31 July 2013

Balinese and their offers

Fire, water, and flowers are the basic components of all offerings.

No matter what the offering, it must be of the finest ingredients and ritually cleansed before being placed. The variety is mind-boggling, in countless designs and styles. Some offerings may even be as simple as a few grains of rice placed on a banana leaf. Once you know what to look for, you begin to see offerings everywhere-in rice fields, yards, trees, and temples.

Gods and goddesses, who protect or threaten every act performed by a person during his or her lifetime, inhabit stone thrones and statues or simply hover in the air. Gods are often invited down to visit earth and are gorged with offerings and entertained with music and dance, but eventually they must go back to heaven. The Balinese always try to stay on the good side of all the forces. If the spirits are kept happy, the people can relax and even grow lighthearted. Children carry flowers to shrines and learn to dance at an early age to please the gods and the people. Feasts mark special periods in an infant’s first year: three days after birth, 42 days after the first bath, 105 days after birth, and 210 days after birth-the first birthday celebration. At each stage of the agricultural cycle ceremonies are held, offerings made, and holy texts chanted. Even cockfighting is a temple ritual-blood spilled for the gods.

Canang Sari
Offering made of palm leaf and flowers is an art form associated with every ritual occasion in Bali. The Balinese belief in the forces of the invisible world dictates that offerings be created with a spirit of thankfulness and loving attention to detail. The Balinese seem never to tire of producing these colorful and highly symbolic, ephemeral creations for every ritual, from the simplest daily household offering to the gods, to massive ceremonies.

Banten Saiban
Banten saiban or jotan is a daily offering that is offered everyday after cooking or before eating. It is very simple consisting of a pinch of rice with other food like vegetable or fish or meat, on a small piece of banana leaf/other leaf.

Putting Bija, wet rice grain, on the forehead means God has blessed us.

Bali - New toll road Soka-Munduk-Seririt

In addition to building a second airport in Bali, Buleleng regency administration is also planning to build a toll road connecting Soka in Tabanan regency and Seririt in Buleleng.

Head of the regency’s transportation agency said that building the toll road is crucial to improve the economic condition of the northern regency, which has lagged behind the south of the island due to its geographical condition. Building the toll road is one of the solutions to accelerate the distribution of commodities through Celukan Bawang Port.

The development of the 36-kilometer toll road will start next year. The road will be built in the area of Soka-Munduk-Siririt. The entrance of the toll road will be located in Tukad Sumaga village. The project is expected to be completed by 2015 and will require a land acquisition of 60 hectares to make way for the new road.

30 July 2013

Bali - brown rice tea

Rice for Indonesians, particularly in Java and Bali, is not merely a staple food. It has a myriad types, many colors and appears in almost every meal and snack in forms too numerous to mention.

Rice is not only steamed or fried, it is often an ingredient in cakes and even beverages. For example tajin is a type of beverage made from the liquid residue of steamed rice. Tajin looks similar to milk, in terms of its color and viscosity.

For the farmers in Jatiluwih, Tabanan regency, their main agricultural produce is brown rice, which is not only consumed as a staple food but also made into tea. One place to enjoy this unique tea is at Krishna Warung in Banjar Gunung Sari, in Jatiluwih, Tabanan.

It is very simple and quick to make a cup of brown rice tea — the rice is put in a cup and then covered with boiling water, which soon becomes brown, like regular tea. The taste of rice is very strong in brown rice tea, but it is not as thick as tajin.

At the food stall, you can sip the hot drink while enjoying the pretty landscape of the rice terraces and the cool breeze of Jatiluwih. Local farmers usually drank brown rice tea for health purposes. The antioxidants are believed to be able to improve stamina, digestion, as well as blood circulation.
In addition to serving brown rice tea in their food stall, Krishna Warung also sells brown rice tea in nice packaging, so you could make your own at home. A 200-gram box of brown rice tea is sold for only Rp 10,000. This package is also organically certified and labeled by the national organic certified.
 The rice fields of Jatiluwih.

Bali - GWK cultural park

After a long hiatus of nearly 14 years, the construction of the 126-meter tall Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK), dubbed the tallest sculpture in the world, will be continued and is expected to be completed in early 2015, Bali-born Bandung-based sculptor Nyoman Nuarta announced.

