Jakarta’s Old Town Pictured as Indonesia’s Hollywood

If a novel plan pushes through, the famous Old Town in West Jakarta could find new life as Indonesia’s Hollywood, according to city officials.

Arie Budhiman, head of the city’s culture and tourism agency, said on Monday that it was time to elevate the Old Town’s role from its current status as tourism destination and venue for events.

“We want to turn the Old Town into the center of culture, especially in terms of cinematography. Old Town could be the Hollywood of Indonesia,” he said.

First, Arie said the government would provide a new campus in one of several Dutch-era buildings in the area for the privately owned Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ).

Chandrian Attahiyat, head of the agency’s Old Town technical unit, said that by 2012 IKJ undergraduate students would be able to use Old Town as their new campus.

“We want a vibrant Old Town,” he said. “It will have an influence on the area and create arts communities that could encourage creative industries in the district.”

Chandrian said that of the 284 historic buildings in Old Town, 23 belonged to the State Enterprises Ministry, six were owned by the city administration and the rest belonged to individuals or private companies.

He said the city administration and the State Enterprises Ministry had formed a Heritage Building Revitalization Team to repair the 29 buildings they owned between them. In the first phase, the city would revitalize five buildings in 2010.

Chandrian said the city would choose one of the buildings owned by the ministry as the new IKJ campus. However, he said that the city was still discussing which building and the building usage procedure. Whether the city buys the building, borrows it from the central government or takes it in the form of a grant has to be decided also.

Arie added that IKJ planned to hold various events this month in the Old Town area, such as art exhibitions and filmmaking activities in the area. He believed that it would make the area more attractive.

Separately, Tinia Budiati the deputy head of the tourism agency, said in a press conference on Monday that the Old Town would host the “Enjoy Jakarta Music Festival” this Saturday in the Fatahillah Museum in the Old Town area. The event, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. will promote the Betawi (native Jakartan) culture and will include traditional dances as well as cultural performances married to modern music.

To encourage more visitors to the Old Town, admission to the event is free.

Indonesia’s National Museum Stands Test of Time

There’s an old saying in Indonesia that a big nation is one that appreciates its history.

Through history, people can learn about their cultural origins and their national identity. However, museums — the traditional storehouses of items from the past that help people understand the developments that shaped their society — are not very popular here. Most Indonesians seem to prefer to spend their weekends and other leisure time at the many shopping malls that are scattered across Jakarta.

But that may have started to change in the last few years, with the revitalization of Jakarta’s Kota Tua, or Old Town, triggering a new enthusiasm among the younger crowd for attending museums.

“Going to museums is actually a fun experience. More young people in this city should visit our museums instead of just going to the malls,” said Sandra Fetriana, a 21-year-old university student visiting the National Museum with some friends.

The museum, located in Central Jakarta, is trying to build exactly that kind of culture. In its favor, the museum has perhaps the most strategic location of any such institution in the city. It’s located in the heart of Jakarta’s business district, only a 10-minute drive from the city’s main train station, Gambir, and just across the street from National Monument (Monas) park.

National Museum, or Museum Nasional in Indonesian, is also the oldest such institution in Indonesia, and has the country’s largest historical and cultural collection, with more than 141,000 items. Most were collected from Indonesia’s own backyard, but there are also some items that were purchased from other countries.

John Guy, a curator of Southeast Asian art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, was at the National Museum recently taking pictures of Hindu-Buddhist sculptures.

“Museum Nasional is one of the best museums in Southeast Asia,” he said. “This museum has so many hundred-year-old collections.”

Guy visits Indonesia once a year to conduct research and always makes a point of going to the National Museum.

His favorite item is the largest statue in the collection, the more than 4-meter-tall statue of Bhairawa, a manifestation of Buddha, believed to be from the 13th or 14th century.

“Isn’t that beautiful?” he said.

The museum is also sometimes known as Museum Gajah, or the Elephant Museum, because of the bronze elephant statue in front of the building. This statue was a gift from King Chulalongkom from Thailand in 1871.

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Five-Star Tradition at Le Meridien Hotel in Jakarta

Many hotel chains embrace a rather generic style — beige fittings, demure interiors and the same nonspecific paintings hanging on the walls.

But tucked high above the bustling Sudirman business district, Hotel Le Meridien Jakarta has been striving to move away from this international style and establish a distinct personality. The most obvious example of this is Meridien’s penthouse, which features a handcrafted house from Kudus, Central Java.

“The owner of the hotel [who asked not to be named] came across this old house during his travels to Kudus,” said Meidy Naomi Kesek, the hotel’s marketing communications officer.

Built entirely of teak, the house was in very good condition. The hotel owner dismantled the walls, pillars and roof and transported them back to his private residence in Jakarta.

For a couple of years, the Kudus house stayed on the family property.

“Until, one day, he decided that the public should also have access to this regal masterpiece of Javanese architecture,” Meidy said.

Thus, in 1995, the old house was again dismantled and moved into Le Meridien Jakarta, which was in the process of building a tower to provide more guest rooms. Piece by piece, the house was hoisted by cranes to the 21st floor and carefully reassembled.

To protect the old house from Jakarta’s polluted air, walls were built around it.

The penthouse was officially opened to the public in September 2002.

