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NEWS

ISSUE 33

NYEPI IN LOMBOK!

LOMBOK'S HIDDEN WATERFALLS

BTDC RECEIVES GRANT FOR LOMBOK

GARUDA EXPANDS BALI - LOMBOK FLIGHTS

NATAS TRAVEL 2009

LOCAL SCENE

BALI BANS OGOH-OGOH PARADE

INDONESIA TO TIGHTEN POLYGAMY LAW

LION AIR TOPS PASSENGER TOTALS

CHANGES TO FOREIGN LAND OWNERSHIP?

HVO MARKETS GILI T

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NYEPI IN LOMBOK!

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.

Nyepi, the Hindu New Year, will be celebrated in Bali on 26 March with the traditional “day of silence”. For 24 hours, from sunset on 25 March until sunset on 26 March, residents of the island are required to stay inside, make as little noise as possible and avoid all light. Balinese Hindus believe that by drawing as little attention to themselves and making it appear as if the island is empty, the evil spirits will pass by without noticing them… an auspicious start to a New Year!

Visitors to the island are likewise required to stay within their hotel and avoid light and noise, which means many people look for a getaway during this time and Lombok, Bali's closest neighbour, is bound to be a favourite choice. Many of our hotels are offering special deals and Nyepi packages, so now is the time to plan your “Nyepi Escape” to the magical island of Lombok.

This year the Ogoh-ogoh parades have been cancelled in Bali, but the Hindu communities in Lombok are busily building and creating these huge papier-mâché figures for our annual Ogoh-ogoh parade through the centre of the city on Nyepi eve, 25 March. Join the crowd in Mataram to witness the awesome spectacle of hundreds of giant monsters and other fantastic creations parading through the city!

To find out more, 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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LOMBOK'S HIDDEN WATERFALLS

The island of Lombok offers travellers a wide selection of stunningly beautiful natural places to visit and has enormous potential for ecotourism. Some of the most popular tours for visitors include trekking through the jungles and rainforests, and visits to the island's beautiful waterfalls.

Sendang Gila and Tiu Kelep waterfalls, near Senaru in Lombok's north, are already well known tourism destinations, as is Jeruk Manis waterfall at Kembang Kuning in East Lombok. Now visitors are starting to discover two very special waterfalls in Central Lombok that, until now, have largely been the hidden domain of local people in the know.

Benang Stokel is located in the village of Aik Berik in Central Lombok, about 27 km east of Mataram and less than one hour's drive from the capital. The area boasts two stunning and separate waterfalls – Benang Stokel and Benang Kelambu – each within trekking distance of each other.

Benang Stokel is the first of the waterfalls and is easily accessed by a short walk from the paved parking area at the start of this national reserve. There is a small entrance fee payable, which helps maintain the park area and the limited camping facilities nearby. There are also small stalls selling snacks and drinks, and friendly young boys who work as unofficial guides and will carry your bags or picnic baskets.

Benang Stokel features two waterfalls falling more than 30 metres down a steep cliff face covered with ferns and jungle vegetation. The waterfall to the left is the higher of the two and is more powerful. The fall on the right side splashes into a small rocky pool at the bottom. Local people have come to these waterfalls for centuries to refresh themselves in the cool and serene atmosphere and to stand under the pounding waters, which are believed to have healing properties.

Benang Stokel is now opening up as an alternative trekking route for people wishing to climb Lombok's famous volcano, Mt Rinjani. Trekking through dense forest, the climb up to the crater rim takes between 6 and 8 hours and offers lots of variety, with the famed Tiara Dewi Anjani waterfall as one of its highlights, as well as the possibility of seeing herds of deer. The area is also home to the rare black Ebony Leaf monkey, orchids, butterflies, vanilla orchids, cocoa and coffee trees. This route has been used for centuries by hunters and local people, and is perfect for trekkers looking for a completely different angle of approach to climbing Rinjani.

After relaxing on one of the berugaks and a cool splash in the water, it is relatively easy to make the trek to the next set of waterfalls, around 30 to 45 minutes away. A small track leads up the incline through the jungle, twisting through the verdant rainforest of the surrounding hills. Although parts of the trek can be arduous, the track is safe and can be navigated by most people. The view of Benang Kelambu at the end is worth every minute of the effort!

Kelambu means “net” in the local Sasak language and refers to the waterfalls, which spread out across the hillside like drapes or nets. There are around five different waterfalls, each falling like veils through the lush ferns and jungle vines that cover the 40 metre high hillside. At the base of these falls, the water splashes on rocks and runs in pretty streams down the hill to the river below. It is an idyllic place to relax, climbing the rocks and sitting under the falls to cool off, letting the water splash gently over you and wash away the stress. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the shade and spend a few hours drinking in the serene beauty of this lovely spot.

Both waterfalls can get a bit crowded on Sundays and public holidays, as they are popular picnic destinations for local families, but during the week the area is a peaceful and enchanting place to visit.

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BTDC RECEIVES GRANT FOR LOMBOK

The Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) have approved a grant of Rp 297 billion (US $25.2 million) for PT Bali Tourism Development Corporation (BTDC) in connection with their ongoing joint venture in Lombok with the Middle East's Emaar Properties LLC. Indonesian lawmakers have made the funds available to keep the 1,175 hectare tourism development in south Lombok on track.

