The Forgotten Image of Bali

The first European visitors to Bali saw much different Bali than nowadays visitors have seen. The first foreign visitors saw Bali as an island of theft and murder, full of menace with ferocious inhabitants, a warlike nation. In the mid-seventeenth century Bali was a dangerous place, wild and untamed, where Europeans loath to go. In the eyes of European writer Bali was a heathen land where barbarities such as widow burning practiced in much vigor.

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US declares Bali airport safe

The US government has declared that Ngurah Rai international airport here meets international flight security standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a report said.

The decision was made based on an evaluation conducted by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the US Embassy`s charge d`affairs John Heffern said in a press release issued here Wednesday.

The embassy praised Ngurah Rai international airport`s security management for its effort to improve its security standards for the past two years.

In pictures: Secret wildlife in Sumatra

Lots of endangered species living in a part of Indonesia called Sumatra have been captured on film by the Zoological Society of London using a camera trap.

Images of a Sumatran tiger, elephants, a clouded leopard, an Asiatic golden fox and an Asian tapir.

Bali's breath of zesty air

AT a cool elevation just 45 minutes by road north of Denpasar and the holiday coast of Bali, Ubud conforms to the classic hill-station template of clean and crisp air, gentle pace and deep green views.
Ubud has been a haven for foreign artists and creative castaways since the 1930s, when it must have seemed like Shangri-la.

Ubud has also been a travellers' getaway since (at least) the 1970s but the hippie flower-power atmosphere has been replaced with a smarter vibe and cafes are as likely to serve excellent espresso and wines by the glass as they are mango juice and herbal teas.

Today, the main streets are a jumble of shops that may not be all that different to their coastal counterparts in Kuta or Seminyak but the methodical fossicker will be rewarded with good antiques and hand-made finds, especially wood carvings.

Best annual event: The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival
Best reading-up: Copies of the Hello Bali glossy monthly magazine are available in most resort guestrooms.
Best music and books store: Ubud Music Centre on Jalan Raya Ubud
Best restaurants: Casa Luna, run by the ubiquitous De Neefe
Best nuclear duck: Crispy duck is the signature dish at Tepi Sawah on Jalan Raya Goa Gajah
Best splurge dining: The restaurants at Amandari and Four Seasons Sayan resorts
Best cooking school: Cafe Wayan and Bakery on Monkey Forest Road
Best martini: Nuri's Warung
Best spa: All the resorts in Ubud have brilliant spas
Best homewares shops: The Shop at Sayan
Best bargaining performances: Ubud Market, on the corner of Jalan Raya Ubud and Monkey Forest Road
Best instant cultural connection: Cafe Lotus
Best thrills: Rafting on Ubud's swift Ayung River
Best art connections: Neka Museum has the island's best collection of Balinese art

By Susan Kurosawa
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Music, arts and culture can create more peaceful life, Yudhoyono says

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said music, arts and culture, if developed well, could be a power to build a more peaceful, friendly and harmonious life.

"Music and culture could even be developed jointly to be `soft power` to be used in persuasive communication for handling problems, making it unnecesssary to employ `hard power,`" he said when launching his song album, "Rinduku Padamu" (My Longing for You), here on Sunday night.

He said many humanitarian problems could be solved if the spirit of "soft power" prevailed.

The president`s album contained ten romantic pop songs he had composed.

The president did not sing in his album. He had let other people, including Dharma Oratmangun, Gee Foregia, Senno Haryono, Kerispatih, Ebiet G Ade, Widi AB Three and Dea Mirella, sing his compositions.

All of the songs were arranged in collaboration with Jimmie Manopo, Purwatjaraka, Jumadi, Kerispatih and Bartje Van Houten.

Among the songs were "Kuasa Tuhan" (Divine Power) which he wrote on his way home from the United States last September and "Mengarungi Keberkahan Tuhan" (Living on Divine Blessednes) which he wrote in Sydney after attending an Asia and Pcific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in September.

Earlier: Indonesian president launched song album

25 Most Endangered Primates Named

Sumatran Orangutan

This great ape has been reduced to 7,000 animals living in 13 fragments of land on the island of Sumatra, according to a new report.