Today, the 240-square-meter penthouse comprises a sitting room, two bedrooms, a bar, a dining room, a work area and a lesehan (Javanese-style dining room with floor seating).

2009 JakJazz Festival Canceled

This year’s edition of the popular Jakarta International Jazz Festival, known as JakJazz, which was scheduled to take place from Dec. 4 to 6 at Istora Senayan, has reportedly been canceled.

A representative from JakJazz Production told the Jakarta Globe about the cancellation on Thursday and said that an official statement would be released in the near future.

The Jakarta Globe attempted to contact JakJazz Production on Friday but was unable to reach a representative.

Wartajazz.com, an online magazine, first reported on the rumored cancellation on Wednesday. It was reported that this year’s JakJazz had been canceled because “the sponsors that were supposed to cover the festival expenses pulled out.”

The festival was also canceled in 1997 due to a lack of funding. JakJazz has been running for more than 20 years.

UNWTO Picks Bali As Green Tourism Model

The United Nation’s tourism body has announced its decision to pick Bali to become one of its model for green tourism development. In a visit on Thursday (26/11) by Assistant to the Secretary General of United Nation World Tourism Organization Geoffrey Lipman, to the Bali regional office, the body said Bali had potentials for the green tourism concept.

The region has the natural awareness in keeping the harmony between human, nature, and faith which Lipman said “ Is still alive and strongly adhered until now.” But the challenge lies on how to apply the concept in facing the actual problems like energy availability and climate change.

Through the program UNWTO wil help Bali in solving its tourism problems and promote features of the province. The Green tourism Lipman said was part of the Green economy which should be applied in addressing the natural destruction.

Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika said the UN Body has the competence to improve Bali’s image in green tourism but the community have to return to their old concept of nature conservation and agriculture.

Tourism , I Made said, has lured many Balinese to leave agriculture and “The challenge is how to make Balinese farmers become wealthier and modern.”

The mother of all adventures: an emotional high on Mt Bromo

After an unpromising 3am start, Jo Thompson is mesmerised by sunrise over Mount Bromo on the Indonesian island of Java.

After a monumental 14-hour drive we arrive at our next destination. The journey has been exhausting. It is a small bus and seats have been allocated to some passengers who are ill. I spend the journey on the floor of the bus, my temper fraying.

The hotel is a welcome sight. The temperature, however, is a shock. It is the first time I have felt cold since September and I remember how much I dislike it and why my heating bills have so many noughts on them. I have no warm clothes as I sent all mine home way back in Istanbul, so three of us head off to rent coats in the village. This is easier than I imagined. As we wander down a hill in the dark, a man on a motorbike pulls up and says: “You rent coat? I get.” He zooms off and reappears minutes later with three coats before zooming away again into the misty darkness.

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Temulawak: Herbal remedy with a modern touch

Just as ginseng is synonymous with Korea, temulawak or Java turmeric is a natural medical treasure native to Indonesia.

As part of Indonesia’s centuries-old traditional healing practices, temulawak has long been used as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent in treating many ailments, including swelling, gastric and digestive problems, stiff muscles, coughs and runny nose.

“As far as we know, temulawak can only be found in Indonesia,” says Gunawan T., managing director of Helmigs Prima Sejahtera, a pharmaceutical and curcumin products manufacturer.

“There are some individuals in several countries, like Malaysia, who have done research on their own varieties of temulawak at Yonsei University in South Korea, but the results show these plants are nothing like temulawak.”

So even if the Java turmeric exists elsewhere, Gunawan says, “I can confidently say the best temulawak comes from Indonesia.”

Having the best variety is one thing, but Indonesia can also churn out the stuff by the truckload.
Central Java and East Java, for instance, are just two of several provinces that farm temulawak on a large scale.

East Java alone produces up to 9 million kilograms of ready-to-sell temulawak each year. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s hometown of Pacitan in the province is the country’s temulawak hub, recording harvests of 5 million kilograms of the tuber each year.

Gunawan’s company, Helmigs Prima Sejahtera, in the East Java capital Surabaya, is one of a handful of such manufacturers. Established in 1993, the company markets a range of products, including curcumin sugar-free effervescent, curcumin tablets, curcumin candy with Xylitol, and curcumin health drinks.

Factory manager Sutarko Tantra says the company processes several tons of temulawak extract into ready-to-consume products each day, combining traditional and modern methods.

The modern methods include the measurement of the properties contained in temulawak and the packaging of the curcumin extract into tablets and sachets using a machine imported from China.

“We follow high standards with high quality control because we don’t only market our products in Indonesia, but also overseas,” Sutarko says, adding the export markets include Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Canada, the Netherlands, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

Uma Ubud Resort Honored by AsiaSpa Awards

AsiaSpa Awards Names Shambhala Retreat Uma Ubud Bali as Spa Retreat of the Year.

Shambhala Retreat Uma Ubud, Bali was the only Indonesian operation honored in the AsiaSpa Awards 2009 held at the Armani Bar in Hong Kong on Thursday, November 12, 2009.

Launched in 2005 to give recognition to exceptional spas in the Asia region, the AsiaSpa Awards is among the Asian spa industry's most anticipated annual event. The awards give recognition to the outstanding efforts of individuals, companies and products.

The 27 winners are selected by a panel of 28 handpicked judged, all experts in the field of spa healing and beauty.

