BALI UPDATE #523 - 18 September 2006
We Can't Get Started
Bali by the Numbers:
August Arrivals Confirm that Bali's Recovery Continue
August total foreign arrivals to Bali for August
2006 hit 118,104 visitors, numbers that lag -24.88%
behind the same month in 2005.
Stuck in the Gap
Comparing the month-on-month August arrival's
gap of -24.88% against the foreign visitors'
arrival gap for July 2006 (down -23.01%) and
for June (down -19.58%) - provides strong evidence
that Bali's tourism recovery has well and truly
The summary numbers presented on balidiscovery.com
speak for themselves providing little joy that
Bali's long-awaited turn around has started
or is, for that matter, even underway.
Although still lagging, but less depressed,
are arrivals from Europe, the Americas and ASEAN.
For chart click here
5,000 Men Dancing the Kecak
Dance Performance to Encourage World Peace and
Support Bali Tourism on Friday, Sept 29th Near
Tanah Lot Temple.
The regent of Tabanan, N. Adi Wiryatama S.
Sos M. has formally announced plans for a giant
Kecak Trance Dance, involving a record 5,000
dancers, will be held at Tabanan, near Tanah
Lot, on Friday, September 29, 2006.
Claiming to be unconcerned whether or not the
mass trance dance qualifies for the Indonesian
Book of Records, Wiryatama insists the main
purpose of the dance is to permit the people
of his regency to deliver an important message
of peace to the world.
Quoted in the Indonesian language website tempointeraktif.com,
the dance will involve performers from various
tribes, racial and religious groupings. According
to Wiryatama: "We are utilizing the concept
of gotong royong (Editor: joint community cooperation)
involving every component of the Tabanan community.
There are teachers, armed forces members, police,
students, university undergraduates, members
of community organizations, and local traditional
groups participating in the dance . . . they
are all unpaid and, at the most, will receive
a small packet of rice to eat."
Because of the large number of dancers participating
in the performance of the Cakolosal, practice
sessions are being broken into local community
and village sub-groups. At the most recent count
6,400 people are currently practicing for the
performance, with organizers expecting at least
5,000 dancers to show up on the day of the actual
Wiryatama is hopeful that the Cakolosal in
Tabanan will pave the way for a twice weekly
kecak dance performance scheduled to be held
near Tanah Lot temple every week. The future
performances involving a normal number of kecak
dancers will be held at a 2.5 hectare Surya
Mandala Cultural Park that will be able to accommodate
a maximum of 5,000 spectators at each presentation.
The Surya Mandala, according to Wiryatama,
has been designed to respect environmental values
at its panoramic seaside location. Only 25%
of the site will be used for construction, and
that primarily for simple structures that are
"easy on the land."
The special Cakolosal performance will bear
the title of Kumbakarna-Rahwana Lina and will
portray the kidnapping of Sita including the
death scene for Kumbakarna and Rahwana.
The Choreography for the Cakolosal will be
handled by I Gusti Ngurah Supartha, a well known
choreographer hailing from Tabanan.
for E -Flier
Alarming Rate of Decline in Farm Lands within
Capital's City Limits.
The Indonesian language DenPost reports that
agricultural lands in Bali's capital are shrinking
by 75 hectares per year due to increasing land
demands from industry and housing developments.
According to I Gusti Ngurah Sumantara of the
Denpasar government, the total acreage dedicated
to farming in Bali's capital regency totaled
2,814 hectares in 2006, spread across 42 subak
or traditional water right associations.
Government officials are hopeful that Denpasar's
participation in this year's island-wide subak
competition will help raise awareness of the
importance of agriculture among Denpasar's residents,
encouraging people to halt or at least slow
down the fast-declining loss of farmlands in
At current rates of decline, Denpasar's agriculture
land will disappear completely in little more
than 2 decades.
Poverty in Paradise?
Economic Data Paints
a Picture of Growing Poverty for the Balinese.
A page one story published in the Monday,
September 11, 2006 edition of the Indonesian
language Bali Post paints a picture of growing
poverty among the people of Bali. Worsening
economic conditions across the island and ineffective
steps by regional officials to curb poverty
demonstrate that for many, Bali is something
less than a paradise on earth.
As the accompanying table on balidiscovery.com
shows, the North Bali Regency of Buleleng and
East Bali's Karangasem Regency represent two
of Bali's most impoverished regions with respective
totals of 46,907 and 42,000 heads of family
units classified as living below the poverty-line.
The same local press report states that the
number of family heads listed as "poor"
increased by 9,000 from 2005 to 2006, a jump
of 29.3% in only one year.
Data from the Klungkung regency showed a similar
increase among those classified as poor with
an estimated 25.4% of its residents now existing
below the poverty line.
