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Bali's Leaders Commit to a Safe, Orderly and 'Attractive' Campaign and Election for Gubernatorial Election on July 9, 2008.
Bali's political leaders have resolved that the fiercely contested race for Island Governor to be held on July 9, 2008, will not negatively impact tourism. Moreover, local leaders are convinced that, handled correctly, the upcoming elections can actually become a genuine tourism attraction.
Bali's outgoing governor, Dewa Made Beratha, told an election planning meeting in Denpasar on February 22nd that the coming elections will be a "party of democracy" featuring Balinese culture, dances and local parades that he feels are certain to be found interesting by tourist visitors.
The Governor told the meeting that all must work to create an election atmosphere that is safe, orderly, respectful, cultured and democratically transparent. "This is important to preserve our international tourism reputation and elevate the name of the Indonesian people."
At the same meeting, the Chairman of the Public Election Commission for Bali, Anak Agung Oka Wisnumurti, said his team was working to create the very sort of election campaign outlined by the Governor's vision.
Meanwhile, Bali's Chief of Police, General Paulus Purwoko, assured the meeting that his officers would make it a top priority to maintain security during the campaign and elections period.
PATA Training Bali’s Hotel Executive
Maya Ubud Executive Wins Prestigious PATA Scholarship to Hong Kong.
Kadek Suartana, the Front Office Manager of the Maya Ubud Resort & Spa recently attended the 6th Executive Program in Hospitality Management at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, School of Hotel & Tourism Management.
The 5 day intensive course was funded by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Foundation with scholarships provided to worthy applicants on a competitive basis.
The materials covered by renowned professors during the course included human resources, financial management and quality service management.
Kadek, the only participant from Indonesia, said:
“It was a great honor for me as an individual and Maya Ubud Resort & Spa as an organization to participate in this program. All the lecturers were professional experts and practitioners in hotel and tourism management. None of this would have been possible without the support of the PATA Foundation and wish to express to PATA my sincere gratitude.”
Still a Record January for Bali
Bali by the Numbers: Lower than Originally Reported, But Still a Record-Breaking January for Bali Tourism.
While an earlier report of January foreign tourist arrival to Bali from the National News Agency Antara was overly optimistic [See: Bali's January 2008 Arrivals Burst Out of the Starting ], the official arrival figures now in hand from immigration officials at Bali's airport have secured January 2008's position as the best January on record.
Click image for enlarge
The official arrival figure of 139,872 foreign arrivals for January 2008 is +17.38% ahead of the same month from one year before and, as shown graphically on Balidiscovery.com, the best January to date in the history of Bali tourism.
Out of Africa, Into Bali
Interview: Mark Ridge of Bali Hai Cruises
Balidiscovery.com caught up with Mark Ridge, the recently appointed General Manager of Bali Hai Cruises - the company that operates a popular range of day and dinner cruises, beach accommodation and water sports activities.
Born and raised in South Africa, Mark's family traces its African roots back a number of generations. Fittingly, he has a deep love of that continent's bush, working from an early age as a wildlife guide and naturalist.
On his way to Bali, Mark has lived in New Zealand, operated an up-market lodge in Botswana and run his own marine business in the United States.
Delighted to be living in Bali, Mark took time from his busy schedule to share his vision for Bali Hai Cruises.
Mark Ridge of Bali Hai Cruises: The Interview
Balidiscovery.com:Mark, welcome to Bali. What path in life brought you to managing a popular day cruise operation in Bali?
Mark Ridge: Having been in the marine industry previously, Bali Hai Cruises was a logical choice. Working for a company, with all the different cruise products and vessels, that is a leader in the business, made the position very attractive to my wife and myself. Also, we were looking for a place to live that has both natural beauty as well as people that are still completely immersed into their cultural beliefs. It was important to us that our next home was not just a show for tourists, and we have certainly found that to still be true in Bali. There are very few other places in the world where this is still the case.
Balidiscovery.com:What are the main product lines operated by Bali Hai Cruises?
Mark Ridge: Our core product are the day cruises to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida on either a large motor catamaran or our exclusive sailing catamaran that take you to the best snorkeling spots in Bali. Once there, you can enjoy fun water sports as well as the beach club. Our dinner cruise options, dolphin watching and fast, exhilarating ocean raft trips round out the choices so there is an option for every taste and desire.
Balidiscovery.com:How do you see business shaping up for the coming year?
