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NEWS

ISSUE 50

IT’S OUR BIRTHDAY!

ONE WEEK IN PARADISE

WHAT'S HOT

KEEPING LOMBOK SMILING

WATER CRISIS LOOMS IN BALI AND LOMBOK

JULIA ROBERTS IN BALI

BALI AIRPORT TO BE RENOVATED

LOCAL SCENE

LOMBOK’S CARIBBEAN… THE SOUTHWEST COAST!

DARK NIGHTS FOR BALI

GARUDA TO RESUME SERVICE TO AMSTERDAM AND INCREASE LOMBOK FLIGHTS

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IT’S OUR BIRTHDAY!

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.

The Lombok Guide is celebrating its 2nd birthday this month and we’re giving our advertisers and readers the gifts, with a great new look for this issue! We’ve changed printers and are delighted with our new clean lines and easy to read print quality. We hope you enjoy our bright new look and clear photos too!

To further celebrate two successful years as the most popular English language paper in Lombok, we’ve added another 500 copies to our circulation every two weeks. That means we’ll be distributing 2500 copies of The Guide between Lombok and the Gilis, Sumbawa, Bali, Kupang and Kuala Lumpur every two weeks… making it even easier for our readers to find the latest copies of our popular paper!

Inside this issue we’ve included a great itinerary suggestion to make the most of your holiday in Lombok (see our special feature on page 10). There’s also the Lombok International Triathlon being held on our beautiful island over the weekend of 7 and 8 November, so if you’re in Lombok make sure you join in this exciting event (see details on page 18).

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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ONE WEEK IN PARADISE

A recent visit to Lombok by a couple of friends from Australia gave us the opportunity to show off the best of the island to those we love. The challenge was to fill each day with activities that suited both sexes, and allowing free time for resting and enjoying personal experiences, while also covering some of the major attractions for which the island is famous. Below is our 7 day itinerary for a fabulous stay in Lombok:

Day 1: Arrive in Lombok and check in to your hotel. Unpack and enjoy a welcome drink on your terrace before heading down to the pool to refresh. Walk along the beach and buy a sarong or freshly cut pineapple from the beach sellers. Later in the evening, head to Happy Café for delicious sushi, sashimi and Japanese fare. Then sit back and listen to the great local bands… if “Not Bad Band” is playing, you’re sure to be hopping until the wee hours. Finish the night mingling with the crowd at Marina Café and dance till you drop.

Day 2: Sleep in late or read a book by the pool. After lunch, head into town to Royal Spa (opposite Square Restaurant) or Rumah Bunga Spa (in the Senggigi Plaza) for a relaxing aromatherapy massage, reflexology or other body treatment to work out the travelling kinks. Spend some time exploring the shops and pick up a bargain! Bayan (next to Royal Spa) has a fantastic range of gifts and home decorating ideas; Ciokolata Boutique has fabulous designer gear and resort wear for sale. In Senggigi Plaza, Achi Acha sells genuine Guess bags, watches and shoes at great prices, and House of Pearls has beautiful jewellery with interesting designs and mixes of fresh and cultured pearls with semi-precious stones. At sunset, head to De Quake Restaurant in the Pasar Seni (Art Market). Laze on the comfy couches watching the magical sunset while drinking the best Strawberry Margaritas in town! Finish a perfectly relaxing day at Square Restaurant for fine dining excellence or at Asmara Restaurant for delicious international fare.

Day 3: Up early for a full day trip to the waterfalls in the north of the island. A car and driver should cost between Rp 400-450 000 for the day. Start at the markets in Gunung Sari to see a traditional market full of local flavour and buy some peanuts and bananas for the monkeys. Drive through the gorgeous scenery of the Pusuk Pass to the north coast and stop to feed the monkeys on the way. At Senaru, pay Rp 25 000 park admission fee to visit the stunning Sendang Gile Waterfall that thunders down the side of the mountain. Stop for lunch or a drink at the restaurant here and enjoy the beautiful mountain and rice terrace views. Hire a local guide to take you soft trekking through the jungle to Tiu Kelep Waterfall, where you can swim in the fresh clear pool and explore the lush jungle trails. Return home via the west coast road for fabulous sunset views across the white sand beaches. Opt for a quiet dinner at your hotel or head to Café Alberto for wonderful authentic Italian meals right on the beachfront.

