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NEWS

ISSUE 99

 

LOMBOK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT DUE TO OPEN

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.

As we go to print this issue, the entire island of Lombok is anticipating the long-awaited opening of the new Lombok International Airport on 1 October 2011.

Commenced in 2005, Bandara Internasional Lombok (dubbed “BIL”) is located on 595 hectares in Central Lombok and cost Rp 945 billion to construct. The airport has a 2,750 metre runway and can accommodate large aircraft such as Boeing 747 and Airbus 320, while the terminal can handle up to three million passengers per year.

The opening of an international airport heralds a new era for Lombok tourism and, hopefully in the near future, international visitors will be able to fly direct to our beautiful island!

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!

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GOLD FEVER OUT OF CONTROL

As we have been reporting for the past two years, gold fever continues unabated on the southern coasts of Lombok, with authorities powerless to control the illegal gold mining activities of local villagers.

Trouble has erupted in the area in recent months, as we predicted, with violent clashes between communities and police, resulting in at least one dead and dozens of others injured when police opened fire on a rioting mob.

Although we regularly travel in the area and find the local people are as friendly and welcoming as ever, visitors need to be informed about the tensions that exist and exercise caution when visiting local villages, particularly those involved in illegal gold mining.

The southwest Gilis remain unaffected and mining is largely focused in Sekotong district, particularly around Pelangan.

The situation arose when local people living in the southwest learnt of past mining surveys that revealed fairly large deposits of gold in the hills around Sekotong and decided to try their luck at mining.

Initial activities were limited to a few dozen people digging in the hills and crushing the rock by hand. As gold was discovered, however, mining boomed. Overnight, previously poor farmers who had been eking out a subsistence living from farming or fishing were discovering gold nuggets which, when sold, netted more than their families could previously earn in a year.

Hundreds and then thousands of people abandoned fishing boats and fields, flocking to the hills armed with shovels and picks. Primitive tunnels were excavated into the green hillsides of this beautiful area and hilltops were dotted with blue tarpaulins, signally the location of the mining camps.

Women abandoned their homes and the fields to cart bags of rock on their heads down from the hills to the villages, where simple rock crushing machines had been assembled. As the activities grew, and the gold started pouring out, extraction processes became more sophisticated.

Outsiders from Sumbawa and Kalimantan arrived, experienced from working in mining camps on those islands, bringing with them more sophisticated machinery and mercury – a dangerous chemical used to extract gold from crushed rock. Some say the chemical and money to fund the equipment is being supplied by gold shop owners based in Mataram and Cakra.

Despite the obvious danger of inexperienced people using mercury with no training and no safety precautions, the local authorities and the government failed to act.

Now, what started as a small labour intensive village industry, is an out-of-control situation that endangers the lives of the local people and the future of this incredibly beautiful and pristine area, which has unlimited potential for tourism development.

Some of the most stunning beaches in Lombok are located on the southwest coast, typically boasting fine white sands and clear aquamarine waters. The thirteen islands off the coast are largely uninhabited; the gentle waters surrounding them teaming with tropical fish and wonderfully preserved coral reefs. All this is at risk from mercury contamination, which has the potential to wipe out marine life and kill the reefs in just a few years.

Of more concern is the threat to human life. Many of the traditional villages that line the roadsides on the drive down south now openly sport crushing machines and stockpiled bags of rock ready to be processed. The rolling machines sit alongside homes, children play in the muddy run-off and chickens scratch in the dirt alongside the equipment. The drainage ditches on the side of road are filled with filthy water coated with a frothy scum; the by-product of mercury-based extraction. Nearby grow fields of corn, the staple food for these people.

Despite this problem now having escalated for two years, the government has made no attempt to educate the villagers about the dangers to themselves and the environment.

