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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.

The next two weeks are sure to be a happy time in Lombok, with the Chinese New Year (called Imlek in Bahasa Indonesia) and Valentine’s Day both being celebrated on Sunday, 14 February.

Lombok is home to a large community of Chinese people who will be celebrating the start of Spring, in keeping with the Chinese calendar, and the start of a new year. 2010 is the year of the Tiger, according to Chinese astrology, and corresponds to the element of metal. The courageous and fiery tiger is admired by the ancient Chinese as the sign that keeps away the three main tragedies of a household: fire, thieves and ghosts. If you are in Lombok during this time, ask your hotel desk or tour guide about dragon dances and Chinese celebrations taking place around the island. To all our Chinese readers, gōng xǐ fā cái!

Valentine’s Day is traditionally the day of love and is eagerly celebrated by young locals in Lombok. Where better to celebrate with your loved one than on the warm, tropical paradise of Lombok, with candlelit dinners under the stars and romantic walks along beautiful peaceful beaches? Turn to page 18 for our top ideas on making Valentine’s Day in Lombok extra special.

In this issue we also bring you part two of our update report on the progress of the Lombok International Airport on page 24, and a very special view of amazing Lombok from the sky on page 10. Happy reading!

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Lombok Guide from the locations listed on page 42 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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The sun was just rising over the mountains as we arrived at Selaparang Airport on Lombok. Although it was the middle of the rainy season, the day was dawning bright and clear, with a blue sky shining overhead and very little cloud – just perfect for our flight over Mt Rinjani with Sky Aviation.

Sky Aviation is a company based in Lombok that has recently commenced operating charter flights and “sky tours” using light aircraft. Sky has two Liberty XL2 aircraft, which seat four (3 passengers and the pilot), and are ideal for flying at low altitudes for sightseeing trips. The SR20 aircraft was manufactured in 2007 and is suitable for long distances and cruising, while the SR 22 aircraft, built in 2006, is faster and more powerful and suitable for climbing and high altitude flying, such as exploring Mt Rinjani and other mountains in the region.

As we entered the new, purpose-built Sky Aviation building at the airport, we were filled with a mixture of excitement and nervousness at the thought of going up in such a small aircraft. However, we were soon put at ease by the friendliness and professionalism of Pak Odjie and the Sky Aviation team. Our pilot for the trip, Russell, was originally from the UK and has many years of experience in flying commercial aircraft and is currently a flight instructor, having just finished pilot training for local carrier, Garuda Airlines.

Under the care of such an experienced crew, we were soon strapped into our seats and zooming along the runway at Selaparang with a minimum of fuss. As the little plane lifted confidently into the sky, the true beauty of the Lombok landscape was revealed in a way we had never seen before when travelling on commercial airlines, which are forced to fly at much higher altitudes than the Sky Aviation craft.

A patchwork of brilliant green rice fields and the buildings of Ampenan soon gave way to a panorama of blue ocean and white beaches, as we followed the sweeping bays of the western coastline. Colourful fishing boats moored on the beach at Montong; the hotels of Batu Bolong and Senggigi lay below us, bright blue swimming pools sparkling in the sunshine. Stunningly beautiful, and mainly deserted, beaches and bays spread out before us as we made our way north to the majestic mountains surrounding Lombok’s volcano, Mt Rinjani.

Here the landscape becomes truly awesome, with the green folds of ancient hills and mountains on the right contrasting with the sparkling white coast and the ocean to the left. Towering over it all, at 3 726 metres above sea level, Rinjani is the second highest volcano in Indonesia and attracts thousands of visitors and mountain climbers to Lombok every year.

Our little plane easily climbed the steep slopes in minutes, as we gazed in awe at the spectacle appearing before us. The sun had just climbed over the jagged crater rim and the translucent green waters of Lake Segara Anak, the crescent-shaped lake inside the volcano’s crater, glowed as if lit from within. Visibility was excellent, with very little cloud at that time of the morning, and the views were indescribably beautiful. Luckily for us, the small volcanic cone within the lake, Gunung Baru Jari, decided to put on a show, sending up plumes of smoke from its small cone – a result of the minor eruptions which occurred in the volcano last year.

