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ISSUE 83

 

THE BEST IN 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.

It’s a happy time in Lombok, with the Chinese New Year (called Imlek in Bahasa Indonesia) just celebrated on 3 February and Valentine’s Day coming up on 14 February.
Lombok is home to a large community of Chinese people who celebrated the start of Spring and the start of a new year on 3 February. 2011 is the year of the Rabbit, according to Chinese astrology, and can symbolise a lucky year, in which you can catch your breath and relax. To all our Chinese readers, gōng xǐ fā cái!
Valentine’s Day is traditionally the day of love and is eagerly celebrated by young locals in Lombok. Where better to celebrate with your loved one than on the warm, tropical paradise of Lombok, with candlelit dinners under the stars and romantic walks along beautiful beaches? Turn to page 18 for our top ideas on making Valentine’s Day in Lombok extra special.

Also coming up towards the end of the month is Lombok’s famous Bau Nyale Festival. This magnificent and unique festival attracts thousands of visitors and is not to be missed. Read our special feature on page 10 for all the details.

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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BAU NYALE… LOMBOK’S UNIQUE FESTIVAL

One of Lombok’s most important and popular festivals is Bau Nyale, meaning “catch Nyale (sea worms)” in the local Sasak language. It is a cultural tradition, deeply rooted in local legend and drama, and unique to the island of Lombok.

The sea worms are a rare variety of Palolo worm (Eunice viridis) found in tropical waters in certain parts of the world, including Lombok, Sumba and Savu in Indonesia. Once a year, when seasonal, marine and lunar conditions combine, the Nyale come to certain beaches around Lombok to spawn and for a few days, the seas are filled with wriggling sea worms in a variety of colours, ranging from simple brown to red and green.

Bau Nyale, or the Nyale Festival, takes place every year in the tenth month of the Sasak calendar at a time close to the full moon, and is celebrated in either February or March each year. This year the full moon is late on the afternoon of 18 February and the Nyale should start appearing around this time. According to local sources, the official date for the Bau Nyale festival is Wednesday, 23 February 2011.

nyaleThe Nyale spawn along many of the beaches of the south coast, but the most popular site for celebrating Bau Nyale is at beautiful Seger Beach near Kuta; an area called Putri Nyale (Princess Nyale) by the people of Lombok.

An alternative site this year is the newly opened Bumbangku Beach Cottages at Bumbang Beach, just to the east of Gerupuk, where the Nyale also traditionally come to the quiet waters of the bay to spawn. The beach resort plans to host a beach party with fresh seafood barbecued on the beach and a beach bonfire for guests. Later in the night, join the boats heading off shore to watch the schools of Nyale swimming from the open ocean into the mouth of the bay.

Official Bau Nyale celebrations start in the late afternoon on the beautiful beachfront in Kuta on Lombok’s south coast. Large groups of both local people and tourists gather on the beach to be entertained by traditional music and dance performances hosted by the local communities.

As evening approaches, a long train of traffic makes its way to Seger Beach, around 5kms to the east of Kuta and the site of the main Bau Nyale celebrations. As crowds of between 5 and 6 000 people amass on the small road leading to the beach, typical waits for entrance can stretch to two hours. This doesn’t, however, deter the crowds and the overall festive atmosphere.

On the land surrounding the beach, stalls and warungs selling drinks and foods are set up, and stages are assembled to feature the different performances being held on the beach, with traditional singing and the popular Dangdut music on show. The main stage features the core performances that are an essential part of the Bau Nyale festival.

The festival begins with “pantun”, a form of traditional rhyming poetry, where young people tease and flirt with each other, competing to form verses in a ritualised style. Each verse consists of two couplets: the first couplet suggests the second, by sound or other similarity. It is often sung in contests where a boy addresses a quatrain to a girl, who must answer with a quatrain of her own. The results are often tongue-in-cheek or highly suggestive; for local people, engaging in pantun is a form of permitted flirting, often leading to courtships in the more traditional villages of Lombok.

