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NYEPI IN LOMBOK
You can see Bali in Lombok... but you can’t see Lombok in Bali!
This local Lombok saying is especially true during Nyepi – the Balinese Hindu “Day of Silence” – when you really can see Bali in Lombok!
Many people assume that Balinese Hindus only live in Bali but, with the two islands being so close together, Balinese settlement in Lombok dates back for centuries. Today, Balinese communities and temples are found all around the west coast and in the cities of Lombok.
Nyepi is one of the most important days in the Balinese calendar and the start of the Hindu New Year. This year Hari Raya Nyepi falls on Saturday, 17 March.
Nyepi in Bali is observed by a “day of silence” based on four guiding principles called Catur Berata Penyepian. These four principles specify:
Amati Geni: Prohibiting the lighting of fires, the use of lighting or the satisfaction of pleasurable human appetites. Amati Karya: Prohibiting all forms of physical work other than those dedicated to spiritual cleansing and renewal. Amati Lelungan: No journeys or travel; people are required to stay within their residences. Amati Lelanguan: Prohibiting all forms of entertainment, recreation or general merry-making.
In keeping with the strict traditions of this holy day, activities will grind to a halt in Bali for 24 hours – from 6.00am on 17 March until 6.00am on 18 March.
Bali’s airport is closed for both international and domestic travel during Nyepi and all seaports that connect to Bali are also closed.
No passengers are allowed to land or take off from the airport and ports and, although some technical stops may be allowed, no passenger may disembark or embark during this period.
Domestic flights between Ngurah Rai Airport (Bali) and Lombok International Airport will not operate on Nyepi, nor will public ferries between Padang Bai Harbour (Bali) and Lembar Harbour (Lombok).
If you are planning a trip to Lombok, make sure you leave Bali by 16 March and be sure to book transfers and accommodation well in advance, as many people travel to Lombok and the Gilis during Nyepi.
In Bali, for the 24 hours of Nyepi, visitors are required to stay within the grounds of their hotels and not leave the premises, except in cases of medical emergency.
Hotels are asked to limit outside lighting out of respect to the surrounding Balinese communities. All businesses are closed and the streets are empty. Taxis do not operate on Nyepi and only emergency vehicles are permitted on the roads.
The situation is different in Lombok, where the community is made up of a mixture of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and other religions.
Of course, Lombok’s Hindu community observes Nyepi but the restrictions are not enforced in Lombok and this quiet time of no noise, lights, travel or work only takes place in the Hindu communities.
Most visitors to Lombok would be unaware of Nyepi practices as shops, restaurants and businesses are open and everything on the island operates as on any normal day.
However, there is one Nyepi tradition that draws the attention of both Lombok’s residents and visitors; this is when Lombok’s Hindu community participate in Ngerupuk or the “Ogoh-ogoh Parade”.
The parade takes place on 16 March, the day before Nyepi, and is an exciting and noisy procession of fantastic monsters that dance and twist their way along the main streets of Lombok’s capital city, Mataram.
“Ogoh-ogoh” is the name given to the giant monsters representing Hindu creatures of the underworld (known in Balinese as buta kala).
Ogoh-ogoh are usually based on evil characters or spirits taken from traditional myths and legends, although more modern monsters include effigies of political characters, or symbolic representations of “the demon within” and evil temptations in the modern world.
About one month before Nyepi, the Hindu community starts to plan their Ogoh-ogoh creations. If you drive around the back streets of Mataram and Cakra over the next couple of weeks, you will see these huge constructions taking shape by the side of the roads.
Each Balinese village, even those in Lombok, is run by a Banjar, a community council that supports and maintains the temples and village environment; as well as mediating problems in the village, etc.
In preparation for Nyepi, the Banjar collects money, often with other smaller communities joining with a bigger one to create Ogoh-ogoh together.
The people work together to create the monsters, using bamboo and wire frames, papier-mâché, polystyrene and other materials. Sometimes special artisans are brought in from Bali, gifted in monster making and hired to produce amazing monsters.
They are often works of art that have taken many hours to create. A simple Ogoh-ogoh may cost as little as Rp 500 000 to make, but more elaborate figures can cost millions.
The young people of the villages take great delight in competing with other villages to create the most gruesome, terrifying or eye-catching Ogoh-ogoh.
The parade of the Ogoh-ogoh, although a fun and popular event for spectators, is in fact an important ceremony in preparation for Nyepi; representing a type of mass exorcism of evil in order to start the Hindu New Year spiritually fresh and clean.
Before the parade, a pemangku (temple priest) holds a ceremony to imbue the buta kala with spirit and power. Some say the monster gets heavier after this ceremony!