GWK, a project comprising the monument and a cultural park, is an expensive endeavor 25 years in the making. It had a promising start before being continuously plagued by critical problems, ranging from the global financial crisis, a change of regime, lack of investors and internal strife, to opposition from Balinese scholars and activists. These problems derailed the construction for many years.

By 1999, the main buildings of the cultural park had been completed, but the statue was far from completion. The gigantic head and chest of Wisnu, the head part of the Garuda, and several minor parts were already installed on the site when the money dried up and Nuarta had to scramble to find committed investors. The project then entered its longest hiatus to date.

The optimistic tone was the result of an inked deal between Nuarta, the GWK Foundation and a giant real estate company, PT Alam Sutera Realty, which agreed to shoulder the cost of building the statue, projected at Rp 150 billion.

In 1993, Nuarta presented the plan to then-president Soeharto, who embraced it warmly and instructed his ministers to provide Rp 30 billion to finance the project.

29 July 2013

Bali - Naughty Nuri's in Ubud

The catchy name of this warung , Naughty Nuri’s, might sound familiar to many people. This funky street side food haven has been reviewed by many media sources and is said to have Bali’s best pork ribs and martinis.

Naughty Nuri’s is indeed very popular; even The New York Times published a review of the eatery several years ago.

Eighteen years since it was established, the legendary warung maintains the simple and authentic concept that has managed to attract an increasing number of patrons. Curious to taste the best ribs and martinis in town? Visit Naughty Nuri’s, on the west side of Jl. Sanggingan Kedewatan in Ubud.

The most obvious signs of this place, distinguishing it from the many other restaurants along the street, is the grilling going on in front of it and its zinc roof. Open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., the place is always packed with customers. During holiday season, customers have to queue to enjoy Naughty Nuri’s special menu: spare ribs, made from selected pork ribs spiced with sweet soy sauce, garlic, chilli and salt before being grilled.

During the grilling, the ribs are flavored with Naughty Nuri’s special barbeque sauce, which has an aroma that will definitely whet your appetite. The tender meat is served with a bowl of sambal (chilli sauce) for an even spicier kick. A generous portion of spare ribs priced at Rp 90,000 is enough for two people. For customers who do not eat pork, Naughty Nuri’s also serves a variant of its delicious barbeque dish.

Satay ayam (skewered and grilled chicken), which is served with a portion of rice, is a good choice. The chicken is cut into bite-size chunks and put on the skewer with slices of pineapple as well as sausage, Australian beef, various vegetables and chips. In addition to the barbeque specials, chicken fried rice and pork fried rice are among the eatery’s most popular dishes. As for drinks, the famed martinis are a best-seller, but the warung also serves juices, sodas, beer and gin.

Bali Zoo

Located centrally in Bali’s cultural Gianyar Regency, the Bali Zoo is within close proximity to the tourist areas of Kuta, Sanur, Seminyak and Nusa Dua and is only 15 minutes drive from Ubud.

The island’s only Balinese-owned private zoo opened in 2002 as the first and only dedicated zoological park, which still holds true today. Bali Zoo situated on 22 acres of lush landscape in the art village of Singapadu and are home to a diverse collection of more than 350 exotic animals a majority of which are indigenous to Indonesia, including rare and endangered species such as the Sumatran Elephant, Sumatran Tiger, Orangutan, Sun Bear and Binturong.

The animals reside in hundreds of quality built Eco-habitats and are well cared by friendly staff of 170 who work as part of the extended zoo family. Bali Zoo offers a number of unique and one-of-a kind experiences during your visit.

From the beautifully landscaped and shaded garden paths that lead you through the park to the various 'hands on’ animal encounter sessions where you are allowed to feed, pet and take photos with a number of the zoo inhabitants to the assorted family activities such as Elephant Back Safari, Treewalk adventure and Village Trekking.

The zoo is open daily from 09.00 AM to 06.00 PM, except for Nyepi Day. On Wednesday and Saturday open from 09.00 AM to 09.30 PM. The entrance price is around Rp 320.000.

