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kutaWelcome 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.

Over the next week, the whole island will be preparing for the celebrations that mark the end of Ramadan on 30 and 31 August. Idul Fitri, or Lebaran, is one of the most important times of the year in Indonesia… a time of celebration and reunions with families and friends. This is a very happy time in Lombok, with many celebrations around the island. Read our special feature on page 26 for details.

The Indonesian government estimates that around 16 million people will be travelling across the archipelago over the next two weeks, returning home for the holidays. This will create a lot of congestion at airports and ports, but mostly on the roads, with an estimated 10 million people travelling by land! We hope that those who are making the journey for Lebaran reach home safely.

To all our readers, The Lombok Guide wishes you a happy and safe Lebaran. Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri… Minal aidin wal faidzin!

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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Kuta on Lombok’s south coast is a world away from its more famous namesake in Bali. Here the beaches are clean, the sands blindingly white and the turquoise ocean stretches as far as the eye can see… this Kuta is a laid back paradise for surfers and sun-seekers.

Low-key eateries, simple restaurants and hotels clustered around beautiful beaches evoke images of Bali in the 1980’s, and have their own rustic charm for those who are willing to sacrifice luxury to explore the landscapes of the south.

For those who prefer luxury and awe-inspiring landscapes, there is really only one choice of accommodation – the Novotel Lombok Resort.

Perched on the white sands of Putri Nyale (Mandalika) Beach – one of the most stunning in a series of breathtaking beaches on the south coast – the Novotel is a sprawling resort that, rather than impacting on the environment, blends with and enhances the landscape.

Designed by renowned architects, American, Bill Bensley, and Thai, Lek Bunnag, the resort is inspired by the shapes found in traditional Sasak architecture. Soaring roofs made of thatched alang-alang grass drape gracefully over terracotta and earth textured walls. Natural rock and stone, weathered timbers in natural shapes, coconut wood, bamboo and limestone – all set atop sparkling white beach sand – combine to give the impression that this resort has risen out of the natural landscape surrounding it.

Novotel Lombok is one of the few properties in Indonesia to have “Green Globe” certification: a global brand that includes programs for sustainability and carbon neutrality, based on principles for sustainable development agreed to at the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992.

The resort incorporates Green Globe standards of environmentally-aware and sustainable practices, such as responsible water use and recycling, environmentally low-impact waste management, gardens that incorporate plants that use little water and are natural to the environment, and a level of local community involvement which is admirable.

This balance of architectural authenticity and environmental sustainability doesn’t come easily, however. Add the environmental toll of the resort’s stunning beachfront location, the endless sunshine of the south coast, and the upkeep on traditional buildings and natural materials, as opposed to modern brick and tile… it’s easy to understand that keeping this 4-star resort in tip-top condition is an ongoing process.

Under the leadership of new General Manager, Brian Townsend, the resort has been undergoing an extensive million dollar renovation since his appointment in February this year.

Australian expat, Brian, has worked with the Accor group for 15 years and transferred to Lombok from the Novotel in Fiji, specifically to oversee the renovation of one of the most unique hotels in the Accor stable. This is the fourth hotel Brian has renovated for the group.

Under his management, the entire main hotel wing has been re-modelled and updated in the past six months – a massive undertaking that was expected to take much longer.

All 74 superior and deluxe guest rooms have undergone major renovations, including structural remodelling, to create spacious and modern guest rooms. The improvements incorporate attractive contemporary décor combined with the resort’s signature use of local materials and textures.  

Guest facilities include work desks with power and LAN connectivity, big screen LCD televisions and bright, modernised bathrooms in all rooms. Superior rooms feature lovely bay windows with day beds, while the Deluxe Garden Terrace rooms boast an ottoman, couches and private terraces.

With clever restructuring of the corridors, three new Executive Suites have been created. Suitable for business travellers and couples, the luxurious and spacious suites feature built-in work stations, dressing areas and a large bathroom with bathtubs set into bay windows.

The interior corridors and façade of the main building have also received attractive face-lifts and the surrounding grounds have been beautifully landscaped. Next to be targeted are the 15 traditional Sasak villas and 10 private Pool Villas, which will undergo revamps over the following months.

