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NEWS

ISSUE 82

 

ASEAN LOVES LOMBOK!

sunset oberoiWelcome 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.

As Indonesia takes Chairmanship of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the entire year of 2011, the island of Lombok has just hosted the organisation’s first and largest meeting of the year. Around 200 delegates from 10 member nations, foreign ministers as well as ambassadors and associates, enjoyed the beautiful scenery and warm hospitality of Lombok to start the New Year.

With most of the group arriving on Friday, 14 January and staying until Monday, 17 January, and staying at Santosa Villas and Resort, the Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort and the Oberoi Lombok, the delegates had plenty of time to see our wonderful beaches and natural landscapes, as well as experiencing the best in Lombok accommodation. Members are delighted with our island and enthusiastic about Lombok’s tourism potential!

This type of prestigious event is usually reserved for Bali or Jakarta, so it is quite a coup for our little island to be chosen as the location for the inaugural gathering. It also shows that the ASEAN security consultants consider Lombok to be a safe and stable environment, capable of securely hosting the high profile members. It’s wonderful to see Lombok being given the “thumbs up!” by ASEAN!

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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NO PROGRESS ON LOMBOK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

airport jan 2011As we head into the new year, the question on everyone’s lips is: what is happening with our new international airport, planned to open in December 2010?

Despite the now-defunct “Lombok Times”, and government-funded “Enchanting Lombok and Sumbawa”, newspapers trumpeting the Lombok International Airport’s imminent opening during most of last year, completion of the airport’s construction failed to materialise.

We visited the site once again on Thursday, 13 January 2011, to see for ourselves the true status of the airport construction and were shocked to find little progress has been made since our last visit in November 2010.
Indeed, security personnel that we spoke to at the Tanak Awu, Central Lombok, airport site said that construction on the main terminal building has been halted for months and all workers have been temporarily laid off.

This is in keeping with reports in local media over past months that there are currently no funds available for completion of the airport’s construction.

As we reported in issue 78 of The Lombok Guide, an estimated Rp 78 billion was needed to complete construction by airport developer, PT Angkasa Pura I (PT API). At that time, the Head of Department of Transportation, Communications and Information (Diskominfo) NTB, Ir Shah Ridwan, told reporters that the funds should be available by December and that the government was pushing for funds to be released as soon as possible.

However, an audit conducted by the State Audit Board and the University of Mataram in December revealed that a further Rp 116 billion (approx US $ 12 million) was needed to complete the airport.

According to the original airport budget, API is to bear the cost of construction of the runway, operational and flight safety facilities, airport terminal and other buildings. NTB provincial government is responsible for Rp110 billion to build the taxiway, apron and supporting facilities. The Central Lombok Regency Government is liable for Rp 40 billion for the parking area, road environment and supporting facilities.

Based on our observations last week, one thing is clear: the longer completion of this airport is delayed, the higher the costs of completion will be. Parking areas and landscaping completed during 2009 and 2010 now lay in disrepair, with paving over-run by weeds and concrete breaking down due to bad weather and poor initial construction. Tall weeds surround the entrance to the airport and the main terminal building, while much of the site lies under water from recent heavy rains.

Inside the deserted main terminal building, cobwebs and dust drape all surfaces. Fancy chrome handrails on the stairways are covered in rust and will obviously need to be replaced before the airport can open.

entilation ducts hang broken from the ceilings, bare wires stick out of holes in the walls and the entire place echoes with neglect.

Flight monitors installed in the check-in area in 2009 are wrapped in cardboard and, surprisingly, haven’t been stolen; but whether they will still be in working condition when the airport does finally open is debatable. Likewise the hundreds of luggage trolleys abandoned to dust in the lower arrivals hall and the passenger boarding stairs leading to nowhere beside flooded drains and piles of clay refuse outside the departure lounges.

