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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.

Christmas is now just a couple of weeks away and Lombok is gearing up for its festive “high season” with wonderful accommodation packages and festive season dinners to make your Lombok Christmas memorable. Turn to page 10 for a complete summary of the best Christmas deals from around the island to plan your special celebrations.

With Issue 27, The Lombok Guide celebrates its first anniversary – we've now been promoting Lombok around the world for one year! The Guide started as a simple, 24-page black and white paper one year ago and has grown to double that size over the past twelve months and now incorporates colour pages, while still offering the latest news and information about Lombok, as well as economical black and white advertising… keeping true to our philosophy that “everyone can afford to advertise with The Lombok Guide!”

Our growth and success is due to our commitment to promoting our beautiful island paradise to the world and to the support of our advertisers, who not only promote their own businesses but join with us in our team effort of introducing Lombok to the rest of the world. Thank you to all our advertisers for your enthusiasm and support over the past twelve months!

And a big “thank you!” to all our readers, who make our paper so popular. We wish everyone – readers and clients – a very merry, safe and memorable Christmas in Lombok!

To find out all the latest news and happenings, pick up a copy of The Guide from the locations listed on page 30 or visit us at www.thelombokguide.com and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself… like thousands of others, you'll be enchanted!

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Christmas is a time for sharing good food and good times with family and friends, and Lombok's hotels and restaurants have put together some fabulous offers to make your Christmas memorable. In this issue, we bring you the best Christmas deals from around the island to make your holiday extra special!

THE SENGGIGI BEACH HOTEL, a large landscaped property on Senggigi Beach which also comprises the luxurious Pool Villa Club for exclusive holidays, as well as a range of garden and beachside bungalows, has great value packages for festive holidays. Stay in a Garden View room and enjoy the deluxe Christmas Eve Gala Buffet on the beachfront, or the “Table d'Hote” Christmas Dinner at the stylish Beachcomber's Brasserie on Christmas night, plus breakfast, from Rp 900 000 per couple. Christmas Eve Gala Buffet on the beachfront, with canapés, pre-dinner drink and a huge festive buffet, is Rp 275 000++, while the Christmas Dinner “Table d'Hote” at Beachcomber's is Rp 250 000++ for 5-courses, with Roast Turkey, Norwegian Salmon Fillet, Duck L'Orange, Australian Beef Tenderloin and other delicious festive season choices.

THE SHERATON SENGGIGI RESORT, set in beautiful gardens right on the beachfront of Senggigi Bay, this 5-star resort has a range of festive season packages starting from Rp 3 325 000 for 3 nights, including dinner for two persons. Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner, including Smoked Salmon, Fresh Seafood, Baby Spatchcock, Grilled Lamb Rack, Roast Turkey and much more, is Rp 350 000++ per person. Be entertained by a local Children's Choir singing Christmas Carols. Christmas Day has a full programme for families, including Santa Claus and prizes for the children, a real Gingerbread House and Pizza Cooking Classes to keep the kids entertained. Christmas Dinner, at Rp 350 000++, features a delicious 5-course set menu at Kebun Anggrek Restaurant, with live acoustic music.

THE HOLIDAY RESORT, a beautiful property on the beachfront in Mangsit – five minutes north of Senggigi – with lovely gardens and swimming pool, is offering families 2 nights/3 days in a Garden Chalet for just Rp 1 950 000, for 2 adults and 2 children. The package includes a special set dinner, airport transfers, breakfasts, pony rides for the kids, free use of the fitness centre and more. The Holiday Resort Christmas Eve Dinner is always great value and this year features a “Christmas Buffet Carvery Night” on 24 December at the poolside. Enjoy roast turkey and an exclusive menu with loads of festive fare, accompanied by live entertainment, for just Rp 135 000++ per person.

QUNCI VILLAS AND QUNCI POOL VILLAS, two ultra-stylish properties on the beach at Mangsit with two equally good beachfront restaurants, Quah and Quali, have special festive Christmas Dinners at either restaurant for $45++ each, including cocktails and bottle of wine for two. Savour the tastes created by the talented Qunci chefs, with delicious 4-course menus with choices including Pan-fried Swordfish and Scallop, Island Spiced BBQ Chicken Breast, Grilled Beef with BBQ Orange Marinade, and more.