Also being updated are the resort’s purpose-built Spa and two restaurants. Kafe Chilli which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as all day snacks, will be revamped and re-branded as the Spice Market. Empat Ikan, the resort’s stylish flagship restaurant, will be renamed Vue Restaurant and the romantic atmosphere highlighted. Located alongside the elevated swimming pool, with views to the ocean beyond, the restaurant offers an elegant fine dining experience to guests.

While all this is the icing on the cake, the real draw-card of the Novotel is still its amazing location… the long curved beach with dazzling white sand framing the vast azure ocean and dramatic hills adding counterpoint to the sublime scenery.

With the new Lombok International Airport in its final stages of construction, the Novotel is astutely getting ready for the new era and is perfectly positioned to accommodate the international crowd as the only 4-star resort on the south coast.

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• Visitors to Gili Meno will have the opportunity to witness a large turtle release on the island this month. “Releasing 200 turtles” is scheduled to take place on 20 August at 11:00 am at “Pak Bolong’s Turtle Sanctuary”. The young turtles have been rehabilitated at the sanctuary and are ready to be released back into the ocean… if you love these beautiful gentle giants of the sea, don’t miss this wonderful event!
(Our thanks to Hatra from Meno Mojo Resort for letting us know about the release. www.gilimenomojo.com)
• We’re hearing good things about Gili Cat’s new fast boat, Enterprise, which commenced operating last month. The big, comfortable, purpose-built boat Enterprise is an Australian-designed aluminium hull vessel powered by twin Caterpillar marine diesel engines generating 1200 hp each. The naval architect who designed the 21 meter, twin level Enterprise ensured that the 2400hp propulsion would convert into the safest and most comfortable ride possible in the sometimes quirky waters separating Bali and Lombok.

Enterprise offers two classes of travel – economy and premium. Premium class is enclosed and completely air-conditioned, and has a video and sound system for greater passenger enjoyment. Economy class seats are under cover and protected from the sun, yet naturally cooled by sea breezes. There is an internal stairway to the upper deck for open-air cruising and viewing. All classes enjoy the same comfort of imported Beneteaux durable aluminium seats.

When on the top deck, have a look into the bridge where the captain and crew plot the course to the Gilis and Lombok. The helm is state-of-the-art with complete and up to date navigational and communication equipment. There is an impressive compliment of international standard safety equipment including life jackets, buoys, EPIRB and capsule lifeboats in the case of emergency.

Gili Cat searched far and wide for the best crew available and some of their captains have been enticed back to Indonesia from overseas postings. The crew is of the highest standard and all are certified under Indonesian and international maritime regulations.

On board is a personable cruise director, who will attend to any reasonable request or problem, and the crew pride themselves on their professionalism and politeness, making your cruise the most comfortable and enjoyable possible.

It’s great to see this new level of quality, service and comfort on the Bali to Lombok and Gilis run. For information and bookings, visit www.gilicat.com

• The Holiday Resort in Mangsit has long been one of our favourite places for dining, whether for a casual meal or a night out with friends. We particularly like the theme dinners and buffet specials on offer every night during high season. “All you can eat” BBQ nights feature a huge variety of barbecued meats, chicken, fish and seafood with accompanying salads, entrée and desserts. Current buffet themes include Hawaiian Night, Mongolian BBQ, Mexican and Fajitas, and Fisherman’s Night. Dine in a relaxed setting alongside the resort swimming pool, under the palm trees with the sound of the ocean only metres away. Great value at Rp 155 000++ per person. Call the resort on 693444 for details. www.holidayresort-lombok.com

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LEBARAN… A Time for Celebrations!

The month of Ramadan is due to end on 30 August this year and for those who are in Lombok at this time, it’s a great opportunity to join in the celebrations that take place at the end of a month of fasting and moderation.

