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Bali News by Bali Update
BALI UPDATE #712 - 3 May 2010

Learning to Mix at Your Next Cocktail Parties
Envy at Holiday Inn Baruna Resort Bali to Host a 2-Hour Bar School on Saturday, May 8, 2010.

Envy, the popular beach side venue at the Holiday Inn Resort Baruna Bali Hotel, is offering a 2-hour bar school in order to share the recipes and techniques behind the famous signature drinks and classic cocktails that have left many patrons slurring in admiration.

Led by leading mixologist Steve Collinson of Barsolutions Asia, participants will enjoy a very liquid afternoon at one of Bali's hippest venues learning the tricks of the professional bartending trade.

Steve Collinson began his hospitality career in the early 90's with various stints in Hong Kong & Sydney. Later, Steve returned to his native London where he work with Grant Collins on Bank Restaurant Group projects.

In early 2004, Steve stepped back onto the international scene and relocated to Bali where he set up the Asia branch of barsolutions with Grant Collins which offers cutting edge solutions for beverage service to leading hotels and bar venues world-wide.

Join the Fun at Envy

The two-hour bar school starts at 3:00 pm on Saturday, May 8, 2010. Participants will be treated to complimentary canapιs and cocktails during an interactive cocktail making class. Collinson will lead those in attendance on a step-by-step process to prepare cocktails on a par with the world's best mixologists. At the end of the course, gift bags and recipe books will be presented.

The cost of the 2-hour Envy Bar School led by BarSolutions including canapιs and cocktails is Rp. 650,000 per person (US$72).

For reservations contact Envy at telephone ++62-(0)361-752 527, extension 5115.


I Got Spurs that Jingle Jangle Jingle
Bali Up in Arms Over Coming Premier of Pseudo-Documentary 'Kuta Cowboys.'

A major controversy has erupted in Bali over the imminent debut of a documentary made by a Singapore tourist depicting foreign female tourists whose "basic instincts" are purportedly serviced by local young men, known by the popular pseudonym of "Kuta Cowboys."

The pseudo-documentary "Cowboys in Paradise" has been promoted on the Internet and on CNN via a raunchy and titillating trailer portraying a group of Kuta beach surfers as male gigolos. Its writer-director-photographer, Amit Virmani, paid local men and community member for on-camera interviews. Those who were interviewed in the course of making the film claim they were deceived, told they were appearing in a HIV/AIDS prevention film.

Provincial administrators, including Governor Made Mangku Pastika, and the Bali police have responded angrily to the film seen to besmirch Bali's reputation. As a result, locals appearing in the film have been called in for interrogation by police while officers from Bali's cyber crime division are examining if Virmani violated Indonesian immigration and labor law, committed criminal fraud, and ignored regulations on film-making.

Insulted by the films insinuations, Kuta community leaders are denying the involvement of Balinese youth in any underground sex industryand have placed both tourists and beach workers under intense scrutiny.

To date, some 29 men have been called by police for questioning.

The filmmaker has responded to the public outrage, claiming a "horrible misunderstanding" has taken place. Amit claims the film takes pains to make a distinction between "Kuta cowboys" and male prostitutes.

Beyond any criminal charges for misrepresentation and slander that might be lodged against Virmawi by those featured in the film, he also faces up to one year in jail and a fine of Rp. 40 million (US$4,300) for violations of the 1992 Film Law. if, and when, he can be brought to justice in Indonesia.


It's Polling Day in Bali on May 4, 2010
Police Take Steps to Ensure Security During Bali-Wide Elections for Village Chiefs on May 4, 2010.

Beritabali.com reports that Bali's police are preparing security measures to ensure a smooth transaction of elections across the island to select village chiefs to be held on May 4, 2010. The measure put in pace by the police include both standard security measures and other steps to limit the influence of money politics.

Police are on duty at local markets and other busy areas, threatening to arrest anyone trying to recruit "supporters" through cash payments. Those apprehended will be investigated rigorously to determine the party or parties behind any payment to influence voters or stir public unrest.

In total, 1050 law enforcement personnel from various divisions have been deployed with even more officers assigned to supervise security at 893 voting polls in Denpasar, Sanur, Kuta and Nusa Dua.


Staying in the Zone
Real Estate Developer Calls on Bali Government to Carefully Formalize Zoning Rules.

