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NEWS

ISSUE 81

 

LOMBOK WELCOMES 2011!

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.

What a wonderful start to the New Year it was in Lombok! As we said goodbye to 2010 and welcomed in 2011, thousands of people flocked to our island to celebrate the holidays. Despite heavy rains, the streets of Senggigi were packed as local crowds rubbed shoulders with partying tourists, wishing each other a Happy New Year!

On the Gili Islands the story was the same, with hotels in Gili Trawangan booked solid and many saying it was the busiest season ever! At midnight, the fireworks displays from Vila Ombak, The Beach House and Tir Na Nog competed with the lightening to create a magical light show over the ocean to welcome the New Year.

And welcome 2011, we do! 2010 has been an excellent year for Lombok, with more tourists than ever visiting our beautiful island. With the new airport due to open this year and new developments sweeping the island, there’s every reason to expect a bumper year for Lombok in terms of tourism and investment. Oh well – we know we can’t keep paradise a secret forever!

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Lombok Guide from the locations listed on http://www.thelombokguide.com/distribution.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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WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO OUR BEACH?

Publishing a tourism promotion paper is often like walking a tightrope; maintaining a balancing act between promoting the positive aspects of our beautiful island, while at the same time providing accurate and factual information for visitors and tourism industry stakeholders alike.
In this issue we once again walk that tightrope with this special report, which tackles some difficult issues and explores the future of Senggigi Beach as a tourism attraction.

While Senggigi is an obvious tourism icon, with its close proximity to the current airport and being within a day’s drive of most of the island’s attractions, as well as having a good range of accommodations, restaurants and tourist facilities; it is the heart of the town – Senggigi Beach – that needs to be recognised and preserved as a major draw-card for tourists.

We first published information on the new “jogging track” being constructed on the Senggigi beachfront in Issue 76 on 1 November 2010. At that time there was concern about the abrupt decision by the West Lombok Department of Tourism and Culture (Dinas Pariwisata dan Kebudayaan Lombok Barat) to create a jogging track along the beachfront, without consultation with local businesses or approval from all local authorities.
Despite objections, the project has gone ahead. Concerns and criticism continue to abound, as paving is being laid on the beach without a proper concrete foundation and many critics speculate that, with high tides common on the beach, the jogging track will be reduced to rubble within months.

Other critics question the wisdom of the unilateral decision by the tourism department, which has chosen to spend government funds on a jogging track few people want; rather than invest in much-needed drainage and footpaths on the main street in Senggigi.

However, with The Lombok Guide recently gaining access to the complete plans approved by the Tourism Department, we can now reveal that the preparations to change the face of Senggigi Beach go far beyond a mere jogging track.

The document, entitled “Plans to Revitalise the Senggigi Beach Area” (“Perencanaan Revitalisasi Kawasan Pantai Senggigi”) calls for the construction of a 36 metre jetty, a large “waiting room”, food stalls and shops, toilets and shower facilities, a tourism police post, and a bridge; in addition to the jogging track.

The jogging track will extend from the northern end of the beach, in front of the Sheraton Senggigi Resort, and run the entire length of the beach to Senggigi Point, in front of the Senggigi Beach Hotel, where it will then somehow circumnavigate the point and continue along the beach to the south, past Lina Cottages, and terminate at the Graha Hotel.

In the past few weeks Jalan Pantai Senggigi (the small road leading from Senggigi Main Street to the beach) has been widened at the end nearest the beach to allow more roadside parking, and a row of concrete shops has been built on the side near the Santosa Resort. A visit last Sunday showed hundreds of local people on motorbikes crowding into the area and the “parking attendants” making a killing with a new Rp 2000 “parking fee”.

The plans call for a construction of an entrance ticket booth and more parking in this area. The shops are supposed to help relocate illegal sellers from the makeshift stalls they have erected on the beachfront but, with only 15 stalls available, this seems unlikely. Construction of more stalls is planned in front of the Senggigi Beach Hotel (SBH), which has apparently donated 3 metres of its beachfront for the project. This may work well for a hotel that caters largely to the domestic tourist market but is unlikely to please European travellers with the associated crowds, mess and rubbish generated by the stalls.

On the corner of the beach near the Santosa Villas and Resort, the Harbour Master’s Office is being renovated and will include a building housing toilets and shower blocks. To the right, and within metres of the high-tide line, a substantial building is under construction. According to our source, this building was planned to house shops selling satays and Kelapa Muda (young coconuts). This proposal, however, was apparently vetoed by the Village Head of Senggigi and the building will now be used as a waiting room for people wanting to catch local boats (perahu) to the Gili Islands.

