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Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok's complete tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every two weeks and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island.

If you are lucky enough to be in Lombok over the weekend of 20 and 21 June, be sure to get tickets for the Lombok International Dance Championships. The dance extravaganza, held in the ballroom at Santosa Villas and Resort in Senggigi, is an event not to be missed with an international cast of dance champions from around the world competing in a glittering evening of stunning costumes and superb dancing. See our advertorial on page 10 for full details.

In this issue we look at the Lombok-Malaysian connection, particularly our under-promoted direct flights from Lombok to Kuala Lumpur. The fast and cheap flights by Merpati Airlines offer an exotic combination of destinations to travellers and are a great alternative to Singapore visa runs. Just as important, Lombok offers an exciting holiday experience for those living in Malaysia. Read our article on page 22 to see how Lombok's businesses are working to strengthen our Malaysian ties.

Disturbing news this week from Bali about the number of deaths related to consumption of the locally-brewed fermented rice wine called Arak. A total of 25 people have died from drinking methanol-contaminated Arak so far and dozens have fallen gravely ill. Arak is made and sold locally in both Bali and Lombok and is a cheap alternative to local spirits. It is often used in cocktails in bars and in local drinks called “Arak Attack” and similar.

We at The Lombok Guide urge all visitors and residents to avoid Arak and Arak-based drinks until this problem has been resolved… and wish you a safe and happy stay on our beautiful island.

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Lombok Guide from the locations listed on page 32 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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What do international dancing championships and a tropical island have in common? Although they are not two things that would normally go hand-in-hand, over the past few years the island of Lombok has become an important destination in the world dancing arena.

Residents and visitors now have the chance to witness this spectacular world-class event taking place in Lombok on 20 and 21 June in the ballroom at Santosa Villas and Resort in Senggigi. Dance champions from around the world will compete in Lombok for a total prize pool of US $7,500.

The startling combination is the brain-child of Mr Marcel De Rijk, world-renowned ballroom dancer, Vice President of the World Dance Council and international adjudicator, who also owns the delightful Puri Mas Boutique Resorts in Lombok.

After years of teaching dance in Lombok and of bringing international dance stars to the island for special appearances, Marcel was responsible for organising the first Lombok International Dance Championships in June 2008. His popularity in dance circles was evident, with top international dance couples from more than 15 countries and an international panel of judges and adjudicators made up of 14 members from 11 different countries coming to Lombok for the event.

At the first-ever Lombok International Dance Championships, the audience was treated to a magnificent evening of world class ballroom and Latin American dance performances in June 2008.The spellbinding event was held at Santosa Villas and Resort, with hundreds of spectators attending the finals of the Championships, after two days of qualifying competitions.

Performances by Latin American dance masters, Evgeny Ryupin and Yana Pokrovskaya from Moscow, as well as 2008 World Championship Finalists, Roberto Villa and Morena Colagrego from Italy, were highlights of the event; although it was almost impossible to choose favourites from the many talented dancers present.

Evgeny Ryupin and Yana Pokrovskaya return to Lombok again this year to wow the crowds once more with their fabulous performances, together with several couples from Thailand and China, as well as ten dance (ballroom and Latin) champions from Kazakhstan. International Adjudicators include Espen Salberg, Ratna De Rijk and Walter Wat, together with Pak Soenarko from the Indonesian Ballroom Dance Council.

Qualifying and elimination competitions will take place at the ballroom on Saturday 20 June and the finals will be showcased on Sunday, 21 June. The final championships take place in a gala event on Sunday night, with a special buffet dinner for guests before the spell-binding evening of spectacular dance performances. Spectators are able to watch the finals during the day on Sunday and to join the glittering Championships in the evening, starting with the buffet dinner at 6pm.

The Lombok International Championships is a spectacular event, unlike anything usually seen in Indonesia, and a wonderful opportunity for visitors and those living in Lombok to witness international dance at its best.

