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Bali News by Bali Update
BALI UPDATE #598 - 25 February 2008

Serangan to Nusa Dua Toll Road to Go Ahead?
Government Set to Spend US$2.18 Million to Kick Start US$97.8 Toll Road Project While Seeking a Major Investor.

NusaBali reports that a 7 kilometer road connecting Serangan Island with the Nusa Dua Peninsula will commence construction in May 2008.

According to the paper, initial funding of Rp. 20 billion (US$2.18 million) has been put in place by the provincial government of Bali to allow the initial construction of the project to proceed.

The object of much discussion and controversy over the past 5 years, the toll-bridge to Nusa Dua now appears set to go as Bali's Department of Public Works prepares to notify their counterparts in Jakarta and commence the preparation of bidding documents.

Meanwhile, private investors for the project are still being sought that will allow the bridge and toll-road to be completed.

Initial work will include feeder roads at both end of the eventual bridge that, when constructed, will transect the entrance to Bali's Benoa Harbor.

Like most projects in Bali, the Serangan toll-road is likely to attract protests and resistance from local religious and environmental groups. Some religious circles within the Bali Hindu community may find the concept of an "overhead" bridge unacceptable, while environmentalist are expected to have problems with the required sacrifice of mangrove forests on Benoa's peninsula.

The total projected cost for the toll road project have now risen to Rp. 900 billion (US$97.8 million) and encompasses a 7 kilometer stretch of road and a 300 meter bridge that could cut the 30-45 minute travel time from Sanur to Nusa Dua to less than 10 minutes. The project calls for a four-lane road of 30 meters width.

Given the substantial financial commitment required for the project, many are questioning the wisdom of embarking on the toll road project in the absence of a firm commitment from an investor capable of completing the job.

Related Stories

[A Bridge Too Far?]

[A Span in the Works?]

[Sanur to Nusa Dua in 5 Minutes?]

[Bridging the Distance to Nusa Dua]


Pause and Consider in Bali on March 7, 2008
'Nyepi' - An Official Day of Silence Transforms Bali into a "Ghost Island" for 24 Hours.

Here's an invitation to come to Bali for a visit on Friday, March 7, 2008 and then do absolutely nothing.

On that day the Balinese celebrate New Year or Nyepi - the Balinese equivalent of the word for silence. This is a day the Balinese Hindus dedicate to quiet introspection and spiritual cleansing.

Starting from approximately 6 a.m. on Friday, March 7, 2008 and continuing until 6 a.m. the following morning, Nyepi is observed by the devout through abstinence from food and drink, human speech, movement outside the family compound, and even the lighting of fires or lamps. As a result, the island of Bali will resemble a ghost town with businesses and thoroughfares closed and silent. Traditional village security forces - pecalang, will patrol the island allowing only emergency vehicles passage through the otherwise deserted streets. Compounds discovered to have lights shining from their windows or emitting noise may receive the "quiet" rebuke of small pebbles tossed against their window sills by local security teams, reminding all to adopt a more contemplative mood.

Nyepi is the first day of the Balinese Saka calendar (1930) and is strictly observed island-wide as a day of absolute silence and meditation, which includes the shut down for a 24 hour period of the island's airport.

Hotel Gates Shut and Airport to Close

There are, however, compensations for those who visit Bali during the Nyepi period. A Mardi Gras-like celebrations featuring street parades and drinks mark the night before Nyepi. Before sunrise on March 7, 2008 a curtain of silence will descend across the Island as everyone takes refuge in their hotels or homes, there to remain until the following morning. Most major hotels permit guests full use of hotel grounds and outlets with a tacit understanding that guests should not venture outside the property's bounds. Special arrangements are made for the hotel's staff to stay overnight at their place of employment as normal traffic between homes and place of employment is impossible on Nyepi day.

As in the past, Bali's only airport will also shut down during the entire Nyepi period. All flights that would normally embark or disembark passengers in Bali have been cancelled for the 24 hour Nyepi interlude. Technical or emergency stopovers are permitted at the airport, but no passengers or crew are permitted to travel to or from the airport terminal and other locations in Bali for the entire 24 hour Nyepi period. Bali's seaport will also be closed throughout this period.

Special accommodations and travel permits are issued for medical evacuations, ambulance and emergency vehicles, and for women in labor who need to travel to a local medical facility.


Book Now for the Bali International Triathlon II
Hundreds Expected to Swim, Bike and Race Across Bali on June 29, 2008.

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay will serve as "race central" for the 2nd annual Bali International Triathlon, on June 29, 2008. The Olympic distance event is the only international-caliber triathlon held in Bali.

Jimbaran lies on the western side of Bali's narrow southern isthmus, located on a sweeping bay that curves from the southern side of the airport to the bushy headland that borders the Four Seasons Resort. The event is comprised of a 1.5-kilometre swim in the warm waters of the bay, a 40-kilometre bike ride from the edge of Jimbaran Bay through hilly paved roads to Nusa Dua looping back to Jimbaran, and a 10-kilometre mostly-flat run on paved roads through Jimbaran and Kedonganan villages ending with a beach finish at the Four Seasons Resort Jimbaran Bay.

In its inaugural year, the event attracted more than 150 athletes from 16 countries. This year, athlete participation is slated to increase significantly with the event also expected to attract a large number of spectators to watch the race and partake in the music an festivities at "race central." On Saturday, June 28th, the day before the race, the Four Seasons Resort will be the meeting venue for the athlete briefings. In the evening, this setting on the Indian Ocean will be the venue for the athletes' high carbohydrate Pre-Race Dinner, designed and prepared exclusively for the occasion by the Four Seasons' world-acclaimed chefs.