The chairman of the Organization of Indonesian Real Estate Brokers, Teguh Satria, has reminded the provincial government of Bali to exercise caution in establishing zoning rules, keeping in mind the coming "property boom." Satria said mistakes made in establishing zoning rules could thwart development and result in chaos. "Because of this, the provincial government of Bali must be careful in establishing zoning lines and must not be late in making (zoning) plans," warned Teguh when speaking to Beritabali.com.

The real estate entrepreneur predicts that any boom in Bali real estate sales will begin this year and last for at least three to four years. Nationwide, a 20% growth in property sales is anticipated for 2010.

Reflecting this situation, Satria points to the aggressive marketing programs being undertaken by Indonesian banks for property loans.

Despite efforts by banks to lend money to homeowners, Indonesian interest rates are still higher than the rates available in neighboring countries in Asia. Malaysia and Singapore extend interest rates on home loans of 5.3% per year, with Vietnam lending money at a high, 8.6%

Related Articles

[The Liberalization of Foreign Property Ownership in Bali]

[Defacing Bali]

[Bali Real Estate: Boom or Bust? ]

[Editorial: Governor Pastika: Time to call 'Time Out']


Art as Trash
Bali Artist Takes Your Rubbish and Turns it into Saleable Works of Art.

When people "rubbish" the name of Nyoman Subandi of Ubud, Bali, he doesn't mind. In fact, when Nyoman is referred to as "Mr. Rubbish" he merely smiles, accepting it as feint praise for his efforts to raise the public's consciousness on the need to recycle garbage and put out the burning piles of trashes that pollute Bali's atmosphere.

Quoted by the national news agency Antara, Subandi says: "Trash has a high value if it is recycled. In fact, I recycle trash to create pieces of art."

A graduate of the Yogyakarta Academy of Foreign Languages, the Ubud resident divides his time between creating trash-based pieces of art and conducting educational seminars for people who wish to emulate his unique approach to art. "So far, most of those who appreciate my art are foreign tourists from Australia, China and Japan. These people appreciate my art because they know it is made from trash, supporting efforts to protect the natural environment," Subandi added.

He claims that using trash as an artistic medium can prove very profitable, eliminating the need to purchase expensive art material. The base material of his art is found in local trash piles or purchased inexpensively from the local trash collector. "With small expense, or sometimes with no expense at all, my art can later be sold with prices between Rp, 200,000 to Rp. 350,000 (US$22 to US$38). For Indonesians this may be considered expensive, but is a price that proves interesting to foreign tourists," explained Subandi.

The artist is confident that, with the passage of time, the public will become increasingly aware of the need to protect the environment and his kind of creative art will secure a larger share of the art purchased by both Indonesians and foreigners.

Subandi explained that little is required to create his "works of art." Recycled paper salvaged from the rubbish only needs to be dried in the tropical sun. His studio is a two man operation, worked by Subandi and one assistant.

Shown on balidiscovery.com are samples of Subandi's "rubbish art."


Investing in Smiles
Bali's Governor and Australian Ambassador Inaugurate a Bali House Dedicated to Putting a Smile on People's Faces.

When it comes to Bali's "Rumah Senyum" or the "house of smiles" - Bali's governor Made Mangku Pastika and Australian Ambassador Bill Farmer are in complete agreement: those behind the effort to treat cranial-facial deformities in Bali are playing an important role in improving the health of the Balinese people.

Quoted by the national news agency Antara, governor Pastika said: "Not only the people of Bali, but also for the entire Indonesian public, profits by receiving medical treatment via Rumah Senyum."

Pastika and Farmer were on hand at the recent formal inauguration of the "Rumah Senyum" facility located bear Bali's Sanglah General Hospital. The "Rumah Senyum" was launched by the Smiles Foundation as an accommodation center for patients and families receiving surgical treatment for craniofacial disabilities at Bali's main hospital.

The governor praised the operation of the foundation's Rumah Senyum, saying: "I strongly support this private sector initiative. I also thank the government of Australia which contributes doctors for this program. Let's also remember that patients treated here are not charged a single rupiah. They are treated, cared for and undergo operations with a part of the costs covered by our government in cooperation with the Senyum Foundation."

The outgoing Australian Ambassador, Bill Farmer, also lavished praise on the work of the foundation: "This is all evidence of the shared concern of our people for the unfortunate suffering among us. We are clearly thankful that there are still citizens who care and we support such efforts."

