30 June 2013

Bali - don't feed the monkeys

The management of top Ubud tourist attraction Wanara Wana Monkey Forest is warning visitors not to feed the local monkeys any types of nut, citing health reasons.

Nuts are high in cholesterol and protein, which could lead to weight gain and other health problems in the long-tailed macaques. Instructions had been given to staff and ticket sellers to inform the visitors of the new policy. There will be no sanction imposed upon visitors who do not follow this policy.

100 grams of groundnuts contained up to 42.7 grams of fat, which, if consumed in a large quantity and on a daily basis, would easily trigger a weight problem in the monkey population. Being overweight would eventually make the primates more susceptible to disease. Groundnuts are also protein dense, with 100 grams containing up to 27.9 grams of protein. This exceeds that of both eggs, at around eight grams, and even beef, at 14 grams of fat per 100 grams of meat.

High protein foods will also increase the monkeys’ libido and aggressiveness, the very two things that you don’t want to happen in a tourist site visited by a large number of visitors on a daily basis. Besides prohibiting visitors from feeding the monkeys with nuts, the management has also decided to introduce a healthier diet for the monkey population, including sweet potatoes and seasonal fruits.

Sweet potatoes will be the main menu and given three times a day, while corn, rambutan [a lychee-type fruit], coconut, papaya and vegetables will be provided as snacks. Once every two days the monkeys will be able to feast on bananas. We are trying to provide a healthy and balanced diet.

The Monkey Forest is the largest community-managed forest on the island and a model of the successful integration of tourism and conservation. It is owned and managed by Padangtegal customary village.The Monkey Forest is also the home to rare and endangered flora. With assistance from Udayana University, the management has identified a number of rare plants in the forest. There are around 115 species of plants, while some of the trees are considered sacred, only being used for spiritual and religious purposes. Among the trees are majegau, which are used exclusively for building shrines, and pule bandak, which embody the spirit of the forest and are used to create sacred masks.

Pic of the week

27 June 2013

A new Balinese frog

Researchers from the Indonesian Institute of Science has reported the discovery of a new species of tiny frog in Bali, measuring only around 16-17mm long – roughly the size of a human fingernail.

The researchers have named the species Microhyla Orientalis, due to it’s similarity to other related species M. Mantheyi and M. Malang. All three are part of the sub-species M. Borneensis, which is found across the Southeast Asian region in Thailand, Sumatra and Borneo.

In a new edition of the scientific journal Zootaxa published last Friday, the team led by Masafumi Matsui from Kyoto University detailed the distinctive characteristics of the new find, including a line pattern on the back, a black stripe pattern on the side that extends from the eye to hallway down the body, and a rounded snout. However, the most noticeable characteristic is its unusual toe configuration, where the middle of its three toes is five times bigger than the two either side.

The frog was discovered in the rice fields of Batukaru Wongaya Gede in west Bali, at an altitude of 435-815 meters above sea level.

Researchers believe that due to its proximity to the Wallace line (named after famed naturalist Sir Alfred Russell Wallace) the new species of frog may be exclusive to Bali.

26 June 2013

Christiano Ronaldo on Bali

Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid striker and media icon, was in Bali on Tuesday, June 25, 2013, to attend a tree planting ceremony in Bali's southern mangrove that will also be attended by Indonesia’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

He  spend the night at the Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel before attending the planting.

The planting, organized by the Artha Graha Peduli Foundation, was taken place at Telaga Waja in Benoa Bay with the Indonesian president and the Minister of Forestry.
Cristiano Ronaldo serves as an international mangrove ambassador for the Bali-based Peduli Mangrove Forum (Mangrove Care Forum) operated by the Artha Graha Peduli Foundation.

25 June 2013

Bali - Fuel price up

Ahead of the announcement of the government raising fuel prices on Friday (21/06) night, residents stormed Bali gas stations to fill up their tanks.

Until Friday night at 1am (Bali time), when the price officially went up, hundreds of citizens riding motorcycles and driving cars were queuing for hours to buy gasoline or diesel fuel. Due to the long lines, one particular pump station in Batan Kendal, Denpasar, caused one lane of the road to be impassable, until there was an incredible traffic jam in the Denpasar/Suwung region.

Queues not only occurred at the station in Batan Kendal, but almost all gas stations on the island were busy right through the night serving residents who wanted to buy fuel at a price of Rp 4,500 for the last time.