To welcome the athletes, The Four Seasons has dedicated all of their 7 elegant Private Estates to providing housing for the participants and their families. Located along the beach and just steps away from the start and finish lines, the Private Estates have been specially priced for race participants.

Official Hotels

The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bali and Intercontinental Bali Resort are serving as the official hotel partners for the Bali International Triathlon with special accommodation offers available at [Hotel Offer].

A Truly Balinese Event

Spiritualism dominates every aspect of daily life on the Hindu island of Bali with the Bali International Triathlon also includes a bike blessing Prayasita ceremony in addition to a Majaya Jaya ceremony to bless and ensure the spiritual protection of all the participants and to neutralize any demonic forces. A Pemangku priest will conduct the ceremonies, using special offerings including fruit, yellow coconut juice, grains of rice, sandalwood powder and young coconut leaves tied with white thread and Chinese coins. Further adding to the special character of the event, Balinese musicians and sarong-clad race marshals will be stationed along the race course to guard and entertain the racers as they pass through traditional villages.

More information about the event is available in Triathlete magazine and via the official website [Bali International Triathlon].


He's Cooked for God, Now He's Cooking for You!
Talented Young Balinese - Eka Kurniawan Named Executive Chef at Conrad Bali Resort & Spa.

Emblematic of the growing pool of talented hospitality professionals hailing from Bali, is the increasing presence of young Balinese in key positions at leading hotels, both in Indonesia and abroad.

In keeping with this trend, 35-year-old Ketut Gede Eka Kurniawan was recently appointed as Executive Chef at the Conrad Bali Resort & Spa.

Born in Klungkung, "Eka" was destined from his earliest days to a life dedicated to the culinary arts. Hailing from a family where his Grandparents operated a popular local warung, or restaurant, and his parents were often called upon to prepare elaborate meals dedicated to God for local religious celebrations, Eka recalls cooking his first full-fledged meal at the tender age of 5. Equally fresh in his memory are adventurous outings to the local market with his Grandmother who taught him the intricacies of carefully selecting only the finest herbs, spices and main ingredients of the dishes on that day's menu.

Clearly, the man is passionate about his food. A question regarding the first dish he ever cooked, caused the interview to digress into an extended discourse on the relative merits of various recipes for Lawar - a deceptively simple staple of the Balinese table.

A graduate of Bali's Tourism Academy, he trained at a small hotel in Kuta and the former Bali Imperial Hotel before accepting a job at sea on a foreign cruise line.

Now, 3 cruise lines; a stint with the Ritz Carlton in Dubai; a period as a General manager of a small Bali hotel; and visits to 75 countries later – Eka has finally come home to Bali where his comprehensive knowledge of cooking has earned him the coveted role as Executive Chef at the Conrad Bali Resort and Spa.

Widely regarded as home to three of Bali's best restaurants the Conrad Bali Resort's - Suku, 8 Degrees and Spice, Eka has stepped into the kitchen clogs left unoccupied with the departure of legendary chef Gary Rosen – a man seen as raising the bar on local culinary excellence.

Does this intimidate Eka? Hardly. Eka told Balidiscovery.com that Gary was an outstanding mentor who bequeathed to him his kitchen axioms of a) "keeping it simple;" b) "simple is elegant;" and c) "cooking is not only art, but a matter of meeting the client's expectations." Armed with these tenets and a personal culinary vision to explore via the Conrad's three outstanding food & beverage outlets, Eka is destined to leave his mark on the culinary history of Bali.

Married with two children, Eka fills his busy schedule by keeping a steady hand on the Conrad's kitchen brigade and regularly leading his young children to local markets where he passes on Grandma's secrets on selecting only the freshest turmeric and other spices.

When we asked Chef Eka for a parting gift for Balidiscovery.com's readers, he generously provided the following recipe:



SATE LILIT BE PASIH

Mixed Seafood Sate


Ingredients

100 gr Snapper fillet (skinned and minced)

20 gr Spice paste for sate

2 tsp Palm sugar

2 pcs Kaffir lime leaves (Finely chopped)

50 gr Coconut milk

5 pcs Lemon grass stick

Salt & pepper

SPICE PASTE FOR SATE

20 gr Garlic (peeled and sliced)

40 gr Shallots (peeled and sliced)

20 gr Turmeric (peeled and sliced)

20 gr Ginger (peeled and sliced)

50 gr large red chilis (halved, seeded and sliced)

10 gr Bird's Eye chilis (seeded and sliced)

50 gr Tomatoes (halved and seeded)

10 gr Coriander seeds (crushed)

5 gr Shrimp paste (roasted)

100 ml Coconut oil

2 pcs Salam leaves

2 stalks Lemon grass (bruised)

50 ml Water

METHOD (SPICE PASTE FOR SATE)

1. Combine all ingredients except salam leaves, lemon grass and water in a stone mortar and grind coarsely.

2. Place ground ingredients in a heavy saucepan, add remaining ingredients and simmer over medium heat for 1 hour or until water is evaporated and paste takes on a golden color.

METHOD (SATE LILIT)

1. Mix minced snapper with spice for sate, add chopped kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar, coconut milk and seasoning with salt & pepper.

2. After mixing well, twist the mixture on the lemon grass stick.

3. Grill over very hot charcoal until golden brown

4. Serve with 'sambal matah'

SAMBAL MATAH

20 gr Shallot (peeled, cut in half and finely chopped)

20 gr Lemon grass (finely chopped)

10 gr Large red chilis (finely chopped)

10 gr Bird's eye chilis (finely chopped)

2 pcs kaffir lime leaves ( chopped )

10 gr Roasted shrimp paste (terasi) - (finely grated)

10 ml Coconut oil

1 pcs Kaffir lime

Salt & pepper

METHOD (SAMBAL MATAH)

Combine above ingredients in deep bowl and mix well for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt & pepper and kaffir lime juice.


