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NEWS

ISSUE 9

LOMBOK IS BOOMING!

LOMBOK ADOPTS A NEW MASCOT

AN ISLAND SATURATED BY DEVELOPMENT

MT RINJANI CABLE CAR VETOED

TOMSTONE LOCAL LAUNCH

STILL AWAITING DECISION ON BOUNTY CRUISES SUBSIDY

LOCAL SCENE

WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT ON GILI T

GILI BYTES

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LOMBOK IS BOOMING!

Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok's new tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every fortnight and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island. Use the Guide to explore Lombok and check out the best hotels, restaurants and sight-seeing options, to make your Lombok holiday special.

Investment is the word on everyone's lips at the moment and, judging from the number of real estate offices springing up over the island, Lombok land is the hottest property around at the moment. One source tells me that a new company based on the south coast has sold 19 properties in the area since January this year. New real estate offices have opened in the Senggigi Plaza and another is expected to open on the main street soon.

Certainly local businesses have an air of optimism, with many investing in renovations and extensions to their existing properties, while several key businesses in Senggigi have changed hands in recent months. Qunci Villas, basking in the success of their stylish Mangsit property, have already started construction on phase two of the Qunci empire, with planned ocean view villas, private garden villas complete with plunge pools, a beachfront fine dining restaurant and a 30m infinity pool overlooking the ocean.

Out on Gili Trawangan, the investment boom that started several years ago continues unabated, with villa development being the key direction for the island. With land prices at a premium, investors are also starting to look at the pristine beaches of Gili Meno, just a five minute speedboat ride away.

None of this is very surprising to those of us lucky enough to already own land on Lombok. The pristine beaches, wonderful climate, and the natural beauty of this island all shout “tourism development potential!” Combine these with fantastic diving, fishing and ecotourism opportunities, a fascinating local culture and an exotic tropical lifestyle and it's obvious Lombok is a winner.

Come and discover for yourself the magic of Lombok … like thousands of others, you'll be enchanted!

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LOMBOK ADOPTS A NEW MASCOT

The search has been on recently to choose a new mascot or symbol to represent Lombok Island. At a meeting held in the Sangkareang building at the Governor's office on Wednesday, 19 March, Lombok's leading cultural advisors and academics, bureaucratic and legislative members, local artists and journalists, put forth their proposal for the new symbol to represent Lombok.

The decision of those attending was to adopt a creature from local Sasak legend, named the “Sekardiu”, as the mascot. The bizarre symbol is an amalgamation of a horse, a lion and a giant. The decision-makers said that the creature represents the spirit of Lombok, and the wisdom and intelligence of the Sasak people.

The Sekardiu is a traditional creature from the Wayang Kulit (Shadow Plays) of Sasak legends, known as the Amir Hamzah Story. In the tales the Sekardiu was the creature used by the King Jayengrana as transport on his journeys throughout the kingdom. King Jayengrana, also known as Wong Menak, was known for his wisdom, bravery and lack of arrogance; a King who was patient and wise, but possessed special powers.
The word Sekardiu (or Sekardiwijan, or Sekarditiye) comes from the word “Sekar” meaning “Djin” or “Genie”, and “Diu” meaning “Giant”. The creature is depicted with a huge head like a giant, wearing a crown, and has the body of a horse.

The Head of the Organizing Committee, Joko Prayitno, said that the final form of the proposed mascot would need to be perfected and the concept socialised to Lombok society before it can be adopted for use.

NTB Governor, Lalu Serinata, who opened the event, said that a mascot or symbol for Lombok was of vital importance for the growth of the area. He also said that it was important to choose a mascot that had significance and local symbology; not just a dead sign or mute device, but an emblem which distinguishes the character and philosophy of the place and people.

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AN ISLAND SATURATED BY DEVELOPMENT

Indonesia's former Minister of Tourism, Gede Ardika, has been quoted by Tempo Interaktif as saying that Bali's tourism product has reached saturation point due to a lack of variety in tourism objects and the way in which the island is currently managed. Speaking at a workshop on tourism attraction management sponsored by the Bali Tourism Authority, Ardika said: "Every tourism object has a life cycle. Without creativity, that cycle will quickly come to an end." This condition, he warned, is a challenge to the tourism industry.

