Mining the world's musical riches

In a world stuck in a musical rut, the rich traditions of Asia - especially Indonesia - could provide fresh ideas, with one group of musical experts setting out to make that happen.

Ethnomusicologist Franki Raden, who has spent more than 16 years studying and teaching world music both in Indonesia and abroad, says the world is waiting for a feed from Asia, especially from Indonesia, as artists in North America and Europe stagnate, regurgitating similar ideas in their work.

"Indonesia should make a larger contribution to world art and cultural heritage," Franki said.

He points out that Indonesian artists and musicians rarely come up with new work based on the country's tradition heritage, and that any such work rarely attracts international attention.

The Sacred Bridge Foundation, which Franki established in 1998, is setting out to address the issue by holding a workshop and musical clinic with the aim of providing directives for musicians of the 21st century.

'Gaung: 21st Century Global Music Education', to be held at the Bali Classic Center in Ubud from April 23 to May 2, will bring together internationally renowned experts in music and music-related sciences and technologies.

During the 10-day programme, the experts will share and discuss their work, visions and experiences, ranging across topics such as musical and spiritual practice, acoustic science and technology, and creative musical thinking.

Among the facilitators and gurus involved in the workshop are percussionist/composer Stomu Yamash'ta, French composer Jean Claude Eloy, acoustician and scientist Yoshio Yamasaki, jazz-rock pioneer Larry Coryell, Zen Buddhist monk Yamada Sosho, Sufi maestro Marzuki Hasan and Kejawen spiritual guru Sumarah.

Franki Raden said the workshop and the clinic would focus on music, but approach it from the perspective of multiple disciplines, such as "the science of music, performance of music, the business side or cultural economics of music and even the ritualistic side of music."

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Indonesian Food Festival: Traditional cuisine from Sumatra to Papua

Instead of taking leave to do a culinary journey across the country, foodies in town can save time by visiting the Indonesian food festival held at the JW Marriott Hotel's Sailendra Restaurant.

Starting from March 19 until March 29, the food festival features some of the tastiest and most distinctive treats across the most culturally diverse archipelago on earth, creating a culinary journey from Sumatra to Papua.

Ina Ilmiaviatta, marketing and communications manager at the JW Marriott Hotel, said her hotel held the food festival this month to change the paradigm that it was only appropriate for traditional food festivals to be held in August, in accordance with Independence Day.

"The food industry usually holds such events around Aug. 17. But Indonesia has many traditional foods. There is not enough time to show them all in just one event," she said.

Opened by Jakarta deputy governor in charge of tourism and culture, Aurora Tambunan, the festival cooperated with the Textile Museum, the Tourism and Culture Agency, Gramedia bookstore and Indonesia's renowned celebrity chef Sisca Soewitomo.

Guests can take home one of Sisca's cookbooks, as the restaurant is providing a collection of her books during the promotion.

With guidance from Sisca, the Sailendra team is presenting a huge array of traditional dishes like Bebek Betutu (duck broiled in banana leaf from Bali), Ayam Taliwang (spicy chicken from Lombok), Gulai Cubadak (curried jackfruit), Ikan Bakar Colo Colo (Indonesian-style grilled fish from Maluku), Nasi Jamblang (rice wrapped in teak leaf, a traditional food of Cirebon, West Java), Sup Konro (Bugis-based beef rib soup) and many more.

The festival also features 14 traditional snacks, such as nopia (Purwokerto-based cakes), semprong (traditional egg rolls), spinach chips and rengginang (sticky rice crackers). Some of these snacks are now difficult to find at the market.

The festival would be the perfect place to introduce children to their national culinary treasure, as well as fun for the whole family.

Sailendra Restaurant
Hotel JW Marriott
Jl. Lingkar Mega Kuningan Kav E I.2 No. 1 &2
Jakarta 12950
Phone: (021) 5798 8888

French company offers volcanic tourism

Vulcania, a French mountain resort developer, has offered a mountain tourism concept based on education and technology to be applied at a number of mountain resorts in East Java, a concept resembling that in central France's Auvergne region.