28 July 2013

Bali - Buleleng festival on august 23 2013

Buleleng Festival 2013 will display rare antique photos of the city that are currently stored in various museums in the Netherlands.

The annual festival, with the theme “My City, My Pride”, will be held on August 23.

The photos were taken during 1906 and portray the old Buleleng when it was the capital of the Bali and Nusa Tenggara region, during the Dutch colonial period. The coastal city was also an international trade hub for Bali and eastern Indonesia.

The festival will also showcase local talent in the art and business sectors.

The opening of the festival will be highlighted by communal dances performed by hundreds of local dancers overseen by local choreographers. Displays of the creative and innovative works of young Buleleng artists and entrepreneurs will also be presented.

Pic of the week

27 July 2013

Bali to Jember, Java. Part 3. Cigars.

In Jember is very little to do. Only the 4-hour ride to Jember is beautiful. First with the ferry from Gilimanuk to Banyuwangi, and then through a high, very curvy, mountain transition towards Jember.

In every turn of the road, a friendly Javanese is waving at you when it's possible to take the turn, the road is narrow and winding, and of course you don't want to get stuck in the turn with a big bus or truck. And of course they all expect a few rupiah for their sometimes joyful antics. On the way back we bought a pair of beautiful orchids, which are just taken from the jungle if you want a special one.

Because I had not so much to do, and sometimes I smoke a good cigar, I went to a tobacco plantation/factory, the Nusantara Plantation Company number 10. Jember is one of the best tobacco-producing areas in the world. Cigar aficionados know that cigars from Cuba and the USA are expensive and stylish. Jember is one of the suppliers for those cigars, in particular the Besuki tobacco. Besuki tobacco is used as a wrapper for the world's most expensive cigars.

Indonesian cigars that are of good quality are Dkanger Bali, Bali Legong, Bali Pura and Cadenza Long Premium. The Nusantara Plantation Corporation 10 lies eight kilometers north of Jember. The cigars are exported to Europe, America and Australia. It also produces Indonesian cigars for domestic consumption. Visitors can see the process of growing seedlings, picking, drying tobacco leaves as well as manually creating cigars. Dutch visitors can especially enjoy the nostalgia on site. The first people who lived on the plantation and introduced the process of tobacco in Java were Dutch. Jember became known to Europeans as the "Tobacco city". To reach the Nusantara Plantation you can take public transportation from the city of Jember. And of course buy a big box cheap Indonesian "Cohiba's".

Bali - Lebaran, the big exodus will start soon

The Bali authorities are now preparing to serve Indonesian travelers who will leave Bali for their hometowns, as well as incoming tourists who will spend their Idul Fitri holiday, or Lebaran, on the island.

The provincial administration’s for economic affairs said that his office was holding discussions with the relevant institutions to carry out all the required preparations, including the transportation agency, Organization of Land Transportation Businesses airport authority and ferry services.

It is traditional in Indonesia for Muslims to travel to their hometowns to spend Idul Fitri with their families. With many Indonesians working away from home, this is often the only time in the year they can gather with their loved ones. This year, Idul Fitri will fall on Aug. 8 and 9. Thus, at the same time that a high number of homeward-bound travelers leave Bali, the island will also welcome a high number of tourists for the August peak season.

The incoming tourists are not only foreigners, but also domestic tourists from big cities across the country who do not celebrate Idul Fitri but take the public holiday as an opportunity to gather with their families.

The authorities have already started arranging the traffic flow. As in previous years, in the days before Idul Fitri, only vehicles carrying passengers and staple foods are allowed to enter Bali, in order to ease traffic congestion along the Gilimanuk to Denpasar route.Although there are many travelers using private vehicles to travel to their hometowns, the number of travelers using public buses still increases because Bali has a rising number of migrants every year. In addition, more people prefer to use land transportation nowadays because they could not afford the airfare. There are 180 inter-province buses and 68 buses prepared to serve routes within the island. He said each bus operator had prepared additional buses to anticipate the rising number of passengers.