The respected expert on tourism issues went on to say that Bali is suffering due to over-development, as evidenced in the current building boom, the marginalising of tourist objects, and the pervasive intrusion of strip malls. Ardika said it is becoming increasingly difficult for tourists to enjoy Bali's beauty, with banners and advertising destroying the natural panoramas along major roads. He said it was high time for a serious review of Bali's tourism and commercial interests to be undertaken to find ways for a sustainable approach to culture and tourism.

The Chief of the Bali Tourism Authority, Gede Nurjaya, responded to Ardika's comments saying that, while he understood the concerns being expressed, he felt the negative effects of over-development are not widely felt at the grass roots level in Bali.

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MT RINJANI CABLE CAR VETOED

Management of the Mount Rinjani National Park (TNGR) have refused the proposed construction of a cable car facility to transport people to the top of Mt Rinjani, Lombok's famous volcano.

At present there is no provision for the construction of a cable car in the TNGR master plan and the Park management intends to keep the journey to the top of the mountain, 3 726 metres above sea level, an eco-friendly experience, facilitated by local guides and porters.

The management of Rinjani is based on societal consensus and the Head of TNGR, Arief Tongkagie, has said the construction of a cable car facility in the National Park would not be permitted. On 3 March, Singaporean businessman, Jeffrey Goh Soo Tong, met with NTB Governor Lalu Serinata to discuss the possibility of his company constructing a cable car facility to transport visitors to the top of the mountain.

In 2007, 9 517 people visited Rinjani National Park, of which 4 452 were foreign tourists and 5 065 domestic tourists. The treks were handled by more than 180 local guides and porters, mostly residing in Senaru and Sembalun regencies. The average amount spent by foreign visitors to the area is around US $500. National Park Management cited the negative impact on the local community's income and livelihoods as being the main reason for refusing a commercial cable car facility.

The other major concern is the environmental impact on the area if such construction was allowed to go ahead. A cable car up the mountain would need a very tall tower to support it, as well as a large amount of infrastructure that would damage the location's appeal for ecotourism. At present, Mt Rinjani is one of the top three contenders for the “Tourism for Tomorrow Award 2008”, conducted by British Airways. The winner of the coveted title will be announced at the World Travel & Tourism Summit in Dubai to be held between 21-23 April.

Rinjani was chosen from a total of 150 participants for the award, which recognises excellence in a destination based on world tourism appeal, investment, collaborative community involvement and management of the eco-system.

The National Park also received a “Tourism for Tomorrow Award” in 2005 and, in July 2004, received a “World Legacy Award” from National Geographic Travel.

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TOMSTONE LOCAL LAUNCH

Tomstone is a local Lombok band who have been playing in Yogyakarta for years and have now returned to their hometown to rock their friends and fans.

Formed in 1999 in Yogyakarta, where the guys were all students, Tomstone consists of Aan (guitar / vocals), Erik (guitar), Ijank (bass), Nanu (vocals) and Erwin (drums). The band has played for many years in Jogya and around Java. In late 2007, Tomstone released their first album called “Nyanyikan Yang Ada”, now available in Lombok.

You can catch their official Lombok launch at the Bumi Gora Monument on Jalan Udayana on 12 April 2008. The concert starts at 7pm and features a great line-up of local acts including Sayap Band, Ary Juliant and a Gendang Belek performance.

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STILL AWAITING DECISION ON BOUNTY CRUISES SUBSIDY

The Government of West Nusa Tenggara is still studying the feasibility of an application by Bounty Cruises for a government subsidy if they resume their Bali to Lombok route.

The government is deliberating on its decision partly because, although transport services between the islands are still normal, the number of tourists arriving in Lombok has decreased. The NTB government already subsidises air and sea transport in the NTB region for the sake of supporting the local economy.

At a meeting at the Hotel Grand Legi on Wednesday 26 March, the Head of the NTB Planning and Development Board, Lalu Fathurrahman, said they are still considering the application to subsidise Bounty Cruises, because he felt the flow from Bali to Lombok does not in fact need help. The focus of the Planning and Development Board is still on NTB, rather than Bali or other areas.

According to Pak Fathurrahman, whether a subsidy is needed or not needs to be considered by a study of economic feasibility. He said that the number of tourists arriving from Bali to Lombok was still large, without any other help or subsidy and that there are a number of different routes available into Lombok, not only via Bali. “Bali-Lombok arrivals are only average”, he said.