Vulcania scientific director Fran*ois-Dominique de Larouzi*re, said Wednesday in Surabaya that one of the reasons behind choosing mountain resort areas in East Java was the ideal location of mountains, backed by dynamic communities to develop the resorts such as those developed in Auvergne.

However, he said his company would not provide funds to develop the concept in East Java.

"We can only promise to provide the tourism concept and human resource empowerment of people living around the locations together with the International Labor Organization *ILO*," he said.

Vulcania also could not estimate the costs needed to set up the projects because they were still in the initial discussion process.

East Java Tourism Office head Harun said they had finally chosen the Bromo mountain resort in Probolinggo regency to develop the concept after exploring a number of mountainous areas in East Java over several days.

Balinese day of silence could show the world a thing or two

THE cacophony of Bali's tourist strip vanished yesterday, its hawkers stayed away and gaudy lights were turned off as the island observed the centuries-old tradition of Nyepi, the day of silence that marks the first day of the year in the Hindu Saka calendar.

As cities around the globe prepare to mark Earth Hour, this Balinese Hindu ritual could show the world a thing or two about the benefits of saving energy and taking time out to reflect on life and the universe.

Nyepi lasts 24 hours and is strictly observed. All cars, motorcycles and other forms of transport are banned from the streets. So, too, are people. They must stay in their homes or family compounds.

Pecalang, or village wardens, wearing the traditional chequered Balinese sarong, keep an eye on the roads and laneways and sternly usher home, or even detain, anyone found walking around. Transgressors are fined.

Airport, ports and all shops are closed. Local radio and television ceases and Balinese Hindus are forbidden to turn on electricity, cook or light fires.

They are also urged to fast for 24 hours and adhere to four brata, or restrictions - no fire, no working, no travelling and no leisure activities.

Balinese Hinduism is about creating harmonious relationships between humans and their gods, and between humans and nature.

On the last front, Nyepi plays a role in reducing carbon emissions and energy costs.

Singapore's February tourist arrivals down 15.2 per cent

Tourist arrivals in Singapore dropped 15.2 per cent in February from the same month a year ago to 689,000 visitors, the Singapore Tourism Board said Thursday. Indonesia with 103,000 visitors, China with 80,000, Australia with 51,000, Britain with 47,000 and Malaysia with 46,000 accounted for Singapore's top five visitor-generating markets, accounting for 48 per cent of the February arrivals.

The board said Singapore's hotel room revenue dropped 28.7 per cent last month to 123 million Singapore dollars (81.5 million US dollars).

Bali named world's best spa destination

The resort island of Bali garnered yet another international accolade this year when it was named the Best Spa Tourism Destination in the World 2009 by Berlin-based fitness magazine Senses.

Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik presented the award Tuesday to Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika in Denpasar. Earlier in March, the ministry's director general of marketing, Sapta Nirwandar, received the award on behalf of the Balinese people from the magazine during the annual International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin.

The ministry's director for overseas promotion, Gede Pitana, said the award was a prestigious one since the magazine was the second largest in Berlin with a readership of 60,000. The nomination and selection process, he added, was carried out by a team of 200 experts on spa and tourism.

"The award is obvious evidence that Bali still has a competitive edge against other top world destinations, such as the Maldives and Thailand," he said.

Governor Pastika stated the accolade would be yet another prize in the island's trophy cabinet. Previously, the island received various awards from several international tourism publications, including being named Best Destination in the World by Travel & Leisure magazine.

"The award is the result of the excellent services provided by the island's spa operators," he said.

Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta opens

The opening of Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta in March 2009 marks the revival of Southeast Asia’s first five-star hotel.

This distinctive development comprises a former national landmark, located in the heart of Jakarta, which has been recognized by the Indonesian government as a heritage site.

The luxurious facilities of the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski have opened in stages, starting with the 3,000 sqm Kempinski Grand Ballroom, which has already proved popular for exhibitions, weddings and various corporate activities since March 2008. In September 2008, the beautiful 1,000 sqm Bali Room was added serving the same purpose.

The opening of the hotel’s Ramayana Wing marks the opening of the hotel to its first guests. A total of 159 rooms, categorized in deluxe, grand deluxe and studio suites will house business and leisure travellers alike.