How to Catch a Hardened Criminal?
Bali's Plans to Curb HIV/AIDS Presents Some Practical Problems of Enforcement.

The Bali Post reports that a meeting of a select committee to control the spread of HIV/AIDS in Bali has proposed a number of steps to curb that diseases, including a plan to fine men Rp. 50 million (US$5,435) when they engage in sex without using a condom.

Also on the agenda of the meeting attended by representatives of Bali's provincial government and the Island's health officials were discussions on how best to pay for HIV/AIDS screening among those at risk of infection and provide medical support to those who found infected with the disease.

Despite some obvious problems of enforcement, local officials continue to consider introducing a local law that will fine men who fail to use condom when engaging in sex. The regulation would require those considered at risk of HIV/AIDS infection to undergo medical screening and use condoms. Fines for failure to follow the rules run as high as Rp. 50 million – a fortune on an island where many do not earn that amount in a single year.

How to Catch a Hardened Criminal?

A local community worker attending the meeting ask how the government would deal with the technical and practical problems of implementing such a regulation: How would enforcement officials check compliance?

While the most obvious solution to the imbroglio would be to include a neutral witness during moments of human intimacy, such a solution might run afoul of anti-pornography rules now under consideration by the national parliament.


Plane Delayed, You Get Paid
Indonesia Moves Towards Compensating Passengers on Delayed Flights.

Slowly but surely, Indonesia is moving towards a system in which passengers flying on Indonesian aircraft will be paid compensation whenever their flights are delayed due to operational inefficiencies.

This was made evident recently when a passenger on Wings Air, David Tobing, successfully won a legal action in connection with a delayed flight he experienced in August 2007. In a symbolic but landmark case, the Jakarta Courts ordered PT Lion Mentari Airlines - the owners of Lion Air and Wings Air, to pay Tobing Rp. 718,500 (US$78) because of a delayed flight.

As reported by Bisnis Indonesia, David, who was holding a round-trip ticket on Wing Airs from Jakarta to Surabaya, encountered a 90 minute delay in his flight. Frustrated, Tobing bought a new ticket on Garuda and sought a refund of his unused Wings Air ticket, a request that was refused by the Airline. Undeterred, Tobing sought satisfaction in the Jakarta courts where the judge rejected the Airline's standard "no refund" clause.

The Court's decision reflects a wider desire by the Government to provide more protection to consumers flying on Indonesian airlines. To this end, the Department of Transportation is now rewriting regulations that will provide differing levels of compensation to passengers, depending on how late their departure varies from the official schedule.

Airlines will be exempt from paying compensation if delays are caused by "external" factors. such a weather or air traffic control issues. If, however, the delay is caused by "internal" factors deemed to be within the airline's control then compensation must be paid.

Indonesia's Minister of Transportation is known to strongly support a compensation scheme within his program of improving safety and security for Indonesian air travelers.

The exact date for the introduction of the new compensation rules is yet to be announced.


Lion Air Buy 56 Boeing 737-900ER Aircraft
Deal for New Aircraft Signed At Singapore Air Show Valued at US$4.4 Billion.

Indonesian airline Lion Air has signed a contract to purchase 56 Boeing 737-900 ER at an estimated value of US$4.4 billion.

The signing, done during the Singapore Air Show was described by Lion Air's President Director, Rusdi Kirana, as a necessary step to modernize his Company's fleet and prepare for expanded air operations both domestically and internationally.

The signing of the contracted for the major purchase of new aircraft was executed by Rusdi Kirana and the Assistant Director of Marketing for Boeing, Denesh Keskar. Witnessing the transaction were the Minister of Transportation for Indonesia, Syafii Djamal, and the Director General for Civil Aviation, Budi Suyitno.

Explaining Lion Air's selection of Boeing 737-900 ERs, Kirana pointed to the aircraft's 5,900 kilometer range and ability to carry more than 200 passengers at an operating cost 6% les than its nearest competitor.

Lion Air is also planning to launch a new Malaysian air carrier later this year as a means of establishing a wider operational and marketing network

Related Articles

[Indonesia's Lion Air to Buy 49% of a Brisbane-based Airline]

[Hush, My Darling, Don't Fear – The Lion Sleeps Tonight]

[Lion Air to Establish Technical Link with Delta Airlines?]

[Roaring Like a Lion]


Robert Worotikan Johnson: At Your Service
Indonesian Man Named International Butler of the Year.

Robert Worotikan Johnson has been named by the International Guild of Professional Butlers as "Butler of the Year."

A former employee on board Spice Island Cruises' M V Oceanic Odyssey, Johnson is a graduate of the Surabaya Hotel School and the world-renowned Ivor Spencer international training school for butlers in London. He is currently employed as the Chief Butler at the prestigious Parrot Cay Resort in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Jeff Morgan, the General Manager of Parrot Cay, praised Johnson's intuitive ability to anticipate the requirements of every guest at the Resort.

Johnson's former boss on board the then Bali-based Oceanic Odyssey and now a hospitality consultant with PT Sukses Berkat Sinergi in Bali, Yosep Yulias Diaz, said "Robert is an outstanding employee; a man who manages to get everyone to perform their job a little bit better."

The award is given each year by the International Guild of Professional Butlers to only one butler in and "created to pay tribute to that person whose expertise and exemplary dedication has enhanced the image of the Private Service profession and his/her professional association; who commands the respect of his/her own colleagues because of character and performance."

In addition to his current assignment in the Turks and Caicos Islands and with Spice Island Cruises, he has also managed a leading restaurant in Jakarta, overseen several private yachts and worked at a leading hotel in the City of London.