The highlight of the festival is the theatrical dance and music drama which commemorates the legend of Putri (Princess) Mandalika and is the basis for the magic surrounding the Bau Nyale festival.

preseanPutri Mandalika was a princess of a large kingdom called “Yellow Flower”. According to local myth, this kingdom was famous throughout the land and Princess Mandalika was very beautiful, as well as being kind and well-loved by the people of her kingdom. When she was of suitable age to marry, princes and suitors travelled to the kingdom to ask for her hand. So many men wanted to marry her that it began to cause trouble between the different kingdoms and the Princess became unable to choose between them without her decision causing further strife.

For days the princes competed for the princess, leading to tensions and threats of war between the rival kingdoms. Finally the princess’ father, King Kuripan, gathered all the rivals together and instructed Princess Mandalika to choose her husband before sunrise the next morning. Fearful of causing a war, Princess Mandalika declared that – even if she loved one of the suitors – she loved her parents and her kingdom too much to cause strife. Saying that, rather than choose one, she would give herself to everyone, she threw herself into the sea from the promontory overlooking Seger Beach, declaring that she would return each year as a sign that she would never leave her people.

Everyone searched the surrounding sea for the princess, but instead they found masses of colourful sea-worms, called Nyale. According to a local priest, or Dukun, the princess’s body had been transformed into these sea worms, and thus they became a traditional symbol for the Sasak people. Other legends say that the long strands of the Nyale worms are the princess’s hair, floating in the water where she drowned. Whether or not the stories are true, the legend continues to be celebrated and has become a parable of sacrifice for the sake of the greater good; re-enacted each year at the Bau Nyale festival as a reminder to the community.
The Putri Mandalika drama is one of the most unique and enchanting cultural performances to be found in Lombok. The spell-binding and well-acted spectacle features beautiful and authentic Sasak costumes, traditional music, drumming, peresean (stick fighting) and gamelan; and conjures up a fascinating insight into the life and history of our island during the times when Lombok was ruled by kingdoms and Sasak royalty.

nyale danceAt the end of the drama thousands of people make their way down to the beachfront to the east of the bay to see if the Nyale have started to appear. Excited crowds splash into the water carrying small nets, buckets and torches, hoping to be the first to catch a Nyale worm. No one really knows for sure when the Nyale will appear, so anticipation is high prior to the first sighting. The first catches start around 2.30am and by 5am the beachfront is an awesome sight, swarming with thousands of wet, happy people scooping up the worms with nets, buckets, shirts and anything else they could use to catch them!

The highlight of the ceremony occurs when the Dukun (local priest) wades into the sea to observe the spawning Nyale and predict the future rice harvest, based on the number of sea worms. A good catch is a sign that this year’s rice harvest will also be good. Nyale are traditionally associated with fertility, and as part of a ritualised ceremony, the sea worms are ground up and placed in irrigation channels around fields to help ensure a good harvest.

Considered a rare delicacy, the people collect the worms and eat them as a special annual feast. Nyale are eaten sometimes raw when they are caught, or can be steamed, fried, or made into Pepes Nyale. In this popular local specialty, the Nyale are mixed with coconut and spices, then wrapped in a banana leaf and roasted over the fire. The sea worms are rich in protein and are also believed to have aphrodisiac properties, so the feasting takes place with much amusement and gusto!

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WHAT'S HOT!

Valentine’s Day is on Monday, 14 February and where better to celebrate love than on the romantic island of Lombok? Valentine’s Day is all about flowers and chocolates, romantic candlelit dinners for two and magical moments… and in this issue we bring you a special feature on places to dine and romantic escapes, as well as luxurious spa treatments and special gifts for the one that you love!

• Café Alberto once again is hosting a party on the beach in Batu Bolong with a Valentine’s Day Dance Party. Starting at 6pm, in time for sunset drinks, guests will enjoy dinner and dance to live music including Salsa, Hip Hop, and Lombok’s popular Dangdut! Dress code is pink or black, so dress up in your most glam gowns for this fashionable event! Price is Rp 75 000 for adults and Rp 50 000 for children and includes dinner. Ph Café Alberto on 693 039 (or see advert on page 20)