These are perhaps indications of the central problem with Lombok International Airport’s construction: lack of planning and coordination. With different areas of the airport having been farmed out to different contractors, each competing for a share of the lucrative airport construction budget, there has been little coordination or communication between the different firms.

messWhile car parks, paving and gardens were completed at a ridiculously early stage, drainage and the high water table at the site were not properly addressed; leading to major problems with flooding. Fixtures and fittings were installed long before the building was near completion. It is almost like a life-sized model has been assembled with all the identifiable airport features, but without any supporting structure.

NTB Governor, Zainul Majdi, announced at an international press conference during the TIME travel expo in October 2010 that the airport would be completed by 17 December, 2010 – to coincide with the birthday celebrations for the NTB (Lombok and Sumbawa) region. When challenged by The Lombok Guide during that press conference, the Governor revised his statement to a March 2011 opening.

Local papers continue to perpetuate this planned completion date and there are even plans for Indonesian President Susilo Bambang to visit Lombok in March 2011 to perform the opening ceremony.

We predict the government will be left with egg on its face yet again when the March completion date fails to materialize.

A report published on the popular balidiscovery.com website on 3 January 2011 says:

“Coordinated project development is apparently a concept beyond the comprehension of regional administrators on Bali’s near neighbour island of Lombok.

After investing more than US $11 million in building the new Lombok airport, original plans to open the facility in March 2010 were postponed due to unfinished infrastructure-related elements, not the least of which includes acquiring the land to build a highway access to the airport.

Now officials are suggesting the Lombok Airport ‘might’ open in March 2011, a full year behind schedule. Jakarta Globe reports that protests by villagers living near the new airport demanding compensation for their land and jobs from the new air gateway are casting yet another cloud over the airport’s eventual opening date.
State auditors have identified a shortfall of between US $8 – US $12 million still needed to make the airport fully functional. If those funds are allocated in 2011 government budgets, the earliest date the new airport may be able to open for business is mid-2011. This date, however, may also be overly optimistic as it may not contemplate the extensive testing and certification process that must be completed before international air carriers will be allowed to land.

The results of such poor planning and development coordination becomes all the more evident against the potentially embarrassing plans of Indonesia’s President to inaugurate the airport in March 2011 and a concomitant target of 1 million foreign visitors for Lombok in 2012. Both the official opening date for the airport and the ambitious tourism target now appear very much in doubt.

In the mad scramble to complete the long-delayed airport, the Jakarta Globe also reports that established tender protocols will be ignored as Angkasa Pura, the airport managers, adopt a no-holds-barred approach to completing the airport…”

At best, based on our own observations, we can hazard an optimistic estimate that the airport should be completed towards the end of 2011 and be operating some time in 2012, barring any further problems.
Should Lombok International Airport to commence operating in 2012, it would be a positive boost for the NTB government’s “Visit Lombok Sumbawa 2012” tourism promotion campaign, which was announced at the beginning of 2010.

It also raises the question: did the government know that the airport wouldn’t really be ready until 2012 when it planned the promotional campaign?

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WHAT'S HOT!

Imlek (Chinese New Year) will be celebrated on Thursday, 3 February this year. Many hotels and restaurants will provide special Chinese dinners and promotions, so be sure to check out what’s happening at your favourite place closer to the date.

Quali Restaurant at Qunci Pool Villas is offering a special four course dinner to celebrate Imlek. Dine in style at the popular boutique resort with Chicken and green bean salad served with peanut dressing, followed by Scallop and Egg Flower Soup. For main course, choose from Chinese Barbeque Beef served with stir-fried mixed vegetables and steamed rice or Grilled Chicken Breast with Spiced Marinade served with Hainan rice and steamed vegetables. Finish with coffee or tea and a delicious dessert of Almond Jelly Pudding served with mandarin orange and vanilla pod sauce. Price is Rp 245 000 ++ per person and bookings are recommended by phoning: 693800

