"I am writing to express my thanks for the professionalism and abilities of the support crew you assembled to work with us while researching and filming the effects of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Banda Aceh, Sumatra. I owe you a debt of gratitude to you and your staff for making this scientific mission a success."
Jose C. Borrero Ph.D Assistant Research Professor, University of Southern California
Great Earthquake of Magnitude 8.7 Causes Death and Damage in Distant Western Indonesia, But Unfelt by Bali Holiday Makers.
A massive earthquake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale – an intensity sufficient to be classified as a "great earthquake" by experts at the U.S. Geological Survey stuck near the island of Nias, off Sumatra's West Coast, shortly after 11 p.m. local time on Monday, March 28, 2005. "Great" "earthquakes" are among those classified by experts as the most powerful on record. The latest quake has been labled an apparent "fraternal twin" of the devastating December 26, 2004, seismic event which measured magnitude 8.9 and claimed in excess of 250,000 lives.
Felt in all major population centers in North Sumatra and as far away as Jakarta, Singapore, Malaysia and Bangkok – the quake sent many people into the streets in panic as a series of after-shocks continued through the morning hours. In many villages and cities in Sumatra people sought the safety of local mosques or on high ground fearing a tsumani, similar to the wave which caused catastrophic destruction following a quake of similar intensity on December 26, 2004. While officials in Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka issued tsunami warnings in connection with the latest earthquake, the much-feared tidal wave did not materialize.
Large Death Toll and Significant Property Damage Reported
Officials are still trying to asses the damage and deaths caused by the latest quake. While Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla initially told the BBC that he feared as many as 2,000 people may have been killed by the quake it now appears that the final death toll may be closer to half that total. Widespread damage and loss of life, however, has occurred on Nias island, near the latest quake's epicenter. Officials estimate that 80% of all multi-level buildings on Nias were leveled by the earthquake with many people now trapped inside the remaining rubble.
Bali – at least 2,500 kilometers away from the latest earthquake, escaped completely unscathed from the disaster. Residents and holidaymakers only experience of the natural disaster – like most of the world –was via news reports carried on television and radio.
Kielnhofer Joins Meridien Bali
Veteran Austrian Hotelier Head Award-Winning Le Meridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort.
Le Méridien Hotels and Resorts have announced the appointment of Dietmar Kielnhofer as General Manager for the Le Méridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort, Bali. Replacing Mark Griffiths, Dietmar's key focus is on the strategic growth and positioning of the Resort which has won numerous awards together with its Norman designed signature 18-hole golf course.
Dietmar, an Austrian national, began his hospitality career with an international hotel in Austria. He joined Le Méridien Jakarta in 1999 and spent six years working in general manager positions for various Le Méridien properties in Indonesia, Middle East, Thailand and Africa.
His last posting was to Le Méridien Amman, Jordan as General Manager from 2003. During his tenure, Le Méridien Amman was voted by Business Traveller International as the Best Corporate Business Hotel in Jordon in 2004.
With more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Dietmar has an MBA from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Marketing from the American University of London, School of Business.
High Tech Passports for Indonesians
Bio-metric Passports to Bring Indonesia Travelers Into Line with Best Practice for International Border Security.
Effective April 1, 2005, Indonesian traveling abroad will increasingly be carrying new state-of-the-art passports incorporating forgery-resistant printing techniques, fingerprint records, facial and retina prints - all in conformance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAOP) standards,
The ICAO standards, expected to be mandatory on passports for all international travelers by 2009, will be introduced in every new Indonesian passports issued from May 1, 2005. Existing Indonesian passports without the sophisticate new features will continue to be used by Indonesian travellers until their current validity expires.
Imam Santoso, the Director General of Immigration, has promised that the cost of new passports will remain unchanged, costing Rp. 110,000 (approximately US$ 11.70) for a 24-page passport and Rp. 225,000 (approximately US$24.00) for the 48-page version.
The new passport bearing an embossed Indonesian flag on the cover together with the national emblem of a mythical Garuda bird will bear a number of special paper and light-reflective features intended to make forgeries of the document extremely difficult.
The Wedding of the Season
Hollywood Meets Bali-wood as Son of Hollywood Entertainment Mogul Takes Balines Bride and Balinese Artist and Wife Adopt an American Son.