In accepting his award, Robert said: "It has been an honor and a privilege to work at some of the world's top rated hotels and resorts over the past 15 years. It has given me the opportunity to work with many dedicated professionals and to be of service to many fine guests and visitors."

Acknowledging the mentorship of his current employer, Robert added, "I owe a special thanks to Mrs. Christina Ong for her support and for giving me opportunities to continuously challenge and enhance my skills as a professional."


IATA Urges Indonesia to Safety Audit Program
IATA CEO Wants IOSA Safety Program Made Mandatory for All Indonesian Airlines.

The National News Agency Antara reports that the International Air Transport Association (IATA), is urging the Indonesian government to require all national airlines to adopt the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) program.

The Director General & CEO of IATA, Giovanni Bisignani, told the press in Jakarta that he was urging that the IOSA program be made mandatory for all Indonesian air carriers in order to make a significant change in-flight safety and security.

Bisignani said that since the blacklisting of all Indonesian-registered aircraft over European air space in June 2007, the entire international community has been closing monitoring developments affecting air safety in Indonesia.

"If Indonesia chooses IOSA as a mandatory program for all airlines that step will be seen as a positive signal to the international community that Indonesia is making significant changes," Bisignani explained.

Bisignani told the press that his recommendation had already been delivered on February 21st to Indonesia's Minister of Transportation, Syafii Djamal, who was said to be supportive of the move.

Bisignani said that IOSA is the highest standard for air safety in the world. "Moreover, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has acknowledged this, as have other agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)," he added.

Citing other countries who have made IOSA mandatory for their civil aviation operators, Bisignani listed Chile, Egypt, Turkey, Madagascar, the Arabian Civil Aviation Commission, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Countries in the process of adopting IOSA include Nigeria, Jordan, Tunisia, Hungary and the Latin American Aviation Commission.

Bisignani admitted there was not direct link between IOSA adoption and the removal of the current blacklisting of Indonesian aviation by the European Union.

In Indonesia, only Garuda Indonesia has passed the IOSA audit program while Mandala Airlines is currently enrolled in the ongoing audit process.


Arrest Made in Murder of Australian Woman
Police Trace Calls Made on Victim's Hand Phone to Man in Central Java. One Assailant Still at Large.

Police have made an arrest in the February 10, 2008, murder of a 34-year-old Australian woman in Canggu.

Police apprehended Nuryanto Din Sudar (27) In Tegal at a Central Java bus station on Wednesday, February 20th, after tracking his movements via a hand phone taken in the course of the murder of the Sydney woman. A suspected accomplice in the crime, Achmad Fahrul Arozi, is still at large and being sought by police.

According to press reports, Nuryanto told police he had no role in the murder and only came to the villa after being telephoned to come pick up his fried, Arozi. Nuryanto did, however, admit to taking the telephone and laptop of the victim.

Police report that both men have previous convictions for robbery.

Police have yet to find a murder weapon used to stab the woman 37 times.

Also still missing is a motive, other than a simple burglary gone wrong; an explantion at odds with the passionate modus operandi employed in the murder.

Related Story

[Australian Woman Murdered in Canggu Villa]


Bali Resorts Rank Among the Most Family-Friendly
Australia's 'Holiday with Kids' Lists 3 Bali Resorts as Top for Family Vacations.

The Australian publication Holidays with Kids has once again published its list of favorite "family-friendly" resorts in Australia and around the world. The family holiday and lifestyle magazine includes four Bali properties among its collection of "favorite" and "highly commended" resorts.

Top 10 International Resorts

Leading the list of top ten properties is Shangri-la Fijian Resort, followed in second-place by the popular [Bali Dynasty Resort] located in South Kuta. Named by the magazine as the 10th best family-oriented resort was the [The Westin Resort Nusa Dua].

Another Bali property, the [Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel] was listed among Holiday with Kids' "Highly Commended" properties.

The selection of resorts and tourism parks included in the list of winners was based on a survey of Australian readers who gave their ratings based on facilities and activities for children, the quality of childcare and babysitting services, the standard of accommodation, the location, value for money and the overall experience.

This year's award for the Bali Dynasty Resort is the second consecutive year that the resort has been so honored, named last year to the fifth position in the same category.

Also listed in the rankings for last year's poll was Bali's Club Med, who were absent from this year's list of favorites.

"We are very proud to have been selected as the number 2 Best Family-Friendly Holiday Resort International by the Holiday with Kids voters and this is our second time in a row to win this prestigious award. This Award is not only recognizes the hotel's outstanding facilities and services for children and families, but also recognizes our staff's efforts to provide a happy and safe environment for all of our guests and keeps the continuity to afford guest satisfaction," said Rosy Whitehead, the Director of Sales & Marketing Bali Dynasty Resort.


Hong Kong Tourist Dies in River Rafting Mishap
Sudden Water Surge on Telaga Waja River Claims Life of Woman on Rafting Trip in Northeast Bali.

A Hong Kong tourist, Yeung Saufung (24), lost her life on Bali's Telaga Waja River in the Karangasem Regency of Bali on Monday, February 18, 2008.

According to local press reports, the Hong Kong woman was accompanied by 3 friends and a guide from PT Telaga Waja Rafting on a late afternoon rafting trip down the river when a large water surge caused the raft to capsize. While the guide, two women, and a man in the group managed to scramble to safety, the ill-fated young woman was lost until her lifeless body was discovered entangled among river-side boulders on Wednesday, more than 24 hours after her disappearance.

Yeung Saufung; two women Cheung Kai Chi (23) and Lau Shui Fong (24); and a single male Kwan Ching Aan (24) - all from Hong Kong - were tossed into the river when their guide unsuccessfully attempted to land on the river's banks`as waters suddenly rose. The sudden flow of water, however, thwarted his attempts causing the raft to overturn. The three tourists and the guide who survived managed to hold on to ropes attached to the raft, while the woman who perished was swept downstream.