• Another stunning Mangsit property, Jeeva Klui, is offering special Chinese New Year packages between 3 and 6 February, with room rates starting from US $90++ per night (min 2 nights stay). If you haven’t experienced the charm of this new luxury boutique resort yet, now is the perfect time to do so! Ph: 693035

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! If you’re looking for something very special to surprise that special someone, why not book a flight with Sky Aviation? The Lombok-based light-aircraft charter company offers a range of moderately priced flights around Lombok and Bali, as well as other Indonesian locations. For a truly memorable view of Lombok, treat your better-half to a breath-taking flight over Mt Rinjani volcano and the Gili Islands. Or take them on a flight they’ll never forget to see the awesome Komodo Dragons on Komodo Island… all possible in a day flight from Lombok. Of course, if you want to make a really lasting impression, charter a flight to Bali -- just for lunch! A “Lombok Highlight Tour” costs US $450 for up to 3 passengers. Ph: 636 333 for details or visit the website at www.sky-aviation.co.id

• The Bureau of Meteorology (BMKG) issued a warning on 12 January 2011, banning all shipping and fishing in NTB waters for three days. The warning was issued due to bad weather conditions in the region, particularly in the Lombok Strait (between Bali and Lombok). Wind speeds of between 50 and 60 kilometres per hour have been recorded and waves are reaching 5 to 6 metres high, making boating in the region very dangerous. In Ampenan, waves of over 5 metres high hit the coastal areas, destroying dozens of local homes.

• Regular public ferry services between Padangbai Harbour (Bali) and Lembar Harbour (Lombok) may be suspended during this time. If you are planning a boat crossing between Lombok and Bali, check weather conditions before booking and always travel with a reputable company. Fast boat services Gili Cat, Island Getaway and Blue Water Express have all been operating transfers between the islands for several years and have good reputations for safety. Travellers should also be aware that boat crossings from mainland Lombok to the Gili Islands can be hazardous in these conditions; check before making the crossing and, if in doubt, delay your transfer for a day or two.

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YOUR SAY

A romantic evening with my spouse by candlelight… thanks to PLN!

Again The Lombok Guide needs to focus on electric blackouts; see issue 81. As far as I know there are a few planned electric power cuts due to PLN maintenance and installations. However, most blackouts are not planned. Then I wonder:

1) Why doesn’t the PLN announce up-front planned blackouts in The Lombok Guide and local newspapers so we know when they will happen?

2) Why is there no automatic answering service when unexpected blackouts occur? Such information should be announced at www.pln.co.id/Lombok, which site can be reached by smart phones or internet (if the customer has a UPS or a noisy generator)?

PLN should use an automatic answering machine stating the expected length of the blackouts. Sometimes blackouts last a few minutes; other times up to 6 hours. Lately blackouts have been occurring 1 – 5 times every 24 hours. This is totally unacceptable from a customer’s point of view.

PLN claims the reasons for frequent power blackouts are bad weather, i.e. rain and strong winds making trees and branches fall down and break cables along the streets. Then why do we still have blackouts when there is no bad weather?

Three tree trimming programmes have been mentioned. What are these programmes?

Instead of having electric cables on poles along the roads, PLN should lay underground cables. Then bad weather is no excuse anymore.

In Europe, USA and Australia, company managers get fired or demoted if they cannot run a business properly. In my country of origin in Europe there are several electricity suppliers. Competition between suppliers gives results – and lower prices. If electricity is not delivered, the company responsible has to deduct an amount from the customers’ bill, according to a table with parameters such as the number of blackouts and length of time electric supply is not available.

We will soon start building our own villa and we will mainly base our electric supply on renewable clean energy such as solar cell panels, windmills and ocean wave energy. These are expensive investments; however there will be no monthly payment to PLN for a service that is only partly provided.

Well, tonight my wife and I are looking forward to another romantic evening candlelight during yet another PLN blackout. 

Baba, Lombok

Indonesian:

Malam romantik bersama istri saya dengan nyala lilin... terima kasih PLN!

