Sunday, April 20, 2014

Festival to be held at the ancient Srivijaya kingdom in Palembang

This year, the site of the seat of the ancient Srivijaya kingdom at Karanganyar, Palembang, has been chosen as venue for the Srivijaya Festival 2014 that will take place from 16 – 22 June, having been moved elsewhere for the past years, said Acting Head of the Culture and Tourism Office of South Sumatra, Ahmad Najib.

By returning the Festival to this ancient site by the Musi river, Srivijaya’s cultural and historic aura will be rekindled to inspire the young generation with its roots and the grandeur of its history, reported Kompas daily.

The Buddhist empire of Srivijaya (or Crivijaya) held suzerainty over much of South East Asia, in particular of Sumatra and the Malacca Strait from the 7th to the 12th century. It was a thriving maritime and commercial empire and center for Buddhist learning. In Sanskrit, Sri means: fortunate or prosperous, while Vijaya means Victorious. Many Chinese pilgrims would sojourn for months at Srivijaya to learn Buddhism before proceeding to India. In China, Srivijaya is known as Sanfotsi or San Fo Qi.

Highlight of this year’s Festival will be the dramatic performance based on three ancient stone inscriptions from Kedukan Bukit, Talang Tuo and Telaga Batu. The inscriptions describe the journey of Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa, founder of Srivijaya to this location accompanied by some 25,000 troops.

The Karanganyar site was designated Archaeological Park of the Srivijaya Kingdom by President Soeharto on 22 December 1994. Here archaeologists discovered canals and a central park built in these early centuries, besides Chinese ceramics, beads and other finds.

Five other countries have been invited to join the Srivijaya Fesitval at Palembang, including Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, Brunei Darussalam and the State of Malacca. Participants will be taken on a historic tour of ancient Srivijaya sites. Another site closely linked to the Srivijaya empire are the Muaro Jambi temples.

Other activities include culinary festivities, and dance performances. It is hoped that by relocating the Festival back to the original Srivijaya site, more attention will be given to the further excavation and preservation of the remnants of this ancient kingdom.

In the past years, the Srivijaya Festival had been held at more commercially attractive locations. (Wonderful Indonesia)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jakarta Restaurant Reservation System Launched

Newly launched restaurant reservation website Qraved.com has organized a special promotion, called Eat Jakarta, where food lovers can enjoy dining in more than 100 mid- to high-end restaurants with discounted prices for 28 days starting next Monday.

Qraved co-founder Steven Kim said in a press conference on Wednesday that the special promotion would give Jakartans an opportunity to enjoy set menus from a range of restaurants offering a variety of international cuisines with special prices starting from Rp 100,000 (US$8.70).

“There will be discounts of 30 to 40 percent,” he said.

He added that the restaurants would offer special set menus with two or more courses specifically created for the promotion.

The restaurants include Italian Rosso at the Shangri-La Hotel, French Cassis, Amuz Gourmet, La Luce and Indonesian fine dining Harum Manis in Central Jakarta and Potato Head Garage in South Jakarta.

Eat Jakarta project manager Ivan Aditya said the foodies could enjoy the promotion by visiting eatjakarta.org and finding restaurants through various categories such as names, locations, cuisine, dishes and prices. 

“The website also features a list of menus that participants can enjoy for specific prices,” he said, adding that when the participant booked the restaurant, it would automatically be directed to Qraved.com for the details.

Ivan said that apart from online booking, people who wanted to try a particular set menu could also order them directly at participating restaurants.

“There is no limit on the number of bookings people can make as well as the number of times they can use the special offer,” he said. 

He said regular customers would not be treated differently to those utilizing in the promotion. 

“However, some restaurants have adjusted the portions to ensure that participants can enjoy a wide variety of food,” Steven said. 

The co-founder said Eat Jakarta was held in response to the social dining trend in big cities, including Jakarta. 

“A study in 2013 shows that Indonesians had dined-out 380 million times at mid- to high-end restaurants with total transaction of $1.5 billion in one year,” he said.

He said, therefore, the promotion was a way to celebrate the food diversity in Jakarta. 

