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NEWS

ISSUE 92

 

FESTIVAL TIME 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.

Everyone loves a festival and July is the time to visit Lombok, with two great festivals kicking off the start of our high season!
The 2011 Lombok Sumbawa Pearl Festival starts in Senggigi on 8 July. Lombok is famous for its pearls, harvested at pearl farms around the two islands, and exhibits at the festival will feature stunning pearls and pearl jewellery, as well as free cultural and arts performances.

Then, on 14 July, Senggigi comes alive with its most important tourism event of the year – the Senggigi Festival. Commencing with a grand opening on the beachfront in Senggigi, the event is a brilliant kaleidoscope of colour, music, traditional costumes and cultural performances. Read about both festivals on page 30.

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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EXPLORING THE SOUTHEAST PENINSULA… Part 1

© 2011 David Clegg

The large peninsula on the southeast corner of Lombok is a largely unexplored area – surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, pristine beaches, and superb views – and steeped in history.

Used as an outpost for invading Japanese forces during World War II, the cliffs of the peninsula are riddled with tunnels and, standing alone at the top of the hill, a rusting cannon bears silent testimony to a history that is being eroded as surely as its rusting steel.

Because the area is so remote and sparsely populated, little has been written about the Southeast Peninsula. Even guidebooks such as the Lonely Planet barely touch on this fascinating area, which is truly “off the beaten track”

Here we bring you the first of our series of articles preserving the history of Tanjung Ringgit, by our special feature writer, David Clegg.

Tanjung Ringgit is around 103 kilometres from Senggigi and the trip will take around three and a half hours by car, travelling south through the Central Lombok capital of Praya. Alternatively, the area can be reached travelling east from Kuta on the south coast.

In the southern village of Keruak, at the junction by the market, turn right following the road westwards towards Praya for a good kilometre to the green and white sign indicating a turnoff to the south which mentions Ekas, but not Tanjung Ringgit.

Take the turning south towards Ekas and, after 4 kilometres, turn right in the village of Jor. Follow this badly potholed road, with views of salt pans to the south at the village of Tutuk, for a good kilometre or so (it seems a lot longer!) to a junction/bend where a mosque faces you. Follow this road round to the left and follow the now super highway for 6 kilometres, until you see the large green and white road sign, partially hidden by a tree, in the village of Pemongkong. Two large red and white telkom towers straddle the road here, providing a landmark that is hard to miss!

This road leads straight to the lighthouse at Tanjung Ringgit after some 15 kilometres of very bad road that will take just over one bone-jarring hour! There are no rice fields or tobacco crops in this area. The main cash crop appears to be maize, which at harvest time can be seen drying as piles of bright yellow/orange cobs, or as piles of individual orange seeds, after he cobs have been mechanically stripped.

The condition of this road is not helped by the large trucks that haul the sacks of maize to the ferry at Lembar en route for Java. Monkeys can be seen crossing the “road” occasionally and wild pigs help themselves to the tender maize cobs thoughtfully grown by the villagers. Apparently many years ago small deer roamed this peninsular, but alas, no more. More than likely you will encounter a herd of water buffalo slowly making its way along the road attended by the herdsman.

After some 14 kilometres, (the last 2 or 3 being on a reasonable stretch of tar macadam road) and just before sighting the Tanjung Ringgit lighthouse standing out above the trees, is a double bamboo gate on the left hand side. Nailed to a tree is a small bare metal sign painted with “Tangsi 50m, Goa Jepang, Villa”. Tangsi is the name of the area and is the Indonesian word for barracks (the first clue as to what was there), Goa (actually Gua misspelled!) means cave, Jepang is Japanese, and Villa is villa.

A steep wide stony road leads 300 metres downhill to a beautiful litter-free white sandy beach lined with trees and with a flat grassy area behind it. This is Tangsi, on the north coast of the peninsular, and on a clear day the volcanic peak of Gunung Rinjani stands out clearly across water.

This grassy area was the base camp for the Japanese gun battery in World War II, after the Japanese invaded Ampenan/Mataram on 9 May 1942. Today there are only a few local thatched houses and a couple of berugaq, (open sided thatched shelters with a raised platform for sitting), to the rear just below the base of the hill.

Here I met a really nice old gent, Bapak Sahdi; in his early 60’s, whose father had told him stories about this area in WWII. He told me that the two 6" or 15 centimetre antisubmarine guns and the equipment for the basic lighthouse were landed on the beach here.

The origin of these guns has not yet been fully determined, but after a lot of digging around on the internet, it seems most likely that they are German 15 centimetre guns, possibly L40 calibre, made by Alfred Krupp before WWI and were either naval guns that were remounted in Surabaya (Java) naval shipyards or coastal artillery pieces.