Among the 46,907 family heads recorded as "poor"
in Buleleng, the greatest share are to be found
in Grokgak (8,952) followed by Seririt (7,256).
Studying Medicine in Bali
Finds a Bargain in Educating their Students in
The authoritative Indonesia Digest, edited
by Ibu Wuryastuti Surnario, reports:
Bali has unexpectedly drawn a new market segment.
Malaysia's Bernama reports that Bali's Udayana
University has become a school of choice for
Malaysians seeking to further their tertiary
According to the Malay news service Bernama,
there are already 123 Malaysian students at
the Udayana University, including 50 who arrived
just a few days ago, who attended their first
lectures on Monday, September 11, 2006. Except
for one student studying Hindu theology on this
Hindu-dominated island, all of the Malaysians
are studying medicine.
A Malaysian bank officer from Bangi, V. Sreenivasan,
who has a daughter, Deepa, studying medicine
in Bali, told Bernama that he chose Bali because
the education costs and living expenses on the
island were relatively cheaper compared to Europe,
the US, Australia and even India, which has
been the traditional destination for many Malaysian
Secondly, according to the Malaysian parent,
Bali was only a two hour flight from Kuala Lumpur,
which makes it easier and cheaper for parents
to visit their children or for students to regularly
return to Malaysia.
More importantly for Sreenivasan and other
parents, and for sponsors like the Malaysian
MARA foundation and the Public Service Department,
the quality of education as well as the teaching
and learning systems at Bali's Udayana University
are considered as good as any other Malaysian
government accredited overseas universities.
Malaysian Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa
Mohamed, during a recent visit to Jakarta, agreed
that it was much cheaper to send Malaysian students
for medical studies to Indonesia.
No official figures were given, but it is understood
that for the cost of sending one student to
Europe or the US to study medicine, the Malaysian
government can send seven students to Indonesia.
This may be why Mustapa enquired during his
meetings in Jakarta with several universities
whether it was possible for all 13 Malaysian-accredited
universities in Indonesia to accommodate more
Malaysian medical students.
And, as the result of persistent personal lobbying
by Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia, Datuk
Zainal Abidin Mohamed Zain, a number of Indonesian
universities have now allocated more seats to
Malaysian medical students starting from this
Zainal Abidin told Bernama recently that the
cost factor was only one reason for the increasing
number of Malaysian students in Indonesian medical
schools, while another was the relevance of
their studies here for the Malaysian situation,
allowing students to learn about diseases prevalent
in Malaysia and Indonesia, both being tropical
Meanwhile, the Bali branch president of the
National Association of Malaysian Students in
Indonesia, M. Sujatharan, said another factor
preferred by Indian parents was the strict Hinduism
practiced and observed in Bali. 93.2% of a total
3.22 million population (2002 statistics) on
the island are adherents of the Hindu faith
while Muslims make up only some 4.9%, with other
religions constituting less than 2%.
However, not just Malaysians of Hindu faith
or Indian origin are studying medicine in Bali.
There are currently also 18 Malaysian Chinese
students and 15 ethnic Malays who have no qualms
regarding the predominantly Hindu culture in
Bali, says Bernama.
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Subscription to Indonesia Digest.
A Foot to Stand On
Painting with Only
his Right Foot, a Remarkable Young Artist Exhibits
His Paintings for One Month from September 22,
When Asroel was born in Jember, East Java,
in 1979, he was fourth child and the long-awaited
only son born into his farming family. Eager
to have a male heir, his parents sought the
advice of a village priest and made special
offerings. His mother, who continued to perform
strenuous physical labor throughout her pregnancy,
suffered bouts of numbness in her left arm,
left leg and right arm. These physical complaints
suffered by Asroel's mother perhaps foreshadowed
what lay ahead, for when he was born, it was
without a left arm, a left leg and most of a
Born with the severe physical limitations of
life with only one fully developed limb, Asroel's
earliest memories paint a picture of the hazards
that his handicapped existence entailed, including
being momentarily abandoned by a sister while
he was attacked by by swarms of angry bees and
another recollection of a trampling by a herd
Unable to move on his own until he was five
or six, his siblings and parents carried and
pulled around him around on his backside. Blessed
with a good mind, Asroel excelled in school
where a headmaster took note of his natural
aptitudes. Ashamed because of his inability
to walk, the boy took to hiding in a local coffee
plantation where he tirelessly practiced standing
by gripping onto the trunks of coffee tree.