Day 4: Time for the guys and girls to go separate ways! The day starts with 18 holes of golf for him at the Kosaido Country Club at Pantai Sire on the north-west coast, with panoramic views across the ocean and challenging fairways to conquer. Meanwhile, ladies can take a taxi into the city (around Rp 40 000; half an hour) and spend the day at the Mataram Mall. Discover great fashions at Tiara Department Store and the many specialty boutiques, pick up a pair of leather sandals for Rp 80 000; a copy Dolce & Gabbana bag for Rp 150 000; trendy skinny jeans for less than Rp 100 000; the latest DVD’s for Rp 10 000, and much more. Later in the afternoon, meet up at The Beach Club next to Café Alberto and relax with a drink on the beachfront pavilions for yet another fabulous sunset. For dinner, try fresh seafood and good local music at Papaya Restaurant.

Day 5: Spend the day relaxing after two days of touring around. Many hotels allow guests to use their swimming pools for a small fee. The beachfront pool at Santosa Villas and Resort is one of the best! For the adventurous, Flicker Water Sports (next to Café Alberto) has jet skis for hire, banana boat rides and other water-based fun. In the late afternoon, head to Kerandangan and take a walk along the beach. Relax with a drink on the berugaks at Coco Beach Waroeng as you watch the sunset. Or for some upmarket style, join the Happy Hour by the pool on the beach at Qunci Villas with two fabulous cocktails for the price of one from 4-7pm. For dinner, try one of the small restaurants near Happy Café… Bumbu serves authentic Thai cuisine, or discover delicious Korean fare at Ye Jeon in Senggigi Plaza.

Day 6: Charter a boat from Senggigi Beach or Bangsal for a trip out to the fabulous Gili islands. Each has its own style and there’s an island to suit everyone (see our Gilis section). Spend the day in an island paradise, swimming in clean turquoise waters and walking white sand beaches. Hire snorkelling gear on the beach and discover the magical underwater world just offshore. At night, dine on fresh seafood barbecued on the beach or join the happy crowds at the stylish beachfront restaurants. The Beach House, Scallywags and ko ko mo are all good choices on Gili Trawangan.

Day 7: Wake up to the sunrise over Mt Rinjani, Lombok’s famous volcano on the mainland and take a beach walk before it gets too hot. Go swimming, snorkelling or try scuba diving with one of the professional dive operators. Or charter a glass bottom boat and island hop across the amazing reefs teaming with colourful tropical fish. In the afternoon, head back to the mainland to catch your flight home… knowing that 7 days will never be enough to explore all the fascinating aspects of this island. Admit that you’ve fallen in love with Lombok and resolve to come back again soon!

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Qunci Villas continues its quest for excellence, this time with a focus on the fabulous Thai cuisine served in its restaurants. Head Chef, Edy, and two other chefs from the resorts have just returned from Thailand where they have been updating their Thai cooking skills at the Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai. The school is one of the most popular in SE Asia and is often used for training staff in Thai cuisine by other four star resorts in Asia. Qunci already has a reputation for fine Thai food on its varied menu… expect even more tasty delights now! www.quncivillas.com

One of our perennial favourites is De Quake Restaurant in the Pasar Seni (Art Markets) just near the Sheraton. Those in the know have been flocking here for years to enjoy the delicious and fresh meals in the upstairs restaurant and this chic little place recently introduced a new snack menu for those who prefer to graze while having a drink or two.

Perfect for lunch and delightful in the late afternoon, while lazing on the big comfortable sofas and watching the sunset over Senggigi Bay, the snack menu consists of tasty creations to please any palate. Try the Tandoori Chicken Kebabs, with four skewers of tandoori marinated chicken, grilled to perfection and served with tatziki dip for just Rp 29 000. The Grilled Chicken Wrap is great for lunch, with tender pieces of chicken, mixed with diced paprika and melted cheese, wrapped in a flour tortilla for Rp 37 000, or savour the Fresh Spring Rolls prepared Vietnamese-style with prawns, vermicelli and vegetables, and served with a tangy peanut sauce for Rp 29 000. There are many more dishes to tempt, including Fried Calamari Rings, Fish Satay with Pineapple Salsa, Prawn Tostaditas and tasty, crispy pizzas. De Quake also does the best Strawberry Margaritas in town, zoomed with fresh strawberries, at Rp 50 000. There’s a fabulous selection of other drinks and popular cocktails such as Daiquiri, Cosmopolitan and Caiprioska, as well as Australian wines by the bottle or glass. De Quake rates in our book as one of the best in Lombok… with sublime beach views too! Ph: 693 694. www.dequake.com