The steep stony road I had just walked down was constructed by hand, without the use of any machinery, by local people conscripted by the Japanese army. Thousands of local people were used to construct the camp, earthworks, trenches, tunnels, the road and the gun emplacements. Each town or area had to supply a quota of men who worked for a week or so and then were replaced by men from the next area on the list. The majority of these conscripted men arrived on foot. Some from the coastal areas arrived by paddling their outrigger fishing canoes; there being no motorized canoes or boats at that time.

The two guns and equipment for the lighthouse were hauled up this steep road, in pieces (I presume), again without the help of machinery, to the top of the ridge. From here they were dragged a further 800 metres eastwards along the top of the ridge to Tanjung Ringgit. Here, at the site of the present day lighthouse, the light was assembled; the two guns being dragged a further 300 metres down the slope to their emplacements, where they were assembled.

These two guns were located here to try and prevent Allied submarines (British and American) from using the straits between Lombok and Sumbawa as an alternative route to the Lombok Strait between Bali and Lombok, which was heavily patrolled and partially mined during the war.

Indeed, a similar gun battery located on the cliffs in south-west Lombok, near Bangko Bangko, is documented as “hurling shells” at the American submarine the SS -374 “Loggerhead”, apparently without damage, in the Lombok Straits on 14 July 1945. 

To be continued…

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WHAT'S HOT!

• With a lot of buzz lately about the new Lombok International Airport finally being completed by October (more information about that next issue, after we visit the site ourselves next week), investment on the south coast is really taking off! Projects started earlier are now open in time for high season, with a number of new restaurants and accommodation options springing up around Kuta.

A sign of the times is the opening of the first ATM in Kuta, which will be a big relief for travellers and residents in the area! Bank Mandiri have just installed an ATM machine at Tastura Hotel on the left hand side on the beach road to the Novotel.

• Even Royal Spa, the popular spa and massage business with branches in Senggigi and Mataram, have recently opened a third branch in Kuta, on the beach just before the Novotel Resort. Complementing the Spa are nine backpacker bungalows and a small restaurant (open for breakfast). Backpacker rooms are just Rp100 000 per night including breakfast. Ph: 0819 9966 6656

• We’re happy to see that small accommodations are also opening up on some of the other gorgeous beaches around the area. Sempiak Villas are the first to establish some lovely upmarket villas at Selong Blanak, to the west of Kuta. This small development is committed to preserving the natural beauty of Selong Blanak, using natural materials and green initiatives to minimise the impact on the environment. We’re hearing very good things about their restaurant – Laut Biru – so, if you’re in the area, this is the perfect place for lunch. Better yet, plan a relaxing escape to this part of the south coast for a few days! www.sempiakvillas.com

• To the east of Kuta, Bumbangku Beach Cottages have added 4 deluxe double cottages to their beautiful little resort on Bumbang Beach, near Gerupuk. The deluxe brick cottages offer western-style bathrooms with hot water showers, television, and private terraces overlooking the garden and beach. Prices start from Rp 750 000. Prices for the thatched bamboo cottages on the beach start from Rp 200 000… excellent value for this lovely beach getaway close to one of the best surf spots on the south coast! www.bumbangkulombok.com

• On a recent trip to Bali we were pleasantly surprised to find that Wings Air are now using the new ATR 72-500 series aircraft for Bali-Lombok flights. Lion Air acquired thirteen of the new planes from France and are using them for Wings and Lion Air flights out of Mataram. Modern and clean, with seating for 72 passengers, these new planes feel much safer and more comfortable than flights operated by other local airlines. www.lionair.co.id

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CIDOMO STREET PARADE

Spectators were treated to a colourful parade of Cidomo (traditional horse carts) through the main street of Senggigi on Sunday, 19 June.

The Cidomo Parade was held to celebrate the 65th Anniversary of POLRI (Polisi Republik Indonesia, or the Indonesian Police Forces).

Around 200 cidomo participated in the parade, assembling in front of the Senggigi Police Station before making their way along the main street to the official starting post in front of Senggigi Jaya Supermarket and parading south to Duduk Garden.

Cidomo drivers decorated their horses and carts, competing to win prizes and certificates donated by POLRI, while others dressed in colourful costumes and masks to accompany the carts.

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LOCAL SCENE

NUSA ALAM PROM @ ASMARA

Year 9 & 10 students, teachers, staff and board members of Nusa Alam International School in Lombok celebrated their first-ever "Prom" at Asmara Restaurant in Senggigi. Year 9 students have completed their SMP certificates while year 10 students have finished the University of Cambridge IGCSE's.

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MR FIXER

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

QUESTION: I am a single lady who has decided to retire from the high flying lifestyle of Singapore to a more sedate and relaxed state of harmony with nature in idyllic Lombok. 