Eventually becoming very proficient at hopping
around on one foot, Asroel grew in his self-confidence
The boy's parents refused to treat their son
as handicapped, expecting the boy to help his
father in his work collecting firewood and other
chores. Encouraged by his parents, Asroel attended
high school in East Java, hopping the considerable
distance to school by leaving his home at 4:30
a.m. each morning. Excelling in art and history,
the boy also mastered the ability to write and
draw using his right foot.
The School of Hard Knocks
Finishing school in 1997, Asroel wished to
escape the drudgery of plantation life and traveled
to Yogyakarta where he worked initially as a
parking attendant during the days, while making
and selling American Indian accessories to tourists
in the evenings.
Later, he "tried his foot" at portraits
painting and Islamic calligraphy. Managing to
only eke out a very modest living, Asroel recalls
often having to sleep on the streets with friends.
Living rough and often reduced to fighting to
defend his turf, he developed a wide variety
of friends and acquaintances, ranging from fellow
street kids to wealthy people.
During his stay in Yogyakarta, Asroel also
met his wife-to-be, a language student at a
local university. Unprepared to accept the prospects
of a handicapped son-in-law, her parents compelled
her to return home to Kalimantan (Borneo). Proving
that love always finds a way, she returned to
Yogya after several years absence and married
Asroel in 2006 before moving, as husband and
wife, to Bali where he could pursue an artistic
Disturbed by the tragic effects of two bombings
in Bali and wishing to contribute to peaceful
understanding between religious groups, Asroel
focuses on painting portraits of famous peacemakers.
Refusing to see himself as handicapped, Asroel
is also active in the Senang Hati Foundation
where he works and inspires by teaching others
with disabilities learn how to draw.
Exhibition at the Dragonfly Restaurant
An exhibition and sale of Asroel's painting
will be held at The Dragonfly Restaurant on
Jalan Dewi Sita in Ubud from September 22 through
October 21, 2006.
Bali Recharges its
Nusa Dua Beach Hotel
& Spa Hosts Monthly Travel Industry Party
Every month, Bali's travel industry gets together
to let off steam and enjoy each other's company.
Recharge Night - organized by Bali & Beyond
Magazine, saw the September 2006 gathering hosted
at the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa who enlivened
their Culture Theater open entertainment area
with a live band and a fashion show presented
by several of Bali's top designers.
Shown on balidiscovery.com
are snap shots from the September Bali Recharge
For Picture Click Here
Bali's Recovery Funds
An Interview from
the Bali Post with Thamrin B. Bachri, the Director
General of Marketing for the Ministry of Culture
and Tourism on Bali's Recovery Funds.
Against the background of the much-debated
distribution and final use of the Rp. 67 billion
(approximately US$7.3 million) allocated by
Jakarta for the recovery of Bali's tourism industry,
the Monday, September 11, 2006 edition of the
Indonesian language Bali Post carried an interview
with the Director General of Marketing for the
Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Thamrin R.
Bachri prefaced his interview with the Bali
Post by acknowledging that the Rp. 67 billion
recovery fund allocated for Bali is a matter
of popular debate with recent "unsubstantiated"
reports suggesting that only 11% of those funds
have been employed to date.
According to Bachri, the Rp. 67 billion recovery
fund will be almost completed expended by December
2006, with 75-80 percent of the Bali Recovery
Funds already expended. Because of this, Bachri
admitted he was astonished by reports suggesting
that only 11% of the recovery funds have been
Bali Post: (Regarding
the recovery funds allocation) the members of
the travel industry are asking about its disposition.
Bachri: There's no need to
confused, they should directly ask the provincial
government about this subject. The Bali Tourism
Authority (dinas pariwsata) and the private
sector members who are represented in the Bali
Tourism Board (BTB) will certainly know more
about these funds, Remember, all of the Bali
recovery programs were formulated by these people
(editor: provincial government and the BTB)
and then recommended to the Central Government.
After that, we carried forth with the implementation
of their proposals.
Bali Post: What
were the results?
Bachri: A program in accordance
with their (editor: provincial government and
the BTB's) recommendations. Later, we jointly
implemented these programs. And, we have proof
of that fact. For example, the road show to
Vietnam, a number of festivals held in Bali,
and sponsoring tour operator and journalist
trips to see Bali firsthand. There are many
other programs as well. We'll also stage an
Indonesia Night in Hong Kong (editor: At PATA
Mart 2007 September 15, 2006) – all designed
to aid the recovery of Bali.
Bali Post: Gosh, why all
these "programs"? Why not merely provide
cash, for instance, to build a "recovery
monument" or for the use of the people
Bachri: Understand, the recovery
funds should not be viewed a ripe durian fruit
that's fallen from a tree that can be evenly
divided and distributed; this is even more the
case when the desired expenditure is for an
Bali Post: Up until the
present, members of the Bali travel industry
have spent Rp. 23 billion (approximately US$2.5
million) of their money for Bali's recovery.