Mark Ridge: The start to 2008 has been excellent and we see no reason why this should not continue. New emerging markets, like Russia, are adding to our base of Western and Asian guests.
Balidiscovery.com:Any new products or approaches to the marketplace planned?
Mark Ridge: While it seems difficult to improve on something that is already so well-liked and diverse, such as Bali Hai Cruises, any new manager naturally has big plans and dreams. So I guess, this is the same with me. Although still in the planning stages, we are working on a marine research and education center that will bring our guests closer to the marine environment through a hands-on and visual connection. The environment has always had a very high priority for us and we hope that with this added feature to our cruises our guests experience will be even more enhanced. So come cruise with us and check it all out!
Australian Grapes, Fermented and Bottled in Bali, 'Two Islands' Bring Excellent Wine at Affordable Prices to Tables Across Indonesia.
In November of 2007, Two Islands - a line of exciting and most affordable wines were introduced to a select audience of hospitality, tourism and the local media in Bali.
Named to reflect the close relationship enjoyed by "two islands" – Bali and Australia - the Chardonnay and Shiraz are indeed the product of these two 'island' locales. Grapes grown and in the cooler soils of Australia are rendered into juice before being shipped to Bali for fermentation, bottling and cellaring.
The creation of PT Arpan Bali Utama, the company that produces the successful range of Hatten Wines, made from Bali-grown grapes, the Two Island vintages aim to provide a consistent quality and affordable price in a pouring wine.
Two Islands Chardonnay
Two Islands Chardonnay possesses a lively fresh aroma, suggestive of peachy tropical fruit. This is a medium-bodied wine, displaying toasty melon flavors that present a complex lingering crisp finish. Fresh seafood, poultry and pastas compliment this consistently well-made Chardonnay.
Two Islands Shiraz
Two Islands Shiraz is a well-balanced medium to full-bodied wine. Toasty plum aromas compliment the spicy peppery flavors. The wine's soft tannins suit rich food such as veal, duck, lamb and Asian curries.
The Story of Hatten Wines
The pioneering first range Hatten Wines that are now a fixture in hotels and restaurants across Bali emphasized the harvesting and vintaging of grapes grown in Bali, using European grape varieties - Alphonse Lavellée, Belgia and a local grape variety. Suitable to Bali's year round tropical climate, these grapes are easily grown in a 120 day cycle.
But, as Chardonnay and Shiraz grapes must be grown in a cooler climate, Two Islands harvests South Australian grapes followed by vintaging in Hatten's modern winery in Bali, using state-of-the-art technology under the careful eye of an expert wine maker. The results are a beautiful crisp Chardonnay and a delicious medium-bodied Shiraz.
Two Islands and the entire range of wines produced by Hatten Wines can be found at restaurants and hotels across Bali or at the Hatten Shop near Simpang Siur in Kuta.
An Exhibition of Ceramics and Textiles at Jenggala March 14 – June 7, 2008.
Bali's Jenggala Gallery will feature artworks by Hester Tjebbes and Obin, two artists of different backgrounds who combine traditional motifs with contemporary styles in their exhibition "Reviving the Classics."
Hester Tjebbes is a studio potter who loves traditional Indonesian crafts and combines local elements with traditions from other cultures in her artworks. Her reinvented Baroque motifs incorporating Bali's traditional styles can be found in her contemporary ceramic pottery. Similarly, Obin is well-known for blending Indonesia's traditional textile techniques into her stylish contemporary fashion. Both Hester and Obin freely admit to being inspired by their work environment. Their artworks are crafted by the artists themselves together with Indonesian crafts people.
Hester Tjebbes' ceramics are a unique mixture of classical and contemporary elements. Her background is multicultural European: Growing up in Sweden, living in Holland and France, while her first ceramics teacher was Takao Sakuma from Japan. Forever evolving, Hester is now proud to include Indonesian and Balinese influences in her work.
In her work styles travel back and forth across the world, while changing and growing into something new. The leaf decorations on Hester Tjebbes' tableware collection and on her big vases are reminiscent of Baroque motifs in Balinese stone and woodcarvings.
Her interest in traditional shapes can be felt in her large vases that recall traditional Indonesian Martavans, the large jars produced in South Kalimantan. The sculptural elements, such as birds and frogs, are the expression of her love for nature.
Her ceramics are sold in Europe, the US, the Middle East, and also to Jakarta and Bali.