The Rumah Senyum is comprised of a reception area including an examination room and treatment room, an isolation room, accommodation rooms, a kitchen and an office.

A spokesperson for the Foundation, Helena S. Arway, emphasized that all services to patients are provided free-of-charge, providing they can demonstrate genuine need. Many patients also come from outside Bali for treatment in Bali.

The foundation is funded through donations from Indonesia and abroad. The Smiles Foundation also operates several stores selling donated items in order to raise funds to cover patient care.

Related Site

[Yayasan Senyum – Bali Smiles Foundation]


Let the Sunshine In
Bali Develops Solar Energy Sources.

The provincial government of Bali is developing solar energy capabilities as one step to address the power shortage reflected in the more than 56,000 households existing without any electrical power on the island.

"Solar energy may be one way to address the energy crisis, especially in remote areas still outside the service grid of the State Power Company (PLN)," said Bali's governor Made Mangku Pastika.

As reported by the national news agency Antara, the government has given a "green light" for the installation of 1,700 solar energy unites, each capable of supplying 60 watts of power to a single dwelling.

Plans are to install the solar energy units before the end of 2010 using funds designated for supplying electricity to Bali's poorest citizens.

Governor Pastika said the homes equipped with the solar energy units will avoid monthly power bills. "There's no need to pay a power bill. All we ask is that the people take proper care of the units in order that the batteries last long, ensuring they continue to enjoy a power supply," said Pastika.


JAL Says 'Sayanora' to Bali
Teetering on the Edge of Bankruptcy, Japan Airline Cuts Bali and 14 Other International Destinations from its Flight Network.

Facing life-threatening financial difficulties, Japan Airlines (JAL) has announced drastic steps to cease operations at over 15 international routes in an effort to stem the hemorrhaging losses of the airline that was forced to file for bankruptcy protection on January 19, 2010.

The dramatic cost-saving measures not only include the cessation of services to 15 international destinations but also include the termination of 30 domestic routes.

According to flightglobal.com the cuts will shave 40% of the airlines international passenger capacity and 30% of its domestic seats.

With the reduction of flights 11 overseas operations bases will be closed together with 8 domestic offices. Bali is included among the ports where JAL will close its doors.

In addition to Bali, flights will also be stopped between Japan Sao Paulo, Amsterdam, Kona-Honolulu, Milan, Rome, Brisbane, Guam, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Beijing.

The cessation of service to all the named cities will take place in a phased fashion starting from September 30, 2010.

The network curtailment by JAL will be undertaken while the airline will triple the number of international flights from Tokyo's Haneda airport from the current 5 daily flights to 14. New services from Haneda will serve Taipei Songshan, San Francisco, Honolulu, Bangkok and Paris starting from October 31, 2010. JAL also plans to increase the number of flights from Tokyo to Seoul Gimpo, Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai Hongqiao.

Industry experts peg JAL's debt at a massive US$25.8 billion, a situation which has prompted the airline to slash flights, offices and personnel.


Resor Seminyak to Become The Seminyak
Popular Seminyak Bali Resort Prepares to Re-Launch as 'The Seminyak' – A Premium Beach Resort.

Resor Seminyak Bali has announced its new luxury resort brand: The Seminyak –A Premium Beach Resort.

Now under construction at the site of its predecessor Resor Seminyak - the all new The Seminyak is scheduled to open its doors on December 1, 2010, offering an impressive complement to the lifestyle oriented collection of fine hotels, good restaurants and outstanding boutiques that abound in that area of Bali.

After the demolition of Resor Seminyak in 2009, construction commenced immediately on the new resort with 38 beach wing rooms, each measuring 47 square meters. The Seminyak will also boast 26 suites of 75 square meters each equipped with a private Jacuzzi overlooking the ocean and 2 spacious Penthouse Suites of 155 square meters incorporating a private board room. To cater to Bali's discriminating top-end travelers, The Seminyak has 10 luxuriously appointed ocean-view Villas of 190 square meters and a two-bedroom Villa of 318 square meters.

The 30 garden wing rooms emphasize privacy via a private compound boasting a swimming pool and sunken bar.

All Resort guests enjoy the benefit of enjoying complimentary daily afternoon tea and coffee in the garden's own Cafe.

All rooms are equipped with Internet connection, both wired and wireless.

Leisure facilities include a spectacular ocean front infinity pool and a spa complex with a variety of relaxing and special treatments.

