The Hidden Past of Indonesia's Gunung Lawu

The temple seems to float high above Java. The distant sweep of the plain lies beneath a veil of lavender haze, and to the west the smooth peak of Merapi rises into a fiery evening sky. This is Candi Cetho, a 15th century relic from the dying days of the Majapahit Kingdom perched on a pine-studded point on the northwest flanks of Gunung Lawu.

But I am not here to explore the mute stones of a lost era. I have heard stories that the village that clings to the slopes below Candi Cetho is itself a relic, an ancient Hindu community that has somehow survived in Muslim Java.

And it seems that the stories are true: At a homestay near the temple gates, the young woman in charge, Yuni, confirms that she herself is a Hindu, as are virtually all of the people in the hamlet.

Dusk is falling as I slip out of the temple through a side gate. The sweet scent of incense wafts from a little warung (food stall) in a grove of pine trees. Three men in black head scarves are hunched over a pile of strange objects — ceremonial daggers, chunky gemstones and tiger claws. They call me to join them. Two are visitors from Jakarta; the third lives here at the temple. His name is Mbah Porol, and he is an expert in mystic matters.

Porol confirms that the people of the village are Hindu, just like they have been since the time of Majapahit. According to legend, Porol says, the last absolute ruler of Majapahit, Brawijaya V, fled to Gunung Lawu when his kingdom fell to the early Muslim state of Demak. Here, among the mists and pines, Brawijaya built temples and places for meditation, and steeped the peak with an aura of intense mysticism that continues to this day.

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Deal of the Day: The Wolas Villas, Seminyak

Offering peace and luxury in Bali, The Wolas Villas features a relaxing spa and completely private accommodation. Villas include a private pool, kitchen and living area. Free Wi-Fi is provided.

Located in Bali's Seminyak tourist resort area, Bali Villas Wolas is close to shopping and entertainment venues. It is only a 15-minute drive from the Ngurah Rai International Airport. Kuta Beach is 10 minutes away by car.

Featuring contemporary designs with Balinese touches, each fully equipped villa at Wolas Villas Resort comes with flat-screen TVs in the living room and bedrooms, a DVD player and minibar. Guests can enjoy swimming in their own private pool among the resort’s landscaped pathways and garden.

Massages and body treatments at The Wolas Villas spa will leave guests feeling relaxed and refreshed. Laundry service is available. The front desk is staffed 24 hours for guests’ convenience.

The resort’s restaurant offers a calm dining experience overlooking a beautiful fish pond. It is open for all meals. Private meals in the villa can also be arranged by informing the butler.

Jalan Yudistira 18 Seminyak, Bali, 80361 Seminyak

Must See Attractions in Indonesia

Touring around the world can offer many experiences, such as soaking up the Back Bay from one of the many fine hotels in Boston or simply taking in the scenery at Newport in Rhode Island. Here however, are some of the finest tourist attractions in Indonesia, ones you will not want to miss on your visit.

Sitting on the Equator in Southeast Asia, Indonesia has a series of pristine tropical islands that have resort towns and beaches with many leisurely activities to offer and fascinating island places to explore. Welcoming and happy people provide comfortable accommodations, friendly tours and many water sports and other amusements for visitors from all over the world. For a tropical getaway, here are some of the must see attractions to be discovered in Indonesia:

Bali Jet Set

Those with little or ample experience in water sports can enjoy this Bali Jet Set Dive and Marine Sports facility. Found in southern Bali, people come here for the fun of an afternoon enjoying whatever water sports they desire. Instructors are on hand for safety, to demonstrate methods and to help those inexperienced with different watercraft and equipment. Diving, snorkeling, surfing and parasailing as well as boating and fishing are some of the activities possible from this facility.

Banda Neira Church

On the beautiful island of Maluku in the town of Banda Neira is a bit of Dutch colonial history. This church survived the massacre of Christian and Muslim people. The building is beautifully maintained today. Local guides are available to give visitors tours of the church and the town recounting the rich history of the area and the culture of the past and present residents of this lovely island of Maluku.

Istiqlal Mosque

In Java's capital city of Jakarta, this ornate mosque is a sacred worship and conference center. The interior can accommodate many thousands of worshipers. One of Asia's largest mosques, the architecture and the sacred atmosphere is impressive for those who respectfully tour the building.


Located in Jakarta is a fun and educational amusement park for families and children. The children actually get to dress up like fire fighters to put out a fire or experience being a lawyer, police and any number of adult careers. They also receive "money" with which to purchase food and other items like a driver's license and a car.

Saung Angklung Udjo

In the city of Bandung on the island of Jakarta, one of the fabulous cultural shows is a lively musical performance using Sudanese bamboo instruments and children who are dancing and singing. Angklung is distinctively Indonesian music. The audience gets the chance to witness a true piece of the culture and art of the Indonesian islands

A holiday that certainly offered a different experience to my most recent which was a trip to, and stay in, one of the many hotels in Washington DC. This trip will capture your heart and imagination and will certainly live up to your expectations.

Pullman Bali Legian Nirwana

5-star luxury awaits at Pullman Bali Legian with a rooftop infinity pool overlooking the ocean and stunning sunsets. It houses a day spa, 2 landscaped lagoon pools and fitness facilities.

Spacious units open out to panoramic views of the Indian Ocean or landscaped grounds from private balconies. They feature a 32-inch flat-screen internet TV, separate shower and bath areas and wood flooring.

Pullman Bali Legian Nirwana is a 20-minute drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport. Offering free parking, it is within 2 km of Discovery Mall and Kuta Art Market.

Guests can enjoy relaxing spa massages or surf the waves at Legian Beach, just 1 km away. The resort also has a kids’ club and free Wi-Fi in public areas.

A spread of local, Asian and European dishes are available at the 4 dining venues. Highlights include Sembilan Balinese restaurant and IP, the trendy rooftop bar offering drinks and pasta.

1 Jalan Melasti, Bali, 80361 Legian

Expat Hotel Owner Jailed in Singaraja

Karl Gunther Meyer, Owner of Hotel Melka Arrested on Suspicion of Fraud and Embezzlement by North Bali Prosecutors.

NusaBali reports that the expatriate owner of the Hotel Melka in Singaraja, Karl Gunther Meyer (52), is being held in the Singaraja prison in under suspicion of fraud or embezzlement involving billions of rupiahs allegedly taken from a business associate.

Meyer was taken into custody in Singaraja on Friday, February 17, 2012.

The case still under investigation dates from a complaint filed in January 2010 by a business associate of Meyer, Michael Brag. Once the Bali’s prosecutor’s office verified there was a case to be answered, the case file was sent to prosecutors in Singaraja.

Two officials from the Bali Prosecutor’s Office, Putu Astawa and A.A. Alit Swastika, said the case against Meyer stems from the sale and purchase of shares between Karl Meyer and Michael Brag for the Hotel Melka, located in Kalibubuk, Lovina, Singaraja. A sales document for the share purchase purportedly records Brag purchasing 25% of the hotel’s shares for Rp. 5.9 billion (US$655,000).

With the sales of shares the name of the hotel was changed to the Melka Excelsior Hotel Dolphin and Wildlife Resort. The prosecutors say that on one occasion Meyer introduced Brag as “one of the owners of the hotel” at a meeting attended by all the hotel’s staff.

Astawa explained that at one point in the transaction Meyer asked Brag to deposit 25% of the share purchase price or Rp. 9 billion (US$100,000). Astawa said it was later discovered after the transfer that Michael Brag was not listed as a stockholder, but instead Meyer’s wife was added to the list of shareholders.

Brag unhappiness with the situation was aggravated further when he learned that Meyer had pledged, without his knowledge, all the shares of the Hotel Melka as surety in a credit application with a local bank to borrow more than 4 billion (US$444,000).

On Friday, February 25, 2012, when the evidence file in the case was formally presented, Singaraja prosecutors immediately ordered the detention of Meyer. The chief prosecutor in Singaraja said his incarceration was in anticipation that German national might attempt to flee the jurisdiction and to facilitate the continuing investigation of the case.

Plans are for the case to be brought to trial in the near future. Meyer is charged with violation Sections 372 and 378 of the criminal code for frauds and embezzlement punishable with four years imprisonment.

© Bali Discovery Tours. Articles may be quoted and reproduced if attributed to All images and graphics are copyright protected.