On March 20, 2005, Noel Cohen, the Son of Warner Brothers Vice-President Robert Winder, married Buratwangi, daughter of famous Balinese artists, Made Wianta, in a traditional Bali-Hindu ceremony held in Wianta's ancestral village of Apuan, near Tabanan.
The Couple, Noel (31) and Buratwangi (27) met several years ago in Santa Barbara where the young Balinese lady was pursuing a college education and where Cohen is employed as a film festival organizer and entertainment consultant.
In addition to formalizing their marriage in the U.S., the bride and groom also decided to have their union blessed in accordance with Bali-Hindu traditions.
Both a Wedding and an Adoption
The decision to wed in Bali automaticall introduced a number of requirements, including Noel's formal acceptance of the Hindu faith; the requirement for the grooms teeth to be filed flat in accordance with local traditions; in addition to the actual consecration of the wedding by Mangku Teken, a spiritual leaded of the Apuan community.
In what may seem strange to to those unfamiliar with Balinese culture and law, Noel is now by local custom married to his Sister. Because local religious and legal customs followsthe principal of primogeniture which dictates that the eldest son inherits his Father's wealth and because the Wianta's have no male heir, Noel underwent an additional nyentana ceremony giving him the status of a Son and naming him the sole heir in the Wianta household.
Following the completion of numerous rituals and ceremonies in Apuan, the wedding party headed to the south for a more contemporary celebration of the nuptials held at the Ritz Carlton Resort & Spa attended by local dignitaries, family and friends from both Indonesia and the United States.
balidiscovery.com extends its congratulations and best wishes to the bride and grooom; Robert and Mary Winder - the parents of Noel Cohen; and Made Wianta and Ibu Intan Kirana, the parents of Buratwangi and their new Son, Noel.
La Cage Aux Folles
Law Enforcement Against Illegal Animal Trade Still Weak. Experts Bemoan Failure to Punish Those Who Keep Endangered Animal Species as Pets.
While the official punishments that await people who keep protected animals under Indonesian law are very tough, actual law enforcement against those committing such illegal acts remain weak. This weak enforcement is the chief cause of the growing number of violation of statues forbidding the keeping of protected species.
As reported in the Indonesian-language Bali Post, the head of Bali's Legal Aid Society (LBH), Gede Widiatmika, said, "according to research carried out by protected species enthusiasts in Bali there is a growing tendency that the ownership, use and trade in illegal species is on the increase."
Speaking at a meeting on the protection of endangered species held on Tuesday, March 29, 2005, at the Inna Natour Hotel, the legal aid chief explained that current law provides for punishments of 5 years in prison or Rp. 50 million (approximately US$ 5,300) for private citizens discovered to be involved in keeping or trading protected species. Penalties for government officials convicted of these crime are even more severe providing for 10 years imprisonment or a fine of Rp. 200 million (approximately US$21,300).
Another speakers from the Udayana University Faculty of Law, I Made Arya Utama, suggested that criminal penalties provided for within existing environmental protection legislation provided for penalties that allowed up to 15 years in prison and fines of Rp. 750 million (approximately US$ 79,800).
Despite the heavy penalties provided for under the law, Widiatmika said the threat of such punishment is largely ignored. He explained, "the proof is that many protected animals we encounter in many areas are owned by certain well-known individuals." He underlined his point by pointing to the widespread practice of keeping the endangered Bali Starling practiced by many people in Bali.
On the other hand, according to Widiatmika, there is blatant discrimination in how the law is enforced. While wealthy illegal pet owners go unpunished, less prosperous people caught stealing Bali Starlings from the Bali National Park or dealing in protected turtles are given prison terms of several years in prison.
Indonesia Wants Urgent Review of How Travel Advisories are Made and Implemented at WTO Senegal Summit.
The May session of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) scheduled to be held in Senegal in May 2005 will reportedly accede to Indonesia's request to have the travel advisory system tabled for discussion at that international gathering.
According to Thamrin B. Bachri, Deputy Director of Capacity Building and International Cooperation from the Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the General Assembly of the WTO will review the travel advisories limiting tourist flows to Indonesia from the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
"One of our Aim that we will put forth (at WTO) is that before introducing travel advisories countries should first consult with the country to be affected by such warnings," Bachri said in comments to the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia.