Many fear that the situation is now past the point of no return. How do you stop people who have only ever known poverty and now grin with delight when they tell you about their new motorbikes and televisions?
Prosperity in the area is evident, with new shiny motorbikes everywhere. Simple thatched houses are being replaced by brick and tile homes; timber supply yards sit alongside shacks that advertise “beli emas” (buy gold).

However, not everyone living in the area is blind to the dangers. Young people we talked to are worried about the long-term effects on the community and the environment. Theft has increased in the area, as outsiders learn about gold being stored in the homes prior to sale, and village security patrols operate every night.
“It is impossible to stop the people,” one told us, “they only believe what they can see and no one has died from the mercury yet. But already cows and goats are dying.”

“No one knows how many people have died in the hills, when the tunnels collapse or the digging causes landslides,” another added. “The only way we know is when a motorbike goes unclaimed for days or weeks. Then we know the owner isn’t coming back. We don’t report the deaths, because the government will want to stop the mining.”

Now the tragic saga has taken another turn, as government-approved mining company, PT Indotan, has commenced mining operations in the area.

Mining leases in the area were originally granted to PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara, which operates a large gold and copper mine at Batu Hijau in West Sumbawa. Newmont surveyed the Sekotong area from 1986 to 2004 but, after limited drilling, declared Sekotong as having low potential and returned the land to the NTB administration.

Later, PT Newmont’s vacant lease was taken over by PT Indotan, which itself had been doing exploration activities in the area, after it obtained mining rights from the local administration. Then, in 2006, the NTB provincial administration issued its Local Regulation on Territorial Layout Plan No 11/2006, declaring Lombok closed to mining, PT Indotan ceased its exploitation activities.

Under regional NTB planning laws, which encompass Lombok and Sumbawa, Lombok was closed to mining operations and was officially slated for tourism development only.

However, on 24 December 2009, Southern Arc Minerals Inc announced that it had finalised its acquisition of certain rights in Indotan Inc, including the right to the name Indotan Inc and control over all matters related to its Singapore companies, including mining leases in Lombok.

Suddenly, the NTB government was negotiating with Southern Arc and open to the idea of mining in Lombok. New legislation was quickly pushed through to allow the mining to go ahead, with Southern Arc operating through its Indonesian subsidiary, PT Indotan Lombok Barat Bangkit (“PT ILBB”).

The local government (Propinsi Lombok Barat or the West Lombok Regency) owns 10% of the company’s shares.

In January 2011, Southern Arc announced the grant of a Mining License or “IUP” for its West Lombok property, totaling 10,088 hectares in the Sekotong region. The IUP is initially valid for 5 years and permits the company to carry out exploration activities up to the conclusion of a feasibility study. This period may be extended with approval from the Indonesian Government.

On approval of the feasibility study, the company will move into the “Exploitation Stage”, mining the area for up to 40 years. The sites are at Pelangan, which has at least five large potential gold deposits; Menccangah which has copper and gold potential; and a gold rich copper deposit at Selodong.

The company also holds licenses for 22,360 ha of land in southeast Lombok, including an extensive epithermal vein system in Awang and a mineralized system near Kuta on Lombok’s south coast.
Although not well-known, illegal mining camps also exist on Lombok’s south coast. Camps and gold crushing machinery can be seen all along the scenic drive to the west of Kuta, parallel to the beautiful beaches of the south.

The commencement of exploratory mining by Indotan this year has infuriated local people, who feel that the government has prevented them from mining on what they regard as their traditional land. Many say that the government has stolen their land and given it to PT Indotan without negotiation or consultation with the community.

In May this year, an angry mob of demonstrators attacked Indotan’s Tibu Serai drilling camp and stopped the mining operation there. After being confronted by company security and police at Pelangan, the demonstrators dispersed. Fortunately, there were no casualties in the incident.

The demonstrators also set fire to a drilling rig at Bising to disrupt drilling activities. No personnel were injured and all damaged equipment was insured.

