Indonesia's Tourism – a National Tragedy

Indonesian Senior Statesman Makes a Critical Appraisal the Development of National Tourism.

(1/25/2010) Anak Agung Gde Agung is one of Indonesia's most distinguished and well-informed senior statesmen. He is a graduate of Harvard and Leiden universities. He as attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in the United States and served as social services minister during the administration of President Abdurrahman Wahid.

The following article is reprinted from The Jakarta Post.

Indonesian Tourism - a National Tragedy

Government officials at all levels claim that Indonesia's tourism is doing well, with each year seeing robust advancements. On the contrary, however, all the data indicate how dismally Indonesia's tourism has done this past decade.

In the last 12 years to 2007, tourist numbers fluctuated between 4 million and 5 million visitors. The average length of stay has declined, from 10 days in 1997 to barely 8.5 days in 2008. Worst yet is how Indonesia compares with neighboring Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, which last year attracted 10 million, 15 million and 22 million visitors respectively.

How can such a huge discrepancy occur? How is it that Indonesia, brimming with such wealth in culture and natural beauty, attracts only a quarter of the tourists that basically barren Malaysia does?

This tragedy seems to have its source in the early 1980s, when Indonesia, strapped for funds, pointed to already world-famous Bali as its tourist cash cow. Since then, little has changed. As a result, Indonesia's tourist attraction has been practically limited to Bali, with devastating consequences. Tourists overflow in quantum leaps to Bali, creating an explosion of infrastructure requirements that visibly erode the natural environment.

The over-concentration of tourists in Bali has not only brought an unmanageable overflow of visitors to the island - often the wrong types who cannot appreciate the unique local culture and natural environment - but has also led to an utter neglect of the other many equally attractive tourist spots throughout the archipelago.

Fabulous sites such as Borobudur, Yogyakarta, Toraja, Bunaken and Ujung Kulon, for instance, have been practically left unheeded. Such complacency has a high price, as can been seen from the destructive erosion that the overcrowding of tourists has brought to Bali's culture and environment, and how it has stagnated Indonesia's other richly diverse tourist destinations.

How bad have these other destinations stagnated? Here are a few horrifying statistics:

Borobudur, that World Cultural Heritage icon, was only able to muster about 85,000 foreign tourists last year, compared to more than 1 million by the more recently discovered Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Toraja these last few years has only attracted an average of about 5,000 overseas tourists a year.

Bunaken averaged only about 10,000 foreign visitors a year for as long as one can remember, versus more than 4 million for the similar Pattaya in Thailand.

Ujung Kulon, with its rare one-horned rhino, can only claim an average of 6,000 combined domestic and foreign tourists a year.

A fast recovery is imperative here and the condition for this is a complete change in mind-set. The first order of the day is for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to declare tourism a national priority and for central and regional authorities as well as the government and the private sector to work hand in hand in this effort. This needs to be followed by a preliminary phase of quick-win activities rejuvenating tourist destinations that have so far languished but need only small improvements to boost them back.

Borobudur, for instance, can be brought back to full splendor by relocating the street vendors who have been encroaching on the temple grounds and harassed visitors from fully enjoying this beautiful temple/monastery. Toraja can also attract far more tourists by repairing its forsaken airfield so that visitors can arrive there within 45 minutes from Makassar and avoid the perilous 10-hour journey through steep mountains.

As for Ujung Kulon, tourist numbers can easily rise to more than a million there within a very short time if regular and safe sea transportation is made available from Jakarta. There are other fabulous places besides those mentioned above currently suffering from lack of attention, such as Mount Bromo, Yogyakarta and Komodo Island, which only need small touches to turn them quickly into major tourist destinations while easing the pressure on overcrowded Bali.

The quick-win phase should be followed by a longer-term buildup of other tourist sites nationwide, which will require more infrastructure investment to put them on the travel map. These sites are currently still relatively unfamiliar places, but have the potential to offer inherently unique attractions and help sustain the long-term development of Indonesia's tourist industry.

Such places include Trowulan and Kota Gede for historical interests, Banda Naira and Raja Ampat for spectacular surfing, and the Baliem Valley and Waikabubak for unparalleled ethnic experiences. There are many other such tourist sites and they can be offered in clusters of similar attractions to make the trip for tourists richer and more diverse.

Both during the quick-win and long-term phases, the tourism recovery effort has to be supported by appropriately directed promotional campaigns with a common national branding. Malaysia has its "Truly Asia", India its "Incredible" claim while Singapore and Thailand have respectively dubbed themselves "Uniquely Singapore" and "Amazing Thailand". Branding is important to position the country concerned at the top of mind of would-be tourists while also filtering the right tourists who can appreciate what that country offers.

Increased arrivals of tourists, who show their appreciation of the local specialties, will make the local people proud of their heritage and motivate them to strengthen it further, which in turn will bring even more like-minded tourists. This will result in an upward spiral of tourists and local people hand in hand strengthening the traditional inheritance of the land.

A successful tourism program can have many priceless benefits for Indonesia, including making it the most diverse tourist destination in the world, providing it with a sustainable and environmentally clean source of revenue larger than any of its current ones, and bringing overall prosperity to the people throughout the archipelago (and not just Bali) through grassroots empowerment and self-sustenance.

These are huge potentials that Indonesia should strive its best to realize, as the rewards for their successes are just too great to forgo.

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

Picturing the Past at the Antara Gallery

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. This is especially true for photojournalists who chronicle historical events through a camera lens.

One place that prominently displays these important photos is the Galeri Foto Jurnalistik Antara (Antara Gallery of Photojournalism) in Pasar Baru, Central Jakarta.