The guide told police that all the trip's participants were equipped with safety helmet and flotation vests.

The body of the young woman was discovered by members of Bali's Search & Rescue (SAR) team and local villagers. The woman's helmet and flotation vest were discovered in a location not far from her body.


BALI UPDATE #597 - 18 February 2008

The Trunk's in the Front
Elephant Safari Park Lodge Opens in Taro, near Ubud, Bali.

Opened on March 10, 2008 the purpose-built 25 room Elephant Safari Park Lodge, set within a 3.5 hectare enclave of the award-winning Elephant Safari Park, opened its doors at the village of Taro, outside Bali's culture heartland of Ubud.

Home to 27 magnificent Sumatran Elephants, the Elephant Safari Park and its new Lodge are the inspiration of Nigel and Yanie Mason, the husband and wife team recognized as adventure tourism pioneers in Bali.

Guests at the Lodge are "shuttled" around the complex on the backs of mahout-chauffeured elephants, boarding via special high-as-an-elephant's-eye landing ramps that form a part of each room.

Conceived and operated to serve high-end clients with sophisticated tastes, the Lodge offer four levels of accommodation including the luxuriantly lavish 104 square meter Taro Suite served by its own butler and equipped with a 20 meter wrap-around terrace for outdoor dining and elephant watching.



All rooms are appointed with elephant-inspired details, in keeping with the neighbors and natural surroundings. Spacious rooms provide a resort-style haven among the peace and tranquillity of watching elephants enjoy their tropical parkland surroundings. The Lodge is also designed to cater for special events, weddings, honeymoons, meetings and incentives groups or sunset cocktails and private dinners. Supporting facilities include swimming pool, bar, lounge, terrace, gym and spa.



"We built the Lodge for the type of guest, whether a family, couple or sole adventurer, looking for a one-of-a-kind experience. Our facilities, services and design reflect our natural forest location, botanical gardens, beautiful mountain environs and, of course, our 27 rescued and rehabilitated Sumatran elephants. Although we provide all the modern day luxury comforts, a stay at the Elephant Safari Park Lodge is more about the interactive elephant experience," says Park owner and Lodge creator Nigel Mason. "I guess I would say a stay at the Lodge is like a five-star luxury camping experience."

"Everything in our Lodge rooms from interior finishes; to the Lodges artworks and soft furnishings are custom made and elephant inspired. Hand-dyed regal blue and gold bed runners embroidered with elephant insignia, bedside lamps with elephant motifs, artworks created by the Parks own elephant artisans, even the legs of the beds are carved to resemble elephant feet." adds Nigel.



The Lodge's outdoor areas are also elephant-inspired touches, featuring stunning stone Ganesha statues and carvings. Master craftsman and stonemason Richard North Lewis was commissioned to design stone carving wall reliefs depicting elephant stories from Cambodia, Borobudur, Thailand and India to create an incredible open-air art gallery for guests strolling through the gardens and relaxation areas.



The Lodge's Mammoths Head Bar & Lounge, seating 50 guests, features an impressive 20,000 year old original Siberian Mammoth head that keeps a watchful eye over the well-stocked bar and wine cellar. Inside a rare collection of 40 hand-painted etchings form a permanent exhibition telling the story of 200 years of elephant history.

The Lodge also offers a Safari Wellness Spa accessed through an all glass atrium reception. The elegantly appointed separate male and female treatment rooms use cleverly-designed one-way glass windows to afford incredible views of the elephants while being pampered. A range of signature treatments using Wild Yam scented products reflecting the village name of Taro where the Park is located, offer an extensive selection of body treatments - waxing, facials and hand, foot and hair treatments.

An air-conditioned Fitness and Weights Room features state-of-the-art Matrix Equipment.

Another new addition to the Park is a resplendent granite and stone purpose-built Wedding Pavilion. The wedding pavilion features a white stone elephant altar and traditional antique four-post decorative Javanese ceremonial Joglo decorated with frangipani pillars, candles and a rose petal flower-laden aisle. Seating for up to 40 guests is available against the dramatic backdrop of the elephant park; a spectacular venue for a romantic commitment ceremony.



Shown on Balidiscovery.com are pictures of the Elephant Safari Park and the new Elephant Safari Park Lodge.

For more information and to book a special opening rate [ Elephant Safari Park Lodge ]


Australian Sail Armada Expected in Lovina and Serangan.
'Sail Indonesia' Grows with 200 Vessels Expected in Bali in September 2008.

200 sailing yachts from around the world are expected to pay brief port calls at Lovina in North Bali and Serangan Island in Bali's south during Sail Indonesia in September 2008.

The projection of sailing visitors was given to the press by Drs. I Putu Budiasa, the Chief of Tourism for the City of Denpasar.

The ships will begin their journey from Australia to Bali with stops along the way in East and West Nusa Tenggara.

The 200 yachts expected to visit Bali in September 2008 for Sail Indonesia is an increase from the 125 vessels who participated in 2006 and the 130 vessels who came to the Island in 2007. Tourism officials expect each vessel will carry 7-8 crew and spend between 5-14 days in Bali.

The primary destination for the ships in Bali is Lovina, on the north coast of the Island. Many vessels, however, are expected to pay a call at the yacht basin at Serangan Island in the south.

The majority of the Australian yacht armada visitng Bali are expected to continue their Indonesian odyssey with additional stops in Java and Sumatra.


Bali Tourism Investments Dominated by Hotels and Resorts
Provincial Investment Board Gives Green Light to New Hotels Despite Objections by Tourism Board and Governor.

Bisnis Bali estimates that the value of new investments in hotels and recreational facilities in Bali for the period January - November 2007 reached Rp. 1.4 trillion (US$152.2 million) comprised of 38 projects.