Bringing honor to Indonesia and Bali in being named "Spa Retreat of the Year" was the COMO Shambhala Retreat in Uma Ubud, Bali which was cited for its “unique retreat concepts designed to guide guests towards radical lifestyle change."

Since its opening, in recognition of Bali's powerful spirituality, Uma Ubud has developed a substantial COMO Shambhala Retreat, designed for guests seeking greater health through Yoga and related treatments. The open-air pavilion for group and private Yoga practice has the best views in all the resort. There is also a meditation bale, a reflexology area, steam, sauna, gym, four treatment rooms and a 25-metre jade green pool.

The Asian-based therapies provided at the resort range from specific body treatments to facials, to sophisticated massages, including the COMO Shambhala Signature Massage, delivered by experienced practitioners.

COMO Shambhala's innovative position in the global spa market continues to expand. The company's Board of Advisors, made up of experts in holistic health, help direct the company's evolution. members include Dr Robert Thurman, Yoga teacher Rodney Yee and Donna Karan.

Book a Stay at the Uma Ubud:
[Uma Ubud Boutique Resort]

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

Batavia Air to begin operations at Changi

Indonesian carrier Batavia Air will begin operations at Singapore's Changi Airport tomorrow.

The privately-owned airline will operate twice daily flights between Singapore and Jakarta, and twice daily flights between Singapore and the Javanese coastal city of Semarang, says Changi Airport Group.

Batavia will operate an Airbus A319 on both services, it says.

It will be the only carrier flying between Singapore and Semarang and will be the 12th carrier operating the Singapore-Jakarta route, adds the airport.

Changi Airport Group says that despite the economic downturn, passenger traffic between Singapore and Indonesia has continued to grow in the first ten months of 2009, rising 4.3% year-on-year.

Announcing the Family Vacation Package at the New JW Marriott Medan, Indonesia

An Indonesia business trip can affordably become a family vacation with Medan, Indonesia hotel packages. With the Family Vacation Package offered by the new JW Marriott Medan, luxury accommodations are affordable with package rates starting as low as $155 per night through Dec. 27, 2009. Reduced rates through Medan hotel deals make family travel to Indonesia budget friendly and the JW Marriott Family Vacation Package requires only a minimum of two night’s stay making it a great offering among hotel packages in Medan, Indonesia.

The time has never been better for families to enjoy an exciting family getaway and with this amazing Medan family vacation offer, the sights and sounds of Indonesia and its culture will provide for a family vacation that is sure to be remembered by young and old alike. With area attractions such as the Masjid Raya, Temple Shri Mariamman and Gunung Timur Temple, your family will find fun and adventure in this capital of North Sumatra Province through the exploration and discovery of the area’s historical culture and heritage. Many of the area’s buildings have retained their Dutch architectural design and some attractions, such as the Gunung Timur Temple are uniquely old, with this particular temple constructed in the colonial era of Indonesia. The legacy of Hinduism is shared through the Temple Shri Mariamman, built in 1885, as a worship place of Hinduism in Medan.

Conveniently located near Medan Airport, this Five Star Luxury hotel is the first of its kind in Medan, offering 287 guest rooms and breathtaking views. The Family Vacation Package provides deluxe accommodations for a family of four with contemporary furnishing and luxurious bedding, as well as free breakfast for two adults and two children (up to 12 years of age).

All guest rooms and suites at this exquisite new hotel offer amazing city views and the finest amenities to be found in Medan, including the Marriott’s luxurious revive bedding to assure a good night’s rest for everyone in the family. Guest rooms also include a mini-bar, flat panel television and a separate bath and shower. Plug and Play connectivity is also provided to keep electronic equipment charged and ready. Premium movie channels along with cable/satellite and International cable/satellite service is provided and high speed, wired and wireless Internet service is also available.

When making online reservations to take advantage of this great family vacation offer at our beautiful hotel in Medan, travelers are reminded to be sure the promotional code MAJ appears in the Corporate/Promotional code box. To make reservations over the phone, call 1-800-228-9290 in the United States and ask for promotional code MAJ.

Terms and conditions apply to this offer which is valid through 12/27/09 with a limited number of rooms available. Tax is additional. Offer does not apply to groups of 10 or more rooms. Offer cannot be combined with any other promotions. Blackout dates may apply. Advance reservations required. Other restrictions may apply. Rates are per room, per night and based on availability at the time of reservations.

Sadler charms Jakarta with Italian cuisine

Jakartans had an opportunity to taste modern Italian cuisine from Chef Claudio Sadler, an award-winning international chef who presented his wonderful Italian dishes at Hotel Mulia's Italian restaurant Il Mare earlier this month.

Serving both lunch and dinner, Sadler offered five course set lunch menus and seven course set dinner menus, with a wine-pairing service provided by Il Mare to complement Sadler's superb cuisine.

During Sadler's visit to Jakarta, The Jakarta Post tried the lunch menu, which opened with a prawn salad with cucumber spaghetti, tomato granite and melon carpaccio. The salad seemed innocent at first glance, but there was a tinge of spiciness coming from the tiny maroon flower petals.

A similar thing happened in the second course, which was stingray and organic broccolini soup with spicy thin spaghetti. The tender texture of tomato and broccolini blended well with the succulent taste of the stingray and spicy spaghetti.