Royal Spa has proved very popular since it opened its small Senggigi branch over the offices of Lombok Property, next to Santosa Villas and Resort. So popular, in fact, that we hear they are going to expand in the next month…
In the meantime, if you find yourself in need of a bit of pampering and Royal Spa is booked out, try Rumah Bunga Spa in the Senggigi Plaza. A visit last week had us blissing out on a full package which included a one hour massage of your choice (traditional, aromatherapy or -- our favourite – a combination massage), followed by a half hour of reflexology for tired feet and legs, and then topped off by a luxurious hair spa using professional products and lasting another hour. The price for almost three hours of decadent relaxation? A mere Rp 200 000! Absolute top value (and leaves your hair and body soft as silk)! Ph: 665 3531

With wine prices stabilising (at least for now!) the Cellar Party at Square Restaurant is back again! The Cellar Party is usually held on the first Friday of each month and this month’s party happens on Friday, 6 November. The evening’s fun starts at 7pm until 10.30pm, with three and a half hours of unlimited wines, good company and live entertainment all inclusive in the price. If you haven’t attended a Cellar Party before, now is your chance to enjoy an evening of free flow premium wines and delicious samplings of the cuisine for which Square is famous… all for just Rp 300 000!

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KEEPING LOMBOK SMILING

A team of dedicated Dutch dentists have just given over 750 local children big smiles and helped save the teeth of hundreds of others.

The team, in Lombok as part of the Dental Development Foundation Indonesia, spent more than two weeks examining over 1100 local children and treating more than 750 children from six schools in Central Lombok… completing over 800 fillings in that time and almost the same number of tooth extractions!

Dental Development Foundation Indonesia was founded in 2004 by two caring and dedicated dentists from the Netherlands: Dr Leo Sluimers and Dr Huub van’t Veld. Since 2004, these dentists, together with Huub’s wife, Willy, also a dental assistant, have given up their vacation time in Europe to come to Lombok and treat dental patients and train local dentists. The dental treatments are offered free of charge and are funded by the dentists themselves and through monies raised by the Foundation in the Netherlands.

The original programme started in 2004 focused on training local dentists and their assistants in modern dental techniques, aimed at improving local skills and knowledge. Initially working with the Puskesmas (local medical centre) in Meninting, Leo and Huub were surprised at the lack of equipment available. In addition to training the local dentists, they set about raising funds for much needed equipment and, as a result, the local facility now has a suction machine, x-ray equipment and a high speed drill.

After realising the extent of dental problems during their work in 2004, Leo and Huub decided to tackle the problem at the root by focusing on educating and treating children. Each year since, the energetic pair has come to Lombok and spent their vacation at local primary schools where they educate the children about dental hygiene and tooth care, examine the mouths of entire school populations, identify which children need treatment, and then carry out the dental work.

This year they arrived with four other dentists and five dental assistants (including Willy) to carry out the massive task in Central Lombok. The other members of the team were gathered together in the Netherlands through the work of the Foundation, which advertises its project and asks for Dutch dentists to volunteer their skills during their vacation time to improve the dental health of Lombok children. Volunteers pay their airfares, accommodation and other travelling costs out of their own pockets, in addition to donating their time and expertise.

The Foundation also carries out fundraising in the Netherlands to raise money to buy equipment, materials, anaesthetics and mobile dental equipment not available locally. Their policy is to go to the schools with complete mobile dental workshops, so that children feel safe and comfortable in their own environments, rather than travelling to a clinic, where they often feel afraid… especially if encountering a dentist for the first time.

Dutch members of the team spent two and a half weeks travelling every day from their base in Kerandangan to the six schools in Kopang, Mantang, Peresak, Bebuak and Tainbetuk in Central Lombok; usually starting their day at 6.30am and returning at 4.30pm to clean and sterilise equipment and stock up on supplies for the next day. It was an exhausting schedule, involving more than 1100 primary school students, but the dedicated team have returned home feeling a great deal of satisfaction after meeting the children and working alongside local dentists.