To tempt your appetite, The Waterside Restaurant presents a full range of culinary offering in a setting surrounded by tropical gardens and ponds. The beachfront wedding chapel with its own open air reception area can accommodate 150 guests for weddings or other special occasions.

Coming in December 2010 - The Seminyak – A Premium Beach Resort


Bali's Booming Tourism Numbers
Bali by the Numbers: Bali Foreign Tourist Arrivals in Q1 2010 Up 18.48%

Foreign tourist arrivals to Bali for March 2010 increased 20.7% over the same month one year before, totaling 194,487. For the first three months of 2010 (Q1) arrivals were up 18.49% at 551,186 foreign visitors.

If arrivals maintain the 18.49% growth level through the end of 2010 that will translate into 2.64 million foreign visitors coming to the island for the entire year.

Key Markets

• Australia, which assumed the pole position as Bali's top source of tourist visitors displacing Japan in 2009, recorded a 68.93% increase year-on-year for Q1 2010 with 121,974 Australians spending their holiday in Bali. When compared to Q1 2008, business to Australia is up 112.72%

• Japan's fortunes continued to slip reflecting their troubled economy and declining travel market. Japan arrivals for Q1 2010 are down year-on-year 20.48% at 66,338. This is a downturn of 29.7% from Q1 2008. These numbers may slip even further in the aftermath of Japan Airlines' April 2010 announcement that it will terminate all flights to Bali in 2010 and close its long-standing office here.

• Taiwan is regaining lost momentum, increasing 23.34% in Q1 2010.

• South Korea's market is stabilizing to some degree. Q1 2010 arrivals decreased only 0.05% as compared to 2009 with 28,810 aarivals.

• Malaysia's dynamic growth in arrivals over the past few years shows signs of moderation with Q1 2010 arrival at 29,195 - a decrease of 2.53% when compared to the previous year.

• Russia's arrivals to Bali seem largely unaffected by the sluggish economic conditions in that country. Q1 2010 arrivals ex Russia clocked in at 21,443, increasing 5.13% over the same quarter one year before.

Long Haul Traffic – Some Good News for Bali

A strong performance by several European markets and The Americas may signal the re-emergence of a lucrative, long-staying, long-haul market for Bali.

• The entire European market increased 28.24% in Q1 2010 totaling 137,062.

• The Netherlands is among the star performers in Europe, increasing 66.46% for Q1 2010 with 19,080 Dutch visitors to Bali. Growth in the Dutch market and Europe in general bodes well for Indonesia's national carrier Garuda planning a return to Europe in mid 2010.

• France was another strong performer ex Europe improving 19.73% in Q1 2010 with 28,629 visitors.

• Germany appears to be shaking off its economic woes, at least in terms of Bali arrivals, improving 19.29% for the first three months of 2010 with 15,309 German visitors.

• The United Kingdom increased an amazing 47.57% for Q1 2010 registering 21,110 visitors.

• The Americas, which includes arrivals from both North and South America, increased 10.77% in Q1 2010 with a total of 26,486 visitors to Bali.

• United States visitors to Bali were up 12% for Q1 2010 totaling 16,520 perhaps signaling a coming recovery in U.S. arrivals.


High and Dry
Udayana University Study: Bali Faces Severe Water and Food Shortages.

The Jakarta Post reports that the bad stewardship of Bali's environment will result in a possible food and water shortage in the near future.

A joint study conducted by the Environmental Study Center of Bali's Udayana University and the provincial Bali Development and Planning Agency blames the threatening scenario on skyrocketing population; shrinking water supplies caused by pollution and over-exploitation; and the conversion of arable land to other uses.

I Wayan Arthana, the head of environmental studies at the University, said: "The authorities needs to carry out strict population control and ongoing campaigns to raise people's awareness of the current environmental issues to reduce the impact of the problem."

According to the study:

• Bali requires 516,000 hectares of productive agricultural lands to feed its population of 3.3 million.

• Bali has only 325,000 hectares of fertile land. When the needs of Bali's nearly two million visitors is factored into the equation, the island needs, in total, 521,000 hectares of fertile land.

• Agricultural land is being transformed into residential and business uses at an alarming rate. This loss of arable land and is most pronounced in Denpasar, Badung, Gianyar, Jembrana and Buleleng.

• One regency of Bali, Bangli, has the largest remaining reserves of arable land.

