Monday, April 27, 2015

Recently renovated Gran Meliá Jakarta gets high ratings

Gran Meliá Jakarta is located in the heart of the city's business district, just 3 km from shopping at Plaza Senayan and Blok M Square. This 5-star property has an outdoor pool, 2 tennis courts and a pampering spa.

Elegantly decorated, air-conditioned rooms are equipped with a cable/satellite TV, minibar and personal safe. Large en suite bathrooms come with a bathtub and hairdryer.

Newly renovated, Gran Meliá Jakarta is a 30-minute drive from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. Free on-site parking is available.

Yhi Spa provides a relaxing menu of body massage, steam rooms and hot tubs. The fitness centre has an aerobics studio and modern equipment.

There are 4 on-site restaurants which serve a selection of Japanese, Indonesian, Chinese and international dishes. Drinks and finger food can be enjoyed at the Lobby Lounge.

Address: Jalan H.R. Rasuna Said Kav. X-O, Kuningan, Mampang, 12950 Jakarta, Indonesia Show map

Friday, April 24, 2015

Immerse Yourself in Bandung’s Art Deco Past

While many people visit Bandung to shop up a storm at its factory outlets, few realize the city is an architectural treasure trove.

In fact, Bandung is recognized as one of three cities in the world — the others being Napier in New Zealand and Miami in Florida — that still boast examples of tropical Art Deco architecture.
One of the best places to step back in time and explore this unique architectural style is at Bandung’s 185-room Savoy Homann Bidakara Hotel.
A striking blend of Western and Eastern influences, the hotel combines the sophisticated elegance of European Art Deco with the romanticism of early 20th-century Javanese architecture.
Built around 1871 by the Homann family to accommodate wealthy plantation owners visiting on weekends, the hotel initially resembled a regular residence of the time, complete with stilts, bamboo walls and a thatched roof.
While already prestigious, the Savoy Homann did not get its striking streamline Art Deco facade until 1939, after a revamp by Dutch architect Albert Aalbers.
Today, the original building has been incorporated into the Garden Wing, one of the hotel’s four distinct sections.
Over the years the Savoy Homann has undergone several make-overs and name changes, but the hotel’s finance manager Edwan Ariawan says the property has retained many of its unique architectural elements.
“The hotel’s designers adopted European Art Deco to the practicalities of a tropical climate, and overall this has been preserved,” he said.
“The only original elements that have undergone a transformation are the central garden, as well as the lobby and the grand ballroom, which have been enlarged to bring the hotel in line with today’s standards,” Edwan said, adding that the hotel’s most recent section, the Millennium Wing, was added in 2000.
Since its opening, the Savoy Homann has been considered the most luxurious hotel in Bandung and has played host to its fair share of well-known personalities.
While Thailand’s King Chulalongkorn was likely the first famous name to grace the hotel’s books when he stayed there in 1901, the guest that left the greatest impression on the city was the legendary silent film comedian Charlie Chaplin, who visited in 1927.
“The story is that the cheering Bandung residents, who stationed themselves outside the Savoy, made it difficult for Chaplin or his entourage to venture outside the perimeters of the hotel,” Edwan explained.
“In fact, many guests still request to sleep in Chaplin’s room.”
As one of the largest and most luxurious hotels in Southeast Asia during the 1950s, the Savoy Homann was also used as a venue for several distinguished delegations, the biggest one being the first large-scale Asian-African Conference, held in 1955.
It attracted representatives of 29 Asian and African countries, most newly independent, and was the first major gathering aimed at promoting cooperation between the countries in the region, and ironically — given the setting — opposing colonialism and neocolonialism.
“The hotel’s Golden Book, which is still on show in the lobby, has been signed by such notables as Cambodia’s Prince [and sometimes King] Norodom Sihanouk, the president of Egypt Abdul Nasser and the Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru,” Ariawan added.
Those after a quick history lesson might wish to check out the countless photographs of old Bandung and the Savoy Homann’s past incarnations that grace the hallways.
While the Savoy Homann has lost its claim as one of the fanciest hotels in Southeast Asia, or even Bandung for that matter, its charm and historical value have withstood the succession of renovations.
“And we still get important guests here,” Ariawan said.
“President SBY [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] and the secretary [general] of the United Nations still stay in one of our three Homann Suites whenever they are in town.”
Savoy Homann Bidakara Hotel
Jalan Asia Afrika No. 112, Bandung (Jakarta Globe)
(Repost)

Historical walk of Asia-Africa conference flags off in Bandung

The Historical Walk of the Asia-Africa Conference (AAC) commenced at 9:15 a.m. local time, led by a row of military personnel bearing the flags of the countries participating in the AAC.