Lagi, The Lombok Guide butuh fokus dengan masalah mati lampu; lihat edisi 81. Sejauh yang saya ketahui ada beberapa rencana pemadaman listrik yang dikarenakan masalah perawatan dan instalasi PLN. Bagaimanapun, kebanyakan pemadaman listrik tersebut tidak direncanakan. Saya jadi bertanya-tanya.

1) Kenapa PLN tidak mengumumkan jauh hari sebelum pemadaman yang direncanakan kepada The Lombok Guide dan koran lokal agar kami tahu kapan itu akan terjadi?

2) Kenapa tidak ada mesin penjawab otomatis ketika pemadaman yang tidak diharapkan terjadi? Informasi seharusnya diumumkan di www.pln.co.id/Lombok, dimana website tersebut bisa diakses melalui telepon genggam atau internet (jika pelanggan memiliki UPS ataupun generator yang ribut)?

PLN seharusnya menggunakan mesin penjawab otomatis memperkirakan lamanya pemadaman-pemadaman yang akan dilakukan. Kadang-kadang pemadaman hanya beberapa menit; di lain waktu sampai 6 jam. Akhir-akhir ini pemadaman terjadi 1 – 5 kali setiap 24 jam. Ini benar-benar tidak bisa diterima dari sudut pandang pelanggan.

PLN menyatakan bahwa alasan untuk pemadaman-pemadaman tersebut adalah cuaca yang buruk, seperti hujan dan angin keras yang membuat beberapa pohon dan cabang pohon jatuh dan memutuskan kabel di sepanjang jalan. Kemudian kenapa kita masih mengalami pemadaman listrik pada saat tidak ada cuaca buruk?

Program penebangan tiga pohon telah disebutkan. Program apa ini?

Daripada memasang kabel pada tiang disepanjang jalan, PLN seharusnya menanam kabel di bawah tanah. Dan cuaca buruk tidak akan menjadi alasan lagi.

Di Eropa, Amerika dan Australia, menejer-menejer perusahaan akan dipecat bila mereka tidak sanggup menjalankan bisnis dengan benar. Di negara saya di Eropa ada beberapa penyedia listrik. Kompetisi diantara penyedia listrik memberikan hasil – dan harga lebih rendah. Jika listrik tidak disalurkan, tanggung jawab perusahaan harus memotong biaya bagi pelanggan, sesuai dengan jumlah pemadaman dan lamanya waktu listrik tidak tersedia.

Kami akan mulai membangun villa kami segera dan kami akan bergantung pada persediaan listrik dari tenaga matahari, kincir angin dan tenaga ombak pantai. Ini adalah penanaman modal yang mahal; bagaimanapun tidak akan ada pembayaran PLN untuk servis yang hanya setengah disediakan.

Malam ini istri saya dan saya menanti-nanti waktu untuk malam romantik yang berikutnya dengan nyala lilin selama pemadaman listrik dari PLN.

Baba, Lombok

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LOCAL SCENE

MONOLOGUES @ ASMARA

Talented rising star, Adam Cranfield, entertained us with an impressive theatrical
performance of contemporary monologues on Friday, 14 January
at Asmara Restaurant.

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MR FIXER

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

QUESTION: Living in Lombok has been both the best of times and the worst of times.  My wife and I retired on this idyllic island over 10 years ago. We bought some land, built a villa for ourselves and a separate guest house villa for friends who came to stay with us from time to time. We added a pool over the years and enjoyed the fruits and shrubs in the tropical garden that surrounded us in our tropical hideaway paradise. 

My wife passed away just recently and I have been suffering ill health for about 6 months now. My doctors tell me I need heart surgery and advise me that I should return to Europe, where I can receive medical care. It is with great regret that I must say goodbye to my paradise home where I have made so many friends and leave behind so many happy memories. I have no close family to speak of in Europe and have reluctantly put my property up for sale with a nice estate agent who says he has a client who may be interested in purchasing. If I do sell, I don’t quite know what to do with the money. Should I leave it to my cat?

