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NEWS

ISSUE 73

COME ON OVER TO LOMBOK!

LOMBOK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT DELAYS CONTINUE

WHAT'S HOT!

YOUR SAY (NEW COLUMN)

LOCAL SCENE

MR FIXER

ASMARA… Passionate about food!

IN LOVE WITH HOLIDAYS AT HOLIDAY RESORT

WINGS AIR FLIES BALI-LOMBOK

Q! FILM FESTIVAL BALI

BREAKING THE FAST AT MANNA KEBUN

GILICAT – NEW AND BIGGER FASTBOAT TRANSFER VESSELS

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COME ON OVER TO LOMBOK!

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

With the Idul Fitri celebrations over, we turn our attention to what is happening on our beautiful island. As many of our readers have requested news on the new international airport, in this issue we bring you a special in-depth report on all the latest airport developments.

With airports and flights in mind, it’s great to see that Wings Air has just commenced new twice daily flights between Bali and Lombok, making it even easier for visitors to come to our island. We also bring you news of Gilicat’s fantastic new fast boat, due to start operating in December. See pages 57 and 61 for details.

More options, more ways of getting to Lombok… a 25 minute flight or a short boat trip will soon have you relaxing in the peace and charm of this island of natural beauty!

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Lombok Guide from the locations listed on http://www.thelombokguide.com/deadline_publishing.html 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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LOMBOK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT DELAYS CONTINUE

It’s been several months since The Lombok Guide last published an in-depth report on the Lombok International Airport, so in this issue we bring you a special up-to-date report and photos of the site from our visit on 7 September 2010.

Construction on Lombok International Airport, or Bandara Internasional Lombok (BIL), in the village of Tanak Awu in Central Lombok, was commenced in January 2008.

Over the past few months, local news media have been reporting that the airport is now around 90% complete, while opening ceremonies have been delayed from as far back as June 2009. The opening ceremony for 31 January 2010, as reported by another Lombok English language newspaper, never happened; nor did the ceremonies planned for March and August eventuate.

The latest announcement by NTB Governor, M Zainul Majdi, is that the official opening of the airport is planned for 17 December, 2010, to coincide with the NTB anniversary.

Unfortunately, from what we saw on our most recent visit, even that late date seems highly unlikely.

Far from being 90% complete, when we had the opportunity to tour the entire terminal building, which forms the heart of the new airport; it was obvious that construction is seriously behind schedule. Perhaps worse, a lot of the work previously completed is already in need of repair.

Steel handrails are already rusting, walls are chipped and marked by ongoing construction, plumbing pipes are broken, car parks lay under pools of water, tarmac on the roads is already disintegrating, paving is broken and choked with weeds, and landscaping is neglected and over-grown.

Moreover, hundreds of luggage trolleys sit under dust-covered tarpaulins; LCD monitors installed almost a year ago at check in counters are covered in cobwebs and may not even be in working condition by the time the airport does eventually open. One has to question the wisdom of purchasing baggage trolleys and monitors so far in advance of opening, unless the intention was to give the appearance of an airport without the actual infrastructure.

Inside the terminal, the ground floor is still not finished – despite the determination of the Project Manager that it would be completed in December 2009. The second and third levels are still months away from completion, with ceilings, electrical wiring and insulation not yet installed. A cavity shows where the planned escalator will be; wiring dangles from cobweb filled holes; a makeshift wooden stairway gives access to the incomplete roof structure. Even at the main entrance, marble flooring lays under pools of water – evidence that the impressive-looking roof is going to need more work.

Part of the problem, as experienced last year, is that the local workers employed at the site have refused to work during Ramadan. On the day we visited, a few security guards were around, but no one was working. Indeed, the building echoes with the sound of neglect.

But while Ramadan accounts for a month of delays, this doesn’t explain why the airport is so far behind schedule. Recently, there have been rumours of lack of funding to complete the airport.

At a press conference held at Selaparang Airport on 7 September 2010, Governor Majdi said that another Rp 76 billion (approx US $8.4 million) is needed to complete the airport project. He announced that he had written letters to Budiono, the Vice President of Indonesia, and to the SOE (Ministry of State Owned Enterprises), the Ministry of Transportation, and PT Angkasa Pura I (the national airport authority), requesting assistance to ensure that the airport is completed in December. As yet, there has been no response.

At the meeting, Selaparang Airport General Manager, Ketut Erdi Nuka, said that if the funding was available, the airport could be completed by 17 December. We believe this to be practically impossible.

Pak Ketut also admitted at the meeting that, even if the airport was 100% physically completed by that time, further time is required for the commissioning of navigation tools, simulation, verification and calibration of navigation equipment.

Governor Majdi also admitted that certification of the airport was not under the control of local authorities, but dependent on the Ministry of Transportation and international civil aviation authorities.