Special “Tropical Holiday and Dance Event” accommodation packages are available from Puri Mas Boutique Resorts and Spa, event hosts, and from major sponsor, Santosa Villas and Resort.

Tickets are available from the locations listed below or, for accommodation bookings and information, contact Puri Mas Boutique Resorts & Spa Mangsit Beach by phoning 0370 693 831.

Tickets Available From: Puri Mas Boutique Resorts & Spa Mangsit Beach | Mirasa Cake Shop Cakra
International Laundry Cakra | Era Baru Soft Furnishings Cakra

+62 370 693 831


Main Sponsors: Puri Mas Boutique Resorts & Spa | Dinas Budaya dan Pariwisata, Lombok
Santosa Villas and Resort (sponsorship of Ballroom facility)

International Coordinator: Mr Marcel De Rijk, Vice President of the World Dance Council
Organisers: IDI – International Dansa Indonesia and Department of Tourism (Dinas Budaya dan Pariwisata Provinsi)
Endorsed by: Indonesia Ballroom Dance Council and World Dance Council
Adjudicators: International panel of adjudicators licensed by the World Dance Council

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Newly opened in Kerandangan is the lovely, secluded Villa Campi Sorga. Tucked away behind screening walls are three gorgeous Balinese-style villas in lovingly-tended landscaped gardens full of flowers and tropical plants.
Two of the villas are 2 bedroom family villas, perfect for even a large family, with each room separated from the other and individual bathrooms. The huge marble terraces provide plenty of space for lounging and there is a small kitchenette with fridge and dining essentials. The one bedroom villas are separated by a dividing wall and are ideal for friends travelling together.

Each of the villas is set apart from the others, providing privacy and a sense of spaciousness. In the centre is a sparkling two-tiered swimming pool with views of the green hills rising behind. Dolphins cavort and fountains spray water into the pool, which has a deep level for adults and a shallow lower level for the children.

The villas have 6 full time staff, including a cook and a fully equipped kitchen for specially prepared meals. Guests can book one room, several rooms or the whole villa which can easily accommodate 12 – 14 people in comfort. Villa Campi Sorga is going to be very popular, so take advantage of the soft opening specials available now! www.villacampisorga.com

The Senggigi Plaza is becoming more interesting these days, with new businesses opening over the past couple of months and filling shops that have been vacant for years. Achi Acha Boutique is one such new business which opened a short while ago and is the only boutique in Lombok retailing original designer label items. Achi Acha has a great range of fashionable handbags and purses by Guess, together with a small selection of Guess shoes and sexy lingerie.

Although Indonesia is the land of copy watches, the boutique has a great range of original designer watches for both men and women, with stylish designs of everything from diving watches to diamante encrusted evening watches.

If you're looking for an original fashion statement or a special gift, hop down to Senggigi Plaza. The boutique is located in the corner, alongside House of Pearls. And even though these are original designer products, prices are much lower than in the west… great value and a first in Lombok!

We had the opportunity to visit Hotel Tugu Lombok last weekend and are blown away by this newest addition to up-market accommodation in Lombok. The magnificent property sits on manicured lawns right on the edge of Pantai Sire in North Lombok, and alongside the world-class Kosaido Country Club golf course.

Eclectic buildings and jaw-dropping architecture set Tugu in a class of its own. 15 metre statues of the rice Goddess, Dewi, adorn the main restaurant, a miniature Buddhist temple houses the sumptuous spa, and every room, nook and cranny is furnished with antiques and collectibles from around Lombok and Indonesia.

While there are three different types of accommodation available, we are in love with the Baghavad Gita Villas. The seven luxurious villas, surrounded by private gardens, each have their own private plunge pool set on the lawns overlooking the perfect white sand beach. Soaring ceilings, romantic canopied four-poster beds, Indonesian antiques and exquisite furnishings all serve to transport guests to another world and another era in Indonesia's gracious past. Expensive? Of course! Worth it? Every rupiah! Indulge yourself… www.tuguhotels.com/lombok

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What lonely women want, what adults get up to… Lombok's local Sasak singers are getting in trouble for suggesting answers.