SQUARE RESTAURANT, Lombok's best fine dining restaurant located in the centre of Senggigi, tempts diners with a choice of gourmet Christmas Dinner menus from Executive Chef, Wayan (ex Mozaic) at Rp 300 000++ per person. The mouth-watering six course dinners each feature Amuse Bouche, Foie Gras and tropical sorbets, with choices of Marinated Ocean Scallops, Pepper-crusted Beef Tataki, Grilled Salmon, King Prawns, Tenderloin of Beef, Roast Turkey Breast, plus Square's delicious Fallen Chocolate Cake or Orange & White Chocolate Souffle for dessert.

RESTAURANT TAMAN, Senggigi's most popular restaurant, with relaxed garden dining and comfortable balcony dining overlooking the Senggigi strip, is always a good choice for Christmas. Traditional Christmas Dinner is available for Christmas Eve, as well as Christmas Lunch and Dinner. Dine on Roast Turkey with Cranberry Sauce, or Roast Lamb with Mint Sauce and Gravy, accompanied by roast vegetables and all the trimmings for just Rp 120 000++. The three-course menu includes smoked salmon or prawn cocktail entrées, plus a choice of Home-made Apple Pie with Cream and Ice Cream or Christmas Pudding with Brandy Butter Sauce. Price includes a complimentary glass of red or white house wine to accompany your meal. Celebrate a real Christmas with all your best-loved traditional fare in delightful surroundings!

THE BEACH HOUSE on Gili Trawangan, with its perennially popular beachfront bar and restaurant, is offering a “Traditional Buffet Style Christmas Lunch and Dinner” on Christmas day. Traditional Christmas fare includes Honey Glazed Imported Leg Ham with all the trimmings, Roast Turkey with Traditional Stuffing and CranberrySauce, Roast Potatoes and Baked Vegetables with Gravyand White Sauce, and Home-made ChristmasPudding with Brandy Sauce. The TraditionalChristmasBuffet is unbeatable value at just Rp 100 000 ++ per person. Choose from a wide selection of beers, cocktails, spirits and imported wines from the special temperature-controlled wine cellar to complete your Christmas feast.

HOTEL VILLA OMBAK, on Gili Trawangan, does Christmas and New Year in grand style once again, starting with “Sweet Christmas on the Beach” on Christmas Eve. Enjoy the Festive Season Buffet, created by the award-winning Vila Ombak chefs, on the beachfront for $55++ per person (children half price). Price includes pre-dinner cocktail, live entertainment, visit from Santa and gifts, and an extravagant buffet selection of festive fare.

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Every year at Lingsar temple, a very special war takes place. This isn't a riot between warring groups and it isn't a real war, although the name “Perang Topat” literally translates as “war of the topat”. Topat are small parcels of rice, which are wrapped in woven coconut leaves and boiled – a delicious local alternative to boiled rice. In this friendly and fun war, the communities involved with the temple make a mock war, hurling the topat at each other amidst much fun and laughter.

Lingsar, located about 10 kms northwest of Mataram, is renowned for its unique temple complexes, especially the ancient Hindu temple called Pura Gaduh and the nearby Kedaliq, which is considered sacred to local Sasaks. Lingsar temple is the only temple where Hindus and Muslims on Lombok gather to worship and pray together. The temple has been associated with fertility, irrigation and rice for centuries and is an important link to the island's animist roots. The annual ceremony, based around agriculture and rice farming, features a ritualised war with rice cakes, Perang Topat, which also serves as an offering to the Gods.

Built around 1714, Pura Lingsar was originally based on the prevailing animist beliefs of the time, and some of the original animist statues remain today. While the main courtyards of Pura Suranadi and Pura Lingsar symbolically unite the deities of Bali and Lombok, the second courtyards, called Kemaliq, contain sacred pools and unique altars of rocks reminiscent of ancient megalithic worship. These rocks, brought down from the top of the volcano and dressed in ceremonial cloths, are believed to contain the spirits of the ancestors of the land and are venerated in the temple.

The ritual of Perang Topat has been performed at Lingsar Temple for as long as anyone can remember; every year at the seventh full moon of the Sasak calendar. This year the event took place on 12 December. The ceremony commences with several days of preparation beforehand by local communities, both Hindu and Muslim. On the day of the full moon, late in the afternoon, everyone gathers at the temple complex to participate in the ritual known as Pujawali, a ceremony which re-affirms the belief that everything in the universe is God's creation and will go back to God eventually.