Large-scale logging continues to convert this orangutan's native forests to agriculture and palm oil plantations, says the October 26, 2007, report by the Primate Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union's Species Survival Commission and the International Primatological Society, in collaboration with Conservation International.

The report names the world's 25 most endangered primates and says that a third of all primates are in danger of extinction (read full story). Key culprits are "destruction of tropical forests, illegal wildlife trade and commercial bushmeat hunting."

Orangutan image.

Hundreds of tourists enjoy a little taste of Central Java

Hundreds of foreign tourists, mostly from the U.S., arrived in Central Java capital Semarang's Tanjung Emas port on board a Holland America Line Amsterdam cruise Friday.

According to Bobby from Merapi Tours and Travel agency, which guided the 687 tourists on their one-day tour in Central Java, the cruise stopped in Singapore on Thursday and will continue on to Bali. From the resort island, the cruise, which left from Seattle in the U.S., will depart to Australia.

"I'm so happy that I can visit Indonesia and enjoy a ride on board a steam-powered train in Ambarawa, especially since many souvenir traders offered their handicrafts. This is really interesting," German tourist Bunde Reinhard told The Jakarta Post.

The man, who is on a 62-day vacation on board the cruise with his wife, was one 120 tourists who decided to take a trip on the 1902 train (see photo). After the train trip, the tourists visited Borobudur Temple.

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Inviting 7m tourists

This is a very good vision, considering Indonesia's immense potential as one of the global tourist hotspots. It also wouldn't be so hard to achieve.

There, however, are a few main obstacles to this. Short visa lifetime is one of them. Currently, Indonesia issues one-month permits on entry or two-months tourist visas from an embassy abroad, both of which are non-extendible.

Indonesia is a very big country and it is also one of the slowest countries to move around in; which is not that bad if the tourists were given some time. Two months of a visa is a very common reason for travelers in Southeast Asia to not consider visiting Indonesia. It is a ridiculously short time to see a country that consists of so many widespread islands
Large countries where traveling is slower issue much longer visas. China gives three to six-month visas at embassies abroad, which are extendible inland very easily for six months many times. India gives six month or one-year visas.

It is impossible to understand the reasons behind the visa restriction policy on Indonesia. It is already one of the more expensive visas (two months in the embassy and one month on entry are the same price for some strange reason) and some people assume it is because the government wants to make visa money.

More...
By ISTAMBULLU AYKUT
Bukittinggi, West Sumatra

Bootylicious Beyonce Stages Concert in Jakarta

Beyonce will stage a live concert in the Jakarta International Event and Convention Center (JiTec) on November 1 as part of her The Beyonce Experience World Tour. The Indonesian leg of the world tour will be the singer's seventh stop, after which she will proceed to China, Philippines, Korea, and Taiwan.

Earlier this month, the international singer's talent agency, International Creative Management, has announced that they have cancelled the Malaysian leg of Beyonce's world tour because of "scheduling conflicts." Speculations have circulated since then that the cancellation was due primarily to Malaysia's strict dress and behavioral codes being imposed on visiting foreign artists. According to the Malaysian government's conservative dress code, all performing female artists must be covered up from the shoulders to the knees. Beyonce - known for wearing sexy, revealing outfits -- allegedly was not happy with the government's demand.

For concert tickets, visit: http://www.allaccesstoday.com/tourhq/tourshow.php?function=showtours&siteID=113. For more information about Aston Sudirman Hotel, log on to: http://www.astonsudirman.com.

KHI acquires Four Seasons Jakarta

Resort and hotel investment company Kingdom Hotel Investments (KHI) has acquired the Four Seasons Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, for US$48m (33.8m euro, £23.5m).

The Four Seasons Jakarta first opened in 1995 as the Regent Jakarta and is located in the heart of the city’s Golden Business Triangle, the commercial and cultural hub of Indonesia. The hotel has 365 bedrooms and a luxury day spa.

Chocolate Expo coming to town

An international chocolate expo is coming to town and will be held at the Semanggi Expo center, South Jakarta, from Nov. 1 to 3, organizers said Tuesday.