Bachri: I know nothing of
this and it is not the responsibility of my
department. Remember, if something is not in
the approved program proposed to the Central
Government by the provincial government and
the private sector – then such expenditures
are not our concern.
Bali Set to Lose
Power Price Supports
Prepares to Yank Subsidies for Bali's Electricity
According to the Indonesian language Bisnis
Indonesia, the Government plans to end electrical
rate subsidies to a number of areas in Indonesia
considered "economically viable" and
able to pay their own way for electrical power
in the view of the Central Government.
Among those regions likely to see "regional
tariffs" with potentially higher prices for
electricity introduced in the near future due
to the loss any aid from price subsidies are Jakarta,
Bali and Bangka Belitung.
Batam and Tarakan (Kalimantan) are two areas
of Indonesia already operating on a "regional
tariff basis" with electrical power for each
district provided by a subsidiary company of the
state power company (PLN).
In announcing the plan to end subsidies to Bali,
the Director General of Electricity and Energy,
J. Purwono, said Bali was judged suitable to lose
its price subsidies because the majority of power
used on the island is consumed by sustainable
industry and commercial interests.
Conrad Bali Resort
Wins Spa Award
SpaAsia Crystal Awards
Names Conrad Bali as Asia 'Best Resort Spa'.
In the annual Asia-wide SpaAsia Crystal Awards
ceremony held recently, Asian spa operators
were presented awards in 11 categories - including
Best Hotel Spa, Best Resort Spa, Best Day Spa,
Best Destination Spa and Best Signature Treatment.
Bali's very own Jiwa Spa, Conrad Bali Resort
and Spa won honors as the Best Resort Spa.
SpaAsia Reader's Choice Awards recognize outstanding
companies, treatments and products voted by
the readers of SpaAsia magazine
Related Story: Oiled
& Dangerous - Has Anyone Seen Our Editor?
Robert Lagerway Heads
Bulgari Resort Opening Team
to Open Bali's Ultra Luxurious New Bulgari Resort
When it welcomes its first guests in late September
2006, it will be Robert Lagerwey the General
Manager of the Bulgari Resort, Bali who will
be finally responsible for the sales and marketing,
and operational aspects of Bali's newest 59-villa
Lagerwey has over 20 years experience in the
hospitality industry in the United States, Asia
and Europe. He was most recently Hotel Manager
of The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. His
other leadership positions were in food and
beverage at The Ritz-Carlton, Seoul, Four Seasons
Philadelphia, The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago, Campton
Place Hotel, San Francisco and Forte Grand St.
Georges Hotel, London. Lagerwey started his
career as a management trainee at Caledonian
Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland after he graduated
from The Hague Hotel School, Holland in 1988.
The Bulgari Resort, Bali is a 59-villa property
managed by Bulgari Hotels and Resorts, a joint
venture between Bulgari and the luxury hotel
group Marriott, who also manage The Ritz-Carlton
Hotels and Resorts. Located near Uluwatu on
the southern tip of the Jimbaran Peninsula in
Bali the resort is perched on a cliff 150 metres
from the sea shore commanding magnificent views
of the Indian Ocean. All villas feature unobstructed
views, a plunge pool and patio and lush tropical
Opening late September 2006.
A New Name and a
Renovation Program, Re-launch Parties for The
Laguna Resort & Spa Held in Jakarta and Bali.
Marking the re-launch and re-branding of The
Laguna Resort & Spa, Nusa Dua, Bali, two
separate gala launch parties were recently held
in Jakarta and Bali.
Guests were treated to a gala dinner prepared
by award-winning Executive Chef Made Putra and
were entertained by a musical performance by
Australian singing star Gregg Arthur and pianist
Jem Harding, both specially flown in by Garuda
Indonesia to perform at the parties. Also on
hand to charm the guests was Miss Bali 2006,
Astri Prima Devi.
The Jakarta event was held August 31, 2006
at Le Meridien Jakarta and the Bali celebration
on September 5, 2006 at the Balai Raya Grand
Ballroom, The Laguna Resort & Spa.
At both events, a fashion show was held to
showcase the new uniforms created for the Bali
5 star resort by noted Indonesian fashion designer,
Itang Yunasz. A slide show during the dinners
allowed invitees to view the many changes at
the Resort following the US$7.5m renovation
The upgrading program, completed in June 2006,
involved the renovation of all 270 guest rooms
and suites and the extensive upgrading of the
resort's main ballroom and meeting areas. Following
the renovations the Resort's main ballroom was
doubled in size and the resort's health and
fitness facility was also extensively upgraded.