Meanwhile, Commission III DPRD NTB (Regional House of Representatives) will again review the site in a working visit this month. Commission III will check the extent of completed construction and quality of workmanship. Some of the construction has been criticised because some projects do not conform to specifications.

“Some of the projects observed in the third commission findings must be improved, such as cracks on the runway, taxiway, irrigation problems and numerous other projects… the quality of the BIL physical building does not reflect the international airport because construction specifications are not met,” said Commission III member, H Najamudin Moestafa.

Najamudin said his party would focus on the work of BIL, rather than the unscrupulous contractors who have carried out work on the project. “In essence,” he said, “BIL should be officially inaugurated after the project is really perfect and complies with specifications. If BIL is not ready to be inaugurated in 2010, this inaugural issue will be postponed until this project is final.”

Lombok International Airport (BIL) Settlement Team Leader, Eko Purwadi, told reporters that, even once the physical construction is completed, a minimum of 2-3 months is needed to obtain operational documents and certificates. He estimates that BIL could be operational for aircraft landings for the first time in March 2011.

Concurrently, The Lombok Post reports that Commission III has issued a statement regarding the existing problems at the airport and has immediately called for an audit. Commission III also reported to the Commission regarding what they referred to as “the maximum lack of progress at BIL”.

Commission III member, Suharto, said that the airport project is currently being audited in collaboration with the University of Mataram (Unram). Audits are being conducted on the problem of physical progress, financial accountability, and an overall audit of the project. “If the audit is completed, the new funds can be disbursed,” he said, adding, “Regarding the problem of launching it in December, that depends on the results of the audit; if it’s feasible or not.”

Aside from the problems of the airport itself, other factors make further delays in opening seem inevitable. Road access is of major importance and, as yet, this problem has not been resolved.

The narrow country road that commences around 5km south of the Central Lombok city of Praya is in bad condition, filled with potholes, and would be almost impossible for tour buses to navigate. At areas such as in Penujak, the road narrows considerably and is lined with produce sellers at the local markets, with trucks and cidomos (horse carts) adding to the congestion. The roads in Kuripan, Batu Jai and south of the airport are in similar poor condition.

Earlier this year there was furore when it was revealed that the government had not yet acquired the land necessary to widen the roads and construct a proposed bypass linking the airport to the city. Some of the land included residences and villages. At the time, it was reported that the estimated cost of these road works was around Rp 500 billion.

According to local sources, the land has now been acquired, and there is some evidence of road construction being commenced near the main entrance to the airport. However, there are many kilometres of roads to be constructed before access to the airport is practical and it is highly unlikely that these can be completed by December 2010.

The Lombok Guide wishes to stress that this report does not in any way negate the importance of the new airport, nor take away from the fact that Lombok will eventually have an international airport. Rather, we hope that our research serves to inform those who have invested in the future of our island and to help investors with planning.
For those who fear the impact of the airport on tourism in Senggigi and the Gilis, we predict there is little to worry about in the immediate future.

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• Lunch during a visit to the Holiday Resort in Mangsit last week left us very impressed with the resort’s new menus! The food at the Holiday Resort has always been quite good, but things have improved dramatically under the leadership of General Manager, Stefan Leu.

Of particular interest is the new Rijstaffel menu available at the Rinjani Restaurant in the resort’s elegant lobby. Rijstaffel means “rice table” and usually involves traditional Indonesian dishes accompanied by rice. The Rijstaffel offered by the Holiday Resort features three popular Indonesian specialties: Nasi Tumpeng, Ayam Taliwang, and Bebek Betutu. Nasi Tumpeng originates in Java and is often used for celebrations in Indonesia. Fragrant coconut and turmeric flavoured rice is served with savoury chicken, shredded beef, herbed egg, potato fritters, spring roll, lamb curry, stir-fried vegetables, shredded dried coconut, fried spicy bean curd and pickles. Ayam Taliwang, while originally from Sumbawa, has become famous as Lombok’s favourite dish. Free-range spring chicken is grilled and served with a distinctive chilli sauce, eggplant sambal, water spinach salad, mixed harvest vegetables and rice. Lastly, Bebek Betutu is a favourite Balinese dish using duck, which is flavoured with spices and wrapped in banana leaves before cooking. It is served with rice and fresh salads and vegetables from Lombok.