Russell guided the plane in a wide arc around the inside of the crater, allowing us to film and photograph the awe-inspiring volcanic views from all angles. Three times we circled, low over the lake with the small volcano bubbling beneath us and the larger volcano towering around us… an unforgettable experience!

Finally dragging ourselves away, we flew east towards the Gili Islands laying like three green stepping stones in the ocean just off Lombok’s northwest coast. The glorious stretches of Medana Bay and Pantai Sire glittered enticingly, but it was the Gilis that held us fascinated, with the clear seas surrounding these small coral islands revealing a totally different impression from the air. Russell glided us down to just 800 feet so that we could view the hotels and beaches of Gili Air, with the reefs and sandbars clearly visible just offshore. Gili Meno, hugged between the two better-known islands, showed off beautiful deserted white beaches and the small salt-water lake to the north east. Gili Trawangan rose from the ocean, lined with hotels and villas, white sand beaches and turquoise waters, and a myriad of boats bobbing on the calm waters around.

So much natural wonder and beauty is almost impossible to absorb in one flight. Suffice to say, we arrived back at Selaparang no longer afraid of small planes and eager to take our next trip! After so many years of exploring Lombok by land and sea, this amazing island has once again entranced us – this time from the sky.

Sky Aviation offers private charters, emergency medical evacuations, tours of Lombok, trips to Komodo Island and Borobodur Temple in Java, and personal itineraries from Lombok and Bali. Private charters start from US $400 per hour and tours are priced from just US $160 per person. Phone Sky direct on (0370) 636 333.

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Valentine’s Day is on Sunday, 14 February and where better to celebrate love than on the romantic island of Lombok? Valentine’s Day is all about flowers and chocolates, romantic candlelit dinners for two and magical moments… and in this issue we bring you a special feature on what’s hot for gifts and places to dine, as well as luxurious spa treatments to pamper loved ones and show them that you think they are hot!

The lovely Kebun Anggrek Restaurant alongside the pool at the Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort is a perfect place to share a romantic dinner for two. Tables overlook the beach and flames reflected in the pool. The Sheraton is offering a special 6 course Valentine’s Dinner for Rp 250 000++ per person. Dine on Amuse Bouche of Eggplant Caviar with Seared Scallop, followed by Seafood Chowder with a rose of Lemon Myrtle Smoked Salmon and Beetroot Biscuit. Entrée of Beef Tataki on a bed of spinach jell and pink sweet potato, with a Lemon Sorbet palate cleanser, is followed by a main course of Duo of Red Snapper and Beef Tenderloin Steak with roasted fennel and baby carrot. For dessert, enjoy Strawberry Yoghurt Cake with coulis of pistachio and grapes. Ph: 693 333

Qunci Villas is one of the most romantic resorts in town and the restaurants at Qunci have earned a reputation as among the best in Lombok. Dine at candlelit tables on the beach with a sumptuous menu of Grilled Scallop with Olive Chutney, Smoked Salmon and blanched spinach, followed by Clear Prawn Soup with lemongrass flavor served with mushroom and vegetables. There is a choice of main courses: Grilled Beef with barbeque meat sauce marinade, served with fried potatoes, carrot jam, steamed vegetables and red dragon sauce, or Pan-fried Sea Bass with Herbs Spaetzle, steamed baby potatoes and blanched vegetables and bordelaise sauce. For dessert, Cheese Chocolate Cake served with ice cream and boysenberry sauce and coffee or tea. Price is just US $60++ per couple and includes a glass of white or red wine and a complimentary Valentine Cocktail. During dinner, be entertained by traditional Lombok dancing and music. Ph: 693 800

On Gili Trawangan, treat your special someone to a romantic dinner on the beach at ko - ko - mo Fine Dining Restaurant. Dine at candle-lit tables under the stars with fine food, French champagne and imported wines, topped off with a special Valentine’s Day dessert a deux. Tres romantique! Ph: 644 169