“Aspiring photojournalists can take pride if their photos are displayed in this great building,” said Budi Chandra, a 30-year-old photographer who freelances for newspapers and magazines. “It’s amazing because one photo can be interpreted in many different ways.”

The Antara Gallery prides itself on being the country’s first and only venue dedicated to photojournalism.

The building itself is rich in history — it was once the headquarters of the government news agency Antara, which was founded on Dec. 13, 1937. The agency played an active role in the country’s formation when journalists used the building as their headquarters to announce Indonesia’s independence to the rest of the world in 1945.

Now, this beautiful, three-story Dutch colonial building is divided into several sections. The photo gallery can be found on the first floor, but this area remains empty when there is no photography exhibition.

Ricky Adrian, a gallery representative, explained that the exhibitions are not limited only to journalism but also cover other types of photography.

He added that the gallery welcomes anyone who wished to hold an event or exhibition at the venue.

The gallery’s latest photo exhibit was “Maling Jemuran,” or Laundry Thief, which went on display from Jan. 9 to 16, organized by Jakarta’s Art Council. The exhibit focused on jemuran , or clothes being hung up to dry.

Next to the photo gallery, there’s a place where photographers can hang out and exchange stories. Ricky, who is a photojournalist himself, said that the Neo Journalism Club area can seat about 40 people. “Photographers can just come and talk about things related to their work — or anything, really,” he said.

Another area of interest at the Antara gallery is the small journalism museum on the second floor. The museum’s collection includes old cameras, typewriters, production and communication equipment and furniture that were all used by Antara’s journalists during the Dutch colonial period. In addition, the museum also has several news photos depicting the Indonesian people’s contribution toward the process of decolonization.

Antara utilizes the building’s third floor as the office for its photography department.

“It’s every photographer’s dream that someday he or she can have an exhibition so people can see and appreciate their work,” Budi said. “And Galeri Foto Jurnalistik Antara is the best place to do it.”

Budi explained that the highest appreciation any photojournalist can receive is when they can have a positive impact on society through their photos. He added that photojournalists are different from other photographers because they have the obligation to make people aware of important issues through their photos.

“And to get that kind of appreciation, they have to exhibit,” he said.

Ricky said photographers in Indonesia hold the Antara Gallery of Photojournalism in such high regard because of its longstanding dedication, not just to the art of photography, but also because of its historical background as well.

“I can’t name any other place in Jakarta that has the same prestige and quality,” Budi said.

An upcoming gallery event will be a photo exhibition called “China Town” by Singaporean photographer Zhuan Wubin. The exhibition, which will showcase Chinese culture around Southeast Asia, will run from Feb. 5 to 21.

Galeri Foto Jurnalistik Antara (Antara Gallery of Photojournalism)
Jalan Antara No. 59
Pasar Baru, Central Jakarta
Tel: 021 345 8771
E-mail: gfja@gfja.org
www.gfja.org

The Mayapada Group and Carlson Hotels Bring Regent Luxury Brand to Indonesia

Carlson Hotels, one of the world’s leading hotel companies, and The Mayapada Group announce their partnership to bring luxury brand Regent to Indonesia. They broke ground on the new property today.

Scheduled to open in 2011, The Regent Bali will introduce contemporary style, luxury accommodations and personalised service to one of the world’s most sought-after holiday destinations - the island of Bali.

The Regent Bali ground-breaking comes shortly after Carlson Hotels announced that it will open a Regent property in Gurgaon, India.

“Regent is renowned for superior luxury and service. The brand has an iconic historical legacy in Asia, and a strong affinity to the region,” said Mr. Jean-Marc Busato, managing director – Asia Pacific, Carlson Hotels. “Our goal is to establish a Regent presence in every key gateway city and premier resort location in Asia Pacific.”

Surrounded by swaying palms, white sand beaches and inviting turquoise waters, The Regent Bali will provide all the key elements of a premium international beachfront hotel. Located on Sanur Beach, one of the most exclusive areas in Bali, guests are promised a refreshing and rich hotel experience from the moment they set foot into this luxury property.

Garuda to Issue Visas in the Air

National flag-carrier airline Garuda Indonesia start will to offer visas on arrival (VoA) on flights on February 1st.

The program entitled “Immigration on Board" was tested on the GA881 flight from Tokyo to Denpasar on January 21.

“This is the world first visa service in the air,” said Emirsyah Satar, Managing Director of Garuda Indonesia.

Present on the flight were the caretaker Immigration Director General Muhammad Indra and the Indonesian Ambassador for Japan Jusuf Anwar.

The second trial will be held today.

With this service, tourists or those who wish to travel to Indonesia do not have to process their visas before their departure or upon arriving at the Denpasar or Jakarta airports.

To process this, passengers can buy a visa voucher after they check in at Narita Airport, Tokyo.

“A visa for 10 days visit costs US$ 10 and a visa for 30-60 days visit cost US$ 25," said Muhammad Indra.

Jusuf said he hoped that the new service would increase the number of Japanese tourists which has been in decline for the last two years.

To increase the number of visits from Japan to Indonesia, according to Emirsyah, Garuda is attempting to have direct flights from Tokyo to Jakarta.

All this time, Japanese passengers have had to go to Denpasar first.

“We hope that this year, direct flights from Tokyo to Jakarta can be operated,’ he said.

Foreign tourists to be able to extend visa-on-arrival

Foreign tourists visiting Indonesia can now extend their visas-on-arrival for another 30 days, as of Jan. 26, the Indonesian immigration office announced Monday.