The Jakarta Chocolate Expo has been held biannually since 2001, with chocolate producer Tulip claiming to be the "Embassy of Chocolate" for the event.

Some 31,000 people visited the last exhibition, which was held in 2005, said Elvira Koto, the company's marketing manager.

International salsa orchestra and dancers to sway Jakarta

Salsa music and dance aficionados, prepare yourselves for Thursday night's evening of entertainment, featuring an international orchestra and international salsa champions Billy Fajardo and Katie Marlow.

The first Indonesian Salsa Festival, which opened on Oct. 20, will be closed with a Dinner and Dance Night, presenting the 2004 Grammy Award-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra from the U.S.

The 13-strong "Hottest Classic Latin Dance Orchestra" will be performing for the first time in Indonesia.

Americans Fajardo and Marlow, and an Indonesian salsa dancer, Venna Melinda, are just a few of the names who will appear at the event at the Ballroom at the Hotel Mulia, Jakarta.

Spiritual Tourism for Bali

Minister Wacik Sees Strong Future for Spiritual Tourism in Bali.

Bali News: Spiritual Tourism for Bali
(10/20/2007) Republika On-Line reports that the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik has identified spiritual tourism as a key product for Bali's future.

According to the Minister, "a source for tourism in Bali for the future is spiritual tourism because of the potentials and possibilities offered in the cities and regions in Bali."

Speaking before a conference on "Major Trends – Opportunities and Investments in Tourism," Wacik said the main market sources for spiritual tourism are from Japan, Europe and the United States. "Tourist coming from these countries have become bored with crowded tourist attractions and are now seeking 'quieter' tourism, such as places for mediation and reflections upon their Creator," he explained.

The Minister said that all locations in Bali have potential for spiritual tourism together with other destinations in Indonesia, such as Tanah Toraja in Sulawesi and Central Java. Wacik emphasized that in addition to the physical location for this form of tourism, it is also essential to have staff trained in meditative practice and yoga.

Commenting separately, Bali's Chief of Tourism, Drs. I Gede Nurjaya, said that the Balinese have a close connection with nature and an all pervading sense of spirituality. The leading government official in charge of Bali's tourism said that the Balinese see nature in a religious context and have a wide range of ritual practice honoring nature. Because of this, said Nurjaya, Bali is the proper choice of location for the development of spiritual tourism.

© Bali Discovery Tours. Articles may be quoted and reproduced if attributed to http://www.balidiscovery.com. All images and graphics are copyright protected.

Factbox : Indonesia's volcanoes

VOLCANOES IN INDONESIA:

-- Local vulcanologists estimate there are 129 active volcanoes scattered across the country's more than 17,000 islands. Around three quarters of the volcanoes lie on the Sunda Arc. Sweeping 3,000 km from northwest Sumatra to the Banda Sea, the arc traces the junction of tectonic plates.

-- The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says Indonesia has the world's largest number of historically active volcanoes -- 76. It is second only to Japan for total dated eruptions, with 1,171 compared to Japan's 1,274.

JAVA: HOTSPOT FOR INDONESIA'S MOST ACTIVE:

-- Eighty of the 129 considered active are "Type A" -- most active since 1600 -- Indonesia's Directorate of Volcanology says.

-- A quarter of all Type A volcanoes -- 21 -- are on Java island. There are 20 Type A volcanoes on Nusatenggara, 12 on Sumatra, nine in the Banda Sea, six in North Sulawesi, five each in Sangihe and Halmahera and two on Bali Island.

WORST ERUPTIONS:

1. April 10-15, 1815: Mt Tambora on Sumbawa island erupts, killing 92,000. The world's worst volcanic eruption in terms of death toll, it reduces the 13,000 feet tall mountain to 9,000 feet. The year 1816 becomes known as the "year without a summer" as volcanic ash in the atmosphere lowers temperatures around the globe, with deadly summer frosts in the U.S. and Canada.

2. Aug 27, 1883: Volcanic island Krakatoa, which lies in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra explodes. Resulting tsunamis reach heights of 40 metres and kill 36,000 people on Java and Sumatra islands. Two-thirds of the island is destroyed.