Slightly to the left of this building, construction has started on a jetty which will eventually extend 36 metres into Senggigi Bay, with a floating pontoon at the end. This jetty will be used for moorings and as an embarkation point for public boats travelling to the Gilis.

Those of us who remember the fate of the jetty built by Bounty Cruises in Senggigi Bay in 1999 hope that this jetty is constructed to withstand the tidal changes, strong currents and occasional big waves in the bay.
Sources on the project tell us that Rp 1.5 billion (approx US $170 000) has been spent on this “revitalisation project” to date. However, this amount is not enough to complete the entire project and another Rp 3 billion is expected to be injected into the coffers in March 2011.

And while we question the need for a concrete jogging track on our beachfront, at present this path is providing the only access to the beach, due to the hundreds of fishing boats that have started parking on the beach over the past few weeks. Boat owners say that bad weather conditions have made docking boats at Ampenan difficult and have demanded the right to park at Senggigi. However, others argue that there is ample room for fishing boats to park in both Meninting and Montong. At present, it is impossible to walk along the beach due to fishing boats being parked three deep, outrigger-to-outrigger, along the entire beachfront.

On the Sunday we visited, the beachfront resembled a scene at Kebun Roek local markets more than a tourism beach, with a warren of shabby stalls lining the beachfront, piles of rubbish, and plastic bags and wrappers blowing everywhere.

Indeed, the entire concept of this “revitalisation project” seems to be aimed at the local and domestic tourist market. Provision for motorcycle parking, stalls selling satays and coconuts, shower blocks for local beachgoers and a police post, all point to an intention that Senggigi become a “domestic beach”.

While a public beach should be open to all, it seems reasonable to expect that Senggigi Beach, being at the heart of Lombok’s main tourism centre, should be kept clean of rubbish, local stalls and traders; beach sellers should be licensed and regulated (as in Bali); and crowding by fishing boats be controlled, so that the beauty of this beachfront can be preserved as a tourism icon.

In addition, we can’t help but note that the budget of Rp 4.5 billion for this project would have gone a long way to improving the image of Senggigi’s main street by constructing proper drainage to ease the flooding problems and repairing the footpaths which have now deteriorated to the point of being downright dangerous.

Once again, the aspirations of the tourism industry and the actions of the local government seem to be in direct opposition to each other.

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WHAT'S HOT!

The shops on Senggigi main street between Galleria and the Art Markets are starting to fill up, with two new restaurants and a health clinic opening up in the past couple of weeks.

• Choice Café is a new Indian–Arabian Café that opened recently in a small bamboo style shop on the strip. The café serves a good selection of typical Indian dishes including Briyani Rice, Tandoori, Chicken Tika Masala, Korma and freshly made Indian breads such as Paratha, Chapati and Poori. Arabian dishes include Majebus Rice with chicken, lamb or beef, Dejaj Meshwie, Marag Soup and Arabian Grilled Lamb.
We tried the Chicken Tandoori which was very good, as were the Arabian Beef Kebabs listed on the specials menu out front. There is also a selection of Indonesian dishes on the specials menu, together with Indian favourites such as Lassi, Falooda, Masala Tea or Coffee, fresh juices and more. After dinner, try an authentic Sheesha… the huge Sheesha pipes look magnificent standing next to the tables and imported tobaccos are available in different flavours.

• Bumbu Café, in the strip of restaurants south of Happy Café, has been a popular eatery for both tourists and residents for many years. A second “bigger and better” Bumbu has now opened in the Art Markets strip, just north of Choice Café. The original Bumbu is still doing brisk business in the south end of town but owner, Toha, decided to open a second, larger café in the north end of town to cater for extra crowds and guests who prefer more spacious surroundings in the quieter end of town.

The new Bumbu serves the same delicious and authentic Thai dishes in its new location, as well as all the other favourites that have made Bumbu so popular, and still has the same relaxed, casual atmosphere with friendly staff. Old and new guests wanting to try out the new Bumbu will receive 20% discount throughout December.

• The final new addition to this strip is Medika Husada. The medical clinic offers a 24 hour service with a doctor on stand-by during the day. The downstairs area has a reception area and treatment room, while the upstairs area has beds and equipment for patients requiring observation for longer periods. Staffed and run by local doctors, the clinic is equipped to handle emergencies (with access to hospitals if needed), and basic medical problems for residents and travellers, and the doctors speak English. This one is very new, so we’ll bring you more details next issue!

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YOUR SAY

The Rotary Club of Lombok would like to express its gratitude to all the people concerned who contributed to the success of the sale of paintings, over the weekend of 20 and 21 November, 2010.