"I know Asians have a penchant for spicy food, so I used the spices," the chef said.

The third course was handmade ravioli Milanese style filled with cheese, topped with mushroom trompette de la mort, black truffle and veal sweetbread croquettes. As ravioli is usually stuffed with coarser fillings, such as vegetables, it was an eye-opening experience to see melted cheese spurting out of the pasta pillows.

The main course was veal tenderloin with braised savoy cabbage and bettelmatt cheese fondue with white Alba truffle. The cheese mixed well with the veal, while the cabbage complemented the whole menu.

To close lunch, Sadler offered surprises through the dessert, chocolate Sicilian cannoli stuffed with cassata and chopped pistachio, limoncello foam and coffee sorbet topped with lemon sorbet. It was an eclectic experience for the taste buds created in one dish as it had sweet and sourly tender overtones, while being tasty and refreshing.

"I like to surprise people with my cuisine," Sadler said.

Sadler is one of the most renowned chefs in Italy, of certain competence and of rational application of the rules, but also of great joy and spontaneous creativity. He is one of the founders of Jeune Restaurateurs d'Europe, an organization that promotes young chefs with exceptional talent. He was also the president of Milan-based "Soste", an exclusive association of elite restaurateurs.

Jogjakarta Awarded The Best Travel Destination 2009

Jogjakarta has been awarded the best travel destination 2009 by the Indonesian Tourism Award 2009 (ITA 2009). It iss the first award held by Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism and SWA Magazine. Nine other cities, Denpasar, Malang, Surabaya, Tana Toraja, Manado, Kutai Kertanegara, Badung, Solo and Lombok also reeceived awards.

Wakatobi, Raja Ampat, Manggarai Barat, Jember, Purbalingga, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Sulawesi Utara, Kepulauan Riau, Naggroe Aceh Darussalam and Sulawesi Tengah were awarded "unique travel destinations".

Bali Villas – A Private Piece Of Paradise

All luxurious Bali Villas in villas-bali.com have been filtered in order to provide you the best Bali Private Villa in experiencing holiday, wedding, honeymoon which guarantee Privacy and Outstanding Personalized Service.

Jakarta expects to earn Rp1.6 trillion from tourism

The Jakarta administration is upbeat over its target to earn Rp1.6 trillion from tourism through its "Jakarta Tourism Expo 2009" in a number of regions, including Surabaya, a tourism official said.

"The target is higher than that of last year which was Rp1.5 trillion," head of the Jakarta Tourism and Culture Service Arief Budhiman said during the launch of "Jakarta Tourism Expo 2009" at the Paragon Hotel here on Thursday.

He said that Jakarta had up to June 2009 earned an income of Rp800 million. The income was expected to increase thanks to the holding of the "Jakarta Food Festival."

"In order to achieve our target, we actively conducted road-shows in a number of big cities in the country and overseas," he said.

A Christmas You'll Always Remember

A Balidiscovery.com Exclusive: Celebrate Christmas Morning in a Balinese Christian Village.

Although not widely known, Balinese history tells of how remote Balinese villages populated only by Balinese Christians were established in the early decades of the '1900s to accommodate "outcasts" who had converted from Hinduism. Located in remote jungle areas of Northwest Bali thought to populated by evil spirits, these small enclaves of Christianity not only survived but prospered to become model communities.

As part of an annual holiday tradition from Balidiscovery.com, we offer a unique Christmas morning pilgrimage certain to form part of a life-long memory for visitors wishing to celebrate Christmas among devout Christian families in Bali.

Hidden away on the lush mountain slopes of Bali's westernmost mountains on the very border of the Bali Barat National Park are two picturesque communities - Belimbingsari and its near neighbor Palasari. These communities were established in the late '1930s by Balinese who had converted to Christianity and no longer felt at ease or welcome in the traditional setting of a Balinese banjar. In the intervening years, these two villages have flourished with Belimbingsari becoming home to a large Protestant community, while, just a few kilometers away, Roman Catholic Balinese live in a community built encircling their dramatic and architecturally eclectic church at Palasari.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

This exclusive Christmas morning offering includes a pre-dawn pick up at any hotel in Bali, the air conditioned transportation and the services of a licensed guide to and from either Belimbingsari or Palasari, morning worship services, a Christmas morning brunch at the magnificent Taman Wana Resort and a scenic drive back to your hotel along Bali's rugged western coast.

While the ride to and from the services takes the better part of two hours each way, distance was never a problem for wise men (and women) seeking to honor the Child whose birthday we will celebrate on Friday, December 25, 2009.

Join members of the Bali Discovery team on what always proves to be a special Balinese celebration of a very special day!

[A Truly Balinese Christmas]

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

World War II Caves Set for Historical Tourism

Seven caves that have been kept intact from the time of the Japanese colonization in Tambaknegara village, Rawalo sub district, will be prepared as a historical tourism site. “The Japanese used these caves as their first defense point,” said Banyumas Culture and Tourism Office staff, Deskart Djatmiko, yesterday.

The Japanese also built ditches to connect one cave to the other. The caves are of 12 meter deep. Some of their roofs are supported by teak wood. The caves were built on the hills to allow the Japanese to ambush their enemies. Edi Wahono, chairman of the Banyumas Tourism Society Group, said these Japanese caves, also called the kodo caves, will be transformed into a tourist area.