MAGNETS FOR TOURISTS AND DEVOTEES:

-- Seen as sacred in some local traditions, devotees living close to dangerous volcanoes are sometimes reluctant to evacuate when warnings are issued. The crater lake of Mt Kelud, for example, is thought to be a source of peace and prosperity by some living by its slopes.

-- Thousands of tourists are also drawn to the symmetrical cones of volcanoes such as Bromo, one of Java's most active, to see the sun rise through clouds of mist and volcanic steam; and Agung, Bali's highest and most sacred volcano, which towers over the east of the island.

Miss Indonesia ranks 15th in 2007 Int`l Beauty Contest

Miss Indonesia Rahma M Landi taking part in the 1007 Miss International Beauty Pageant in Tokyo ranked only the 15th among the other participants from 66 countries.

Chairman of the Indonesian Ladies Foundation Wardiman Djojonegoro made the remark in a meeting with Indonesian ambassador to Japan Jusuf Anwar at his residence here on Tuesday.

Indonesia`s participation in international event was to show that Indonesia promotes its natural culture to the world, said Wardiman, a former education minister.

Wardiman further said that Indonesia participated in the beauty contest to promote the dignity of Indonesian women in international contests, and that the essence of beauty in Indonesia concerns smartness in giving added value to the participant in the contest.

He also said that pros and cons on the need of Indonesian women to participate in the international beauty contest had become out of date. Meanwhile Rahma M Landy on the occasion explained her preparations of the whole process for the international contest.

"I am happily and feel proud, as after being absent in the international event for 30 years, Indonesia has sent me to the even," Rahma M Landy said.

Rahma also said she was very happy as Indonesia won the "best speech" among the other contestants.

New Internet TV Bali Alive

Watch the latest stories on villas, resorts, activities, restaurant reviews, cultural experiences, and property on the new Internet TV (ITV) from Bali Alive.

"Bali Alive brings a new dimension to delivering entertaining and dynamic video clips on Bali Indonesia."

"Bali Alive has dedicated television segments featuring Bali tour activities, accommodation, restaurants, business and real estate, all produced by experienced television professionals with lively and animated presenters. Bali Alive is a win-win for anyone involved in the Bali tourism industry. “A picture may tell a thousand words but a TV program tells and sells the whole story,” said Jason Michael."

Possible new species found in Celebes Sea

A swimming sea cucumber, a Nemo-like orange fish and a worm with tentacles sprouting from its head are among dozens of possible new species found during a survey of the Celebes Sea, researchers said yesterday.

"These waters are the richest biological regions of the world but have been largely unexplored," said expedition leader, Larry Madin, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

Among the more unusual finds were an orange-tinged sea cucumber that uproots itself from the seabed and swims using flaps on its transparent body, and a worm with tentacles coming out of its head and transparent paddle fins growing all over its tan body.

Related: National Geographic New Species Found in Remote A sian Sea?

Espina: Tourism in Bali

I was in Bali several years ago for a Women-In-Travel International Federation of Travel Women’s Organization Convention.
Last Sept. 19-22, I revisited the place, curious about what happened after the Sars plague and the tsunami.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Indonesia invited me to present a paper on “The Challenges of Dealing with Local Communities: The Cebu experience” during the “Second Asean Tourism Investment Forum” held at the Ramada Bintang, Bali Hotel.

It was attended by some 300 delegates from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines. There were attendees from Australia, the US and Canada.

Attack by 12-foot python captured on tape

Brady Barr, the National Geographic Channel’s resident herpetologist, is wading waist-deep in a vile and viscous puree of bat guano in a cave in Indonesia when he is attacked by a 12-foot reticulated python.

The snake wraps itself around his legs, sinks its razor-sharp teeth into his left thigh, shredding his flesh. Screams of excruciating pain echo off the cave’s walls.

The footage is chilling.

The attack will be broadcast on National Geographic Channel at 8 p.m. ET and PT on Saturday.

Barr was on a remote island in Indonesia, far from civilization. He had to hike two miles uphill to a car to get to a rural clinic to get the wound properly cleaned and then travel even farther to get it stitched. Some 27 hours after the attack, he finally got to a modern medical center in Singapore, where he was pumped full of antibiotics and began a four-week series of shots to protect him against rabies.

