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NEWS CURRENT ISSUE

ISSUE 94

 

COLOURFUL, CULTURAL 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.

As we go to print with this issue, Senggigi is just winding up the closing ceremony for the 2011 Senggigi Festival.

For four days, tourists and visitors have been treated to an amazing kaleidoscope of traditional and cultural performances and displays – exquisitely intricate dances performed by beautiful Sasak ladies dressed in delicate lace kebayaks and woven sarongs, dramatic theatrical performances by local actors in colourful and fearsome masks, exciting displays of skill and courage in Peresean stick fighting competitions; all overlaid with the chiming of gamelan orchestras and the throb of the big drums, the Gendang Beleq, for which Lombok is famous.

The Senggigi Festival is an important reminder of the rich, colourful and talented cultural heritage of our island… and yet another reason why visitors should put Lombok on their “must visit” list soon!

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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SEMPIAK VILLAS… A Slice of South Coast Paradise

The beaches west of Kuta unfold bay after beautiful bay, their names flowing off the tongue like the tides that lap the shores… Mawun, Mawi, Sepi…

Framed by these exotic-sounding hamlets, Selong Belanak stretches in a long sweeping arc of white sand and dazzling sapphire water.

Reaching these stunning beaches of the south coast has always been an arduous journey along small, poorly maintained roads that link the southern beaches and villages. Those who make the effort are rewarded with sublime ocean vistas and magnificent empty beaches they can call their own for the day.

Now, with the recent opening of Sempiak Villas at Selong Belanak, this previously remote section of the coast has become not only accessible, but highly desirable for those seeking luxurious comforts in an “off the beaten path” setting.

Sempiak Villas is the vision of local businessman, Lalu Faturrahman and his New Zealand wife, Rox Harvey, who have been involved in the development of the south coast for over a decade. The couple fell in love with the area and, together with a group of friends, decided to create a villa community on the hillside where they and their guests could share the peaceful environment and magnificent scenery of Selong Belanak.

Built last year and officially opened in January 2011, the result is a low-key development that blends into the hills, surrounded by natural foliage and carefully landscaped gardens.

Five villas are perched on the hillside overlooking the panoramic beach views below. Built from wood and using local stone and natural materials, each villa is unique and offers guests different options, from a studio villa for two to a large villa for families or friends sharing. Each has been lovingly designed by the resident architect and two feature dramatic octagonal shapes, with wrap-around terraces to take advantage of the views from all angles.

Below the villas is a beachfront valley, with the resort’s restaurant and guest facilities, such as sun lounges and a balé on the beach. In the distance, the ridge of a small mountain range frames the view. The ambience and philosophy of this development matches the surrounding environment; in a word – expansive.

Midway up the hill is the swimming pool, surrounded by decking with sun lounges, shaded tables and outdoor couches from which to relax and enjoy the panoramic views over the beach. At night, guests can dine at candlelit tables poolside, taking in the sea breezes under a canopy of thousands of stars.

The jewel in this crown is, of course, the magnificence of Selong Belanak beach… a stretch of soft white sand over 1.7km long, framed at either end by rolling hills and headlands and filled with sparkling crystal clear water.

The aptly named Laut Biru Café (meaning “Blue Ocean”) allows staying guests and day trippers the chance to enjoy a day at the beach and take in the dazzling scenery of Selong Belanak.

The dramatic lumbung shape of Lombok’s traditional rice barns houses a comfortable and charming café on the beachfront, and has quickly gained a reputation for serving up a surprisingly delicious array of tasty snacks and meals. The menu includes crispy Samosas with piquant home-made mango chutney, as well as curry, satay and the popular Sumatran beef and coconut curry, Rendang. A changing blackboard menu offers daily specials such as Garlic Prawns, Calamari Fritti and other seasonal dishes.

New Zealand managers, Clive Harvey and Adam Parkinson, oversee the operations and the attention to detail is evident everywhere. An avid cook, Clive enjoys getting creative in the kitchen and delights in sharing his skills with his local chefs, who have learnt to bake their own breads, cakes and pastries, as well as make fresh natural yoghurts and western-style desserts. The Mango Cheesecake and Tropical Pavlova alone are worth the trip to Laut Biru!

Much of the fresh produce used in the café comes from the small farms in the area, as the managers are keen to involve the local community in the success of Sempiak. A keen gardener, Adam has established vegetable and herb gardens at the resort… much to the delight of the cheeky monkeys that live on the hillside! Tropical plants and flowering shrubs have been used in the landscaping, attracting birds and butterflies, as well as creating a lovely shady environment for guests.