He also said that although they recognise that the number of foreign arrivals into Lombok has decreased, the governing body was not convinced that Bounty Cruises would deliver staying guests to Lombok. Rather, the plan seems to be a Bounty Cruise tour to Lombok, before returning to Bali. However, he said that they would consider the proposal in principle.

Pak Gede Wiratha, the President Director of the company that owns Bounty Cruises, visited Lombok in early March to attend a meeting with the Head of NTB Culture and Tourism, Muhammad Nur, and tourism industry leaders to discuss the possibility of Bounty Cruises resuming operations between Bali and Lombok.

According to Pak Wiratha, Bounty Cruises believe they can transport a minimum of 200 people every day to Lombok and Gili Rengit, an island in southwest Lombok owned by the Bounty group.

The company asked the local government to subside 50 passengers per trip during the first six months of operation, to enable them to establish the new route from Bali. Pak Wiratha said that Bounty Cruises estimate they can deliver 19 200 incoming tourists from Bali during that time.

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LOCAL SCENE

THE PUB'S OPEN GOLF COMPETITION

DJ ALDO FROM JUICE ROCKS SAHARA CLUB!

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WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT ON GILI T

The eyes of the world will be focussed on Gili Trawangan on Monday 14 April when resident diver William Goodman makes his attempt to stay underwater for 100 hours and set the record for the world’s longest open water dive.

If successful, Guinness World Records™ will officially accept Will as the first person in the world to “spend the greatest amount of time submerged in open salt water (i.e. the sea) using scuba gear”. Previously, underwater records similar to this one have only been attempted in controlled environments, such as lakes and artificial tanks, where conditions are more stable and can be monitored with ease; this is the first time such a record will be attempted in an uncontrolled ocean environment.

Will already holds the unofficial title for the world’s longest amount of time spent in open water, when he spent 24 hours and 3 minutes submerged in the sea off Gili T in July 2005. At that time his attempt was successful but, despite being witnessed by hundreds of people, the strict guidelines of Guinness World Records™ weren’t fully met. This time Will and his support team are taking no chances, with the whole operation being carried out with professional precision, including official witnesses present during the 100 hours and strict recording processes to meet World Record requirements.

Will, originally from London in the UK, has been living on Gili T for the past three years and works as a technical diving instructor for Blue Marlin Dive, as well as managing Ikan Biru, the live-aboard charter, for Trawangan Dive. His love of diving, combined with his love for the island he calls home, has inspired this latest challenge which he hopes will raise funds for the island community, as well as achieve international attention for Gili T in the world arena. The World Record attempt has already generated plenty of international interest, particularly within the dive industry and from international media, including National Geographic and Red Pepper Productions, a film production company from South Africa that plans to document the event.

Through sponsorship and fundraising, Will hopes to generate funds to benefit the local school on Gili T. The island is very small with limited educational opportunities and many local children come from low income families. Parents struggle to afford schooling and to provide clothing, books and teaching materials, resulting in many children ending their schooling at an early age. Money raised from this world record attempt will go directly into an initiative for the benefit of children on the island and hopefully provide them with a brighter future.

Local businesses on the island, tourists and residents will be sponsoring Will during the dive, with both hourly and total dive sponsorship. The international attention generated in preparation for the dive is already benefiting the island community, with the establishment of links between the small local school and United World College South East Asia (UWCSEA) in Singapore. There are already plans for possible joint projects between the two schools in the future, with the sharing of resources and exchange student programmes, including teacher exchange and eco study projects.

Speaking with Will recently about his dive, he said, “This world record isn’t about Blue Marlin, Trawangan Dive or me personally, it’s about Gili Trawangan. All the people involved in making this happen are divers or people living in a place we love, whether they are expats, local Indonesians or tourists. So something like this brings us all together to protect and benefit a place we love.”

The logistics in making such a dive possible are huge, particularly as this is the first time such an attempt will be made in open water for an extended amount of time. It is impossible to know in advance what impact being submerged for over four days will have on the physical and mental state of the diver. Support teams for this dive will include experienced divers from the island, as well as specialists from the dive industry in Lombok and Bali. Equipment and surface logistics will be organised by Blue Marlin and Trawangan Dive, with full support from members of the Gili Eco Trust based on Gili Trawangan.