Singaporean tourists flock department stores in Batam

Hundreds of Singaporean tourists flocked some department stores in industrialized island of Batam like Mega Mall Batam Center (MMBC) and Nagoya Hill on Saturday and Sunday or on the first and second days of Idul Fitri festivity.

"Many department stores in Batam have offered discounts on this holiday season. We are interested in buying some discounted items," said a Singaporean traveler, Michele Lie, here Sunday.

Lie said she intentionally came to Batam for buying Indonesia-made clothing which was not sold in Singapore.

Besides shopping in department stores, Singaporean holidaymakers also jammed bread and donut kiosks.

Singaporean tourist Pieter Goh said bread and donut prices in Indonesia were far cheaper than those in Singapore.

Bali dive Puri Jati - Bali Muck Diving

Puri Jati (PJ) lies close to the Zen Hotel and a short distance west of Seririt and 13 km west of Lovina. It is a good place to see small and rare animals like frogfishes, dragonets, seahorses, nudibranchs, ambon scorpionfish and devil fish, flying gunard, the mimic octopus and other rare species of octopus and also, Discovered within the last 3 years, this site is most famous for the chance to see the rare (and as yet unnamed) Mimic Octopus. Other species of Octopus can also be seen here, as can Cuttlefish, a wide variety of crabs and shrimps, Eels, various Nudibrach, and even Devilfish, Ambon Scorpion fish and Flying Gurnard. Lots of Seahorses. A wide area that can take several dives to cover. Bali Rescue and release three eels back to their environment Purple Seahorse found at 33 meters! And what will you see ..Oh yeah...Octopus hiding in cans and bamboo Devilfish Indian Walkman hiding under yellow fabric and Strange crabs, shrimps and other interesting critters.
So many beauties that you should don't miss'em. Also you should prepare for Bali Underwater Photography

24 Hour-Room Service: Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali

The Malaysian luxury hotel group YTL has developed a strategy for taking over slightly tired properties and revamping them. Tembok Bali, its first location outside Malaysia, opened this summer and focuses more than any of its other properties on the group's renowned spa offering.

The low-key but bijou atmosphere is apparent from the moment you enter the resort via a narrow tree-lined drive. While registration takes place, your feet are washed and massaged in an airy pavilion; at this point you can decide the "discovery path" of spa treatments you wish to take during your stay. On the way to the room you pass the candles, petals and intricate woodwork that are to be found throughout the intimate retreat.

Relaxation and well-being is all: from yoga at dawn to the continual offers of fresh juices and cooled towels as you sun yourself by the pool, to the daily lessons in Balinese crafts and the soft chimes of the gamelan-player that accompany dinner overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Treatments in the spa range from Mesipat (a natural facial) to Penganten Melukat, a two-hour session involving massage, body scrub, hot wrap and flower bath that couples traditionally enjoy three days before their wedding.

Baby turtles released to mark Bali bombings

A total of 202 baby turtles were released into the sea at Kuta Beach here on Friday to mark the fifth anniversary of the first Bali bombings on October 12, 2002.

Several foreign tourists were seen together with relatives of local victims in releasing the animals.

"The figure 202 (of baby turtles released) symbolizes the number of deaths in the tragedy," organizing committee chaiaman Nyoman Bagiana Karang said.

In addition to releasing the baby turtles the also spread flowers for peace in the middle of the sea off the beach. "Professional surfers were tasked to spread the flowers," Karang said.

The two ceremonies were then followed by the sounding of a bell for peace at ground zero in Kuta.

Tulamben women plunge into scuba porter business

Before Ni Nengah Dempi joined the Sekar Baruna women's cooperative in Tulamben, Karang Asem, it was a daily struggle to feed her five children.

The cooperative is located near a number of popular diving destinations some 90 kilometers east of the provincial capital of Denpasar. Dempi and some 28 other women and girls from Tulamben now work carrying diving equipment the 500 meters from hotels to scuba spots. They are paid Rp 8,000 per diving session.

"Most Balinese women are willing to work hard. This is hard work in physical terms, but it is alright for us as long as we can feed, clothe and educate our children," Dempi said.