• In addition to a dwindling ability to be self-sufficient in food supplies, Bali is also facing a increasingly critical shortage of water. The island has a sustainable supply of 4.7 cubic meters of water per year, hoverer, 5.4 million cubic meters is currently being used threatening the long-term supply of fresh water for Bali.

• Bali is badly overpopulated. Quoting a report from the World Health Organization, the survey says the ideal carrying capacity of the island is only 1,00,400 – 1,600,000 compared against a current population count of 3,320,000.

• Bali's administrator must stop converting productive land to other uses. The former head of Bali's Chapter of Friends of the Earth (WAHLI), Agung Wardana, is urging local officials in Bali to halt constructions projects, especially those related to tourism facilities.

• WAHLI said the worst violations by tourist projects of existing zoning laws are occurring at the Dasong forest and Buyan Lake in Buleleng regency, Padang Bai and Kelating Beach in Tabanan.


Chris Johns Bout Postponed Until July
Indonesian WBA Featherweight Champ Fight in Bali Postponed until July Due to Arm Injury.

Citing a training injury to the Indonesian WBA featherweight champion, Chris Johns has postponed his title in defense in Bali from May 22nd until sometime in July.

The Indonesian fight promoter Zaenal Thayeb was unprepared to tell Radar Bali the exact date the fight with Argentinean Fernando David Saucedo will take place in the Centro Mall in Kuta. Thayeb would only say that the fight will be held in July, sometime after the World Cup in South Africa. Meanwhile, Chris Johns has returned to his home in Semarang, Central Java to allow his injured arm time to heal with plans to return to Bali in June to resume his training schedule. John's left arm was injured in a sparring session at the Mirah Training Camp in Bali on Wednesday, April 28, 2010.

Chris John's trainer insist the injury is minor in nature from which the fighter will make a rapid and complete recovery.

In response to those suggesting the Bali fight is encountering problems with securing sufficient sponsorship for the international match-up, Zaenal insists there is no problem with the fight's backers, with commercial sponsors and government support firmly in place.

Chris Johns is the World Boxing Association super featherweight champion with a (43-0-2) record while his opponent Fernando David Saucedo has a (38-4-3) record.

Related Article

[Bali's Lord of the Ring]


Java-Bali Ferry Runs Aground
No Injuries as 326 Passengers Get Stuck on Reef for 9 Hours During Java to Bali Ferry Crossing.

KMP Prahita, a Java Bali ferry operating between Katapang (Banyuwangi, East Java) and Gilimanuk (Bali) ran aground on a coral reef approximately 2 kilometers from Gilimanuk.

The ship carrying 326 passengers and 27 vehicles was pulled by strong currents as it neared the Bali ferry port.

According to Beritabali.com, efforts by the ship's master Wawan Yudho, were initially unsuccessful, adding to a general atmosphere of fear for the passengers on board the vessel.

One hour after running aground, the KMP Mutis - another inter-island ferry, tried unsuccessfully to pull the fully-loaded vessel off the reef which, by that time, was listing to its shore-side.

Responding to reports of a ship in distress, the Indonesian Navy post at Gilimanuk dispatched a team on a rubber zodiac to the vessel. The team surveyed the situation and concluded the ferry and its passengers were under no imminent threat. The Navy team did, however, evacuate a group of 5 passengers who were rushing to Singaraja, Bali to visit a critically ill family member.

Some 9 hours after the initial grounding a tug boat arrived on the scene and managed to pull the vessel off the reef at high tide. All passengers and goods on board the KMP Prahita arrived late, but unscathed, at the port of Gilimanuk.

Meanwhile, in a separate report, Radar Bali reports that the Port Master (Syahbandar) at Gilimanuk has suspended operations for the KMP Prahita pending a complete review of the seaworthiness of the vessel to determine why the ship ran aground and to confirm the vessel is mechanically and structurally sound.


Standing in a Long Line for Paradise
Delays of Up to 4 Hours Reported at Bali's Immigration and Custom's Counters.

Virtually every local paper in Bali is carrying news of the long delays being experienced by arriving passengers at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport where new Board Control Management (BCM) requirements have made an already long customs and immigration process even longer.

I Wayan Puspa Negara, a member of the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali), complained to the Bali Post of the numerous steps in the clearance process confronted by passengers entering Bali's arrival terminal. In addition to paying for and securing a 30-day visa-on-arrival (VOA) and presenting their passport for inspection to immigration officers, Bali visitors must now submit to a fingerprinting and photo session before making their way to the Custom's area where each piece of baggage is x-rayed before being subject to possible hand inspection.