200 copies of framed oil paintings, which had been donated by the Manager of the Holiday Resort Lombok, and prepared for sale by members of the Club, were put on sale at The Office Bar and Restaurant, Senggigi, with the kind permission of the owner, Howard Singleton.

This sale of paintings helped raise funds for the Club to continue to support the surgical team of volunteers who come to Lombok from Europe each year to perform surgical treatments on many Lombok children born with cleft lip and cleft palate deformities. These funds will enable them to continue the wonderfully successful operations and change the lives of disadvantaged Lombok children.

Thanks and gratitude to those local businesses who gave support by allowing the use of promotional literature at their premises. Special thanks, too, to the staff of The Lombok Guide for their informative promotion and generous support of the sale.

Peter, Rotary Club of Lombok

Indonesian:

The Rotary Club Lombok ingin mengucapkan rasa terima kasih kepada semua orang yang peduli dan berperan serta dalam mensukseskan penjualan lukisan, pada tanggal 20 dan 21 Nopember 2010.

200 lukisan cat minyak yang telah dibingkai, yang didonasikan oleh menejer Holiday Resort Lombok, dan disiapkan oleh para anggota klub untuk penjualan, telah dipasarkan di The Office Bar & Restaurant Senggigi, atas kemurahan hati dari pemilik, Howard Singleton yang telah memberikan ijin tempat penjualan.

Hasil penjualan lukisan tersebut telah membantu Klub dalam mengumpulkan dana untuk melanjutkan dukungan kepada para ahli bedah dari Eropa yang secara sukarela datang ke Lombok setiap tahun untuk melakukan operasi bedah dan perawatan bagi banyak anak-anak Lombok yang lahir dengan bibir sumbing. Dana tersebut akan membantu mereka untuk melanjutkan kesuksesan operasi-operasi yang telah mereka lakukan dan memberi perubahan bagi hidup anak-anak Lombok yang kurang beruntung.

Terima kasih dan penghargaan kami untuk dukungan semua pengusaha yang telah memberikan kami ijin menggunakan nama perusahaan mereka sebagai literatur dalam hal promosi. Juga, terima kasih khususnya, kepada staf The Lombok Guide untuk promosi mereka yang informatif dan dukungan yang murah hati dalam penjualan.

Peter, Rotary Club Lombok

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SHALL WE CONTINUE TO TALK ABOUT MOTORCYCLES WHEN OBVIOUSLY IT FALLS ON THE DEAF EARS OF THE POLICE, OR MAYBE WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT POLICING?

In relation to the article in Issue 76, "Police to Clamp Down on Exhaust Noise", The Lombok Guide said, "While the news is encouraging, we have yet to see any action being taken by Polsek Senggigi. When we contacted the Senggigi branch last Sunday – after witnessing and hearing literally hundreds of offenders racing noisy bikes on the main street – the officer on duty said that they are also raiding bikes with noisy exhausts. 'We have one sitting at the police station now,' he said."

Well what a statement by the officer on duty (he or she would make a good politician)! Yet up until now hundreds of these noisy, un-roadworthy motorcycles, and under-age riders, still continue to race up and down the streets of Senggigi.

Let's not stop at the exhaust noise; what about the trend of changing white headlights to red on a motorcycle? This is a very dangerous practice! A good example is when I recently started to overtake a slow vehicle: I saw a red light in the distance so thought it was tail lights. Well it was not, it was an idiot on a bike that had changed his legal headlight to a red colour. I had to swerve to miss this fool, yet if would have hit him I can guarantee that I would have been made responsible. What is it going to take before the Police actually do something? The death of a local person or child? The death of a tourist? There should be no need to worry, if the Police do the job that they are paid for.

The amount of children as young as 10 years old (or younger) riding motorcycles is incredible especially in BTN Green Valley. Yet if I, as an expat, hit one of these children – or for that matter, an adult – while they're riding a motorcycle without helmets, un-roadworthy bikes, under-age and with no license, action will be taken against me. What sort of bogus law is that? A self made law that is an effective way of scamming money off an expat…

Nearly every week when I drive into BTN in the evening, I can say about 80% of the time I nearly hit these clowns or kids riding down the wrong side of the road without lights on, wearing no helmet and surely possessing no license, for it is children that are riding them.

Who do you think should be responsible for this? Well, for the underage riders it is the police and the parents; the parents of these children should be held accountable and the police should make this known and penalise them with a fine or confiscation of their motorcycle. As for the other clowns who supposedly have licenses, it is the police's responsibility.