During this phase, several dining outlets will cater to all culinary wishes: the all-day dining Signatures Restaurant with an open-kitchen concept, the Lobby Nirwana Lounge and the Sky Pool Bar Café, which offers breathtaking views over Jakarta’s skyline from the hotel’s rooftop, integrated in the pool area. Times Square Restaurant & Bar in a 50’s American diner style and the Designer Café are both managed by Kempinski, and are located in the Grand Indonesia Shopping Town.

During the second half of 2009 the Ganesha Wing, which comprises 130 rooms, including a 512 sqm presidential suite, and an additional four international restaurants, bars and a deli, will complement the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski’s extensive facilities. Another highlight ahead is the rooftop Kempinski Spa, with a pool and botanical gardens, private treatment rooms, and a modern fitness centre offering meditation and yoga.

Padang boosts tourism with its new Sikuai "honeymoon" island

The scenery of Padang, capital of West Sumatra province, tens of years ago with its Gunung (mount) Padang relating to the legend "Malin Kundang", but now the condition had drastically changed with more places of tourist interests.

Besides Gunung Padang, the Padang city administration had also built the Siti Nurbaya long bridge over the Muaro Padang river where many commercial ships cast anchor at the Muaro (estuary) small port.

Near the Muaro Padang, visitors can easily enjoy the spicy and delicious Padang food, especially from afternoon until night.

Many food stalls at Padang beach serve lots of well-known Padang food including "Talua Katuang" (boiled sea turtle eggs).

According to Padang mayor Fauzi Bahar, in an effort to provide better access from the city centre to the Minangkabau International Airport (BIM), the city administration has started constructing a 25-km main road.

Sikuai Island enchantment

Only recently, several Indonesian artists including noted movie actress Christine Hakim and foreign journalists visited the new Sikuai Island resort, some 30 to 40 minutes trip by boat from Muaro Padang.

With the wind blowing softly, the boat ride to Sikuai island became more interesting.

Sikuai (meaning come here), which is about 40 hectares wide and some 400 meters above sea level, is one of 19 islands in the Padang mayoralty, or in Bungus sub-district, West Sumatra.

In the island's waters, tourists can enjoy snorkeling, diving, fishing or just swimming while enjoying the sight of marine animal species and coral reefs.

By only swimming some meters away, one could enjoy the sight of marine animal species including coral reefs in a huge aquarium, and the white beach on which they could easily walk.

In addition, the island's natural forests with a lot of coconut trees are also very interested.

According to Rikwan, the new island resort manager, many visitors, including honeymooners, to the island stayed there for several days, while enjoying delicious foods and the island's young coconuts, as well as spending their leisure time in the open air.

Shanghai Daily: Bountiful Bali

BALI, island of the gods, is known for its mortal, and some would say immortal pleasures. You'd think that with all those raving tourists, it would be spoiled, but Cao Qian says it's ever-ravishing

My toes wriggled into the beautiful white sand and I luxuriated in the gentle tides from the warm Indian Ocean: Thus began my first trip to Bali and it seemed a typical beginning to a tropical beachside vacation.

This time, however, the experience was richer, more captivating. The few days I spent there were not long enough to explore Bali, but long enough to understand why so many people around the world find this island ravishing and return again and again.

April to November is the dry season, the prime tourist season. So if you want to join the crowds, it's time to plan.

Bali, or the island of the gods, as it's frequently called, works its way into your heart with a year-round sunny and carefree atmosphere, friendly people, spectacular views, cheap and exotic shopping, unique spa therapies and great food, from fine dining to casual.

Bali, Indonesia, offers water sports, including surfing, water skiing, sailing, snorkeling and diving. Bali is well known for surfing. Huge swells build up and travel north from the southern oceans, wrapping completely around the island; thus, it's possible to catch a swell in any direction.

If you like urban comforts, then Kuta, the so-called tourist mecca of Bali, is a good place to begin. There's surfing during the day and partying at night. The island's No. 1 party zone has a cluster of clubs catering for all tastes.

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Magical Mastery of Kris

Kris are considered to be magical. They are typically asymmetrical and 30 to 40 centimeters long.

The blades — which are sharp on both edges — are forged on an anvil with a rounded surface to create the wavy pattern on the blade, also known as pamor.