Pawai Takbiran, or the Takbiran Parade, is celebrated throughout the towns and villages of Lombok in recognition of the successful completion of the holy fasting month and heralds the start of Idul Fitri.
Traditionally, bedug drums are beaten at maghrib to signal that it is time to break the fast. Starting in the evening on the last day of Ramadan and continuing throughout the night, the bedug are also beaten in Takbiran celebrations in the villages and on the streets. Loud and boisterous parades and celebrations are held throughout Lombok, which includes drumming accompanied by amplified prayer, chanting and lively Islamic music.

The largest parade takes place along the main roads in the city and finishes at the Lapangan Mataram, the park opposite the Governor’s office in Mataram. Local communities gather together in the days beforehand to construct models of their mosques, holy characters and other Islamic symbols. Some of the models are quite elaborate, featuring detailed miniature mosques, complete with minarets and carefully painted domes.
Takbiran itself is traditionally a “lantern festival”, or a festival of light, and lights feature highly in the parades. Mosques are lit from within, giant reconstructions of the Kabbah in Mecca glow with fairy lights, and smiling people dressed in traditional Islamic clothing carry huge glowing letters spelling out words from the Qur’an.
The parade culminates in the park with thousands of the Takbiran floats lighting up the night as fireworks explode overhead. It’s an awesome sight and the festival atmosphere makes Takbiran a fun festival to witness.

The next two days, 30 and 31 August, are especially happy occasions as the whole nation celebrates Idul Fitri, also known as Lebaran (or Eid al-Fitr). Similar in spirit to Christmas for westerners, Lebaran is the time for friends and family to get together, with tens of thousands of people travelling across the Indonesian islands at this time to reunite with their families.

People working in the far off islands, as well as many of those working abroad, will try to come home to their families at this important time – for many it is the only time in a year that the whole family will be together.
The first day of Idul Fitri starts with early prayers at the mosque, and then the day is spent visiting parents, families and friends; celebrating, renewing bonds and feasting together.

People in Lombok often visit cemeteries together to freshen up the graves of family and friends who have passed away, pray and remember their spirits at this special time of the year.

Lebaran is a time of happy reunions and people greet each other, saying “minta maaf, lahir dan batin”, meaning to ask forgiveness for any wrongdoings throughout the previous year. It is a way to let bygones be bygones and to start afresh.

Of course, there are new clothes to wear on the day (baju Lebaran), which is why the shops in town have been packed for the past week. There are also special feasts to prepare and tables loaded with festive goodies to share with visiting family and friends. If you are invited to local homes during this time, don’t miss the opportunity to share in the happiness and feasting on delicious traditional foods!

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Depo Jaya Bangunan celebrated its 2nd Anniversary with lots of fun and happiness on Sunday, 7 August... and shared the joy with a charity programme for the needy.
Congratulations to 'Shop n Win' contest winners who also received great prizes at the fun event!

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

QUESTION: I have recently arrived on the beautiful and peaceful island retreat that is Lombok and have decided to join a health and fitness spa in one of the many new hotels that are springing up along the northern coast of Senggigi. It’s scary when your body starts making the same noises as your coffee maker and half the stuff in your shopping basket says “for fast relief”!

I feel like my body has got totally out of shape so I have decided to start exercising. My memory is not as sharp as it used to be. Also my memory is not as sharp as it used to be.  Do you think at my age it’s a good idea? I am 104.

MR FIXER: The best thing about being senile is that you can hide your own Easter eggs! At 104 years of age there is less peer pressure, so you can do whatever you like. My friend George joined a fitness club that specialised in aerobics for seniors. He bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for over an hour. By the time he got his leotard on, the class was over. 

QUESTION: My husband and I had finally reached the point of no return with our relationship, so I packed my things and moved out.

The night before I moved, I sat down for the last time at our beautiful dining table in our hilltop villa with sea view, put on some soft background music and feasted on two kilos of fresh shrimp from the local market near Senggigi. I also treated myself to a jar of imported caviar and a bottle of champagne. 

When I had finished, I went into each and every room and deposited a few half-eaten shrimps dipped in caviar into the hollow centres of the curtain rods. I then cleaned up the kitchen and left.  

The very next day, my husband came back with his new girlfriend. Slowly (as I’d hoped) the house began to smell. Apparently, they tried everything! Cleaning, mopping and airing out the place. Air fresheners were hung everywhere, all the vents were checked for dead rodents, and exterminators were brought in to set off gas canisters.