The Support Crew consists of four teams, each with team leaders and 8 divers officially registered for the attempt. The teams will be stationed aboard Ikan Biru, which will be moored above the dive site, for the duration of each 6 hour shift, including during the night. Divers will be in the water for at least one hour, each doing a no deco, single tank air dive between 6-12m.

Each member of the team will be required to be registered with Guinness World Records™ and must receive and sign an individual copy of Terms and Conditions. For the purposes of official registration with Guinness World Records™, formal records of every part of the event will be required. Dive rosters, attendance records, equipment lists, etc will need to be meticulously kept and signed by all members of support crews.

Will’s dive will be made using a combination of rebreather and open circuit systems, to a maximum depth of 12 metres, to avoid the need for decompression stops (vital in case of an emergency and the diver needing to ascend to the surface quickly). To stay warm and dry, he will wear a dry suit filled with argon gas, dry gloves, hood and full face mask. Even in the relatively warm waters of Lombok, there is a very real risk of hypothermia when staying underwater for that amount of time.

To comply with World Record rules, the diver can have no physical contact with the surface at any time during the 100 hours. To enable Will to stay at the required depth, a rectangular metal frame will be constructed and anchored to the sea bed at approximately 6m, on 8 April. This will provide a base point for Will during the dive and the frame will allow Will to rest and sleep for periods of up to four hours at a time. To help overcome pressure problems and avoid excessive stress on the body, pressure needs to be constant and evenly distributed, preferably by lying horizontal.

While underwater, Will can drink and attempt to sleep, but cannot eat due to obvious elimination problems. Rebreather diving will be useful in overcoming the risk of dehydration, but Will faces the risks of sleep deprivation, oxygen toxicity, dehydration and hypothermia. In addition to these physical factors, the mental challenges of staying alert and lucid, overcoming boredom, and remaining focussed on his goal during more than four days, will be unimaginable. Support crews are vital to monitor his condition and to provide support and entertainment. Will plans to keep entertained by playing cards and other games with the support crews and talking to people through the two-channel radio system installed in his face mask. He also plans to check the condition of the Bio Rocks and investigate the reef systems in the area while underwater.

Many people have asked why, having achieved his original record of more than 24 hours in 2005, Will didn’t set a less strenuous goal of 25 or 30 hours for his official world record. With typical confidence and charming candour, he replies, “I could do 25 hours and next year someone will come along and do 26 hours. It’s in my nature to see how far I can go. I already know I can do 24 hours, so let’s see how long the limit is. It’s my plan and intention to break every diving world record in the next few years”.

FAST FACTS

Diver: William Goodman
Length of Dive: 100 hours
Depth of Dive: between 6 and 12m
Dive Starts Monday 14 April at 12pm.
Site location: directly in front of Blue Marlin Dive, Gili T

OFFICIAL GUINNESS WORLD RECORD GUIDELINES:

This record is for spending the greatest amount of time submerged in open salt water (i.e. the sea) using scuba gear.

1. This record attempt must take place in the sea, in water of depth exceeding 10m.

2. At no time during the record attempt may the diver (or any part of the diver’s body or equipment) break the surface of the water. In addition, the diver must be submerged at a depth exceeding 6m for at least 20 minutes of the record attempt.

3. Only self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) without any kind of physical connection to the surface is allowed.

4. The diver must be supported by a support crew. There are no restrictions on the size of this crew.

5. When the diver’s scuba tanks are empty, the support crew may provide full scuba tanks or can refill the tanks being used by the diver at that time.

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GILI BYTES

The new villas at The Beach House, Villa Jepung and Villa Melati, are breaking records for occupancy on Gili T. The stylish, fully serviced villas were completed in late December and feature fresh water private swimming pools, spacious decking and living areas, and two luxurious master bedrooms with open-air bathrooms. See their site at: www.beachhousegilit.com.

Seen recently floating off-shore at Gili T, Bulan Purnama (Full Moon) is a 2 year old traditional Phinisi boat from Sulawesi. Available for private charters, parties and cruising Lombok waters, the spacious vessel is tailored for cruising and has full diving facilities. The huge master suite features a king size bed and private lounge, and there are three double cabins, as well as single bunks on board. Six crew members, including a guide, care for guests and full catering services are available. For info, contact Jerry on 0818 0360 4612.

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