Before I came to Lombok, I was married to an airline pilot and was so much in love with him that I had his face tattooed on my left breast as a sign of my affection. The passion went out of our relationship, so we eventually parted. I have since fallen for a sailor in Lombok and have recently had his face tattooed on my right breast, but our relationship may prove to be short lived. What should I do?

MR FIXER: Don’t worry – they will both have long faces in about 10 years time.

QUESTION: I am a corporate executive who is required by the nature of my job to live and work in various Asian countries. On a recent visit to the holiday island of Lombok I was so smitten by the place, I have decided to make it my second home.

Years ago, I was posted in the Philippines and eventually married a local girl. I told her that, as I was so busy in my job, it was her responsibility as my wife to do the dishes and house cleaning. It took a couple of days, but on the third day of marriage, I came home to find a clean house and all the dishes washed and put away. Unfortunately, we parted and I was moved to Thailand by my work. 

Some years later, I married a local Thai girl. I gave my new wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes and cooking. The first day I didn’t see any results but the second day was better. By the third day I saw that the house was clean, the dishes were done and there was a huge hot dinner on the table. Sadly, we too were soon parted and I have just moved to Lombok where I hope to meet a nice Indonesian lady and get married.  I am 62 years old, 5 foot 2 inches tall, 160 kilos and a bit thin on top. How do you rate my chances?  

MR FIXER: Even a fat old bald guy like yourself would have no problem finding a wife in Lombok. Don’t do what my friend George did though. When he married his Indonesian wife, he ordered her to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed and hot meals on the table every day. 

The first day, he didn’t see anything. The second day, he didn’t see anything either, but by the third day some of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye, and his arm had healed enough so that he could fix himself a sandwich and load the dishwasher. He still has difficulty urinating.

QUESTION: I am intending to re-locate to the holiday island of Lombok and would appreciate your help and advice on whether to rent long-term or buy a ready-built villa. I am told that property prices in Lombok are a fraction of those in Bali. Is this true? I would prefer something small with 2 bedrooms, a swimming pool, and a small garden for my dog.

MR FIXER: Property prices in Lombok are indeed a fraction of the cost of similar places in Bali. The – as yet – relatively undeveloped island of Lombok has not suffered from the hit-and-miss short-sighted urban planning leading to overcrowding and almost unbearable congestion on the roads in Bali, for instance. Let’s hope Lombok learns from the mistakes made by planners in Bali and doesn’t repeat them.  

Prices are still affordable in Lombok but, as demand increases, the prices are rising. Over the next 5 years, I expect them to double. There is already plenty of evidence for this; just take a look at all the new development taking place around Senggigi.  

If you intend to stay for more than a year or two, and have enough cash to buy instead of renting, then outright ownership would be the most cost effective option. At the end of (say) 2 years, your property would have increased in value by 20% to 30%, which would be more than you would expect to pay in rental. In other words, you get to live there for free if you later sell.

What kind of dog do you have? I hope it is not a Labrador. Have you seen how many of their owners go blind?

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ARTS, CULTURE AND PEARL FESTIVALS IN JULY!

All around the villages of West Lombok, local people are busily preparing costumes and rehearsing their performances for this year’s Senggigi Festival.

The Senggigi Festival is scheduled to take place from 14 – 17 July, with performances being held on the beachfront in Senggigi, as well as at the Pasar Seni (Art Market) and in Senggigi Square.

The Festival is Senggigi’s (and, possibly, Lombok’s) most colourful and fascinating event of the year – filled with hundreds of local people dressed in beautiful traditional costumes performing dances, music and dramatic theatre that showcase the best of Lombok’s culture and arts.

This year’s festival is slightly different from past festivals, which involved villages from all over Lombok, as well as from other parts of the archipelago. Organised by the West Lombok Department of Tourism and Culture, this year will feature performers from ten districts in West Lombok. 50 people from each district have been invited to perform, so the Festival should feature around 500 participants, each performing a different tradition for their area.

The official opening ceremony will take place at 2pm on 14 July on Senggigi beach. The main event is the parade, marketed as “The Parade of Culture”, which is the highlight of the Festival every year. The Parade is planned to commence from the beachfront and to follow a route from the beach to the Art Market.

Different performances and exhibitions are planned for each day of the Festival and include traditional Tarian Sasak (Sasak dance), Kepembayunan (rhyming poetry), Gamelan (traditional orchestra) and Gendang Beleq (Lombok’s famous big drums), a Sasak wedding procession, and other traditional dance performances such as Rudat and Batek Baris.

Peresean, the popular stick-fighting competitions, will be held daily from 15 – 17 July from 4 – 6pm in Senggigi Square.

All performances are free and tourists are encouraged to attend.