MR FIXER: As you have no relatives to leave your assets to and you sure as hell can’t take it with you in an asbestos suitcase, I suggest you go out on a big one and spend it all on wine, women and song. You can squander the rest. 

QUESTION: Until the new airport finally opens, it seems there are only two alternatives to get to the idyllic paradise island of Lombok. That’s via Bali (which is a nightmare and often requires an overnight stay) or via Jakarta. I usually opt for the Jakarta route and, to help pass the time in the airport, I read the papers.
In the Jakarta Post, I noticed several adverts for self help therapy which seem quite interesting. The first one to catch my eye was an advert for male virility. Herbal “Viagra” was available for a fraction of the cost as the real thing. A cure for baldness was also available in pill form. There were pills for slimming and pills to make you put on weight, pills for breast enlargement and breast reduction, pills for this and pills for that. There were even pills to make you taller! Do these things actually work?

MR FIXER: For a short, fat, impotent, bald guy, Lombok is the ideal place to find out!  The “Herbal Viagra” has had good reviews from the lads in Green Valley Estate in Senggigi. It’s just a bit worrying that the heath food shop that sells them also sells cigarettes, but that hasn’t put the lads off buying them. The advert for pills that make you taller offers a 100% money back guarantee. The only way I can see that working is if you fold up the packaging and stick it in your shoe.

QUESTION: I am the owner of a small hotel on the northern coast of Senggigi with a modest 12 rooms with restaurant and pool. I have many guests from all over the world who choose to stay at the hotel. It is a constant source of delight to meet new people from different cultures and backgrounds. Last week, we had a young lady from Lithuania who seemed quite normal. She was a striking blonde, blue eyed and unusually single. 

All of a sudden on the second day of her stay, she burst out of her room and dived into the pool totally naked. Other guests were having breakfast at the time but no one said anything. They just ignored her and pretended not to notice. I was not aware of the incident until one of the other guests happened to mention it in passing, as if it was quite a normal occurrence. I decided not to do anything about it as the incident had already occurred and I thought it best to ignore it like everyone else. 

The next day, the same thing happened again. Totally unexpectedly, the blonde bombshell dived straight in the pool. She had nothing on except the radio, which was playing gently in the background from her veranda. A hushed discussion amongst the breakfast guests established the possibility that she may be suffering from a medical condition. One man, who may have been a doctor, said he thought she had acute angina.  Another guest agreed and said she also had great breasts. She continues to appear unexpectedly every day wearing nothing but a smile. What should I do?

MR FIXER: Give her a free room in perpetuity and sell tickets. What did you say the hotel was called?

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ASEAN MEETS IN LOMBOK

Indonesia is set to host a series of ASEAN meetings this year, after the country assumed the rotating Chairmanship for the Association of South East Asian Nations during 2011.

Lombok has just started the year’s programme, hosting the biggest ASEAN meeting from 15 to 17 January 2011. The prestigious meeting of foreign ministers is seen as a coup for Lombok, confirming the safety and stability of the island and its suitability for hosting such international events.

West Nusa Tenggara Governor, Zainul Majdi, welcomed the visit of permanent representatives from 10 ASEAN countries, while detailing investment, trade and tourism opportunities available in the province to his ASEAN guests.

High on the agenda of the first “retreat meeting” in Lombok was the implementation of the ASEAN charter and the planned launch of an ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

The Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN held conferences on Friday and Saturday to discuss topics to be covered at the ministerial meeting, spanning “economic, cultural and social” aspects. Representatives also discussed plans for the upcoming ASEAN summit.

Around 200 delegates from 10 ASEAN member countries attended the meeting. Officers at the coordination talks included Wilfredo Villacorta of the Philippines, Thailand’s Manasvi Srisodapol, Prasith Sayasith of Laos, Vietnam’s Nguyen Duc Thang and U Nyan Lynn of Myanmar.