At some gas stations fuel stocks ran low, and weren’t able to serve four-wheeled vehicles, but only motor bikes. The price for premium is now Rp 6,500 and diesel Rp 5,500.

Balinese statue in Washington DC

The regent of Badung (South Bali) disclosed that the local administration would soon send a team of sculptors to construct a Dewi Saraswati (goddess of knowledge) statue in the Indonesian Embassy yard in Washington DC.

It is part of a cultural cooperation between the US and Indonesian governments. Our embassy in Washington has assigned Badung regency administration to carry out the plan. The statue would feature the beautiful goddess standing over three sitting children reading books. There will be statues of two American kids and one Indonesian kid sitting under the benevolent gaze of the goddess. Saraswati in Balinese Hinduism is the goddess of knowledge, the guardian of arts and sciences.

Once every 210 days, Balinese Hindus hold a religious ceremony to respect the goddess. On that day, offerings are presented on books and lontar manuscripts. The Saraswati statue will be 5.2 meters tall, while two marble plaques detailing the story of the goddess will be installed on its pedestal.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has already given his approval for the statue design and the head sculptor, I Nyoman Sudarwa, and his team would soon be flown to Washington to start the project.

23 June 2013

Bali - secret Pendawa beach

Pendawa beach is known as a secret beach due to its unique location. The beach is flanked by towering sandstone and limestone cliffs.

Visitors who wish to spend a memorable time in Pendawa should take the road heading to Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK), a cultural park famous for its yet to be finished giant statue of Lord Wisnu. After passing the GWK gate, drive until you reach an intersection, where you must take a left turn and pass the front of the Kutuh village head’s office.

Entrance to the beach costs Rp. 3,000 per motorbike and Rp. 6,000 per car.

Near the beach, visitors are greeted by a towering cliff with man-made giant alcoves. Inside, statues of the five Pendawa brothers from the Mahabharata epic stand watch over the beach.

The beach has ample parking and decent toilets. For Rp. 500,000 a domestic visitor can get an aerial view of the whole area by partaking in tandem paragliding. The price for a foreign visitor is Rp. 750,000.

21 June 2013

Bali - Makepung also on the Unesco list?

Udayana University’s cultural study center is planning to include Makepung, a traditional bull race from Jembrana regency in West Bali, in UNESCO’s World Heritage Lists for intangible heritages.

The head of the center’s verification team, said that a series of studies were now being undertaken to learn more about this tradition. The verification and inventory are the first steps to take before proposing the tradition to the Education and Culture Ministry for further consideration.

Makepung would follow the path of acknowledgement as a UNESCO’s World Heritage site, after Jatiluwih subak farming system, Taman Ayun Water Temple and Tukad Pakerisan water shed were granted the status last September. Makepung has already existed and has been played by farmers of Jembrana during the plowing of their rice fields since 1920, the center’s studies revealed.

20 June 2013

Lombok - Pura Suranadi

Suranadi is only 40 kms from Mataram and less than an hour’s drive from Senggigi.

It is a very pleasant area, filled with small Hindu and Muslim villages, temples, rice fields, fish ponds, and large orchards growing rambutan, mangoes and other tropical fruits.

Pura Suranadi is a beautiful complex of temples founded in the early 16th century by a Javanese priest, Dang Hyang Nirartha (also known as Bhatara Sakti Wawu) during his pilgrimage to this peaceful valley. The priest discovered this holy place and lived there for a year, establishing friendships with the Sasak people and teaching the Hindu religion to the Wektu Telu communities in West and North Lombok.

Pura Suranadi is the oldest and holiest of the Balinese temples in Lombok and is a holy pilgrimage site for Hindus. There are three temples within the complex and the site is built on the meeting place of five springs, known as Panca (Five) Tirtha (Spring), each of which plays a significant role in temple ceremonies for Hindu’s in Lombok. The name Suranadi derives from two words: Sura (God) and Nadi (River); although Suranadi is also a word in the ancient Javanese language meaning Heaven. The complex is actually separated into two areas, as the temple was once one large compound but was later divided by a road built during the Dutch occupancy of Lombok. To discover the other shrines, cross the road and continue down the laneway past the Suranadi Hotel. In 1786, the temple complex was upgraded by Pedanda (Hindu Priest) Sakti Abah and has some beautiful examples of animist and ancient Hindu statues, as well as intricate carvings on the shrines and pavilions, although some of the decorations are more modern additions. The complex houses the temples of Pura Majapahit and Pura Ulon, with beautifully carved ancient shrines, all surrounded by a backdrop of tropical forest, as it borders the Suranadi Nature Reserve. Monkeys play in nearby trees and clamber up the steps of the temples, raiding food from the offerings placed there. Underground springs bubble up into pools and restored baths; the pure water is used for rituals and cleansing. Locally, Suranadi is regarded as the place to obtain the “proper” holy water used in Hindu cremations.