“We want everybody in Jakarta to be able to taste a wide variety of food from countries like France, Mexico and South Korea,” he said.

Steven said he did not have a specific target on how many participants would take part but he hoped many people would participate in the promotion.

As part of the promotion, there will also be quizzes and competitions on social media sites like Instagram and Twitter. 

Felicia Setiawan, the communications manager of Shangri-La Hotel said her hotel joined the festival to cater to a wider range of customers. 
“Hotel restaurants have one thing in common, which is relatively high prices. The promotion will give more people an opportunity to try certain food at a more affordable price,” she said. (Jakarta Post)

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Jakarta Great Sale Jun 7 - July 19


Over 75 malls and trade centers  have confirmed participation during this year’s Jakarta Great Sale, which is held in conjunction with the 487th Anniversary celebrations of the capital city and will continue even through the presidential elections in July, confident that the elections will be continue to be held peacefully, said Handaka Santosa, Chairman of the Organizing Committee,  as well as Chairman of the Association of Indonesia’s Shopping Centers Managements (APPBI).

The APPBI has this year again been entrusted by the Jakarta Provincial government to organize the event, which last year received most enthusiastic response from shoppers in Jakarta, other parts of Indonesia and overseas with most malls offering some 70% discounts on attractive items.      

An FJGS Shopper Card will be issued, and there will be musical stages and other performances presented to attract the public. This is the time when shoppers can enjoy the best bargains, relax at sumptuous restaurants while enjoying lively music.  The event will also be an excellent venue to collect Indonesia’s many and varied creative products, both traditional as well as many beautiful and innovative creations.

This year we expect sales to increase to Rp. 13.5 trillion, said Handaka. Last year, sales totaled Rp 11.8 trillion.  Through this festival, cooperation among outlets and establishments have strengthened,  since during the Great Sale visitors to malls grew by 20%, also resulting in increased contributions in taxes to Jakarta’s provincial government, said Handaka.

And through the support of the Ministry of Trade, Handaka hopes that In the coming yeas the Jakarta Great Sale can be expanded to  include other cities  on Java  to  become  the Java Great Sale,  and further across the archipelago to become : the Indonesia Great Sale, reported antara news.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Nonstop Garuda flight to Amsterdam

National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia will fly from Jakarta to Amsterdam nonstop for the comfort of travelers heading to The Netherlands.

"Starting May 30, Garuda will fly from Jakarta to Amsterdam nonstop," confirmed Garuda Indonesia Director of Marketing and Sales Erik Meijer at the 2014 Garuda International Travel Fair, GITF, opening ceremony in Jakarta on Friday.

Meijer stated that the nonstop Jakarta-Amsterdam route was the only non-stop routes that exist in the world that connect two cities.

Besides that, starting on September 8, the Jakarta-Amsterdam route will be extended to the British capital, to become Jakarta-Amsterdam-London.

Garuda Indonesia airline also plans to expand its routes not only in international flight, but also domestic by increasing the number of fleets. One of them is new Boeing B-777-300ER that can make non-stop intercontinental flight.

Previously, Garuda had planned to open a number of new international destinations in 2014 in order to develop and strengthen its flight network.

"The new Garuda Indonesia's international flights are to London, Manila and Mumbai," clarified President Director of Garuda Indonesia Emirsyah Satar earlier on Wednesday, April 2.

Emirsyah pointed out that the flight and routes development is now being conducted by Garuda Indonesia such as opening two new destinations and six new international routes in 2013.

As for domestic flights, Garuda Indonesia in 2013 has opened nine new destinations and 25 new routes that resulted in the addition of 80 domestic flights per day.

Emirsyah also explained that the fleet development was carried out in anticipation of the rising passenger flow in air transport services.
"The new aircraft fleet development also intends to improve efficiency through reduced fuel use and lower aircraft maintenance costs," he noted. (Antara)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Not Impressed with Bali’s New Airport

Bali's 'New" Airport Winning Few Fans and Generally Seen as an Airport that Simply Doesn't Work

Willem Loots, a long-time Bali resident and semi-retired professional in Indonesian tourism, had the occasion to travel through Bali’s still-under-construction Ngurah Rai International Airport on April 1, 2014.