Prior to this, foreign tourists were not allowed to extend their visas-on-arrival. They had to leave the country to get a new visa.

In the new ruling, the immigration office has decided to scrap the seven-day visa-on-arrival. The office will now only issue visas for a 30-day stay at the rate of US$25, extendable for another 30 days.

Amanjiwo to host spiritual meditation programme

The Amanresorts retreat of Amanjiwo, which overlooks the ancient Buddhist sanctuary of Borobudur in Java, Indonesia, is to host a spiritual meditation programme in May 2010.

Led by Khandro Thrinlay Chodon, a meditation teacher and Tibetan Buddhist, guests will be able to immerse themselves in the spirit of Buddhism, to include morning meditation instruction, evening lectures, private healing and counseling. There will also be excursions organised to Borobudur, as well as other sites such as a Theravada Buddhist monastery and a 9th century Mendut Temple.

Amanjiwo will provide guests with the opportunity to explore other areas of Javanese culture, offering trips to ceremonies, local villages and antique shops as well as elephant trekking and art demonstrations.

Accommodation-wise, Amanjiwo offers 34 suites, of which 14 have private pools. There is also a spa offering beauty treatments as well as a large main swimming pool.

The retreat is situated in a large main amphitheatre and faces both the Borobudur sanctuary and the mystical Tidar Hill, believed by some to be the spiritual centre of Java.

Attendees can choose between a three-night or a six-night retreat, taking place between 14 and 20 May. Details: amanresorts.com

2010 Official Public Holidays

1 Jan New Year's Day.
14 Feb Chinese New Year.
26 Feb Mouloud (Birth of the Prophet).
16 Mar Nyepi (Hindu New Year).
2 Apr Good Friday.
28 Apr Waisak Day (Buddha's Birthday).
13 May Ascension.
9 Jul Lailat al Miraj (Ascension of the Prophet).
17 Aug Indonesian Independence Day.
11 Sep Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan).
17 Nov Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice).
7 Dec Islamic New Year.
25 Dec - 26 Dec Christmas Day/Boxing Day.

Note:  Muslim and Buddhist holidays are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon and so if dates are given above, they are approximations. 

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Fashion at the Speed of Life: Indonesia's Steven Huang

The Indonesian fashion scene continually proves itself an unstoppable force, simultaneously embracing its famed designers while ushering in burgeoning talent. One hot newcomer is Jakarta’s own Steven Huang, whose cutting-edge creations, unconventional working methods and meticulous attention to detail led those at an event organized by Cosmopolitan magazine at Immigrant in Plaza Indonesia on Wednesday to agree that they were in the presence of one of the next big designers.

“My fashion designs make women look sexy and avant-garde” says the 27-year-old, whose fans and customers agree that his designs — which very rarely use patterns and are born of mere muse and fabric draped on a mannequin — defy convention. And while the process of taking an outfit from its birth on a mannequin to its debut on a night out might seem lengthy, the adroit designer’s dresses are finished in anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, pleasing even the most relentless customer.

He pinches and stitches fabric here and there to create a sexy silhouettes. There is no fitting after the dresses are finished, yet his designs feel their way across each of the body’s contours precisely. He works extremely fast, combining several fabrics and adding details like bows, frills and strands of silvery chains to complete his creations.

Originally from Riau, this up-and-comer only recently decided to go full-tilt into the fashion industry.

More..

Bali Tourism - An Island's Cash Cow in 2009

Bali by the Numbers: Bali Tourism Estimated to Have Brought 5.48 Million Tourists and Earned US$7.2 Billion in 2009.

During 2009, tourism is estimated to have contributed US$2.7 billion in foreign exchange to Bali's economy, a figure equal to 42% of the total contribution made by the tourism sector to the national economy.

As reported in Bisnis Indonesia, the head of the Bali Tourism Authority, Bagus Kade Subhiksu, said that the total foreign exchange contribution of tourism for Indonesia in 2009 totaled US$6.5 billion. He went on to explain that the 2,259,000 foreign tourists who came to Bali in 2009 spent an average of US$137.90 per person per day over the average 8.75 average-length-of-stay on the island.

Compared to the previous year, foreign exchange revenues generated by Bali's tourism sector declined 4%, despite the record number of visitors. In 2008, an estimated US$2.8 billion in foreign exchange was produced by Bali's foreign visitors. This decrease is linked by officials to a shortening in the average length-of-stay and lower spending levels.

Bali's 4% decline in foreign exchange earnings compares favorably to nation-wide decrease of 11% decrease in foreign exchange earnings from tourism.

Domestic Tourism

In addition to the US$2.7 billion in foreign exchange for Bali tourism in 2009, domestic visitors to Bali were estimated to have spent Rp. 7 trillion (US$744.7 million), while spending an average 4.2 days in Bali and spending Rp. 516,000 per day. An estimated 3.22 million domestic tourists came to Bali in 2009, representing 58.7% of all tourist visitors to the island.

Subhiksu told the press that he hoped the income earned by tourists visitors to Bali and the fees collected for visa-on-arrival will encourage and justify the central government in providing more funds for the development of Bali's infrastructure.

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

Indonesia bid to host meeting on New 7 Wonders

Indonesia announced its intention of hosting an international meeting to select the New7Wonders in 2011, a senior tourism official said.

"We want to be the host country for the meeting on New Seven Wonders selection," Sapta Nirwandar, the tourism and culture ministry's director general, was quoted as saying Saturday by Antara news agency.

Indonesia has an interest in the event as one of the country's tourist destinations, Komodo National Park, was a finalist in the New7Wonders of Nature selection process, he said.