Bachri told the press that after the Senegal meeting he hopes current travel warning in effect might be modified and a system established where bi-lateral mutual consultation is undertaken before future warnings and advisories are introduced.
Need for a Public Relations Approach
Meanwhile, Elly Hutabarat, the Vice-Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA) called for the appointment of a public relations agency to help spread the word regarding the generally conducive security situation in Indonesia to source markets for Indonesian tourism.
According to Hutabarat, a competent domestic or international public relations company could do much to correct and improve misconceptions regarding Indonesia in the marketplace.
Bali Cliff Resort Closes for 6 Months
Owners Close Hotel for Urgent Renovations and Upgrade Sending 270 Employees Home on Base Pay.
In a surprise announcement, the owners of the 175-room Bali Cliff Resort announced in late March its decision to close down completely for 6 months starting from April 1, 2005, in order to undertake a complete renovation of the property.
The last remaining guest checked out of the hotel on March 29, 2005, with all forward bookings during the period of the closing now being moved to other Bali hotels.
Union Protests Decision
As reported in the Indonesian-language Bali Post, Union representatives from the Hotel protested the decision to send 270 employees home for the next six month during which time they will receive only base pay and no reimbursement for medical expenses. Following a heated meeting between worker's representatives and the management and owners held on Friday, March 31, 2005, the employees accepted the forced home assignment in return for certain written assurances on benefits and guaranteed re-employment in six months when renovations are completed.
Speaking to the local press, Kristiforus Richard, the President Director of the Resort said the rooms and general facilities of the hotel first opened in 1992 no longer met with the standard of a five star hotel. Thus, in order to improve occupancies which have averaged below 15% and improve cash flows, an urgent decision was made to close the hotel and undertake a badly needed program of hotel renovation.
The Bali Cliff Resort is situated on Bali's southern Ungasan peninsula occupying a cliff top position overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Pool Champions Face-Off in Bali
International Billiard Open in Kuta 4-8 April at Kuta Paradise Bowling & Billiard Center.
A number of former world champion billiard players are slated to appear in A Mild Billiard Bali International Open being held at the Kuta Paradise Bowling and Billiard Center, April 4-8, 2005.
Some of the world's best players on tap to participate include the Philippine's Reyes (World Champion 1999); Finland's Mika Immonen (2001); Taiwan's Chao Fong Ang (2000); Japan's Kunihiko Takahashi (1998); and Canadian Alex Pagulayan (2004).
In all, some 70 national and international players will be vying to play in the qualification rounds set for the first two days of the tournament.
The player from 18 countries are competing for a total prize purse of Rp. 208 million (approximately US$22,130) with the overall winner going home with Rp. 65 million (approximately US$6,900) and the runner-up Rp. 35 million (approximately US$ 3,725).
The Bali event is a formal part of the Asian Pocket Billiard Union calendar and ratified by the World Pool Association.
Don't Go Changing to Try to Cheat Me
Head of Money Changers Association Speaks Out on Illegal Money Changers Continuing Activity in Bali.
Chairman of the Bali Chapter of the National Association of Money Changers (APVA) Supatra Karang, called for a crackdown on illegal money changers before their numbers grow and do further damage to Bali's tourism image.
Speaking to the press on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 and quoted in the Indonesian-language Bali Post, Supartra said that while illegal money changers number no more than 1% of all money changers in Bali, their presence and frequent practice of committing fraud against visiting tourists damages Bali's image. "We often hear complaints from tourists regarding tricks and frauds played by money changers. These complaints clearly ruin Bali's tourism image, causing tourists to feel unsafe when holidaying in Bali," explained Supatra.
An Issue of Enforcement
Supatra, complaining that the steps available to his association are powerless in stopping the unlicensed money changers, said his administrative control is limited to members of his own association comprised solely of licensed foreign exchange dealers. Enforcement and crackdowns against illegal and unlicensed money changers remained a matter entirely in the hands of local law enforcement, he explained.
In a separate forum the Head of Bank Indonesia Denpasar office, Ketut Sanjaya, said his office continues to work with the police in taking action against illegal and unlicensed money changers. In instances where companies are doing money changing without the required money-changers license, he said that the offending business would have its operating licenses suspended.