I drive down Senggigi and see anything from 2 to 8 police officers sitting in their makeshift tent on the main street near Senggigi Jaya Supermarket. What are they doing? They are sitting there smoking, playing with their mobile phones, chatting to the beach boys, etc. Are they Policing? NO, they are not; as these motorcycles continue to go past, noisy exhausts, underage riders, etc., and the police just sit there.

And when they're not there, you never see them, only now and then driving past with their emergency lights on. Still to this day I do not understand why they do this as they are obviously not going to an emergency. They should be out showing their presence day and night, setting up in BTN, and the Sheraton side of Senggigi and the main area of Senggigi to stop all the underage riders and noisy bikes that are a nuisance and danger for tourism and the local people in the area. Just the other night a young lady walked across the road in Senggigi near Mario's Café – a fast moving motorcycle nearly ran into her.

Maybe the police have no motivation and always offer excuses of not being paid enough. The point is that you don the uniform of a worldwide organization called the POLICE. In case you Senggigi police do not know what this means, I will assist. There are two good terms most commonly used:

1. Protection of Life in Civil Establishment
2. Polite Obedient Loyal Intelligent Courageous Efficient.

Let's forget number 2 for the moment and look at number 1: can you honestly say to yourselves that you are protecting life by continuously turning a blind eye to what is happening in front of you? If you want to be a good police officer and gain some respect in the community, its easy: just do your job!
Many times people make comments in The Lombok Guide, maybe The Lombok Guide should make it a point to personally deliver a copy to the Head of the Senggigi Police. Surely if they were reading this they would have their officers on the streets and actually POLICING in the correct manner, as the actions of their officers is a reflection on them as leaders.

Geoff, Senggigi

Geoff, issues of The Lombok Guide are delivered to both the Senggigi Police Station and Polres (Police Headquarters) in Mataram – Ed

Indonesian:

HARUSKAH KITA LANJUTKAN BICARA MASALAH SEPEDA MOTOR KETIKA TERLIHAT DENGAN JELAS HANYA MASUK KE DALAM TELINGA TULI PARA POLISI, ATAU MUNGKIN KITA SEHARUSNYA BICARA TENTANG CARA MENEGAKKAN HUKUM?

Sehubungan dengan artikel pada Edisi 76, "Polisi Mengontrol Kebisingan Knalpot", kata The Lombok Guide, "Berita tersebut sangatlah bagus, tetapi kami masih belum melihat aksi apapun yang dilakukan oleh Polsek Senggigi. Ketika kami menghubungi mereka hari Minggu lalu – setelah melihat dan mendengar sendiri ratusan sepeda motor terus menerus melaju cepat dan membahayakan pada jalan utama Senggigi – aparat yang bertugas pada saat itu mengatakan bahwa mereka juga menyita sepeda motor dengan knalpot yang bersuara bising. "Kami sudah tangkap satu, ada di kantor polisi sekarang,' katanya".

Betul-betul sebuah pernyataan (ia bisa menjadi seorang politisi yang bagus)! Sampai sekarang ratusan kendaraan yang bising, tidak layak dikendarai, dan pengendara dibawah umur, masih terus berlanjut kebut-kebutan naik dan turun jalan-jalan di Senggigi.

Mari lupakan masalah keributan knalpot sejenak; bagaimana tentang tren mengganti warna lampu depan sepeda motor dengan lampu warna merah? Ini sangatlah berbahaya! Contohnya baru-baru ini saya mencoba mendahului sebuah kendaraan yang melaju pelan. Saya melihat lampu berwarna merah beberapa jarak ke depan, saya pikir itu adalah lampu belakang sebuah sepeda motor. Ternyata tidak, seorang pengendara idiot yang telah merubah warna lampu depannya menjadi warna merah. Saya harus membelok untuk menghindari orang goblok itu, kalau sampai terjadi tabrakan, saya jamin sayalah yang harus bertanggung jawab. Apakah yang seharusnya terjadi agar polisi benar-benar melakukan sesuatu? Kematian orang lokal atau anak-anak? Kematian turis? Tidak seharusnya kita khawatir, bila Polisi melakukan pekerjaan yang untuknya mereka dibayar.