PT Garuda Indonesia’s operate bigger planes and add to the flight frequency. Bali is one of the most crowded routes. This year, the company operating 24 planes of various types, including the Boeing 737-800, Airbus 330 and Boeing 777. During the days before and after Lebaran, the company has one million seats available on the routes from Jakarta, Padang, Denpasar, Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan.

26 July 2013

Bali to Jember, Java. Part 2. Banyuwangi

Hailed as “The Sunrise of Java”, Banyuwangi boasts three kinds of characteristics found in tropical countries: mountains, the sea and forests, making it rich in natural tourism attractions, some of which are popular among foreign visitors, including the Ijen crater, Alas Purwo National Park which includes the surfer paradise known as Plengkung Beach (G-Land), and Sukamade Beach.

These three locations are promoted as “The Diamond Triangle” of Banyuwangi. In addition to the Diamond Triangle, there are also other interesting places to visit, including Sadengan Savannah wildlife reserve, Teluk Hijau, Red Island, Istana Cave, Ngagelan turtle breeding site, and Segara Anakan Bedul mangrove forest.

Last year, the regency achieved the Travel Club Tourism Award from the Tourism Ministry as the country’s most improved regency in the tourism sector and for its strong commitment to develop the sector. The regency also expanded its airport to accommodate more flights to and from major airports, such as Juanda in Surabaya and Bali’s Ngurah Rai. It will also improve its seaport by providing fast ferry services connecting the regency with Bali. Meanwhile, digital connectivity is improving with the installation of 1,200 Wi-Fi spots, to be completed this year.

With its abundant potential natural tourism, the regency had committed to focusing on developing Eco-tourism. In line with this commitment, the regency has been very selective in granting licenses to investors to build tourist accommodation. Some areas have also been prepared as tourism villages, with the local houses being developed into home-stays to welcome tourists.

25 July 2013

Bali to Lombok ferry increase price

The tariff for the public ferry crossing between Padang Bai Harbour in Bali and Lembar Harbour in Lombok has increased, effective from 24 June 2013.

The new tariff for the inter-island ferry took place in accordance with a decree by the Minister of Transportation (63/2013) allowing tariff increases of between 10% and 15%.

An adult fare on the ferry between Padang Bai and Lombok has increased from Rp 36,000 to Rp 40,000 and for children from Rp 23,000 to Rp 25,000, one-way.
Fares for transporting vehicles have also increased to the following:
Group I vehicles (push bikes) increased from Rp 52,000 to Rp 57,000.
Group II vehicles (motorcycles) increased from Rp 101,000 to Rp 112,000.
Group III vehicles (large motorcycles) unchanged at Rp 323,000.
Group IV vehicles (sedans) increased from Rp 659,000 to Rp 733,000.

Bali to Jember, Java. Part 1

A couple of weeks ago we visit some family members from Nyoman who lives in Jember, Java.
Following is a short overview of our trip.

The Bali Strait, dividing the islands of Java and Bali, is probably one of the busiest sea routes in the Indonesian archipelago as dozens of ferry services carry thousands of passengers and cargo on their daily trips across the strait.

Geographically, scientists believe the islands of Java and Bali were once part of a united tectonic plate, called the Sunda Shelf, and were separated during the Ice Age. Connecting the two islands, Java and Bali, has become very important in economic, social and cultural terms. The tiny island of Bali relies economically on the flow of goods and commodities from Java, while people in Java see Bali as an island of opportunity to market their products, to expand their businesses and to seek jobs. Bali is also seen as a popular tourist destination for people in the western part of Indonesia and crossing the Bali Strait is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to enter the island of paradise.

Two major ferry ports were built, one in Ketapang in Banyuwangi, East Java, and the other in Gilimanuk, Jembrana, western Bali, around 100 kilometers west of Denpasar. Gilimanuk ferry port operates 30 ferries serving the Gilimanuk- Ketapang route 24-hours a day.
It takes around one hour to reach Ketapang if the weather is favorable and the waves are normal height. However, the Bali Strait is notorious for its powerful and unpredictable undercurrents. Heavy sea traffic, especially during the holiday season, along the strait can cause problems.