Huge eels live in the pools and streams here and can sometimes be lured out with an offering of boiled eggs (purchased at a nearby stall). To see a eel is believed to be very lucky! The eels are considered holy and it is taboo to eat them or to contaminate their water. Admission to the temple is by donation and visitors are requested to wear a sarong and sash (available at the admission booth). There are usually Hindus using the temples, praying and making offerings... please respect their space by not intruding or disrupting their devotions.

Opposite the temple is the old Suranadi Hotel – one of the oldest hotels in Lombok. It was built in the 1930’s by L. Frantzman, an employee of the Nederlands Indische Bank, as a semi-permanent home on the edge of the jungle. The building was used as a resting place and a guest house for Dutch visitors from 1932 till arrival of Japanese troops in 1942. Later ownership reverted to the government and the home was developed as “Hotel and Restaurant Suranadi”. Set in lovely grounds with a variety of native plants, the hotel features interesting colonial architecture and has a restaurant and swimming pool. The rooms are basic but comfortable and the hotel makes a good base for a night or two if you want to explore the area. The large swimming pool here is lined with river rocks and fed by fresh water springs… freezing cold but very refreshing!
Also in Suranadi, on the main road just before the temple, is Taman Suranadi, a protected nature reserve. Although not well maintained, it is still interesting to stroll through the botanical garden with labelled specimens and follow paths through the towering trees to observe birds, monkeys and other native flora and fauna in their natural habitat.

19 June 2013

Bali - donuts or kaliadrem

Kaliadrem, the brown, rounded, triangle-shaped cake has been dubbed the traditional Balinese donut.

Making the kaliadrem uses a kojong, a mold made of banana leaf. After the leaf has been cleaned, it is greased with cooking oil to make it easy to release the dough from the mold. A pinch of dough is inserted into the mold and pressed before the leaf is folded to create the triangular shape. After the cake has been shaped, the dough is released from the mold, a hole is punched in the middle, and then it is fried until it turns brown.

It only takes a minute to create a donut and fry it. The number of holes in each piece varies from one to three, depending on the size of the piece. The kaliadrem goes perfectly with coffee and tea.

The dough is made of very simple ingredients: rice flour, brown sugar, shredded coconut, salt and water. All the ingredients are mixed until a smooth texture that can be shaped easily is achieved. Only a few people make kaliadrem out of traditionally crushed rice flour, as most of them use manufactured flour these days. To create the perfect dough, let it stand for several hours before frying.

17 June 2013

Bali - Batubulan village

Batubulan is an artistic village and famous in Indonesia and all over the world based on an artistic blessing, the Kecak and the Barong and Keris dance.

Batubulan is about 8 km from Denpasar and also known since a long time by tourists because of it’s handicrafts, namely statues made of moon stone. It can bee seen all along the roads of Batubulan. Batubulan is combination of the name Batu (stone) and Bulan (moon).

The Barong Dance is daily performed at five different stages, Puseh Temple, Tegal Tamu, Denjalan, Sahadewa and Sila Budaya. At 09:00-10:30 am daily the Barong Dance is held, while at 18:00-19:00 pm the Kecak Dance is performed.

16 June 2013

Pic of the week

Tallest Buddha statue in Bali

Indonesia’s tallest Buddha statue, located at Vihara Empu Astapaka temple complex in Gilimanuk, is inaugurated half June.

The 25-metre-tall Buddha took over a year to build and cost over 1 billion rupiah.

The statue will be a new icon for Bali and for tourists who have just arrived in Bali via Gilimanuk. They will be able to appreciate the splendor of the statue as soon as they enter the port.