Puspa said the entire process can take up to two hours from the door of the airplane to the airport's greeting area. Some tourists complain that the process can, in fact, take four hours for those arriving at peak traffic times.

Puspa told the press that such long delays are in contradiction to the tourism concept of a safe and convenient trip. He has called on the relevant authorities to re-evaluate the entire BCM process in order to deliver an efficient and uniform level of service to arriving tourist visitors. Explained Puspa: " Tourists need service of a high standard that is both efficient and effective. The complaints of tourists (about the BCM process) must not be dismissed. Because of this, I call on the leader of the Badung House of Representatives (DPRD-Badung) through the Chairman of Commission B which oversees tourism and transportation to convene a working meeting with immigrations and other stakeholders to discuss these problems."

Radar Bali covers the long delays for arriving passengers on the front page of its Monday, May 3, 2010 edition. Quoting Gede, a Balinese Guide, who said: "This is really inhumane, come one, why do people who wants to holiday in Bali have to wait around for hours?

Gede cited how passengers arriving on an 11:00 pm flight are only clearing the airport at 3:00 am. In another example, he told of how some passengers arriving on a 7:00 am flight only manage to clear the procedures at 2:00 pm.

On Sunday, May 2, 2010, officials were forced to come out to the Custom's exit to explain the delays to the hundreds of tourism workers and friends waiting hours on end for greet arriving passengers.

While Gede acknowledged the need for BCM procedures, he was not happy with the lack of equipment to handle Bali's visitors. Referring to the new fingerprinting and photographic equipment, he said: "If we can, add more equipment. How is it possible that thousands of tourist arrivals are handled with only a few machines?"

Efforts by the Radar Bali to obtain comment from officials in charge of the airport were unsuccessful, with immigration supervisors unavailable for comment.

According to Radar Bali one passenger was so frustrated by the process that he sent a message through a social-networking short message service (SMS) saying, "We will never, ever (come) back to Bali again."

Immigration officials told NusaBali that the long delays is due to the large number of airplanes landing in close time proximity discharging a large number of passengers that overwhelm the fingerprint and photography equipment. The officials claim that the entire fingerprinting and photography process should take no more than 1.5 to 2 minutes, but the number of machines in operation require the hundreds of passengers arriving within a short time span to wait in line.

Related Article

[Fingerprinting for Bali's Visitors]


Will Tourists Abandon Ubud?
Small Road, Lack of Parking Facilities and Disregard for Law are Spelling Trouble for Bali's Hillside Community of Ubud.

A recent threat by travel agents to abandon Bali's hillside resort area of Ubud due to traffic congestion is causing concern among those who would be adversely affected by any adverse decline in visitors. Bali Post says the regent of Gianyar, Oka Artha Sukawati, himself a native of Ubud, is concerned with Ubud's traffic situation and is adopting means of improving traffic flow as a central program of his administration.

Ubud's worst traffic congestion occurs between the hours of 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm, reaching its peak at 3:00 pm.

The traffic gridlock is blamed primarily on the lack of off street parking with employees and customers of the many popular restaurants and guest houses parking their vehicles on Ubud's narrow roadways. Adding to the problem is the way many simply ignore traffic and parking regulations. Cars and motorcycles parked in no-parking zones; drivers heading the wrong way on one-way streets; and public transport embarking and disembarking their passengers in the middle of flowing traffic are only a few examples of the "its my village and I'll drive as I want to" mentality making visits to Ubud unattractive for tourist visitors.

Also cited as a cause of traffic jams is the daily visit by at least 30 large tourists buses to Ubud. Once banned from the village, these behemoth transports overwhelm the small village streets causing delays wherever they travel or park.

Oka, who heads the regency's government is also a tourism business owner and the chairman of the local Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), says, "as a tourism industry participant, I hope there is an appropriate solution to overcome Ubud's traffic congestion, so convenient traffic flows in Ubud are achieved not only for the tourist visitors but also for the people of Ubud in the near future."

The head of the regencies transportation and information department, I B Gaga Adisaputra, says Ubud's traffic jams are mostly due to a lack of alternative roads and the shortage of parking space. He said that a concrete solution to the traffic problem will only be found when the local people and tourism stakeholders sit down to work out this problem.