Hester lives and has her studio in Burgundy, France. But, for the last 20 years she has also worked as a consultant to pottery villages in Indonesia. In 2004, together with 5 artist friends, she started a pottery studio in Bali. Her Eglantier Studio is known for its very large vases, all hand-thrown and hand-decorated. She uses stoneware and porcelain clays, fired at high temperature.
Strong Indonesian themes are the hallmark of textile artworks by Josephine Werratie Komara, more familiarly known as "Obin." Applying a variety of textile techniques including batik, embroidery, dotted, patchwork, smocked and drapery - the creative process of Obin and her team at Bin House bring a special message and feeling through the medium of fabrics. Colors, selections of motifs as well as design of the textile are used show the beauty, elegance, and the sensuality of the Indonesian character. In keeping with her reputation as a world-class designer, Obin's collections are universal in their appeal.
Exploration is central to Obin's artworks, which aim to create harmony and beauty for those who wear it.
Exclusivity and natural materials are a major attraction of Obin’s fabric. One-of-a- kind creations, Obin's clothing designs reflect great dedication and care. Accordingly, a piece of Bin House material may take many months, sometimes even an entire year to finish.
In her exhibition at Jenggala, Obin provides selected pieces from her extensive collection.
Reviving the Classics
An Exhibition of Ceramics and Textiles by Hester Tjebbes and Obin
March 14 through June 7, 2008
Open Daily from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Jenggala Gallery - Jalan Uluwatu II, Jimbaran, Bali
Bali Courts Refuse Bali Bombers Change of Venue Request
Final Appeal Hearings Continue for Convicted Bali Bombers as Judges Say 'No' to Moving the Hearings Closer to Death Row.
A formal request by the Defense Team to move the hearing of the three convicted "Bali bombers" from Bali to Java has been rejected as unwarranted by the panel of judges hearing their appeal in the Denpasar Court.
The current 11th hour appeal for the three Bali bombers awaiting execution before a firing squad was granted by the Indonesian Supreme Court who agreed to hear legal objections to the retroactive application of the Indonesian Anti-Terrorism law for crimes committed prior to the law's ratification.
Lawyers for the three responded to the refusal of a change of venue from the Denpasar court by calling for a postponement in the hearing while a final decision for a requested change of venue is received from the Supreme Court.
The appeals for the three Bali Bombers - Amrozi (43), Iman Samudra (37) and Ali Gufron (47) are being heard in side-by-side court rooms at Bali's Central Court in downtown Denpasar.
The request for a change of venue were heard and rejected by three separate judicial teams sitting in simultaneous court sessions in Bali.
Despite suggestions from the three bomber's defense team that Bali offered a hostile and non-conducive setting for the hearings, there is apparently little public interest in the latest round of hearings, with those in the court room largely limited to members of the press.
Bali's Benoa Prioritized to Become Cruise Terminal
Top Tourism Official Says Benoa to be Ready as a Turn-around Port by 2009.
According to the Department of Culture and Tourism, Bali's southern seaport of Benoa is being prioritized for development as an international standard turn-around port for cruise vessels.
In a report carried in Bisnis Indonesia, the government is reportedly seeking to equip the Benoa Port facility with hotels and amusement centers seen as necessary supports to a passenger port facility. The report also says that the provincial government of Bali has been asked to undertake dredging in various parts of the current harbor to allow visits by larger vessels.
The Secretary General of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Sapta Nirwandar, told a meeting of sea-tourism operators: "We want Benoa to become a cruise ship terminal with the dimensions of an entertainment area in accordance with the dynamics exhibited by other international turn-around-ports. Benoa has become a priority for us."
Sapta went on to explain that Benoa has become a top priority nationally for development as a turn-around-port out of consideration of the local potential for sea tourism. The leading tourism official also justified the decision of his department by pointing to the growing number of cruise passengers calling on the port of Benoa every year.
Sapta said: "Last year alone some 1.7 million (foreign) tourists visited Bali. The number of visits by cruise ships to Bali is also large. We are targeting that by 2009 that a turn-around port is in operation, creating a an international cruise destination that is equal to Singapore."
By developing Benoa as a cruise port Sapta is certain that the number of cruise ship visits to Bali will increase and this, in turn, will act as a stimulus to developing cruise tourism in eastern Indonesia.
Didien Junaedy, the Secretary General of the Association of Sea Tourism Operators (Gahawisri) welcomed Sapta's comment, describing this as positive development in national sea tourism.