This organic theme is reflected throughout Sempiak Villas, with flocks of geese and ducks wandering across the path from the fields to the pond, while deer and horses are corralled in stables near the main gate. Small grey monkeys can be spotted in the trees near the pool, and furtively sneaking near the vegetable gardens. Guinea fowl pick in the lawns and large aviaries in the gardens house a variety of tropical birds.

Being based in what was previously considered a remote area hasn’t phased Clive and Adam at all. Fresh vegetables that can’t be supplied by local farmers are now being grown at the resort. The menu reflects produce that is available locally. Fresh breads, usually sourced from Mataram, are baked on the premises, as are the cakes and desserts.

Even the lack of skilled labour isn’t seen as a negative; staff have been handpicked from surrounding communities and are being trained in all aspects of hotel employment; from waiting to housekeeping, cooking to gardening. The smiling faces of the staff tell the story – while their skills are not yet polished, their enthusiasm and interest is endearing.

A stay at Sempiak Villas is a chance to escape to one of the most beautiful beaches on the south coast, without sacrificing any comforts. The villas offer luxurious and comfortable accommodation, with all the mod cons such as air conditioning and hot water, and many small personal touches that aren’t found in large resorts. Clive and Adam welcome guests with gracious hospitality; the service is attentive and personal, but never intrusive.

Even if an overnight stay isn’t possible, a visit to Laut Biru Café makes a wonderful day trip… especially for those exploring the south coast. Selong Belanak is best reached by the road leading south from Penujak (the pottery village). The roads to the airport and Penujak have been beautifully upgraded, making the trip from the city or Senggigi much easier. From Penujak, the road deteriorates and is slow going for around 7kms, but leads through a mountain pass with beautiful views of the south coast. 

From Selong Belanak, it is possible to make the trip east to Kuta, although the road has deteriorated badly and the trip takes around one hour. Crawling along the rutted road, there is plenty of time to observe life in the villages along the roadside and visitors get a good insight into the character of the rural communities of the south coast. The government has promised to upgrade both of these roads in the near future. 

There is a wide range of accommodation in Kuta for an overnight stay, or make the trip back to the cities in around 2 hours. The roads have been resurfaced in preparation for the opening of the Lombok International Airport and are in good condition.

With only five villas currently available, Sempiak Villas is often booked out so, if you are thinking of a south coast escape, it is wise to book well in advance… this is a piece of paradise that is well worth the wait!

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WHAT'S HOT!

• After months of renovations, the Novotel Lombok in Kuta is ready to re-launch their newly upgraded rooms on 25 July – ahead of the scheduled date of 1 August!

The extensive renovations have seen major revamps to the accommodation at Lombok’s premier south coast resort and, after a visit last week, we were highly impressed with the “new look” Novotel. 

With some clever redesigning, the Superior and Deluxe Garden Terrace rooms have been made lighter, brighter and much more spacious than before. Improvements include attractive contemporary décor combined with the Resort’s signature use of local materials and textures, writing desks with LAN connectivity, big screen LCD televisions and larger, modern bathrooms with a full range of guest facilities. Superior rooms feature lovely bay windows with day beds, while the Deluxe Garden Terrace rooms boast an ottoman, couches and private terraces.

The interior corridors and façade of the main building has also received an attractive face-lift and the grounds surrounding have been beautifully landscaped. Next to be targeted are the private villas, which will undergo extensive revamps over the following months.

The Novotel has always been the place to stay for those visiting Kuta… the new renovations have taken the Resort to the next level of luxury and comfort. www.novotellombok.com

• On the other end of the island, a visit to Teluk Nara, the small harbour on the northwest coast, showed that work is mostly finished on the new jetty and building which will house the Autore Pearl Farm Tours and Showroom. The international pearl company plans to conduct pearl farm tours at their farm in the bay, and to create a showroom displaying pearls and pearl jewellery for visitors. Plans include a coffee shop on the jetty. When open, this will be a great boon for pearl-based tourism in Lombok and an asset for Teluk Nara!