Vila Ombak, Gili T’s premier resort, has great Romantic Holiday Packages available at the moment, as well as a Valentine Romantic Dinner including Molten Kisses and a rose for the ladies. Dine on Champagne Infused Oysters, Buttered Prawns, Japanese Seared Mahi-Mahi, Foie Gras Ravioli in Chicken Consomme and Truffle Vegetables. For main course, choose Honey Glazed Dorado with Mild Gouda Risotto or Prime Beef Tenderloin with Orange Demiglaze Infusion. Finish with a heart to share. This luxurious dinner on the beachfront is just Rp 410 000++ per couple, and there are great discounts if you book before 11 February (see advert, back cover). Ph: 642 336

Senggigi has quite a few good spas these days, so why not pamper each other with a “his and hers massage” or body treatment on the day of romance? Royal Spa on the main street, next to Santosa Villas and Resort, has a range of soothing massages and body treatments by qualified therapists, starting from a low Rp 85 000 per hour. Ph: 693 645

Rumah Bunga Spa in the Senggigi Plaza has massages, hair treatments, facials and beauty treatments and more. Indulge in one of their great Spa packages, including a massage of your choice, hair spa treatment using professional products and reflexology for tired feet and legs – almost three hours of pampering for around Rp 200 000! Ph: 692 113

At Club Arena Spa, on the beachfront at Santosa Villas and Resort, you can stretch your massage into a few hours, with complimentary use of their private swimming pool and sun lounges with any spa or body treatment. Take a book, order a drink from the pool bar, and spend an afternoon lazing by the pool and indulging in relaxing spa and body treatments. Ph: 693175

Buying special Valentine’s presents is always difficult, so if you’re not sure what to buy, ask for a “gift voucher”. A gift voucher lets you deposit money in credit, so that your loved one can use it to buy whatever they like at the boutique or shop later. Two great places, very popular with local ladies, are Ciokolata and Achi Acha Boutiques.
Ciokolata, located on the main street between Senggigi Jaya Supermarket and Dive Zone, sells a great range of designer clothing and resort wear. Don’t know the lady’s size? This is where a gift voucher makes sense! There’s also a small but fabulous range of swimwear, shoes and fashion accessories to choose from. Want to make a real impression? Give her an Autore pearl… this fine quality pearl jewellery is sought after around the world and a gift to treasure forever! www.ciokolata.com

Achi Acha Boutique, in the Senggigi Plaza near Rumah Bunga Spa, carries a great range of genuine Guess products for him and her. Choose from the latest designer bags, cases, purses and shoes for her, as well as gorgeous Guess watches in stylish designs men and ladies. The store also has exclusive and genuine watches from Gc, Nautica and Victorinox… quality brands that will last for ever! Can’t make up your mind which one to buy? Purchase a gift voucher from Achi Acha and you’ll also receive a special bonus discount on the purchase! Ph: 619 4109

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High drama on Monday, 18 January, 2010, when a petrol tank at the Pertamina Depot in Ampenan caught on fire, causing a fierce blaze that sent flames high into the air and lasted for over two hours.

The blaze was allegedly caused by a spark from a pump machine located five metres from a tank wall during the transfer of premium petrol to a transport tanker, causing the east wall of the 4700 kl tank to catch fire.
Two fire fighters from Mataram were burnt in the blaze.

Seven fire units PMK (Fire Department) Mataram were assisted by two trucks from West Lombok regency, as well as a fire truck from Selaparang airport and four Water Canon from the police department, using a mixture of water and foam in putting out the potentially disastrous fire.

The incident began around 10:30am when around a dozen local petrol tankers were queued at the depot, waiting to be filled. The sudden explosion caused residents of the Arab village of Kampung Melayu and around the north and south of the Pertamina Depot to panic. Many people ran up to a kilometre to the east, carrying mattresses and other household items, as they feared the fire would spread to nearby homes.

Flames and black smoke were visible for several kilometres around the blaze. The Lombok Guide was on site to witness and photograph the event. Coordination of fire teams and crowd control by Pertamina Depot Chief, Suherman, with Mataram Mayor, Moh. Ruslan and Police Chief, Suneka, was carried out in a professional manner. Several times throughout the drama, firemen thought they had extinguished all the flames and started to pack away equipment, when the fire rekindled. The blaze was finally extinguished at around 1pm.