Treat that special someone to ultra romantic fine dining on the beachfront under the stars at stylish Quali Restaurant at Qunci Pool Villas in Mangsit. The special Valentine’s Day menu features Oven Baked Eggplant and Mozzarella with tomato sauce, followed by Seafood Corn Chowder served with garlic bread. For main course, choose between Grilled Tenderloin served with beef bacon and mushroom sauce, or Pan-fried Sea Bass Fillet served with steamed sesame rice, blanched spinach, carrot and tomato orange sauce. For dessert, enjoy Pavlova with mixed fruit and chocolate sauce, plus coffee or tea. Price is Rp 225 000++ per person. Guests will be entertained by acoustic guitar music. Bookings recommended on 693800

• The Garden Café at Manna Kebun is also hosting a Valentine’s Day event featuring Latin American music by guest band, Lucho Flores. The package includes dinner, soft drinks and door prizes, as well as fabulous Latin American dance music and supporting entertainment by popular local group: Not Bad Band. Grab your valentine and party til late at Senggigi’s newest live music venue! Ph 692 999 for details.

Uber-chic Gili Trawangan lounge, Horizontal, is offering a great value Valentine’s Day Dinner for just Rp 100 000 per person including a complimentary Love Potion Cocktail. The 4 course gourmet menu includes assorted canapés, King Prawn and Avocado Cocktail, Marlin Fillet in Lemon Butter Sauce, and Mango Cheesecake for dessert. Why not combine dinner with a stay in the stylish H Rooms @ Horizontal – suites are amazing value at just Rp 500 000 ++ per night during the month of February! Ph: 639248

• Vila Ombak on Gili Trawangan is offering “Romantic Honeymoon Packages” for 3 days and 2 nights, for just Rp 5 million ++ per couple. The romantic packages include 2 nights deluxe accommodation, daily breakfasts and return speedboat transfers, as well as a romantic dinner for two, Honeymoon Spa Treatment, Massages, and more. Perfect for a romantic escape on Lombok’s most popular island! Ph: 642 336 or visit www.hotelombak.com

New and stylish Jeeva Klui is also offering a romantic escape at their luxurious beachfront property in Mangsit. Escape to another world and enjoy the peace and relaxation of this lovely boutique resort. Special Valentine’s Packages are available in Ocean View, Beachfront and Pool Suites from 13 – 15 February, for a minimum two nights stay, and include daily breakfasts and return transfers. Ph 693035 (or see advert page 32)

• Royal Spa share the love for the entire month of February, with their “Double Delight Package”. Enjoy 2 and 1/2 hours of pampering for him or her with a relaxing traditional massage, followed by a body scrub using your choice of delicious scents, including green tea, coconut, chocolate or strawberry… all good enough to eat! Round off the bliss with a traditional facial to make your skin glow, or a foot reflexology treatment for total relaxation. Normally priced at Rp 195 000 plus tax, this package is available for the whole month at just Rp 150 000 inclusive. Royal Spa have gift vouchers available for treatments, so why not surprise your loved one with a pampering package in their Valentine’s card? Ph 686 6577 for appointments.

What lady doesn’t love Ciokolata? The chic little boutique next to Senggigi Jaya Supermarket always has trendy and fun fashions for local ladies (and a few for the guys too!) There’s also some fun fashion jewellery, as well as belts, shoes and accessories to complete your wardrobe. Not sure of your ladies size or style? Give a Ciokolata gift voucher and let them have fun choosing! For the ultimate gift, check out the small but exclusive selection of Autore fine pearl jewellery. The necklaces, bangles and rings are simply stunning and, as well as making a good investment, these will make her smile for a lifetime!

More chic and fashionable luxury items can be found at Achi Acha Boutique in Senggigi Plaza. The boutique carries the best range of Guess handbags, watches, wallets, travel goods and jewellery than you will find anywhere in the region! All items are genuine Guess products and retail for much lower prices than in Bali. There are also some stunning shoes and belts on display. Be sure to check out the gorgeous bangle watches and evening styles… they’re eye-catching, trendy and fabulous! For the guys, there is a fabulous selection of authentic and stylish watches by Victorinox, Nautica, Guess and the luxurious Gc range. Again, if you can’t make up your mind about the ultimate gift to show you care, a gift voucher is the perfect solution.
Next door to Achi Acha in Senggigi Plaza, Rumah Bunga Spa has a range of treatments to pamper and primp, ranging from massages to manicures and hair treatments. Some of the pampering packages are really great value, including a massage of your choice, hair spa treatment using professional products and reflexology for tired feet and legs – almost three hours of pampering for around Rp 200 000! The spa also has some nice gift packages already wrapped in attractive bundles, including bath soaps, fragrant oils, incenses and aromatherapy products… all the sweet things a lady likes!