At the same time, Junaedy cautioned the government not to focus only on Benoa, as there were many other ports in the rest of Indonesia worthy of their attention.
In response, Sapta said the government has plans for development and upgrading of port facilities in other areas, such as Batam, Bintan, Maksassar and North Sulawesi.
Naughty and Nice - Reflections at Ten
Editorial: Bali Update Looks Back at Ten Years of Sharing Bali's Stories with the World.
Ten years, nearly 600 editions and over 10,000 pages of articles later, Bali Update should necessarily pause and reflect on its evolution during what has been a most eventful decade in the history of Bali's tourism.
Born in 1998 as Indonesia weathered the political upheaval of a historic change of regime, smoke clouds from Sumatran forest fires and region-wide economic collapse, - the Bali Update has grown remarkably from the original simple email shared with a small group of colleagues providing a "local view" on developments that we felt were ignored under reported by the international media. Over the past ten years a system of shared emails has evolved into a newsletter now sent every Monday to nearly 20,000 subscribers.
Along the way, we received both plaudits and bombast. On the plus side, Time Magazine (Asia) labeled our newsletter "Bali's Truth Ministry," leading members of the world’s electronic and print media regularly quote balidscovery.com as a reliable source and numerous awards – most recently a Pacific Asia Travel Association Gold Award (2007) as the best promotional newsletter in the Asia-Pacific region have come our way. We also have our detractors and critics, including a hell-bent operator of several hate sights urging a boycott of Bali tourism who detests our steadfast defense of the Island and, closer to home, some organizations in Bali who wish Bali Update limited itself to press releases, avoiding "hard news" related to Bali tourism.
Trying to get the balance right is our constant concern when producing Bali Update. That we get near equal measure of praise and criticism suggests that we may be getting it "about right."
In personal mitigation to our critics, we offer the explanation that our attempts at objective coverage of Bali tourism are neither "mean spirited" nor driven by any latent desire to engage in investigative journalism. In fact, our coverage of Bali is almost universally derived from international news reports on Bali and coverage from the Indonesian language press. Committed to preserving the trust we share with our readers, we always strive to present the news in an objective and truthful manner. And, by reporting both the good and bad news on Bali, we also strive to preserve Bali's right to be heard on important issues; making sure that ongoing steps to catch criminals, correct short comings and improve the life on the island are also get aired internationally.
Clearly, there is a price to be paid and risks associated with such candidness. Bali Update is made possible from the income generated by Balidiscovery.com and related travel sites from Bali. If we paint Bali in an overly negative way, we'll scare the very visitors who make the bookings keep us economically viable. On the other hand, if we but once betray the trust of any reader, he or she will likely "unsubscribe" eliminating an important part of our worldwide network of "Baliphiles."
Because of this, we remain committed to try to publish all the news on Bali; both the good news and the occasionally "painful."
Whether you brand us "naughty" or "nice" Bali Update's been here each week through ten years of economic upheaval, terrorist bombings and medical emergencies. And, as our regular readers know, when it comes to the subject of Bali - Bali Update is an unabashed and unrepentant fans of a place we believe is still home to the world's most cherished culture – a place we want everyone to visit whenever a tired soul needs the special remedy only available on this Island
When it comes to regrets and apologies, we reserve those for the poor unfortunates yet to visit our special island.
The Coming Tsunami of HIV/AIDS in Bali
Bali Seminar Reveals Figures Pointing to a Looming Menace of HIV/AIDS.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to mount in Bali with health officials now estimating some 4,000 people have died from the disease on the Island. Each day 2-3 people die of HIV/AIDS adding at least 840 new fatalities to the mounting death toll each year.
Meanwhile, health activists are warning that unless issues connected with the treatments, control and prevention of HIV/AIDS receive their proper due, the illness will, as reported in the Bali Post, sweep across the island like a AIDS tsunami.
This warning was issued by Dr. Nyoman Mangku Karmaya, the Chairman of the Committee for Combating AIDS (KPAD) at a seminar on the control and prevention of HIV/AIDS held in Denpasar on Wednesday, February 27, 2008 where he said: "The threat of drowning in Bali is not only posed by tsunamis composed of sea water, but also by a increasingly growing tsunami of HIV/AIDS sufferers threatening to drown and overwhelm the island."
Among the regencies in Bali worst affected by HIV/AIDS are the capital of Denpasar, Badung, Buleleng and Tabanan. Most alarming to health officials is the rapid rise in infection rates among housewives and babies, groups usually least affected by the disease.