15 June 2013

Bali - Werdhi Budaya Bali Arts Center

The Werdhi Budaya Bali Arts Center in Denpasar is ready to welcome the annual arts festival this weekend with newly renovated facilities expected to facilitate access for artists and visitors to the theater buildings and parking lot.

Some significant changes were visible at the Ksirarnawa main theater building, which now has a lavish marble floor. The artists’ makeup rooms and toilets are bright and spacious and, more importantly, clean.

Last year, the management received criticism for being unable to provide adequate dressing rooms for the performing artists. The artists had to prepare their costumes and makeup at the back of the theater building. Not to mention the shortage of public toilets for both performers and visitors. Another important addition is the massive renovation of boarding rooms for those artists coming from outside Bali.

Parking has always been a serious hurdle whenever the arts center hosts a large event, such as the upcoming Bali Arts Festival, which starts on Saturday, June 15. A new parking lot just in front of Ardha Candra Amphitheater will open next week to accommodate artists and performers. The project is intended to cope with 20 large buses, trucks and hundreds of motorcycles.

Noted Balinese artists has always criticized the management of the arts center for failing to improve the theater buildings, sound and lighting systems, backstage facilities and toilets.

14 June 2013

Bali - save the sea mammals

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry established a task force to address incidents of stranded sea mammals in Bali.

Members of the task force include individuals from the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, the marine police, navy, as well as NGOs, dive operators, life guards, marine experts, research agencies, university and volunteers.

Bali is the first province in Indonesia to establish such a task force. After Bali, the ministry will set up similar task forces in West Java, East Nusa Tenggara and East Kalimantan. The provinces were deemed priorities because of the frequency of incidents and species present.

The task force would optimize efforts to rescue the stranded sea mammals and return them alive and minimize the impact of disease spread by bacteria found in decomposing carcass.Establishing a task force is one of the programs to save stranded sea mammals, in addition to creating rescue guidelines, conducting regular training and strengthening coordination with related institutions.

The most common species found were irawaddy dolphin, sperm whale and short-finned pilot whale. Between 1987 and 2013, there were 203 recorded cases of stranded sea mammals in Indonesian waters.

The most frequent incidents were in East Kalimantan (96 incidents), followed by Bali (37), West Papua (12), and West Java (11). In Bali, many incidents occurred along the southern coast of the island, including in Badung, Denpasar, Gianyar, Tabanan and Jembrana.

13 June 2013

Bali - Es Campur

While Es Campur translates as mixed ice, it is in fact a mixture of sweet liquid with any combination of fruit, jellies, fermented cassava and other tempting treats served over ice. There are innumerable varieties across Bali.

Made from simple ingredients, a glass of es campur is only Rp 4,000 and it consists of daluman (a green jelly made from daluman leaves), tape (fermented cassava), shredded coconut, red sugar syrup, coconut milk and crushed ice. It has a combination taste of sour tape with sweet syrup and savory coconut milk made from grilled coconut. If you don’t like sweets, or are avoiding high cholesterol food, you can simply order the daluman ice, delicious and healthy.

12 June 2013

Bali - complaints over the new Dewa Ruci underpass

Complaints are raining in regarding the poor quality of cement paving done by PT Adhi Karya and others in the construction of the new underpass project at the Dewa Ruci Monument at Simpang Siur.

The cement finish on the roadway through the underpass is uneven and wavy, providing a less-than-smooth ride for passing motorists.

The uneven quality of the cement in underpass is due to one of two possible causes. It was either not built in accordance the original design plans or the workmanship is of inferior quality. The land occupied by the new underpass is labile, due to its close location to the mangrove forests. Nonetheless, if the road is “rolling” there remains little choice but to tear up the road and redo the cement paving.

The Dewa Ruci Underpass Project was built by PT Adhi Karya and covering an area of 0.7 hectares.

11 June 2013

Bali - new Ngurah Rai airport plans

The management of Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport is planning to build an apron to accommodate more private jets and charter flights landing on the island.

As part of the ongoing major project to expand the airport, this facility would be built at the south of the airport, with a special exit gate, separate from the terminal used by passengers on regular flights.

At present, the airport can only accommodate four charter aircraft, and sometimes they are not allowed to park overnight due to lack of available space.
In addition to the new apron, the airport management is also renovating the parking area for regular flights to accommodate more planes. At present, 16 mid-sized planes, 10 large planes and 11 small planes can occupy this parking space.