As reported by Bisnis.com, the value of the DPR's grant represents the variance between the fair market value and the book value of the 1,175 hectare parcel of land held by PT BDTC in the Regency of Central Lombok. The land represents the 15% participation of PT BTDC in its joint venture with Emaar Properties.

The land parcel was once owned by the Lombok Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) and held under receivership by the PT Perusahaan Pegelola Aset (PPA). Indonesia's Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani, stated that the fair market value of the land is Rp 557.6 billion (US $47.25 million), while the asset value acceptable to the investor is the book value of Rp 260 billion (US $22 million).

According to the Finance Minister, speaking before Commission XI of the DPR, “The variance of Rp 297.6 billion is being called a 'grant'. This is necessary because any amount in excess of Rp 100 billion can only be expended with the approval of the DPR (House of Representatives).”

Sri Mulyani told the press that the provision of the grant as an incentive to cover the value variance forms a part of the government's policy to attract foreign investors to Nusa Tenggara Barat. “The grant is an incentive given by the government in the form of a discount on the value of the land,” she explained, adding that she hoped the Emaar Properties project would bring other investment linkages which would allow the Lombok project to go ahead.
PT BDTC is the government-owned company that operates the Nusa Dua Complex in South Bali.

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GARUDA EXPANDS BALI - LOMBOK FLIGHTS

National airline, Garuda Indonesia, plans to introduce new flights between Bali and Lombok starting on 1 April 2009.

The new connection between the two islands will operate every day with flights to Lombok departing from Denpasar at 6.35 pm and return flights to Bali departing Mataram at 7.40 pm.

General Manager of Mataram branch, Muhammad Frederik Kasiepo, said that Garuda is committed to giving top services to NTB and Bali to support the islands' tourism industries. The airline will operate Boeing 737 planes on the new route. The Boeing series 300, CFM56-3C1 aircraft have a 3,515 kilometre capacity and can carry up to 110 passengers, with 14 Business Class and 94 Economy Class seats.

The flights have already been given approval from the Director-General of Communication and Air and the Selaparang airport authority. Garuda will be marketing the new route to both international and domestic markets.

Lombok has been waiting for improved air connections between the two islands for some time. The new flights will benefit international visitors arriving late into Bali, especially connecting with flights from Korea, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong. The later connection also allows time for travellers coming from other islands around Indonesia, such as Makassar, Manado, Papua, Jogjakarta and Surabaya, to transfer to Lombok via Bali.

The Bali-Lombok connection is one of 18 new routes planned by Garuda, who are expanding with a range of domestic flights throughout the region. The airline will also introduce four new international flights this year, including Denpasar-Adelaide, Denpasar-Hongkong, Surabaya-Hongkong, and Jakarta-Sanghai-Denpasar-Jakarta-Yogyakarta-Singapore.

The new flights also allow travel agents to offer a range of easy package holidays between islands, particularly the new “JOBALRAM Package” (Jogjakarta, Bali and Mataram).

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NATAS TRAVEL 2009

Lombok was well represented at the NATAS (National Association Travel Agents Singapore) 2009 expo held in the Singapore Expo Hall from 27 February until 1 March, 2009.

Local hotels, Holiday Resort Lombok, Puri Mas Boutique Resorts and Spa, Puri Bunga Hotel, Hotel Vila Ombak, Qunci Villas, Senggigi Beach Hotel and Novotel Resort, in cooperation with the Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia, attended the popular event to market Lombok internationally.

NATAS is a leading industry event for the international travel agency community. These exhibitions attract more 110,000 visitors and bring together outbound travel agents, national tourist organisations, airlines, hotels, car rental, insurance and travel related services for consumers' convenience, to showcase to the public the latest products, packages, trends and destinations in travel.

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LOCAL SCENE

Lucy & James celebrated their wedding
@ uber-stylish Villa Qusia
with a stunning Lombok sunset as the backdrop

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BALI BANS OGOH-OGOH PARADE

Denpasar legislators have announced that they will ban traditional Ogoh Ogoh parades on the eve of Nyepi, Bali's Official Day of Silence. The decision to forbid the raucous merriment which often accompanies the parading of giant papier-mâché floats through the streets of Denpasar was made given the close proximity of local legislative elections with Nyepi celebrations.

The decision to cancel the parades which would otherwise take place on 25 March, the eve before Nyepi, must now be socialised to the hundreds of banjars found in Bali's capital. Denpasar officials are asking that the people of Denpasar refrain from making “both large and small” ogoh-ogoh for this year's celebrations of the Balinese New Year.

Speaking to the press about the decision, Denpasar officials are calling on their Balinese colleagues to forgo the traditional ogoh-ogoh celebration in favour of the more precious task of ensuring the democratic elections process take place without incident.

In the past, Ogoh-Ogoh rivalries between competing villages have resulted in street fights and small scale vandalism. Legislative elections in Bali are set to take place on 9 April, 2009.