Then, in August this year, a large mob of angry villagers attacked Indotan’s Raju Mas Tembowong camp in West Sekotong, destroying generators, bulldozers and other heavy machinery, and drilling equipment. Police and security forces at the site were overwhelmed by the crowd.

The company was said to have suffered losses of up to Rp 15 billion and been forced to lay off 300 employees from a total of 352 people employed at the camp.

Police arrested two local men believed to have master-minded the attacks, holding them at the West Lombok police headquarters. On Saturday, 3 September 2011, hundreds of demonstrators ran amok, storming the police station and demanding the release of the two accused.

Police opened fire on the crowd, killing one person and injuring dozens of others; three of whom were seriously wounded. Police, members of the Mobile Brigade (BRIMOB) and the army were brought in with heavily armed vehicles and water canon to quell the riot.

The Indonesia Forum for the Environment (WALHI) NTB will ask the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to conduct an investigation into the bloody incident. Readers concerned about the impact of gold mining on the communities and the pristine environment of the southwest should contact the West Lombok Regent, Zaini Arony, (Bupati, Lombok Barat), ph: (0370) 681311 or 681677.

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WHAT'S HOT!

• Seminyak restaurateur, Bonita, is famous for many things, but especially for her fabulous collection of hats. On 29 October, at 5 pm, for the first time ever, Madame will show the best of her spectacular hats in a fashion show featuring gorgeous designs by Joniaz, Putu Aliki, Dwi Iskandar and Farida Wolf at the Bali Garden Party at Taman Bhagawan, Tanjung Benoa.

Bonita’s hats come from around the world, with some of the most ornate and original designs created especially for Madame. She finds inspiration in the great queens of history, from a “ship hat” inspired by Cleopatra to an extravagant birdcage confection in tribute to Marie Antoinette. The show will also present a special performance of Bonita’s legendary Baliwood Extravaganza cabaret show, with the most lavish costumes and choreography ever!

The Bali Garden Party will be in aid of several local charities, which will be invited to pitch tents on the lovely lawns of Taman Bhagawan, Tanjung Benoa, to provide them with an opportunity to showcase their important work in Bali. Tickets will sell out before the show, so purchase them now at Waroeng Bonita and Waroeng Sulawesi, or phone 0361 4731918.

• Kura Kura Water Park is a fantastic family park that opened last year on Jl Sriwijaya in the city. Facilities include a wonderful water playground, a mini railway, a food court and a newly opened seafood restaurant. A visit the other day also uncovered the gorgeous Rumah Pohon (Tree House) Spa tucked away in the complex.

This uniquely designed Spa has a number of beautiful rooms, each constructed around trees – some with huge tree trunks incorporated into the building. One is a modern, fully equipped hair salon, offering shampoo, cuts and styling, as well as specialist colouring and perms using good quality products. There’s also a reflexology room with big comfortable recliners, a purpose-built hut for facials and skin treatments, a separate massage room for couples with a spotlessly clean private bathroom, and a luxurious massage suite with a huge bathtub for relaxing. Rates are very reasonable, with one package offered at just Rp 150 000 for three-hours of treatments. This is a great place to spend a few hours relaxing and being pampered with a couple of friends!

Best of all, the Spa has a small range of The Body Shop products available in the reception area… the only Body Shop outlet in Lombok!

• Keen golfers will be interested to know that series 5 of the PGA (Professional Golf Association) tournament will take place in Lombok from 6 to 9 October 2011. 144 professional golfers from 11 nations are expected to play in a four-round tournament at GEC Rinjani Country Club in the Lombok Heritage ASEAN PGA, previously scheduled to take place at Kosaido Country Club. The prestigious internationally-televised 2011 Indonesia PGA and Series Asean consists of 7 series held in 7 Indonesian cities. Participants in this championship will also get the opportunity to enjoy the tourist attractions and culture of each destination where the tournament is taking place.

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INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT… Coming – Ready or Not!

Another strike by Garuda is looming, with pilots unable to reach an agreement with the airline over wages and conditions.