The Ogoh-ogoh is then placed on a bamboo frame, so that many people can help to carry it, making wild movements and dancing to bring the monster to life. Groups of people in traditional dress join the parade, taking turns to carry the heavy figures and dancing alongside their Ogoh-ogoh.
Musical groups, gamelan players and dancers in costume often accompany their monster, creating a spectacle of sound and drama.
In keeping with the traditions of Nyepi, Bali will grind to a halt for 24 hours – from 6.00am on Saturday 17 March until 6.00am on Sunday 18 March. This does not happen in Lombok.
As evil spirits are believed to inhabit crossroads, particular attention is paid to each intersection, with the Ogoh-ogoh lurching and dancing wildly in the middle of the road to scare off any other evil spirits lurking there.
The parade travels along Jl Pejanggik, the main street in Mataram, and can involve more than a hundred Ogoh-ogoh and thousands of spectators.
The monsters are then paraded home to their respective Banjar, where they will often be burned in a ritual symbolising the destruction of evil (although these days some of the more elaborate creations are no longer being destroyed).
Most importantly, the Ogoh-ogoh parade has become a multi-cultural event in Lombok, with the whole community joining in the excitement.
If you are planning a trip to Lombok, make sure you leave Bali by 16 March and be sure to book transfers and accommodation well in advance, as many people travel to Lombok and the Gilis during Nyepi.
It’s not unusual to see Muslim groups and Gendang Beleq troupes playing the big drums of Lombok – and even Chinese Lion Dancers –marching and laughing alongside the Hindu groups with their monsters.
If you would like to see the parade, join the crowds in the afternoon on Friday, 16 March at around 2pm along the main street of Mataram (near the Mataram Mall).
The Ogoh-ogoh parade is a fascinating event, full of music, dance, fun and excitement. Spectators are always welcome… be sure to take your camera!
• Don’t forget that Nyepi in Bali is on Saturday, 17 March this year.
Nyepi or the “Day of Silence” takes place from 6.00am on 17 March until 6.00am on 18 March.
Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali will be closed both international and domestic travel and domestic flights between Bali and Lombok will not operate on Nyepi.
Lombok International Airport is open for flights to and from other destinations.
All seaports that connect to Bali are also closed. Public ferries between Padang Bai Harbour (Bali) and Lembar Harbour (Lombok) will not be operating on 17 March, nor will fast boats out of Bali.
If you are planning to come to Lombok, make sure you leave Bali by Friday, 16 March and be sure to book transfers and accommodation well in advance, as many people travel to the Gilis and Lombok during Nyepi.
• Katamaran Resort in Mangsit has some attractive accommodation packages for Nyepi.
The resort is located right on the beachfront and enjoys magnificent views and sunsets across the ocean to Bali. Facilities include a fantastic glass-sided aquarium swimming pool and unique lounging pools on the beachfront, the opulent Soul Bliss Spa, “The Sails” beach restaurant and bar, and “The Kliff” – a stunning restaurant perched above the resort.
Enjoy two nights accommodation including welcome drinks on arrival, daily breakfasts for two at The Sails Restaurant, a BBQ buffet for two persons during your stay, plus free WiFi and more.
Rates for 2 nights start from Rp 4,235,000 in a luxurious 50sqm Premier Room with a private balcony overlooking the beach. Ocean View Suites and Tropical Pool Villa packages are also available. See page 28 for details.
• It’s good to see progress on the revitalisation of Lombok International Airport.
The revamped “drop off zone” is nearing completion and will have an extended seating area as well as a roofed walkway into the departures area.
The exit area of the airport has been dramatically extended with the construction of a spacious covered walkway from the terminal through to the parking area and “pick up zone”.
I Gusti Ngurah Ardita, General Manager of PT Angkasa Pura I LIA Lombok, told reporters that in the coming weeks a Terminal Lounge will be opened on the third floor for all domestic flights.
DON’T MISS THE BAU NYALE FESTIVAL – 6 & 7 MARCH 2018
“Bau Nyale” is one of Lombok’s most important and unique events that attracts thousands of visitors to the south coast every year. Many visitors to Lombok plan their trip to coincide with Bau Nyale.
This year the festival will be held on Tuesday, 6 and Wednesday, 7 March at beautiful Seger Beach, around 5kms to the east of Kuta.
During the festival guests will be entertained by performances such as traditional dancing and music, the election of this year’s “Princess Mandalika”, live theatrical performances, as well as Peresean (traditional stick fighting competitions), live bands, surfing competitions, and more.
