BALI UPDATE #393 - 22 March 2004
A Quiet Start to the Year
Bali's 'Day of Quiet' Ushers in the Hindu New Year.
Bali's night of Mardi Gras-like abandon preceding the traditional day of silence - Nyepi passed in a somewhat more sedate manner than years past.
Absent from the nighttime revelry on Saturday, March 20, 2004, were the traditional long parades of giant ogoh-ogoh statues prepared by the youth of every banjar and hoisted through local streets on the shoulders of arak-fortified merry-makers. Eager to avoid the natural rivalry that ogoh-ogoh parades sometimes generate between local villages, local religious and political leaders resolved to ban the making and parading of the large statues for a single year to avoid the cultural parades assuming a political hue in this election year.
That's not to say that the marking of New Year's Eve for the Hindu Caka Year of 1926 was by any means boring. Loudspeakers were installed at most banjars and along major streets to support street parties that went on to the early hours. Other villages sought higher cultural ground, holding musical competitions and traditional dance contests.
In spite the lack of ogoh-ogoh's to mark the end of the old year, parades still formed a part of this year's celebrations in some villages. In Singaraja, North Bali, members of the Bali Agung community held mabuu-buu ceremonies; religious processions stopping at every home to share holy water with their neighbors for use in religious observances. Virtually the entire community, dressed in traditional costumes, and carrying torches and coconut fronds joined the long procession of the prayerful, accompanied on their door-to-door pilgrimage by a local belaganjur orchestra.
GOH Fetes Top Producing Agents
Top Sellers of Bali Packages Receive 5 Day Incentive Holiday.
20 top-selling agents of Bali holidays from Australia
and New Zealand were recently hosted to all-inclusive
holidays in Bali by Garuda Orient Holidays
(GOH) and Garuda Indonesia Airlines
White water rafting, golf, lawn bowls, relaxing spa visits, cooking classes, day cruise to Nusa Ceningan Island and shopping tours were among the activities enjoyed by the 'Top Achievers' in the sale of holiday packages to Bali. Garuda also showed its appreciation by flying the winners in Executive Class to Denpasar and accommodating them at such fine resorts on the island as the Grand Hyatt, Puri Sienna Villas, The Oberoi and The Villas.
On the first evening in Bali the participants gathered on the terrace at Alam Kulkul Boutique Resort in Kuta for sunset cocktails followed by a lavish dinner of lobster and many exotic Balinese favorites next door at Papas Café.
The highlight of the visit was a gala dinner and
awards presentation hosted by the Grand
Hyatt Resort General Manager, Mr. Robert
Vandermaas, and the Director of GOH
in Australia, Mr Iswandi Said, and included the
unveiling of the 2004/5 Bali on ANY Budget
Waterbom Now Offers Japanese Cuisine
Bali's Boutique Water Park Adds Japanese Specialties to Serve its Growing Japanese Market.
Bali's 3.5 hectare water recreation center in South Kuta now offers Japanese food items at all their various food outlets from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
Prices range from Rp. 25,000 to Rp. 35,000 and include a choice of specialties including Katsu-Don, Tempura-Udon, Yakitori-Don, Pork Kimchi-Don, Tofu Salad or Hiyashi-Udon. Sake is also available to accompany the Japanese food items, on request.
Flying Saucers Spotted in Seminyak
Nusantara Frisbee Championships in Bali April 9 - 10, 2004.
Over every Easter Weekend since 2000, DiscIndo - an organized group of Jakarta Frisbee enthusiasts – have held their championship Nusantara Cup in Bali.
This year's event scheduled for April 9 - 10, 2004, at Seminyak's Lapangan Banteng Sports Field is expected to draw 10 teams competing from Indonesia, Singapore, China, Taipei, Bangkok, Malaysia and other international locales.
All in all, over 100 players are expected to toss the small plastic discs that today have a cult-like following of millions around the world.
This year's Bali tournament is organized by The Works, ProMotion Events and DiscIndo. Local sponsors include Bali International Medical Centre, Yayasan GUS and Sanur Deli.
Sponsorship opportunities remain available. For information, contact Ketut at telephone 62-(0)361- 425754.
Bali Dynasty to Rebrand
Popular South Kuta Resort to Come Under the Prime Plaza Umbrella.