Initially based on a call for pay parity between Indonesian cockpit crew and contract foreign pilots, the labour discontent driving the strike has widened to embrace a longer list of grievances by the airline’s employees against management.

Unlike the one-day strike by a portion of the airline’s pilots on 28 July 2011, the threatened industrial action will reportedly be joined by the Garuda Employees Union (Sekarga) and the Garuda Cabin Crew Association.

Indonesia’s Ministry of State Owned Enterprises (BUMN) says it regrets that the Garuda Pilot Association (APG) have declared their intent to strike again in September 2011, following the Union's failure to achieve an agreement with the Airline.

According to Bisnis.com, the Deputy Minister for infrastructure and logistics at BUMN, Sumaryanto Widayatin, has called on the APG to show professionalism and work to restore the synergy of the national flag carrier.
“They (APG) has brought this problem to the industrial court without understanding that the strike action they will undertake is a criminal act,” Sumaryanto said.

He went on to suggest that the image of Garuda will suffer and decline if the APG undertake a strike instead of achieving a compromise with management.

“A strike will only favour personal interests over company interests, which means they lack a sense of ownership,” Sumaryanto noted.

Sumaryanto said the BUMN is always open to play the role of a mediator in negotiations between the airline and its pilots, providing a quick resolution can be achieved to end the prolonged discord.

“We have repeatedly mediated the dispute. That which has been done by the Minister for BUMN, Bapak Mustafa, has been ‘too good’. I hope the APG will soften its stance.”

The Deputy Minister prayed the APG will reconsider their plans to go on strike. He said it was the obligation of the APG to support Garuda and its current successful journey towards profitability.

“Many of their complaints have no basis. One (complaint) is the contracts offered to foreign pilots, which will soon come to an end,” he added.

APG president, Stephanus Gerardus Rahadi, confirmed to the press that his Union remains at an impasse with the airline after eight days of negotiations mediated by the BUMN Ministry.

“The management of Garuda is not being serious in handling our three main demands: communication, working contracts and contracts for foreign pilots,” said Rahardi. “We are encountering the same problem.

This action is the accumulated effect of Garuda’s mismanagement.”

Exactly when the strike will commence has yet to be announced.

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LOCAL SCENE

SAIL INDONESIA @ MEDANA BAY

Hundreds of visiting participants in Sail Indonesia 2011 were delighted with the welcome they received from Medana Bay Marina and the North Lombok government

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MR FIXER

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

QUESTION: A new supermarket has just opened in Meninting and another new retail outlet called “Meat Mart” has sprung up in Senggigi. Things are happening so fast in the retail sector here in Lombok, holiday makers will be left wondering how long it will be before competition forces retailers to go the same way as in Europe.

Over there, if you go into almost any high street big chain supermarket to buy bread, your nostrils will aroused by the tantalizing smell of freshly baked bread and cakes. When passing the fresh vegetable counter, you will hear the sound of distant thunder and the smell of rain just before mist is sprayed over the produce to keep it looking fresh. It’s the same in the egg department, where the sound of clucking, contented hens can be heard.  At the milk and cream section, you can press a button and listen to cows mooing and experience the scent of freshly mown hay. In the meat department, there is the aroma of charcoal grilled steaks with onions. Do you think this will happen in Lombok?

MR FIXER: I hope not. If it does, I will have to buy my toilet rolls somewhere else.

QUESTION: I have recently arrived on the delightful holiday island of Lombok and, like most other people, one of the first things I like to do is go shopping. You can now get almost anything you could want from a holiday island, but the prices can be confusing here as there are so many zero’s on the end of everything. It makes adding up quite difficult. 

No wonder then that if you buy more than one item in a shop, the assistant immediately reaches for the calculator. In my day, you had to add stuff up in your head. Quite often, I have added up the cost of several items before the assistant has even switched the calculator on. Sometimes, the assistant has several goes at tapping before getting it right.  Do you think that math should be enforced more vigorously in schools?