“This rounded surface is useful when I pull the iron to make it long before folding it,” Pardi says.

“The iron and pamor material needs to be stretched and folded again and again many times. Some kris have more than 4,000 layers of metal. These layers make the designs of the pamor, which contrast with the iron that goes black when it is given an arsenic bath.”

In the workshop, the workers use long-handled pliers, an assortment of hammers and a stump of an anvil — all of which are handmade. In fact, everything in the smithy is as a traditional besalen was centuries ago, except Sungkowo’s bellows no longer work.

The bellows are made of two hollowed-out tree trunks and stand in one corner with a bamboo bench in front of them. A young apprentice would have sat there in the past, pumping wind on to the teakwood charcoal to bring the temperature of the furnace up past 1,300 degrees Celsius.

“Now we use magic. Look,” Pardi says, as he flicked a switch and an electric blower began to blow on the fire.

“The problem with the traditional bellows is that the operator must be very constant, and that is not easy,” says Sungkowo, taking a moment’s break just before midday. “Now we use the electric blower because the results are better.”

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Green Map introduces new way to tour Jakarta

Jakartans can now enjoy the excitement of finding interesting , lesser known locations, including green spaces and historical sites, by using environmentally friendly modes of transportation, by following the recently launched 2009 Jakarta Green Map.

The green map includes 100 places of interest and neighborhoods with green activities located along bus and train routes and bicycle lanes.

Nirwono Joga, who coordinated the making of Green Map Jakarta, said that the map was designed to promote a healthy and sustainable city and features, among other things, green areas, old buildings, rare trees and bird-watching sites.

"We want to encourage people to get to know more about Jakarta, including its green areas," Nirwono Yoga said on Sunday.

"We also encourage them to travel in more environmentally friendly ways, by taking nonmotorized transportation, like walking and riding a bike, or by using public transportation, like the TransJakarta bus or trains," he said.

The 2009 Jakarta Green Map is the fifth edition. The first map, of Kemang, South Jakarta, was made in 2001 by a group of residents, architects and media workers. The second, of Kebayoran Baru, also in South Jakarta, was made in 2002. A year later, Menteng in Central Jakarta, had its turn, while the fourth green map, of Old Town in West and North Jakarta, was made in 2005.

The launch of the green map was marked by a tour of Senayan, in South and Central Jakarta and the Museum Taman Prasasti (Inscription Museum) in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta.

During the tour, participants had a chance to visit Krida Loka Park and see its big, old and rare trees, which include mahogany, lobi-lobi, tamarind, bay leaf and matoa (Papuan fruits) species.

Besides rare trees, people also viewed birds including parrots and kepodangs, Evi Fadliah, from the Green Monster NGO said.

$600m Lombok Resorts Scrapped

Citing governmental paralysis and hinting that too many officials had their hands out, Dubai’s state-owned Emaar Properties PJSC has cancelled its massive $600 million property project that was to turn the pristine island of Lombok into another Bali.

“We have closed our office in Jakarta starting Friday,” said Elly Savitri, Emmar Indonesia’s human resources manager. “Emaar has pulled out of its operations in Indonesia because the government cannot comply with the terms of the agreement with our joint venture company.

“There have been too many delays on the realization of the project and the company just could not wait any more.”

Elly also said Emaar had spent Rp 50 billion ($4.2 million) in consultancy fees on master plans.

Winarno Sujas, the Tourism Ministry’s director for businesses and investment, told the Jakarta Globe on Friday that Vice President Jusuf Kalla had summoned the related ministries for a meeting this coming Wednesday in a bid to save the project.

The cancellation of the project — announced with great fanfare in May 2007 by Kalla — is an enormous black eye for the Indonesian government and the local government of Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara Province.

The announcement of the failure of the project follows the recent pullout of the Saudi Binladin Group from a project to invest as much as $4.3 billion in developing rice crops in Merauke, Papua Province.

Indonesia named Asia's second best travel destination

Indonesia ranked second in the Go Asia Award in the ‘Best Travel Destination’ category behind Thailand and after Malaysia, the Foreign Ministry reported Friday.