Jumlah anak seumuran 10 tahun (atau bahkan lebih muda) mengendarai sepeda motor sangatlah mengkhawatirkan, terutama di BTN Green Valley. Tetapi apabila saya, sebagai orang asing, menabrak salah satu dari anak-anak tersebut ataupun orang dewasa, ketika mereka mengendarai sepeda motor mereka tanpa menggunakan helm, sepeda motor yang tak layak pakai, di bawah umur dan tanpa SIM, aksi yang akan dilakukan jelas akan melawan dan menyalahkan saya. Hukum palsu macam apa itu? hukum yang dibuat sendiri yang merupakan cara paling efektif untuk memeras uang dari orang asing…

Hampir setiap minggu ketika saya berkendara menuju BTN saat sore menjelang malam, saya bisa mengatakan 80% dari waktu tersebut saya hampir menabrak anak ugal-ugalan yang berkendara di jalur yang salah tanpa lampu menyala, tidak menggunakan helm dan melihat dari perkiraan umur anak tersebut, sudah tentu tanpa SIM.

Siapakah menurut anda yang seharusnya bertanggung jawab untuk ini? Untuk pengendara dibawah umur sudah jelas polisi dan orang tuanya; orang tua mereka harus bertanggung jawab dan polisi harus memberitahu orang tua mereka dan memberikan hukuman denda atau menyita sepeda motor mereka. Dan untuk pengendara ugal-ugalan yang lain yang seharusnya memiliki SIM, adalah tanggung jawab polisi.

Saya berkendara di Senggigi dan melihat sekitar 2 sampai 8 polisi sedang duduk di dalam pos tenda di samping jalan utama dekat Senggigi Jaya Supermarket. Apa yang mereka lakukan? Mereka duduk disana merokok, main handphone, ngobrol dengan anak-anak pantai, dll. Apakah mereka sedang menegakkan hukum? TIDAK, karena sepeda motor dengan knalpot yang bising, pengendara dibawah umur, dll terus melaju di depan mereka dan polisi hanya duduk-duduk saja disana.

Dan ketika mereka tidak ada disana, anda tidak akan pernah melihat mereka, hanya kadang-kadang saja mereka lewat dengan lampu darurat menyala. Sampai sekarang saya masih tidak mengerti kenapa mereka melakukan ini padahal mereka sudah jelas tidak dalam keadaan darurat. Mereka seharusnya keluar menunjukkan keberadaan mereka siang dan malam, di daerah BTN, di atas Sheraton dan di jalan utama Senggigi untuk menghentikan semua pengendara dibawah umur dan kendaraan yang bersuara bising yang mengacau dan berbahaya bagi pariwisata dan orang lokal di daerah ini. Beberapa malam lalu seorang anak perempuan menyeberangi jalan dekat Mario's Café – sebuah motor melaju kencang dan hampir menabraknya.

Mungkin polisi tidak memiliki motivasi dan selalu memberikan alasan-alasan bahwa gaji mereka tidak cukup. Intinya adalah anda sedang mengenakan seragam organisasi yang dikenal diseluruh dunia dengan nama POLICE (POLISI). Kalau seandainya anda polisi Senggigi tidak mengerti apa artinya, saya akan membantu. Ada dua arti bagus yang biasa digunakan:

1. Protection of Life in Civil Establishment (Perlindungan atas hidup masyarakat sipil)
2. Polite Obedient Loyal Intelligent Courageous Efficient (Sopan Patuh Setia Cerdas Berani Efisien)

Mari kita lupakan yang nomor 2 sejenak dan lihat nomor 1: bisakah anda secara jujur mengatakan pada diri anda bahwa anda sedang melindungi hidup dengan terus menerus membutakan mata anda kepada apa yang sedang terjadi di depan anda? Bila anda ingin menjadi seorang polisi yang baik dan dihormati oleh masyarakat, sangat mudah: lakukan tugas anda!

Telah banyak kali orang-orang membuat komentar di The Lombok Guide, mungkin The Lombok Guide harus mengirimkan korannya secara pribadi kepada Kepala Polisi Senggigi. Pastilah jika mereka membaca surat ini mereka akan mengerahkan petugas mereka untuk bertugas di jalan-jalan Senggigi dan benar-benar menegakkan hukum dalam artian yang sebenarnya, karena aksi dari petugas mereka adalah perwujudan diri mereka sebagai pemimpin.

Geoff, Senggigi

Geoff, beberapa edisi The Lombok Guide telah kami kirimkan ke dua tempat, Polsek Senggigi dan Polres Mataram – Penulis

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LOCAL SCENE

CHRISTMAS DAY @ ASMARA RESTAURANT

Community spirit in Lombok is alive and well... around 60 residents and their children
gathered at Asmara Restaurant in Senggigi to celebrate Christmas Day together

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MR FIXER

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

QUESTION: I have just purchased a small villa in the popular tourist area of Senggigi. It has 2 bedrooms with A/C’s and a small living room with veranda. I came to the idyllic paradise island of Lombok on my doctor’s orders, as I am an emphysema sufferer and he recommended sunshine, clean air, rest and recuperation. After about 3 weeks, my lung condition got worse and I caught the flu. It was so bad I even gave up smoking, despite the cheap fags you can get here. I have had the flu for over 6 weeks now and it shows no sign of improving. I am a keen environmentalist and always make sure that my refuse is collected daily by a nice old man with a handcart, who sorts out the bottles and cardboard for recycling. My flu symptoms have been so severe I have been forced to see a local doctor who advises tests to determine the cause. He recommends I give samples of blood, sputum, urine, feces and sperm for testing. Could I have caught Legionnaires disease? 