The popular music of the Sasak people in Lombok is said to have undergone a revival in recent years, with hundreds of new VCD/DVD titles appearing in both pop and dangdut styles, while the “earthy” nature of some of it has seen the local branch of the Independent Broadcasting Commission (Komisi Penyiaran Independen (KPI)) ban some of its performance or playback on television and radio.

The KPI collected 700 Sasak songs, examined a sample of 300, and finally decided that 13 titles were not fit to be heard, because of their vulgarity and violating of religious norms regarding gambling and drinking.

The NTB branches of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) and the Indonesian Churches' Association (PGRI) both supported the decision to ban the songs and performances.

Badrun AM of the KPID in Mataram said he was concerned that small children in Sasak villages were familiar with a line from the song Ndek Kembe-Kembe (”No Problem”), the line being inak lek bawak, amak lek atas (“woman underneath, man on top”), and they sometimes asked about the meaning of this.

Another lyric he said included the phrase “I gamble with money I earned from my own sweat”, and he worried that this was justifying and encouraging gambling.

Several songs had sexually suggestive titles like “Bebalu Melet Besimbut” (meaning, more or less - “widow wants to get under the covers”), he said, while others glorified drinking alcohol, such as “Bowos Lalok”, “bowos” meaning “drunk”.

Badrun went on to say that the KPI appreciated Sasak culture and did not want to stifle its creativity, but there were limits and, as Sasak people's identification with Islam and its rules about decency are well-known, this has to be guarded.

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On 28 May, a special delegation of travel agents and media touched down at Selaparang Airport for the first time, as part of an intensive campaign to strengthen tourism ties between Malaysia and Lombok.

Merpati Airlines has been offering direct international flights between Lombok to Kuala Lumpur for some time now but travellers have been slow to pick up on this international connection. At present there are only two direct international flights to and from Lombok: Malaysia, with Merpati Airlines, and Singapore, flying Silk Air (a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines).

In November 2008, The Lombok Guide visited Pak Junaidi, GM of Merpati Airlines in Kuala Lumpur and presented him with our international colour magazines and posters, to help agents in Kuala Lumpur promote Lombok to their Malaysian clients. At the time, Pak Junaidi expressed his enthusiasm for promoting and growing the international flights between KL and Lombok but lamented the lack of information available about Lombok. He was grateful for the magazines and posters, as no agencies had any printed promotional materials to offer prospective tourists. The Lombok Guide paper has been distributed to KL via Merpati Airlines every two weeks since then.

Pak Junaidi also discussed the Malaysian travellers' lack of knowledge about Lombok and how our island is viewed by Malaysians. “Unfortunately, there is a negative perception of Lombok in Malaysia,” he said, “because there are no good publications to inform people about Lombok and not many Malaysians have visited there. The people here only know it is an island from where many workers (TKI) for our plantations come, and also many pembantu (housekeepers) migrate to Malaysia from Lombok. But often there are problems with these workers and Lombok people have a reputation for kidnapping Malaysian girls and taking them to Lombok to marry!”

Earlier this year, Marcel Navest, Chairman of the Lombok Hotels Association also visited Malaysia and met with Pak Junaidi in Kuala Lumpur to discuss promoting Lombok as a destination to the hundreds of thousands of Malaysians who visit Indonesia every year.

Thus a cooperation between the Lombok Hotels Association and Merpati Airlines in Kuala Lumpur and Mataram was formed and, on 28 May, twenty eight of the top Malaysian travel agents, together with 6 Malaysian journalists and media, arrived in Lombok for their first ever “FAM Trip” (Familiarisation Trip).