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In the last issue of The Lombok Guide we reported on the slow progress of the construction of BIL, the Lombok International Airport, and the problems encountered by construction companies forced to use local labour. Completion dates for the airport have been postponed for the past two years and one of the main reasons for the delays is the lack of skilled workers in the area.

Unfortunately, there is much misinformation about the airport, both in print media and on the internet. The Lombok Times, in their current issue, announced that President Bambang Susilo would be visiting Lombok to officially open the airport on 31 January. As we have repeatedly reported, the airport is still months away from completion. The Go To Lombok newsletter this month also announced that the first test flights had been carried out at the airport, saying “a variety of different aeroplanes have effected landings and take-offs to test the runway construction. All went according to plan.” This would also be very nice if it was true.

We confirmed on 30 January that there is no date as yet for an official opening of the airport and that test flights are still some way off, again with no date having been set for these. It must be noted that none of this is to say that the airport will not go ahead, but rather to examine the unique problems that face the international airport and the future development of our island.

In addition to the labour problems dogging construction, after visiting the airport site on 14 January, we believe the problem of drainage is going to cause more delays for the airport.

When we visited the Tanak Awu site in Central Lombok during monsoon season in 2008, it was obvious that the water table was very high in this area, being so close to the Batu Jai Dam, and that drainage and landfill was going to be a major factor in the airport’s construction. The Batu Jai Dam is an enormous water collection point in the area and, during the rainy season, becomes a huge lake that spans approximately 300 hectares and has a capacity of around 21,437,227 cubic metres.

The Dam sits on the northern border of the airport land and flooding is obvious in all the surrounding areas. At the beginning of construction, extensive work was carried out in levelling and filling the land. As the airport spans a total of 538.8 hectares, it was a huge project and should have been completed before any building construction, as the condition of the substrate will ultimately affect the stability of all foundations.

When we visited two weeks ago, again in the rainy season, it is obvious that there has been a serious underestimation of the amount of drainage required on the site. Large pools of water surround many of the buildings and flooding is obvious throughout the entire area. Earthmoving equipment and vehicles are splashing their way through small lakes of water sitting on the surface, giving evidence to the elevated water table underneath. It seems obvious that developers have failed to take into account the proximity of the site to Batu Jai Dam and the amount of rainfall the region experiences during the monsoon season.

Whether this situation can be rectified, now that so much construction has already been carried out, is debatable. One thing is for certain – PT Hutama Karya (the company contracted to handle drainage), has a lot of work to do and it seems inevitable that more delays will be caused while they sort out the drainage problems.

In further news this week, PT Angkasa Pura I (API), the company responsible for airport constructions throughout Indonesia and in charge of technical building at Lombok airport, has offered to return development capital contributed by local governments as their shares in building the airport. API has said they will refund Rp 110 billion to the Government of West Nusa Tenggara and Rp 40 billion to Central Lombok Regency, to be used by the governments to build supporting infrastructure for BIL.

Construction of the airport and runway, which is 2750 meters long and 40 meters wide, was financed jointly by API, the NTB Provincial Government and Central Lombok Regency with a cost of Rp 802 billion. API contributed Rp 652 billion.

However, major infrastructure to support the opening of an international airport in Lombok is still not in place. Of particular concern are access and toll roads, promised by the government. The main road from Praya – the capital of Central Lombok – is uneven and in poor condition and the existing road from Mataram through the district of Kediri to the airport site in Slanglit village in Tanak Awu is still too narrow to handle airport traffic.

Access to the airport from Mataram and Senggigi in West Lombok requires approx 4km of new road between Gerung and Batu Jai, at a cost of around Rp10 billion; but funds of Rp 3.9 billion are currently available. Another 2km of new road from Batu Jai to BIL will cost around Rp 8 billion, while funds of only Rp 3 billion are available. At the very least, the old road needs to be widened by one metre each way to total seven metres wide.

In addition, there is no suitable hospital facility close to BIL adequate for emergency situations and no hotels in the nearby town of Praya for pilots and airline crews to stay overnight. Local governments still have to pay for the planned VIP building, TKI (migrant workers) building and a centre for the annual Haji pilgrimages. All these are the responsibility of local governments.