But while you are on board the ferry, the stunning sea views and the large variety of entertainment will cheer you up during the one-hour trip. On one corner of the ferry, a masseur is ready to give you a therapeutic massage for your tired body. A line of kiosks offers various food and drinks for passengers. Some street musicians entertain passengers with campur sari (a mix of traditional Javanese music and pop).
Tickets are inexpensive. You only pay Rp 6,000 per adult and Rp 5,000 per child for a one way trip. So if you have lost the taste for flying, or would like a different experience for your trip to Java, taking a ferry across the Bali Strait may be worth a try and provide you with a memorable experience. And if you have some coins left, throw them in the water when you see children swimming around the ferry.

24 July 2013

Bali - Barong Landung

Nearly all Balinese know the tragic love story between King Jayapangus, who reigned in the 12th century, and a Chinese princess.

Yet it doesn’t prevent them from flocking to a traditional art performance featuring the story.

The storyline is quite simple. Jayapangus married Kang Ching Wei despite the court high priest’s warning. The priest argued that the gods would not bless the couple. Soon a massive flood destroyed the palace, forcing Jayapangus to relocate to Balingkang, near present day Kintamani.

Seeking the blessing of the gods, Jayapangus climbed Gunung Batur to meditate. There he met and seduced a beautiful princess, Dewi Danu. Their amorous relationship brought a son named Mayadenawa (literally, the demon of illusion).
Worried about the fate of her husband, Kang Ching Wei ascended the mountain only to find that the king had a new wife. In a fit of rage, Dewi Danu killed both the king and his foreign queen. The grief-stricken people of Balingkang begged her to resurrect their leaders. Dewi Danu agreed on one condition: both would be revived in the form of barong landung (tall wooden effigies). The king would become Jero Gede, a black effigy with fangs, while Kang Ching Wei would be Jero Luh, a light-skinned lady effigy with slanted eyes.

To this day, villages across the island still parade the sacred barong landung to ward off disasters and plagues.

23 July 2013

Bali - snail or lizard sate today?

Satay is a favorite dish in Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia.

Pondok Sate (Satay House) in Denpasar gives visitors the rare experience of having dinner while enjoying the beauty of the center’s landscape. You can order kakul satay (grilled snail meat), pork satay, chicken satay, seafood satay, mushroom satay or lizard satay. One portion of kakul satay is sold at only Rp 10,000. You can eat the satay with peanut sauce or tipat (steamed rice wrapped in young coconut leaves). For those who suffer from skin diseases, consuming lizard satay is believed to be able to cure such ailments. One portion of lizard satay is offered at only Rp 15,000.

Bali - the stone from Yeh Pulu

Bali offers both magnificent nature and a rich culture, with many places documenting the ancient life of its people.

One of these historical places is Yeh Pulu in Bedahulu village in Gianyar regency. Located some 40 minutes from Denpasar, not far from the famous tourist destination of Goa Gajah (the elephant cave), this site holds a monument with a relief sculpted on a 25-meter long and two-meter high stone.

The path heading to the site is flanked by rice fields, a small river and cliffs, creating a cool and beautiful atmosphere. In the Balinese language, the word yeh means water and pulu means earthenware jug. Thus, Yeh Pulu is named after an earthenware jug that was used to keep rice and placed in the middle of a sanctified spring. The sculpted relief in the monument was found back in 1925 and is believed to narrate the life of the people in the 14th century.

A man holding a horse throwing a spear and two people carrying the animals they hunted, are some parts of the ancient stories described in the pictures. Horses were used as a means of transportation at that time, as shown in the picture of a long-haired man riding one. Most parts of the relief are still in good condition, although some of them have worn away. Visitors usually only spend a few minutes at this monument, then continue their trip to the surrounding rice fields.
If you are interested in visiting the site, the entrance fee is Rp 15,000 for adults and half price for children.

22 July 2013

Bali - Chrystal Bay on Nusa Penida

Chrystal Bay lies in Penida, a small hamlet in the coastal village of Saktion, Nusa Penida, one of three small islands off mainland Bali.

Their pristine natural landscape and majestic underwater treasures have made these islands a favorite escape for visitors longing for a quiet vacation and hours of diving.

