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Editorial: Documented Report of Virgin Birth by Two Komodo Dragons Prompts balidiscovery.com's Editor to Dwell on the Subject of Miracles.
What do the yuletide mystery of Immaculate Conception and virgin birth and the wild inhabitants of an island 250 miles east of Bali have in common?
We're not absolutely sure of the connection, but an article that flashed across international news services last week should give pause to all the Ebenezer Scrooge, doubting Thomas, cum-agnostic-nay-sayers among you who discount the miracle foundation of the Christmas story as so much poppycock and religious falderal.
Apparently, scientists have now confirmed that the world's largest lizards – Komodo Dragons - are capable of virgin birth. In fact, carefully documented research published in the prestigious Nature journal now confirms that two female Komodo Dragons living in European zoos both laid fertilized eggs without the aid and assistance of a male dragon.
And just when things couldn't get much worse for those suffering from a sense of masculine inadequacy, the scientists also confirmed that the two girl dragons, named Sungai and Flora, hadn’t been on a "date" for least 2.5 years in the case of Sungai and, in the case of Flora - had never encountered a male of her species.
Darling, I Want to Be Alone
In a process scientist called parthenogenesis, but which every good Catholic kid knows is really Immaculate Conception, these two lady dragons have reproduced asexually.
Parthenogenesis, err, I mean Immaculate Conception, is not completely unknown in the wild kingdom. Its rare occurrence has been recorded among fish populations, amphibians and even turkeys. However, the latest reports of virtually concurrent asexual reproduction among two Komodo dragons is causing experts to re-examine if this phenomenon is more widespread and more frequent than previously thought.
Komodo Dragons, or as they are scientifically known - Varanus komodoensis, are found only on three islands in Indonesia within or surrounding the Komodo National Park. Capable of growing up to 3 meters in length and wighing as much as 250 kilograms, the Dragons are the world's largest lizards and considered rare, living relics of a prehistoric age.
"A miracle is an event that creates faith, That is the purpose and nature of miracles."
- George Bernard Shaw
So, dear Reader, we share this unusual story of miraculous birth among two members of Indonesia's expatriate animal kingdom as a simple Christmas offering from Indonesia for those who time and bitter experience has rendered too jaded to even consider the possibility that over 2,000 years ago a virgin named Mary gave birth to a small boy in Bethlehem whose life is still honored today by both Moslems and Christians.
Wise men adored him . . .Wise men still do!
Merry Christmas 2006!
Silent Nights and Silent Days
Bali on High Security Alert for the Christmas and New Year's Holiday.
Bali's Chief of Police Paulus Purwoko has mobilized 7,000 police personnel or nearly two-thirds of his available staff to ensure the Christmas and New Year's holidays in Bali passes without incident.
Despite the significant deployment of police, Chief Purwoko has issued instructions to local places of worship to undertake security precautions, including instructing those attending service not to carry bags or parcels into local churches. According to the Chief, cooperation from local worshippers will assist police and security personnel in their efforts to prevent any terrorist acts.
In comments to the local press, Bali's police chief emphasized that community participation and support is essential to any effort to maintain the peace.
According to various reports in the local press, in addition to the large increase in security personnel on duty over the holiday period, preparedness for the always-fragile holiday period also includes special paramilitary response teams on stand by; guard dogs at airports and sea ports around Bali; and sniper teams standing by for instant deployment.
National Tourism Targets Miss their Mark
Once Projected 6 Million, then 5.5 Million, then Only 5 million – Indonesian arrivals Look to End the Year at a Dismal 4.8 Million.
Pundits and number-crunchers at the Department of Culture and Tourism are now predicting that total foreign arrivals to Indonesian will end the year for 2006 at around 4.8 million, far below the over-ambitious targets originally set by the Ministry of Culture of Tourism who had projected at various points in time 6 million, 5.5 million and, finally, 5.25 million foreign tourists to Indonesia for the current year.
However, at 4.8 million visitors Indonesia will only have hit 91% of its own "worst case" scenario for tourism arrivals, producing a shortfall of more than US$1 billion in much needed foreign exchange earnings.
The latest lowering of expectations is based on a paltry 3.91 million visitors nation-wide tallied through the end of October.
In comments made to the Indonesian-langue Bisnis Indonesia, the Secretary General of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Sapta Nirwandar, cited the threat of bird flu, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, negative travel advisories, rising fuel costs and the lingering effects of the October 2005 terror attack in Bali as among the reasons tourist targets have failed to materialize.
Sapta said that the Government would be looking to increasing Indonesia's competitiveness as a destination, a greater emphasis on MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), marine tourism and eco-tourism to increase inbound numbers to the Country.
BaliEats.com Names Bali’s Best Restaurants for 2006
Bali's Leading Restaurant Site Lists its Favorite Eateries.