70% of the new investment in Bali is centered on the hotel and resort sector.

According to research conducted by the Surabaya branch of Bank Central Asia (BCI), most new hotel investments in Bali are located on elevated or beachside areas in Jimbaran, Pecatu, Ungasan, Payangan, Sanur, Legian and Kuta.

According to Aslakhul Umam, Research Coordinator at BCI in Surabaya, following the second Bali bombing in October 2005 the Island has undergone a significant increase in new resort and hotel investments, with most investors coming from areas outside of Bali, such as Jakarta and Surabaya. "In any case, the nature and views of Bali remain interesting for those seeking investments in the tourism sector," explained Umam.

Shown on Balidiscovery.com are some of the new hotel and tourism investments slated to open in 2008 in Bali.



Bisnis Bali reports that officials in the Badung and Denpasar regions of Bali remain receptive to new investment applications in the hotel sector, denying earlier reports that new hotels would be banned from commencing new projects.

The Chairman of the Coordinating Investment Board for Bali (BKPMD-Bali), Drs. Made Kandiyuana, stated: "The Provincial government of Bali has never said that Badung and Denpasar are closed to new hotel investments. What is correct is that we have been asked to be more selective. But, as long as new projects do not violate zoning rules and pass a review by our study team, they will approved."

The BKPMD Chief's green light for new investments is at seeming odds with an earlier pronouncements by Bali's Governor who once issued a memorandum freezing new hotel investments.

Kandiyuana also told the press that his office was moving towards the goal of providing a "one-door" service for the approval of new investment projects and improve their service to the public.

A Call for Greater Openness

In a related article in BisnisBali, the Bali Tourism Board (BTB) has called on the government to adopts a more open approach to the issuance of investment licenses and permits.

The Chairman of the BTB Ngurah Wijaya, complained that his organization has never received data on the number of hotel permits issued in Bali. This lack of openness, unfortunately, lends itself to suspicions of corruption and collusion in the license process.

Wijaya said that with more than 350,000 hotels rooms in Bali and the recent rapid increase in commercial villas suggest that new permits should be frozen for the time being.

Wijaya said that instead of new hotels the government should turn its attention to the management of tourism objects.


Bali's Rental Car Rates to Increase?
Customer Demand and Higher Car Prices Driving Increased Rates from Rental Operators.

Bali Post states that the Island's car rental operators are likely to increase their tariffs by approximately 10% for vehicles produced after 2007.

Quoting a Sanur-based car rental agency, the increase in price is a function of the higher prices paid for new cars and the growing demand for late models by customers visiting Bali. Car rentals involving vehicles built prior to 2007 are expected to undergo more modest price increases.

Book a Rental Car in Bali

[Book a Self-Drive Car from Bali Discovery]

[Book a Car with Driver from Bali Discovery]


Small Explosive Device Detonated in Denpasar
Second 'Home-Made Bomb' in 10 Days Exploded in Gatot Subroto Area of North Denpasar.

A low-explosive device exploded in north Denpasar shortly after 11:00 p.m. on Friday night, February 15, 2008, injuring two men.

Initially reported by some Bali media as a gunshot attack because of the many holes inflicted on the victims' vehicle, police have now linked the incident to the explosion of a crude bomb, similiar to device that exploded at the parking lot of a Bali travel agency in Denpasar on February 5, 2008. No injuries resulted from the first bombing.

In the latest attack and suffering hand and thigh injuries were the occupants of a Taft SUV; the manager of a local Karaoke Bar, Dewa Made Segining (39), and a driver-security guard from the bar, Komang Suparmadi (39).

According to Tempo Interaktif, Suparmadi has been treated and allowed to return home while Segining remains hospitalized at Bali's Sanglah Hospital, protected by an armed police guard.

Forensic officers inspecting the scene of the bombing have found a number of holes including a 9 centimeter deep and 24 centimeter wide hole in the rolling door entrance of shop near the scene of the crime. Police are still trying to determine the motive for the attack, with press speculation that the crime may be tied to revenge or a the work of a local extortion ring.

Press reports say that the attack occurred on Gang Duku, a side street off Jalan Kebo Iwa, not far from the major Denpasar thoroughfare of Jalan Gatot Subroto. When Suparmadi, who was driving the vehicle, became aware that they were being followed he diverted to quieter back streets. As the vehicle entered Gang Duku a motorcyclist threw an item at the vehicle that was followed by the explosion. The motorcyclist immediately fled the scene.

Related Story

[Bali Police Intensify Search for Local Bomber]


Building the Bali Nusa Raya Highway
Ambitious Road Project Part of a Giant Aceh to Eastern Indonesia Trans National Highway Project.

The National Road Building Agency for Indonesia's 8th District will soon begin realizing the construction and upgrading of 3,000 kilometers of majors road stretching from Bali's western port of Gilimanuk to Atambua in West Timor.

The entire road project, scheduled to get underway in March 2008, will cost Rp. 730 billion (US$79.34 million), allocated to be paid from the 2008 State Budget.

The project is broken into three phases: 500 kilometers of major roads in Bali; 500 kilometers of roads in West Nusa Tenggara and 2,000 kilometers of roads in East Nusa Tenggara.

The Bali segment of the project will consume Rp. 130 billion (US$12 million) with special emphasis promised on "blackspots" - areas near Tabanan with high levels of accidents - and the widening of roads across the Island.

Phase II of the project will improve roads throughout Lombok and Sumbawa, costing an estimated Rp. 200 billion (US$21.8 million).

The third and final phase of the road project will address 2,000 kilometers on Flores, Lembata and Alor and will cost Rp. 400 billion (US$43.5 million).