Anna’s Gift Shop, on the main street just north of Senggigi Abadi Supermarket, also has some fabulous gift ideas. The range of pearl and silver jewellery is really special, with many pieces being one-off designs and unique to Anna’s. Prices for quality pearl jewellery are also much lower than many of the pearl shops around town. Be sure to check out the beautiful mabe pearl designs and the cut-out pearl shell pendants. Also spot on trend are the beaten silver link necklaces and bracelets… all the rage in Europe at the moment! 

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THAI YOGA MASSAGE AT ROYAL SPA

Senggigi’s most popular massage and body treatment centre, Royal Spa, has just introduced Thai massage to its extensive range of treatments.

Thai massage is sometimes called Thai Yoga Massage, or Thai Bodywork, and is a style that involves stretching and deep massage while the body is arranged in specific positions, similar to yoga poses.
This form of bodywork is usually performed on the floor, and the client wears comfortable clothes that allow for movement. Royal Spa has a special room available for the massages, and provides comfortable shirts and pants for the treatment. No oils are used in Thai massage.

Thai massage is believed to have been developed by Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, physician to Buddha, more than 2500 years ago in India. It made its way to Thailand, where the Ayurvedic techniques and principles gradually became influenced by traditional Chinese medicine. For centuries, Thai massage was performed by monks as one component of Thai medicine.

In Thailand, Thai massage is one of the branches of Traditional Thai Medicine (TTM), now recognized and regulated by the government, and is widely considered to be a medical discipline used for the treatment of a wide variety of ailments.

Thai medicine is based on the belief there is a life force or energy (prana) that circulates within the body along sen lines. To create health and vitality, it is essential to allow this energy to circulate freely. Each pose in the massage is designed to “open up” the body and allow energy to flow freely along the sen lines. This “opening” and stretching increases joint mobility and flexibility, improves circulation, tones organs, and relieves muscular and emotional tension, as well as centring the mind and body.

A full Thai massage session at Royal Spa typically lasts between an hour and a half and two hours, and includes rhythmic pressing and stretching of the entire body. During the massage, the recipient is put into many yoga-like positions while the massage therapist uses his or her hands, knees, legs, and feet to move you into a series of yoga-like stretches; which may include walking on the back, and arching the recipient’s body into bhujangasana or the cobra position. Muscle compression, joint mobilisation, and acupressure are also used during treatment.

Thai massage has been described as assisted Hatha yoga; or assisted yoga without having to do any work.
During the massage, the therapist pays particular attention to an individual’s flexibility; watching for limited movement and stiffness. While some people may fear being put into yoga positions, or being pushed past their body’s limits, therapists are careful not to put unnecessary force on the client’s body and there is little risk of injury.

As with any massage, don’t eat a heavy meal before the massage and remember to drink water after your massage to help flush out released toxins. Massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumours, abdominal hernia, or recent fractures.

Staff at Royal Spa have been trained by a professional Thai massage therapist from Bali and have been busy perfecting their new treatment over the past two months, including practicing on many of the Spa’s regular western clientele.

As some of the “test pilots” for Thai massage, we at The Lombok Guide can happily recommend this new treatment. Although more rigorous than most massages, Thai massage is both deeply relaxing and invigorating. It is ideal for stiff muscles, or for people who need to improve their body’s flexibility. Aching backs and tense muscles will benefit from the gentle but efficient stretches. And for anyone who has ever wanted to try yoga, but isn’t sure where to start, Thai massage is an excellent preparation.

While massages and body work are luxuries in the west, mostly due to their high cost, we are fortunate in Lombok to have access to skilled massage therapists at very low prices. A weekly massage is so beneficial to our health, it could almost be called self-neglect not to have one.

Do your body a favour and experience a Thai massage at Royal Spa soon… it’s the lazy person’s yoga!

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LOCAL SCENE

LOMBOK CHARACTER

Those who don't really know our island, may think that Lombok doesn't have as much cultural heritage as Bali. In this issue we show just a small sample of our rich and fascinating Sasak culture.