Rijstaffel needs to be ordered at least 6 hours in advance, as everything is freshly prepared, and is available for a minimum of two persons. The price for this princely feast is just Rp 225 000++ per couple… a delicious way to sample authentic Indonesian food and fun to share with friends! Ph: 693 444 / www.holidayresort-lombok.com

Café Lombi, the Swiss bakery and café in Senggigi Square, has been getting good reviews since it opened, particularly as good breads and bakery items are hard to find in Senggigi! Since opening, the bakery has been expanding its product range and is now supplying “western style toast bread”. Not overly sweet like local breads, white or whole wheat bread is available, sliced into 12mm slices to make toasting easy. Café Lombi is already supplying some local hotels and restaurants and is happy to discuss wholesale orders. In addition to breads, croissants and pastries, Hamburger buns are also now available, as well as 60cm long authentic French Baguettes.

A little bird tells me that after Idul Fitri, Café Lombi will also add pizza to the menu. For those who miss ready to bake pizza at home, you’ll soon be able to pick up a frozen pizza to take home. The café aims to be the first local supplier with homemade pizza dough and will also be offering the pizza dough, already rolled out to 25cm size, so you can create your own pizza at home with all your favourite toppings! If you haven’t discovered Café Lombi yet, make sure you visit soon! Ph: 0370 692085 / 0818 365 790

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Got something to say? We’re interested to hear your news and views! You must supply your name and address, but publication can be withheld on request. Email us now at kitadesign@hotmail.com

Ada yang ingin anda katakan? Kami tertarik untuk mendengar cerita dan pandangan anda!
Anda harus menyertakan nama dan alamat, tetapi kami tidak akan mencetak nama anda
tanpa ijin anda. Kirimkan email ke kitadesign@hotmail.com

Dear Ed

Are there any noise regulations in Lombok? Even if we screamed, we would not be heard above the constant roaring of motor bikes speeding their way through the streets of Senggigi and surrounds.
It is almost impossible to believe that kids as young as 10 are in “control” of a speed machine, usually with no muffler and modified for maximum noise levels. Residents and tourists are trying to cross the streets while kids are “riding” with no regard for their own lives or anyone else’s lives on the road.
Hotel guests are affected at 3am in the morning when a barrage of drunken youths are riding home after a night out. It is sad that this beautiful island is plagued by traffic noise, something many tourists come to Lombok to escape; but there will be no escape unless we make a stand.


Glenn, The Beach Club, Lombok

Kepada Penulis

Apakah ada aturan mengenai kebisingan di Lombok?
Bahkan walau kami berteriak, tidak akan terdengar di dalam kebisingan suara sepeda motor yang melaju cepat di jalan-jalan Senggigi dan sekitarnya.
Hampir tidak bisa dipercaya bahwa anak seumur 10 tahun sudah mengendarai sepeda motor dengan laju yang cepat, biasanya dengan knalpot yang sudah dimodifikasi untuk mencapai tingkat kebisingan yang paling tinggi. Para penduduk dan turis mencoba untuk menyeberangi jalan ketika anak-anak muda tersebut melaju cepat dengan sepeda motornya tanpa menghargai nyawa mereka sendiri ataupun orang lain yang berada di jalan.
Para tamu hotel sangat terganggu, terutama sekitar jam 3 pagi saat para pemuda tersebut berkendara pulang dalam keadaan mabuk setelah berpesta. Sangat disayangkan bahwa pulau yang indah ini telah dicap jelek oleh karena kebisingan kendaraan bermotor yang ada di sini.
Salah satu alasan turis datang ke Lombok adalah untuk menghindari suasana bising kota, tetapi tidak akan ada tempat seperti itu di Lombok bila kita tidak bersama-sama berdiri untuk menghentikan kebodohan ini.

Glenn, The Beach Club, Lombok

 

PLN…..Prince of Darkness

Hands up those of you who have been forced to visit your local PLN office because your power bill looks more like a telephone number than your electricity bill? Judging by the long queues of disgruntled customers at PLN in Ampenan, I would suggest the numbers are very substantial.

Surely the total accountability of the PLN has to be brought into question based not only on their failure to provide power, as documented previously in a letter to “Your say” but on their most dubious accounting and payment systems.

Having waited 3 years to have the power connected and being relieved of Rp 25 million for the privilege... Rp 5 million of which we later found out was a kick back to the guy we had used to help arrange the installation, we have been dutifully paying our PLN account on the due date monthly as issued by the PLN.
In June we received a monthly bill for Rp 13 million. After numerous attempts to explain this almost 2,600% increase, we were informed that our electricity meter had actually never been read and we now owed this amount because the previous monthly bills we had been paying were only a guess at the power usage.
And there is more…having asked for a copy of an account to substantiate this amount we were told that would not be possible because the PLN records did not got go back that long…..and there's more…after a month of arguing the legalities of this sham of accountability, we were informed the amount due was now Rp 22 million. Again without any substantiated account.

We were told a payment plan could be arranged and the whole situation was our fault because we should have realized we had not been paying enough in the past….ok…so the PLN would like us to do their job for them…..does that come with a uniform I wonder????