The award was given by German tourism institution Go Asia, which invited travel agents from all over to participate in the voting process, on Wednesday in Berlin.

Go Asia also gave awards for Asia's best tourism organizations or tourist boards, airlines and tour operators. The Go Asia initiative was founded in 2003 in order to enhance marketing in German-speaking regions.

Sapta Nirwandar, the Culture and Tourism Ministry’s director general of marketing, said Friday that the award was a proof that tourism, which contribute US$7.5 billlion to the country's income, was able to stand out even during the global economy downturn.

What Fatwa? Bali’s Yoga Tourists Follow Their Bliss

Hundreds of yoga tourists in Bali have now joined author Salman Rushdie in an exclusive club: those who have defied a fatwa. This week’s International Bali-India Yoga Festival—which drew participants from the U.S., Germany, Sweden and Japan—proceeded as planned despite a recent edict by Indonesia’s Ulema Council banning the practice of yoga for all Indonesian Muslims.

The New York Times reports that festival organizers initially conceived the event to boost spiritual tourism on the island and decided to go forward with it as a public show of force against the fatwa. Bali’s governor, no doubt aware of the island’s growing yoga tourism potential, has said he will not enforce the ruling.

Who knew sun salutations could be this fraught?

Nadine to give kebaya a whole new look

It has become something of a trend among Indonesian celebrities to wear a traditional kebaya on festive occasions, but wearing one under water hasn’t quite caught on.

Nevertheless, that is what actress and model Nadine Chandrawinata hopes to do.

“I admire kebaya and I would like to be photographed wearing a kebaya under water,” the former Miss Indonesia told Okezone.com on Wednesday. “It will be so unique and interesting.”

Nadine said many women were reluctant to wear kebaya out of fear it would make them look older than they actually are. But not this 24-year-old German-born beauty.

“For me, it’s different. I feel more confident when I wear the costume,” she said.

“I feel pretty when I wear kebaya. It reflects an aura from inside.”

Nadine was Miss Indonesia 2005, and represented Indonesia in the 2006 Miss Universe Pageant. She was the second Miss Indonesia to participate in the pageant after a long hiatus from 1996. The first was Artika Sari Devi in 2004.

Bali Hotels Association Offer "Bali Bonus Nights" for Stays Through June 30, 2009

Bali Hotels and Resorts are world renowned for offering outstanding value for the most discerning travelers. True Balinese Hospitality in combination with one of the world's most vibrant traditional cultures HAVE caused Bali time and again to be named the world's favorite tropical island destination in prestigious international surveys.

In response to the uncertain global financial situation and encourage travelers not to delay their Bali holiday plans, more than 40 leading Bali hotels have joined forces to offer "Bali Bonus Nights" on new bookings for hotel stays through June 30, 2009.

An initiative organized under the Bali Hotels Association (BHA), that Chairman of the group of Bali star-rated hotels, Robert Lagerwey, said "Bali Bonus Nights" is a "world-wide tactical promotion intended to drive further awareness and drive additional business to the island."

Lagerwey explained the existing promotional platform of "Bali is my Life" will be used as a backdrop of "Bali Bonus Night" promotion, emphasizing the central role played by the Balinese and their rich culture in Bali's continuing success.

The "Bonus Night" scheme will apply for participating properties through selected wholesale, travel agent and direct booking channels. "Bali Bonus Night" bookings must be made between March 9 and April 30, 2009, valid for holiday stays in Bali through June 30, 2009.

World-wide Offer

"Bali Bonus Nights" are available from participating hotels with the qualifying room night levels to earn a bonus night determined by the guest's nationality or country of residence.

Indonesia's Green School in the jungle

The past few months have seen the global economic crisis push the issue of climate change into the background.

But for one school in Indonesia, protecting the environment is the very reason it is open.

It's called Green School, and is an experiment of sorts in training the next generation to be stewards of the planet.

Hidden within the jungle in central Bali, just by looking at it you can tell it isn't your average place of learning.

Instead of concrete classrooms, open air bamboo buildings sit nestled within the trees.

It's all the creation of jewellery designer John Hardy and his wife Cynthia.