In the lead up to the main festival (or Core Event), you can attend a number of fun events in and around Kuta, including:
• Peresean (stick fighting) competitions every day from 1 - 5 March on the Kuta beachfront, starting at 4pm.
• Mandalika Etno Performances (ethnic performances from around the region), on the beachfront at Kuta on 4 March, starting at 7pm.
• Surfing Competition at Seger Beach on 4 March, starting at 8am.
• Mandalika World Music Festival with live music on the beachfront at Kuta on 5 March, starting at 7pm.
• Parade Budaya – a wonderful parade representing Lombok culture and arts with music, dance and colourful costumes. Held along the main street of Praya on 6 March, starting at 4pm.
The ‘Core Event’ takes place on 6 March at Seger Beach and continues all night, culminating with the catching of the nyale sea worms in the early morning hours.
Festival Kulinar with a variety of stalls selling traditional foods will start at Seger Beach from 4pm.
The night is filled with music and performances including traditional theatre and Gendang Beleq (the big drums for which Lombok is famous).
The big night officially opens at 7.30pm and the crowning of Putri Mandalika 2018 (Princess Mandalika contest) takes place at 8pm.
Although it’s possible to drive to the south coast for the event, staying in nearby Kuta is the best way to experience Bau Nyale. It’s a good idea to get there early to secure the best spot from which to watch the performances!
Aruna Senggigi Hotel & Convention recently hosted the 2018 GM Conference of Topotels Hotels & Resorts, which was attended by all General Managers of Topotels properties in Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar.
The GM Conference took place for three days from 25 - 28 February at Aruna in Senggigi.
Topotels is a leading hotel management company in Indonesia with a portfolio that consists of upscale as well as budget hotels.
The company currently operates 22 hotels, with 17 in Indonesia, 1 in Malaysia and 4 in Myanmar. The group is also in discussions to enter the Philippines, Thailand and Laos.
The GM Conference 2018 was timed to coincide with the 6th Anniversary of Topotels Hotels & Resorts, with the theme of “Year of Contribution”, focusing on developing human resources in Indonesia.
The conference looked at ways to improve human resources within the group, particularly how to develop qualified employees with high skills to compete at a global level.
Attending the event were Yonto Wongso, Co-Founder & CEO, and Ren Tobing, Co-Founder & CCO. Topotels Hotels & Resorts also invited Mr. John Safenson and Mr Alfonso as Country Market Manager and Strategic Partnership Manager of Traveloka, as speakers at the event.
AND TRAINS ORPHANS FOR HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
Aruna Senggigi Resort & Convention also commenced its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme at the beginning of 2018, by sharing skills with a group of students from a local orphanage.
Aruna Senggigi is working with around 25 high school age orphans from the local charity, Dharma Laksana Orphanage Foundation, to provide them with free training for the hospitality industry.
The specialised hospitality training programme started on 30 January 2018 and will be held at the resort twice weekly over the next ten weeks.
During the course, the students will be trained in a variety of positions in different departments within the hotel to give them an overview of hotel operations and the different job opportunities available in the hotel industry.
In addition to training in each department, students will also learn basic job skills such as personal presentation and grooming, as well as communication and customer service skills.
The students, who are all orphans from Yayasan Dharma Laksana Foundation, will have the opportunity for work experience in the field by becoming “training staff” at Aruna Senggigi Resort and will experience directly working in the world of tourism during the course.
Indah from Aruna Marketing explained: “Through this programme, Aruna Senggigi Resort & Convention hopes to provide opportunities for young people to be able to develop their potential and have equal opportunity in the world of work, whatever their background.”
The Lombok Collection – the best place for bed and bath linens in Lombok – has just opened its new showroom in Montong.
The bright and spacious showroom is located on the main road in Montong on the left hand side heading south from Senggigi, next to the BRI Bank (and before the Sandik turnoff).
Inside you will find the best range of bedding, linen and towels in Lombok including plush duvet covers and inserts, luxurious 300 thread count sheets, soft and fluffy towels, and much more.
Pure cotton fitted and top sheets are available in all international sizes, with the 300 thread count being the top of the range, while the 200 thread count bedding still offers top quality at a lower price – and is particularly suitable for hotels and villas.
Matching pillows and pillow cases are available in a range of sizes and the showroom also carries mattress and pillow protectors.
The Lombok Collection also sells quality mattresses in twin bed, queen, king and even super king sizes for those who like to sprawl (with linens to fit all sizes).
To celebrate the opening of the new showroom, The Lombok Collection has extended its range to include teak wood beds and frames and matching bedside cabinets in five different styles and four different wood finishes.