The 2011 Lombok Sumbawa Pearl Festival is in its third year of operation and is planned for 8-11 July this year. However, at the time of going to press, details of times and the venue were still unclear, thanks to the lack of organisation and communication by the Department of Tourism and Culture (Dinas Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata).

Previous Pearl Festivals have been held at Santosa Villas and Resort in Senggigi and have featured exhibits of pearls and pearl jewellery produced by pearl farms in Lombok and Sumbawa. Other exhibits include traditional woven textiles (Ikat and Songket), handmade terracotta pottery and woven rattan products.

Last year’s Pearl Festival also featured some truly wonderful and unique traditional performances, not usually seen at these type of events. If a similar programme is followed this year, these performances are not to be missed!

Disappointingly, once again, both festivals have been organised “last minute” by the Tourism Department and, if not for our own determined fact-finding mission prior to publication of this issue, there would be little promotion of what could potentially be two very important tourism events for Lombok.

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide our readers with full information about the Pearl Festival at this time, so we suggest that visitors look for signs and banners which will usually be erected in Senggigi a couple of days before the event takes place.

Hopefully the Tourism Department will have finalised plans for the Senggigi Festival in the next week and we will publish a full programme of events in the next issue of The Lombok Guide, to be published on 11 July.

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FAREWELL TO A TRUE GENTLEMAN

Frank Singleton Passes Away in his 90th Year

Senggigi’s oldest expat resident died peacefully at his home in Green Valley on 6 June.

Frank first visited Senggigi in 2003 and came to live in Lombok permanently in December 2004. He enjoyed the people and climate of Lombok and became a local celebrity as he ‘held court’ at the Office Bar and Restaurant and entertained patrons with anecdotes of bygone days.

In a previous life in the England that he loved, he had been a draughtsman, an engineer and served as a sub-lieutenant in the Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War. Later he designed textile machinery, had patents in his name and managed a textile engineering development establishment.

At the age of 50, he semi-retired and bought and ran a restaurant in Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District.

A memorial was held for Frank on Sunday, 19 June at Ebano R & R in Lendang Luar, and was attended by many people who had come to know and love ‘the true gentleman’ during his time in Lombok.

Frank will be sadly missed by friends and family, and fondly remembered by the Senggigi community.

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BUKIT BATU LAYAR COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION FORMED

Bukit Batu Layar, better known as simply ‘The Hill’, is a unique residential and villa development on the hill in Batu Layar, five minutes south of Senggigi.

It all began back in 2000 when a small group of Indonesians and expatriates started exploring the hills behind Senggigi. Working together with the local government and community, the group built a well-engineered road. Over the years since, a number of architect-designed villas and homes have appeared on the Hill.

But what makes the Hill special is the sense of community and commitment to protecting the environment amongst the developers. Take a drive up the green, tree-lined road to Bukit Batu Layar and you’ll see what we mean. There you will find a growing international community.

To achieve this, the pioneers of the Hill developed a Covenant; an eleven point agreement on how to develop and maintain the Hill. Now a Community Association has been formed to help achieve the goals of the Covenant.

On Saturday, 30 April, the first meeting of the Bukit Batu Layar Community Association was held at Asmara Restaurant. It was an excellent beginning, with twenty people attending – some even came from overseas to be there (from Bali!) All of those attending agreed to the aims and voted in favour of forming the Association.

According to the newly elected president, Gertrud Schmidt-Ehry, the aim of the Association is to help members to have good quality of life by implementing the Covenant to ensure that the Hill is: (1) attractive and well maintained; (2) safe, secure and healthy; (3) environmentally sustainable; and (4) socially responsible, culturally diverse, cooperative and friendly.

To achieve these aims, the Association will review and ratify the Covenant, arrange social events to build community relations, help resolve conflicts, represent the Hill to the broader community and government, set and collect fees, oversee management of the roadside maintenance, security, waste management and other Hill activities.

“Everyone with access to their land via Jalan Bukit Batu Layar is entitled to become a member,” explained the Association’s secretary, Mark Heyward. “That includes owners, investors and residents. Those who pay annual fees are regarded as members. The fees are currently used to maintain the road and drains.”

A five-member committee was elected for the first year, to include a President, Treasurer, Secretary and two other members. The membership of the committee reflects the diversity of the Hill community. Different nationalities include Indonesian, Belgian, British, German and Australian; men and women are included.

“Early on we settled on the idea of buying on a hill, rather than in the city or on the beach,” explained another one of the pioneering group. “The beachfront land is beautiful, yes. But it is becoming scarce and expensive. Something about the idea of living up on the hill with fresh air, clean space and wide views appealed.”

What started out as a search for a home site with fresh air and views became, over time, a plan for a housing development. From the outset, the group agreed on a concept for the development. “We all wanted essentially the same thing,” said Mark, “…a sensitively developed environment which is clean and green, and where both the natural and social contexts are respected.”

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