"Indonesia will be promoted through the event," he said.

The ministry also planned to relaunch the "Vote Komodo for New7Wonders of Nature" promotion in various places.

Currently, the Komodo National Park is among the top 28 finalists in the.

"The Komodo rating is fluctuating but it's still high," Sapta said.

Other competitors include the Sundarbans in India and Bangladesh, the Black Forest in Germany, and the Amazon rainforest. The New7Wonders will be officially announced in 2011

Celebrate Pager Wesi in Kuta

The festival of Pager Wesi could be an interesting event for people staying in Kuta hotels in March.

Celebrating Sang Yang as the creator of the universes, the festival takes place across Bali twice a year and consists of lavish ceremonies in which the Balinese people make offerings to the supreme god.

Anyone with an interest in Balinese religion, which is a combination of local folk beliefs and Hindu influences from other areas of south-east Asia, is advised to experience Bali during Pager Wesi.

Islanders attempt to drive out bad spirits and encourage good ones by making offerings in every house, shop and temple on the island.

Balinese people believe that spirits are not seen, but are omnipresent, with good spirits dwelling in the mountains and bad demons living in the depths of the sea and on quiet beaches.

The religious beliefs of most people on Bali differ from those on mainland Indonesia, where Islam is the most popular faith.

As well as the chance to observe an important event on Bali's religious calendar, staying in Kuta during March will give holidaymakers an opportunity to experience one of Indonesia's most popular beach resort destinations.

Kuta is situated close to Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport and just a short journey from the capital Denpaser.

The resort is known for its varied accommodation and long sandy beach, which attracts surfers from around the world.

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Top Tips for Avoiding ATM Skimmers

ATM skimming technology is readily available and easy for criminals to use, said Dan DeFilippi, an expert on identity theft.

"If you can plug a camera into a computer and plug a VCR into a TV, you can do ATM skimming. That's as simple as it is. You can buy the hardware--all you have to do is plug it in,” said DeFelippi told the US-based news website 13wham.com.

Thieves attach skimmers to ATM's to get people's credit and bank card information. DeFelippi knows what he's talking about, because he used to run scams like this himself.

After his arrest in 2003, DeFelippi agreed to help the US Secret Service infiltrate internet networks devoted to identity theft.

DeFelippi said people are often distracted at ATM’s and don't look closely at the machine they're using. Thieves exploit this fact. He offered these tips to avoid getting scammed.

1. Look for the flashing LED light where you insert the card. A skimmer sometimes covers that light.

2. Be wary of attached brochure containers which can hide cameras to record your PIN number.

3. Pick an ATM close to home and use it regularly so you become familiar with how it operates and can better note changes.

4. Drive-through ATM’s are good targets for thieves because drivers feel rushed by people behind them and don't always pay attention.

5. The safest ATMs are inside a bank or store where people are around.

6. Be suspicious anytime the ATM takes your card and PIN but then says it is out of order and can't give you money.

Related: Police Arrest 3 Over ATM Crimes

Ayana Resort in Indonesia unveils redesigned Damar Terrace restaurant

Ayana Resort and Spa Bali in Bali, Indonesia has reopened remodeled Damar Terrace restaurant designed by Japanese designer Yasuhiro Koichi.

Koichi of Japanese design firm Design Studio Spin has combined comfort with modern Asian decor at Damar Terrace. Koichi has remodeled the space by blending traditional materials, motifs and colors, set off by avant-garde lighting and clean modern lines. Lotus ponds are featured in the interior offering a serene atmosphere.

Damar Terrace restaurant features central thatch-roof bale with a large carved wooden dragon suspended above a bar made from recycled ship wood. Another bale expands to the pond with plush day-beds that offers a floating experience. Each day-bed is separated by wooden partitions offering intimate ambiance to guests. The restaurant is illuminated by glass lamps designed by Japanese glass artist Seiki Torige.

Damar Terrace renovation is the latest in a series of upgrades to Ayana’s restaurants and lounges since the rebranding in April 2009. Ayana Resort and Spa Bali was awarded Asia’s Leading Luxury Resort at the World Travel Awards 2009, just months after rebranding. Formerly Ritz-Carlton Bali, Ayana was rebranded on April 1, 2009 after a management change initiated by the owner.

Positive outlook for Bali tourism

The Bali Hotels Association (BHA) has forecast a 5% to 7% growth for the Bali tourism market on the back of increased flights from KLM and Garuda.

In terms of geographical source of arrivals, BHA expects markets from Europe, Russia, the Middle East and the United States to grow strongly in the second half of 2010.

In addition, BHA has recently launched a marketing programme, ‘Bali is My Life’, which comprises a movie and documentary covering all aspects of Bali for distribution worldwide.

Denpasar to host `ogoh-ogoh' contest

To welcome the Balinese Hindu Nyepi (Day of Silence) Holiday next March, Denpasar municipality office has invited all banjar (village community groups) to compete in an ogoh-ogoh contest.

Ogoh-ogoh are large effigies in the forms of scary creatures including devils, vampires and giants. In modern times, people designate "corrupt persons" as ogoh-ogoh.

The Balinese observe Nyepi Holiday to purify their souls. Prior to the event, people create ogoh-ogoh to symbolize evil

A Glimpse on Traditional Balinese Cuisine

From Bali HotelBali Villa :

The traditional Balinese cuisine is a rare art that cannot be learn perfectly at cooking course, it has to be learn in the preparation of a ceremony since the traditional Balinese cuisine is dedicated mainly for the ceremonial purpose and the authenticity of the flavor cannot be achieved in the cooking course.
balinese_cuisine_1
The basic obstacle in learning traditional Balinese cuisine is the spices. There are many kind of spices used in the traditional Balinese cuisine and there is no exact measurement on the quantity of spices used in a cooking process, all depends on the chef preference. Moreover, there is no standard for the traditional Balinese cuisine every village has its own way of cooking and the use of spices.