During the Historical Walk, a group of youth wearing West Javas traditional clothing carried banners.

President Joko Widodo accompanied by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Vice President Jusuf Kalla, President of China Xi Jinping, President of Myanmar Thein Sein, and dozens of other African-Asian leaders, including from the youngest country, East Timor, took part in the historical walk.

They walked from Savoy Homann Hotel to the Merdeka building via Jalan Asia Afrika road.

During the first AAC, Soekarno from Indonesia, Norodom Sihanouk from Cambodia, U Nu from Myanmar, Gamal Abdel Nasser from Egypt, and Zhou Enlai from China, among others participated in the historical walk.

President Joko Widodo along with the leaders of Asian and African countries also took part in a photo session.

Earlier, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that some 22 heads of state/government or deputies (VVIPs) from Asian and African countries participated in the Historical Walk in Bandung.

This walk was organized as one of the events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the AAC.

"There will be 22 VVIPs present in Bandung along with hundreds of ministerial- and senior-level delegates," Director General for the Asia-Pacific Region of the ministry Yuri Thamrin remarked here on Thursday.

The world leaders who joined the Historical Walk were King of Swaziland Mswati III, President of Timor-Leste Taur Matan Ruak, President of Zimbabwe Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Peoples Assembly of North Korea Kim Yong-nam, Prime Minister of Nepal Sushil Koirala, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Rwanda Anastase Murekezi, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and President of China Xi Jinping.

While some of the leaders headed to Bandung from Jakarta aboard an aircraft provided by the Indonesian government, others such as those from Myanmar, Malaysia, China, Angola, Vietnam, and South Africa used the aircraft of their respective countries.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, King of Jordan Abdullah II, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Vice President of Seychelles Danny Faure, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al Hamdallah, and Sultan of Brunei Darussalam Hassanal Bolkiah, however, did not participate in the event.

Besides the Historical Walk, other activities held in Bandung included a minute of silence, the reading out of the Dasasila (Ten Principles of) Bandung, and the signing of the Bandung Message. (Antara)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Angklung For the World: From Bandung to the Guinness World of Records

Indonesia's Minister of Tourism, Arief Yahya, concurrently  Committee Chairman for Side Events of the 60th Commemoration ofthe Asian African Conference, keeps a watchful eye especially on preparations for the colossal “Angklung for the World” Show which will take place Thursday, 23rd April 2015 at the Siliwangi Stadium in Bandung from 09.30 to 10.30 am. The event is crucial, since those performing will be over 20,000 people who will play different notes under the command of one conductor, - which may indeed be quite complicated.

Performers need to be able to collaborate within a large space with the furthest distance among players reaching 125 meters. With such a span in distance, even if one were to scream as loud as possible, it will still take time before his or her voice willreach the other end. The venue which uses the curved spectators podium will produce resonance or echoes .”From the Siliwangi Stadium, the greatest angklung show ever performed in history will be recorded in the Guinness World of Records 2015.  While preparations are now 100% ready ,” stated Minister Arief Yahya.

“The exact number of  participants who will play the angklung in this show will be counted, checked and directly controlled by the team from the Guinness World of Records. At time when participants enter the venue with each carrying the traditional Sundanese bamboo musical instrument, they will be counted by the team. At present already 20,000 people  have registered to take part and perform in this colossal musical show” explained Arief Yahya.

The colossal angklung mega orchestra will play the well loved heroic song entitled “Halo Halo Bandung” which describes the relentless spirit  of the people of  Bandung defending their city and the country from recolonization in Indonesia's fight for Independence since 1945. The song  captures an historical event  in 1946 known as “Bandung Lautan Api” or "Bandung engulfed in an Ocean of Fire", when the people preferred to burn down their city rather than let it fall into the enemy’s hands. The legendary song is truly an inspiration and is most  fitting to be played by an orchestra comprising an  ocean of angklungs.

Another legendary song to be  played in this  performance will be  “We are the World”. Written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson in 1985, the song is an anthem to humanity that was originally performed by Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie and other American pop superstars of the time in the Supergroup USA For America. The song inspired world solidarity during the famine in Africa in 1984-1985 and was used as a single to raise contributions from across  the globe. “The song is a perfect choice for the 60th Commemoration of the Asian African Conference” commented Arief Yahya.