According to the Deputy Director of Construction Supervision, Marsidi, all electrical facilities, telecom and water supplies are prepared and have no problems. However, if the supporting infrastructure and other road access are not completed, these facilities have no purpose.

“The development capital can be returned. However, the consequence will be that the government is no longer included in the airport project,” said Marsidi on Thursday, 21 January. Local government authorities are said to be reviewing the offer.

In addition, Marsidi also complained about frequent theft in the area, including the theft of newly installed cable and the lights on the runway, as well as fence posts installed for new fencing. Even though API employs 20 security guards, with another 60 police and 15 army personnel responsible for site security, theft remains a major problem in the area. Theft of the cable and runway lights is a setback not only because of the costs of replacement, but because the equipment isn’t available in Indonesia. “It's not difficult just because of the cost, but some of this equipment has to be imported from France,” Marsidi said.

Separately, the Head of the NTB Transport Department, Ahmad Baharuddin, told reporters that there is no problem with all the infrastructure constraints. “It's going to be overcome by local governments,” he said. BIL plans for a “soft opening” in March 2010 and inauguration of established operations in June 2010.

This is an optimistic statement by the local government. The Lombok Guide will continue to bring you regular – and accurate – updates on the development of our much anticipated international airport in future issues.

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As we at The Lombok Guide have speculated for the past six months, The Jakarta Post reports that the Indonesian government has decided to terminate all commitments with Dubai-based Emaar Properties on plans to build a US $600 million mega-tourism project in south Lombok.

Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) Chairman, Gita Wirjawan, said on 26 January, 2010, that Emaar had failed to meet its share of the bargain in developing the project.

Gita said the government, represented by the West Nusa Tenggara government, had followed through with its commitments, including building an airport, a 31 km road connecting Mataram to the airport and an 18 km road from the airport to Kuta Beach.

“Emaar failed to reciprocate in kind. We have taken this decision to ensure fairness and we will look for other possibilities,” Gita said.

The mega-tourism project has been marked by finger-pointing since Emaar signed a joint venture agreement with the Bali Tourism Development Corporation (BTDC) in March 2008. The agreement included establishing a joint venture company called Emaar Lombok.

Emaar claimed last year that the Indonesian government had failed to follow through with some of its promises, citing in particular the clearance of a 1,200 hectare area of land required for construction.

In October, Alwi Shihab, Indonesia’s special envoy to the Middle East, who also worked extensively on the project, said the land dispute was solved and that the project would follow through.

Further development showed that around 1,000 hectares had been set aside by the government for the project but still required certification from the National Land Agency (BPN), while the remainder still belonged to local residents.

A disagreement surrounding the company’s investment contributions and ownership in the joint venture has also overshadowed the project.

State SOE Minister, Mustafa Abubakar, said earlier this month the deal with Emaar had expired, but the company would be given a chance to sign a new deal. Both parties had agreed to a 31 December 2009 deadline to solve the numerous problems plaguing the project. Mustafa said the deadline would not be extended, but said he was willing to have fresh talks with Emaar about restarting the much-delayed project.

Gita hinted that the decision to kick Emaar out of Lombok was also in the interest of the property company as it was currently struggling from the impact of the financial crisis.

“Dubai World has been heavily affected by the financial crisis. They have to restructure $59 billion in debt. This will have repercussions on Emaar, which is based in Dubai. The company also embarked on massive projects in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. There are financial limitations. Secondly, they prefer to focus on settling their problems in the Middle East,” Gita said.

No Emaar official was available for comment. Gita said his office had been in talks with investors interested in replacing Emaar.

“We have met with interested investors. One from the Middle East and another from outside the region,” he said, refusing to elaborate further.

Lombok, located just east of Bali, has become the central focus of the ministry’s tourism programmes, with a specific “Visit Lombok Sumbawa 2012” programme aiming to draw one million tourists to the province by 2012.
Famous Lombok tourist sites include Senggigi Beach, the three Gili islands, Mt Rinjani and Lake Segara Anak. Tourist spots in the more secluded Sumbawa Island include Mt. Tambora, Moyo Island, Jelenga Beach and Maluk Beach.