The group were greeted with a special welcome ceremony on arrival at the airport and then transferred to Senggigi, where they stayed at Santosa Villas and Resort, Senggigi Beach Hotel and Holiday Resort in Mangsit. Their full itinerary of events and sightseeing included special excursions to shopping villages and places of interest, while other members of the group toured and played golf at GEC Rinjani Country Club and Kosaido Golf Club.

On their first day the group enjoyed lunch at the beachfront restaurant at Puri Mas Boutique Resort in Mangsit, before a table top meeting with hotel owners and managers at the Santosa. Later that evening, they were treated to a sumptuous dinner at Holiday Resort.

On the second day the group split into two, with one group playing golf and enjoying lunch at Rinjani Country Club while the other carried out hotel inspections around Senggigi before transferring to Hotel Vila Ombak for lunch and quick look at Gili Trawangan.

The group then met up for an inspection of Kosaido Golf Course, followed by a beachfront dinner at the luxurious Oberoi hotel, in north Lombok.

The next day, two teams again split up to take a shopping tour of the city courtesy of ASITA, while the other group sampled the golfing and had lunch at Kosaido Golf Course.

Despite the full itinerary, all the agents were very enthusiastic about Lombok and looking forward to visiting our island again soon. One journalist was so enthralled by Gili Trawangan, he “jumped ship” while visiting Vila Ombak and elected to stay on the island for longer.

“This is nothing like what we expected,” they said when we met them at the Oberoi on Saturday night. “Lombok is absolutely beautiful… even better than Bali!”

With happy smiles and friendly waves, the thrilled agents and media boarded their Merpati flight back to Kuala Lumpur, now armed with first-hand accounts of Lombok to share with their friends and clients in Malaysia. They have since sent emails to the Lombok Hotels Association, raving about what an exciting destination Lombok is and promising that we will be seeing more Malaysian tourists this year.

Merpati Airlines flies between Lombok and Kuala Lumpur (with a short, efficient transit in Surabaya) every day. The budget-priced flight compares favourably to flights from Lombok to Singapore and there is inexpensive one-day visa processing at the Indonesian Embassy in KL, making the destination ideal for “visa runs”.

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As reported on balidiscovery.com, contaminated local rice wine or “arak” has been linked to a number of deaths and scores of disabling injuries recently. Alcohol poisoning in Bali is being blamed for the death of 25 people and the hospitalisation of dozens of others.

Authorities first became aware of a problem following a party on 23 May 2009, at which a punch made of Pepsi Blue, fruit juice and two bottles of locally produced arak api were consumed to celebrate a friend's birthday. Shortly after, partygoers became highly intoxicated and nauseous, with several losing consciousness. The victims where rushed to the Denpasar Sanglah General Hospital where an initial 12 young people died from what medical authorities cite as a high concentration of alcohol and ethanol.

The mixture of alcohol and ethanol combined to form a highly toxic substance akin to formaldehyde, a toxic chemical used to preserve human corpses. Among those still hospitalised are a number of young people listed in critical condition and some who have suffered blindness and kidney failure.

Police have traced some of the lethal arak to a local producer, closed the production facility and apprehended the owner and workers of the distillery for further interrogation. Police have also launched crackdowns on street side warungs where home-made arak is known to be sold.

On 30 May, the circle of those killed by the contaminated arak grew by two, with 59-year-old Englishman, Alan Colin, and a 31 year old Indonesian, Bernadus Darmawan, both of Canggu, falling victim. Both men became ill after drinking arak and died a short time later.

According to the Bali Post the continuing stream of people hospitalised with alcohol poisoning have refused to cooperate with police in telling where they purchased the illegal beverage. Meanwhile, families of the dead victims have refused to allow autopsies to be performed which might provide more information to the authorities investigating the case.

The inability to isolate a single brand of affected arak has caused some health workers to urge absolute avoidance from consuming the popular drink, readily available on the island, including its sale at Bali's airport and all local supermarkets.