First Culinary Festival in Jakarta

Jakarta foodies have a month-long celebration ahead of them this November. Ismaya Group, a major club and restaurant operator in the capital, is hosting the first Jakarta Culinary Festival.

The festival consists of a succession of events in venues across Jakarta until Nov. 29, including Social House, Puro Ristorante e Bar, Blowfish Kitchen & Bar, Pizza e Birra, Miele House and Steak House at the Four Seasons Hotel.

“The festival is aimed at introducing a new gourmet experience to food lovers in Jakarta by arousing excitement around the growing culinary industry,” said Christian Rijanto, marketing director of Ismaya Group. “On a bigger scale, the objective is to promote Jakarta as a center of the culinary world in the Southeast Asian region, as well as a fantastic travel destination.”

Six chefs and two wine experts from Australia, Bali and Jakarta will share their extensive gastronomic knowledge and techniques in fine food and wine, as well as demonstrate their highly-acclaimed skills.

The culinary stars include Chris Salans, the executive chef and owner of Mozaic, Bali; Paul Wilson, master chef and author of the “Botanical Cookbook” and voted Australian Chef of the Year by The Age newspaper in 2002; and Will Meyrick, executive chef and owner of Sarong, also in Bali.

The opening night, themed “Museum of Fine Food and Fine Arts,” was hosted at the lobby hall of City Plaza at Wisma Mulia, Jakarta, on Nov. 4. The hall was transformed into an art gallery showcasing raw food materials, cooking utensils and food products.

Jakarta Culinary Festival Highlights:

A Sicilian Adventure
Nov. 11, lunch
Chef Aldo Volpi presents Southern Italian cuisine at Social House.

Japanese Wine-Pairing Dinner
Nov. 11, dinner
Chef Hugo Adrian shares his love of modern Japanese cuisine at Blowfish Kitchen and Bar.

High SocieTea
Nov. 15, 2 p.m.
A high tea event at Social House featuring a fashion show and tea class.

Cooking Demo and Special Lunch
Nov. 19, 11 a.m.
Master chef Chris Salans shares his home-cooking secrets at Miele House.

Mozaic Masterchef Dinner Session
Nov. 20–21, dinner
Chris Salans presents delights from Mozaic at Puro Ristorante e Bar.

Swedish Bar Mafia
Nov. 20, from 9 p.m.
Swedish bartenders show their expertise at Social House.

Coffee Culture

Nov. 22, from 2 p.m.
Michael Gibbons, coffee specialist and barista, will be at Social House.

Lunch Date With the Chef
Nov. 26, from 11 a.m.
Paul Wilson from Australia hosts a cooking class at Miele House.

Wagyu Wine Dinner
Nov. 27 – 28, dinner
Enjoy Australian wagyu beef paired with wines selected by wine critic Nick Stock at Puro Ristorante e Bar.

Winery Practice: An Industry Session
Nov. 27, from 2 p.m.
Nick Stock, wine critic and wine guide author, shares his knowledge at The Cellar, Four Seasons Jakarta.

Sip, Nibble, Say Cheese
Nov. 29, from 4 p.m.
PT. Bahana Gourmet Indonesia presents a cheese sampling at Social House.

Indonesia, EU to boost tourism ties

Tourism ties between Indonesia and the European Union (EU) will increase following the easing restriction on the operation of Indonesian air transportation to the region's countries, an official said here on Tuesday.

"With the gradual easing of restrictions on the operation of Indonesian air carriers to the EU countries, I have every confidence that two-way tourism will flourish further," James Moran, the Director for Asia of European Commission's Directorate General External Relation said at a seminar titled 'Indonesia and the European Union: Expanding Roles in a Globalized World'.

According to him, tourism is an area with huge potential for growth.

"The astoundingly diverse heritage of Indonesia has a magnetic attraction for European tourists," he said.

On July, the EU has lifted its restriction on four Indonesian air carriers from entering its territory.

Cultural, social and business relations were included in the Partnership Cooperation Agreement signed on Nov. 9 between Indonesia Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and his Sweden counterpart Carl Bildt who chairs the EU council.

Source: Xinhua

A Walkathon to Raise Reforestation Awareness

The Jogja Walking Association, collaborating with the Japan Walking Association is holding its second “Jogja International World Heritage Walk” from November 14 to 15. “This year, we are targeting 1.000 domestic and foreign participants, some of them coming from Japan, China, Singapore, New Zealand, and Europe,” said steering committee member, Bambang Paningron.

On November 14, the event will be launched around the Prambanan Temple. The second day of the event will take place around the Borobudur Temple.

Source: Tempo

Tourism sector needs consistent polices

The tourism industry in Indonesia has yet to develop maximally. Though the country is rich in tourism potentials, this sector could not yet be fully tapped to give benefit to the nation.

Apart from terrorist and natural disaster disturbances in recent years, the government`s inconsistent polices can also be a factor that hampers the country`s tourism development.

"There are many inconsistent polices in the tourism sector which often overlap each other, particularly those issued between the central government and the regional administrations," Jongki Adiyasa, vice chairman of The Association of the Indonesian Tour & Travel Agencies (Asita) for Jakarta, said.