Prime Plaza Hotels and Resorts - an Indonesian hotel company comprised of properties in Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Purwakarta, and Bali formerly operated by Raddison Hotels and Resorts Indonesia will soon amalgamate South-Kuta's 312-star Bali Dynasty Resort below its marketing and management umbrella.
Apparently to evolve into a sub-brand of holiday resort properties in the Prime Plaza Portfolio, the Bali Dynasty Resort already enjoys a strong brand presence in Bali, particularly in the domestic and Australian markets.
The move is a logical step for all the hotels concerned given the properties ownership overlap. Mr. Keith Bell, General Manager of the Sanur Paradise Prime Plaza and Suite also serves as the Prime Plaza Marketing Association.
A Short History of Bali
Retired U.S. Diplomat Publishes A Rare Review of Bali's Interesting History.
The Honorable Robert Pringle is a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer who has served in Jakarta, the Philippines, Burkina Faso, Papua New Guinea, South Africa and Mali (as Ambassador). He holds a doctorate in Southeast Asian history from Cornell University and has written several books on Southeast Asia.
His latest volume is A Short History of Bali — Indonesia's Hindu Realm (Allen & Unwin, Australia, ISBN 1865088633, paperback 233 pp).
A Short History of Bali covers the history of Bali dating from the Bronze Age to the presidency of Megawati Sukarnoputri and the tragedy of the Kuta bombings on October 12, 2002. It looks at the arrival of Indian culture, early European contact, the role of anthropologists and taste-makers of the 1930s in romanticizing the island, and the complex legacies of Dutch control. It tells of the Japanese Occupation, the Indonesian Revolution, the massacres of 1965-66 and the onset of mass tourism under the Soeharto regime. Finally, it looks at recent economic progress, as well as its flip side - environmental problems generated by population growth and massive tourist development. It also draws on Balinese opinion about the meaning of the island's past and its future in the new Indonesian democracy.
A Short History of Bali is an important insight into the complicated and surprising history of one of Asia's most captivating societies.
Robert Pringle's A Short History of Bali is available from amazon.com where it was reviewed by Murni of Murni's Warung who said: "Robert Pringle writes in a clear, easy style and covers a large sweep in 231 pages - from Java Man 1.5 million years ago (no evidence he made it to Bali) to August 2003, when the first death sentence was passed on Amrozi, one of the terrorists responsible for the Bali bomb. It is not dry and academic - he talks about visits to Bali with his wife and historical sites. This gives the book a nice, personal touch. It would be a good read on holiday."
You Can Kiss Me on a Monday
Denpasar Suburb Celebrates its Annual Kissing Festival.
A Jakarta legislator who recently suggested that the act of public kissing be made a felony would certainly be outraged by the traditional med medan observances taking place on Monday, March 22, 2004, in the urban village of Banjar Kaja in South Denpasar.
On that day and in deference to an age-old tradition of that community, the young boys and girls of that community gather in the local square; boys to the left, girls to the right, to gradually make there way towards each other to abandon all their adolescent reticence and exchange kisses, often and fervently, with the opposing team.
No one's quite sure where all this kissing business got its start. Locals will cite calamities that have always befallen the local community whenever the med-medan observance lapsed, even for a single year. To be sure to err on the side of caution, this both sacred and profane ritual is now always celebrated on the day immediately after the Nyepi Holiday. Observances begin with a solemn procession to the community temple to seek God's blessing before undertaking the important task ahead. Prayers completed, the boys and girls then separate into two groups; there to pluck up their courage and their lips for what follows.
Concerned parents will bring buckets of holy water to "cool off" their children accidentally overcome by the moment. Similarly, conservative elders in the community urge moderation, ready to quickly point out the difference between a brother-sister-like peck on the cheek and the more passionate meeting of lips - ala Francaise. Inspired by modern film and literature or, more likely, the opportunity presented by such legitimized close proximity to members of the opposite sex, participants in the "med-medan" are often seen to exchange hugs and kisses that would make even Madonna or Britney Spears blush.
While spectators are generally welcome at all local cultural events, participation is strictly limited to local lads and lasses in traditional dress.
This year's "med-medan" will get underway at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, March 22, 2004, on Jalan Raya Sesetan in Banjar Kaja in South Denpasar.
Nirwana's Course Named Asia's Best
Bali Greg Norman Course Named to Top Spot for Four Consecutive Years.