Mandala Air to be launched in april

Singapore's low-cost carrier, Tiger Airways, will launch its Indonesian joint venture Mandala Airlines in April and gradually boost its fleet size to 10 new Airbus A320 jets over the year, chief executive Chin Yau Seng said.

The move will enable Tiger, 33 percent owned by Singapore Airlines, to tap one of the world's fastest-growing air transport markets. Mandala will have the same fleet size as Tiger's operation in Australia by March 2013.

Tiger completed its acquisition of a 33 percent stake in the troubled Indonesian carrier in January and leased two Airbus A320 planes to Mandala. Last week, the airline successfully reactivated its license and said it will resume flights in April.

Chin said the carrier is scheduled to take delivery of 10 Airbus A320s during the 2012-2013 financial year, of which two will be used to replace aircraft that it will return to the lessor and the remaining eight will go to Mandala.

Before he moved to Tiger, Chin oversaw SIA's cabin crew operation, which is seven times bigger than Tiger's entire workforce of 1,000 people.

Chin declined to give details about the routes Mandala will fly from its base in Jakarta, apart from saying it will serve domestic and international destinations.

Mandala will compete with Indonesia's Citilink, the low-cost unit of flag carrier Garuda Indonesia and with Indonesia's Lion Air, which recently ordered USD$22 billion worth of new aircraft from Boeing.

Chin said he will focus on filling Tiger's planes over the next year rather than pushing for higher yields from each passenger. Yields have been under pressure over the past year due to deliveries of new aircraft.

Last year, Australia's aviation regulator imposed a five-week flight ban on Tiger's operation there due to safety issues, which prompted SIA to assign Chin to help the recovery.

Tiger's Australian problem, combined with excess capacity in its Singapore operation, led to a loss of SGD$87.9 million (USD$69.7 million) for the first nine months of the 2011/2012 financial year, a reversal from its profit of SGD$38.5 million in the previous year.

"In Singapore we are slowly narrowing the gap in terms of the capacity growth, so demand has to catch up. Once we mop up the excess capacity, we are in a better position to build up the yields," Chin said.

He said the Australian operation has been progressively returning to pre-suspension levels and Tiger will utilise its 10 aircraft in the country in the second half of 2012, up from between six to seven currently.

For the first nine months of the financial year ending in March 2012, Tiger saw its capacity, measured in terms of available seat kilometres, rise by 12.2 percent, but the number of passengers fell 5.3 percent.

Tiger now operates 34 Airbus A320 aircraft and will boost its fleet size to 68 planes by December 2015.

Food, Hotel and Tourism Bali 2012 Exhibition: March 1-3

Bali will host the largest food and hotel exhibition ever held in the province from March 1-3 at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center, a senior official said in Jakarta on Monday.
“The new venue will host 498 companies from 33 countries, including national pavilions from Taiwan and the U.S. in the Food, Hotel and Tourism Bali 2012,” exhibition director from PT Parmerindo Indonesia Ian Roberts remarked.
He said that the larger venue allowed them to place all exhibitors in one hall, providing much easier access to the 7,500 trade visitors who are expected to visit the 3 day event.
“We have been overwhelmed by the response this year, both from companies in Indonesia and abroad. This will definitely be the largest Food, Hotel, and Tourism Bali Exhibition to date,” he said.
The biennial exhibition will be held alongside the Salon Culinaire, a chef’s competition organized by the Bali Culinary Professionals (BCP) and a member of the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS).
Over 250 chefs are expected to take part in a range of competitions, including hot food presentations, table dressing, fruit, vegetables, ice carving and butter sculptures.
“New categories added this year include Brunch Plated Display, Tapas or finger food, sugar and chocolate pastry showpieces, contemporary sushi platter and the Junior Pasta Culinary Competition,” said Christian Nehemia, vice president of BCP and chairman of Bali Salon Culinaire 2012.
Deputy tourism and creative economy minister Sapta Nirwandar said that the ministry fully supported the 8th Food, Hotel, and Tourism Bali 2012 and hoped more cities would conduct similar exhibitions.
“We hope to have the same event in Medan, North Sumatra, and Makassar, South Sulawesi, in the near future,” Sapta said.

Indonesian Restaurateur Wins Intellectual Property Rights To "Kopitiam"

The Indonesian courts have ruled in favour of a local restaurateur who claimed intellectual property rights over the word "kopitiam" - a Chinese word which means coffee shop, causing industry members to brew over the situation.

The Jakarta Post ran a story today that in 2010, Abdul Alek Soelystio, the owner of Jakarta-based "Kopitiam", had sued "Kok Tong Kopitiam" in the Medan Administrative Court for using the word and won the case.

Abdul claimed he had registered intellectual property rights to "kopitiam" in 1996.

Unhappy with the outcome, Paimin Halim, owner of "Kok Tong Kopitiam", appealed to the Supreme Court, but the lower court's decision was merely upheld.

The report said, Abdul took out an advertisement in a national newspaper on Feb 6 this year warning other restaurateurs to immediately drop "kopitiam" from their brand id

Seminyak La Villais Exclusive Villa & Spa

Exclusive stays await at La Villais, which features modern Balinese-style villas with private pools and free Wi-Fi. A 5-minute stroll from Seminyak Square, it offers free parking and area shuttles to Kuta and Pentitenget Beach.

A 15-minute walk from numerous dining options, La Villais Exclusive Villa & Spa is a 20-minute drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport.

Featuring modern dark wood furnishings, well-appointed bedrooms that open out to views of the private pool. Luxurious villas have a fully furnished kitchen and large bathrooms with over-sized windows. A flat-screen TV and iPod docking station are included.

Guests can enjoy relaxing massage therapies at Adella Spa or lounge in the afternoon sun by the outdoor pool. Friendly staff at La Villais can attend to business and travel needs.

Featuring Indonesian specialities, Membon Restaurant offers hot meals and light refreshments with views of the pool. Room service is available.

Jalan Pangkung Sari Br Taman, Bali, 80361 Seminyak

Indonesia Fashion Week 2012 begins in Jakarta

Indonesia Fashion Week (IFW) 2012 has begun in the country’s capital Jakarta.

About 500 fashion designers and small and medium entrepreneurs are likely to showcase their collections at the four-day event, which is expected to attract about 30,000 visitors.

IFW 2012, organized by the Indonesian Fashion Designers Association, will include fashion shows and seminars on topics like branding and trend forecasts, in addition to display of collections by various brands and designers.

Ami Wirabudi, Head of the IFW organizing committee, said the IFW was a dream come true for local fashion designers and hoped that the fashion week would help the domestic fashion industry to compete in international markets.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Industry Minister MS Hidayat, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari E. Pangestu, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan and Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Syarifudin Hasan.

According to official data, the fashion and apparel industry accounted for Rp 71.9 trillion or about 5.9 percent of Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

The industry employs around 4 million people and fetches Rp 50.3 trillion in terms of foreign exchange for the country.

The event is scheduled to close on February 26 with display of ‘Ethnic Eclectism’ by Ferry Sunarto, Musa Widyatmodjo and Anne Avantie.

Java Jazz 2012 big draws

What used to be an event for a niche audience has become the annual occasion that many Jakartans feel they must attend.

No longer reliant on bulking together barely known artists with well-past-their-heyday headliners, the Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival now carries an increasing number of respected names in its lineup. And while the event’s “jazz” tag seems to have lost some relevance with the mounting inclusion of musicians who bear no signs of the genre in their sound, it is still the place to go if you want to catch a variety of eclectic music.

One of this year’s big draws is Stevie Wonder , the legendary artist whose influence on the R&B genre is immense. Wonder is popular for his barrage of hits, including the ’70s groovy mainstays “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours ,” “Superstition,” and “Higher Ground.”

His high-profile collaborations have included singles with Paul McCartney , Dionne Warwick and the Jackson 5, among many notable others. For casual Indonesian listeners, Wonder’s most memorable hit was undoubtedly the plaintive (if rather sappy), organ-driven ballad “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” which dominated the radio waves here when it came out in 1984.

Another legend set to perform is Herbie Hancock. Certainly a major player on the jazz scene, Hancock honed his skills as a member of the illustrious Miles Davis’s “second great quintet.” He is seen as being largely responsible for the rise of “post-bop” jazz during the mid-’60s, a genre that indulged in syncopated rhythms and eventually then-new instrumentations such as synthesizers.