Despite all these obstacle there is a basic philosophy that is shared by all the traditional Balinese cuisine’s chef all over Bali.
All the traditional Balinese cuisine has to embody Sad Rasa (Six Basic Flavors) and the unity of these six flavors, through the combination of spices called Basa.
The six flavors are pakeh or salty, lalah or pungent (hot), masem (sour), manis (sweet), pahit (bitter) and sapek, considered an overall flavor felt through the other senses like smell, vision, touch and hearing. The sad rasa (six flavors) have different names in different regions in Bali.
balinese cuisine
In Gianyar it is kotu for pungent, amla for sour, madhura for sweet, lawana for salty, tikhta for bitter and kasaya for insipid or bland.
During the teeth filing ceremony, you must consume the six flavors, which are in the penambal or filling in order to accustomed the teeth and the tongue with the Sad Rasa (Six Basic Flavors).

In Balinese traditional cuisine, the combination of spices that embody these six flavors (Sad Rasa) is prepared and cooked before the actual cooking is begun. For example basa uyah lengis is a simple combination of salt and vegetable oil, and its dominant flavor is salty. Basa embe, which combines three flavors: salty from salt, pungent from shallots and garlic, and sour from lime. Basa lalah manis is an expanded mix of basa embe wherein brown sugar (gula jawa or gula bali) is added and the vegetable oil is replaced with fresh coconut.

This combination consists of four flavors: salty from salt, pungent from red chilies and shallots, sour from limes, and sweet from brown sugar. Basa genep is a combination of six flavors. This combination of spices usually consists of salt, vegetable oil, shallots, garlic, chilies, kaempheria galangal, brown sugar, ginger, greater galangal, turmeric, candlenuts, lemongrass, salam leaves, trassi and lime, as well as black pepper, white pepper, coriander, cumin, cumin leaves, cloves, nutmegs and sesame seeds, and a root called lempuyang, purut lime leaves, cinnamon and a certain type of incense called menyan.

The actual Balinese traditional cooking method is mainly to mix the prepared combination of spices (basa) with other ingredients and cook the mixture if necessary.

Tripping Through Time at Pasar Baru

Chan Mie Ling can be found most days looking after customers at her modest shop, which sells prayer-related paraphernalia.

The shop, where she also lives, sits in a small alley in the Pasar Baru area of Central Jakarta. It is just a few meters away from a Dutch colonial-era building on which can be made out the faded writing “Tjap Potret Njonja Meneer,” a famous brand of herbal medicine.

Pasar Baru, which literally means “new market,” was once of old Jakarta’s most important business centers for the mostly Chinese, Indian and Malay traders who settled down and opened stores here.

Back then, the market mostly catered to the rich. It is said that young Dutch girls loved to walk up and down the market’s two sides in white dresses, umbrellas in hand.

Today, the market’s clientele is more diverse, with fair-skinned foreigners rarely seen in the area.

One indicator of Pasar Baru’s past is the vendors displaying old Indonesian coins and bills in front of some of the shops. The money dates back to the colonial era up until the 1980s. One vendor had a stack of old Acehnese money on display, which he said was original. He was selling the paper money for Rp 25,000 ($3) a banknote.

Most of the people who buy the old bills are either collectors or men about to get married.

Mixed among the older buildings with distinctive Chinese-Dutch architecture are more modern-looking shops, with their big glass windows. Among the area’s architectural gems is the Lee Ie Seng stationery store, built in 1873, and a herbal medicine shop located at the other end of the market.

One side of an intersection dividing the shopping complex leads to the legendary narrow street known as Gang Kelinci, or Rabbit Alley. A popular song of the same name in the 1960s explains the story behind the name. As the song goes, the population in the area grew “like rabbits” in the old days, which made the street crowded.

This alley holds some of the area’s best-known noodle eateries, the largest one being “Bakmi Gang Kelinci” (“Gang Kelinci Noodles”).

Bakmo Aboen is a far more modest Chinese noodle shop, located in an even narrower alley off Gang Kelinci. This is where lovers of non-halal noodles go, as the small shop, which has been around since 1961, serves pork dishes.

A few meters further down Gang Kelinci is Shalimar, an eclectic Indian mini-market that offers food items like thin, long rice for briyani — a hot Indian dish — spices and samosas alongside accessories and makeup. Located nearby are tailors that specialize in Indian saris.

Full article

Mirage Chapel

From Bali HotelBali Villa :

grandmirage01_b
Whether it is a big or simple, traditional or modern wedding, Mirage Chapel is truly a place where your wedding fantasy comes true. The Mirage Chapel is the only chapel in Bali that put the emphasis on the harmony of the nature and architecture to its design. Situated close to the sea overlooking the blue Indian Ocean, Mirage Chapel offers a perfect view to accompany the bride and the groom to tie the knot. The Mirage Chapel combines the gentle sea breeze with its open-air design, creating a dreamy and magical place for your wedding.

German tourist found dead in Aceh

BANDA ACEH: German tourist Andreas Frank Lange was found dead in his hotel room in the Iboh resort area, 28 kilometers from Sabang on Weh Aceh Island.

The body of was found Tuesday but police still did not know the cause of death.