The ceremony starts with an elaborate parade of the offerings that have been prepared by the community – flowers, fruits, rice cakes of all colours and varieties, and other offerings are carried in colourful towers on the heads of the women, who are dressed in beautiful coloured kebayak (traditional lace blouses) and fine sarongs. The ritual includes prayers and chanting, and traditional music and dancing, after which the offerings are carried in a circle three times around the area of the temple and Kemaliq, and then blessed by temple priests. Thus the people pray for fertility and prosperity, for good rains and a bountiful harvest, both physically and spiritually.

The serious part of the ritual over, the event then concludes with a mock rice war: Perang Topat. Tall bamboo poles with the woven rice parcels tied to them are shaken and the topat that fall are gleefully grabbed by the crowd.

Offerings are raided and others pull hidden topat from their clothes. Two sides are drawn as everyone, adults and children alike, starts throwing the topat at each other. It's a hilarious sight, seeing everyone throwing the topat as far as they can into the opposing crowd and then scrabbling on the ground to grab at fallen topat, before someone else can grab it. The air is filled with good-natured yells and laughter and, after the solemnity of the holy ritual, it's a good way to release the tension and bring the community together in a fun way, before they return to their homes to eat the left over topat and food from the offerings.

If you have a chance to join in the ceremony at Lingsar, it's a great way to witness a fun, authentic Lombok event. The atmosphere at the temple is awesome and the display of offerings and traditional performances is well worth the visit. The local community is used to having foreigners visit their ceremonies and the crowd will make you feel welcome. Just watch out for flying topat – they pack a punch and are surprisingly indestructible!

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The Holiday Resort recently held a private function on Saturday, November 29, called “Leisure Gathering with Holiday Resort Lombok”. To mark the day, the management invited more than 100 corporate, Government and travel industry participants to the event.

The first aim of the gathering was to show that Holiday Resort is committed to the service and satisfaction of its clients, as is stated in their slogan: “Committed to Serve You Better”.

In addition to fostering strong relationships with government and the travel industry, the gathering was also a chance to show clients the Resort's new room renovations, the range of outlets and facilities available at the Resort, and to launch Holiday Resort's Christmas and New Year programmes. Mr Stefan Leu, General Manager, and the management team played hosts during the event.

Stefan Leu, who has been a long term resident of Lombok and has managed both the Senggigi Beach Hotel and the Holiday Resort in the past, has returned to Lombok to take up his position as General Manager at the Resort once again, after a couple of years away from Lombok. In his welcoming address, Stefan said, “Welcome to Holiday Resort, Lombok, This is our special event, our Leisure Gathering, and this is also to show to you that we back on line.”

Since his return, Stefan has initiated plans to re-energise the Resort and revamp the flagship restaurant. He also wants to make the Holiday Resort a more tourist-friendly hotel where guests feel like they are at home.

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The government plans to extend the Visit Indonesia Year 2008 programme to 2009 following on from its “successful” programme in 2008.

”At first many doubted the programme's success, yet we have set a new record in our tourism history,” Culture and Tourism Minister, Jero Wacik, said.

That record is to have received 6.4 million foreign tourist arrivals, to generate around US $6 billion in foreign exchange income, which the country is on track to meet. According to an official report from the Central Statistics Agency, there were 4.3 million foreign tourist arrivals in the first nine months of the year. Although this number is more than 2 million short of the program's target, Jero said he was convinced the full-year target would be met, as the tourist arrivals usually increase in the last quarter of the year.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has now projected that the number of foreign tourists to Indonesia in 2009 would increase by 6.2 percent, to 6.7 million visitors.

The statement was made by the Ministry`s Director General of Marketing, Sapta Nirwandar, when disclosing the result of the 2009 Tourism Marketing Working Meeting in Jakarta recently.

”Three different targets for the number of foreign tourists to Indonesia in 2009 had been set. The first is an optimistic target of a growth of 6.2% over the 2008 figure, the second is a moderate target with a 4% growth, and the third is a pessimistic target of the same number as this year's foreign tourists,” Sapta said.

Sapta said while the United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimated the growth of tourism in the Asia Pacific region would decline by 4.3 percent, in view of the impact of the global financial crisis, it was hoped Indonesia would not be so seriously affected by the crisis.

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Tempo Interactive has quoted the President of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Robert Kobeh Gonzales, as calling on the European Union to lift its blacklisting of Indonesian aviation, which bars all Indonesian-registered aircraft from flying within European airspace.