Nothing worked. People stopped going over to visit. Repairmen refused to work in the house. Even the maid quit! 

Finally, my husband and his new girlfriend decided to move. They put the house up for sale and eventually had to cut the price in half because they couldn’t find a buyer for such a stinky house.

Word got out and even the local realtors refused to return their calls. Finally, unable to wait any longer, my husband and his new cow of a girlfriend had to borrow money to purchase a new place. 

A few weeks later, I called my soon to be ex-husband and told him that I missed the old house and was prepared to reduce my divorce settlement in return for a further reduction in his asking price for the house, but only if he were to sign the papers immediately. 

Do you think I should let him have the furniture for his new home?

MR FIXER: Yes! Let him take everything. Make sure he takes the curtain rods with him! I love a happy ending, don’t you?

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Beritabali.com has published a list of the richest people in Bali, claiming their list represents individuals with net worth starting from less than Rp 100 billion (US $11.4 million) to more than Rp 1 trillion (US $113.6 million).

As one might expect, many of Bali’s wealthiest families have fortunes linked to the island’s tourism industry. Here’s the top 5 from the rich list:

1. I Gede Wiratha and Kadek Wiranatha. Founders PT Gde & Kaej Brothers, with tourism ventures in accommodation, travel agents, restaurants, shipping and aviation. Their Bounty Group includes: Bounty Hotel, Hotel Barong, Dewi Sri Cottages, Vila Rumah Manis, Bounty Cruises, Paddy’s Cafe, Sari Club, Bounty Mall, Double Six, Gado Gado Restaurant, AJ Hackett Bungy, Pan Witri Taxis, Praja Taxis, Calvin Tour & Travel, Bali Safari Rafting and the now defunct Air Paradise International.

Other family enterprises include: Rumah Cuci Laundry, Indo Wine, Stussy Garment, Engine Room Club, Embargo Club, Paparazzi Lounge, Double Six Club (under redevelopment), Bounty Discotheque, Bacio Lounge, Paddy’s Club, Montessori International School, Ida Hotel, Gili Meno Bungalow, strawberry cultivation, vanilla bean exporter, Bali Advertiser, Rivoli Club, Jaan Club, Gili Rengit Water Sport Recreation Island Resort, Lembongan Recreation Pontoon, The Breeze Hotel, Syndicate Lounge, Tepi Pantai Restaurant and Unipara Cargo.

2. Putu Gde John Sastrawan, Made Setiawan and Nyoman Santiawan. Owners of the Ramayana Group including: Ramayana Hotel, Rama Beach, Rama Garden, and Pepito Mini Market

3. I Wayan Kari and Ir. Ketut Siandana. Owners of the Waka Group consisting of Waka Land Cruises, Waka di Ume, Waka Nusa, Waka Maya, Waka Gangga, Waka Shorea, Waka di Abian, Waka Namya, Waka Barong, Hotel Oberoi Bali, Hotel Oberoi Lombok and Waka Dive. Also own Sain D Sain, providing management consulting and architectural services. Transportation businesses include taxis, rental cars, and passenger boats. Other businesses include Matamera advertising, housing estates, three hotels in Manado and one hotel in Bintan.

4. Ida Bagus Tjentana Putra. Owner of the Santrian Group comprised of Griya Santrian, Puri Santrian, Santrian Club, Arena Sport Cafe, Mezzanine, and The Village. Also own Sekar Menuh transportation, rafting and Seawalker.

5. Cahaya Wirawan Hadi. Owner of Cahaya Surya Bali Indah, a dealer of Suzuki motorcycles, Hino trucks, Suzuki automobiles, and Suzuki Marine.

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Uncertainty continues on Gili Trawangan as meetings with local government, police, community leaders and business operators take place in preparation for sweeping changes to the way the island is administered.
The operation, code-named “Garain 2011”, is aimed at eradicating thuggery, alcohol, drug abuse and illegal land ownership on the Gili islands and includes issues such as the presence of official security forces, local populations, hawkers, business, and transportation, building and land rights.