It is quite easy to reach Nusa Penida, just board a speedboat from Sanur Beach. Tickets cost Rp 80,000 and the trip takes about 30 minutes. There are four scheduled return trips per day. Upon arrival at Toyapakeh Wharf on Nusa Penida, visitors can rent a motorcycle to reach the bay.

At the far corner of the beach, several outriggers were moored after a day’s duty taking tourists to diving sites. Divers come to this bay in search of two famous sea creatures: manta rays and the mola-mola (ocean sunfish). The creatures are very easy to find and divers usually only have to go one kilometer from the shore to find them. A boat for a group of five passengers cost Rp 500.000. Individual passengers have to pay Rp 125,000.
Manta Ray

Mola Mola

Magnitude 8 earthquake can hit Bali

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has pinpointed Southern Bali as one of three main spots in Indonesia with the potential to suffer an earthquake with a magnitude of more than 8 on the Richter scale.

BMKG said that the three areas prone to massive megathrust earthquakes were southwest of the Mentawai Islands off Sumatra, southwest of the Sunda Strait and Southern Bali. Mentawai, for example, experienced a massive 7.7-magnitude earthquake in 2010. Meanwhile, the southwestern part of the Sunda Strait to Bengkulu, specifically from Pangandaran to Cilacap, experienced a 7.7-magnitude earthquake that caused a tsunami. Recently, Malang (East Java) and the southern part of Sumba have also seen earthquakes with magnitudes of up to 8 on the Richter scale. The southern part of Bali is located on the same megathrust fissure with Malang and Sumba, Bali too possed the potential to suffer an 8-magnitude earthquake.

BMKG released this information to alert the public about the potential for earthquakes and tsunamis in their regions, so that they could be better prepared if and when a disaster occurred. Megathrust earthquakes, which occur on the fissure borders of the earth’s tectonic plates, are notorious for their excessive magnitudes that can reach beyond 9 on the Richter scale.

21 July 2013

Pic of the week

Traditional Balinese clothes

Bali is rich in traditional costumes, for daily outfits to the most sophisticated costumes for dancers and artists as well as religious priests.

Gold painted ornaments portraying figures from the great Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata are common in the Balinese apparels, from udeng for males, to sarongs for women. Other decorations depict floral and fauna of Bali such as hibiscus and frangipani, who are also frequently used in such garments.

But, time is changing and so the fashion trend, which moves fast. Today, people may see logo or images of “alien” fashion elements from the West incorporated into the traditional Balinese outfits.
Recently spotted, an Udeng with logo of the American motorcycle company Harley Davidson.

20 July 2013

WTO Conference 2013 held in Bali

An Indonesian Trade Ministry delegation visited the headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland. The government representatives were there to describe preparations for the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, which will be attended by 159 countries, at the beginning of December 2013.

In addition to explaining the preparations in Indonesia, the delegation also held an exhibition in the WTO Secretariat Gallery in Geneva. The exhibition displays information about the achievements of Indonesia’s economy till now and projections of future achievement. Also displayed is a strategic overview of the Indonesian economy and manufacturing industry. Everything was packed in display panels, posters, photos and included a variety of videos.

The WTO Ministerial Conference is the highest decision making body in the WTO and is held every two years. The event is always held at the WTO headquarters in Geneva, but for the first time, the meeting will be held outside Switzerland and in Bali.

Bali - whale shark found dead in Jembrana

A four meter whale shark was found washed up on the beach at Klatakan in the Jembrana regency of west Bali yesterday.

Discovered by a local police water patrol, the shark was found dead, and appeared to be severely injured with large wounds to its mouth and fins.

The wounds on the shark’s body could have been caused by adverse sea and weather conditions, causing it to become disorientated and get stuck in the shallow coastal waters. The huge shark has yet to be removed from its current location, and has become a spectacle for dozens of people visiting the beach.

19 July 2013

Bali - Ngurah Rai airport closed early October

People visiting Bali during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) in early October 2013 can expect Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport to be closed for brief periods of time to accommodate VIP flight movements for the many heads of state expected in Bali.

The Indonesian Transportation Ministry has confirmed that Commercial flights will be diverted or delayed between 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on October 5 and 6 and again on October 8 and 9, as VIPs arrive and depart the Island.