"Green School is a seed, a school centred community in nature in Bali, the idea is sustainability, the idea is a minimal environmental impact, the idea is a small carbon footprint," Mr Hardy said.

More than 100 students from 17 different countries, including 20 Indonesian scholarship holders, are now studying at Green School - from tiny kindergarten kids to precocious high schoolers.

Eugene Wallensky moved his daughters from Australia to go to Green School.
Green School's philosophy is in part based on some of the controversial ideas of 19th century thinker Rudolph Steiner, who believed learning should combine elements of the artistic, practical and theoretical.

The school also draws from American Professor Howard Gardner's theories that intelligence isn't just something that can be measured by IQ tests but is made up of many different abilities, like being talented at music.

Director Ronald Stones says in practice that means producing generations of people who think about things differently and are willing to look at things in different light.

"Its getting a blend, its combining the essential skills are going to need to get through the system, particularly in English, Maths and science, all the way through from the youngest kids right through and then blending in this green curriculum, so evolving a curriculum from nature studies, to ecology to sustainability that flow," he said.

Bali golf tourney a strategy to reach out to tourists

Having spent Rp 6.5 billion (US$539,500) of the city’s budget sponsoring the Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open golf tournament in Bali, the Jakarta Culture and Tourism Agency defended the decision as key to reaching a wider audience expected to also be interested in visiting Jakarta.

Agency head Arie Budhiman said the Bali tournament was part of an effort to promote Jakarta’s golf courses and facilities globally.

“Promoting our golf facilities to the world is not an instant move. We have to attract potential visitors, especially foreigners, with international coverage,” he told The Jakarta Post in a phone interview Friday.

He added that moving the venue to Bali was done for this reason.

The tournament, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, was held in Greater Jakarta in the last four years. This year, it moved to Pecatu, Badung regency, Bali, where event regular Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand claimed the title.

Old Train Awakens West Sumatra Tourism

It was really an amazing start of operation of an old coal steam-generated tourist train in West Sumatra, one of the only two of its kind in the world, when it resumed function to meet the people`s demand.

The black locomotive train which locally called "Mak Itam" (Back Uncle) due to its black colour, resumed serving the Padang Panjang-Sawahlunto route in West Sumatra province only recently, after several years hiatus.

The "Mak Itam" locomotive identified with the serial number E1060 which was the last product of Germany`s Esseligent in 1966, which formerly carried coal from Sawah Lunto coal mining area, draws three comfortable coaches for tourists.

The coal steam-generated train in the province now remained one of the only two of its kind in the world with the other one in Switzerland, said a state-owned railway company PT KAI president director, Rony Wahyudi.

Serving its route, the old tourist train passed through attractive scenaries among other things beside Danau (lake) Singkarak. Danau Singkarak with 11,200 hectares wide is the second largest lake in Sumatra Island after Lake Toba in North Sumatra province.
Some 6,420 hectares of the Danau Singkarak is situated in Tanah Datar district and the rest in Solok district.

The "Mak Itam" train route from the town of Padang Panjang passed through the Lubang Kalam (dark railway tunnel) measuring 840 meters long (constructed in 1894) after the Singkarak lake before reaching Sawah Lunto district`s rail-way station.

The tourist train ran from Padang Panjang to Sawah Lunto 80 km for about three hours. The train passes by the Singkarak Lake of about 19 km long on cogged railway before reaching Muaro Kalaban railway station towards the high land of Sawah Lunto.
It was reported that the old coal steam-generated locomotive stop operating after the closure of open coal mine more than several years ago.

"The presence of cold steam-generated locomotive would bring us to an olden era of Sawah Lunto town," Indra Yosep, member of railway loving community said at the moment, adding that the tourist train locomotive was brought from Ambarawa (Central Java) to West Sumatra on December 13, 2008.

One of three coaches of the tourist train is for VVIP which is only equipped with ten super executive seats. The remaining two coaches were equipped with 70 seats respectively.

The commuter tourist train regular fare rate for one way trip per person in rupiah was set as follows.

* Padang Panjang - Sawah Lunto : Rp60,000
* Padang Panjang - Solok : Rp40,000
* Solok - Sawah Lunto : Rp30,000
* Sawah Lunto - Muaro Kalaban: Rp20,000

Java Jazz opens with style, surprises

Grammy Award nominee Jason Mraz kicked off the three-day Java Jazz Festival with an enthusiastic and stylish performance at the Jakarta Convention Center on Friday.