He cited as an example the police numbers of vehicles for a tourism fleet in Bali and Jakarta. "In Bali they are required to use private plate numbers while in Jakarta they have to use service ones. Thus, in Bali, a fleet has to pay tax higher than one that has to be paid in Jakarta," he said.

Jongki said that many investors were actually waiting for the government`s consistent policies before they could go ahead with making a serious investment in Indonesia.

According to Central Board of Statistics (BPS)`s Head Rusman Heriawan, albeit small, the increase showed signs of improving tourism industry in the country amid the global economic meltdown.

The same optimism was also expressed by an official of the Tourism and Culture Ministry.

"In September 2009 alone, the number of tourist arrivals was 493,799," head of the Tourism and Culture Ministry`s data processing and network system center Wibowo said.

Compared to the same period last year, however, the number of tourist arrivals in September 2009 slightly fell 1.44 percent, he said.

"The number of foreign tourists to Indonesia in the January-September 2009 period increased by an average of more than two digits," he said.

Based on the BPS data, the number of foreign tourists visiting Indonesia in the first eight months of 2009 rose 1.38 percent to 4.13 million from the same period last year. More than 4.06 million foreign tourists visited Indonesia in the January-August 2008 period.

The Indonesian tourist resort island of Bali took the lead with 1.53 million tourist arrivals, a 13.38 percent increase compared to the same period last year when the figure was 1.35 million.

However, according to Made Kawiana, a tourism observer and businessman, foreign tourist arrivals in Bali in the January-August period in 2009 numbered 1,464,738 or 12.8 percent higher than in the same period last year when the figure was 1,296,046.

"This means foreign tourists wishing to visit Bali were not affected by the terrorism issue in Indonesia," Made Kawiana.

Source: Antara

Summit to boost tourism investment: Asita

The Association of the Indonesian Tour & Travel Agencies (Asita) said tourism investment in Indonesia would grow positively after the holding of last month`s national summit.

"The investment in the tourism sector will grow positively, though it would not be as rapid as our expectation," Asita Vice Chairman for Jakarta Jongki Adiyasa said here over the weekend.

He said that significant growth could however be expected from certain tourism sectors such as hotels and MICE (meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition) programs.

The Asita chairman said he was convinced that the investment in the hotel and MICE sectors would grow significantly in line with the improvement of the country`s economic business climate.

Unluckily however, the good investment climate was unlikely to be followed by all business sectors in tourism as a whole, he said.

"The causes of this condition included the fact that there are many inconsistent polices in the tourism sector which often overlap between those issued by the central government and those by the regional administrations," the Asita chairman said.

He cited as an example the police numbers of vehicles for a tourism fleet in Bali and Jakarta. "In Bali they are required to use private plate numbers while in Jakarta they have to use service ones. Thus, in Bali, a fleet has to pay tax higher than one that has to be paid in Jakarta," he said.

Jongki said that many investors were actually waiting for the government`s consistent policies before they could go ahead with making a serious investment in Indonesia.

He considered that consistency was important because the tourism business was sensitive to policy changes. The more frequent change in the policy the bigger the loss a tourism business would likely to suffer.

Therefore, Asita was calling on policy makers to be consistent in drawing up their polices which had to be synchronized with those produced in the regions

Source: Antara

Chinese city considering tourism cooperation with Batam

The government of Han Zhou city in China`s Zhe Chiang province is exploring the possibility of cooperation in tourism with Indonesia`s Batam city, a Chinese official said.

The head of Han Zhou`s trade and industry office, Yoe Tang, disclosed the plan to cooperate with Batam here on Friday.

"Han Zhou and Batam could cooperate in the development of tourism, supply of souvenirs and services," Yoe Tang told Antara through an interpreter here on Friday.

The Chinese trade official said as the seventh biggest tourism and economic city in China, Han Zhou had tourist sites which were visited by both domestic and foreign tourists each year.

Tang said that with a cooperation with Batam, the regional government could help promote the Indonesian industrial city to the people and tourists visiting Han Zhou, provincial capital of Zhe Chiang.

The Chinese trade official said Batam was not yet known well by the people of Han Zhou, so that it would need promotion so that the people of Han Zhou which was a sister city of Jakarta would visit Batam.

Traditional Indonesian Dance Calls Angel to Earth

Arriving at Lara Djonggrang restaurant in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on the evening of Halloween, I was surprised to see a traditional market occupying the courtyard.

Illuminated with torches and oil lamps, open bamboo huts showcased traditional delicacies from Cirebon, West Java, such as tahu gejrot (crisp-fried tofu bathed in a thin, dark sauce flavored with green chili and shallots), empal gentong (tender beef in creamy turmeric and coconut soup) and nasi lengko (steamed rice served with marinated tofu, soybean cake and vegetables).

Hawkers dressed in traditional clothes shouted out the names of their offerings to passersby. Guests — Indonesians and expatriates alike — sat together chatting at long wooden tables. The atmosphere made me think of the Kasepuhan night market in Cirebon.

“We want to bring the history and culture of Indonesia back to life by showcasing local culinary delights and almost-forgotten traditional cultures,” said Annette Anhar, the general manager of Lara Djonggrang.

To this end, once a month the restaurant presents a cultural night featuring traditional dishes and a dance performance from a different region of the country.

On the evening of Oct. 31, the focus was on Cirebon and the performance was “Tari Turun Sintren” (“Dance of the Descending Angel”), a mystical show traditionally danced by a beautiful young virgin in a trance.