The first major explosion in HIV/AIDS infections in Bali was recorded in 2000 among intravenous drug users, where between 40-60% of known addicts were HIV positive. A subsequent survey conducted in 2006 showed that the rate of new infections among intravenous drug users had been substantially curved through methadone treatment and free needle-exchange-programs (NEP). The latest surge in new infections is linked to the Island's commercial sex workers and the family members of their clients.
In exploring the current explosive increase in new infections emanating from the commercial sex sector, Mangku Karmaya cited four chief causes:
• The low level of condom use during commercial sex transactions. Despite an active education campaign, experts estimate that only 30% of commercial sex workers demand that their clients wear prophylactics.
• The growing imbalance between the number of sex workers and the number of customers they serve. An estimated 8,000 commercial sex workers in Bali are serving approximately 90,000 clients.
• The increasing number of night-time entertainment venues and "kafes" on Bali and their spread to suburban and village locations have increased the number of acts of high-risk sexual contacts in areas where such practice was heretofore rare.
• The "double jeopardy" cross-infection between overlapping contact among members of community of commercial sex workers and intravenous drug users.
Beyond the growing opportunity for infection within all levels of Balinese society, Mangku Karmaya also cites community-wide ignorance about HIV/AIDS and the resulting fear and discrimination encountered by those infected with the disease.
The health activist also laid blame for the current situation at the feet of the provincial government who he says are misguided in their approach to the commercial sex industry. Current policies that see sex workers caught in periodic sweeping raids, followed by rapid court trials and the expulsion of sex workers from Bali have only served to chase the illicit sex industry further underground, complicating efforts to address related health issues within the sex industry.
Bad Driving at Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport Spoils the Paint Jobs on Two Garuda Jets.
Two incidents within a single week at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport have brought more unwanted attention to Indonesia's national carrier Garuda.
On Monday night, February 25, 2008, a Boeing 737-400 suffered damage when an Aerowisata Catering truck dented the aircraft when its driver struck the aircraft during a transfer of in-flight meals. That accident left an 80 cm long gash along the side of the plane's fuselage that grounded the flight and caused delays to passengers scheduled to depart on the same plane the following morning.
While airport and airline authorities initially denied the incident, a page-one story including a picture of the damaged airplane on the front-page of Wednesday's Bali Post eventually prompted an official statement for the airport authority. In confirming an incident that at no time threatened the safety of passengers or crew, officials blamed the catering truck's driver who failed to follow set operating procedures. The press also reports that driver has been suspended and that his airport pass revoked.
Meanwhile, Bisnis Bali reports that the driver's special license for operating a vehicle on the airport's apron had expired at the time of the incident.
The affected aircraft was flown without passengers on Wednesday to Garuda's Maintenance Facility in Jakarta where, following minor repairs, the plane was tested, certified airworthy and returned to commercial service.
With Garuda still smarting with the embarrassment of Monday's incident, the Bali Post reported that on Wednesday, February 27th, a passenger stairway operated by PT Gapura Angkasa scratched the doorway of another Garuda Airplane at Bali's airport. The superficial scratch suffered by the aircraft's door did not affect flight schedules but has ignited a chorus of calls for better training and better adherence to operating procedures by airport workers.
On Friday, February 29, 2008, Indonesia's Minister of Transportation commented on the previous Monday's collision to the press labeling the mishap a "serious incident."
Yanking the Rugs from Under the Feet of Bali's Thugs
Over 700 Police Conduct Early Morning Raids on Addresses of Suspected Gang Members.
In the early hours of Wednesday, February 27, 2008 , 770 heavily armed officers comprised of regular police officers, the police military brigade (Brimob) and members of the elite '88 Anti-Terror Unit' raided seven private residences in various locations across Bali's capital of Denpasar.
Reported by the local press as linked to illegal activities of local ruffians and gangs, and the recent death of a local security guard, the sweeping raids discovered sizeable caches of rifles, pistols, grenades, silencers, bullet-proof vests and hundreds of bullets.
In a press conference covered by the Bali Post, Bali's Chief of Police General Paulus Purwoko presented details of the raid and the related news that 3 men have been taken into custody by police and that several others were being sought for questioning.
Chief Purwoko told the press that the raids were linked with a number of unsolved criminal cases, including the fatal attack on a local security guard, I.B. Anon Wijaya, on a Denpasar street.
Police are now questioning the residents and owners of the addresses where the weapons caches were discovered during the raids.