So, as with all stories, when dealing with Indonesian bureaucracy, it is always a mistake to think a resolution has been achieved. The sands shift again. We are told to attend the PLN once again to sign an installment payment plan. We queue for over one hour where one diligent girl has been charged with the task of manually completing installment plans for poor unfortunates like ourselves that the long arm of the PLN has snared.

The story from the growing queue, by now more than 20, is the same. One guy says he has a very small house in Mataram and has been told he owes Rp 6 million. This is half a year's pay for him.

Finally it is our turn….back to the shifting sands…We are told the amount we now owe has changed. It has been reduced to Rp 16 million. Not feeling as if any victory has been achieved, we ask for a full printout of our payment record. We spy an antiquated computer on the desk, so we ask if it is possible to have a printout of our payment history. Not possible, we are told. On closer inspection we see the guy at the computer is playing a computer game! Lucky him; the power was on that day.

So, having sold our soul to the PLN payment plan we vow this to be our last torturous visit to the PLN office. Not so. Three days later we receive a call from the PLN office. A mistake has been made and we owe Rp 20 million. We are told we must return within 3 days to sign a new payment plan!!!!!

Back to queue and throw around words such as “class action”, “duty of care”, “corruption” and when all this fails , the favorite word uttered by all the poor blighted souls patiently standing in line…gila!!!

Ask us if we would recommend squandering your life savings in investing in Indonesia with such abysmal infrastructure…hell no!

Why do we stay and persevere with such obstacles?

The courteous, self effacing tolerance, patience and acceptance the Indonesian people display daily in their continual trials and tribulations to survive in the face of adversity. That's why we stay.

Mr President, if Indonesia is to take its rightful place on the world stage, it is imperative that basic infrastructure is brought... dragging and screaming into the developed world. In the meantime your people are crying.

PS. A week after our final ordeal at the PLN office, we were surprised by a visit from a nicely presented PLN official who had arrived with a digital camera to photograph our PLN electricity box. We were told this was the new method for recording customer's power usage.

Smile for the camera.

(Name and address withheld on request)

PLN… Pangeran Kegelapan

Unjuk jari bagi anda yang telah terpaksa mendatangi kantor PLN dikarenakan oleh biaya listrik anda yang terlihat seperti angka nomor telepon anda?

Melihat dari panjangnya antrian para pengguna listrik yang tidak senang di kantor PLN Ampenan, saya bisa menebak jumlahnya pastilah sangat besar. Kredibilitas PLN sudah jelas dipertanyakan hanya dengan berdasarkan kegagalan dalam menyediakan listrik, seperti yang telah dimuat dalam kolom “Your Say” sebelumnya, tetapi ditambah lagi dengan sistem perhitungan dan pembayaran yang sangat meragukan, yang lebih menunjukkan bahwa PLN tidak bisa diandalkan.

Setelah menunggu selama 3 tahun untuk mendapatkan listrik dan harus puas dengan mengeluarkan biaya Rp 25 juta untuk bisa diutamakan… yang dikemudian hari kami ketahui bahwa Rp 5 juta dari jumlah tersebut diperuntukan kepada orang yang menolong kami dalam hal pengaturan jadwal pemasangan, dan kami telah secara teratur membayar biaya listrik pada tanggal yang telah ditetapkan setiap bulannya yang dikeluarkan oleh PLN.

Pada bulan Juni kami menerima nota biaya bulanan sebesar Rp 13 juta.

Setelah usaha kami yang tak terhitung jumlahnya untuk menjelaskan bahwa biaya ini mengalami kenaikan hampir mencapai 2600%, kami diinformasikan bahwa meter listrik kami sebenarnya tidak pernah dibaca dan sekarang kami berhutang dengan jumlah sebesar ini dikarenakan oleh biaya-biaya yang kami bayarkan sebelumnya hanyalah perkiraan mereka mengenai jumlah daya yang kami gunakan.

Dan ada lagi… kami meminta salinan data penggunaan daya kami untuk mencocokkan jumlah biaya yang diminta, kami diberitahukan bahwa itu tidak bisa dilakukan karena PLN tidak menyimpan sampai jangka waktu yang lama… dan ada lagi… setelah sebulan berargumentasi masalah kebenaran dari jumlah perhitungan ini, kami diinformasikan bahwa jumlahnya sekarang menjadi Rp 22 juta. Dan lagi, tanpa bukti yang menunjang. Kami diberitahukan bahwa pembayaran bisa diatur dan semua masalah yang terjadi ini adalah kesalahan kami karena kami seharusnya menyadari bahwa kami tidak membayar cukup pada masa-masa sebelumnya… ok… jadi PLN ingin kami mengerjakan pekerjaan mereka untuk mereka… saya jadi bertanya-tanya apakah PLN juga akan memberikan saya baju seragam PLN???