The authoritative www.balieats.com has once again named its list of Bali's Best Restaurants for 2006.
In a year that saw, according to balieats.com, at least 65 new restaurants open in Bali, here's their list of the "best of the best" by category:
▪ Best Fine Dining – The Italian Restaurant-Nusa Dua
"Elegant room fronted by a magic poolside terrace offering the very best of Italian cuisine."
▪ Best Restaurant – Breeze at The Semaya – Kerobokan
"New beachside restaurant with some of the best food in Bali. A chef with imagination!"
▪ Best Value – Clay Oven – Sanur "
"Sensational food from the Tandoors of a master chef. Wonderful value!"
▪ Best North Bali – Kwizien – Lovina
"Modern European bistro, professional service, nice bar, a full wine list and a comfortable ambience."
▪ Best Café – Beach Cafe – Sanur
"On the beach at Shindu (sic), great breakfast, sandwiches, snacks and meals."
▪ Best Cheapie - La Pau – Sanur
"Now in a home of its own. Padang food at all hours of the night. At weekends also jazz in the garden. Cheap!"
For more information on these and the hundreds of restaurants reviewed by balieats.com, visit their website via the link provided.
Bali Times Interviews Bali Discovery's John Daniels on Coming Trends in Bali Travel.
In a page-one article "For Bali, a Triumphant Year" carried in the December 22, 2006 edition of the Bali Times, the Editor of Bali Update and President Director of Bali Discovery Tours J.M. Daniels was interviewed by the newspapers Managing Editor, William J. Furney.
Bali is on the Way Back
Pointing to November's near-record arrival figures, the article quoted Daniels who said 2006 "was a year of readjustment and reorientation for Bali and that the growing emergence of budget airlines in the region – such as the aggressive Malaysian-based AirAsia and others – was boosting local tourism."
"Despite lasting lethargy from the Australian market – still down by 50 percent on a month-month-month basis, Bali will end 2006 only down 10-11% as compared to 2005 and down 15% when compared to 2004," Daniels told The Bali Times.
Daniels went on to explain : "The European and American markets…continue to show steady growth. The sudden appearance of low-cost carriers on the domestic and regional scene have created new markets for Bali."
"That Bali is only down by 10 percent is the face of still-lagging numbers from its two top markets of Australia and Japan suggests there's lots of latent, hidden strength in Bali's arrival figures. When those two markets recover – and they most certainly will over time – Bali will be setting new arrival records."
Looking Ahead to 2007
As reported by the Bali Times: "Looking ahead to the new year, Daniels was upbeat, saying new carriers would be ferrying more people to the island, which would also see – in March – a return of local Air Paradise International, which went bankrupt in November 2005 due to its reliance on the Australian tourism market."
Said Daniels: "2007 is looking most promising for Bali. New Airlines are scheduled to start flying to Bali in the form of Qatar Airways, Jetstar and the return of Air Paradise."
Daniels also revealed: "We're organizing Bali's first triathlon on June 24, 2007. The strong improvement in arrival numbers at the end of 2006 presents a trend that, if it continues into the New Year, portends well for Bali tourism."
Secret Recipe American Doughnuts Now Available in Bali at Discovery Mall Outlet.
On Friday, December 22, 2006, Krispy Kreme - the American doughnut franchise opened its first outlet in Bali at the Discovery Mall in Kuta.
Operated by the Indonesian franchisee of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts - PT Premier Doughnut Indonesia, the Bali outlet is one of 20 outlets of the world-famous pastry maker set to be open across Indonesia.
Traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:KKD), Krispy Kreme does not have an ownership position in the Indonesian franchise which is principally owned by PT MAP Indonesia.
About Krispy Kreme
Founded in 1937 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Krispy Kreme is a leading branded retailer and wholesaler of high-quality doughnuts, including its signature Hot Original Glazed. There are currently approximately 300 Krispy Kreme stores and 90 satellites operating system wide in the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the United Kingdom.
PT MAP Premier Indonesia is involved in department and specialty retail stores in major cities of Indonesia including Bali, Surabaya, Medan and Bandung.
"We are excited by this opportunity to bring Krispy Kreme to Indonesia," said Johannes Ridwan, Director of PT Premier Doughnut Indonesia. "We know our customers well and are confident that they will truly enjoy the unique Krispy Kreme experience and the Hot Original Glazed(TM) doughnut."
To help celebrate the launch of the Krispy Kreme doughnut in Bali, representatives of the Bali outlet were dispatched to various locations around Kuta on Friday to hand out free boxes of the signature product to the public.
Bali's Miss Waterbom 2006
Waterbom Bali Holds its 3rd Annual Bathing Beauty Contest.
Now in its third year, Bali's popular Waterbom Park recently held its hotly contested "Miss Waterbom" pageant to choose a local young woman who, in the word’s of the organizers is "beautiful, young, fun-loving, fearless and friendly" to represent the Park for the coming year .