Contiki Resorts Come to Bali
Property Aims at Young Active 18-35 Old to OperateNear Bali's Famed Seminyak Beach.
U.K.- based Contiki Resorts have reportedly teamed up with Bali's tourism mogul Kadek Wirantha to operate an 133-room action-oriented property on a 2.7 hectare site in Seminyak, near Bali's famed night life and entertainment areas.
Although officially unconfirmed, the Contiki Bali Resort is widely believed to be the former Hotel Saphir, now operating as the Paradise Seminyak Hotel & Spa. The Hotel was recently acquired by Wirantha who owns Air Paradise International, hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues in Bali.
The Contiki Concept
Located within walking distance of Seminyak Beach, the hotel, which is undergoing extensive renovation, will boast a large swim-up bar, water lounges, spas, and music provided by roving DJ's working various venues throughout the Resort. Trendy bars and restaurants catering to the tastes of younger travelers will be on offer together with a cinema showing latest film releases.
Young and enthusiastic Contiki Action Planners (CAPs) will be on duty throughout the Resort organizing and supervising tennis, aerobics, pilates classes, yoga sessions, table tennis, volleyball sessions, and activities at a well-equipped health club.
The renovated property is expected to open its doors under the Contiki brand's banner on September 1, 2005.
How to Get Legally Stoned
The Balé's Sanctuary Spa Introduces Crystal Healing Hot Stone Therapy.
The Balé - located on Bali's Nusa Dua Peninsula has introduced Crystal Healing Hot Stones Therapy—the latest pampering and healing choice offered at The Resort's Sanctuary Spa.
Complementing the existing complete spa menu of therapies and spa treatments, Crystal Healing Hot Stone Therapy is based on East Asian bodywork and Western empirical data resulting in treatments believed to bring forth powerful healing properties. Stones are chosen for their special properties to help enhance biological function and their ability to facilitate
energy movement between body and mind.
The first spa in Bali to offer Hot Stone Therapy, the Sanctuary Spa will now be able to use the technique to address spiritual, emotional, and physical issues affecting overall health. The stones used are semi-precious, including Aventurine, Calcite, Hematite, Carnelian,
Jade, Jasper, Lapis Lazuli, Marble, Nephrite, Obsidian, Dumortierite, Rhodonite and Tiger Eye. According to the Spa, the color of the stones has a significant impact on the healing process while the heat from the hot stones serves to relax the muscles.
Available for both bodywork and facial therapies, the healing hot stone therapy was has been brought to Sanctuary Spa by Terry Liew, the Principal of The Shiatsu School Singapore and a former "Master in Residence" at The Balé.
Bali Establishes its Own Branch of International Public Speaking Forum – Toastmasters International.
Bali's first offical chapter of the internationally-renowned Toastmasters Club will make its debut on the Island with a special charter presentation at the Segara Village Resort on Friday, 08 April 2005. A number of dignitaries from government, business and Bali's tourism industry are expected to attend the formal inauguration of the 22 charter members.
Organiser of the charter presentation night and member of the Bali Toastmasters Club, Ida Wijaya, said that those attending the event will be given a demonstration of how regular meetings operate and how the club provides its members with invaluable practice in developing their public-speaking skills.
Toastmaster members in more than 9,500 clubs in 70 countries around the world work together to learn how to effectively develop and present ideas, make better presentations and enhance their personal self-confidence. Conducted in English, the Club meetings are held weekly.
Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to help people develop their communication skilsl. Included in the distinguished members of Toastmasters in Indonesia are the former Minister of Education and Culture Wardiman Djojonegoro and the current President of Toastmasters International, Mrs. Maimunah.
"By organising the event," said Irwin Maengkom, President of the Bali Toastmasters Club, "We hope that there will eventually be more and more clubs formed in Bali, following the formation of this charter club." During his eight years of living in Bali, Maengkom observed that many professionals on the island have difficulties in communications, lacking a sufficiently good command of English despite Bali's position as a leading international tourism destination. According to Maengkom. good English speaking skills are essential in business and Toastmasters aims to help its members develop these skills and advance in their personal and professional lifes.
Public is Welcome
The Public is welcome to attend the inauguration of the new club in order to learn more about the Toastmasters.
The event begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 8, 2005 at the Segera Village Resort on Bali's famous Sanur Beach.
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