Seperti biasa, pada saat berhadapan dengan birokrasi di Indonesia, adalah salah kalau berpikir anda telah mendapatkan pemecahan masalah tanpa masalah.

Tidak hanya selesai sampai disitu. Kami diminta untuk datang ke kantor PLN sekali lagi untuk menandatangani rencana angsuran pembayaran. Antri selama lebih dari satu jam dimana hanya satu orang perempuan yang ditugaskan mengisi formulir secara manual untuk sekian banyak pengguna listrik yang tidak beruntung. Cerita dari para antrian yang semakin bertambah, sekarang sudah lebih dari 20 orang memiliki masalah yang sama. Satu orang berkata ia memiliki rumah yang sangat kecil di Mataram dan telah diberitahukan bahwa ia berhutang sebanyak Rp 6 juta. Itu sama dengan hasil gaji selama setengah tahun baginya.

Akhirnya, giliran kami tiba… kembali ke dalam masalah… kami diberitahukan bahwa jumlah hutang kami sekarang telah berubah. Telah diturunkan menjadi Rp 16 juta. Anehnya, kami tidak merasa telah mencapai sebuah kemenangan sama sekali. Kami melihat ada komputer kuno di atas meja, jadi kami meminta untuk dicetakkan datanya. Tidak memungkinkan, kami diberitahu. Lalu, kami mendekat untuk melihat lebih jelas, lelaki yang berada di balik komputer tersebut sedang bermain game! Ia terlihat sangat bersyukur listrik menyala hari itu, sehingga ia bisa tetap main game!

Kemudian, setelah menjual jiwa kami kepada masalah rencana pembayaran PLN, kami berharap ini akan menjadi kunjungan terakhir ke kantor PLN yang sangat menyiksa. Tidak juga. Tiga hari berikutnya kami mendapat telepon dari kantor PLN. Kesalahan telah diperbuat, dan kami berhutang Rp 20 juta. Kami diberitahukan bahwa kami harus kembali di dalam tiga hari untuk menandatangani rencana angsuran pembayaran yang baru!!! Kembali pada antrian dan banyak kata-kata protes yang terdengar disekitar kami selama mengantri, seperti “kami semua bisa menuntut”, “dimana tanggung jawab pelayanannya”, “korupsi” dan “kapan semua ini akan berakhir”, kata favorit dari semua jiwa-jiwa merana yang dengan sabar berdiri dalam barisan itu adalah… “gila!!!”

Silahkan tanya kami apakah kami akan menyarankan untuk menyia-nyiakan uang yang sudah anda simpan seumur hidup untuk berinvestasi di Indonesia dengan kondisi infrastruktur yang sangat buruk… jelas tidak!
Kenapa kami tetap tinggal di Lombok dan terus mencoba walaupun dengan adanya rintangan-rintangan masalah semacam ini?

Kesopanan, toleransi diri, kesabaran dan sikap menerima orang Indonesia yang terlihat setiap hari dalam kehidupan mereka yang penuh dengan masalah dan harus mereka hadapi untuk bisa bertahan hidup. Itu kenapa kami tetap tinggal.

Pak Presiden, jika Indonesia ingin naik ke atas panggung dunia, adalah sangat penting bahwa infrastruktur dasar harus tersedia… untuk menyeret Indonesia untuk bergabung dalam dunia berkembang.

Tetapi di waktu yang sama, lihatlah orang-orang mu sedang menangis.

Catatan. Seminggu setelah perjanjian akhir di kantor PLN, kami terkejut dengan kedatangan petugas PLN yang ramah, datang dengan membawa sebuah kamera digital untuk mengambil gambar kotak meter listrik. Kami diberitahukan bahwa itu adalah metode baru untuk merekam penggunaan listrik konsumen.

Senyum kepada kamera.

(Nama dan alamat tidak dicetak atas permintaan pengirim)

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LOCAL SCENE

KARYANA @ LILAGIO GALLERY

Guests gathered at the new Lilagio Art Gallery, now open at Jo-Je Beach Bungalows in Batu Bolong, to view the stunning atwork of local Lombok artist, Karyana.
Karyana works in a range of mediums, from oils to aquarelle, and is well known for his realistic portraiture. In his new collection, he shows his artistic range with eyecathcing abstract works in sepia tones.
Karyana has exhibited his work widely, most recently at the Four Seasons Resort in Jimbaran, and his art is collected internationally. Visitors to Lombok can view his extraordinary talent at Lilagio Gallery daily.

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(Tongue-in-cheek answers to your personal building problems)

QUESTION: My wife and I have been in Lombok now for several weeks and I still can’t get used to the fact that I can smoke in a public place. As your readers may already know, smoking in Europe is banned in almost every conceivable way possible, turning people like me (a dedicated smoker for over 40 years) into instant criminals, liable to on-the-spot fines and public humiliation. 