This year's Miss Waterbom 2006 is 16 year-old Cok Trisna Dewi Pemayun, a senior high school student in Bali with special interests in traditional Balinese dance, singing and the theatre. Displaying poise and beauty beyond her tender years, Cok Trisna impressed the panel of judges with her knowledge of the many facilities available at the Waterbom Park and familiarity with the "Bali is My Life" branding campaign underway from the Bali Tourism Board.
A range of prizes went to Cok Tisna and the other top finishers in the contest, including Rp. 15 million (approximately US$1,630), Waterbom Membership Cards, value vouchers from local business and trophies.
The contest was sponsored by Surfer Girl, Reef, Sobek, Polytron, New Media, OZ Radio, CDBS, BCFM and Phoenix FM.
Shown on balidiscovery.com are pictures of this year's winner of Miss Waterbom together with other contestants.
Click images to enlarge
Balinese Nymphs and Studly Lads to Dance Above Your Head
Maya Ubud Resort & Spa Commissions Artist Kerry Penderegrast to Create a Deliciously Different Ceiling at Their Spa's Reception.
Michelangelo move over.
Kerry Pendergrast was recently employed to spend a month physically inverted, creating an unique piece of ceiling art to decorate the reception-area ceiling at the Maya Ubud Resorts' famous Spa at Maya.
A well-known Australian artists who makes her home in Ubud, Kerry's line drawing which decorate many of the treatment pavilions at the Spa at Maya have proven so popular with clients that the Resort didn't need to look far for an artist able to create a memorable entrance to their riverside facility. In keeping with her previous drawings and the general themes of "spa" and "wellness," Kerry has lavishly adorned the ceiling with line drawings of the human form. Inspired by no less than fifty-five Balinese models who posed for the project, Kerry has created a strikingly beautiful collection of semi-nude male and female figures using brush and ink on the Spa Reception's ceiling area.
The first time Kerry has painted a ceiling, she chose to evoke a Grecian decorative effect by painting figures around the border, surrounding a central panel of ten figures. She includes decoration from Indonesian textiles. The result is a unique creative collaboration between the hotel and the artist. The work has taken just over a month to complete.
"The challenge with line drawing," observed Kerry, "is to reduce the art form to its most fundamental aspect. To capture the human figure in this way requires a fine quality of line, a steady hand and assuredness in the artist. It takes many years of practice to perfect this style, even though the drawings may be completed in 5 or 10 minutes. It is a long tradition in art; the most famous line drawings are by Matisse and Picasso."
As you might imagine, business is looking up at the Spa at Maya.
Shown on balidiscovery.com are photographs of artists Kerry Penderegrast creating her ceiling masterpiece in Ubud.
Nikko Bali Resort & Spa Create the World's Longest Satay to Celebrate 10 Years of Service.
As part of the Nikko Bali Resort & Spa's 10th anniversary celebration, a gala birthday party was recently held at the popular Bali resort attended by more than 1,000 invitees. The guest list was varied and reflected the Hotel’s extensive connections to the local community including government officials, employees, Balinese orphans and teenagers from a local school for children with special needs.
One of the more memorable highlights of the day was the creation of the world's longest satay, which was recognized by the Founder & Chairman of MURI (Indonesian Museum of Records), Jaya Suprana. The giant skewer of seasoned grilled beef, measuring 82.5 meters in length, was unveiled by an honor guard of local musicians and traditionally dressed dancers in a parade stretching an equal distance.
Requiring an entire day and night to prepare, the satay required 160 kilograms of top quality imported Australian beef that had been cut and carefully marinated in local spices before it was threaded on a giant skewer.
In a brief speech by the Nikko Bali Resort & Spa's General Manager, Thierry Joho, homage was paid to the hundreds of people who work at the Resort and have made service the central focus of their careers.
At the close of his speech, the General Manager declared the giant satay "cooked" turning the microphone over the Jaya Suprana, the nationally known humorist and founder of Muri who congratulated the Hotel on having attained the distinction of a "world record."
Guests attending the event were treated to a lavish buffet which included the stadium-sized satay, followed by a magnificent birthday cake which proved a hit with the orphans and students invited to join in the festivities.
Shown on balidiscovery.com are some pictures from the Nikko Bali Resort and Spa event.
Bali's Airport Joins International On-Line Network to Monitor the Movement of Those Involved in the Narcotics Trade.
Bali's airport just became more troublesome for those trying to smuggle narcotics in or out of Bali with the installation of an Outstation Airport Interdiction System. The system, connected internationally to on-line data base to detect the presence of known narcotics offenders entering or leaving the airport, was provided to Bali by the Joint Interagency Task Force West headquartered in Hawaii.