The renovation will allow the facility to house 20 mid-sized planes, 11 large planes and 16 small planes. The additional apron space for chartered and private aircraft's would allow more VIPs and high-end tourists to visit the island.

10 June 2013

Bali - Singaraja Harbor

It was once Bali’s most prosperous harbor, welcoming hundreds of ships from all over Asia. Now things have changed, but a visit to the historical Buleleng harbor in downtown Singaraja, the capital of Buleleng regency, is still interesting.

Once the capital of Bali and Nusa Tenggara under the Dutch colonial administration, Singaraja was a business and political center for eastern Indonesia. Lines of old warehouses standing sturdily along the harbor are proof of the city’s flourishing business activities and the coastal city remains proud of the diverse ethnicity of its residents, Balinese, Javanese, Madurans, Bugis, Arabs, Indians and Chinese.

The pride of the old city of Singaraja, Buleleng harbor, was badly neglected once the mantle of being Bali’s capital city was transferred to Denpasar. The warehouses became old and started to decay, the harbor became dirty, dark and frightening to the locals. However, thanks to a massive renovation, Buleleng harbor has started to shine again, becoming one of the city’s attractions.

The regional administration has done a good job of the makeover, constructing strong concrete foundations for the floating wooden restaurants overlooking the sea, where visitors can dine on seafood, as well as local and western favorites. Meanwhile, the warehouses have been transformed into gathering places and at night a pasar senggol (temporary night market) springs into life, offering local food.

One of the harbor’s hallmarks is the Yudha Mandala Tama monument, a symbol of Indonesian freedom fighters who fought against Dutch colonists. Another point of interest is the Chinese temple, Ling Gwan Kiong, which was built in 1873. A visit to Buleleng harbor is a real historical journey, demonstrating Singaraja’s past glories as one of Indonesia’s international trade routes, and showing new life rising from the past.

09 June 2013

Bali - your personal safety

There has been a lot of dialogue lately about the issue of personal safety and protecting your property.

The issue of riding motorbikes without helmets and protective clothing has come up time and again. If someone were to push you off the motorbike and you’re wearing an evening dress and sandals, you will definitely have some injuries. The lovely young things with hot pants and bikini tops floating down the street with their hair flowing in the wind and a shoulder bag flying behind them, are easy prey.

A patch of gravel, a vehicle coming out of a gang without looking, or a stray dog darting onto the road is far more likely to result in an accident than a random mugging but still we see them every day, riding thoughtlessly through the streets. Heading home down a dark street alone is another thing you wouldn’t want to do in a city, or pretty much anywhere else and yet people still do.

Simple things can help like not going home alone if you live down a dark gang or in a quiet street, take a buddy with you or get a taxi to drop you at the door, don’t drive drunk and unprotected at night, don’t carry lots of money or expensive things with you if you can avoid it, don’t have your bag hanging over your shoulder where a passing bike can pull it, and you, off the bike, check the entrances to your house and make sure you aren’t giving easy access to burglars. Simple precautions can prevent some of these things happening.

Currently there is a rise in road robberies, the method is not a new one; throw some nails in the road to create a flat tire. The driver stops, gets out and his belongings are taken from his car. An oldie but obviously still a goodie. Stay in the car, phone for help, or drive slowly to help.

Dogs can be poisoned, security guards can fall asleep and a determined burglar will find a way to get in if they really want to, but don’t make it easy, is the point of it. Personal safety is an issue wherever you go but don’t imagine that because you are in Bali you are removed from the social problems that exist elsewhere, that you are free from danger. It exists everywhere, it exists here too and no one is immune. Just by taking simple precautions however, you can minimize the risk to self and property.

A self defense expert reminded everyone that at the end of the day the bag, the phone, the money can be replaced, it isn’t worth your life to fight for it. Give it up and live to tell the tale.

Robbers have two objectives: to get your stuff and not get caught. The message is simple, be aware of the risks, take precautions, stay safe and if you do get into trouble, give it up and then report it to the police, so make sure you know their number and where they are. It might not always be the solution but if they don’t know, they can’t help.

Drive save, keep Bali safe, don't give people a change.

08 June 2013


Nice commercial, shot at Uluwatu, Bali

Bali - the Bendungan Benel dam

The beauty and natural scenery around the Bendungan Benel (Dam Benel) is the inspiration to make this place an attraction in Jembrana.