MR FIXER: Legionnaires disease can be very serious and can cause death in 5% to 30% of cases. It is caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella and can be treated with antibiotics. Contrary to popular belief, the bacteria are NOT spread from person to person by physical contact. You can’t catch it from toilet seats for example, unless you are a regular user of the toilets in some of the cheap backpacker places. Avoid the starting blocks! 

The bacteria grow best in warm water, like the kind found in hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems or parts of the air conditioning systems in large buildings. Infections are caused by breathing in a mist or vapor that has been contaminated. Your condition could also be aggravated by the nice man who collects your rubbish. He charges you to take it round the corner where he probably sets fire to it in the gutter, releasing poisonous dioxins into the atmosphere caused by the burning of plastic. He does of course remove any bottles he can recover the deposit on. What a nice man! Have the filters in your air conditioner cleaned just in case. If you wish to go ahead with blood, urine, sperm, feces and sputum tests, why not do what my friend George did and send your doctor a pair of your underpants.

QUESTION: I have been collecting rubbish on behalf of the residents of BTN Green Valley in Senggigi for many years. I provide a good service by recycling bottles, which I take back to the shop to collect the deposits so I can afford to feed my 6 children, 2 wives and 3 cows. In the past few years, the amount of rubbish people throw away has more than doubled. There are no landfill sites provided, so I burn the leftover rubbish in the gutters provided by the residents. I am not sure how long I may be able to continue to provide this service to the residents, as I am suffering from a chest complaint which seems to be getting worse. On top of that, someone has started throwing away his underpants, which are a health hazard and difficult to dispose of as they are made of nylon and difficult to burn. Am I suffering from that Millionaires disease? Do you have any suggestions?

MR FIXER: Millionaires disease is very contagious. It is transferred from person to person by lavish spending and generally showing off. To avoid catching it, steer clear of anyone who says they are an architect or property dealer. Real estate agents are born carriers of the disease. Continue burning plastic outside their house.

QUESTION: My husband and I have been living on the enchanted island of Lombok for several years now and the only thing we miss is the occasional home-cooked roast dinner from a proper oven. BBQ’s and salads are fine but you can’t beat a roast leg of lamb with roast potatoes followed by oven-baked home-made apple pie with custard or ice cream.  We have gone without this simple pleasure for too long, so my husband and I decided to have a gas oven installed in our new kitchen. You can buy almost any appliance you like in Lombok including a double oven and hob but, with the electric supply situation as intermittent as it is, we decided on gas as the best option. A complete oven unit was installed, which even has a tidy door housing the gas bottle. It was properly installed by a main dealer in the city.  A few w

eeks later, two nice men in uniforms came to inspect the gas installation. They said there were several faults and I needed a new hose and regulator, and that the one I had was illegal and dangerous, and they could supply and fit the latest model with SNI stamp and a 5 year guarantee. They replaced everything and charged me a small fortune for the privilege. Since then, I can hear an occasional hissing sound and there is a funny smell throughout the kitchen. My parrot died yesterday. Just fell off his perch. He never said a word. I am very worried about gas safety. 

MR FIXER: The two smart, nice men in uniforms have been seen offering their services to unsuspecting customers in Lombok and Bali. They use fake ID’s. Warn your neighbours if they are in your area. Your parrot probably died of methane poisoning.  Let’s hope the nice men in uniforms don’t suffer the same fate! Something far worse should await them. Isn’t life a gas?!

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PLN LEAVES US IN THE DARK… YET AGAIN!

Lombok is once again being plagued by electricity blackouts, only a couple of months after PLN (the state-owned electricity company) vowed that there would be no more power cuts.

The frequency of power outages has been steadily increasing over the past month, with intermittent cuts during the day and some blackouts at night lasting for hours. It seems that the electricity problems that affected much of the island during last year are back again.

The PLN has drawn criticism from the House of Representatives and from outraged consumers in the cities, who have demanded action from the company.