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MR FIXER

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

QUESTION: I have just heard the exciting news that the new addition to the main shopping Mall in Mataram has four floors and a double lift. It even has a 4 floor car park for convenient shopping access. A new bakery and cake shop serving cappuccino coffees makes shopping a complete experience for us ladies. Bags, shoes and dresses of every kind are on display in brightly lit boutiques at prices that suit every pocket. There is even an Indian-style fast food restaurant. Apart from the usual book store and electrical shop selling laptops and limited software, there is very little to offer the men folk. Can you suggest a shop that would be good for males?

MR FIXER: There already is one! It is a wives store. It is located on the first floor and has wives who love sex. The second floor has wives who love sex, have money and drink beer. The 3rd and 4th floors have never been visited.

QUESTION: My name is Dangerous Dave. I like extreme sports! I came to the idyllic island of Lombok to try out a few dangerous waves and climb an active volcano like Mount Rinjani, and generally experience some offbeat extreme sports like bungee jumping, kite sailing and shark surfing in the tropical waters of Senggigi Bay. I’ve even seen a sign advertising Extreme Properties. Is that a reference to the dangers of buying property in Indonesia? Can you suggest any other dangerous sporting activities available in Lombok?

MR FIXER: Buying property in Indonesia is not as dangerous as you might think as long as the foreign buyer makes sure to get three essential documents with the transaction.  These documents are: POWER OF ATTORNEY, THE RIGHT TO USE and a LOAN AGREEMENT (ask your Notaris about these and insist on having them). 

Alternatively, try walking the pavements in Senggigi now that they have just installed more underground cables and left gaping holes just where you don’t expect them, in addition to the gaping holes left by the last lot of bamboo pole advertisements, when they just smashed up the pavement (what was left of it), leaving bricks and debris just strewn about in the most unexpected places. For extra thrills, try doing this at night during a power cut whilst being harassed by street sellers after a night out at Happy Café.

QUESTION: I am a retired expat who came to the lovely peaceful island of Lombok to catch up on reading all those books I had promised myself but never managed to find the time to read. You never know, I might even get round to writing one. 

As life’s years roll seamlessly by, I seem to have accumulated the flotsam and jetsam of possessions such as my half-finished butterfly collection and endless magazines and newspapers long since out of date and covered in dust; not to mention my immense collection of frog and toad spawn specimens numbering in the hundreds. 

My bedside table drawer contains half-consumed bottles of medicine and pills long since out of date and other nick knacks I had forgotten I had. My garden shed is full of broken rusting tools and other left-over items, such as a short length of guttering and bits of wood that I convinced myself would come in handy for something. Tins of dried up paint and jam jars half full of bent nails of different sizes are strewn about the floor. I even have a broken lawnmower I was saving in case I ever needed a spare part, despite the fact that the new lawnmower is of a completely different design. I seem to be getting bogged down with life’s clutter. I am loath to throw these things away. Do you have any suggestions?

MR FIXER: Anything that is not beautiful to look at or in any way immediately useful should be disposed of.  Take it to the tip at the back of Green Valley or give it to someone in the kampung. It would make someone’s day to receive such goodies. Even the broken lawnmower could be fixed by some enterprising young buck, who could set himself up in business as a gardener. With regard to the frog and toad spawn specimens, I suggest you give them to someone you don’t like.

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INTERNATIONAL MEDIA FOCUS ON LOMBOK

An article published in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on 25 January, 2011 and duplicated in The Age, The Brisbane Times and a host of other publications, has positive implications for tourism in Lombok. The full story is published below:

The new Bali? Indonesia hopes so

Traffic jams are now common in Bali, a victim of its own success in pulling in swarms of tourists and using the money to buy cars and turn rice paddies into hotels.

Across a narrow sea channel lies Lombok, another volcanic island ringed by beaches, where in the capital Mataram the few foreign visitors are more likely to be slowed down by a horse-drawn cart than a tailback of Toyotas.

But authorities in Indonesia, a current emerging market investor darling, have big plans for the island.
A new international airport is expected to open later this year, and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is leading a bidding race to develop an unspoilt southern coastline of white sand into a world class resort and luxury residential community.