Tulamben has been transformed from a dry, unattractive and arid village into a diving paradise. Its remarkable underwater life has attracted thousands of divers across the world to this once sleepy fishing village. The village has been dubbed one of the best diving destinations in Indonesia and even in Southeast Asian countries.

One of the attractions is the Liberty shipwreck. The Liberty worked as a cargo ship during World War II.

Wasti Atmodjo, Contributor, Karang Asem, East Bali

Muslims Worldwide Celebrate Eid-al-Fitr

Muslims around the world are ready to celebrate one of the most important holidays on the Islamic calendar, Eid-al Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. In Indonesia, which has the world's largest population of Muslims, the celebration centers around family, food, and home.

Tens of millions of Indonesians are filling the roads, buses, trains, ferries, and planes in an annual exodus to return to their birthplaces to celebrate the end of the Islamic fasting month, called Idul Fitri here.

In Jakarta, businesses and shops are closed and the usually gridlocked streets are nearly empty as about half the capital's 12 million people leave the city for their hometowns.

Idul Fitri marks the end of the month of Ramadan, when Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and sex during daylight hours.

Bandung, Yogya hotels running out of rooms

The lead up to the Idul Fitri holiday has already seen Jakartans on their bikes, heading home — and this year the holiday season has also seen many hotels in West Java’s capital Bandung and Yogyakarta completely booked out.

In Bandung, most hotels have been booked by guests coming from Jakarta and several hotels in Yogyakarta have started to turn people away.

Sheraton Hotel & Towers’ communication director Eddy SS said the hotel’s 153 rooms were almost 100 percent booked with Jakartans from Oct. 13 to 15.

Source: www.thejakartapost.com

OKTOBERFEST Hatparty at DIE STUBE

Join the most Big Octoberfest event sponsor by Santafe , Heineken and Luthansa.

HAT PARTY start at 7pm

Live musics
Buffet German food (all night )
Free flow beers
Games
Doorprizes

only IDR 250,000/person
For more info please contact Novi 021-71793486
Location: Plaza Bisnis kemang, Jl.kemang raya no.2
E-mail: diestube@cbn.net.id

Improved Safety Performance by Indonesian Airlines

Latest Government Safety Audit Sees 6 National Air Carriers Earn 'Top' Category I Safety Ratings.

Bali News: Improved Safety Performance by Indonesian Airlines
(10/7/2007) The Department of Transportation's most recent safety audit of Indonesian air carriers demonstrates tangible progress has been made in efforts to upgrade the safety of flying domestically.

Following an initial audit in March 2007 which failed to see even a single domestic air carrier receive a "clean pass" Category I rating, the latest review saw 6 airlines receive recognition for successfully meeting all civil aviation safety standards.

The Three Categories

Under the rigorous review of safety standards and safety management imposed by the Government, all airlines in Indonesia fall into one of the following safety rating categories:

• Category I - an airline meets all safety requirements of Indonesia's civil aviation authority.

• Category II - an airline has been determined to meet minimal requirements of civil aviation safety rules, but with outstanding safety issues still to be addressed.

Category III - Airlines found to meet minimal civil aviation safety regulations but with some safety issues which may affect passenger safety still unaddressed. Airlines found in this category are generally given three months to achieve at least Category II status or face suspension of operations.

Six Airlines Receive Category I Status

In an October 5, 2007 announcement from the Director General of Civil Aviation the six airlines earning the “safest” category rating were:

PT Garuda Indonesia

• PT Merpati Nusantara

• PT Indonesia Air Asia

• PT Mandala Airlines

• PT Lion Air

• PT Wings Abadi Air


14 other Indonesian airlines still reside in the Category II listing.

The second audit, conducted in June 2007, saw only Garuda Indonesia qualify in category II.

© Bali Discovery Tours. Articles may be quoted and reproduced if attributed to http://www.balidiscovery.com. All images and graphics are copyright protected.

Ensure our piece of paradise is not forgotten

In the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2007 by the World Economic Forum, Singapore ranked 8th to become the only Southeast Asian country in the top 20.