Also present were Kan Pharidh from Cambodia, Dato’ Hsu King Bee from Malaysia, Lim Thuan Kuan from Singapore and Haji Abbas from Brunei.

Ngurah said the CPR comprised ambassadors to ASEAN as well as representatives from ASEAN dialogue partner countries accredited by the organization.

Other countries that took part in the CPR dialogue were Japan, the United States and China – all of which had appointed ambassadors to ASEAN.

Beside Lombok, Bukit Tinggi in West Sumatra, Medan, Manado, Bangka Belitung, Palembang, Yogyakarta, Surakarta , Surabaya and Bandung will all host one or more ASEAN meetings this year.

In February, Medan will host an ASEAN-India trade negotiation meeting, while Surakarta and Yogyakarta will jointly host a human rights commission meeting later in the month. In March, Manado will welcome participants of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) on disaster relief and exercise.

In April, the Bangka-Belitung Islands is scheduled to hold the ASEAN Task Working Group on nuclear power plants, while in June Bukit Tinggi will host the working group meeting of the ASEAN commission for the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children.

In July, Bandung will greet participants of the coordinating meeting on services, in August, Manado will host the ASEAN Economic Minister meeting, and in September, Makassar will host an ASEAN defense meeting.
Later in November, Semarang and Surabaya will host meetings on economic matters and AIDS.

“The goals of distributing the events throughout the region are threefold. Hosting international events means a huge promotion to the world about the beauty and the facilities of one respective region, while at the same time generating revenue as delegates will spend money during the conference,” the Foreign Ministry’s director of information and media, Agustinus Sumartono, said.  “The third benefit is that people in the region will be able to feel the presence of ASEAN, and this will serve the purpose of making ASEAN more people-oriented.”

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SOUTH COAST HIDEAWAY… BEAUTIFUL BUMBANG

The majestic beauty of Lombok’s south coast is no secret. The Novotel Resort recognized the extraordinary beauty of Mandalika Beach, just east of the south coast’s main tourism area of Kuta, many years ago and the resort has been popular with “those in the know” ever since.

Nearby beaches, such as Mawun and Selong Blanak to the west of Kuta, are breathtakingly beautiful, as-yet undeveloped bays, with vast tourism potential. Gerupuk and Tanjung Aan, to the east, are well established on the surfer and back-packer trails as having not only stunning landscapes, but some of the best surfing locations east of Bali.

Once the Lombok International Airport is operational and the NTB government goes ahead with plans to attract major investment into the area, there is no doubt that Lombok’s south coast will undergo a massive boom, with many of these lovely beaches to be snapped up and developed. While some may lament this development, the south coast seems to have an endless series of bays, peninsulas and beaches… few of which have seen any development and most of which remain a local secret.

One such secret beach is Bumbang, a pristine protected bay immediately east of the surfing Mecca of Gerupuk. Not easy to reach, we spent almost an hour bumping along a rutted road from Kuta, winding over hills and through small rural villages that time seems to have forgotten. However, the arduous journey is more than worthwhile once you arrive at the destination.

Bumbang Beach curves in a long, wide bay of clean golden sand; the entrance to the bay from the ocean protected on either side by small grassy hills rising out of the sea. The views and the natural beauty of the location are stunning.

Local businesswoman, Nunung, who has sold real estate in South Lombok for several years and was originally offered the land to sell, immediately recognised that this was a piece of Lombok beauty too special to pass by and purchased it herself. Late last year Nunung set about creating a small but charming beach resort where others can experience the unique peace and beauty of the area.

While she may not be a mega-developer on the scale of Emaar Investments, what Nunung lacks in investment dollars she more than makes up for in enthusiasm and, in her own words, sheer stubbornness. On a wing and a prayer, she has scraped, borrowed and saved to build her first six thatched cottages and has plans to complete a further 10 in the coming month. Thus Bumbangku (“My Bumbang”) Beach Cottages was born and is now open to those intrepid travellers seeking a special beach getaway.