Hancock’s popularity surged beyond the jazz scene, however, with his ability to write jazz-infused pop songs that crossed into the mainstream. An example of this dynamism can be found in the rousing hip-hop styled “Rockit” in 1983, which was a minor hit in Indonesia due to its novel usage of vinyl scratching.

Over the years, Hancock’s characteristically funk-ified brand of jazz has made him the go-to guy for artists to collaborate with, including Freddie Hubbard, Quincy Jones, Joni Mitchell and even Stevie Wonder. Over the years, Hancock has won a whopping 14 Grammies and has written or produced hits that many perhaps don’t even know he had a hand in.

Another headliner is Erykah Badu , the soulful songstress whose music contains a seemingly effortless blend of soul, jazz, R&B, reggae and hip-hop, among others. Known to her fans as “The First Lady of Neo-Soul,” Badu found success with her debut release, “Baduizm,” in 1997. The record, as well as its breakthrough single “On & On,” made her a favorite with the Indonesian jazz and R&B crowds. Her strong vocal inflections are an obvious source of influence to many female singers around the country.

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The festival will take place from March 2 to 4at the Jakarta International Expo in Kemayoran.
Ticketing and full lineup info:

Sharing Indonesia's Food With the World

The TV show opened with Indonesian culinary expert Bondan Winarno and his youngest daughter, Gwendoline Amanda Wirastari, standing in front of Prambanan Temple on the outskirts of Yogyakarta. The morning sun filtered though the temple towers, creating a serene, majestic tableau.

The father and daughter scoured the temple and briefly explained its history. Afterward, they went to Pasar Lempuyangan in Yogyakarta to enjoy jadah manten, a traditional sweet and savory snack made of cassava, brown sugar and coconut.

“I love this so much,” Gwen said, smiling at the camera.

Father and daughter were filming an episode for the first season of “Taste of Indonesia,” a TV program that showcases the riches of Indonesian cuisines on the Asian Food Channel.

Based in Singapore, the AFC is a 24-hour cable and satellite TV channel that features Asian foods and lifestyles.

In Indonesia, AFC is broadcast by major cable TV providers, including First Media, Indovision, Aora and Telkomvision.

Through AFC, the “Taste of Indonesia” is being aired in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Hong Kong, Mongolia and Indonesia.

“A survey showed that AFC beat all other channels when the ‘Taste of Indonesia’ was aired in prime time,” according to Foo.

The research, conducted by AGB Nielsen in Malaysia, showed that approximately 3.2 million viewers watched the first screening of the show in that country alone.

“It shows that our viewers are enthusiastic to see more and more Indonesian [culinary] programs,” Foo said.

Reruns of the show are now being aired on AFC in eight countries on Fridays at 8:30 p.m. Jakarta time.

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The Urgent Need for a Bali Tourism Promotion Board

Leading Bali Tourism Educator Says Urgent Establishment of a Bali Tourism Board Required by National Tourism Law of 2009

The Dean of the Tourism Faculty at Bali’s Udayana University, Drs. I Putu Anom, has called for the urgent formation of a Bali Tourism Promotion Board.

Anom’s comments were made on Thursday, February 16, 2012, and reported by

The National Tourism Law No. 10 of 2009, requires the province of Bali to establish a provincial Tourism Promotion Board (BTPB) that involves the participation all tourism stakeholders

Anom said the formation of the BPTB must involve the provincial government of Bali, the regencies and municipalities of Bali, the Bali Tourism Board (GIPI) and its members. He added that the BTPB must also include participation by Bali’s tourism academies, such as the STP Bali, the tourism faculty of Udayana University and others. In order to maintain the organization’s neutrality, Anom also wants to see journalists and the press included in the BTPB’s formation.

The BTPB is envisioned as coordinating all tourism promotion activities and in the preparation of promotional materials that are both valid and up-to-date.

Calling for a promotional model that is clear and well executed, Putu Anom want to see promotional plans targeted on markets with strong potential for producing visitors to Bali.

Concluding his comments, Anom said, “the elements and components of tourism promotion are very complex; we need to establish the BTPB as quickly as possible.”

© Bali Discovery Tours. Articles may be quoted and reproduced if attributed to All images and graphics are copyright protected.

Heart of Borneo designated as "world`s lungs"

Kalimantan Island or also known as Borneo is host to a vast area of the country`s remaining tropical rainforests where various endemic flora and fauna can be found.

Rainforests in the Heart of Borneo also have a crucial function as the lungs of the world because they produce oxygen needed to help overcome the impact of climate change.

Given the important role of the rainforests, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on January 5, 2012, signed a regulation authorizing the use of 45 percent of Kalimantan island as biodiversity conservation and tropical rainforest vegetation reserves to make the island the world`s lungs.

"At least 45 percent of Indonesian Borneo will serve as the lungs of the world, with the plan ensuring that local ecosystems are protected and the biodiversity of the island is allowed to flourish," a presidential press release said last month.

Under Presidential Regulation No. 3 of 2012, the government will also make efforts to prevent activities that may disturb the reserve areas.

The regulation covers a massive area of more than 250,000 km2 encompassing vast tracts of rainforest land in the Heart of Borneo and landscapes beyond.

The remaining 55 percent of Kalimantan island, however, can be used to support the government`s program to achieve energy self-sufficiency and the creation of national energy barns for electricity production and develop the island into a mineral, coal, oil and gas mining center, the regulation said.

In addition, it can also be used for sustainable development of oil palm and rubber plantations and timber estates; front veranda and gateway of the country bordering Malaysia; water-based national urban area development center; tropical forest-based ecotourism and Kalimantan culture tourism; inter-mode transportation networks; and food self-sufficiency and national food barn.

The forestry ministry`s secretary general, Hadi Daryanto, said "We hope with the decree, Indonesia will be able to meet its target of reducing gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020."

In a speech to G20 leaders on Sept. 25, 2009, President Yudhoyono said the government was crafting a policy that would cut emissions by 26 percent by 2020 from "business as usual" (BAU) levels.

Welcoming the signing of the presidential regulation on Kalimantan`s rainforest, Adam Tomasek, head of the WWF`s Heart of Borneo Initiative, said the new decree offers a fantastic opportunity to secure the future of Borneo as a place where sustainable development exists in balance with a practical and beneficial conservation regime.

"WWF has been working for a long time with both National and local governments to develop spatial plans, and engage businesses and communities to drive conservation and sustainable development in Borneo. The decree is a leadership statement from the President of Indonesia that will help ensure the previous commitments on the Heart of Borneo will be met," Tomasek said in a press release posted on the website of WWF Indonesia.

The governments of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia signed a declaration on Heart of Borneo on February 12, 2007, committing themselves to the conservation and sustainable development of a 22 Million-hectare `Heart of Borneo` (HoB).

The three countries which share Borneo or Kalimantan Island, are working with WWF to conserve 220,000 km2 of rainforests - almost 1/3 of the island - through a network of protected areas and sustainably-managed forests.

Kalimantan`s tropical rainforests are the habitat of endemic animals such as orangutan, Rhino and Pygmy Elephant.

Coinciding with the HoB project`s fifth anniversary, Tomasek on February 12, 2012, released a scientific report entitled The Environmental Status of the Heart of Borneo.

"For the first time the environmental health of the HoB has been assessed using a series of scientifically derived biological and ecosystem indicators and the results have indicated the HoB is currently in good health," Tomasek said.

According to the report, most forest types in the HoB are currently rated as good or very good. This is particularly important for lowland forests which are under severe threat across the rest of the island of Borneo.

In fact, given that lowland forests are the prime habitats of the Pygmy elephant, orangutan and Rhino, the HoB may be the last stronghold for the preservation of this type of forests on Borneo, the WWF report said.

However, HoB still remains under serious threat from industrial conversion of natural forest to palm oil and other agricultural crops, as well as illegal logging and unsustainable rates of legal timber extraction.

Forest fires, mining and overhunting of wildlife are also major threats. During the El Nino of 1982-83, fires burned about 9.1 million acres (3.7 million hectares) of forest degraded by commercial logging and agriculture in Kalimantan. These fires may have been the largest in human history.

To raise awareness of the high conservation values of the HoB, a Heart of Borneo Festival will be organized in Jakarta, April 2012.