A large part of their programme involves teaching the children oral hygiene, as many local children have never visited a dentist and don’t even own a toothbrush! During the classes children are taught about the importance of early dental care and are shown how to clean their teeth properly. They are supplied with gift packs which include a foundation t-shirt, a toothbrush, toothpaste and rinsing glass… provided thanks to the Rotary Club of Mataram.
In each village, the team work alongside dentists and dental assistants from the local Puskesmas, training them in dentistry and helping to improve the skills of the local community. At the schools, teams are made up of two Dutch dentists and one local dentist, and two Dutch dental assistants and one local assistant, to maximise the training of local Puskesmas staff.

The Dutch team received a lot of support this year from their local liaison, Dr Lina Kulsum, who operates a dental practice in Mataram. Their efforts were also appreciated and aided by the Central Lombok Health Department (Dinas Kesehatan) and area Regent (Bupati).

During his stay, Dr Huub also managed to fit in a one day seminar, together with Dr Liat Goei, training local dentists in aesthetic dentistry and dental implants. The seminar included theory on new technologies, operating procedures and materials, as well as hands-on training for 28 Lombok dentists in dental implants and restoration.

Of course, the Foundation still has many years work ahead of it, getting around all the small villages and schools in Lombok and, although generous dentists are willing to fund the programme from their own pockets, the Foundation can always use help in the way of donations. They currently have one mobile dental chair and are hoping to be able to purchase another one in time for their next visit to Lombok. Two dentists working from one dental chair isn’t practical and, although they can use school chairs and benches, it’s murder on their backs after the first 50 patients!

If you would like to support this very worthy project, please contact the Foundation by emailing: DDFI@planet.nl and help put a smile on the faces of more Lombok children!

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WATER CRISIS LOOMS IN BALI AND LOMBOK

The prolonged dry season currently being experienced in Indonesia is having a profound impact on the ecology of both Bali and Lombok, and the Indonesian government is getting ready for a dry year in 2010 with an expected return of El Nino weather conditions in the region.

In Lombok, many small villages in the central and eastern parts of the island have been experiencing severe water shortages for nearly two months. Wells and rivers have run dry, with the local government having to pump in water to local communities. Although the water trucks can supply enough water for drinking and daily needs, there is not enough to irrigate fields and many crops have been left to dry up and die, creating further hardship for local villages.

The Bali Post also recently reported that, of the 165 rivers found on Bali, 73 have now run dry. The remaining 92 rivers still flowing are doing so with substantially reduced flow rates.

Balidiscovery.com also reports a number of hotels in Nusa Dua, Kuta and Seminyak are reported to be suffering critical water shortages with water reservoirs down to as little 90 centimeters of standing water in reserve tanks.
Bambang Wibowo, Chief Engineer of Melia Bali Villa and Spa Resort, Nusa Dua said that a prolonged dry period has had an acute effect on water reserves since the beginning of October. Other Chief Engineers in Nusa Dua are making similar complaints.

The Head of the Public Works Department for Bali, Ir I Gusti Nyoman Sura Adnyana, said on Monday, 19 October that the worst affected areas of Bali in the current water shortage are in the mountainous regions, with water still available in lower elevations.

Overcoming the current water deficit won’t be easy or happen overnight. Adnyana said plans are in hand to capture the overflow from Dam II of the Tukad Unda River and its estuaries, but such schemes are expensive.

Because of this the Public Works Department is focusing on rivers close to the Badung and Gianyar regencies, and Denpasar. Rubber dams have been established on Tukad Penet River and plans are to take between 300-500 liters of water per second to help meet the tap water requirements of Denpasar and South Badung. The exploitation of the waters of the Tukad Penet River is being done on the downstream areas in order not to disrupt the traditional subak water distribution systems that feeds Bali’s agricultural lands.

Bali drought-like conditions are also affecting the rivers in Bali’s east, in the areas surrounding Candi Dasa, with reports that the watercourses in the Nyuh Tebel area are now dry.

When the rivers still flowed in that region, the rice fields north of Candida were still productive, even in drought periods through reliance on the subak system and the employment of crop rotation techniques. However, now that the rivers have run dry, the rice fields have gone dry yielding no crops.

Despite long-standing warnings that Bali was failing to conserve its water resources, little has been done to preserve sub-terrain water reservoirs or clean up the badly polluted rivers which supply, after intensive water treatment, Bali’s piped water supply.

The situation hasn’t reached critical on Lombok as yet, but most people are waiting for the monsoon rains to start in earnest. However, if an El Nino weather pattern does hit the islands next year, careful conservation plans will need to be put in place.