On that same date, a more costly International Passenger Service Charge applied for all outgoing passengers went into effect. TheDomestic Passenger Service Chargewill follow suit in August.

Representative of the widespread disappointment with Bali’s new air gateway, Loots shared his experience at Bali’s new airport at the invitation of Balidiscovery.com.

The Sad Decline from Airport Tax to Service Charge 

Last Tuesday, April 1st I went through the experience of using the departure facilities at Ngurah Rai Denpasar Airport for the first time since the new international terminal was inaugurated last September. 

I have been flying in an out of Bali countless times since I first came to the island in 1973. In a way, Ngurah Rai has always occupied a dear place in my heart, so I was totally unprepared for the awful situation that I found. 

I had booked and checked-in online and printed my boarding pass at home. With hand luggage only, I thought that it would be sufficient to reach the airport an hour and a half before boarding time. A few days before my departure I had read that the airport tax would be raised from Rp. 150,000  to Rp. 200,000 as per August 1. Therefore it came as a surprise that August had arrived early when the young lady at the desk, now marked Airport Service Charge, informed me that the new rate was already in force. 

The immigration procedure was swift and efficient and I am ready to admit that it is a measure of progress that I had to go through security screening only once. (Last year, I  had to take off my shoes twice).

However the nightmare started immediately afterwards. After security it is impossible to just walk to the gates. In the old days shopping, tax free or not, was an OPTION. In the new setup of Angkasa Pura it is an absolute MUST to be confronted with loads of stuff you do not need. They make you stumble through a ridiculously long, serpentine labyrinth of department stores that are not only shocking in their opulence but probably extremely dangerous in emergency situations as well. Everything is placed much too close together and in case of an earthquake you better not find yourself in the airport-shopping stampede…

Once I had waded through the tax-free nightmare and reached the hallway of the boarding gates I found that the first four electronic signboards I encountered were not functioning. There was no departure information whatsoever in the area where one exits from the tax free zone. I took off on a long walk to the East, asking anyone in uniform where I could find out from what gate my flight would leave, but no one could offer any advice or assistance. After hundreds of meters I finally did find ONE electronic information board lit up. While it did provide a list of flights departing during the rest of the day, THERE WAS NO GATE INFORMATION FOR ANY FLIGHT LEAVING DURING THE NEXT HOUR. My own Air Asia boarding pass indicated that I had to be at the gate at 12:15 and that I would be denied boarding if I would not show up before 12:35. 

At my advanced age and with rising anger and blood pressure I kept pacing up and down the corridor that looks out on the runway, accosting anyone looking official on my path. When I finally found two uniformed Angkasa Pura officials lounging in between some of the gates they could not give any gate info either, so I asked where I could find the office of the people responsible for running the airport. I was told that I had to leave the terminal and go across the street to find them. 

At exactly 12:13 a notice finally appeared on the single working information board that flight QZ8494 scheduled to depart at 12: 55 could be found at Gate 10. To reach Gate 10, from where the busses leave to the outskirts of the apron we had to go down an escalator to an area where there was neither air conditioning nor any room for passengers to sit down. Those who came last ended up sitting on the stairs. 

For this scandalous lack of service everyone on QZ8494 had paid Rp. 200,000. These passengers should get their money back and the people at Angkasa Pura who are responsible for this outrage should be fired. 

When I arrived in Singapore I was in a taxi within 20 minutes from the moment the plane touched down. It is always a pleasure to witness how the Changi Airport Authority implements a taxi management system that works seamlessly. It feeds passengers fairly and efficiently into taxis strictly on a first come-first serve basis. No one loses time unnecessarily. It is a perfect procedure for both drivers and their clients. 

When, three days later, I returned to Bali it took more than an hour to clear immigration and customs. For a Friday rush hour, that was by itself not too bad since all officials were friendly and working hard. But afterwards, as a final insult, Angkasa Pura once again made me march through a TAX FREE shopping area before I could walk out into the mad chaos of the taxi touts. 

© Bali Discovery Tours. Articles may be quoted and reproduced if attributed to http://www.balidiscovery.com.

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