Tourism operators, tourists and local residents were shocked when the “Garain 2011” team, made up of hundreds of police officers, public order officers and military personnel, descended on the island without warning on 20 July 2011.

“Structuring the month of August was considered the right time, because it is the off-season (Low Season) for visitors,” the Head of the Department of Tourism NTB, L Gita Aryadi, told reporters at the Media Centre on 1 August. Gita said that “a surge of visitors was expected in Gili Trawangan from October to December, because it would enter peak season (High Season) for tourists.”

The statement, by the man largely in charge of tourism in Lombok, is seriously worrying; albeit typical of our tourism department. July and August have always been the busiest “high season” months for Lombok and the Gili Islands.

The Kepala Desa (Village Head) of Gili Indah sub-district voiced his disappointment with the sudden inspection, saying he didn’t know anything about military officers who “tagged along on that inspection”. He also opposed the statement that August is low season in the Gilis since, in fact, it is the peak season.
Responding to the public outcry, H Najmul Akhyar (the Vice Regent of North Lombok), instructed forces to tone down their activities and to not wear uniforms, so as not to unduly alarm people.

“However, these operations will continue for up to 90 days,” Najmul said. “We are still in the socialisation phase. We’ll move onto integrated operation,” he told reporters on 2 August.

The moves are believed to be the result of a decision to integrate the Gili Islands into the North Lombok regency, a relatively new district of Lombok formed in 2008. Until now, the islands have been under a type of informal administration by village heads and community security forces. There is no official police presence on the islands. Formal land ownership titles and building permits are also unclear, and in many cases, illegal.

The islands of Gili Trawangan, Meno and Air are North Lombok’s biggest assets, with nearly 70 percent of the regency’s income derived from tourism. An estimated 600 to 1,000 people visit Gili Trawangan daily.
Najmul told reporters that, from hundreds of buildings in Gili Trawangan, only 20 percent of them have legal licenses; the rest are illegal. Now, the North Lombok administration is taking inventory to boost locally generated income.

Land ownership disputes in Gili Trawangan have been problematic since the 1970’s and this is a major issue at the core of the recent activities, particularly the problem of two entities with jurisdiction over most of the lands in Gili Trawangan, namely PT Trawangan Gili Indah (PT GTI) which controls around 75 hectares and PT Forum for Biodiversity (PT WAH) which controls about 65 hectares.

Much of the land was neglected in the past, causing ownership to become unclear. Over time, land was reclaimed by local residents, who in turn built homes and businesses, and leased or sold the land to investors.

To date, the NTB provincial government has not announced a decision on how this problem will be dealt with, leaving many investors and tourism operators fearful of the outcome.

At a meeting of related parties such as the local government of North Lombok, Mataram Immigration, National Land Agency (BPN) and the NTB Police on 4 August 2011, it was agreed that the North Lombok (KLU) local government would be the frontline in implementing the administration changes, including the standardisation of services and user fees, and licensing.

“Each government agency will work according to the stages and jurisdiction, so there is a division of duties by the authority. Socialisation, such as regulations regarding building permits would be carried out by the government, not the police,” explained Najmul.

“For example, the police will enforce the law and the Government will conduct outreach to the community, including rules about Building Permits (IMB), the right to use land (Hak Guna Usaha or HGU) and others.”

Jurisdiction includes the immigration department, which has authority over people working on the island without valid work permits. “We are aware that people are using a tourist visa while working and owning assets on the island.”

The government also plans to make Gili Trawangan free from the practice of thuggery, particularly the existence of illegal levies that are not reported, or are outside of government regulations.

The new policies apply to all three islands, not just Gili Trawangan, and policing will also be conducted on Gili Air and Gili Meno to bring them under the umbrella of North Lombok administration.

In addition, in accordance with Gubernatorial Rule NTB No. 500 of 1992 on Gili Management, the controls will extend to the local port of Bangsal Harbour.  

“We do not want tourists coming to the three Gilis in conditions that are not comfortable and safe, due to the practices of some businessmen who do not have licenses,” Najmul said.

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