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A night of fun and laughter, cocktails and fine food, when 18 of Lombok’s top businesswomen get together at De Quake

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(Your personal building problems answered)

QUESTION: My husband and I have been holidaying in Lombok for many years and have finally decided to build our dream villa with swimming pool on a hill with stunning sea views. We had plans drawn by an architect and began building 3 months ago. Building seemed to be progressing well, so we decided to leave the builders to it and return to Australia to visit relatives.

When we returned just a few months later, my husband began displaying disturbing behaviour. Every time he visited the site of our new villa, he would swear uncontrollably. He could hardly speak a full sentence without using the “F” word. Sometimes he uses the “F” word several times in one sentence, followed by the “B” word and then the “F” word again. Other friends we have met who are also building villas are displaying the same symptoms. Is this a new tropical disease and is it contagious? I am very worried. Is he suffering from being in contact with any dangerous building materials? A friend of mine suspects “Tourette’s Syndrome”.

MR FIXER: Don’t worry! It’s not “Tourette’s Syndrome”, although the effects are somewhat similar. This is quite normal behaviour when building in Indonesia. It has something to do with coming into contact with people who haven’t got a clue and usually it is not contagious. I recommend avoiding such people whenever possible, just in case. I understand it can be quite distressing, especially for the person paying the bills, but this will soon pass. Try sedation using alcohol available in the Happy Café, Senggigi.

QUESTION: I have been living in a rented villa for several months now in an area near Senggigi called “The Hill” with my Indonesian housekeeper, who has become my full time secretary and companion. One of the first things that attracted me to the beautiful island of Lombok was the friendliness of the locals and the stunning beauty of the ladies with their happy white smiles and alluring coffee coloured skin.

My relationship with my housekeeper / companion has, until recently, been quite platonic, but with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought it was time to show my affection towards her by giving her a little gift. She puts up with all my bad habits without complaint, including my coming home rolling drunk after a Friday night out with the boys watching the “sexy dancers” at the local night club (although why I keep going there, I don’t know… I’ve seen sexier humps on a camel!) I would like to give her something personal. Do you have any suggestions?

MR FIXER:  In matters of the heart such as this, I always consult my friend George. He tells me that last Valentine’s Day he gave his girlfriend a “pearl necklace.” He says it was so satisfying to see those milky white beads dripping from her ears and those pearly droplets around her neck silhouetted in the moonlight as he stood over her panting with delight. It was a perfect compliment to her coffee coloured skin. In fact she liked it so much, he gives her a pearl necklace every week.

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The Indonesian Immigration Department announced on Monday, 25 January, 2010 that foreign tourists visiting Indonesia can now extend their visa-on-arrival (VOA) for another 30 days, starting from 26 January 2010.

Prior to this, foreign tourists were only able to purchase a 7 day or a 30 day tourist visa and were not allowed to extend their visas-on-arrival. Officially, they had to leave the country and re-enter Indonesia to get a new tourist visa.
In the new ruling, the immigration office has decided to scrap the seven day visa-on-arrival. The office will now only issue visas for a 30 day stay at the current rate of US $25, extendable for another 30 days. The process for extension, and whether the extra 30 day extended visa will attract further charges, has not yet been made clear.
In related news, Indonesia’s national airline, Garuda Indonesia, in cooperation with the immigration office, has launched an onboard visa service on inbound flights from Japan. The introduction of the new service coincides with the launch of a premium tour and travel operation in Japan, managed by Garuda’s local partner and subsidiary, Good Luck Tour Co.

The maiden flight of the “visa on board” service took place on 21 January 2010, carrying approximately 180 tourists from Tokyo’s Narita International Airport to Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali.

Each tourist on the Garuda flights is required, after checking in their baggage at the airport, to pay US $25 for a 30-day visa at a designated counter. This visa is extendable for another 30 days without extra charge.

Two immigration officers are stationed at all Garuda flights from Japan to process the tourist visa applications. Garuda currently flies from Narita, Chubu International Airport in Nagoya, and Kansai International Airport in Osaka.
Non-Japanese travellers on these flights can also make use of the “visa on board” service. Those granted visa clearances are given a pass card that allows them to go through immigration checkpoints at Indonesian airports without further immigration inspection.