MR FIXER: There are two sides to this story. On the one hand there is math and on the other hand there is…. well… non-math. Numbers are everywhere; on phones and houses for instance. Kids should also learn about colour and math should be left out of the equation. Most people don’t know what the square root of 16 is and perhaps will never know. Math is just a theory and people should have the right to choose for themselves and make up their own minds if it is scientific fact. Personally, I don’t believe in math and I don’t think we should encourage it; and it should certainly not be used against women.

QUESTION: My girlfriend just walked into the living room and said, “Please throw all my clothes out of the window, take all my jewellery to the charity shop, sell my new motorbike and laptop, along with my iPhone and iPod, take my front door key away from me, and throw me out of the house and never speak to me again.”Well, what she actually said was, “I’ve just met someone else.”  

It turns out that he is a surfer beach-boy god with tattoos and a head of hair better than hers. I have decided to sell the house with everything in it, including the Rolex Oyster watch with the flash band strap the trollop bought for the poncing parasite as a birthday present with my money and left behind as she accidentally tripped over the cat on her way out!

The house is a 2 bedroom villa with a pool, a nice view of the sea and a small garden with fruit trees. Do you think it will be easy to sell?

MR FIXER: Property values in Lombok are rising faster than you can earn it at the moment. If I was you, I would sell the watch and everything else and hang on to the villa.

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HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR COFFEE?

Not so many years ago, the only coffee you could get in Lombok was local coffee made in the villages from coffee beans grown on the island. Westerners living on the island were often excited to find a jar of Nescafe in the supermarkets and enterprising local café owners would serve up “cappuccino”, creatively concocted from Nescafe mixed with condensed milk.

The coffee revolution, spearheaded by chains such as Starbucks and The Coffee Bean, is evident in Bali and – while Lombok doesn’t yet enjoy the dubious pleasure of these international businesses – we still have a couple of excellent coffee houses; particularly Redwood Café in the city and Café Lombi in Senggigi.
Located in Senggigi Square, diagonally opposite Square Restaurant, Café Lombi has quietly been building a reputation for outstanding coffee and all things related to coffee for the past year.

Lombi Manager, Martin, is somewhat of a coffee aficionado around town and is passionate about good quality coffee, whether it is the type of bean, the size of the grain, or the process used in making a good cup of coffee.

Although many people like the local coffee sold in Lombok, Martin found that the coffee is often made without regard for the quality of the beans. In the villages, everything is picked from the trees; ripe fruits are mixed in with over-ripe and under-ripe beans.

“Lombok coffee is too dark, often over-roasted until the beans get oily,” he explained. “This oily mix damages coffee machines. Worse, because the beans are ground in primitive conditions, it often contains small stones and other debris, which damage the coffee grinder.”

To stretch the coffee harvest further, local coffee is often mixed with ground rice flour, which taints the pure taste of the coffee and tastes “powdery”.

Researching and experimenting with Indonesian grown coffee beans, Martin stocks mostly high quality Arabica and Robusta beans grown in Java, blending the two to create the perfect balance of full flavoured smoothness.

Initially Café Lombi introduced good coffee to people in Senggigi, selling real cappuccino, macchiato, espresso and other favourites at his pretty café in Senggigi Square, together with freshly baked breads, cakes and pastries. The extensive list of coffees available includes 17 popular hot styles and 8 cold specialty coffees.

Gradually Martin found more people asking him to supply good quality coffee for their businesses and homes. Today, the coffee side of his business has expanded to eclipse the bakery and café, and Café Lombi is now known as the best place in Lombok for “everything coffee” – from leasing coffee machines, to training staff, to supplying specialist blends for large hotels.

Repairing and servicing Lombok’s coffee machines, Martin quickly recognised that local staff employed in the island’s hotels and restaurants knew little about using coffee machines and didn’t understand the popularity of coffee culture. And so he set about establishing a complete service for his customers: leasing coffee machines to homes and businesses, teaching staff how to clean and maintain the machines, and training local people in the art of coffee making.