The Chief of Public Relations and Protocol for the Denpasar Government, Erwin Suryadarma, told the press that the government is now circulating a letter to the traditional villages of Denpasar explaining the potentially unpopular decision.

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INDONESIA TO TIGHTEN POLYGAMY LAW

Indonesian Muslims contemplating an illicit second, third or fourth marriage could face jail under a proposed bill aimed at tightening the rules for polygamy.

The draft rules being mulled by the country's religion ministry would force Muslim men wanting to take extra wives to get written consent from their existing spouse or spouses, and prove they have the financial means to support them, ministry official Muctar Ilyas told AFP.

“The present wives must sign the letter of consent in front of an official so we know they've not been forced by the husband. We will report men who marry without their wives' consent to the police on fraud charges,” Ilyas said. “Couples must register their marriages in the presence of an authorised religious official. If not, they can be jailed up to three months and fined up to five million rupiah (US $415),” he said.

”Women are usually the ones to suffer in illegal marriages, especially if they have children. Without proper marriage documents, they cannot make claims to their husbands' assets for instance,” he added.
Opinions are strongly divided on the virtues of polygamy in Muslim-majority of Indonesia. Islam allows for men to take up to four wives.

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LION AIR TOPS PASSENGER TOTALS

In 2008, a total of 9.14 million domestic passengers took a commercial flight within Indonesia. The deregulation of commercial aviation in Indonesia has given consumers greater choices and competitive pricing unimaginable just a few years ago.

A recap of passengers carried provided by the Indonesian Department of Transportation shows that Garuda Indonesia is no longer the busiest domestic air carrier, having been displaced by the aggressive newcomer Lion Air, who carried 19.5% more passengers than the state-owned national carrier in 2008. In fact, if the total passengers carried by the Lion Air and its subsidiary Wings Air are combined, the gap over Garuda widens further to 49.7%.

Here's a recap of total domestic passengers carried by domestic Indonesian airlines in 2008, based on figures provided by the Department of Transportation:

Lion Air - 9,147,942, Wing Abadi - 2,328.508, Garuda Indonesia - 7,665,390, Batavia Air - 4,771,272, Sriwijaya Air - 4,272,876, Manadala Airlines - 3,449,218, Merpati Nusantara - 2,477,173, Indonesia AirAsia - 1,503,672, Trigana Air Service - 702,718, Linus Airways - 268,203, Travel Express - 267,371, Riau Airlines - 232,248, Kalstar Aviation- 16,913, Indonesia Air Transport - 7,548.

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CHANGES TO FOREIGN LAND OWNERSHIP?

The Jakarta Post reported on 18 February 2009, that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered the National Land Agency and members of his cabinet to “conduct an in-depth study” into the feasibility and effects of changing current laws to allow foreigners the direct ownership of a home in Indonesia.

Current law explicitly forbids land and property ownership by non-Indonesians. In the past, efforts to liberalise those rules to allow foreign land ownership have been thwarted by the Indonesian Constitutional Court, who have consistently ruled such measures would violate the 1945 Constitution.

Hinting a change to the current property ownership rules could be contemplated, President Yudhoyono said, “The government has no objection to this, provided it will benefit the people and make the country's climate more conducive to foreign investment.” The President's comments were made at the inauguration of 114,000 units of low-cost housing in Lamongan, East Java.

The President spoke in response to questions raised by members of the Indonesian Real Estate Association (REI) during a “Presidential Dialogue” held with housing developers and homeowners.

Teguh Satria, the Chairman of REI, has called for a 70-year home ownership facility for foreigners, as a means of making Indonesian real estate competitive with ownership rights available to foreigners in competing markets in the region, specifically in Singapore.

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HVO MARKETS GILI T

Hotel Vila Ombak hosted a special “FAM Trip” (familiarisation trip) on 20 and 21 February to introduce visiting travel agents to Gili Trawangan and the island's premier resort.

Vila Ombak invited 43 travel industry professionals to the island, most of who own or manage their travel agencies in Java. Special guests included the Heads of the Department of Culture and Tourism from both Bogor and Bekasi, in Java. Although some of the agents had visited Lombok in the past, this was the first visit to Gili Trawangan for all of the participants.

The resort hosted a gala dinner for 62 guests on Friday, 20 February, attended by local television crews and journalists, and Pak Haris from the regional Department of Culture and Tourism. On Saturday, the travel agents were treated to a tour of the three Gili islands by glass bottom boat so they could see the snorkelling and diving attractions of the Gilis. In the afternoon, guests participated in range of water sports including a scuba diving trial courtesy of Vila Ombak Dive Academy, banana boat rides, snorkelling and canoeing, and a trek up the hill to watch the sunset over Bali.

By the end of the two days, firm friendships had been formed and the group demonstrated how much they had enjoyed the visit, saying they were so impressed that they would make a commitment to push Vila Ombak and Gili Trawangan as destinations for tourists from Java. At the sumptuous farewell dinner held on the beachfront, the spokesman said, “We are happy and surprised, and proud to have taken part in this trip. Hotel Vila Ombak has made us feel like special guests. The food, the activities and entertainment, and especially this last night… Fantastic!”

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