The colossal angklung performance will undoubtedly leave an indelible memory on those attending the 60th Commemoration ofthe Asian African Conference. “We are very optimistic that it will be a great success,  since all preparations are set, and everything is being coordinated in detail. There are a number of challenges, but we are sure that everything will go as planned. To top it all, Guinness World of Records will capture the spectacular event in an attempt to create a new record of  angklung music played by  20,000 people in one single venue, and all that will also be recorded by  the media, social media and all who witness this extraordinary performance” concluded Tourism Minister Arief Yahya. (Indonesia.travel)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mount Tambora National Park Transformed Into New Ecotourism Destination

In 1816, Europe and North America experienced an unusual climatic phenomenon termed, "the year without a summer" due to Mount Tamboras massive eruption in 1815, although no one then suspected any connection to the eruption.

The 1815 eruption of Tambora was one of the mightiest and deadliest ever recorded in history. On the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI), Tambora rates a 7, one of only four in the last ten thousand eruptions to do so. In comparison, the famous Mount Krakatoa blast was recorded at VEI 6, and Mt. St. Helens blast of May 1980 was VEI 5.

Tamboras catastrophic eruption began on April 5, 1815, with small tremors and pyroclastic flows. A shattering blast blew the mountain apart on the evening of April 10.

The blast, pyroclastic flows, and tsunamis that followed killed at least ten thousand islanders and destroyed the homes of 35 thousand more. Following the eruption, some eighty thousand people perished due to diseases and famine on Sumbawa Island, since crops could not grow. The eruption produced global climatic effects and directly and indirectly killed more than 100 thousand people.

In 1816, parts of the world as far off as Western Europe and Eastern North America experienced sporadic spells of heavy snow and killing frost through June, July, and August. Such cold weather events led to crop failures and starvation in those regions.

Before its eruption, Mount Tambora was about 4.3 thousand meters or about 14 thousand feet high. After the eruption ended, a caldera spanning some 6 kilometers or 3.7 miles across remained.

The volcano remains active, and smaller eruptions took place in 1880 and 1967. Episodes of increased seismic activity occurred in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Currently, 2,851-meter-high Mount Tambora, which is located in Doro Ncanga, Dompu District, on Sumbawa Island, West Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia, is home to the Crested White-eye, Hill Mynas, Rainbow Lorikeets, flying foxes, deer, horses, wild pigs, and rainforest trees, among other things. Indonesia is the worlds second-largest mega biodiversity country, after Brazil.

The government has transformed the areas around Mount Tambora bearing the statuses of sanctuary, wildlife reserve, and hunting park into a national park.

The new national park covers a total area of 71,644 hectares, previously comprising a 23,840-hectare nature sanctuary, a 21,674-hectare wildlife reserve, and a 26,130-hectare hunting park.

Coinciding with the 200th commemoration of the eruption of Mount Tambora, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo inaugurated Mount Tambora National Park during a special tourism promotion event called "Tambora Greets The World", on April 11, 2015.

The head of state emphasized the importance of Mount Tambora National Park, stating that it was an asset that must be preserved and developed to benefit the local people.

Joko Widodo ordered the local people to preserve and look after the region well to turn it into an ecotourism destination.

He also hoped that the Tambora Festival is organized as an annual event to bring more added value to national tourism.

"I wish this event is held every year to promote tourism in Bima and Dompu. The Tambora Festival must be held annually, with funding from the central government, so that all know where Dompu, Bima, and West Nusa Tenggara are, as well as where Indonesia is," he remarked.

Moreover, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya had earlier stated that the Mount Tambora ecotourism area can serve as the engine to drive tourism development in the region.

"I believe it can work in this manner, and that the Tambora Greet the World event has successfully attracted national and global attention. Hopefully, it will become an annual event," he noted.

He remarked that in the future, Lombok Island and West Nusa Tenggara would be among the chief tourist destinations in Indonesia, similar to Bali and other locations.

"This year, we believe one million people will visit West Nusa Tenggara," Yahya pointed out.

The minister expressed optimism that the Tambora National Park, with a vast savannah, could become an attractive ecotourism destination that could lure domestic and foreign tourists.

"The opportunities here are ecotourism and agrotourism. The accessibility and attractions are good, and now, it is only a matter of providing amenities," the minister affirmed.

To support the development of Mount Tambora National Park, the Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry will provide facilities and infrastructure, such as new roads, bridges, bird-watching stations, hiking trails, and hill climbing tracks.

The ministry is coordinating with the West Nusa Tenggara Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) to improve public awareness regarding forest preservation, deer hunting, and nomadic farming methods.

Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar noted in a statement on April 12, 2015, that her ministry has learnt about rampant illegal logging activities in the newly established national park.

To protect the forest, the ministry has introduced a system of adopting trees, particularly endemic species such as Duobanga trees that could reach a height of up to 40 meters, with a diameter of 120 centimeters.

Following a suggestion by nature lovers, the ministry will also organize a cleanup campaign along Mount Tamboras hiking trails. (Antara)

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