• Also operating in Teluk Nara is a small business offering speedboat trips and transfers from the harbour to the Gili Islands. While there are a number of different ways to get to the Gilis, most transfers are operated by the hotels via private speedboats, or by chartering local fishing boats (perahu). Operated by the Rombak Group, speedboat charters to the Gilis cost Rp 320 000 for one passenger, or Rp 350 000 for 2 pax (one way). Extra passengers are charged Rp 100 000 per person, up to a maximum of six persons. A full day charter (9am to 5pm) island hopping the three Gilis costs Rp 1.75 million for up to six passengers… not bad, if you are travelling with a group and don’t have much time! Ph: 08193670 4305

• One of the local businesses operating a stall at the Pasar Seni during the Senggigi Festival was Anna’s Gift Shop. The stall was getting plenty of attention when we visited, mostly because of the eye-catching statues designed and hand painted by Dianne. Dianne’s husband, Edi, sources the wooden statues from around Lombok – sometimes using old, reclaimed statues and at other times, newly carved work by some of Lombok’s best woodcarvers. Statues must be made of quality wood and fully dry before they are painted.

Dianne then creates a contemporary design for these traditional statues, painstakingly hand painting them with quality paints and lacquers imported from Europe. The results are unique and startling works of art… already being snapped up by collectors and exported around the world. To see these beautiful and one-of-a-kind creations, visit Anna’s Gift Shop in the Galleria on the main street of Senggigi (on the left, just north of Senggigi Abadi Supermarket). Ph: 0817 5730 012

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BLUES FESTIVAL @ ASMARA

The Blues Night 2011 held at Asmara Restaurant on 15 July showed the amazing musical talent of Lombok’s local musicians. Although not traditional music, Blues has a strong following in Lombok with both locals and visitors – and our local blues musicians are some of the best around!

Organised by the Lombok Blues Community, the huge crowd was wowed by fine performances by “Mr Blues”, Tomstone, Bobo Brotherhood, Black Talk, Ary Juliant and many others.

The Beer Garden at Asmara is also proving to be a popular venue for excellent live music and a great atmosphere. More… more!

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LOCAL SCENE

HANNA'S BIRTHDAY WITH LHHH!

Mataram personality, Ibu Hanna, celebrated her birthday with a run and a party in Senggigi Plaza with Lombok's Hash House Harriers

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MR FIXER

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

QUESTION: My husband and I have been married for 20 years and we have recently moved to the tropical island of Lombok, where we have bought a small villa with a swimming pool on a hill top with dramatic ocean views. 

We come to Lombok several times a year and are able to stay for up to 8 weeks at a time now, thanks to the new visa on arrival allowance having been increased from 4 to 8 weeks. 

As our villa is on the top of a hill, we find it convenient to hire a vehicle for the duration of our stay. Just the other day, I left my husband watching satellite TV and I went off shopping in the hire car. About 2 miles down the road, the hire car stalled and refused to start. I had to walk back to get my husband’s help. 

When I got back, I couldn’t believe my eyes! He was in the bedroom with the housekeeper, who is only nineteen! They had nothing on but the TV.

When I confronted him, he admitted the affair had been going on for months. He refuses to talk about it and won’t sack the housekeeper. I am going out of my mind! I am a nervous wreck and need your advice urgently. Can you please help?   

MR FIXER: If a car stalls after having been driven only a few miles, there can be several faults to look for in the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the vacuum pipes and hoses on the manifold. Also, check the grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, suspect the fuel pump itself. It could be faulty causing low delivery pressure to the injectors. Hope this helps. 

QUESTION: Following the recent announcement of the possible breakup of the celebrity couple, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, my husband and I (who have been having similar marital difficulties) have decided to separate.

I have decided to come to the holiday island of Lombok to get away from it all and put some space between us for a while. My husband is the same age as Arny (but doesn’t have his money) and I am the same age as Maria.

I have rented a small holiday villa and have met a nice Indonesian surfer boy, who has biceps to die for and a better head of hair than I have! He also has a tattoo of a tape measure on his privates. I didn’t realize that six inches was that long! 

I am thinking of having a similar tattoo so I look like a beach babe, but I am afraid that if my husband and I get back together, he may suspect something. I was thinking of something sexy and discreet, like a butterfly on my bum. What do you think?

MR FIXER: Tattoos, like marriage, are supposed to be forever; but sometimes you decide you need a divorce. Tattoos can turn into discernable blobs (a bit like your surfer beach boy), but can be removed by laser surgery these days. 

If you are young, a tattoo can be a “job stopper” but at your age it could be a good idea.  At least they would be looking! The best way to avoid a divorce is not to get married in the first place. Don’t get screwed or tattooed! Hasta La Vista, Baby!

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2011 SENGGIGI FESTIVAL A SUCCESS!

This year’s Senggigi Festival has been possibly the most successful Festival to date, with hundreds of domestic and international tourists enjoying an amazing variety of traditional performances by West Lombok communities.