The situation in Europe is compounded by the extortionate amount of money we have to pay for tobacco. Cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco is available in Lombok for a fraction of the cost for an identical product in Europe. Not only that, but I can light up anytime, anywhere I like here! In fact, it is almost compulsory to smoke whilst shopping for food in the supermarket. No one seems to mind at all! Freedoms are being eroded constantly in Europe by “Big Brother Government” interference and intervention, with new rules and regulations being introduced all the time by left wing bleeding heart liberals who make my blood boil. Do you think this will happen in Idyllic Lombok?

MR FIXER: If my wife has anything to do with it, yes it will, (but not anytime soon)! Every time I light up a cigarette, my wife manages to stand downwind of me. I don’t know how she does it. They say Europe is a free country. Here in Senggigi, on the beautiful island of Lombok, you can have as many cigarettes as you like in a public place, drink as many beers as you like and stagger across the road and hire a motorbike. You don’t need a driving license or insurance, and you can drive it as fast as you like without lights or crash helmet. How much freedom do you want?  

QUESTION: My name is Massimo Xavier Du Ponce and I am coming from a small village in France. I ‘ave become sick of ze rat race in Europe and ‘ave decided to, how you say in English, “drop dead”… sorry “drop out”, scuse my French. It is very bad.  I ‘ave decided to go back to mosser nature and become a “Mippy” (zat is a ‘ippy vis money).
I am liking to buy a plot of ze land on one of ze Gili Islands by ze sea. As I am coming from France, I am quite used to ze twallette facilities which look like ze starting blocks which ‘ave foot markings on each side so I sink I will be able to cope quite woll vis zis.   Can you racomonde a rendezvous where I can chill up? 

MR FIXER: Go to the Gilis where you can “tune in, turn on, and drop out”. So said Timothy Leary (counterculture icon of the 1960’s). It is said that he thought of the famous quote when in the shower. It’s a good job he was not in a French toilet or it might have ended up as “tune in, turn on and slip over”. I mean have you ever been in a French toilet? I digress… 

Here’s a list of a few people who all have at least 2 things in common. The first is: they are all billionaires. Sir Richard Branson, Kirk Kerkorian, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Jobs, David Geffen, and Michael Dell. Give up on the second? They were all school dropouts. The problem? Our schools! They only teach kids what should be done, instead of what can be done. There’s a big difference! One way closes the mind; the other opens the mind into a swirling world of possibilities and probabilities. Entrepreneurs only exist in free mental and economic markets. They thrive on risk and innovation, not well tested formulas and strict learning methods. Another pioneering dropout was Albert Einstein.  He was continually being pushed to the back of the class and refused good positions because he was a dreamer. Timothy Leary is perhaps the “original drop out”. He even had his ashes shot into space in a capsule. How cool is that?! Go get ‘em, Frenchie! Go to the Gilis! By the way, what’s French for “entrepreneur”?

Got a question for Mr Fixer? He’s always got a quirky answer your personal building problems! Just email your problem to “Mr Fixer” at kitadesign@hotmail.com
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ASMARA… Passionate about food!

Asmara – In Bahasa Indonesia the word means “passionate love” and it certainly is a lovely restaurant for a romantic dinner for two. However, dining there last week, we’re more inclined to think that the name refers to a passionate affair with food!

While restaurants in Lombok may come and go, Asmara Restaurant has remained one of the most popular restaurants in Senggigi for many years and it’s easy to see why this restaurant has so many loyal fans. The large menu is filled with tasty offerings ranging from light snacks to substantial meals, including international favourites, German specialties and a great selection of seafood dishes.

At Asmara, it’s the little touches that make the difference – home-baked German rye and wholemeal breads, innovative salads with fresh herbs from the garden, creative weekly specials and consistently good food -- all these things make this a restaurant that stands out from the rest.

Laid out over two levels, casual street-side dining is available, surrounded by pretty flowering gardens and herbs growing in terracotta pots. Upstairs there are more private tables in a comfortable dining room, away from the street noise. There is also an attractive bar area, a billiards room and library and, for parents looking to dine in peace, a play area for the children. In fact, this is one of the few places where children are very well catered for, with toys and games supplied and a special children’s menu with plenty of choices at sensible prices.

The drinks list is substantial, with everything on offer from fresh fruit juices and yoghurt lassi, to local and imported wines, and a complete range of spirits and cocktails. There’s even a selection of liqueurs and brandies not usually found outside of the star-rated hotels.

Together with the regular menu, Asmara offers a special weekly menu, featuring seasonal produce, just to make the choice even more difficult. Specials often include tempting choices such as Avocado and Lobster Salad, Homemade Chicken Liver Pate, Filet Stroganoff and other creations from the experienced kitchen team.