Chief Purwoko: Tourism Operators Must Raise Their Game
Bali Police Chief Wants More Security Cooperation Among Hotel and Villa Operators.

The brutal murder of an Australian woman and a series of other recent attacks on tourists have caused Bali's Chief of Police, General Paulus Purwoko, to shine an unwanted spotlight on Bali's tourism associations, operators and the provincial tourism office.

According to Purwoko, tourism operators are reluctant to part with their hard-earned capital when it comes to security improvements. The Chief complained, "if it comes to spending money to add room there's no problem, but try to suggest that anyone build a coordinated security post and everyone becomes reluctant."

Bali's top policeman is concerned that if there are no improvements made soon in villa or café security, criminality and related robberies will only increase. Bemoaning the lack of security professionalism on the Island, Purwoko said the current inability to confront and oppose armed robbers is encouraging thieves to become bolder in their criminal acts.

Quoted in Bali Post, Chief Purwoko said: "I have raised this issue several months ago before a gathering of tourism stakeholder in Ubud, but until now there has been no significant change in security at local hotels and villas. As a result, that which I feared has been visited upon Australian Heidi Murphy in Canggu. Earlier, a robbery also made victims of a South Korean couple in Ubud."

Purwoko called for the establishment of coordinated security posts in all tourism areas with each villa donating the services of one security guard for shared patrol duties. The Chief said that if security duties were shared the morale of watchmen and security guards would be improved, bolstering each communities readiness to go toe-to-toe with robbers and extortionists.

At the same time Purwoko called on the Provincial Tourism Office to levy security requirements on new villas before granting them operating licenses.

Commenting on the recent murder of a young Australian woman in Canggu, Purwoko said that his team is still busy gathering evidence in the case.

Related Stories

[Police Renews Warning on Safety in Ubud]

[Bali's Chief of Police Unhappy with Ubud Villa Owners]

[ Australian Woman Murdered in Canggu Villa


Call for 50% Reduction in Hotel & Restaurant Tax.
Bagus Discovery Tour's Owner Says Lower Taxes Would Raise More Money for Island's Publc Coffers.

Commenting in a page-one article in BisnisBali, the Secretary General of the Bali Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI-Bali) and owner of Bagus Discovery Tours, Bagus Sudibya, has thrown his support behind a proposal to lower the current tax charged on hotel and restaurant bills from 10% to 5%.

Guest dining at Bali restaurants and hotels presently pay a 21% tax and service surcharge on all their purchases. The amount over and above the 10% tax is typically a service charge for the employees of the hotel and restaurants.

"As a member of the tourism industry, I very much support the reduction of the hotel & restaurant tax to 5%," said Sudibya. He went on to explain that the current 10% tax level is too high and places a heavy burden on the Island's hotels and restaurants, affecting both their price competitiveness and product quality.

A Mistaken Assumption: It Doesn't Really Matter

"Don't always think that the tax is a burden only borne by the customer," warned the PHRI official. He added that the high tax rate causes operators to trim their margins in order to remain competitive.

The PHRI officials feels that combined tax and service surcharge of 21% is both high and especially burdensome. Sudibya said that in other competing destinations, such as Singapore, the highest tax charged is only 13%. He hopes that the government will lower the current tax level and help promote healthy growth in the tourism sector. Sudibya insisted that if the tax were reduced, the savings and growth in business would allow product enhancements, more training of staff and more promotional activities.

What Would the Government Lose?

In response to those who fear that a 50% reduction in the Hotel & Restaurant tax would represent an unacceptable loss in state revenues, Sudibya said he is confident that total tax revenues would actually increase as sales would increase and entrepreneurs would be more inclined to be more honest and transparent in declaring their tax liabilities.

Sudibya acknowledged that the proposal to lower the hotel and restaurant tax remains at the "idea stage" and that a detailed study of the impact of lowering the tax has yet to be undertaken. The final decision to lower these taxes remains the exclusive purview of the provincial government.

Government Responds

In the edition of BisnisBali published the day following Sudibya's comments, both the Chief of Tourism for Badung and his counterpart for the Province of Bali dismissed Sudibya's suggestion, saying the current tax was set by the central government and was based on a thorough and careful formulation.

Go Figure: A Game of Political Ping Pong?

Protestations from Bali officials that the current tax rate of 10% is immutable and is, in any case, set by the Central Government in Jakarta mesh oddly with the fact that when former President Suharto tried to lower the Hotel and Restaurant tax charged in Bali in the late 1990s local officials on the Island stonewalled the President's decree, saying the decision lack an implementing regulation.


Bali Buffeted by High Winds
Bali's Shorelines Eroded and Kuta Beach Temporarily Closed by High Winds and Waves Expected to Continue through February 19th.

"Nicholas" - a tropical storm located south of the Nusa Tenggara islands and off the Western coast of Australia, produced strong winds, heavy rains and large waves for Bali and adjoining islands during the second week of February 2008.

On the neighboring island of Lombok, large trees in the capital of Mataram were uprooted while ferry services between the ports of Padang Bai (Bali) and Lembar (Lombok) were frequently suspended as waves of reached heights ranging from 3.5 to 6 meters and wind exceeded 35 kilometers per hour.

Although centered over Australia's coast, forecasters suggest that the Tropical Storm Nicholas will continue to affect Bali with strong winds and rains until approximately February 19th when the low pressure system is expected to dissipate.

On Thursday, February 14, 2008, large waves forced Bali's Beach Patrol to close the popular Kuta beach front while the same strong winds created sand dunes that stopped traffic along the Kuta beach front road that borders the public beach. Kuta's popular Ma Jolly restaurant suffered damage to their beach side dining pavilion when heavy waves eroded building foundations.

Erosive wave action also reported along Bali's eastern and western shorelines where coconut palms toppled and beachside dwellings were washed away.