Where does that leaves Indonesia? The Ministry of Culture and Tourism expects to net 6 million foreign visitors in 2007, pale in comparison with Malaysia 20.1, Thailand 14.8 and even the tiny city-state of Singapore with 10.2 million visitors.

Apart from the government's more formal approach, we are seeing more surges in private members-only styles of niche tourism in Indonesia. Various kinds of spiritual, cultural, adventure and culinary tourism have recently sprouted all over Indonesia-- many of them owned and or operated at least partly by foreigners.

Designed to attract specific market segments, or deep wallets, they have their own ways around the government's restrictions on exclusivity. Take a batik museum in Java for instance; there is no big banner or wide-paved-entry from the main road. Most onlookers will mistake the tiny sign for the direction to the village hall or something.

To preserve the hundreds-of-years-old batik textiles, limiting visitors is a must. But then, not everybody is prepared to dig $20 for a lunch break in the museum's restaurant. In 2000, local villagers protested the museum for lack of legality, exclusivity, and arrogance.

Indonesia woos Qatari tourists

The Republic of Indonesia has drawn up a road map to woo visitors from Qatar to its tourist destinations.

The idea is to organise a Travel Mart for Middle East with an extra focus on Qatar. The discussion on the proposal is progressing with Qatar Airways, revealed Andang Pramana Sosodro , Charge d' Affaires of Indonesian Embassy.

Talking to The Peninsula, Sosodro said Indonesia is already working on a mega tourism package to coincide with the 100th anniversary of their country's Independence movement early next year. The campaign will be launched on January 1, 2008 with a grand opening gala night and a tourism exhibition at Jakarta. More than 100 further events and festivals on numerous islands of the archipelago, including sports, cultural, lifestyle are in the pipeline, he said.

HOTEL LISTED IN WORLD TOP 20 FOR STYLE, SERVICE AND VALUE

Proudly rubbing shoulders with hotels in exotic locations like Costa Rica, Provence, Bali, the Bahamas, Tuscany and Jamaica is the Mount Haven Hotel in Marazion.For the hotel, owned and run by Michael and Orange Trevillion and overlooking St Michael's Mount, has been named as one of the top 20 bargain hotels in the world in the American Budget Travel Magazine's new cheap-chic bible Secret Hotels.

The brief for the inspectors looking for such places was to find a "gorgeous place to stay, with stylish service, stunning views and epic bedrooms, without breaking the bank".

So Orange Trevillion is naturally delighted at being named alongside such places as the Blue Moon Villas in Bali, the Ylang Ylang Beach Resort in Costa Rica and Le Cadran Solaire in Provence.

Abacus launches client relationship solution for travel agencies

The launch of Abacus ClientBase, a specialist solution to assist travel agents to generate customer loyalty and manage customer relationships has been announced by Abacus International. Abacus-connected travel agencies in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and India can subscribe to the solution.

Mr Brett Henry, Vice President of Agency Marketing, Abacus International says Abacus ClientBase will empower travel agencies to build stronger, long-lasting relationships with customers while making trip management more efficient.

Folk song sparks row between Indonesia, Malaysia

A folk song used in Malaysia's "Truly Asia" tourism campaign has struck a discordant note among many Indonesians who believe the tune belongs to their country, threatening to turn into a diplomatic spat between the countries.

State news agency Antara quoted Indonesian Tourism Minister Jero Wacik as saying he and several experts were trying to gather proof that the song belonged to Indonesia, and would protest if there was evidence.

"Our task is now to prove that the song is our work," Wacik was quoted as saying. "If there's evidence, I will be the first to protest."

Malaysian Tourism Minister Adnan Mansor has dismissed the claims that the song, Rasa Sayang (Feeling of Love), belonged solely to Indonesia, the New Straits Times reported.

"It (Rasa Sayang) is a folk song from the Nusantara (Malay archipelago) and we are part of the Nusantara," he was quoted as saying.

"As far as I know, we have been singing the song for ages."

Related: Rasa Sayang 'ours too... we have right to sing it'

Bali to host fashion week in November

Bali will host Fashion Week 2007 in Kuta next November, a spokesperson for the event's organizers said Tuesday.

This year's event will focus on local participants without neglecting foreign buyers, chairwoman of the event's organizing committee Mardiana Ika said after a meeting with Badung district chief AA Gde Agung.