Ubud must devise a master plan for development to overcome traffic jams and other problems confronting the community.


We Get Mail
Balidiscovery.com and Bali Update Get Mail About Airport Delays, Booze, Taxes, Big Bikes, Competitiveness, Trains and Street Violence.


Here's the latest sample of letters we've received in the Bali Update and balidiscovery.com mailbox.

Mail grows daily from those concerned with long lines at Bali's airport.

• Phillip in Bali wrote:

"the situation with Immigration at DPS is absolutely scandalous. I just came back from Singapore Saturday night and the airport was total chaos. The lines were all the way back to the stairs and because of the waits, even the special clearance lines for Indonesians and APEC card holders had been filled with Visa on Arrival people. It took me over an hour to get through immigration. I talked to one French couple who had taken four hours to get through the airport. Customs wasn't helping any either and they seem to be deliberately targeting alcohol. They now X-Ray every piece of baggage for everyone, which means line at customs, as well as immigration. Of course the air conditioning wasn't working and so there were lots of hot, tired and extremely upset people. I even saw a couple of scuffles break out."

"In short, everything seems to be designed to cause maximum disruption to tourism. The Australians standing next to me in the immigration queue were talking about never coming back to Bali again."

"It's a national disgrace. What happened to the Minister's promise to get people through the immigration process in 10 Minutes? Is he aware of the actual situation? Does he care?"


• Lee from Queensland wrote:

"I really like reading your newsletter . . .Recently, my husband and I arrived in Denpasar airport for a 2 weeks holiday. We flew direct from Brisbane to Denpasar, with Virgin Blue. Unfortunately, it was March 29th, at 2.30, and several planes arrived at once. The wait was absolutely horrible, because of the heat, and queues, and only three desks open, to get the visa, and go thru passport checking. . .We stood in that queue for over TWO and a half HOURS, approx 1,000 people, in that hall, from at least three flights arriving within half an hour. Crowded, hot and humid. Then another flight arrived after 5 pm, and we were still in the queue. . . After 2 hours, they opened one more counter. I would personally like to write to governor Pastika, because surely it is possible to have more than 3 men working at immigration, with an overload of visitors waiting to enter the country. My husband is 64, and recovering from cancer surgery, he had not been back for 5 years, and now declares, he will not return. I am 61 yrs old, have had knee replacement surgery, many weeks ago, thank goodness, but after 2 hours leaning on my walking stick, unable to move forward or back, I had to rest the whole of the next day, because of the pain. Every person was paying a minimum visa of $US25, so a heap of money was coming in. Wages need to be paid, so more operatives can work, as this delay is really dreadful. We wish to visit Bali, we wish to be with the people, but this airport delay, spoilt the first few days..for health reasons."

• Sandie said:

"Only 10 out of the 23 counters having the fingerprinting capability? So, when only 4 counters are open at prime time arrivals, the wait will be even longer! While one understands the ''need '' for checking tourists, what about Indonesians ? Are they being checked as well ? Yes, I can see it now, 3 hour wait at immigration, in the non Air conditioned arrival hall, better get the first aid kits ready. For many visitors, having traveled from Europe, tired, jet lagged, just what you needed.. Welcome to Bali."

• William Bacon from Canada had this to say"

"Well, we won't bother returning to Bali next March as planned. Our traveling companions, two other couples, will return to Vietnam and Thailand and not spend the two weeks we were going to in Bali. Who needs the hassle and inconvenience?"

[Road Hogs, the Clock is Ticking Down] our coverage on illegal motorcycles and luxury cars in Bali caused many to send us an email:

• Jan Smith wrote:

"The Ferrari issue has got me very angry. How stingy can these people be when they drive around in cars worth over US$ 100 grand? What, can't they afford the road tax? How much is road tax? Make these people pay! Is the government serious about corruption ?"

• Colin Anderson wrote:

"Big bikes stopping on the main road could cause an accident - I would love to see a pile of Harley's at every traffic light on the by-pass!"

• Another Bali resident, Vald Perjovic wrote"

"I read the recent story on big bikes. To follow up, perhaps you could ask Cahyono why hardly any road rules are actually being enforced at all, whether big bikes or small. It's anarchy out there!"

[Pardon Me Sir, is this the Bali Island Choo Choo] about governor Pastika's plans for a round island train service also brought some mail:

• Rodger Fempfing in Australia said:

"I think it would be a good for tourism, locals and for industry. Factories could be built out of the towns and there would be less trucks on the road, thus less air pollution. It would also ease road congestion and create jobs. The real question of course is who pays for construction and maintenance?"