Bendungan Benel is large and spacious, surrounded by green forests and natural protected areas that make the air in this area very cool because it is located high in the mountains. At the bottom of the dam you can see a vast expanse of rice fields with its terracing so it is suitable to be a place to dissipate fatigue when you are bored with life in the city.

Bendungan Benel located in the village Manistutu, Jembrana. The purpose of this dam is for irrigation the rice fields in this area. Bendungan Benel began construction in 2006 and was completed in 2010, opened by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on 26 January 2010. In addition to the irrigation and natural attraction, the dam is also used for fresh water fisheries, such as tilapia fish, fish cork and other freshwater fish.

The existence of this dam as a natural attraction has been able to attract tourists to visit this place even though it is located in the countryside. Currently the facilities available are ample parking and restrooms and a couple of small warungs that sell food and drinks.

07 June 2013

Bali - Traditional massage

In Bali, finding a massage parlor is easy. On almost every corner of every street on the island, there are salons with massage services, from Balinese massage to beauty massages.

But for broken bones and sprained muscles, there is one specific traditional masseur who can handle the situation. He is Mangku Sudarsana in Karangasem.
Every patient of this humorous masseur usually brings a canang (offering) to be presented at the small pelinggih (temple) in his home. The offering symbolizes a prayer for a cure.

During the patient consultation with Sudarsana, he smiles and chats casually. Some jokes are thrown here and there to make the patient laugh and relax, while silently Sudarsana makes his move and massages the spot with the broken bone or sprained muscle. His massage is quick, usually less than 30 minutes, but nevertheless painful. Every day, around 50 patients come and go from Sudarsana’s place. His patients are from various backgrounds, from farmers to businessmen.

Sudarsana opens his home massage clinic from 1:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. almost every day, except during the Balinese holy days of Galungan, Kuningan, Saraswati and Nyepi. His home clinic is not far from Besakih Temple, right in front of Pura Dalem Prajapati. He has a modest home, located in between food stalls. A wooden sign declaring “Mangku Sudarsana Pijat Tradisional” (Mangku Sudarsana traditional massage) is the assurance that you have come to the right place.

06 June 2013

Bali - a day trip to Singaraja

A trip from Denpasar to Singaraja along the 110-kilometer road that stretches through some of the island’s most scenic places is an excursion that any visitor should try. A normal non-stop trip takes around two-and-a-half hours, but a sightseeing outing would surely take longer, much longer.

The first stop over on the trip is Lake Beratan in the hilly region of Bedugul. A sunrise over this lake is a heavenly moment for anybody with the slightest interest in photography. Ulun Danu, the temple by the lake, will provide the captured images with a postcard quality.

Eka Karya botanical park, the largest of its kind on the island, is only 10 minutes away from the lake. Its spacious green lawns are a perfect place to have breakfast or a cup of hot coffee.

Some 30 minutes to the north, another stopover awaits in Wanagiri village. Troops of wild, long-tailed macaques populate the woods in this village and warmly greet the passing visitors. Bananas and nuts can be purchased at roadside stalls if you wish to establish a warmer repartee with these hairy creatures.

Another 30 minutes journey will take you to Gitgit village, where the famed Twin Waterfall lies. To reach the waterfall visitors must descend 300 steps.

A further 20 minute drive to the north and visitors will enter Singaraja, the island’s capital during the Dutch colonial time. The coastal city boasts a lot of interesting places, from Ling Gwan Kiong — an ancient Chinese temple by the harbor, to a decent museum, a historic palace, and Gedong Kirtya, the island’s largest repository of lontar manuscripts.
Depending on the time, you can take the same road back, but better take the road to Munduk, with stunning rice field and lake views to Tabanan. From there to Tanah Lot to see the most beautiful sunset, and then back to your hotel for an ice cold beer.

05 June 2013

World Ocean Day 2013, june 8.

A series of events will be held to mark World Ocean Day this Saturday June 8, with the focus on engaging art and tourism in marine conservation.

Organized by Reef Check Foundation, Coral Reef Alliance and The Marine Foundation, the event will feature an exhibition of underwater photography at Beachwalk Mall, Kuta, which will run from June 8 to June 29.

The photography exhibition is part of the Art for Oceans program by The Marine Foundation and focused on addressing the issue of coral reef degradation and raising awareness of the pressing need to protect the health of the oceans.