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JULIA ROBERTS IN BALI

Balidiscovery.com reports that Oscar-winning Hollywood star, Julia Roberts, is in Bali for what is expected to be a month-long filming of the Bali portion of Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel “Eat Pray Love”.

Gilbert’s best-selling story of her post-divorce travels in Italy, India and Bali is to become a Columbia Pictures (Sony) film starring Roberts, Javier Bardem and Richard Jenkins. Bali filming is centred on areas in and around Ubud and Bali’s southernmost beach, with cast and crew staying in various five star hotels on the island.
Filming got off to a less than smooth start on Thursday, 15 October, 2009, when locals from the village of Benyutung demanded Rp 200 million (US $20,000) in compensation for the use of their village in the film. This demand, according to local press reports in Bali, was precipitated by rumours of large sums being paid to other Bali locations being used in the film.

The Regent of Gianyar, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati (Cok Ace), is reportedly mediating local villagers’ demands with the film’s production team. Filming is also scheduled to take place in Ubud’s famous monkey forest in Padangtegal, Nyuh Kuning, Pengosekan and at the traditional art market in Ubud.

Cok Ace, who is also the leader of Ubud’s royal household, has issued a special invitation to Julia Roberts to his Palace for dinner. It remains to be seen, however, if the notoriously reclusive star will set aside time on her schedule for visits with Cok Ace or Bali’s governor.

Those hoping to steal a look at Julia Roberts or a Hollywood film in production may be disappointed. Elaborate security perimeters are being set up at filming locales that keep the general public at a minimum distance of 500 metres.

Radar Bali reports that Bali’s governor, Made Mangku Pastika, was not pleased with what appears to be coercive efforts to extract additional fees from Sony Picture/Columbia Pictures. The governor told the press that the villagers’ opportunistic behaviour was embarrassing for the people of Bali and not in keeping with the many honours and accolades earned by the island known as a “paradise on earth”.

According to Governor Pastika, a central theme of the film depicts Bali as “an island of love”. As indicated by the title, its main character portrayed by Julia Roberts explores the pleasure of eating in Italy; the serenity of prayer in India, and the joys of love in Bali. Speaking from his home on 18 October, Pastika said: “Love in Bali is a new branding joining earlier citations, such as the island of paradise, the island of the gods, and the island of peace and democracy. How beautiful is Bali and love sowed in Bali. This is proven by the increasing number of people who have their weddings performed in Bali.”

In this context, Pastika hopes that all parties in Bali, including its elders and leaders, take the necessary steps to preserve this reputation. Admitting that waves of change, both good and bad, were sweeping over the island, he added, “(the changes) must be anticipated so that Bali’s good reputation is preserved.”

Viewing both the positive and negative forces a play on the island, Pastika has also seen the impact being made on the character of the Balinese people and the resulting trends of commercialism and consumerism. One proof cited by the Governor was the case of the villagers asking for hundreds of millions of rupiah from the makers of the “Eat, Pray, Love” film. Making his point in the strongest possible terms, Pastika said: “To the extent that they asked for hundreds of millions of rupiah – using tradition, culture and religion as the foundation for their demands. I deeply regret that this condition has invaded into the character of the people of Bali. This is one more rapid change (in our society) with a negative effect on our people.”

Moreover, Pastika said he found such behaviour embarrassing, as the news will be publicised the world over. Pastika continued: “When I heard this I was ashamed. How can a traditional village ask for hundreds of millions (of rupiah)? This film will be seen by the world, indirectly also showing Bali to the world.”

Shortly after the villagers of Bentuyung village demanded Rp 200 million (US $20,000) from the filmmakers, the villagers of Pengosekan – another location in the film, have followed suit and are now requesting compensation.

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BALI AIRPORT TO BE RENOVATED

The Jakarta Post has confirmed that the long-delayed massive renovation of Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport will commence in January 2010.

The renovation program will take 30 months to complete and encompasses major changes to passenger terminals, parking lots and the airport infrastructure.

The revamping of the airport was originally scheduled to begin in 2009, but was delayed when Bali’s Governor, Made Mangku Pastika, strongly criticised the over-commercialisation of the airport’s public areas which, in the original plans, saw 40% of all space designated for commercial purposes. Following negotiations with the Bali government, commercial space will now be limited to 30%.