The methanol-laced rice wine is now linked to at least 25 deaths, including four foreigners. The four foreign nationals - two Brits, an American and a Dutch citizen - reportedly imbibed methanol-tainted arak in Bali or on the nearby island resort of Gili Trawangan.

Post-mortem tests performed at Sanglah Hospital have confirmed the presence of methanol and a range of medical conditions consistent with methanol poisoning, including blood clots to the brain, lesions on mucus membranes and swelling of internal organs. Among the more critically affected survivors of the methanol poisoning are cases of blindness, nerve damage and kidney failure.

The Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association in Bali (PHRI) have issued a warning to avoid all illegally produced alcohol. Association Secretary, Ferry Markus, said visitors to Bali must be reminded not to consume illegally produced arak.

Markus also expressed concern that a series of raids being conducted by customs officials on local hotels and restaurants in which internationally branded alcohol is being confiscated due to counterfeit import stamps may be inadvertently contributing to the consumption of illegally produced local alcohol containing methanol.

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Sweeping raids conducted by Customs and Excise officials (Bea Cukai) on Bali hotels and restaurants are being roundly criticised as heavy-handed and misguided by tourism officials and tourism business owners.

The Bali Tourism Service (DIPARDA) is urging the Bali Customs and Excise office to halt sweeping raids being conducted against Bali hotels and restaurants in their current drive to halt the sale of wine and liquor bearing counterfeit customs stamps.

The Chief Tourism Official for Bali, Ida Bagus Subhisku, issued a statement on 2 June, 2009, underlining the fact that Bali's hotels and restaurants purchase their alcohol supplies from official distributors appointed by the government. According to Subhisku, if there is in fact smuggled alcohol being used, it is the distributors who should be under scrutiny and not Bali's hotels and restaurants.

Quoted in berita.bali.com, Subhisku said: “Now it is the distributors who must be chased, not people from our (tourism) industry. This is a lopsided approach”.

Subhisku said his call for end to sweeping by Customs and Excise officials of hotels and restaurants is based on the high demands for alcoholic beverages as Bali enters into its busiest business period or high season.

Bali's legislators and the affected businesses are labelling the custom's raids as “robberies (merampok)”, asking why customs officials are unable to control the island's gateways and must resort to public raids.

Ida Bagus Gde Suryatmadja Manuaba, the Vice Chairman of the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali), told NusaBali: “If the reason (for the raids) is counterfeit customs' stickers, then customs is in violation of the law. If the products are already landed in Bali, why only now are they undertaking searches and seizures? It should be that when these alcoholic products were imported by the distributors that they were individually inspected and checked. Why is that only happening now?”

The legislator, who once worked as a bartender, questioned the legality of the customs raids, asking: “What's behind all this? That's the real question. Why are goods already landed and in circulation being chased after? Is this staged? First they release the goods and then they seize them back. Certainly the people must be asking what kind of synergy is in play in the customs department. How can illegal goods be approved for distribution? What kind of systems are in operations at Customs? This needs to be asked in light of the seizure of these items from the public marketplace”.

The Bali legislator also warned of potentially dire consequences to Bali tourism of a continuing shortage of alcohol that will be the logical consequence of the current raids.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Commission II of the DPRD, Nengah Usdek, has issued a summons to the Customs Department to attend the House to answer for their actions, which are threatening the island's main industry of tourism.

Local business affected by the raids have emboldened themselves to speak out against the raids, asking how liquor brought via official distributors can now be considered illegal.

The raids conducted by Customs have resulted in the confiscation of hundreds of cases of alcohol from leading hotels, restaurants and night spots in Bali. With diminishing booze supplies and the lack of clarification on what is legal and where to obtain it, many bars are saying they will be forced to close if a solution to the current problem is not found soon.