"The body was immediately taken to the community heath center in Iboh before being flown to Banda Aceh," Sabang tourism office head Helmi Alu said Wednesday.

He said his office was trying to contact the German Embassy in Jakarta to arrange to have the body flown back.

Helmi said Lange had been in Aceh, mainly in the Iboh resort area, since last week.

Beyond Bali: Indonesia's other island delights, an Australian View

Lema Samandar goes beyond Indonesia's popular tourist island to experience some of the country's other attractions.

Bali is the only Indonesian island most Australians know.

But my first visit to our northerly neighbour involved only a couple of hours at the airport in Denpasar before heading off to explore the culture and history of other parts of the world's biggest archipelago.

YOGYAKARTA

My first stop was Yogyakarta, on the island of Java. Despite getting only three hours of sleep our first task was to take a sunrise tour of the world famous Borobudur Buddhist monument.

A 3am wake up call and an hour's drive led us to one of the most ancient monuments in Indonesia, situated in the Regency of Magelang.

Tour groups, domestic school students and honeymooners had all gathered at the break of dawn.

With torches in hand, we walked up the steps to the temple, which is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes.

Once we had all caught sight of the breathtaking monument, our sleepiness began to subside.

Built around 800AD and acclaimed by the world as a cultural heritage of mankind, the temple is a kind of stepped pyramid.

The monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage.

Borobudur has been called a three-dimensional portrait of the Buddhist conception of the cosmos and the carvings can be read as an instruction manual for attaining enlightenment.

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Metis is New Kid on Bali Restaurant Block

For more than a decade, Bali’s legendary Kafe Warisan thrilled the palates of well-heeled residents, expatriates and tourists with its selection of French cuisine. So when news spread that it was closing in early October last year, many were disappointed.

They need not have worried. The duo behind Warisan’s stellar reputation — Said Alem and Nicolas Tourneville, better known as Doudou — wasted no time in opening another restaurant a few blocks from the old establishment.

I quickly succumbed to the urge to take a look at the new venture, Metis, located on Jalan Petitenget, Bali’s hottest “eat street.”

A few friends and I left our cozy burrows in Ubud and headed out for Metis. Curious, but not terribly hungry, all we wanted was a salad or dessert.

Metis, which prides itself in providing patrons with “an entirely sensory dining experience,” is beyond a simple restaurant. Stepping inside the low-lit, minimalist building, guests can see the separate rooms leading into the main dining area through the glass panes.

An upscale gallery and a boutique selling jewelry and women’s accessories are located adjacent to each other on one side of the restaurant. On the other is a tempting, brightly lit cake parlor.

Metis’s menu is divided into several categories: starters, meat and poultry, soup and pasta, seafood and dessert. There is a separate menu for foie gras selections and a more-than-decent wine list.

Some of the flowery names given to the dishes sounded mouth-watering: Moroccan lamb rack mechoui with pumpkin couscous and vegetable ragout, for instance, or the duck consomme with black truffle and chicken pistachio quenelles .

Not up for anything heavy, I opted for the latter. My friends chose the salad with the longest name — baked oven roasted tomato and pumpkin with goat cheese, wild rucola, pine nuts, balsamic reduction — and a dessert of morello cherries and pistachio creme brulee.

Drinks are moderately priced, including the alcoholic ones, and cover a wide variety, including fresh juices, shakes and flavored martinis.

While waiting for our orders, we sneaked into the colorful cake parlor. Some of the goods on display, like the many-flavored macaroons, can be found at Bali Catering Company, a cake shop on Jalan Petitenget also established by the restaurant owners. We ordered the Choc Mousse Blackberry Jelly, which was deliciously sweet, and a Yuzu Green Tea Cake, which was refreshing on the outside but sour inside, thanks to citrus flakes.

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Time travel - rewind to 1934

Here's a trip for those with time and money to spare. A South Australian travel agency, Far Horizons, is creating a tour tracing the route of the original Qantas flight from Australia to London in 1934...

The Sydney to London flight departs on August 30, 2011, with 17 stops through Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Burma, India, the UAE, Syria, Turkey and France before arriving in London 20 days later.

Daily flying time will be limited to four hours at a maximum height of 6000 metres and overnight stays will be in hotels of the calibre of Raffles Singapore, the Oriental Bangkok and the Ritz London. There will be private excursions, including a dawn cruise on the Ganges and a visit to the Taj Mahal by moonlight.

The return flight on the same 44-seat Convair CV580 will depart London on September 20, 2011, and will stop 16 times in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia, Uzbekistan, India, Nepal, Laos, Vietnam, Brunei and Indonesia.

The price hasn't been set but Far Horizons organised two similar tours in 2007 with seats priced at $36,000. Both sold out.

To register interest phone 08 8564 0255 or see farhorizons.com.au.

Sustainable Travel International Forges New Links in Indonesia

After finalizing a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind agreement, Sustainable Travel International (STI), a non-profit global leader in sustainable development and responsible tourism, announced today their collaboration with Ecolodges Indonesia (ELI), a pioneering, ecotourism provider operating in an emerging economy, with a focus on biodiversity conservation and enhancement of local community livelihoods. The new collaboration will address the role that growing consumer awareness plays in turning efforts to go green into long-term business solutions for tourism providers.
Sustainable Travel International's mission is to promote sustainable development through responsible travel by providing programs that help travelers, businesses and destinations protect the environment, preserve cultural heritage and promote economic development.

Ecolodges Indonesia is one of the first to pursue international sustainable tourism certification in Indonesia, and is committed to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals through their ecotourism investments and operations. The company's four Ecolodges emphasize wildlife conservation and improving the livelihoods of local communities where the properties are located.