Garuda CEO, Emirsyah Satar, dubbed the new service “the only one of its kind in the global airline industry”, adding it would also be introduced in the airline’s flights from South Korea and China.

Culture and Tourism Ministry Director for Marketing, I Gde Pitana, praised the new initiative, saying it would do a lot to detract from Indonesia’s oft-ridiculed airport-based immigration services.

“The tourism industry is really about keeping up an image, and the immigration service is the first thing travellers have to deal with,” he said.

He added he had high hopes for the new service to help boost the number of Japanese travellers visiting Indonesia. Japanese outbound tourists reach 18 million annually, but Bali has only attracted 3.5 percent of this market. From January to November 2009, the number of visitors to Indonesia from Japan reached 405,000, a 17 percent drop from the same period in 2008. Pitana said the fall was largely due to the impact of the global economic crisis on Japanese consumers.

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The Gili Eco Trust has wasted no time in springing into action in 2010. In issue 55 we reported on their extended waste management programme, with a number of projects planned to clean up Gili Trawangan being set in motion for this year.

But the Eco Trust is probably best known for its reef and ocean protection activities, as well as for the Bio Rock structures which the Trust has installed around the Gilis to help rehabilitate the coral reefs for which the islands are most famous. With the start of a new year, the Trust has stepped up its reef and beach campaigns, with regular “Clean Up Days” taking place on Gili Trawangan.

This year, Clean-up Day will be held on Gili Trawangan on the first Friday of every month, when local residents and tourists get together to clean up rubbish around the island. Everyone – residents, visitors, divers, business owners, adults and children – is encouraged to join in to help make the island a cleaner place.

If you’d like to take part and do your bit to help the environment, register at any of the dive shops on the island to get gloves and rubbish bags, and join the people collecting rubbish in the village and on the beachfronts. Return your full rubbish bags to get a free dive in the afternoon to collect more rubbish, such as plastic bags and rubbish blown into the sea.

The Clean Up Days are a fun way of involving the whole community in taking care of the island. After all, keeping the environment clean benefits everyone – the people who live and work there, and the visitors who come to holiday and enjoy this beautiful island.

Also between Christmas and New Year, the Eco Trust held a free clinic on Gili T which focused on the welfare of horses, many of which are used for transport around the islands pulling horse carts (cidomo). Working in collaboration with Umalas Stables in Bali, who provided the medicines, the Eco Trust held a 2 day clinic, which was then repeated on 6 January for another 2 days.

Umalas Stables manager, Sabine, and staff, together with Eco Trust manager Delphine, and staff from The Stud on Gili T, worked together in the village to teach the local people how to maintain their equipment, how to treat their horses for wounds and injuries, prevent worms, tooth care and filing, and other general health concerns for horses.

In addition to the monthly Clean Up Days, the Eco Trust has now organised its Horse Clinics to take place on the 1st and 15th of each month. Contact the Eco Trust to join in the clinics, or support their work by donating money for medicines and equipment.

The Eco Trust is also asking all Gili Islands businesses to contribute to the welfare of the horses on the islands by placing a big bucket of water in front of their shops and businesses. The Eco Trust has large fibreglass buckets available in blue or green for just Rp 400 000 each, which look nice and won’t detract from your business frontage. The horses work very hard and, in Lombok’s hot weather, they often don’t get a chance to drink regularly. You can help show local cidomo owners that you support the care of their horses… after all, a bucket of water doesn’t cost much and sends out an important message.

The work of the Gili Eco Trust over the past years is making a big difference to conditions on the Gilis and it is important that everyone contributes to supporting their projects. So get together with friends, work mates, tourists and families to form a team and help make Clean Up Day a success!

If you can’t participate on the day, please help with donations to fund Eco Trust projects. Contact: Delphine Robbe, Gili Eco Trust Manager, on +62 (0) 813 3960 0553 or the local SATGAS Organisation: Rais on 0812 376 3491 or Usman on 0856 4696 4612.

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