A key event of the Festival will be a 3-day scientific, policy and youth forum which will reveal the true value of the HoB`s natural capital and its vital role in the development of a green economy in the region

Missing Australian tourists found off Bali

Four Australian tourists reported missing on a chartered boat off the coast of Bali on Sunday night have been found alive.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson told The Australian that all four Australians were safe.

The tourists and three crew members were on board the wooden boat heading out to an island off the coast of Bali to embark on a three-day diving holiday when the engine failed on Sunday afternoon, the ABC reported.
Search and rescue teams were deployed but their efforts were interrupted by bad weather.

The crew have now made contact with the boat's owner, Ayi Fajri Iskandar, who said the Australians were shaken but safe and heading back to Bali, the ABC said.

Search for Australian tourists missing off east coast of Bali

Indonesian authorities say they are searching for a boat carrying four Australian tourists feared lost at sea off the east coast of Bali.

The boat owner, Ayi Fajri Iskandar, says he alerted Bali search and rescue authorities after the crew told him its engine had failed late yesterday afternoon.

When search teams contacted the crew by marine radio several hours later they were still adrift and unable to restart the engine.

The last contact was around midnight local time.

Mr Iskandar says it was carrying four Australians who are all members of the one family. But he says the authorities have incorrectly noted their names.

While the boat has been missing for more than 24 hours, its owner says it is large and seaworthy and he is confident it will not sink.

The passengers were on their way from Bali to Nusa Lembongan, just off the east coast, for a three-day diving and snorkelling holiday.

Search and rescue teams say their efforts have been hampered by bad weather.

Java Jazz 2012: Where jazz finds a home

Jakarta International Djarum Super Mild Java Jazz Festival 2012 scheduled for 2, 3 and 4 March and to take place at JIExpo Kemayoran, has been a topic of discussion amongst many. The kick off was the first Java Jazz on the Move for the season, was held on January 20th at fX Sudirman, Jakarta. Since then, a series of JJOTM has taken place in various venues in Jakarta and its surrounding area.

Malaysia Intensifies Promotional Campaign To Lure Indonesian Tourists

Tourism Malaysia is intensifying its promotional campaign here in a bid to lure more Indonesian tourists to visit Malaysia.

Its deputy director in Indonesia Norlizah Jahaya said the campaign was promoting, among others, Malaysia's world-class shopping centres, real estate under the Malaysia My Second Home programme, Meeting, Incentive, Convention and exhibition (MICE) activities, as well as annual event such as Formula One Grand Prix, shoe festival, mega sales and golf tournaments.

She said other activities like travel fairs and travel marts were also being held in major cities namely Jakarta, Surabaya and Semarang, which were connected via direct flights from Kuala Lumpur or Penang.

Apart from that, she said such a promotional activity was also being held at selected elite and international schools.

"Tourism Malaysia in Indonesia is using various approaches in promoting Malaysia as a tourist destination, including by forging a smart partnership with an international bank, which has registered 1.7 million credit card holders, in a bid to reach out to the targeted group," she said.

Norlizah said the effort to promote Malaysia's popular tourist destinations would also be carried out during several major events in the republic, such as the Java Jazz Festival 2012 scheduled to be held in here from March 2 to 4.

A special booth will also be set up to sell Malaysia's popular breakfast "roti canai" and "teh tarik" during the festival, she said.

Indonesia is the second largest tourism market for Malaysia after Singapore.

Tourism Malaysia director in Indonesia Jamil Darus, had on Thursday, organised a special programme, dubbed "Travex" in Balik Papan, East Kalimantan, to introduce 13 Malaysian hotel operators and travel agencies to 60 Indonesian travel agencies from Balik Papan and Samarinda.

At the same time, a tourism seminar for Indonesian media and travel agaencies was also held at the Malaysian Embassy here to promote luxury holidays to Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, in Redang Island, Terengganu, and The Cheteau, Spa and Organic Wellness Resort and Colmar Tropicale, in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang.

Source: Bernama

Floral Feast of Dance Unfolding in Jakarta

With no stage, no seats and no barriers between the dancers and the audience, “Petals in the Crowd — Flowers of Lamentation Series II,” a contemporary dance piece, won’t settle for being an evening of pretty but passive entertainment.

Less of a performance and more about experience, “Petals” aims to challenge people’s notions of dance recitals, personal and public space and interactions with others.

“Petals” is the creation of Angela Liong, who was once proclaimed Singapore’s shaman of dance, and her dance group, The Arts Fission Company.

In creating “Petals,” Liong said, she considered the impact of technology on modern society. But she also drew from Ezra Pound’s 1913 haiku-influenced poem, “In a Station of the Metro,” and the Tang Dynasty-era piece “Face in the Peach Blossoms.”

Although the influences and ideas might seem disjointed, Liong said the disparate themes were united through flowers.

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‘Petals in the Crowd — Flowers of Lamentation Series II’ is being performed at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at:
Komunitas SaliharaJl. Salihara No. 16 Pasar Minggu South Jakarta
Tickets are Rp 50,000 and Rp 25,000 for students

Magnuson Hotels Adds Grand Royal Panghegar

Magnuson Hotels, the world’s largest independent hotel group, announced today their expansion into Indonesia with the addition of the Grand Royal Panghegar Hotel in Bandung, the capital of the West Java province.
Situated just 140 km Southeast of Jakarta, the Grand Royal Panghegar Hotel is a 15-minute drive from Husein Sastranegara International Airport and is within walking distance from world-class shopping on Braga Street, the nearby business district, Universitas Katolik Parahyangan Merdeka, Bandung Station, Masjid Kubah Emas, museums, golf resorts, and the tropical wonder of the Parahyangan Mountains.
“Magnuson Hotels is proud to welcome Cecep Rukmana and the Grand Royal Panghegar Bandung to the Magnuson Hotels affiliation. Our entire global organization is committed to increasing this hotels’ worldwide visibility rapidly,” stated Magnuson Hotels CEO Thomas Magnuson.

Bandung, nicknamed “the Paris of Java” by Dutch settlers in colonial times, is famous for apparel, culinary treasures, and as a pleasant weekend escape from the busy Jakarta. The Grand Panghegar Hotel, 450 room four star accommodation in the city center, offers luxurious accommodations including; pool, wellness spa, shopping arcade, meeting facilities, and several dining/entertainment choices.
Guests will enjoy luxurious accommodations along with a free breakfast buffet each morning, free wireless internet, free airport shuttle service, outdoor pool with hot tub, sauna, business center with fax and copy service, restaurant that serves Indonesian, Chinese and Western dishes, room service, refreshments in the lounge, free parking onsite, concierge services and meeting spaces as well as spa services.

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Anantara launches 365 Days of Good Deeds Campaign

For over ten years, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas has been committed to creating luxury travel experiences that also benefit the environment and local communities. All of Anantara’s 17 properties across Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Maldives and Middle East immerse themselves in local initiatives that give back to the community and environment, thereby enhancing the social and environmental surroundings of each Anantara destination. In 2012, Anantara has brought all these good deeds together and is launching the ‘365 Days of Good Deeds’ sustainability programme. At least one good deed will take place for every day of 2012.

Whether it’s rescuing street elephants in Thailand, marine turtle protection in Phuket, coral rejuvenation in the Maldives or supporting local farmers in Indonesia, Anantara is dedicated to carrying out corporate social responsibility programmes at a grassroots level in each of its exotic locations around the world.

“Every day Anantara retreats offer true destination journeys that connect guests with the colourful heritage, local traditions and natural wonders of their locale,” explains Dillip Rajakarier, CEO Minor Hotel Group, owner of the Anantara brand. “We voluntarily engage in community development at all our business locations. This means we have a certain degree of responsibility to ensure that we find benefits that help local communities both socially and economically.”

The ‘365 Days of Good Deeds’ programme also invites guests to combine their five star journey of colourful heritage, local traditions and natural wonders, with the opportunity to participate in a range of good deeds that help the communities both socially and environmentally in each locale.

Anantara Seminyak Resort & Spa, set along the sought after Seminyak Beach in Bali, encourages guests to participate in local, national and international sustainability and cultural events. Along with other Anantara properties, the resort takes part in Environment Day, Earth Hour and Earth Day, in addition to other programmes such as the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, which has developed over the past 25 years to become the world’s largest volunteer efforts for ocean health.