Both STI and Ecolodges Indonesia support the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism Criteria initiated by Rainforest Alliance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), launched at the World Conservation Congress in October 2008.

In addition, STI and ELI will work with a number of other partners, such as the Scientific - Academic - Volunteer - Educational (SAVE) Travel Alliance, National Geographic and other non-government, government and private sector organizations, to identify and utilize additional resources for sustainable tourism development. They will also address the education and training needs of protected areas adjacent to ELI operations:

- Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra, near Satwa Elephant Ecolodge: www.ecolodgesindonesia.com/satwa/index.html

- Tanjung Putting National Park, near Rimba Orangutan Ecolodge: www.ecolodgesindonesia.com/rimba/activities&tours.html

- Komodo National Park, near Bajo Komodo Ecolodge: www.ecolodgesindonesia.com/bajo/index.html

Tulamben, scuba diving heaven

Tulamben, known in the diving world as one of Bali’s premier dive locations, preserves a piece of history as its visitors and residents protect its marine life.

On Jan. 11, 1942, the USAT Liberty started sinking after a Japanese torpedo struck it. Towed to the shore by the American destroyer USS Paul Johns, the Liberty was brought to Tulamben to unload its cargo and supplies since the Singaraya harbor was too full.

It remained in the small village of Tulamben partially submerged in water. Then in 1963, Mount Agung erupted and the lava and earthquakes pushed the ship further down into the water, where it rests on the ocean floor parallel to the shoreline.

Now scuba divers gear up to swim into an underwater playground, where the coral grows on the ship’s 120-meter frame and where marine life includes schooling jack fish, barracuda, napoleon wrasse, humpback parrot fish, white and blacktip reef sharks, as well as pigmy seahorses.

A handful of resorts cater the tastes of guests – divers and non-divers alike.

“Tulamben is a very quiet place with a strong focus on leisure and unwinding, and diving of course,” says Axel Schwan, owner of Tauch Terminal Resort.

While diving at the wreck is the main attraction, guests can also enjoy spa services and scenic spaces to unwind. The black stone beaches might not be ideal for beach-bound sunbathers, but the resort pools and decks all but kiss the ocean and offer a serene setting to capture some rays.

Full article with photos

Angklung to be proposed as world heritage

The Indonesian government is set to propose a Sundanese traditional music instrument known as angklung as the world heritage to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) this year.

A Tourism and Culture Ministry director, Junus Satrio Atmodjo, said the government had been collecting data about Angklung to strengthen the proposal.

"We need to trace a lot of things. Angklung has not only existed in West Java, but people in Bali has also known it," he said in Yogyakarta on Saturday as quoted by Kompas.com

"We hope that Angklung will be declared a the world heritage in 2011."

Last year, batik, the Indonesian traditional dyeing technique, was recognized as one of the world heritage.

Bali’s tourist arrival record of 2.2m difficult to break

Bali set a new record of foreign tourist arrivals with 2.2 million in 2009, but local and international tourism industry players doubt the island can equal or break the mark in the future.

Ida Bagus Sidharta Putra of Santrian Group tours and travel network said Saturday Bali was lucky to receive foreign tourists who shifted their destination from Thailand due to a protracted political crisis there last year.

“I think it will be difficult for us to equal the record now that Thailand has regained political stability. Early room booking this year is no better than last year. A number of tourists from Russia and Europe have even canceled their trips here due to global financial crisis which remains unabated,” he was quoted by kompas.com.

Oliver Libutzki, the regional market management director of Agoda, a Bangkok-based international tours and travel agent, warned Bali of the recovery of tourism industry in Thailand and Malaysia. Thailand, he said, has registered 60,000 early bookings per day.

He said traffic congestions and dirty beaches were among the problems Bali had to address in order to attract more foreign tourists.

Taman Mini kicks off Museum Festival

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) theme park launched the 2010 Museum Festival on Friday, aiming at increasing the public’s interest in visiting museums and learning about the country's culture and history.

The whole-year festival, also held as a part of the government-initiated 2010 Visit Museum Year program, offer visitors various programs, including workshops, seminars, talk shows and book fairs, run regularly in all of TMII's 17 museums.

"We hope this event will attract more and more people to once again put museums as one of their tourism destination options," TMII president director Sugiono told reporters Friday.

Among the most famous museums in TMII are the Museum of Indonesia, the Museum of Information, the Museum of Science and Technology and the Bayt Al-Quran Museum.

During the festival, TMII will offer a 50 percent discount off the entrance fee for visitors.

HONEYMOON PACKAGE AT UMA SAPNA (BASED ON ONE BEDROOM VILLA WITH POOL)

From Bali Hotel & Bali Villa :





HONEYMOON PACKAGE AT UMA SAPNA (BASED ON ONE BEDROOM VILLA WITH POOL)

What's included in this package :
  • 2 nights accommodation in a one bedroom villa with a Swimming pool
  • Complimentary welcome drink and cold towel upon arrival
  • 15 minutes complimentary welcome massage
  • Daily tropical fresh fruit arrangements
  • Daily American breakfast
  • One time in villa Candlelight Dinner
  • Complimentary honeymoon cake and house wine
  • One time in villa happy lunch set menu
  • One time 2 hours spa treatment for two persons
  • Villa decorations
  • Inclusive 21 % Tax & Service
More info about this villa, click here

The package rate is based on per person and valid until Mar 28, 2010

Package Name
Single Occupancy
Double Occupancy
Triple Occupancy
Action
Honeymoon Package at Uma Sapna (based on one bedroom villa with pool)
USD 710
USD 355
NOT AVAILABLE
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Sorry, additional night rate information is available on request, for information and reservation please contact us

WWF spots Sumatran tiger family

A hidden video belonging to the WWF Indonesia has taped a female tiger and its two cubs in the jungle in the central part of Sumatra.