Coral reefs in Bali had been facing rising threats, while at the same time, the number of people relying on marine resources for their livelihood is increasing. Just like in other places in the world, coral reefs in Bali have been significantly threatened by the impact of development on land and in coastal areas, destructive and overfishing, as well as global warming. It needs cooperation between local communities, the government and related stakeholders to recover the damage.

On the other hand, many people on the island rely on marine tourism for their livelihoods. And since Bali is also well known for its art and creativity, art and tourism could be engaged to be part of the campaign to raise public awareness about marine conservation.

The first Bali toll road almost finished

The ongoing construction of the Benoa-Nusa Dua toll road has entered its final stage and the road is expected to become operational in July. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will officially inaugurate the island’s first toll road on July 13.

The toll road is part of an expensive infrastructure overhaul designed to be completed ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in early October. Around 21 heads of state are expected to attend the summit. The overhaul also includes the Rp 2.8 trillion expansion of Ngurah Rai International Airport and the construction of the Dewa Ruci underpass, which cost Rp 136 billion.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has planned to officially open the toll road. Bali hope that the toll road can solve the traffic problem in southern Bali that has become a constant source of complaint from locals and tourists.

A Balinese Hindu ceremony would be conducted before the official inauguration. The ceremony will comprise melaspas (a ceremony to cleanse a new building of bad spirits) and pecaruan (offering ceremony).

The Benoa-Nusa Dua toll road runs for 12 kilometers, a large part of which is along the southern shore, and is claimed to be the most beautiful toll road in Indonesia. The road, which required total investment of Rp 2.5 trillion, will connect Benoa harbor in Denpasar, Ngurah Rai International Airport and the Nusa Dua tourism enclave. It is built on 34,000 concrete pillars.

Bali administration is now considering a name for the road. One proposal is I Wayan Lotring, an artist from Badung regency who lived between 1898 and 1983. Lotring was a grandmaster of Balinese dance and percussion from Kuta, who contributed to the development of Balinese art and culture and passed his knowledge and skills on to the next generations of foreign and local artists. Another name being proposed is Prof Ida Bagus Mantra, the much-beloved former Bali governor. The late Mantra, whose son is now the mayor of Denpasar, initiated the annual Bali Arts Festival, as well as the construction of the Werddhi Budaya Art Center. His name already graces the highway that spans from Tohpati in East Denpasar to Gunaksa in Klungkung.

Motorists will have to pay to use the toll road. However, the tariff is still being discussed. It could be around Rp 2,000 to Rp 4,000 for motorcycles and around Rp 8,000 to Rp 10,000 for cars. Construction of Dewa Ruci underpass, which began in Dec. 2011, is completed this month and is open on a trial basis.

04 June 2013

Bali - No bikini's please!

The Indonesian government has proposed the adoption of “Eastern values” during the prestigious Miss World competition scheduled to take place in Jakarta and Bali in September.

The government had asked Miss World’s organizing committee to follow the Indonesian tradition.
Around 130 beautiful and intelligent women from 130 countries will compete for the Miss World crown.
Some people in Indonesia still consider it taboo for women to wear bikinis and outfits that expose body parts. Indonesia has frequently organized beauty pageant contests and has also sent representatives to both Miss Universe and Miss World competitions.

In Bali, the Miss World competition 2013 will be held in Nusa Dua Resort complex and surrounding areas. Participants will take part in tours to various tourist destinations, cultural and historical places across the Island. Participants will be scheduled to attend various charity activities during their stays in Bali. In Jakarta, the Miss World 2013 will be held at the Sentul International Convention Center. All contestants of Miss World 2013 would be required to wear sarongs instead of sexy bikinis during the Beach Fashion segments.

Lufthanse opens a new route to Bali

German airline Lutfhansa plans to open new routes linking a number of Indonesian cities with Europe.

Six cities will be served by the international airline, including Jakarta, Surabaya, Semarang, Bali, Medan, Balikpapan and Dili, East Timor.

They not only have competitive products but also competitive prices and the fastest flight times. The reason for the fastest flight times compared with other airlines would be due to minimal transit times at either Singapore or Bangkok.

To put the plan into effect Lufthansa has teamed up with code-share partners Garuda Indonesia, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Jet Star to maximize flexibility and frequency of connecting flights from each of the six Indonesian destinations to Singapore and Bangkok.