The Escalating War on Narcotics
Recent high-profile drug prosecutions in Bali are part of a growing indication that Indonesia is becoming a center for the transit, production and use of illegal narcotics. Antinarcotics officers in Jakarta in late 2005, under the command of Bali's former Chief of Police Made Mangku Pastika, busted one of the largest ecstasy factories, confiscating 75,000 tablets and 200 kilograms of sabu-sabu (crystal meth) and arresting the key players at the Chinese-financed operation.
The recent handing down of death sentences to a 6 young Australian among 9 of their countrymen involved in smuggling heroin through Bali's airport and the earlier long prison sentence for Shapelle Corby, have renewed calls for leniency and mercy for those captured netted by Indonesian authorities in their war on drugs. Those supporting a hard-line no-compromise approach towards drug dealers point to the tremendous financial and human costs borne by the Indonesian public as a result of the illicit drug trade.
And, what are those costs?
Illicit drugs traded in Indonesia with an estimated street value of Rp. 11.3 trillion (approximately US$122.8 million) are tied to an estimated 15,000 deaths each year, mostly among young Indonesians entering their most productive years. Moreover, in a country that has suffered greatly at the hands of international terrorism, the irrefutable link between the illegal drug trade and the financing of terrorism bolsters local resolve to cut narcotics dealers little slack and even less mercy.
The new Outstation Airport Interdiction System just installed at Bali's airport will help police track the movement of drug suspect and is part of a nationwide system now in place at airports in Jakarta and Medan. Additional stations are slated for installation soon in Makassar, Batam, Padang and Surabaya.
Commenting on the installation of the new anti-narcotic networking system, General Made Pastika, Head of the National Anti-Narcotics Squad, said: "Hopefully the installation of this machinery will help us uncover and destroy narcotic networks and maximize our efforts to destroy inter-provincial narcotic networks."
Improving Sales and service Skills in the Front Office
Three One-Day Seminars to Help Hotels, Resorts & Villas Increase their Sales Revenues.
Conducted by Barry Doesburg, an hotelier and hospitality educator originally from Holland, a series of three separate one-day seminars will be held in early January that will help front-office staff learn essential sales skills addressing the need to "up-sell" and "cross-sell" in their contact with clients and guests.
According to Doesburg, who is a regular lecturer at the Bali International Institute for Education and Training, "once selling gets fun, sales get done!" His training helps front office and reservation staff develop their skills and knowledge to become competent salespeople. The training focuses on how to maximize sales to the guests you have and potential guests contact your hotel for information or reservations.
During each full-day course the following subjects will be address: ▪ Employees' impact on the average room rate and occupancy; ▪ The importance of product knowledge ▪ Effective means to analyze guests' needs ▪ Getting a customer focus – turning features into benefits ▪ Pro-activity in selling ▪ Turning requests into direct bookings with a higher average spend ▪ Applying cross-selling (e.g. restaurant, spa, bar, leisure activities) ▪ Games to increase self-confidence in selling ▪ Effective Selling Sentences
Three Dates – Three Locations
Barry Doesburg will conduct his improving sales and improving skills course on from 09:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on the following dates:
▪ Sanur – Sector Bar and Restaurant on Tuesday, January 9, 2007
▪ Ubud – Alila Resort on Friday, January 12, 2007
▪ Legian – Bali Mandira Hotel on Tuesday, January 16, 2007
The cost of participation in each one day of training is Rp. 599,000 per person(approximately US$65) or Rp. 1,650,000 (approximately US$179) for a group of 3 participants from one hotel.
Price includes training, materials, lunch, 2 coffee breaks and a completion certificate.
For more information or to register telephone ++62-(0)361-733568 or follow the email link provided.
Bali by the Numbers: A Look at Arrivals for January-November 2000-2006.
As reported in the last edition of "Bali by the Numbers",
[See: Record Breaking Arrivals for November], as Bali closes out 2006 foreign arrivals are on the upswing, despite lingering problems with the Australian and Japanese markets.
November arrivals totaled 113,844 – a dramatic +81.55% better than November 2005 when Bali was experiencing an exodus of visitors following its latest terrorist attack. However, when November 2006 is compared to the "better times" of November 2004, an improvement in arrivals of +3% is still recorded, suggesting that Bali may finally be on the comeback road.
This installment of "Bali by the Numbers" presents graphics showing what's happened by major market segment in terms of total Bali arrivals for the period of January-November for the years 2000-2006. The graphics on balidiscovery.com show the pattern of arrivals for the first eleven months of the year over these 6 years for:
▪ Total arrivals
▪ Japanese arrivals
▪ Australian arrivals
▪ Taiwanese arrivals
▪ South Korean Arrivals
▪ ASEAN arrivals
▪ European Arrivals
▪ Arrivals from the Americas
The links below provide access to the graphical version of the Bali Update.