Indonesia hopes such projects will overhaul its poor infrastructure, seen as both a hurdle to growth and a cash making opportunity, with Asia showing the most investment interest in a sign of new money flows between emerging markets.

Lombok’s leading exclusive development so far, Indian-owned The Oberoi, an isolated and expansive resort of manicured lawns and infinity pools facing Bali, was chosen as the venue for a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers this week.

“We brought the ministers here to show them how unspoilt it is ... and the opportunities,” Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said during a stroll through the grounds.

Tourism contributes just 2-3 per cent to the country's GDP, versus 6 per cent for Thailand, and economists believe boosting Indonesia’s service industries could be a new engine of growth for Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

Indonesia’s 17,000 islands stretch from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, and offer pristine coral reefs, diverse cultures, archaeological monuments, striking volcanic scenery and dense rainforests with unique wildlife such as orangutans.

“We think we can do eco-tourism,” said Natalegawa. “We discussed as a group what value-add the region can offer, and we think it is forests and the marine environment,” he said, after taking his counterparts to get their feet wet by releasing baby turtles into the waves and planting trees along the shore.

Despite the symbolic gesture, and a deal with Norway to earn $1 billion by halting forest clearing, the country's environmental record is poor. Deforestation led it to be the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter in 2005, according to the World Bank, with palm oil and timber plantations putting the Sumatran tiger and Javan rhino at risk of extinction.

A bitter dispute between the palm oil industry and environmentalists underlines the difficulties for the region of spurring economic growth and preserving its environment.

HARDER SELL

Southeast Asia still has plenty of exotic spots that it could promote, especially in Indonesia and Cambodia, said Surin Pitsuwan, head of regional political group ASEAN, also pointing to Myanmar if moves towards democracy enabled investment.

ASEAN, home to 500 million people, aims to liberalise air traffic and invest in improving regional road links.
Local authorities in Lombok, whose wildlife contributed to the theory of evolution through naturalist Alfred Wallace, are keen to develop the industry, but there is no guarantee Bali’s tourism success can be reproduced elsewhere in the archipelago.

Lombok’s culture is not as obviously rich as Bali’s, lacking its famous dances or unique brand of Hinduism, while Bali has learnt over centuries what foreigners look for and still-smiling locals are multilingual. By contrast Lombok’s interior offers a tough hike up active volcano Mount Rinjani and some hard stares.

“People come to Bali for the culture, not the view – the view is better in the Maldives. Here in Lombok it’s nature,” said Widi, from Bali and working at the Sheraton on Senggigi, currently the only developed strip of beach on Lombok, but where an empty coastal road divides surfers and boutique villas from thatched shacks and green mountain humps.

With no timeframe to complete the $600 million project to put 10,000 luxury villas on the southern coast, it seems Lombok is not yet ready for the region’s leaders – Indonesia will host a meeting of Asian prime ministers in Bali later this year.

“Tourism development would be a great thing here in Lombok,” said Widi. “I just hope they plan it better than Bali.”

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GILI’S MAKE LONELY PLANET TOP 10 LIST

The Lonely Planet, arguably the world’s most popular travel guide, has named the Gili Islands in Lombok as one of the world’s top travel destinations for 2011.

The “traveller’s bible” named Vanuatu, the Gili Islands, Chiang Mai, the Marquesas Islands, Japan and Delhi among the world’s top destinations for 2011 in “Lonely Planet’s Best In Travel 2011” guidebook.

This is Lonely Planet’s sixth eagerly-awaited annual collection of the best places to go and things to do around the world for the year ahead.

Making it into the 10th position on the list, the Gili Islands are described as “…irresistible (for their) laidback vibe overlaid with an anything-goes hedonistic energy.”  
Other regions to make the list are Sinai (1), Istria (2), Cappadocia (4), Westfjords (5), Shetland Islands (6), West Coast USA (8) and Chilean Patagonia (9).

Best In Travel’s recommendations are drawn from hundreds of ideas submitted by Lonely Planet’s staff, authors and community of travellers, bloggers and tweeters.  Their suggestions are then refined by a panel of in-house travel experts, based on scores for topicality, excitement, value for money and that special X-factor.

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