The “complete service” lease packages include installation of the machines, training of staff in cleaning and maintenance, and teaching them to make all popular styles of coffee. Lombi will even provide repeat training, until staff are confident in handling the machines and proficient in making the coffees.

“We really care about giving excellent service to our customers,” Martin said. “We find that hotel and restaurant staff enjoy learning about coffee making and our training often extends to be almost a barista course for people who are really interested.”

In fact, Martin is so committed to training people in coffee making that he supplies user manuals to businesses in both English and Bahasa Indonesia languages.

The team at Café Lombi are, of course, already very experienced in all aspects of coffee making and are also happy to pass along their skills to other staff. For lease customers, helpful Lombi staff can be at most businesses in around one hour, if needed.

For customers on the Gili Islands, the Lombi team visit the Gilis on the 3rd of every month to carry out service and maintenance. This includes cleaning and de-scaling of the machines, topping up coffee bean supplies, and providing extra training and help where needed.

Machines available for lease range from small manual coffee machines, to semi-automatic, fully automatic and professional gastronomic machines for large businesses.

Prices are very reasonable and start from just Rp 150 000 per month for small machines, or Rp 300 000 per month for a semi-automatic machine suitable for small to medium businesses selling up to 30 cups of coffee per day.

More sophisticated machines are available from Rp 600 000 per month. These are fully automatic and very easy to use, with automatic programmes and cleaning, and have a good quality creamer for making cappuccino and frothy coffees.

Accessing parts for imported coffee machines has been a problem in the past, but the owner of Café Lombi is based in Switzerland and can usually supply spare parts within a week. No one else in Lombok can offer this service.

Recently, Café Lombi introduced their coffee party catering service, where customers can hire a fully automatic coffee machine for parties and special functions. Staff will arrive at your home or business, set up the machine and provide a gourmet coffee station for your guests. Lombi supply all the coffee and equipment, including cups and saucers – even delicious home-made cookies!

For personal shoppers, Café Lombi sells coffee beans and will expertly grind the coffee for you. This in itself is an art, as different types of grains are suitable for different types of coffee machines or plungers used at home. Staff will assist you to get the right coarse or fine blend to make the best coffee with your own equipment.

Café Lombi also sells cakes and pastries, including their newly introduced Apple Pie served with ice cream, Chocolate Brownies fresh from the oven, Coconut Cookies, and freshly made Chocolate Mousse (as this uses fresh egg yolks, it is best to order in advance). Freshly baked breads, including white sliced, white or whole wheat toast, and the delicious multigrain (using imported flours and whole grains), are available daily. Come at 9.30 in the morning and buy fresh baguettes straight from the oven!

Of course, you can always just pop into to this lovely little café to enjoy a freshly made cup of your favourite brew. Or join the coffee connoisseur club and try the famous Kopi Luwak, produced from coffee beans excreted by a civet. The unique full flavoured and fruity coffee costs Rp 100 000 per cup, but retails in the US for up to $80 a cup!

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TAMBORA VOLCANO ALERT

Indonesia’s most famous volcano, Mt Tambora, on the island of Sumbawa (just to the east of Lombok) is rumbling. Its status was raised to the second-highest alert level on 30 August 2011.

Mt Tambora first stirred back into life last April, but in August the activity intensified, with the volcano spewing thick smoke and ash up to 20 metres into the sky.

Authorities on the island have not ordered any evacuations, but caution people to be alert to any increased activity. Local villagers living near the volcano seem unconcerned.

Mt Tambora is famous for the deadliest volcanic eruption in human history. On 10 April, 1815, the volcano erupted with devastating effect, killing more than 90,000 people. It is estimated to have had a Volcanic Explosivity Index value of 7; the only such explosion since the Hatepe eruption in New Zealand in 180 AD and only the fifth in human history.