• Donn Dickson, also from Australia, added:

"Have a look at the railway systems that have been set up all over the world, particularly ones that run through nature parks and it would be a fantastic idea for Bali the impact would be minimal and open up fantastic opportunities for employment and tourist. We have been traveling to Bali now for over 15 years and would utilize a rail system as we don't spend our time in the well known areas and would love to see a rail system."

Coverage of violence street altercations in Kuta [Violent Rumblings in Bali's Nightlife Mecca] stimulated some readers to write:

• Rodger Hempfing wrote again, saying:

"Firing guns is very bad news for tourism. Bullets have to come down somewhere. Much better to use batons quickly and efficiently and deal with it quickly, use more police if necessary. The police must win and not the gangs. If tourists are scared to walk at night they will stop coming."

Alcohol and taxation remain a popular subject for letter writers:

• Erik in Holland wrote:

"Inflation in Bali, I presume that anyone of your people don't drink a Bintang or 2. About 3 years ago I could drink a large Bintang for Rp. 9.000, now only 3.5 years further and I pay for the same size bottle at the same bar Rp. 28.000. Still cheap by international standards, but if you happen to came from Holland, there you can buy a crate of beer, 24 small bottles for just 5 Euro or about Rp. 65.000. If I walk into the supermarket here then I only get 5 small bottles. I think that Bali is on the way to self destruction and is pricing itself out of the market very soon. Lucky for Bali that the Aussie dollar is still relatively high and cheap airfares from there otherwise it would be Very quiet in Bali once more."

• Daniel Baker from Australia:

"Bali will be priced out of an important sector of the tourist market if the Indonesian government continually increases the price of alcohol. In the 1990's Spain increased the cost of alcohol and rooms - the result, the northern Europeans headed to Turkey ~ same sun, similar beaches and cheaper drinks and rooms. Backpackers looking for sun, beach and cheap drinks and accommodation will be able to spend longer in Vietnam and Thailand rather than Bali. I would hope that Bali can gain more autonomy over laws and regulations that adversely affect their tourism such as this alcohol tax change and others (e.g.. "anti-pornography" law)."

[Bali Tourism Becoming Less Competitive] our article on a World Economic Forum report suggesting Indonesian Tourism was losing its competitive edge:

• Luh Micke Anggraini from Bali had this to say:

"Competitiveness is measured from how our products and services are exceptionally different with our competitors, thus tourists can't find it in other places. No doubt Bali has numerous accommodation and catering services which destination should not solely rely upon. Reliable public transport, immigration services, tourist objects, places of interests, to name just a few, still need to be improved for better acceptance by visitors. We can learn from other countries how to manage destination by involving national corporations to sponsor and foster tourist destination, especially if funding is a major challenge. It implies that tourism promotional efforts should be slow down as it is gonna be less effective in current situation and we need to reflect on our positioning in tourism market. For example, we can learn from New Zealand, how this country positions itself as natural, adventurous and luxury destination, with the branding 100% pure. How about us?"

• Brian Grant said:

"Bali can forget being a number 1 tourist attraction now with thanks to the excise duty increase. I have had 6 different lots of friends from Australia visit me here in Bali and not one of them will ever come back. Reason?..many, but to just point out a couple...restaurants are now charging extra if you want vegetables instead of salad...extra if you want fries instead of mash....and of course the increase in the excise duty....good way to encourage tourists Jakarta. The ever increasing rudeness of street sellers...holding back change in shops...mostly circle K...hidden charges at restaurants....very bad service.....and last but by certainly no means last....all of my friends that were here would not go out after dark anymore...you see, I was assaulted and robbed in daylight coming back from the beach 5 weeks ago and it has left a scar and it has left me thinking about my future in Bali? Legian....once we could walk around the streets very late...not now...."

And finally a kind a letter of praise"

• Claudia Johnson in Australia wrote to say:

"Thanks for the updates on Bali. As I do travel there because of my business - "GEKO" Linz, Austria, at least once a year, since 23 years, It΄s great to feel informed what is happening while I am not there....some articles are funny to read - sometimes things seem so unreal ...being here in tiny, extremely neat and clean Austria..... so, please keep on posting me the news from Bali - I do appreciate it greatly."


 
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