From Singapore, Lufthansa will be operating two daily flights utilizing an Airbus A380 to Frankfurt and an Airbus A340-300 to Zurich. Information regarding European connections from Bangkok has not yet been released.

03 June 2013

Bali - Poppies Restaurant

Behind its hustle and bustle, Kuta houses the history of how local people started to make their living from scratch, surviving and becoming successful to present day.

One of those people is the founder of Poppies Restaurant, who has successfully run the business, established in the 1970s, and made it into one of the few legendary restaurants, alongside the famous Warung Made and TJ’s.

The name Poppies was taken from the wildflower Golden Poppies that grows in California. In the 1960s through until the early 1970s, a restaurant named Poppies served the crowds in La Jolla, California. The owners closed the restaurant because they planned a long move to Bali. They were George and Bob, two American men, who then met a lady from Kuta named Zenik Sukenny, fondly known as Jenik. In 1973, they jointly established Poppies Restaurant in Kuta. Some parts of the buildings still remain the same even now. Meanwhile, the name of this legendary restaurant then became the name of two alleys in Kuta, Gang Poppies I and Gang Poppies II.

A piece of paper detailing the history of the restaurant displays a picture of Jenik’s small restaurant in 1972. Kuta at that time was full of coconut trees, and was still a typical Balinese village. After establishing the restaurant, the owners expanded their business, building cottages some 25 meters from the restaurant. The cottages and the restaurant have similar architecture, including gazebos with thatched roofs and small gardens with plants typically found in a village.

After more than forty years, the restaurant is still in the same location and remains popular among tourists wishing to enjoy a variety of Indonesian dishes in this historical place. The restaurant is busiest at lunchtime, with each customer picking their favorite spot to eat: in a gazebo, in the open air, or in the pub that has become a smoking area. The restaurant does not look big from the outside because of the shady trees around it, but it can accommodate 200 customers.

Indonesian food is the signature cuisine on the menu, including rijsttafel (rice table) which includes small portions of various dishes from across the archipelago. Costing Rp 225,000 for two persons, it is the most expensive dish on the menu. Another dish is gado-gado, the Indonesian salad with bean sprouts and bean curd, served with sweet peanut sauce. There is also nasi campur (mixed rice) and chicken curry. The restaurant also offers many other international dishes, including pasta and seafood.

Entering Poppies Restaurant through its small Balinese-style gate is just like finding a sanctuary amid the crowds, noise and bustle typical of Kuta.

01 June 2013

Bali - Puja Mandala, place of tolerance

The picture of Bali's religious tolerance and cultural diversity is obvious when one enters Puja Mandala on the hilltop of Nusa Dua in Badung regency.

Derived from the Sanskrit words puja (devotion, worship) and mandala (space), the worship complex is now one of the jewels of Bali, an island known for its religious tolerance and multi-ethnicity. Perched on a 2.5-hectare plot of land in an area dense with glittering star-rated hotels and villas, Puja Mandala offers a different and serene atmosphere.

It was actually an ambitious mega project commissioned by president Soeharto’s New Order regime to former tourism minister Joop Ave, who at that time was still director general for tourism, post and telecommunication. In 1980, Joop lodged his idea to build a worship complex that housed buildings for all the religions in Bali. The idea became a reality when the president agreed to the plan to develop a worship complex in Bualu village near Nusa Dua in 1994. The project was finished three years later and officially inaugurated by then-minister of religious affairs, Tarmizi Taher.

The worship complex is home to Ibnu Baitullah Mosque, which stands right next to Maria Bunda Segala Bangsa Catholic Church. Next to the Catholic Church is the Budhina Guna Buddhist Temple. The Bukit Doa Protestant Church stands side-by-side with the Jagat Natha Hindu Temple.
Visitors, domestic and foreign, flock to Puja Mandala to praise the beautifully designed places of worship, each with its own distinguished architectural style.

But the real essence of religious tolerance shines during religious celebrations when all people, worship congregations, local communities and visitors alike, work together to make the celebrations a success. During Galungan and Kuningan, Hindu believers pray at the lavishly decorated temple, while other worshipers help prepare for the event and the local community helps safeguard the place. Similarly, during other religious celebrations, Idul Fitri, Christmas and Waisak, people may witness the togetherness, respect and tolerance that are the basic philosophies of Puja Mandala worship complex.