Set on four hectares, Bumbangku occupies the entire southern end of the wide beach. Being off the beaten track and far from any main roads, there is no traffic noise and, at night, no sounds at all except for the gentle whisper of small waves foaming on the shore.

The sheltered setting of the bay means that there are no large waves and swimming is a delight. As this is originally a local fishing area, there are many small bamboo fishing platforms (“tambak”) moored in the bay, which may spoil the initial impact of the beauty, but the activity of the fishermen who make their living here provides hours of interest, as well as providing Bumbangku Restaurant with a supply of super-fresh fish and seafood.

Each morning, watch the fishermen rowing out to their tambak in small sampan (local fishing boats), climbing across the rickety bamboo platforms to pull nets from the water and inspect their catch; collecting prawns and fish for their family’s meals each day. Special bamboo cages suspended under the tambak hold Blue Manna crabs and lobsters, keeping them in a natural environment until they grow large enough to sell.

Guests staying at Bumbangku can lie back on sun lounges under the thatched umbrellas on the beach and immerse themselves in the changing scene – watch fishing nets being inspected and emptied in the morning, swim in the drowsy silence of the midday heat, read and relax with the gentle sea breezes and bucolic scenery as afternoon segues into evening. Lie under the wide green canopy of the spreading Ekas tree on the beachfront; play chess and the local game of Karambol under the cool of its branches. Read a book and doze, as true peace and relaxation lets your stress unwind in this timeless environment.

In the evening, dine on freshly caught lobster, prawns, fish and crabs in the restaurant. Chef Ronnie is eager to please and cooks up such delicious feasts as Curried Crabs: two Blue Manna crabs topped with a rich and piquant curry sauce, great value at Rp 20 000. Surf and Turf Ala Bumbang features a medium sized lobster, perfectly steamed and split open, alongside a tasty blend of tender beef pieces simmered in a delicious sauce of capsicum and onions, all for just Rp 100 000. In fact, the fantastically fresh, delicious and cheap seafood is one of the star attractions of a stay at Bumbungku!

At the end of the day, sated from the delicious food and lulled by the peace and tranquillity, climb the steps to your thatched cottage and enjoy a sleep uninterrupted by any of the noises of a developed world.

ccommodation is simple and rustic, primarily for backpackers and those who don’t mind forgoing luxury for the simple pleasures of a natural beach escape.

The bamboo cottages sit on stilts, with walls made from woven bamboo and a thatched roof. Woven matting and a mattress on the floor make up the bedroom, with windows on each side to let the ocean breezes flow through. A small semi-detached bathroom down a flight of stairs to the rear comprises an Indonesian-style “squat” toilet and mandi – a large container of fresh water and a dipper to throw the water over your body. Cool, refreshing and simple!

Double cottages are priced at a very reasonable Rp 250 000 per night (two persons sharing) and a special “soft opening” discount of 30% is available until the end of March 2011. After the end of January, another 7 single cottages and 3 smaller double cottages will be available at Rp 150 000 per night (again, less the 30% discount until the end of March). Another ten smaller double cottages are planned for the coming months and a couple of small investors, sharing Nunung’s vision, plan to build some up-market villas at the resort in the near future.

Being “just around the corner” from Gerupuk, Bumbangku can also organise boat trips out to the awesome waves for surfers, or for those who just wish to explore this stunning coast by sea. In the near future, it will also be possible to visit the tambak, with bamboo walkways being constructed to allow people to fish from the platforms and perhaps choose their own lobsters for dinner.

Staff at the resort can also arrange transfers to Bumbang Beach, either by road or by local boat from Gerupuk. In fact, the friendly and enthusiastic team of local people here are happy to arrange anything for their guests… another plus in this small personalised hotel.