Choosing from either menu is filled with temptations, with so many delicious choices available. Entrees include Grilled Garlic Prawns, Tuna Carpaccio, Shrimp Cocktail, a good selection of salads and several soups. Prices range from Rp 16 000 to Rp 50 000.

Main courses are divided into different sections for seafood, Chicken, Indonesian and Meat and include popular dishes such Beef Ragout, or Chicken Beast with Lime and Rosemary, and Coconut Chicken. German Schnitzel or Frikadellen is available, as are homemade pastas, pizzas and a very good range of authentic Indonesian and local Sasak dishes. Vegetarians are also well catered for, with many tasty non-meat dishes and salads featured.

The seafood section is particularly popular and includes Mixed Seafood with Creamy Herb Sauce, Thai Style Prawns, Grilled Tuna Steaks and Stuffed Squid, all ranging between Rp 65 – 95 000.  There’s also Fresh Lobster from the aquarium, Crabs, Prawns and whole fresh fish available from the daily fish market.

Side dishes, all around Rp 15 000, include a variety of potatoes – baked, sautéed, mashed, wedges, French fries or croquettes – as well as Sautéed Baby Leaf Spinach, Spicy Vegetables with Coconut, and Roasted Tomatoes topped with herbs.

Asmara has had a reputation for years as one of the best places in Lombok for steaks and juicy tender cuts are a specialty. 200g and 300g sizes are available, served with delicious sauces including Chasseur, Green Pepper, Gravy with Cream, Herb Butter and more. The Surf and Turf, topped with a giant jumbo prawn and herb butter, served with French fries and roasted tomatoes, is a winner!

In addition to the main menu, Asmara also offers a well-priced lunch menu of three courses for Rp 55 000, and serves wonderful breakfasts, including homemade muesli, freshly baked breads, as well as more substantial English, German and “Asmara” breakfasts.

The well-designed restaurant is a relaxing place to while away a few hours, whether during the day or night, and provides free WiFi internet to guests who want to combine business with pleasure.

On Friday nights, the popular “Stammtisch” (or “open table”) allows regular expatriate residents and visitors to meet and mingle, accompanied by live music that is not intrusive and creates a friendly and fun atmosphere.
All these things add to the charm that is Asmara. Suffice to say, this is a restaurant that deserves many visits to truly appreciate the fine food and creative dishes being produced by the talented kitchen staff.

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IN LOVE WITH HOLIDAYS AT HOLIDAY RESORT

A German couple are so enamoured of Lombok – and the Holiday Resort in Mangsit in particular – that they have just returned to the island for their fourteenth visit in 14 years!

Harry and Barbara Bilz first came to Lombok in 1996, when they booked a stop-over for just two nights to see what the island was like.

“Our first impression was just falling in love,” Harry said, “The hotel, the gardens, the staff and everything. From then, we have never really wanted to stay anywhere else.”

The couple have enjoyed travelling to many places around the world, including the Carribean, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, but prefer Lombok most of all. In 2000, they holidayed in Thailand, but ended up cutting their holiday short and almost diverted to Lombok. Since then, there is no question about where they want to spend their vacations.

This year, Harry and Barbara have brought Barbara’s mother, Marie-Hellene Kunkel, with them. At 87 years old, this is the first time Marie-Hellene has been on a holiday outside of Germany and the first time she has flown in an aircraft. Despite their concerns, Marie-Hellene has handled the experience superbly.

“This is wonderful! Now I know what paradise is like!” she exclaimed, when we met her last week.

In their earlier visits, Harry and Barbara enjoyed using the Holiday Resort as a base while exploring other islands in Indonesia. They have travelled to Java, Bali, Sulawesi and Flores several times. In Flores, Harry, a headmaster at a school in Germany, started a project for the people of Flores. The couple have also helped local Lombok beach sellers sell their products, such as key rings and book marks, in Germany; with one hotel ordering 200 of the hand made key rings.

These days, they prefer to spend more time relaxing in Lombok on their holidays. Harry, now 60 years old, has just retired and the couple are looking forward to taking longer holidays of up to four weeks on our island.

“Since so many years were spent working, I want to relax now,” Harry said, “In Germany, every day is planned with things we have to do. It is wonderful to have a holiday with no plans; just to do whatever you feel like doing every day.”

The couple say they are never bored in Lombok and enjoy swimming, walking on the beach at the resort and talking to the local people, while Harry enjoys fishing.

After 14 visits, the couple feel at home at the Holiday Resort and say that the staff feel like family. “‘Welcome Home’ they always say when we come back,” says Harry, “Welcome home!”