Mraz began his world-class performance by singing the host's national anthem, Indonesia Raya, along with 2005 Indonesian Idol winner Mike Mohede.

“Apa kabar [how are you] Jakarta?” Mraz shouted in the middle of his romantic number Make It Mine.

“Hug those beside you!” he said, as he was cheered on by laughter from the audience, comprised of mostly young people.

The fans began packing the venue from 5 p.m. and many wore T-shirts with Mraz's image.

Another world class performance was given by four-time Grammy Award winner Diane Reeves an hour later.

“[Dianne Reeves] is a must see show for jazz lovers,” Citra Prastita, one of Reeves' fans, said.

BULGARI BALI in the Top 10 List of World's Best Cliffside Hotels

from LuxuryTravelMagazine.com:

Experience spectacular views from these dramatic cliffside locations around the world, from Europe's famed Amalfi Coast and Cote d'Azur to the jagged coast of California and to the Far East and the beautiful island of Bali.

BULGARI BALI - INDONESIA
Blending the traditional Balinese style with contemporary Italian design, the Bulgari Resort in Bali is located near the village of Pecatu and the stunning clifftop site of the Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple, on the island's far southwestern tip. Uniquely positioned at more than 150 metres above the sea shore, the resort offers unrivalled views across the Indian Ocean. Nestled between the cliff and the ocean, a 1.5 kilometer long beach is accessible only through the resort's inclined elevator.
read more

ASITA Asks for Cheaper Flight Fares to Lombok

Thirty Seven entrepreneurs who are members of the Association of Indonesian Travel Agencies (ASITA) in Jakarta have asked the West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Government and the Culture and Tourism Minister to arrange cheaper air tickets from Jakarta to Mataram.

The current fare that can reach Rp1.2 million for one way trip is considered expensive.

As a comparison, the air fare from Jakarta to Denpasar is only Rp400,000.

Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos offer special package for affordable holidays to their countries.

ASITA's deputy for Jakarta, Rudiana, who led the visit of 37 ASITA members to Jakarta, said the tourism package from Jakarta to Lombok was still expensive.

Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand will launch a joint tourism package

The Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) yesterday declared an "IMT-GT Celebration Year" for the package.

It was inspired by the success of 2008's "Visit IMT-GT Year". The three countries will jointly promote tourism, said PM's Office Minister Virachai Virameteekul.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva discussed the plan with Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono and Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi at an IMT-GT summit.

One idea is a joint promotion of medical tourism, Virachai told reporters, without detailing the plan.

Set up in 1993, the IMT-GT aims to strengthen sub-regional cooperation and economic growth.

It has a five-year road map covering infrastructure, halal food, trade and tourism running till 2011.

The IMT-GT scheme covers 10 Indonesian provinces, eight Malaysian states and 14 southern Thai provinces.

Historic Indonesia hotel packed with local flavour

Bed-and-breakfast won't be mistaken for modern hotel chain.

Few travellers choose to stay in Kampung Bali, one of Jakarta's oldest and little-known districts, but for guests seeking a taste of traditional Javanese culture and a little less luxury, there's Wisma Garminah.

The family-run bed-and-breakfast hostel is barely 10 minutes from central Jakarta's modern and glitzy centre with its luxury multinational hotel chains.

Soemarno Sosroatmodjo, Jakarta's first governor and a close friend of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, could not have foreseen that the home where he once entertained top officials and dignitaries would one day become a bed-and-breakfast.

"One day, my father's friends asked if they could pay him something for his hospitality as they frequently visited Jakarta, and that is how the business started," said Karma Widjaja Sosroatjmodjo, the son of the first governor who now owns and runs the homestay with his wife Heri.

The hotel is filled with old Javanese furniture, from wooden carved gates in lieu of entrance doors, to Madurese bridal beds and coffee chests, placed around the two-storey colonial house.

Traditional instruments are everywhere; there are Dayak tribal costumes, daggers and shields from Borneo and old pictures of the family and their visitors adorning many walls.