The management company for the Bali Airport, Angkasa Pura I, has announced that the renovation program will consume a total budget of US $15 million.

Hundreds of residences and business now standing on the airport’s adjoining areas will also be affected by the renovations.

Intended to increase passenger handling capabilities, the renovated airport will increase the carrying capacity of both the international terminal and domestic passengers.

Apparently a compromise has been struck with the Governor over his insistence that the airport’s overall design reflect Balinese architectural values. The facility’s managers have said that it will be difficult to retain Balinese elements in the exterior design of the airport, but that “Balinese style elements” would be given priority in the airport’s interiors.

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LOCAL SCENE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GERARD & AYU

A huge crowd gathered on 23 October to celebrate the
combined birthdays of Gerard and Ayu at the lovely Villa Sorga

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LOMBOK’S CARIBBEAN… THE SOUTHWEST COAST!

The southwest coast of Lombok is one of the most spectacular areas on the island and is still relatively undeveloped, offering a pristine natural region for travellers to explore.

South of Lembar Harbour, the main port on West Lombok, the southwest coast features a series of stunning bays set against a backdrop of green hills and fields. There are also thirteen small islands just off the coast, similar to the famous Gilis, but largely uninhabited.

The drive itself is a worthwhile trip, meandering through villages where life is untouched by tourism and where the people are involved in their day-to-day activities of farming, fish cultivation, boating and fishing, brick-making and other traditional pastimes. Along the roadsides you will see people building and repairing boats, laying out hand-made bricks to dry in the sun, working in the fields, and sometimes guiding primitive wooden ploughs harnessed to huge water buffalo as they prepare the fields for planting.

Heading towards Sekotong, on the left side of the road is a sealed road leading up the hill. Climbing steeply, the views back down the hill and across the fields are truly magnificent. The panorama stretches out across the clear waters, highlighting the white sand coastline and the many small islands dotted just off the coast. Some of these islands have simple accommodation for travellers and are great places to visit – the Gilis of the future, no doubt!
A bit further along the main road is Taun, a peaceful village with friendly people, situated on a wide, placid bay. The ocean is sparkling turquoise and the dazzling white sand stretches in a wide sweep around the bay, while the hills behind form a perfect backdrop to an idyllic setting. Just out in the calm bay sit the three lovely islands of Gili Nanggu, Gili Tangkong and Gili Sudat – all easily accessible by local outrigger boats. A small sign in the nearby village will direct you to the local boat hire area, where you can arrange boat trips out to Gili Nanggu and the other small islands in the area, at reasonable rates.

A little further on, before the local marine culture complex (Balai Budaya Laut), there is a small dirt road leading off toward the beach. This road leads out onto a dazzling white peninsular of land that juts into beautiful blue waters. Gili Genting is a small hill in the ocean situated just off the point. At high tide it is separated from the mainland by a shallow stretch of water and at low tide it is possible to walk out to explore the island. The rock formations are ancient lava flows into which the sea has carved all sorts of interesting shapes, tunnels and caves; providing sheltered nooks and crannies of shade… a perfect setting for a picnic lunch!

Heading further south is the Sundancer Resort, with its distinctive blue roofs dotted on the hillside overlooking another white sand beach. The villas here march up the slopes of the hill, perched on prime real estate and provide fantastic views all around. The hotel development is still under construction and, once complete, will be the premier accommodation in the area with luxury hotel rooms, swimming pools, a spa and privately owned villas all in this visionary resort complex.

Across the road on the beachfront is Dive Zone, the only diving facility in this part of Lombok. Dive Zone are the experts on diving around the southwest islands and have pioneered development of previously unknown dive sites in this area. They also offer island-hopping tours to explore the many islands around Sekotong and further south. A long jetty stretches out over the sea at the Dive Zone site and is one of the Sundancer facilities, with coral and fish clearly visible in the crystal clear waters below.

Further along the road, at the next intersection there is a signpost for Labuhan Poh and Pelangan, the site of Bola Bola Paradis. This is a lovely small hotel, situated right on the beachfront with comfortable and clean rooms at reasonable prices. Attractive octagonal buildings are set on the lawns leading down to the beach for those wishing to stay in the area. The hotel also organises snorkelling tours and boat trips for exploring the islands just offshore.