Mardiana said Bali Fashion Week would help promote the island and the country internationally because the event would be attended by foreign designers.

The literal ring of confidence............................

The Little Bali Hotel & Resort Company goes to great lengths when it comes to road testing its member's products be that a new hotel facility, sampling a spa service, white-water rafting - and even getting married!!

Taking one for the team last week in Bali, LBHRC co-founder Brett Morgan applied the ultimate litmus test to a Balinese wedding ceremony when he and fiancée Karen Quarello exchanged vows in an intimate ceremony with close family and friends on Seminyak Beach.

Filing his report very late the next morning, the newly-married Mr Morgan and his French bride said the event had been impressive and well up to the expected LBHRC standard.

"But when you get married in one of the most romantic destinations you can find to one of the most beautiful women on the planet, it's very hard not to be impressed," he said.

Yogyakarta to build wildlife park

he Yogyakarta administration will turn a 634-ha piece of land in the Bunder area of Gunungkidul district into a wildlife park for research and tourism as well as to increase the local people`s welfare, an official said.

"Therefore, the administration will set up a technical implementation unit in 2008 to manage development of the proposed forest," head of the Yogyakarta forestry and plantation office`s program development division, Hardiyanto, said here Thursday.

"Ten percent of the proposed wildlife area will be used by the technical implementation unit to develop supporting facilities," he said.

Bunder conservation forest has so far been managed jointly by Gajahmada University (UGM) and the Yogyakarta administration for a research program.

Indonesia Jan-Aug Foreign Tourist Arrivals +13.5% On Year

The number of foreign tourist arrivals to Indonesia rose 13.5% in the January-August period to 2.97 million from the same period a year earlier, the official Central Statistics Agency said Monday.

The number of foreign tourist arrivals to Bali, the country's most popular tourist destination, rose 35% on year in the period to 1.13 million, the agency said in a press release. It added that the average foreign tourist stay in Bali is 3.78 days, the longest among all the tourist destinations in Indonesia.

The country has been struggling to revive its tourism industry after several terrorist attacks in the past few years, including two in Bali.

Endangered turtles wash ashore Malaysia after Indonesia earthquakes

About 50 endangered sea turtles have washed ashore with logs and debris in Malaysia, possibly due to strong currents after recent earthquakes in Indonesia, an official said Monday.

Two of the hawksbill turtles, which landed Saturday on muddy Kuala Tunjang beach in the northwestern state of Kedah, were found dead, while four others were injured and being treated, said state fisheries director Sani Mohamad Isa.

The rest of the turtles have been released into the sea, Sani said.

He said that the logs and bamboo washed ashore with the turtles were not found in Malaysia, and that plastic water bottles and shampoo containers in the debris had Indonesian labels.

"We believe the logs are from Indonesia" and washed over to Kedah by strong currents following recent tremors in Indonesia, he said.

To the Island of the Gods

Rediff columnist Francois Gautier, a French writer and journalist based in India for the last 33 years, visited Indonesia recently and made a special journey to the island of Bali.

He offers his unusual impressions of this island, one of the country's 33 provinces, and famous for its temples and performing arts. Bali is a majority Hindu island in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

For a lover of India's spirituality, Hinduism in Bali represents a refreshing and wonderful experience. Balinese Hinduism is a Puranic one that came peacefully from India in the fourth century AD.

Because there was no real connection with India after the eighth century, it remained pure and was not diluted by the ritualism of the later Vedantic Indian period.

Balinese Hindus worship one Supreme Divinity, although you do find many of the Hindu Gods -- Ganesh, Vishnu (called Wishnu), Shiva etc. There are women priests, something that is missing in modern Indian Hinduism. Homes are temples in themselves, which create strong family bonding.

When Balinese do go to temples, twice or three times a year, it is a marvellous informal, non-ritualistic ceremony, which has Buddhist (when Buddhism was not dissociated from Hinduism) and Tibetan similarities. Like the way women raise their hands over their heads, a flower in it, or how they stack food offerings (Tibet must have received some of the same influences as Bali from an ancient non self-centred Buddhism).

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