalam@yahoo.com

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Effective from 1 January, 2011, the minimum wage for workers in the NTB region (Lombok and Sumbawa) will increase to Rp 950 000 per month.

The regional Wage Council recommended that the minimum wage (UMR) be increased in 2011 to Rp 945 000, up from Rp 890 000 in 2010.

The NTB Governor, H Zainul Madjdi, approved the wage increase, rounded to Rp 950 000, after consultations with the Wage Council, the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union (SPSI) and relevant parties.

However, the Chairman of the SPSI said that the increase was still too low and insufficient to cover the basic cost of living for the region, estimated to be around Rp1.9 million per month in the city of Mataram.

In fact, statistics show that around 35 000 workers in NTB are only earning around Rp 400 000 per month, even though that is less than 50% of the current minimum wage.

Meanwhile, the Jakarta administration announced that the increase in the new minimum wage for next year would be 15.8 percent, a move that labor unions lambasted as too low and employers as too high.
It would increase the monthly minimum wage in Jakarta from Rp 1.12 million this year to Rp 1.29 million ($143) in 2011.

It is more than the 7.1 percent recommended by the city’s Wage Council, which comprises representatives of the administration, workers’ unions, employers’ associations and experts.

But it also falls short of demands by workers’ unions that the increase be based on the Reasonable Living Cost Index (KHL), which for Jakarta is pegged at Rp 1. 4 million a month this year.

Wages throughout Indonesia vary according to province, district and sector and are established by provincial authorities.

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The Santosa Villas and Resort in Senggigi celebrated its 3rd anniversary on 17 December, 2010.

One of the first resorts built in Senggigi in the early 1990’s and originally named the Intan Laguna, the hotel underwent extensive renovations in 2007. Rooms and bungalows were demolished or totally re-modelled, including the two storey wing, which now houses 109 superior and 48 terrace rooms.

Some of the bungalows were demolished to create super-stylish deluxe suites and private villas, which feature walled courtyards and private swimming pools. A majestic entrance was created, crowned by a large pool and fountains, fronting the impressive lobby. Adjacent to the fountains, a modern complex housing a large conference room, capable of hosting up to 1000 people in theatre formation, was constructed. Smaller meeting rooms were also built and, today, the resort boasts seven different meeting room options: nicely positioning itself for the growing MICE market in Lombok.

The new-look resort was unveiled in late 1997 and re-branded as the Santosa Villas and Resort.

To celebrate three years of success as one of the premier hotels in Lombok, management and staff joined in a day of fun and competitions, including tug-of-war, football and volleyball competitions on the beach. Different departments within the hotel competed for awards and prizes, before sharing a nasi tumpeng feast together. Congratulations to Pak Stephane and all the team at the Santosa!

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For many, there's no better place to be on New Year's Eve than on Gili Trawangan, the most famous island off the northwest coast of Lombok. Famous as a party island, the last night of the year sees almost the entire island become one big party, as all the crowds and parties merge together along the beachfront. Join in the fun at any of the numerous hotels, restaurants and bars or choose to celebrate in style at one of the island's top venues below:

The Beach House needs no introduction as one of the most popular beachfront restaurants and bars on the island. For New Year's Eve they are offering diners a delicious five course meal.

Start with Amuse Bouche and a choice of Lobster & Avocado Salad, Warm Calamari Salad, Beef Carpaccio, or Pecking Duck with Herb Crepes for entrée, followed by a refreshing sorbet. Main courses include Australian Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Potatoes, Grilled Fillet of Sea Bass with Pumpkin Risotto, Baby Spring Chicken with Baby Chat Potatoes, or Roasted Lamb Shank served with Red Rice. Finish with Chocolate Fallen, Apple Tartlette, Creme Brulee or Summer Berry Basket, and tea or coffee.

The resort has an extensive selection of imported Champagne and wines to toast in the New Year and at midnight enjoy the big fireworks show on the beach, held in conjunction with Irish bar, Tir Na Nog. Bookings: 642352.

ko-ko-mo Resort offers guests an evening of fine wining and dining under the stars, with a special five course gourmet menu.

Relax at elegant tables on the beachfront with a glass of Lychee Champagne Cocktail and enjoy a feast of delicacies such as fresh imported oysters in a variety of styles, Foie Gras, Steak Tartare, Fresh Sashimi, and more. Main courses include Mixed Grill with Veal, Prime Tenderloin & Australian Lamb Rack, Pan Fried Sea Bass & Atlantic Salmon, Grilled Spatchcock marinated in Lime & Sage, or Half Lobster on the Shell served with Rice Pilaf. Be tempted by decadent desserts, such as Star Anise Panna Cotta, Mango Cheese Cake, or Chocolate Soufflé with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, all created by the in-house bakery.

After a fine feast, join the happy crowd at The Beach House for the midnight countdown and fireworks. Bookings recommended on 644169.

Party central, Horizontal Lounge, is sure to be packed with movers and shakers at the "Infamous New Year's Eve Party". Party from sunset to sunrise with non-stop music and entertainment at the coolest venue on the island. Dance to music by international DJ's, be entertained by dancers, gather around the bonfire on the beach and be part of the crowd for the fireworks at midnight.

Party animals will enjoy free entrance, free cocktails, canapés and snacks, and free shots. In true Horizontal style, if past performances are anything to go by, the party will continue into New Year's Day, with an all day beach party! Ph: 639248.

New Year's Eve at Hotel Vila Ombak is a legendary event. This year, Gili T's top resort ushers in the New Year with the "Extravaganza New Year Party 2011" and a full night's entertainment on the beach in front of the resort.
Start with sunset cocktails and a sumptuous banquet at the "Bon Heur Gala Dinner", with an amazing variety of foods including a huge selection of entrees and salads, lots of fresh fish and seafood, a fresh pasta station, barbeque and carvery, and delicious international dishes prepared by the award-winning kitchen team.

The line up of entertainment includes performances by illusionist, Christian Rhosa, cultural music and dances, plus a live band, special guest DJ's and sexy dancers performing on stage. The big night starts at 7pm and price is Rp 1.5 million per person (inclusive). At midnight enjoy a complimentary champagne toast and be spellbound by the huge fireworks extravaganza Vila Ombak provides for the island every year. Reserve your table now by phoning 642336.

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