The 2011 Senggigi Festival kicked off on Thursday, 14 July with a colourful opening ceremony, held for the first time on the beachfront in Senggigi.

Unlike previous years, this Festival did not feature an “opening parade” down the Senggigi main street.

Instead, large tented pavilions were set up on the beachfront with plenty of shaded seating for the government dignitaries, as well as the tourists and hotel guests who attended.

This was a much better location, as the street parades in the past have caused major traffic problems, as well as being hot, crowded and having limited seating for spectators.

This year’s Opening Ceremony included wonderful parades of traditional costumes and performances of popular cultural entertainments, such as the Gandrung (Fan Dance), Peresean (stick fighting) and Gendang Beleq (music and dance performance featuring Lombok’s big drums).

Speaking at the ceremony, West Lombok Regent, Zainy Aroni, praised the diversity of cultural traditions in Lombok and said that the island had much to offer visitors – some of which was featured at the Festival. He also delighted the western visitors by speaking partly in English, urging foreign spectators to tell their friends about the performances they had witnessed and to enjoy their time in Lombok as “welcome guests”.

Opening day celebrations included a traditional boat race with local fishing boats (perahu) colourfully decorated and participating in a friendly race in Senggigi Bay, volley ball and beach games, and more.

The Festival was held over four days, with many performances and displays taking place on Senggigi Beach and at the Pasar Seni (Art Markets). Crowds at the Pasar Seni were entertained by free traditional music, dance and theatrical performances held every night at the centre stage.

A “Bazaar” was also set up in the Pasar Seni, with stalls selling local handicrafts such as woven rattan and wooden products, ikat and woven fabrics, and Lombok’s famous pearls. Sellers were delighted with the brisk business from interested tourists.

Large crowds also gathered every afternoon in Senggigi Square to watch the popular “Peresean” stick fighting competitions. This local traditional sport features skilled fighters who use rattan sticks to attack their opponents, whilst fending off blows using a shield made from toughened hide. Controlled by a referee, the action is fast, furious and exciting. Peresean is always a crowd-pleaser, for visitors and the local people who flock to watch the competitions.

Unlike last year, when the government made the mistake of postponing the Festival until November, this year’s July date has made sure that there are plenty of “high season” tourists in town to enjoy the many entertainments organised during the Festival.

Many of the spectators at performances we attended were tourists from Europe, the UK and Australia, who all agreed that they were amazed at the variety of costumes and the fantastic performances displayed at the Festival.

“We had no idea about the Festival when we booked our holiday,” one couple from England said, “We are so lucky to see this!”

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CLEAN UP DAY AT MENTIGI!

Contributed by Christa

Mentigi Bay is a wonderful bay with white sandy beaches, palm trees and blue water on the northwest coast of Lombok, just one bay before Teluk Nare (around 20 minutes drive north of Senggigi).

We have built our office on this beautiful beach, from where we sell our day cruises to the Gili Islands and cruises to Komodo Island on board traditional phinisi ships. We also have a small warung (local café) selling Indonesian and western food, and have BBQ’s on the beach. Soon we plan to start selling pizza from our own wood fired oven.

Mentigi is a very beautiful area, bu what is very annoying is all the rubbish everywhere! People throw away rubbish and plastic on the road or on the beach, and nobody seems to care. We believe we need to protect our environment and preserve the beauty of nature as it is.

So we decided to organise a cleanup day to collect all rubbish from the beaches up to the road of Mentigi Bay. We wanted to invite all the children from the village to help us. In this way they would learn about how bad the rubbish is and how important it is to preserve their beautiful island. In return for their help, they would receive a present.

We made flyers about the cleanup day and spread them around in the village. The first feedback was very positive. The local ladies working at Mentigi asked me how many flyers I made, because they said all the children would come for sure!

And that was indeed true! An hour before the scheduled time, at least a hundred kids showed up, enthusiastic to collect some rubbish. We had bought big rubbish bags the day before and distributed them. The children were almost fighting over the bags, and off they went!

After about an hour, the first children came back with their bags full of plastic. One hour more and all kids were back. In total, they collected 80 big bags of rubbish! Well done, Mentigi kids!

To thank them, we made up packages with a small present of school supplies and other treats. The people working for us distributed them to the children. The smile on their faces was priceless!!!

We will do definitely do this again! Thanks kids!

Blue Water Cruises at Mentigi Bay organise day trips to the Gili Islands on board beautiful traditional wooden phinisi boats, as well as exciting live-aboard cruises to the eastern islands of Komodo, Moyo and Flores. See their advertisement on the opposite page for more details.

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