It is the first tiger family WWF Indonesia researchers have discovered ever, due to video recordings over the last month. The WWF placed four videos in the Rimbang Baling conservatory and the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, located in Riau and Jambi.

“Obtaining a video recording of a tiger family within a month after we started operating the device has given us a morale boost,” coordinator of the the WWF-Indonesia research, Karmila Parakkasi told Antara on Thursday.

The video trap also recorded the presence of a male Sumatran tiger and its usual prey such as wild boars, reindeers, anteaters and long-tailed monkeys.

Karmila, however, expressed fear about the survival of the tiger population due to the presence of two giant pulp, paper and palm oil producers near the animal’s habitat, not to mention rampant illegal logging.

“Our question is whether the tiger cubs can grow up in such a threatening environment?” she said. She estimated the number of Sumatran tigers in the wild at 400.

The WWF will launch a global campaign to protect endangered tigers in February, which coincides with the year of the tiger, according to Chinese astrology.

AirAsia and Jetstar Cement Low-Cost Carrier Alliance

Malaysia’s AirAsia and Australia-based Jetstar on Wednesday confirmed they were forming an alliance to help the budget carriers reduce costs, including cooperation on passenger handling at airports across the region and possible joint purchases of aircraft.

On Dec. 18, the Jakarta Globe reported the two were in talks to form a joint venture, a sign that budget carriers were under pressure to cut costs.

Reacting then to the news, the country’s biggest low-cost carrier, PT Lion Air, said any alliance would make competition in Indonesia, one of the region’s largest markets, even more cutthroat.

Key to the AirAsia-Jetstar agreement signed on Wednesday in Sydney is a proposed joint specification for the next generation of narrow body aircraft, the airlines said.

The airlines, among the biggest low-cost carriers in Asia, will consider buying aircraft together so that the bigger orders lower the cost of each plane.

Jetstar, a unit of Australian flag carrier Qantas Airways, and AirAsia will share aircraft parts and cooperate on passenger handling at airports in Australia and Asia.

Travelers Pinch Pennies with 21-Day Advance-Purchase Deal at JW Marriott Medan Indonesia

Great luxury hotel packages don't have to be expensive and the JW Marriott Hotel Medan, Indonesia is making a point of that with its "21-Day Advance-Purchase" deal that is budget-friendly and making travel to Indonesia fun and affordable. Medan, Indonesia hotel packages are a nice way to pinch pennies when traveling to this fabulous city for business or pleasure and with advance purchase rates starting as low as $60 USD, travel enthusiasts won't want to delay making reservations.

Travelers who take advantage of the Marriott's "21-Day Advance-Purchase" deal can save money by booking and paying for their stay in advance at this luxury Medan hotel where these special advance purchase rates are even available on holidays so travelers can book their stay and create their own holiday hotel packages. Medan, Indonesia is the capital of the province of North Sumatra, a major entry point for boats and flights from Malaysia and offers a variety of cultural and historical attractions, as well as the excitement of a major world travel center. The JW Marriott Hotel is conveniently located above the B & G Tower and provides breathtaking views of Medan. Hotels of this caliber are hard to find in Medan, and the new JW Marriott hotel is the first five-star luxury hotel in the city and offers lavish Marriott amenities including the relaxing on-site Quan Spa; five restaurants that feature a variety of world-wide cuisine, including a steakhouse, bakery and the popular Marriott Cafe; a fitness gym, and meeting rooms.

Persons wishing to book Medan as their travel destination may take advantage of these rates from now through Dec. 30, 2010. This offer includes a great hotel room rate when booked at least 21 days prior to arrival (buffet breakfast not included) and may be used on a maximum of three rooms per guest name. Cancellation is permitted up to ten days prior to arrival. All rates are subject to applicable government taxes and services. Blackout dates and restrictions may apply without notice. When making online reservations, the promotional code ADP must appear in the Corporate/Promotional code box, or persons may call 1-800-228-9290 in the US and ask for promotional code ADP. This promotion is valid seven days a week through Dec. 30, 2009 and a limited number of rooms are available. This offer does not apply to groups of 10 or more rooms and cannot be combined with any other promotion. Advance reservations are required. Rates are per room, per night and based on availability at the time of reservation.

Dining Out: Top 5 restaurants in Indonesia

The Miele Guide to Asia's finest restaurants is written by food experts who know and love the region (www.mieleguide.com).

This is a list of the top 5 restaurants in Indonesia, where the cuisine is varied but fine dining still confined to the capital Jakarta and the island of Bali. It is not endorsed by Reuters.

1. Mozaic, Bali
Jalan Raya Sanggingan
Ubud, Gianyar, Bali
www.mozaic-bali.com

2. Ku De Ta, Bali
9 Jalan Laksmana
Seminyak, Kuta, Bali
www.kudeta.net

3. Naughty Nuri's Warung and Grill, Bali
Jalan Raya Sanggingan
Ubud, Bali

4. Sarong Bali Restaurant, Bali
Jalan Petitenget No. 19X
Kerobokan, Kuta
Bali, Indonesia
www.sarongbali.com

5. Bumbu Bali, Bali
Jalan Pratama
Tanjong Benoa, Nusa Dua
www.balifoods.com