Insisting that Indonesian has improved flight safety standards, pilots skills and air traffic management, Gonzales said, “I hope the union will be stopping it (the blacklisting) soon.”

Gonzales also praised the transparency of Indonesian aviation authorities by publishing the results of ICAO audits on government websites. Gonzales explained: “Not every country does this. Transparency is important.”

Gonzales assured the Indonesian authorities that they were taking the necessary steps to improve flight safety and urged the rapid passage of the new aviation safety bill.

Saying he was amazed by the improvements made by Indonesia, he cited the increase in the number of flight inspectors and new air traffic controllers.

In the same article, the CEO of Mandala Airlines, Warwick Brady, blamed the EU blacklisting as having cost his airline around 3,000 passengers.

“The ban forbids foreigners from flying with Indonesian airlines,” complained Brady. Brady also revealed that a deal that would have seen Mandala fly thousands of Indonesian employees of Total Exploration & Production was scuttled by the presence of the EU ban.

Brady branded the European Union as “wrong” for banning all Indonesian airlines. Mandala Airlines recently received a letter from the Director of the Air Transportation Directorate of the European Union, Daniel Calleja, who indicated he was pleased with the progress made by Brady's airline.

Brady added: “Mandala can meet the standards, as it has been audited by various international institutions. Mandala has also completed an external audit, carried out by foreign institutions Airbus, Boeing, Kenyon, and Altara-Australia.”

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Seen in Mangsit

Modern Lombok Cable Connector

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Bali custom's officials have busted a huge racket involving tens of thousands of cigarette packets with counterfeit excise stickers. The fraud, potentially costing the government billions in tax revenue, was uncovered by customs officials at Ngurah Rai Airport who have apprehended four suspects and are seeking another man, believed to be from Malang, East Java.

As reported by The Jakarta Post, authorities began to uncover the case when customs officials discovered cigarettes circulating in West Bali with either no excise stamps or with stamps that were counterfeit. Undercover officers purchased the bootleg cigarettes, managing to trace the criminal ring through the Jembrana Regency to cigarette production facilities in Malang and Jember.

In all, more than 70,000 packs of cigarettes and 30 rolls of forged excise stickers have been confiscated in raids carried out during the operations. Officials are blaming the surge in illegal cigarettes on the recycling of used cigarette machines used to produce contraband smokes.

The government of Indonesia reaps US $4.7 billion each year in tobacco excise tax.

In further crackdowns, Bali's customs and excise officers also recently conducted raids on Bali Moon – a popular brand of local liqueurs and alcoholic drinks. According to The Jakarta Post, those raids netted 4,000 liters of undocumented alcohol and 3,500 liters of liqueurs and vodka, seized for failing to have the required documentation.

The press report says that the company has been put under temporary custom's seal and fined Rp 660 million (US $55,500).

Bambang Wahyudi, the Chief of Ngurah Rai's customs and excise office, warned, “I hope local liqueur producers do not run from their responsibility to pay the excise because their products are more marketable now, with the difficulties in importing liqueur.”

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The Indonesian Minister of Agriculture, Anton Apriyanto, has issued a formal regulation officially declaring Bali as rabies infected, with effect from 1 December, 2008.

According to Department of Agriculture sp[okesman, Tjeppy D Soedjana, the ruling marks the first time in history that Bali has lost its “rabies-free” status.

The Minister's decree was issued after four deaths occurred in Bali between September and November 2008 following dog bites. According to Tjeppy, the deaths occurred in South Kuta (Ungasan), Kedonganan (Jimbaran) and Kuta, with two fatalities definitely confirmed to be linked to the rabies virus. Although the disease has thus far been limited to these three villages, the Government has declared the entire island at risk due to the lack of natural barriers and the free-commerce between all the different regions of the island.

The Governor of Bali has issued an additional decree temporarily banning the import or export of dogs, cats, monkeys or other animals; declaring the island under official quarantine until further notice.

According to Tjeppy, as of 4 December 2008, a total of 110 dogs have been vaccinated in Bali and 196 stray dogs or “Bali street dogs” suspected to be infected with the disease have been culled as part of the island’s effort to isolate and eradicate the disease.

The government has been assisted in its vaccination program by two locally-based animal care groups - Yudisthira Foundation and Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA).

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