18 July 2013

Bali - child trafficking in Jembrana

The National Commission for Child Protection has unraveled a child trafficking network in Jembrana, west Bali.

The child trafficking allegedly involved a Japanese national, who has been charged with trafficking and selling young girls of junior and senior high school age.

During a six-month investigation they discovered a well-structured and organized child trafficking network.

The majority of victims were promised 5 to 10 million Rp to help their parents or support their education. To obtain the money, these teenage girls were required to have sexual intercourse with the Japanese man, who also traded the girls to other foreign customers for sexual services.
After intercourse, the Japanese man would ask the girls to pose wearing sexy dresses. The alleged perpetrator could be charged with violating the Child Protection Law and human trafficking.

Lombok - Taman Narmada

Taman Narmada is located in the west of the island of Lombok, not far from the capital city Mataram. The pure spring water in the park makes it the legend of the 'eternal youth'.

The park was built in 1727 by order of the Balinese king Anak Agung Gede Ngurah Karang Asem. His intention was to use the palace in the park as a kind of summer house and his family often came to Lombok to rest in the dry season.

The name come from the Narmada River in India, one of the five holy rivers of Hinduism. For Hindus, water is a sacred element, because it makes all life on earth possible. Water that comes from the ground (from a natural source) is associated with immortality water, as it is also known in Indian Hindu culture. Originally Narmada was therefore the name of the natural resources in this area on Lombok, but nowadays the name used for the whole complex of parks, ponds, pools and temples.

After the construction of the park in the 18th century, there are several new buildings built in the course of time. In the 80s the Indonesian government together with the province led a large-scale renovation. After the renovation, the complex was placed on the Indonesian Heritage list and now it is well maintained.

The park is due to the many water called the water palace. There are many large and small ponds, and there is also a large outdoor pool. Children from the village not only swim in the pool, but also between the fountains by the ponds. One of the buildings in the park is known as the Balai Petirtaan. Three underground waters from the Rinjani vulcano come together (called Lingsar, Suranadi and Narmada). In this temple is a Hindu priest who can present you with a short ceremony with holy water, and then you can drink a glass of holy water.

The Narmada Park is located ten kilometers east of the center of Mataram, at the end of the street Jalan Ahmad Yani. Buses and minibuses run from the city, but they are not always easy to find. A metered taxi (Lombok Taksi from the famous Blue Bird Group) costs from Mataram 30,000 rupiah, from Senggigi tourist area almost double.

Having a car (with driver) or scooter can be combined with a visit of the Temple of Lingsar. This temple is located a few kilometers north and is special because it is a shared place of worship for Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists.

17 July 2013

Bali - traditional food from Munduk

The village of Munduk has a traditional delicacy that is guaranteed to awe a first-time visitor due to its unique cooking process, as well as its savory and satisfying taste.

Called Timbungan, the food is prepared by finely chopping pork meat, seasoning it with ground shallots, onions, chilies and salt, before, and this is the unique trick, placing the meat inside a bamboo tube.

The meat-filled tubes are later arranged neatly near burning coconut husks. The tubes are regularly rotated so all the sides get a similar amount of exposure to the heat. The meat is perfectly cooked when the tubes start releasing that mouthwatering aroma. A similar cooking method is also used when the locals cook cassava leaves. The hot meat and leaves are served with a portion of steamed rice from locally grown paddy. The taste is simply amazing.
Timbungan is a regular dish in the temple’s festivals and communal functions in Munduk. It is a historic food. When this village was first established, around 1910, the first settlers did not possess adequate cooking utensils and had to rely on the bamboo tubes to cook.

16 July 2013

Bali - Pura Ponjok Batu

Pura Ponjok Batu is located in Julah village, about 30 minutes from Tulamben village, famous for its underwater tourism.

The temple management provides a comfortable resting place for whosoever passes along the road the temple watches over. While taking a rest there, one can simply enjoy the peaceful black stone temple, the ocean waves crashing on the pretty black stones of the beach and a boat statue made from a large stone. The temple also has a vast parking lot hosting the ubiquitous small food stalls that sell rujak (tropical spicy fruit salad), cold drinks and meatballs. Clean toilets are also available.