Cirebon, a quiet town on the northern coast of West Java, has a unique history and traditions. A sultanate, it was founded by Sunan Gunung Jati, a 16th century Muslim religious leader. It later became an important port town during the Dutch colonial era. Although the people of Cirebon are generally devout Muslims, most still maintain ancient Javanese traditions and mystical beliefs.

“Tari Turun Sintren” originated from a traditional game among Cirebonese fishermen and is considered both sacred and magical. In the old days, fishermen’s wives and children played the game on the beach at night as they waited for their husbands and fathers to return from the sea.

Bentara Budaya launched with festival

The Bentara Budaya Bali art gallery was decked out in a variety of bamboo artworks Wednesday night to mark its grand opening and an exhibition titled "Refleksi Bambu: Problematika Manusia dan Alam" (Bamboo Reflection: Problems of Humans and Nature).

The grand opening was livened up with the playing of bamboo musical instruments by a group from Sebatu village performing the Balinese gamelan of Gambang, followed by the fusion of Jegog gamelan, and jazz by another group from Jembrana regency collaborating with noted musicians Dewa Budjana, I Wayan Balawan and Ayu Laksmi.

The Highlight of the stage performance was "Tri Kaya Parisudha", a song written by Ayu Laksmi, telling of the Balinese Hindhu philosophy of thinking, speaking and acting properly.

Up and running since September, Bentara Budaya Bali is the fourth such gallery after Bentara Budaya Yogyakarta (opened in 1982), Bentara Budaya Jakarta (1986) and Surakarta's Balai Sudjatmoko Solo (2003).

"Bentara Budaya Bali's purpose is to take part in preserving Balinese culture by hosting art performances continuously," said Efix Mulyadi, the gallery's executive director.

The Bamboo Festival was officially launched by Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika and Kompas daily chief editor Rikard Bagun.

Bamboo was chosen as the subject of the festival since it is a metaphorical reflection Balinese culture, said exhibition curator Jean Couteau.

"Balinese culture subscribes to the cosmo-centric concept, where humans are strongly united with nature and see themselves as an inseparable part of the cosmic union, and bamboo is the symbol of a peaceful and preserved Balinese culture," he said.

"In Bali, we find bamboo used not only for practical functions, but also for religious rituals. But the existence of bamboo is now threatened, with more and more concrete constructions. This festival is a reflection to revive our ecological awareness of preserving bamboo."

The bamboo artwork exhibition, to run until Nov. 22, 2009 will showcase various bamboo works by prominent contemporary artists from Bali.

Some of the most attention-grabbing works in the exhibition room are the huge indoor installations, "Bam-boom", created by Nyoman Erawan, and "Ritus Daun Bambu" (Bamboo Leaf Ritual) by Sujana Kenyem.

Another interesting work is Popo Danes' "Panggung Kehidupan" (Stage of Life).

Also on show is Made Budhiana's "Roh Bambu" (Bamboo Spirit), featuring the rarely used bamboo bractsas the main material.

"It was challenging to use bamboo bract as a medium for my works because very sheet of bract can be made into different forms," Budhiana said.

"For me, the bract is the spirit of bamboo."

I Ketut Budiana presents his paintings - "Penjaga Hutan Bambu" (Bamboo Forest Guradian), "Ritual Pembangkit Energi" (Energy-Reviving Ritual) and "Sunari Gading" - as well as the installation "Irama Kosmis" (Cosmic Rhythm).

Asia’s Largest Yoga Center to Bring Peace, Well-Being to Bali

A foundation is planning to set up what it claims will be Asia’s largest yoga center in the Buleleng district on the north coast of Bali, a spokesman said on Thursday.

The Bali-India Foundation, formed by a group of like-minded Indonesians and Indians with the aim of bringing the two Hindu cultures closer together, hopes to start building the yoga center — Markandeya Yoga City — early next year, said Dr. Somvir, an Indian professor who lectures in cultural studies and tourism at Bali’s Udayana University and the founder of the group.

Somvir said the cornerstone of the center, to be built on a 1.5-hectare plot of land near the village of Sukasada, would be laid on March 3 next year, in conjunction with the opening of an International Bali-India Yoga Festival.

“The yoga city will run programs to bring yoga-inspired education to elementary and high school-level student,” Somvir said.

According to Somvir, the construction of Markandeya will take place over stages, with the land being cleared in cooperation with the local community.

He said the yoga education center, named after a Hindu sage, would use Ayurveda traditional medicine as its basis, with various kinds of plants being grown in and around the center and Sukasada village.

About 50 types of mostly medicinal plants from India, believed to be effective in curing a variety of diseases, have already been planted.

“The yoga center will be fully dedicated to social activities and the local community’s well-being,” Somvir said.

He said the future home of Markandeya would be the venue of the March 3-10 second International Bali-India Yoga Festival, expected to be attended by around 1,500 participants from India, Europe, the United States and Asia.

Somvir said Bali hosted a weeklong international yoga festival from March 3-10 this year, which involved hundreds of yoga instructors from countries around the world.

Themed “Yoga for Peace and Health,” the March festival was followed by a yoga day program and a series of activities centered in the Niti Mandala Renon area in Denpasar.