There is also a lovely collection of scatter cushions and bed runners in seven attractive colours and four different patterns to add a decorator touch to the bedding.
For the bathroom, there is a wide variety of quality bath and pool towels in seven vibrant colours, in addition to classic white. The range also includes huge bath sheets, face towels, hand towels and bath mats.
The Lombok Collection has earned a solid reputation since it first opened and now supplies many of Lombok’s top hotels and villas. Those clients are delighted by the positive feedback from guests about the quality of their bedding and linens.
Owner, Wayne Sibley, is no stranger to the hospitality industry and is a past hotel owner himself, which led him to identify the need for quality bath and bed products in Lombok.
While there are numerous suppliers in Bali, bed and bath linen suppliers in Lombok are limited. Stores only carry limited stock and most are very expensive. Fortunately, Wayne has sourced the best value products from around Indonesia to stock his showroom.
Wayne is always happy to assist customers in selecting the right products to suit their needs, whether it be outfitting a new hotel from scratch or helping personal shoppers source the best quality products for their homes.
Do drop in to the new showroom soon… you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the quality and very competitive prices!
Qunci Villas hosted their 3rd “Ayam Taliwang Competition” at the resort in Mangsit on Sunday, 25 February 2018.
Lombok’s iconic dish, Ayam Taliwang, is a “must try” dish for visitors to Lombok and is made from chicken (ayam) liberally coated with a spicy sambal sauce and grilled slowly, turning the marinade into a delicious red coating.
Talented chefs from some of Lombok’s top resorts, together with the best Taliwang cooks on the island, competed in the event.
Six different teams represented Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort, Sudamala Suites & Villas, Square Restaurant, Aston Inn Mataram, Golden Palace Hotel, and local eating house, Taliwang Kebon Raja.
A crowd of fascinated guests and tourists gathered to watch the competitors as they worked over the hot grill preparing their dishes in the Qunci garden.
The final dishes were judged by Qunci Resident Chef, Gianluca Viscaglia, and Jed Doble from Foodie Magazine Jakarta.
After sampling all the fiery and beautifully presented dishes, the judges announced the winner, with the team from Square Restaurant in Senggigi winning the 1st place trophy.
Runners-up in the competition were the team from Aston Inn Mataram in 2nd place, and the chefs from Sheraton Senggigi in 3rd place.
The Smiths were unable to conceive children and decided to use a surrogate father to start their family.
On the day the proxy father was to arrive, Mr Smith kissed his wife goodbye and said, “Well, I'm off now. The man should be here soon.”
Half an hour later, just by chance, a door-to-door baby photographer happened to ring the doorbell, hoping to make a sale.
“Good morning, Ma’am,” he said, “I've come to...”
“Oh, no need to explain,” Mrs Smith cut in, embarrassed, “I’ve been expecting you.”
“Have you really?” said the photographer. “Well, that’s good. Did you know babies are my specialty?”
“Well that’s what my husband and I hope! Please come in and have a seat.”
After a moment she asked, blushing, “Well, where do we start?”
“Just leave everything to me,” the photographer said. “I usually try two in the bathtub, one on the couch, and perhaps a couple on the bed. And sometimes the living room floor is fun. You can really spread out there!”
“Bathtub, living room floor?” the wife spluttered. “No wonder it didn’t work out for Harry and me!”
“Well, Ma’am, none of us can guarantee a good one every time. But if we try several different positions and I shoot from six or seven angles, I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the results.”
“My, that’s a lot!” gasped Mrs Smith.
“Ma’am, in my line of work a man has to take his time. I’d love to be in and out in five minutes, but I’m sure you’d be disappointed with that.”
“Don’t I know it,” said Mrs Smith quietly.
The photographer opened his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of his
baby pictures. “This was done on the top of a bus,” he said.
“Oh, my God!” Mrs Smith exclaimed, grasping at her throat.
“And these twins turned out exceptionally well – when you consider their mother was so difficult to work with,” he continued.
“She was difficult?” asked Mrs Smith.
“Yes, I'm afraid so. I finally had to take her to the park to get the job done right. People were crowding around four and five deep to get a good look!”
“In the park?” said Mrs Smith, her eyes wide with amazement.
“Yes,” the photographer replied. “And for more than three hours, too. The mother was constantly squealing and yelling – I could hardly concentrate!”
Mrs Smith leaned forward, “More than three hours?”
“It’s true, Ma’am, yes,” he replied. “Well, if you’re ready, I’ll set up my tripod and we can get to work right away.”
“Tripod?” she whispered.
“Oh yes Ma’am, I need to use a tripod to rest my Canon on. It’s much too big to be held in the hand for long.”