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Starwood to open Le Meridien resort in Bali Jimbaran

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide has signed an agreement with PT Tiara Raya Bali International to develop a new 123-suite Le Meridien-branded resort in Bali, Indonesia.

Located on Bali's western coast, the yet-to-open Ristia Resort is to be renamed Le Meridien Bali - Jimbaran under the terms of the deal and is scheduled to open in mid-2012.

Facilities will include a full-service spa; a fitness suite; a "uniquely-designed" lagoon pool; and meeting space, as well as the three-storey Bamboo Chic restaurant and bar.

Eva Ziegler, global brand leader for Le Meridien and W Hotels Worldwide, said: "Le Meridien has undergone a comprehensive brand transformation in the six years since it was acquired by Starwood.

"In this new era for Le Meridien, with its best portfolio ever and a new brand direction, we are proud to return to Bali, specifically a perfect lifestyle destination such as Jimbaran."

Indonesia participation at the Venlo Floriade 2012

Nature, horticulture, culture and tradition are the main focus of the pavilion. A range of traditional buildings including Balinese towers and Javanese and Sumatran houses dominate the Indonesian entry. A lake, a waterfall and a sawa (rice field) are examples of typical natural features from Indonesia that can be seen in this entry. There is also a small amphitheatre which will feature traditional Indonesian performances.
At the last Floriade, the Indonesian pavilion was voted the best national entry in the Park.

For more information click here.

Bali’s Economy Robust in 2011

Bali by the Numbers: Bali’s Gross Domestic Product Grew 6.29% in 2011

The Central Statistic Bureau (BPS) in Bali recorded a 6.49% growth in the Regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Bali for 2011.

As reported by Bisnis Indonesia, the head of BPS in Bali, Gede Suarsa said the GDP for Bali in 2011 totaled Rp. 73.47 trillion (US$8.16 million) as measured by current transaction values.

The 2011 figures represent a 10% increase over the GDP for 2010 of Rp. 66.69 trillion (US$7.4 million).

Suarsa said the source of growth in Bali’s 2011 results came from the following sub-sectors of the economy:
Mining and excavation up 10.51%
Service industry up 9.97%
Trading, hotel and restaurants up 8.65%
Construction up 7.88%
Electrical, gas and clean water up 7.35%
Financial services and leasing up 6.22%
Transportation and communication up 5.97%
Agriculture up 2.23%
In 2011 Bali exports increased 106% over the previous year. At the same time, Bali’s level of imports from overseas and other areas of Indonesia increased 113.38% in 2011. As a result, the effect of net exports on Bali’s economy was relatively small.

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Bandung is AirAsia’s third-largest hub in Indonesia

Bandung has become the third-largest hub for low-cost carrier AirAsia Indonesia (AAI) after Jakarta and Denpasar, a senior executive said Tuesday.
Bandung now serves more passengers than Surabaya and Medan.
AAI commercial director Widijastoro Nugroho said that the number of AAI’s passengers to and from Bandung showed significant increase, with 33 percent growth from 479,912 passengers in 2010 to 639,058 in 2011.
The largest increase was on the Bandung-Denpasar route, which had 65 percent growth, from 47,418 passengers to 78,119. Meanwhile, the Bandung-Kuala Lumpur route was still the busiest, with 142,280 passengers in 2011, an 8 percent increase on the previous year.
“I have always been optimistic about the Bandung market since we first flew there in 2004, connecting the city with Kuala Lumpur,” Widijastoro said.
“This is because Bandung is a tourism magnet that is not only loved by domestic tourists but also foreign ones for being a shopping and culinary haven.”
He was speaking from the sidelines of the maiden flight between Bandung, West Java, and the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya.
AAI uses Airbus A320 aircraft, with a capacity of 180 seats, for daily flights in the Bandung-Surabaya route.
On Feb. 10, flag carrier Garuda Indonesia also launched a Bandung-Surabaya route. Garuda uses a Boeing 737-500, with a capacity of 12 business-class seats and 84 economy-class seats.
From Bandung’s Husein Sastranegara International Airport, AAI operates flights to Medan, Denpasar and Singapore with twice-daily flights. The Bandung-Kuala Lumpur route is served three times daily.
Widijastoro said that the importance of Bandung to AAI was shown by placing two Airbus A320s at the airport, including Bandung-based engineers and cabin crew

Swiss-Belhotel and Accor to open 15 Hotels in Indonesia

Two international hotel chains are planning to open 15 hotels in Indonesia this year following increased demand from local business and leisure travelers.

Swiss-Belhotel International alone would open eight 3- or 4-star hotels across the archipelago, according to regional public relations and promotions manager Harshanty Kaloko.

“We have recently opened the very first 4-star Swiss-Belhotel in one of the easternmost cities in Indonesia — Merauke, Papua — that is strategically located in the heart of the city, just 10 minutes from Mopah Airport,” she told The Jakarta Post over the telephone.

The company opened another hotel in January: The 3-star Swiss-Belinn Balikpapan in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on Jan. 12, Harshanty said.

The company would open three more Swiss-Belinn hotels before the end of the year in Pekanbaru, Riau; Makassar, South Sulawesi; and Pangkalan Bun, Central Sulawesi, Harshanty added.

Swiss-Belhotel hotels would be opened in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan; in the rainforest of Kuta, Bali; and at Harbor Bay in Batam, Riau Islands.

“Tourism and business travel are only just beginning to flourish. At least 35 additional properties will come into operation by 2014, ranging from 2-, 3- to 4-star classifications,” Harshanty said.

Swiss-Belhotel International has developed a new brand for its 2-star hotels, identified as the Zest Hotel chain, and has already started construction on two Zest Hotels in Ambon, Maluku and Legian, Bali, she said.

The company also reported interest in similar development in other cities, such as Batam; Jakarta; Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi; Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara; Makassar; Manado, North Sulawesi; Medan, North Sumatra; Semarang and Surakarta, Central Java; and Yogyakarta.

The group currently operates 26 hotels in 21 cities across the nation and claims an average occupancy rate of 75 percent.

According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), 7.65 million foreign tourists visited Indonesia in 2011, up 9 percent from 2010.

Of those foreign tourists, the government collected US$8.6 billion in foreign exchange, the BPS said, up 13 percent from 2010.

According to the latest figures, the aggregate occupancy rate of starred hotels in 20 selected provinces stood at 56 percent in December 2011, up 2.6 percent from the previous month and up 2 percent from the same period in 2010.

Contacted separately, Gerard Guillouet, Accor Hotel’s vice president for Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, said that the chain would open seven new hotels, ranging from budget to luxury boutique hotels, this year.

Gerard said that Accor planned to open a budget-class All Seasons/Ibis Style hotel with 183 rooms in Benoa, Bali; a 3-star Ibis hotel with 150 rooms in Kuta; and a mammoth 604 room, 3-star Ibis in Bandung, West Java.

In addition, Accor would open four more hotels in Jakarta and Kuta, he said.

The capital city would get a 4-star hotel Novotel in Gajah Mada, Central Jakarta; a 4-star Grand Mercure in Harmoni, Central Jakarta; and a 3-star-plus Mercure in Simatupang, South Jakarta; while building The Kuta Beach Heritage boutique hotel with 149 rooms in Bali, according to Accor.

“We have built a hotel network of 46 hotels in 18 cities and its still growing. This makes Accor the largest hotel operator in Indonesia,” he told the Post in an email.

Accor officially opened the 5-star Pullman Jakarta Indonesia, formerly Hotel Nikko Jakarta, in Central Jakarta, on Jan. 19.

Amaroossa Hotel, Jalan Riau Bandung

Amaroosa Hotel Bandung is located in central Bandung City, a 5-minute walk to the factory outlets at Riau Street. The hotel offers an outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi and 6 dining options.

Featuring a unique decor each guestroom comes with fine beddings, a flat-screen satellite TV and ironing facilities. There is also a minibar, personal safe and a hairdryer.

Guests can work out at the modern fitness centre or indulge in customised treatments like aromatherapy at Larenta Salon & Spa. Younger guests will find various games and activities at the children’s corner.

The elegant Roses Coffee Shop offers a great selection of coffee, while The Roosse Cake Bakery serves delicious cakes and pastries. Surrounded by tropical greenery, The Gardenia provides a beautiful outdoor setting for a meal. Chinese, Western and Indonesian cuisines are available at the hotel’s all-day dining restaurants.