Jakarta's International Blues Festival Takes Blues Back To It Roots

The Indonesian Blues Association is gearing up for what promises to be another fabulous International Blues Festival on Saturday.

“Back to the Roots of All Music” is the theme of this daylong festival, which is sponsored by the Djarum Super cigarette company.

With its inaugural event last year, the festival was a bit cramped, but this year four stages at Istora Gelora Bung Karno in Senayan have been devoted to accommodating the more than 30 musicians who will perform.

The lineup includes Dutch rock guitarist Jan Akkerman, Australian singer-songwriter Kara Grainger and Irish harmonica player Mike Wilgar.

Akkerman had been described as one of the best guitarists in the world, while the husky power in Grainger’s singing has led to comparisons with early Bonnie Raitt and Wilgar’s harmonica playing leans towards the Rock’n’Roll spectrum of blues.

An additional feature of the festival will be a string of musical collaborations you wouldn’t normally expect to see.

Guitarist Abdee Negara from Slank will perform with former Boomerang guitarist John Paul Ivan, as well as Andy, who sings lead vocals in the nationally popular rock band /Rif.

Legendary Jazz musician Yopie Item is scheduled to perform with his son Stevie and daughter Audy, while funk bass player and former child-singer Bondan Prakoso will perform alongside his musician father Sisco.

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Saturday, Nov. 7
Tickets: Rp: 100,000
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Ina Blues Basecamp 021 7590 4349
Aquarius Mahakam 021 720 8413
Aquarius Pondok Indah 021 723 8760
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tiketnonton.com 021 722 9535
Detik.com 021 794 4473, 031 547 4465 or 022 423 3533
Rajakarcis.com 021 828 2137

AirAsia links Jakarta, Medan with Phuket, eyes Brunei, RP

Budget airline AirAsia has just opened its newest international routes connecting Thailand's Phuket with two major Indonesian cities, Medan and Jakarta, whilst looking also at air links to Brunei and Manila

AirAsia is the first airline providing direct flights from Indonesia to the famous beach city. The route is being operated by Thai AirAsia.

"The flights to Phuket are currently available once a day using the sophisticated Airbus A320, both from Medan and from Jakarta," Thai AirAsia CEO Tassapon Bijleveld said Tuesday in Jakarta.

Phuket is the ninth foreign city to be connected to Indonesia by the AirAsia group - including Indonesia AirAsia - after Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Ho Chi Minh City, Perth, and Bangkok.

For online buyers, AirAsia sells the Medan-Phuket ticket at Rp 99,000 (US$10) and Jakarta-Phuket at Rp 199,000, at the cheapest.

Indonesia AirAsia flew 2.5 million people in 2008 and is targeting to fly 3 million people this year.

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Bali Named World's No. 2 Region for Travelers by Lonely Planet

Bali has been named one of the best regions in the world to visit in a new Lonely Planet travel guide.

The famed Island of the Gods came in second behind Alsace in France, and ahead of Fernando de Noronha in Brazil. Lake Baikal in Russia was the other Asian region to make the top 10 list.

The top three countries were El Salvador, Germany and Greece, while the top three cities were Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Charleston in the United States and Cork in Ireland.

The book “Best in Travel 2010,” released on Monday, is the travel company’s fifth annual collection of the best places to go and best things to do in the year ahead.

“This is a collection of destinations and experiences that we rate as the stuff people really should consider for next year,” Asia-Pacific communications manager Adam Bennett said. “Whatever your own style dictates, you should be able to find inspiration in these destinations.” 

Over 4.6 million tourists visited Indonesia between Jan - Sep

The Culture and Tourism Ministry has recorded more than 4.6 million foreign tourist arrivals between January and September of this year, up by only 1 percent from the same period last year.

Brimming with confidence, the head of data management at the ministry, Wibowo, told Antara on Monday the national target of 6.5 million arrivals remained within reach.

Wibowo said seven international airports saw a significant increase in the number of foreign tourist arrivals compared to the same period in 2008, including Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport. Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in Pekanbaru, Riau booked the biggest increase with 60.5 percent.

The ministry’s data reveals, however, eight airports, including the country’s largest airport Soekarno-Hatta, posted less arrivals in the first nine months of this year than the same period last year.

Widodo said the ministry would insist on raising the target to 7 million arrivals next year.

Swedish Girl Reports Rape in Kuta

Drinking and Late Night Motorbike Ride Preceded Sexual Attack om Swedish Tourist.

(10/31/2009) A 19 year-old Swedish woman has told police that she was raped on Thursday, October 29, 2009, by a motorcycle jockey (Ojek) on a side street of Kuta.

The young woman who presented at a local police in an intoxicated state smelling of alcohol, has thwarted police in their efforts to investigate the case by refusing a police interview.

Bali's Chief of Police, General Sutisna told Kompas.com, "Although the victim refuses to be interviewed, the police continue to investigate by collecting information from various sources around Kuta."

Based on the Swedish girl's initial report, police are making every effort to catch the rapist. Said Sutisna: "We're still looking for the culprit. Pray that we can catch him quick, especially because this involves a foreign visitor."

Police are waiting for the results of a forensic examination carried out at Bali's Sanglah General Hospital.

According to police, the woman was attacked after attending a late night drinking party by a man she had paid to bring her back to her lodgings on a motorbike.

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