The largest of these islands is Gili Gede, appropriately meaning “Big Island”. The island lays just offshore and is easily accessed by boat from the village of Tembowong. Gili Gede is one of the few islands in the area that has accommodation, at Secret Island Resort and at a newly opened resort on the other side of the island. Secret Island offers a host of activities that all the family will enjoy, while also being a place where you can get away from it all. With no roads and very little development on the island, a few days here offers travellers the chance to relax and recharge on a true “deserted” island.

Even further south lays the surfing Mecca of Bangko Bangko, on the far southwest tip of Lombok. Although the road deteriorates after Labuhan Poh, it is still passable for most vehicles in the dry season. The drive to the point is dotted with bucolic scenery and tiny villages, making it a worthwhile trip even for non-surfers.
The southwest coast is filled with “undiscovered” beaches and beauty spots. As one visitor commented, the area is reminiscent of the undeveloped areas of the Caribbean. Take your time exploring and don’t be afraid to wander down some of the small dirt roads towards the beaches, they often lead to deserted paradises! The local people in this area are delightfully friendly and your hand will get tired waving to the children, who call “hello” whenever they see you.

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DARK NIGHTS FOR BALI

Candlelight dinners may become less a romantic option and more a practical necessity for the remainder of October and November in Bali as the State Electricity Board (PLN) warns that a series of daily rotating blackouts will be introduced for 56 days starting from 10 October, 2009.

PLN has confirmed that scheduled maintenance at the gas-fire powered Gilimanuk generation plant will result in a loss in generating capacity, leaving Bali with only 432 megawatts (MW) of total power – an amount well short of the island’s peak energy appetite of 490MW consumed during peak evening periods.

Faced with inevitable energy shortfalls until maintenance is completed at Gilimanuk, PLN is responding by asking people to reduce power consumption and scheduling rotating blackouts on a daily basis that will “share the pain” of the energy crisis.

Blackouts will be introduced between 6 pm and 11 pm in “designated areas” throughout the nearly two month period.

PLN officials are being asked to reduce consumption by a minimum of 100 watts during peak evening consumption periods.

Nearly all major hotels and resorts in Bali, and many major restaurants and businesses, have 100% back-up generating capacity supplied by on-site generators. As a result, many visitors may be unaware of the blackouts that are expected to most severely inconvenience private home owners and small businesses on the island.
Operations at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport will not be affected by the rotating blackouts.

Bali’s Governor, Made Mangku Pastika, is asking the public to reduce power consumption and exercise patience in confronting the frequent blackouts in the weeks ahead.

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GARUDA TO RESUME SERVICE TO AMSTERDAM AND INCREASE LOMBOK FLIGHTS

Garuda Indonesia has announced their intention to resume flight services between Jakarta and Amsterdam on 1 June, 2010.

Emrisyah Satar, CEO of Garuda, speaking to the Bali Post confirmed that the airline would operate a service every day, leaving Jakarta at 21:00 hours each evening and landing in Amsterdam at 8:00 hours the next morning, after an intermediate stop in Dubai. The return flight will leave Amsterdam at 10:00 hours, arriving in Jakarta at 19:10 hours after another stopover in Dubai.

The service will be operated using Airbus 330-220 aircraft configured for 186 economy and 36 business class passengers.

The resumption of service will mark a return to Holland by Garuda, who suspended the popular service to Amsterdam in 2004.

Locally, Garuda have also announced that they will increase the number of flights between Mataram (Lombok) and Jakarta from two, to three flights per day. The extra daily flight will commence on 1 November, 2009.

The Jakarta-Mataram flights use a Boeing 737 series 300, with 16 business class and 94 economic class seats. “The two daily flights are averaging around 80% occupancy at the moment, so we see an extra daily flight as justified to meet the demands of our customers,” said Garuda Lombok Manager, Frederik Kaseipo.
Fares start from Rp 736 000, one way. Flights from Mataram are now available at 06.30, 14.20 and 17.30, while flights from Jakarta are available at 10.50, 13.55 and 17.50 (local times).

The extra flights have been applauded by the local tourism industry, as they increase Lombok’s accessibility to those living in Jakarta and wishing to holiday in Lombok. They also increase the attractiveness of the island for MICE business, which is a rapidly growing industry for Lombok.

The national airline also operates a daily service between Lombok and Bali, which is proving popular with travellers who do not like flying on the small aircraft operated by other local airlines. The flights operate every evening, allowing travellers to reach Lombok on the same day from international destinations, rather than having to spend a night in Bali to connect with Lombok flights.

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