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A delicious three-course sampler menu of gourmet delights and unlimited imported
wines for just Rp 300 000 p/p at Senggigi’s top fine dining restaurant

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Hotel Vila Ombak has undergone major changes over the past year, first with the construction of the new Lumbung Family rooms, bringing the total number of rooms in the hotel up to 110. These spacious and comfortable two-storey buildings, featuring two bedrooms with separate bathrooms and lounging areas, are ideal for families or for two couples sharing.

Now the popular resort is reconstructing its beachfront entrance, with extensive new landscaping and a shopping arcade on its southern boundary. Winding paths, gardens and carved wooden totems in the distinctive “Lombok primitive” style decorate what will soon be the main entrance to the new reception area, to be completed in the coming months.

Gili Trawangan's only ATM machine was previously located on the corner of Vila Ombak's property and this has now been relocated to a purpose-built air-conditioned room at the front of the resort. There are now two ATM machines available for instant banking 24 hours a day at the resort.

The newly opened shopping arcade houses a range of the products and services that set this hotel apart. The relocation of the Rumah Spa to the last two shops in the row has involved a major revamp, with a stylish new hair salon, two luxurious massage rooms and a fully-equipped treatment room with professional beauty and facial treatments now available.

The massage rooms are exquisitely decorated in natural woods, marble and slate with soft lighting, comfortable massage tables, private showers, large Jacuzzi tubs and a softly flowing water feature on the far wall. Huge carved wooden doors grace the entrance to the spa and there is an elegant sitting area, as well as a funky Yoga bale in a quiet corner.
Also located in the new arcade is the resort's 24 hour medical clinic, now offering a reception and separate treatment rooms, including an air-conditioned VIP room complete with television and mini-bar facility. Much needed equipment and medical supplies have been purchased and a doctor is on call for medical emergencies.

Next in the arcade are the revamped business centre and the expanded premises of the Vila Ombak Dive Academy. The dive shop now has plenty of space for divers taking classes and making dive arrangements, as well as a large shop area selling wet suits, fins, snorkelling and diving equipment.

Two up-market boutiques will also be opening soon, including a jewellery boutique showcasing quality Lombok pearls and unique jewellery designs, plus the Gili Art Shop selling a selection of local artwork, collectibles and decorator items.

On the corner of the arcade, facing the beach is the resort's newest dining concept: Waroeng Bule (literally meaning “a little eating house for westerners”). Comfortable rattan seating arrangements and a dining bar sit alongside the street under shady trees overlooking the ocean. The concept is deli style where diners go inside to choose food and drinks, which are then served at the tables. Cold drinks, ice creams and range of Vila Ombak's delicious cakes are on sale, as well as sandwiches, pastries and snacks conveniently wrapped to take away.

Most interesting is the range of hot dishes available throughout the day and night for casual dining. The selection changes daily, but is generally made up of 70% Mediterranean and 30% Indonesian dishes. Executive Chef, Widianto, keeps the selection interesting with delicious choices such as Rosemary Chicken, Calzone, Beef Pizziaola, and other Italian and western specialties. For a taste of true Indonesian cooking, try the selections of tender Beef Rendang, spicy Pelecing Ayam and creamy Opor Ayam… authentic and delicious!

The resort bakes all its breads and cakes on the premises and produces some wonderful versions of Chocolate Mud Cakes, Black Forest, and delicate crepes filled with fresh strawberries and cream. Chef Widianto says that the Vila Ombak bakery has expanded to include trade supplies and is now able to supply toast bread, rye breads, brown and multigrain breads, cakes and desserts, pastries and specialty birthday cakes to other businesses on the island.

In the evening, the warung provides a laid-back space to enjoy a drink and a tasty casual meal, at very economical prices. There is a large-screen television and different movies are shown every night, so lounge back and enjoy after a meal. If you are in a hurry, or just want to grab a snack and sit on the beach, grab some pizza (sold by the slice), some sandwiches or a croissant, or one of HVO's gourmet pies to go. Waroeng Bule is a great idea and the food is bound to be popular with locals and bules!

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