Amaroosa Hotel Bandung is a 25-minute drive from Husein Sastranegara International Airport.

Jl. Aceh no 71A, 40115 Bandung

In Bandung, Chocolate With a Bite of Luxury

It wouldn’t be a proper Valentine’s Day without chocolate, as chocolatiers all over the world know. In Bandung, two cacao crafters have been hard at work to create the sweetest, most creative offerings for lovers in search of the perfect treat this holiday.

Chocolatier Kiki Gumelar, who sells his Chocodot brand of sweets, came up with a package called Tekanan Batin Cinta (Love Under Mental Pressure), or TBC, for Valentine’s Day this year. The package includes five fun varieties: coklat gawat darurat (emergency chocolate), coklat anti galau (anti-mellow chocolate), coklat tolak miskin (poor-repellent chocolate), coklat badai tsunami (tsunami wave chocolate) and coklat sesuwatu banged (chocolate for something meaningful).

“Our flavors represent the feelings that people experience when they’re in love,” Kiki said.

Valentine’s Day is also a special occasion for chocolatier Adisty Halim, 25, the owner of Dhestchza chocolate products.

Adisty started her chocolate business in Bandung after graduating from high school, and today she specializes in unique, artistic chocolates. She sells everything from chocolate bars to 3D creations, and she invites people to place custom orders on Valentine’s Day with no additional charge.

“Customers can request special designs and even flavors for Valentine’s Day gifts,” she said, adding that the most difficult orders last year were for a 3D chocolate violin and piano.

“Since we didn’t have the molds, we had to make them [the molds] first,” she said. “But we didn’t charge the customers for the extra work and cost. We only charged them for the amount of chocolate used for the designs.”

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Ujung Kulon wild bull population believed flourishing

The exact population of the wild bull (Bos Javanicus Javanicus) in the Ujung Kulon National Park (TMNUK) is still unknown but park officials believe it is flourishing.

"We have so far not conducted a head count but based on sightings made through video traps we believe their number is quite large," Hendra Purnam, a TNUK officer in charge of valuations and data collecting, said here Friday.

The bull population was believed to be flourishing because the animals had access to plenty of natural food and were being carefully protected.

The wild bull was living in a 30,000-hectare forest area in the park together with other rare species such as the one-horn Javanese rhinoceros, tiger, eagle and owa (a primate).

The wild bull was to be found only in Indonesia and Burma. In Indonesia, their habitats were located in Kalimantan and Java.

The TNUJK management was tightly protecting the rare animals, especially from illegal hunting activity, he said. The only enemies of the wild bull were tigers and forest dogs.

Hendra also said the park management had also observed the one-horn rhinoceros population through video traps and now estimated there were 35 of them in the park

ITB Berlin 2012: eTravel World 2012

At the world’s leading travel trade show the success story of the eTravel World, the travel technology sector’s trend-setting platform, is set to continue. In the Travel Technology section in Hall 7.1c leading companies and startups will be presenting their latest mobile travel service and social media apps and innovations.

Companies representing social review management services such as Reevoo and Review Pro will be setting new trends. At workshops and seminars taking place at the eTravel Lab trade visitors from the business travel and tourism sectors can exchange in-depth views with decision-makers and practical experts about the mobile solutions of the future.

For the first time the programme of stage events will feature simultaneous interpreting into English and German and will present travel blog discussions and papers by experts on the latest social media and mobile strategy developments. At the eTravel Lounge guests can network and meet during happy hours.

Leading figures and practical experts examine highly topical industry issues

This year the eTravel World is due to launch a new discipline, the first App Marathon. On Saturday, 10 March, providers from ten categories will present their mobile travel apps for smartphones in on-stage sessions lasting 30 minutes each. Furthermore, a heavily revised and extended version of the “Mobile Travel App Guide - Edition 2012 powered by ITB“ is being released to coincide with ITB Berlin. The guide looks at 120 mobile applications and provides an overview of travel applications and what they do. The book is available from the stand of mvolution in the eTravel World section in Hall 7.1c and from book stores

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Le Jardin Boutique Villas, Seminyak, Bali

Le Jardin Boutique Villas is just 3 minutes’ walk from Seminyak’s Sunset Beach. It offers spacious open-air villas with private pools and gardens, and free shuttles within Legian and Seminyak.

Featuring wooden furnishings, villas at Le Jardin have living and dining areas and a kitchen. Room amenities include a TV, a DVD player and a safety deposit box. The bathrooms feature a bathtub and a double vanity sink.

Guests can exercise in the mini gym, or rent a bicycle free of charge and explore the beautiful surroundings. Relaxing spa treatments are also available. The hotel provides limousine service and tour arrangements.

Le Jardin offers an in-villa menu, which chefs can prepare in the villas upon guests’ request. Meals can also be enjoyed at the small restaurant.

Le Jardin Boutique Villas is just a 5-minute walk to nearby dining and nightlife options.

Jalan Sarinande no 7, 80362 Seminyak

Rp 70 billion for Bandung airport expansion this year

Airport operator PT Angkasa Pura (AP) II has invested Rp 70 billion (US$7.77 million) to expand the Husein Sastranegara International Airport in Bandung, West Java this year.
AP II finance director Laurensius Manurung said the company plans to allocate a total investment of Rp 370 billion over a three-year program, concluding in 2014.
Laurensius said that the expansion has become a necessity amid soaring traffic at the airport, mainly from international arrivals.
“The growth of international passengers coming to Bandung is much higher than that of domestic passengers. Many tourists from Malaysia come to Bandung,” Laurensius said.
Bandung is popularly known as the “Paris of Java” for its role as a central hub of the country’s fashion industry.
Laurensius said traffic in the airport had reached 900,000 passengers per year, surpassing its capacity of 700,000 passengers per year.
The company plans to expand the airport’s capacity to 2 million passengers per year.
For the expansion project, the company will use a 6,000 square-meter plot of land currently being used by PT Dirgantara Indonesia for new airport space.
According to Laurensius, the land belongs to the Indonesian Air Force.
“We will discuss the land with PT Dirgantara Indonesia. The land should be returned first to the Air Force and then we can propose a cooperation plan for the use of the land for at least 50 years,” he said.
The expansion project will include the construction of parking and cargo areas.

Number of tourists to South Sumatra up 20 pct

The number of tourists to South Sumatra in 2012 may increase by 20 pct from last year`s.

"We will try to increase the number of tourists here by holding and organizing various activities and programs," head of the South Sumatra culture and tourism agency Toni Panggarbesi said in Palembang Thursday.

He said to reach the number of tourists he will cooperate with the relevant authorities in the area.

He said Indonesia last year had 7.6 million tourists, and was planned to reach eight million, but they reached only 7.8 million.

The tourists in South Sumatra came from Malaysia, and also from Jakarta, Bali, Yogyakarta, and Batam, and he will try to increase their number by 20 pct this year, he said.

He said while in 2011 the number of Indonesian tourists reached 2.7 million, the number of foreign tourists reached 36-40 thousand to South Sumatra.

"This year we need to cooperate with the world of tourists and shareholders. We make souvenirs, but the readiness of the regencies and cities are also expected in the development and arrangements of tourism objects and destinations," he said.

He said it is also necessary to hold activities such as holding a festival like the recent "cap go meh" (end of Chinese new year), for instance.

He will also invite the South Sumatra Arts Council to hold regional dances on Saturdays and Sundays, especially to entertain tourists.

The cultural and tourism agency will also cooperate with tourist operators in Malaysia, and the promotion of hotels in the province, he said.

South Sulawesi has a number of tourist objects and destinations including Pulau Kemarau (dry season island), Bukit Siguntang, Plaza Benteng Kuto Besak, and Lake Ranau, Gunung Dempo and many others.

Madura Is Steeped in History

The island of Madura gets a bad rap on Java. The stereotype is that all Madurese are crass, ill-mannered and quick to anger, while the island itself is hot, dirty and simply not worth visiting.

The Javanese prejudice against Madura has knocked the island off the list of destinations for most domestic tourists, who in turn discourage foreigners from visiting. But as is the case with most stereotypes, not everything people say about Madura is true.

Located just northeast of Surabaya in East Java, Madura is easily accessible by boat across the Madura Strait. Since 2009, it has also been accessible by road, thanks to the Suramadu Bridge connecting the island to mainland Java.