Classified as a “super-colossal event”, Tambora’s 1815 eruption ejected huge amounts of volcanic dust into the upper atmosphere, significantly impacting the global climate for many years afterward. In Indonesia, the volcano’s roar could be heard more than 800 miles away.

Many people died of famine and disease in the period following the eruption. Dust and sulphur emitted by the volcano are believed to have caused the “Year Without a Summer” in Europe and the Americas in 1816, which caused massive crop failures and widespread famine.

The volcano has erupted three times since 1815, but none of those events achieved a VEI value of more than 2.

In 2015, Sumbawa is planning a bicentenary commemoration of the most famous eruption of the volcano. Infrastructure improvements are being carried out across the province to be completed by 2015, including the construction of a new port.

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EXPLORING THE SOUTHEAST PENINSULA… Part 3

Tanjung Ringgit, on the southeast corner of Lombok, is a largely unexplored area – surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, pristine beaches, and superb views – and steeped in history.

Used as an outpost for invading Japanese forces during World War II, the cliffs of the peninsula are riddled with tunnels and, standing alone at the top of the hill, a rusting cannon bears silent testimony to a history that is being eroded as surely as its rusting steel.

In Parts 1 & 2 of our series of articles preserving the history of Tanjung Ringgit, our special feature writer, David Clegg, reported on the old WWII guns and tunnels. In part 3, he continues his exploration of the southeast peninsula.  NB: Part 1 of this series was published in issue 92 and part 2 in issue 96; both can be read on our website at www.thelombokguide.com

When asked about any surviving artefacts from that period of history, my local guide,  Pak Sahdi, said there was nothing left; but then he said he had found something at low tide just a couple of days before.

I followed him to the beach and there it was, leaning against a tree – a 6” (or 15 centimetre) shell, 37 centimetres in length, encrusted with sand and shells after some 65 years of lying in the sea!

The shell was harmless; the point damaged and the inside partially hollow. The encrustations were chipped off, revealing that the shell case was made of steel. This shell, wrapped up in an old sack, is now kept safe as a relic of past times for anyone visiting the area to see.

Some two kilometres offshore, near Pulau Merinki (Merinki Island) and visible from the surface, is the sunken wreck of a ship, presumably Japanese; the Allies never having invaded Lombok.
Although the equipment and some of the steel disappeared a long time ago, the hull and the anchor are still there.

All of the ammunition left by the Japanese was dumped in the sea by the Dutch administration for the safety of the local population. But despite that, some 12 years ago, a man in the Jerowaru area acquired three shells and proceeded to try and open them; probably with a hacksaw.

A spark presumably ignited the explosive charge and a large flame shot out of the shell; fortunately pointing away from the man. He sustained burns to the chest, and his house and that of a neighbour were burnt to the ground – after which he lost interest in old shells!

One curious thing that Pak Sahdi mentioned, and swears it is true, is that there are two black boxes, 2 metres by 4 metres, laying in fairly deep water, about 100 metres off the eastern end of the beach.
The “curious” bit comes in when he says that they keep disappearing, and then appearing again. Who knows? Maybe one of the dive companies would be interested in investigating this story?

On the opposite side of the stony road is a thatched villa on the hill, built by a Spanish woman in 2006, who normally visited once a year. Apparently she has not been seen for 18 months or more, a victim of the Spanish debt crisis maybe.

Few foreign tourists visit this area. There are occasional trips from Tanjung Luar and Ekas to this beach, either for swimming or to walk about a kilometre and a half to see the remaining gun; most people seem unaware that this was where it all started and was the base camp of the Japanese army in this area.

Maybe this will change as there is a tourism development planned to start this year (2011) by a Swedish company. I presume that any development will start with a large investment in road repairs, if indeed it can be called a road! The plan, apparently, is to build small low key bungalow type resorts along the top of the cliffs in the Tanjung Ringgit area.

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