For each of the four past years, Asian Golfing Monthly Magazine has named Le Meridien Nirwana Golf & Spa's 18-hole championship course as the "Best Course in Asia" in its annual survey of the region's golf courses.
The course, with fairways stretched along the shores of the Indian Ocean and overlooking Bali's sacred Tanah Lot Temple, was designed for championship play by Greg Norman.
In winning the top overall honor among Asian golf courses, the Nirwana links were simultaneously cited as the "Best Course in Indonesia" and the "Best Par-Four Hole in Asia" for the challenging and appropriately numbered 13th hole.
Votes in the competition are cast by the golfing readership of the monthly golfing digest and were announced in the March/April edition of the magazine.
Blue of Karja
Solo Exhibition by Wayan Karja at Gaya Gallery April 9 – May 25, 2004.
Widely respected contemporary Balinese artist Wayan Karja has adopted a blue theme for his exhibition "Blue of Karja" at the Gaya Fusion of Senses Gallery in Ubud from April 9 through May 25, 2004.
A teacher at the Indonesian Institute of Arts (ISI) in Denpasar since 1990, Wayan Karja has also traveled, exhibited, studied and taught in the U.S.A. and Europe.
Karja's latest blue period is a departure from his past works - largely expressed in hues of red, yellow and orange.
According to the Artist: "This planet is dominated by blue. To think about blue for me is to think about wholeness, fullness, circle, loops, space without limit, as far as I can imagine, the universe. Blue sky and ocean, mountain and lake accompany me everywhere I go. I feel not alone, look to the sky, look to the water, feel the breeze ... these are my partners everywhere I stay. Like everything, blue also has a negative shadow. Blue can make me feel lost or alone. I need to be aware to turn it into a warmer and more positive direction to maintain a balance."
The Gaya Gallery Fusion of Senses is located on Jalan Raya Sayan, along Ubud's Sayan Ridge. For more information telephone the gallery at ++62-(0)361-979252.
Bali Fashion Week
Fifth Annual Bali Fashion Week and Trade Fair May 27-29, 2004.
Now in its 5th year and a firmly established event on the international fashion calendar, Bali Fashion Week will be held at the Bali International Convention Center (BICC) in Nusa Dua, Bali May 27-29, 2004.
One of a Kind
Adopting as its theme for the current year - One of a Kind, the fashion exhibition and trade fare will attract top regional and international players in fashion and jewelry design, ladies' wear, handbags, men's wear, shoes, lingerie, fashion accessories, evening wear, sportswear, children's wear, and traditional Indonesian textiles for a 3-day program packed with fashion shows, trade exhibits and networking events.
Open to the Public
The first two days of the event are exclusive to registered participants from the fashion industry; however, doors will be opened to the general public on the final day, May 29, 2004.
Garuda Predicts Soaring Profits
2004 Shaping Up to Be Very Profitable for Indonesia's National Air Carrier.
Mr. Indra Setiawan, President Director of Garuda Indonesia has indicated that the airline is very "bullish" on its potential profitability in 2004 due to its growing internal operating efficiencies and a generally buoyant market for travel on the routes they operate.
Predicting a 100% increase in profitability for the current year, Mr. Setiawan said that the carrier is targeting revenues of Rp. 11 trillion (approximately US$ 1.29 billion) yielding a system-wide profit of Rp. 500 billion (approximately US$ 58.8 million).
This buoyantly optimistic view of the airline's future profitability is allowing Garuda to push ahead with plans to secure additional aircraft for its domestic flight operations, supplementing its current armada of 54 aircraft serving 21 domestic and 22 international destinations.
Off the Screen
Major Failure in Radar System at Jakarta's International Airport.
Twice in as many days, operations at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport came to a virtual standstill due to major failures in the radar system controlling the air traffic surrounding the airport.
The latest breakdown occurred on Friday, March 19, 2004, when the control tower's radar systems went down at 8:10 a.m. local time. According to local press reports, the breakdown caused flights to either be diverted or handled manually for approximately one-hour until normal radar function returned.
On Thursday, the previous day, a similar malfunction of the radar system, which lasted for three hours, caused major disruptions in normal flight operations. That breakdown is being blamed on bad weather in the area at the time of the incident.
Jakarta's airport is 1.5 hours flying time from Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport. A number of domestic flights between the two airports were delayed by the recent spate of technical breakdowns in the Jakarta radar system.