Australian Woman Murdered in Canggu Villa
Police Set One Month Deadline to Solve the Murder of Expatriate Working in Bali's Garment Industry.

A 34 year-old Australian woman Heidi Murphy was found dead in a rented villa in the Tibubeneng area of Canggu on Sunday, February 10, 2008. Murphy, who worked in the Island's garment sector for the past three years, was found dead with 37 stab wounds by household laborers who told police they climbed the wall of the dwelling when Murphy did not respond to repeated calls from the dwelling's gate, despite the victims motorcycle being parked within the compound.

Murphy's body was discovered sprawled on the floor of the dwellings living room covered with a bedspread. Upon seeing the body, the workers, who had come to collect their wages, raised the alarm with neighbors and police.

The officer-in-charge at the crime scene told the Bali Post: "There were 11 (sic) knife wounds on the body of the victim. The motive is unclear and the case remains under investigation."

Neighbors who lived near Murphy's home told the Bali Post that the murder occurred several weeks after knife-wielding robbers reportedly tried to rob her on a road near the scene of the fatal attack. According to the neighbor, Murphy managed to successfully flee what appeared to be a road-side robbery attempt.

The neighbor also told the press that Murphy, who lived alone, would typically host gatherings for friends every Saturday night. It is not clear, however, if a party was held at the villa on the eve of Murphy's killing.

Bali police have interviewed friends and acquaintances of the dead Australian, including her estranged husband, Ben Sloane, an American national who also lives in Bali.

An investigative team comprised of police from North Kuta, Badung regency police and officers from Bali Police Headquarters have been joined by officers from the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

An Assistant Chief of the Bali Police has given his officers a deadline of one month to solve the violent murder.

Early indications point towards a crime of passion, a suspicion strengthen by the fact that a number of items of value were not missing from the crime scene.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that police are now trying to trace three phone calls made from Heidi Murphy's hand phone just hours before the presumed time of her death. Those calls, made to unregistered pre-paid phone card numebrs, are now being sourced by police to their vendors in an attempt to trace the people called on the victim's phone.

The Sydney press also reports that prior to her death Murphy was working under contract to Paramount Pictures, preparing 200 costumes for a Star Trek sequel.

Police Help Line

The Bali Police have set up special telephone lines for those who might have information that would assist police in solving this crime. ++62-(0)361-7476574 or ++62-(0)816736356.


Pastika's Political Platform for Bali's Future
PDI-P Candidate for Bali's Governor General Made Pastika Outlines His Vision for Bali's Future.

As reported on Balidiscovery.com, former Bali police Chief, General Made Mangku Pastika is the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) candidate for governor of Bali. [See: Made Pastika Named PDI-P's Man to Run for Bali Governor]

A recent article in the Bali Post provides insights into the hopes and ambitions held by the man who may become Bali's next chief executive.

Bali - Progressive, Safe, Peaceful & Prosperous

Pastika told the Bali Post that his vision and mission for Bali is to lead an island that is "progressive, safe, peaceful and prosperous." To achieve this, said Pastika, his administration would concentrate on communication and networking.

Pastika expressed his concern for the current condition of the Island; citing the mushrooming of "Kafes" that now includes locations in local village settings. (Editor's note: "Kafes" in Bali are small bars and restaurants, often serving as fronts for prostitution.) Chief Pastika also said poverty and unemployment must be a main concern of Bali's next governor.

Using the self-created acronym of "Mandara" = Maju, Aman, Damai & Sejahtera - Pastika said he seeks to create an island that is "progressive, safe, peaceful and prosperous."

In detailing his vision in more detail, Pastika explained:

- Progressive: Bali must keep pace with the development without losing touch with the unique character of Balinese culture.

- Safe: Bali must create a region imbued with safety, tranquility and security.

- Peaceful: An Island in which conflicts - both on a vertical and horizontal level - are minimized.

- Prosperous: Creating an island where the people's welfare is enhanced with adequate educational opportunities, public health, food sufficiency and housing opportunities.

Pastika also stressed that his plans call for reducing unemployment as a means to eliminate poverty in Bali's villages. He told the Bali Post that the Island possesses great potential, a precious asset to both Indonesia and the world.

To achieve the "Mandara" envisioned by Pastika, he sees as a minimum requirement the improvement of communications and networking on all levels. To this end, Pastika plans to hold "open house" events if he is elected Governor. Such events will facilitate the people's aspirations through open and transparent communication with the government.

Most importantly, the interests of the people must be given priority. Said Pastika: "I think the government can no longer be bureaucracy-oriented but must become people-oriented. People must be put first."


Former Garuda CEO Convicted of Conspiracy to Murder
Indra Setiawan Sentenced to 12 Months in Prison for Role in Death of Indonesian Activist Munir. Police Promise More Arrests Before June.

Indra Setiawan, the former CEO of Garuda Indonesia Airlines, has been sentenced to one year in prison for his complicity in the murder of Indonesian activist Munir Said Thalib in September 2004 on board a flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam.

The sentence handed down in the Jakarta courts was 6 months less than the 1 year and 6 months requested by Indonesian prosecutors.

As reported in Balidiscovery.com [See:Jail Time for Garuda Pilot. Airline's Former CEO to Follow?], a former Garuda Pilot, Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Friday, January 25, 2008, with the Court finding him guilty of premeditated murder and the falsification of documents.

The courts found Setiawan guilty of taking a conspiratorial role in activist's murder through the issuance of letters needed to allow Pollycarpus to join the flight on which Munir died.

Setiawan's defense during the trial was that he had issued the subject letter at the urging of the State Intelligence Board (BIN).

Police in Jakarta have told the press that additional indictments involving State intelligence officials will be handed down before June.


 
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