According to official reports, there should be no reason for blackouts since the PLN leased additional generators in late 2010, which now have a total power capacity of 122 megawatts (MW). Peak load at night apparently reaches between 110–115 MW; thus the PLN should have sufficient electricity to meet demand.
A spokesman for the PLN told the press that the frequent power cuts were being caused by bad weather, lightening and high winds, which had resulted in fallen trees and branches breaking power lines. He stated that the PLN had initiated a tree trimming programme to help minimise damage from fallen branches in the future.

PLN NTB Manager, Angorro, said that outages were also being caused by network problems, adding “80% of these should be solved” by a team of experts from Jakarta recently brought in to overhaul the system.

Commission III Secretary, Suharto, refuted this, saying that the network installation grid does not have adequate protection and he fears that the problems will continue.

However, with the company reporting another 16 000 connections to new customers over the past two months, many are speculating that this, combined with an unreported number of illegal electricity connections, has once again put the amount of power available in Lombok into a deficit.

The PLN also announced in The Lombok Post on 31 December 2010 that it plans to connect another 100 000 customers to the grid in 2011. The company now supplies 54 651 customers in the area, with an estimated 165 000 consumers waiting for connections.

According to Angorro the additional demands of another 100 000 consumers will “have little impact on the system because most of these customers already have electricity which is supplied by neighbours.”

Compounding the problems, a report in local media last week stated that unpaid electricity bills in Lombok now amount to Rp 7.9 billion, with the bulk of the debt being made up of household consumers and the local government.

Mataram City government is one such debtor, with an outstanding debt of Rp 700 million to the PLN, and budget funds of only Rp 149 million available to pay the debt, as at the end of December 2010. There have also been rumours recently that the PLN does not have the funds to meet payments on the generators they leased in late 2010.

Whatever the reasons for this latest round of annoying power outages, it is unlikely the community will be as tolerant as they were last year. Let’s hope the PLN solves its problems soon.

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2011 PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

The Indonesian government has confirmed 13 national public holidays (tanggal merah) for 2011, with the following dates:

1 January 2011 – New Years Day 
3 February – Chinese New Year (Imlek) 2562
15 February – Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (Maulid)
5 March – Nyepi (Bali’s official Day of Silence) Hindu New Year 1933
22 April – Good Friday 
24 April – Easter Sunday
17 May – Waisak (Buddhist New Year 2555)
2 June – The Ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven
29 June – Isra Mi'raj (The Ascension of The Prophet Muhammad SAW)
17 August – Indonesian National Independence Day
29 August  – Pre Idul Fitri Shared Holiday by Government Decree
30-31 August – Idul Fitri 1432 H 
1-2 September – Post Idul Fitri Shared Holidays by Government Decree
6 November – Idul Adha 1432 H 
27 November – Islamic New Year 1433 H 
25 December – Christmas Day
26 December – Shared Holiday by Government Decree

Balinese Hindu public holidays (applicable in Bali) include:

3-4 January 2011 – Hari Siwa Ratri
4 March – Tawur Kesanga
5 March - Hari Suci Nyepi Tahun Baru 1933
6 March – Gembak Geni
23 April – Hari Saraswati
27 April – Hari Pagerwesi
5 July – Penampahan Galungan
6 July – Hari Raya Galungan
7 July – Hari Umanis Galungan
15 July – Penampahan Kuningan
16 July – Hari Raya Kuningan
17 July – Umanis Kuningan
19 November – Hari Raya Saraswati
23 November – Hari Pagerwesi

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LOCAL SCENE

CHRISTMAS EVE @ CAFÉ ALBERTO

Café Alberto joined forces with local fashion boutique, Ciokolata, to host a fabulous fashion and fun-filled party on Christmas Eve.

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PADI INSPECTS LOMBOK DIVE CENTRES

Following a recent visit from the regional manager for PADI Indonesia, all Senggigi based dive centres have been issued with an ultimatum.

The businesses have been told to either to remove all PADI advertising from their promotional materials or actually join as the organization as a PADI Dive Centre member, as they purport themselves to be.

This move follows recent crackdowns in Thailand where, after several warnings and failure to act, the non-conforming dive centres have been forced to close.

PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) is the world’s leading scuba diving organisation and has strict guidelines for all PADI members to ensure international standards are adhered to, for the safety of all diving guests and the diving industry as a whole.

“I totally agree with this policy,” said one Dive centre manager, “these dive shops set up, reap the benefits of the international reputation of PADI, but cheat their guests and the organisation they claim to be part of.”

Currently there are only two active PADI Dive Centre members based in Senggigi. They are Blue Marlin Dive and Dream Divers.