Entering the main town (after a three-hour drive), I found Sumenep itself to be clean, cultured and affordable. I made the obligatory visit to the Grand Sumenep Mosque, the town’s best-known attraction.

The structure, built in 1779, showed a fascinating combination of Chinese, Javanese, Indian, Portuguese and Arab influences in its architecture. The interior of the mosque likewise displayed the influence of those cultures in the ceiling, wooden windows, pillars and mihrab. But the most beautiful part of the mosque is its concrete gate, which has a European touch.

A few hundred meters to the east of the mosque is Kraton Sumenep, the sultan’s palace and the only one of its kind in East Java. The palace is said to have been established in 1269, when its authority covered all of Madura, as well as the many islands scattered around it. The head of the kadipaten, or sultanate, was known as the adipati.

Unlike Yogyakarta’s kraton in Central Java, the kraton complex in Madura is no longer occupied by traditional families serving the adipati (the last sultan ruled in 1929). The complex surrounding the palace was built in 1762 by Adipati Sumenep Tumenggung Ario Notokusumo, or Panembahan Somala (1762-1811).

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Casinos behind record number of visitors to Singapore

A record number of visitors came to Singapore last year as new casinos lured gamblers, the tourism authority said Tuesday.
Visitor arrivals rose to 13.2 million, up 13 percent from 2010, the Tourism Board said in a statement. About 2.6 million Indonesians visited Singapore last year, followed by tourists from China, Malaysia and Australia.

Tourism industry revenue jumped 17 percent to a record SG$22.2 billion (US$17.8 billion), the board said. Revenue from sightseeing and entertainment, which includes gambling, soared 37 percent to SG$5.5 billion.

Visitor arrivals have more than doubled since 2003 and tourism has become a key economic growth driver for the city-state of 5 million people. The government expects the economy, which also relies on manufacturing and finance, to expand as little as 1 percent this year, down from 4.8 percent last year.

France is the world's most visited country by international tourists with 77 million in 2010, followed by the U.S. with 60 million.

Singapore's world-class shopping malls used to be the key tourist draw but its first two casino resorts have helped attract visitors since they opened in 2010, particularly from neighboring Asian countries.

Arrivals from China surged 35 percent in 2011, the first full year the casinos were operating.

The government has sought to keep Singaporeans out of the casinos, imposing a SG$100 entry fee on citizens. Regulators this week fined Las Vegas Sands Corp.'s Marina Bay Sands SG$255,000 and Genting Singapore Ltd.'s Resorts World Sentosa SG$130,000 for breaking admission rules such as allowing Singaporeans to enter the casinos without paying the entry levies.

Club Med Bali Now Only One Flight Away for Kiwis

One of New Zealanders' favourite Club Med resorts will soon be only one flight away.

Air New Zealand has just announced the commencement of direct Bali flights over the peak period of June to October, making Club Med Bali very accessible to Kiwis.

Club Med New Zealand Marketing Manager Kaarin Gaukrodger says, "Club Med Bali is already a firm favourite with New Zealanders and direct flights now make it even more attractive. Club Med’s all inclusive packages to Bali offer exceptional value and now with no stops between new Zealand and Denpasar this destination will be in high demand.”

"Located only 30 minutes drive from Denpasar airport, for Kiwis Club Med Bali is now the most easily accessible of all our resorts worldwide."

Trendy Club Med Bali was recently extensively refurbished and is located in the heart of the peaceful and sophisticated environs of Nusa Dua. Set in lush gardens the traditional Balinese style resort is nestled along a stretching white sand beach and an ideal choice for families and couples.

Club Med's all inclusive holiday packages include flights, transfers, accommodation, all day dining, snacks, an open bar, Kids Clubs, nightly entertainment and a range of activities including windsurfing, archery, yoga, soccer, golf and trapeze.

West Lombok to open culinary centers

The West Lombok regency administration in West Nusa Tenggara province will build a culinary center on a highway leading to the Lombok International Airport to create a new economic hub.
“The traffic to Lombok International Airport will be quite high. People who leave the region may look for restaurants or souvenir shops,” West Lombok industrial and trade agency head Joko Wiratno said in Gerung, West Nusa Tenggara, on Sunday as reported by Antara news agency.
Joko said that the culinary and souvenir centers will be built in two locations: at the Sulin Bridge near the border with Central Lombok regency and around the Lombok Barat Bangkit traffic circle.
He said the project was aimed at creating business opportunities for local residents, as well as meeting the needs of travelers.
The regency administration will also build six other such centers in Jembatan Kembar, in front of the Tripat Gerung General Hospital, Batulayar, Pusuk, Gerimak and Keru. These areas will be allocated for street vendors and already have fruit centers to assist development of the culinary centers.
Lombok is popular for its pristine beaches and beautiful scenery. Several famous international tourist destinations include Senggigi beach and Gili islets

Featured Hotels on Lombok

Batik's Living Heritage on Display in New Show

Batik is more than a mere textile. Its meanings and significance transcend its colors, motifs and fabrics.

In Java, people traditionally wear certain batik designs to show their social stature and power, or to communicate their best wishes for the future on important occasions such as coronations and weddings. For many people, batik is more than just an item of clothing — it is intertwined with every aspect of their lives.

Batik also fosters relationships among people from different countries and cultural backgrounds. The latest exhibition at the National Gallery, “Indonesian Batik: A Living Heritage,” is evidence of how batik has brought together people from many different walks of life and bound them as lifelong friends.

The exhibition offers an insight into batik’s history, its current developments and future possibilities.

More than 80 vintage batik pieces belonging to German and Indonesian collectors are now on display at the gallery in Central Jakarta.

“Batik is a trademark of Indonesia,” Norbert Baas, Germany’s ambassador to Indonesia, said at the exhibition opening on Wednesday.

“Batik, with its rich colors, motifs and meanings, has always charmed visitors to Indonesia. I think it has a lot of potential. I see a great future in batik.”

The exhibition is part of Germany and Indonesia (Jerin), a series of cultural celebrations to mark 60 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Martin Krummeck, deputy managing director of the German-Indonesian Chamber of Industry and Commerce (Ekonid), is the coordinator of the exhibition.

“Batik is not only found in Yogyakarta and Solo, but everywhere in Indonesia,” he said. “Here we want to show you a glimpse into the huge range of batik and the many different cultures that have influenced its styles, colors and motifs.”

The “Indonesian Batik” exhibition will run at the National Gallery until Monday before traveling to East Java.

“I think more people should come to this exhibition, where they can actually learn something, rather than going to the malls and spending a lot of money,” said Johannas, an exhibition visitor. “It’s a very informative and well-executed exhibition.”

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Regent Bali Set to Open in June

Regent Bali, a $100 million, 95-room luxury resort and residences, is scheduled to welcome its first guests to the idyllic Sanur district of Bali in June 2012.

Situated in the exclusive Sanur District; where the spectacular coral reef is complemented by picture-postcard swaying palms, white sandy beaches and tempting turquoise waters, the Regent Bali invites you to explore its four-acre estate of stunning tropical gardens and luxurious beach resort.

Popularly known as the ‘Island of the Gods’ and the ‘Dawn of the World’ for its rare and haunting beauty, Bali’s rich Indonesian culture and naturally hospitable people have made it one of the more sought-after international tourist destinations. Sanur itself; Bali’s original beachside resort and the location of our new hotel, is considered one of the island’s most elite and desirable areas.

Regent’s unrivalled reputation for sumptuous luxury and anticipatory service, together with its strong affinity with Asia, have been given full rein in the development of this exciting new resort. With its unrivalled comfort and elegant design, the Regent Bali will provide the ultimate premium beachfront hotel experience.

As the Spa capital of Asia, no trip to Bali would be complete without some serious physical and mental pampering. The Regent Bali has created a truly gourmet Spa experience and whether it is a dip in our luxury beachfront infinity pool, full-body aromatherapy, an indulgent Balinese massage, a stimulating workout at our well-equipped fitness centre or an afternoon simply relaxing on the shores of Sanur Beach, the Regent Bali is guaranteed to relax and soothe your senses.

More information: Regent Bali

Air New Zealand adds Bali to its international flights

Air New Zealand has added new seasonal flights to its international routes with Bali now a direct destination.

Kiwis will now be able to fly non-stop to the popular holiday destination of Bali with the launch of Air New Zealand’s new twice weekly service between Auckland and Denpasar Airport.