“When we’ve been away, we say ‘we want to go home’. What do we mean by ‘home’? To the Holiday Resort!” Barbara laughs. “We are already looking forward to the 15th time!”

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WINGS AIR FLIES BALI-LOMBOK

Indonesian airline, Wings Air, has commenced operating new routes to Bali and airports in Nusa Tenggara in September 2010.

The general manager of Lion Air, Edward Sirait, confirmed that Wings Air had commenced new flight services between Denpasar (Bali) and Mataram (Lombok), Semarang and Denpasar, Denpasar and Tambolaka (West Sumba), Denpasar and Bima (Sumbawa).

The new Wings Air routes will be flown by ATR72-500 aircraft with 72 seats available to passengers.

The Wings Air services began operations on 6 September 2010. The airline flies between Denpasar and Mataram, and Denpasar and Semarang, twice daily.  

The Denpasar to Tambolaka service flies four times each week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The new Wings Air service connecting Denpasar to Bima operates three times each week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

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Q! FILM FESTIVAL BALI

Discoverbali.com reports that the ninth edition of Q! Film Festival will take to the road, showing gay and lesbian films throughout the months of September and October 2010 in quick succession in Jakarta, Malang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Bali.

A large number of alternative films, many with gay and lesbian themes, will be shown in venues ranging from theatres to restaurants and bar.

Admission to screenings is free of charge.

The film showing locations in Bali from 13 -- 17 October include:
• Art Café -- Seminyak
• Gaya Fusion -- Ubud
• Grocer + Grind -- Seminyak
• Alliance Francais -- Denpasar
• Graha Irama Minikino -- Denpasar
For information on films, schedules and locations, visit the Q! Film website at http://www.q-munity.org/index.php

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BREAKING THE FAST AT MANNA KEBUN

Buka Puasa Bersama (breaking the fast together) is an important tradition during the month of Ramadan.
After a day of fasting, the evening meal that comes at sunset is a welcome relief and a time to gather with family and friends to celebrate another successful day of completing the fast.

We joined Pak Winarno and GM, Baharrudin, from Manna Kebun during Ramadan for buka puasa bersama in the lovely restaurant at the newly opened resort. Airy and spacious, the restaurant overlooks the swimming pool and provides a cool, relaxing place for lunch, happy hour drinks or dinner.

Manna Kebun is located opposite the Sheraton Resort in Senggigi and has a selection of exclusive and luxurious villas, each with private swimming pool. Construction on the hotel wing is due to commence shortly and, judging from the usual style of construction consultant Winarno, will be very special indeed!

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GILICAT – NEW AND BIGGER FASTBOAT TRANSFER VESSELS

With passenger demand for fast boat transfers to the Gili Islands increasing by some 25% over 2009, Gilicat, the first company to offer daily transfers and one of the largest operators, has commenced building a new 20 metre, 70 passenger vessel for the Padang Bai / Gili Island / Lombok run. The vessel is expected to enter service in December 2010.

With a number of other operator’s vessels suffering significant structural damage during the 2010 high season, and in two cases actually sinking, the board of Gilicat have ensured the new $1.5 million dollar vessel, is specifically designed to handle the sometimes challenging sea conditions of the 34 nautical mile crossing between Padang Bai and the Gili Islands.

The all aluminium vessel was designed by Global Marine Design in Australia. Its structural plans were approved by DNV, an International Classification Society, prior to the hull and superstructure being pre-cut and shipped to Indonesia in kit form, where it is being assembled and fitted out. The assembly and fit-out is being overseen by Bureau Klasifikasi Indonesia (BKI), who will certify that the construction, machinery, safety equipment and crewing conform to international standards. It is powered by twin 1200 hp diesel engines, which ensures both speed and reliability.

The General Manager of Gilicat, Captain Chris Ellis (a retired Australian Navy Commander with more than 40 years of marine experience), is unconcerned about the competition Gilicat faces from the other 13 operators recently approved to operate on this route. 

According to Captain Ellis, “It is a significant capital investment and it does have some strategic risks from the competition posed by other operators with smaller, cheaper, locally produced boats. Notwithstanding, one only has to see the comments posted on blog sites following the recent sinking of a vessel off Padang Bai in August to realise that the travelling public expects, quite rightly, a more comfortable and safer means of getting them and their families to the Gili Islands and Lombok.”

“With the intention of being a long-term player in this business, Gilicat is leading the way in this regard. I have no doubt that the new vessel will get the support it needs to provide the best product at a competitive price.”

“The writing is on the wall for all fast boat operators -- as a group we have to maintain strict safety standards as set by the Government of Indonesia, as well as the expectations of many foreign governments whose citizens we carry on our boats. A serious incident resulting in loss of life will not only affect all fast boats, but the Gili Islands tourism market and the reputation of Indonesia as a whole.”

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