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MERPATI AT A LOSS

State-owned airline, Merpati Nusantara Airlines (MZ), is expected to suffer operating losses of between Rp 30 – 40 billion (US $3.3 – 4.4 million) for 2010.

The commercial director of Merpati, Tony Aulia, told Bisnis.com that during the first six months of 2010, Merpati only operated six jet aircraft; down from the 10 airplanes they flew in 2009.

“The condition of Merpati from January-June 2010 was sufficiently negative, leaving us with only six operating aircraft. By the second semester, our condition improved,” Aulia said. He went on to explain that the highest income for Merpati occurred in July with sales of Rp 21 billion (US $2.3 million), with month-to-month improvements against 2009 recorded through to the end of 2010.

“The improving business trend allowed us to resume operating 10 aircraft in December,” he said.
In 2010, Merpati targeted Rp 1.7 trillion in income, less than the Rp 1.8 trillion achieved in 2009, when the airline booked a profit of Rp 16.6 billion (US $1.84 million); largely achieved through the sales of their Jakarta headquarters and by operating a larger armada.

Merpati has an armada (parked or flying) of 26 aircraft, down from 28 aircraft in 2009.

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LOCAL SCENE

NEW YEAR @ HAPPY CAFÉ

Thunder storms and torrential rain couldn't damper the spirits of the crowd that gathered in popular Senggigi nightspot, Happy Café, to welcome in the New Year!

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NTB TOURISM ARRIVAL FIGURES

The local government has released current tourism arrival figures for the NTB region (Lombok and Sumbawa), showing that up until November 2010, tourist visits to West Nusa Tenggara have reached 662,717 people from a target of 700 000 visitors for the year.

The government expects that, after adding tourism arrivals for the month of December 2010, the target of 700 000 will be reached.

These tourism arrival figures represent both foreign and domestic tourist arrivals to the two islands of Lombok and Sumbawa, with the majority of visitors coming from the domestic market.

If this year’s target of 700 000 is achieved, this will represent an increase of 80 630 arrivals over 2009 figures, or a growth in tourism of around 13%.

Tourist arrivals in 2009 totalled 619,370 people, an increase of 13.75 percent on the 544,501 arrivals recorded for 2008. This increase was attributed to the hosting of TIME (Tourism Indonesia Mart and Expo) in Lombok in both 2009 and 2010.

The government is targeting 800 000 visitors to NTB in 2011; a figure which may be achievable based on current trends, but requires an increase of 14.28% – higher than that achieved in the previous two years.
Much hype has been made in the local media over the past year since the announcement of the government’s

“Visit Lombok Sumbawa 2012” programme, which targets one million visitors to the region in 2012.
Even if the government achieves its 14.28% increase in 2011, to increase tourism arrivals to one million people by 2012 will require a substantial leap of 200 000 visitors, or a massive increase of 25% in tourism arrivals. Just how the government and the Department of Tourism plan to achieve this remains a mystery.

“I'm sure the target can be achieved,” the Head of Culture and Tourism NTB, Gita Aryadi, told press on 27 December 2010, without elaborating further.       

Airport Duty Manager Airport Services at Selaparang Airport in Mataram, Hendratno, also reported an increase in the flow of tourist arrivals and departures, saying that an average of 4700 people per day (including residents) passed through the airport, up until November 2010. Arrivals during the Christmas and New Year holidays further increased to 5200 people a day, he said.         

A Research Survey on Tourist Preferences towards tourism development undertaken by the Centre for Independent Research and Business Development at the University of Mataram, in cooperation with Bank Indonesia, Mataram, released the results of their surveys, saying respondents’ satisfaction levels are relatively high. The results indicated that as many as 94.5% of foreign tourists said they would return to NTB, while as many as 97.5 % of domestic tourists say the same thing.           

In related news, Indonesia’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, told Bisnis.com on 27 December 2010 that the nation-wide target of 7 million foreign visitors to Indonesia in 2010 will be achieved, representing an increase of 9.3% over total arrivals for 2009.

In 2011, Indonesia is aiming for a 10% increase in arrivals, fed primarily by visitors from Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Japan and China.

“Actually our target for this year (2010) was 6.75 million, but we have achieved 7 million visitors,” Wacik announced.

Wacik told the press that the final figures for 2010 will reveal an average length of stay of 9 days and, when foreign tourists are combined with domestic holiday makers, the Indonesian tourism industry serves 200 million people each year.

Bali is, of course, Indonesia’s most popular tourism destination. Figures compiled by Balidiscovery.com show that tourism arrivals into Bali during 2010 should reach a record-breaking 2.465 million foreign visitors, representing a 10.57% increase over 2009 arrivals.

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