The Boeing 767-300 service will operate seasonally over the peak demand period of June to October, but has the potential to operate year round if there’s sufficient demand.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe says Bali is already a popular destination for Kiwis and the non-stop service will now make it even more accessible.

“Our flight time of eight and a half hours is a significant improvement on the indirect services offered by competitors that can involve long layovers and a total journey time of at least 14 and sometimes more than 24 hours.”

“We’ll be offering our flexible and popular ‘Seats to Suit’ fare structure on the Bali route with great pricing and arrival and departure times to be announced closer to the on-sale date of 23 February,” Mr Fyfe says.

“Bali has a stable tropical climate and great value food and accommodation, making it a really affordable way for New Zealanders to enjoy a resort style holiday in Asia at a fraction of the price of other destinations.”

The inaugural flight will depart on Wednesday June 20, subject to government and regulatory approvals. The Boeing 767-300 has 24 Business Class and 204 Economy Class seats.

Bali is a great addition to Air New Zealand’s portfolio of island destinations which includes Fiji, Tonga, Cook Islands, Samoa, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Vanuatu, Norfolk Island, Niue and Honolulu.

Air New Zealand last operated services between Auckland to Bali in the 1990s using a Boeing 767-200 aircraft.

Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta Airport Debuts Country's First Biometric Immigration Gates

For Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Indonesia, long lines at the immigration counter is a thing of the past. Bio-key International Inc. has partnered with Oakwell Engineering to introduce the country's first biometric immigration gate that enables faster clearance times and increased security.
The new biometric gate solution provided by Oakwell and BIO-key expedites the immigration process.

It scans the e-passport and the barcode on the boarding pass, checks fingerprints, snaps a picture of the passengers and voila! they are through in less than three minutes.

"This is a step forward. With these auto gates protected by biometric technology, Soekarno-Hatta has made itself an international airport with sophisticated technologies," stated Maryoto Sumadi, spokesperson for the immigration office, in a press release.

According to Mike DePasquale, CEO at BIO-key International, Inc., as an offshoot of 9/11, airport security has become more stringent. This has resulted in long lines in security, multiple ID checkpoints and other new security measures that have all contributed to a not so enjoyable experience for passengers.

Fraser Residence Sudirman Jakarta Luxury Apartments

Fraser Residence's luxury apartments has floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of Jakarta. Located in Jakarta's Golden Triangle Business District, this 5-star apartment complex has a gym and sport facilities.

Modern apartments at Fraser Residence Sudirman Jakarta have plenty of living space. Each well-appointed apartment is equipped with a flat-screen TV, iPod docking station and washing machine.

Guests can work out at the fitness centre, or relax in the steam room. With a 24-hour front desk, the hotel provides concierge and airport shuttle services.

The restaurant serves a variety of local and western dishes. All-day dining options are available.

Sudirman Jakarta Fraser Residence is a 10-minute drive from Grand Indonesia Plaza Senayan and Plaza Indonesia Shopping Mall. Free parking is provided.

Address: Jl. Setiabudi Raya, No. 9 Sudirman, Jakarta South, 12910 Jakarta

Garuda wins "Indonesian most admired company award" from Fortune

National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has won an "Indonesian Most Admired Company Award" from Fortune Indonesia magazine for its success in implementing good corporate transformation program.

The award was an achievement the management of Garuda Indonesia could be proud of, Garuda technical and management director Hadinoto Soedigno said here on Wednesday.

"The achievement proves that all the efforts we have made to improve services and to conduct corporate transformation have given us good results, particularly the public`s positive perception and appreciation (of Garuda`s performance)," Hadinoto said in a press statement.

The magazine`s appreciation for Garuda`s transformation program was based on the results of a survey and research as well as on the public`s assessment of companies in Indonesia, he said.

"The assessment covered a number of aspects including leadership, management system, innovation, financial performance, corporate social responsibilities (CSR), human resources development, and development of managerial team," he said.

The award also went to other companies, including Unilever, Bank Mandiri, Telkom, Medco, BRI, Indosat, Aneka Tambang, and BCA.

Hadinoto said last year Garuda also won a number of awards from both national and international organizations in recognition of its achievement.

The awards included "Top Brand Award", "Indonesia Best Brand Award", "Annual Report Award", and "Good Corporate Governance/GCG Awards` from national organizations.

Also last year, Garuda won "World`s Most Improved Airline" from Skytrax London, an independent global airline rating agency, and "Airline Turnaround of the Year" from the Center of Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA)

Mulia Group Introduces a New Brand of Luxury to Bali, in 2012

Luxury Hotel owners and operators, the Mulia Group are currently in development of a new Brand and Resort destination in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, opening 2012.

This is the place to bliss out everyone. Explore the dramatic coastline of Nusa Dua that surrounds The Mulia, Mulia Resort & Villas, experience the serenity of breathtaking landscapes, or stroll through the perfect for those special moments. Indulge amidst magnificent nature escape you will find nowhere else.

With stunning beach frontage along Nusa Dua's bay, The Mulia evokes a relaxed yet polished sensibility. From expansive and elegant suites to distinct lounge and oceanfront pools, The Mulia's luxury accommodations truly exceed expectations for style, comfort and service. Experience a relaxing retreat with lavish amenities at this amazing haven.

Exclusivity and luxurious interplay with the first designated purity reserve in the world. Featuring superbly designed rooms, suites, including Lagoon Suites, the recreation on Mulia Resort abounds and the pace is up to you to discover the chic of this luxury getaway. Mulia Resort's Café all-day brasserie offers dining with exquisite lake and ocean views. The signature seaside Mediterranean restaurant, Soleil, tantalizes your taste buds without compromise. In the evening, ZJ's Bar transforms into a definitely sophisticated place to see and be seen. Mulia Spa at Mulia Resort makes every effort to refresh, renew, and revive while you relax in a tranquil oasis.

Steps from the white sand beach, featuring private pathways to the secluded gardens and ultra exclusive hydrotherapy pools surrounded by lush landscapes, the exquisite Villas combine intimate settings with ultra-luxury services and amenities to craft an unparalleled island experience for those seeking a sense that transcends conventional tropical getaways.

Steal away to the island for a romantic retreat at Mulia. The lakeside chapel, Eternity, along with both Harmony and Unity chapels, each with seating for up to 250 guests, may create those once-in-a-lifetime memories of a truly special day for two only. The Grand Ballroom and Conference Rooms, with accommodation up to 5,000 guests, set the ideal stage for one-of-a-kind island celebrations, lavish executive retreat meetings and unforgettable social events.

Be pampered. Be spoilt. Be indulged. Nestling yourself in a blend of luxury and nature

The Mulia
This new ultra high end Brand from Mulia, offers an all suite property with individualized Butler Service, a meticulous attention to detail and unsurpassed sense of style and space,

Mulia Resort
Mulia Resort offers an incredible variety of spectacular rooms, suite, lagoon suites, dining opportunities and wonderful amenities.

The exquisite villa accommodations are the largest of their kind on the island. Ranging from one and two bedrooms villas, all the way to the six bedrooms Mulia Mansion.


Mulia Group is renowned for its cutting edge design, efficient space planning and operational excellence. From architectural design through to construction, marketing and property management, our team creates office environments that enable you to focus exclusively on your business. Our prestigious office towers include award winning landmarks such as Wisma Mulia, Wisma GKBI and Taman Anggrek Mall & Condominium. As an award winning hospitality Management Company, overseeing Hotel Mulia Senayan and the new Nusa Dua Development of The Mulia, Mulia Resort & Villas - Bali, the Mulia Group continues to raise the bar in luxury hotels throughout Indonesia.

For further information, please contact:

Pre-Opening Office
Wisma Mulia, 56th floor
Jl. Gatot Subroto No. 42
Jakarta 12710 - Indonesia
Tel +62 21 52971999, 5207729 Ext. 4538

Rainata Tjoa
Director of Communications
The Mulia, Mulia Resort & Villas - Nusa Dua, Bali

Indonesia Dec foreign tourist arrivals rise 12 pct y/y

Indonesia's foreign tourist arrivals rose 12.47 percent in December from a year ago, slower than the 13.28 percent growth the previous month, the country's statistics bureau said on Wednesday.

The archipelago lags regional neighbours in attracting tourists, though some economists think boosting its service industries could be a new engine of growth for Southeast Asia's largest economy