Bumbangku is ideal for couples and small groups who wish to get away from it all and really relax. No distractions, no traffic or stress, just the beach and the pleasures of relaxation, good food, and a glorious setting. Bumbangku is simple, beautiful and natural. It may not have the whistles and bells of star-rated hotels, but it has a charm all of its own and a peaceful atmosphere many will find hard to leave.

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CHILLI CRISIS IS SERIOUS!

Bad weather conditions in Bali and Lombok have resulted in the destruction and failure of food crops throughout the region, driving prices of vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage and other sensitive crops sky-high. Balidiscovery.com has just published an article on the disaster we are facing as the price of Indonesia’s favourite spice – chilli – soars out of reach of the average family.

As any visitor to Indonesia or aficionado of the country’s cuisine can testify, Indonesians love their chilli peppers. Cabe, in one form or another, finds its way into almost all Indonesian recipes and the wide range of chilli-based sambal always holds a high place on any Indonesian dining table.

This inescapable culinary “fact of life” serves as prologue to a growing crisis of high chilli prices in Indonesia. Chillies can now cost a small ransom of up to Rp 100 000 (US $11) per kilo.

Fuelled by bad crops and poor weather conditions, the cost of a daily dose of chilli has now surpassed by a factor of 5 the cost of a kilo of chicken, the meat of choice for many budget-conscious families.

Field observations conducted by the Bali Department of Industry and Commerce reveals the highest price for chillies is in the Karangasem region of Bali at Rp 100 000 per kilo, with an average price of Rp 80,000 (US $8.90) in many other areas of the island. In Lombok, chillies are now fetching around Rp 60 000 per kilo at local markets.

For comparison purposes, the minimum monthly wage for a worker in Lombok is Rp 950 000 (US $105) and a kilogram of chicken costs around Rp17 000 (US $1.90).

The government is blaming the very high prices of chillies on low production, high demand, poor weather conditions and lower-than-normal import of the peppery commodity.

While a shortage of chillies and sky-high prices may seem hardly like news to the rest of the world, the central role that chillies play in the daily life and cuisine of Indonesians has made the “chilli crisis” front page news in local media.

Scientists suggest that the ingestion of chilli peppers induce the release of endorphins – opiate receptors in the brain that help the body alleviate pain and induce pleasure centres, not unlike the medicinal effects of morphine and codeine.

The importance of chilli in the daily life of the archipelago, and the chance that higher prices may place this commodity out of the reach of many Indonesians, could soon see many folks in these parts suffering painful withdrawal symptoms.

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RABIES DEATHS RISE IN BALI

The scourge of rabies remains a continuing threat in Bali, with four more victims dying of the disease in the first week of 2011. The latest victims bring the death toll to 118 and come from the regencies of Klungkung and Karangasem in Bali.

Wayan Sulana (36) of Pelisan village, Kubu, Karangasem, died on New Year’s Day while being treated in the isolation unit of Denpasar’s Sanglah General Hospital. Meanwhile, Putu Adi Sucipta Yasa (11) of Banjar Pancingan, Kusamba, Klungkung was rushed to the hospital on 2 January 2011, in a critical condition and exhibiting classic symptoms of rabies following an untreated dog bite suffered three months earlier. According to Kompas.com, the child died within 24 hours of admission to the hospital.

The nearby island of Nusa Penida, which forms a part of the Klungkung regency, is also not free of the scourge of rabies. 58 year old Nusa Penida resident, Wayan Citra, died in Sanglah Hospital on 7 January 2011, after being admitted with rabies symptoms the day before. Citra’s family told hospital officials that the man had been bitten on the calf of his leg one month before.

Authorities also report the death of Dewa Nyoman Kartika (43) of Banjar Bumbungan in Klungkung who died on 4 January 2011, within hours of his admission to the Denpasar General Hospital. Kartika was bitten by a dog three months before his hospitalization and had not been treated with the required vaccine following the canine attack.

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