In the temple’s courtyard, visitors can make their prayers and have their faces sprinkled with holy water. A donation box is next to the worship table for those who wish to donate some 1,000 or 5,000 Rp.

Pura Ponjok Batu possesses an interesting history. The temple was built to honor a Siwa Sidanta priest by the name Danghyang Nirartha (Ida Pedanda Sakti Wawu Rawuh), who lived during the reign of Dalem Waturenggong in the 15th century. The locals honored the priest by turning all his hermitages into sacred temples. The priest helped a fisherman from Lombok island when the fisherman’s boat sank at Ponjok Batu each. The fisherman found a shining stone, which was then carved into a boat statue and now stands at the southeast side of the temple.

The external and middle parts of the temple are accessible to visitors wearing the proper attire and not for people grieving or menstruating women. The madya mandala (middle part) has a bale pegat (open air pavilion) surrounded by a beautiful pool. The hall is regarded as a transition space for those who wish to practice worshiping in the central part of the temple. In total, there are eight halls and 10 pelinggih (shrines) to worship the gods.

As folklore goes, the temple’s name, Ponjok Batu, was bestowed by Ida Batara, who believed that more stones should be placed in the eastern part of north Bali to balance the weight of the whole north Bali region.

15 July 2013

Bali - Ubud Jazz Festival 2013

Up to 100 renowned international and Indonesian jazz musicians will converge on the hillside town of Ubud, 9 and 10 August, to appear in the inaugural Ubud Village Jazz Festival. Set in the grounds of the glorious Arma Museum, a dazzling program of world-class Jazz will be performed under the stars over two nights, from twilight until late.

Destined to become Bali’s premier Jazz event, invited guests include Peter Beets (Netherlands), Uwe Plath, Dian Pratiwi (Germany), Yokohama Association of Artists (Japan), Dewa Budjana, Balawan, Dwiki Dharmawan, Simak Dialog, The Jongens, Yuri Mahatma, Koko Harsoe, Astrid Sulaiman, Underground Jazz Movement, Ito Kurdhi, Diego Maroto and Michael Verapeen (Malaysia) and many more.

The Festival has widespread support from the Ministry of Tourism, the Bali Tourism Board, Gianyar Regency, the creative arts communities of Bali and the people of Ubud. The Ubud Village Jazz Festival is a Bali-based initiative. The event is run by those who wish to offer something to Bali but not solely for commercial purposes. Food stalls and refreshments will be available on site, offering many of Ubud’s famous culinary specialities.

The full program including supplementary workshops and gala events is available at:  http://ubudvillagejazzfestival.com/

14 July 2013

Bali - Pie Susu, milk tarts

In the recent years, pie susu (milk tarts) have risen to be one of the most sought food souvenirs from Bali.

Its popularity among domestic tourists has reached the same level of veneration as chocolate, fried nuts and betutu ultra spicy steamed chicken.

Actually, milk tarts have been produced for over 30 years by families of Chinese descent. The sweet taste of the tart is a fitting compliment to a cup of slightly bitter, hot locally brewed coffee, a preferred morning and evening drink among the island residents.

Milk tarts are simply pastry made of wheat flour, butter and milk. The skillful hands of the housewives working in the milk tart factories knead the mixture of flour and butter into dough, cutting and shaping them into tart crusts before filling them with processed milk. The tart crusts and their sweet fillings are later baked in an oven for about two hours. A pie susu cost Rp 3,000 per piece.

Bali - new tourist attraction open: Taman Nusa in Gianyar

Now visitors in Bali can travel across Indonesia, an archipelagic country of more than 17,000 islands, in just one day.

That journey is made possible by Taman Nusa, a new attraction that opened its gates to visitors. Its tag line is “Indonesian heritage culture center” and its founder, a wealthy and elderly businessman, Santoso Senangsyah, has already visualized it as the place where future Indonesian children could learn the history and heritage of their great nation and fall in love with their own cultural legacy. It is a tourist attraction, but its main mission is primarily educational.

Taman Nusa lies on 15 hectares bordering three villages: Blahpane Kaje, Blahpane Kelod and Bakas. Only 11 hectares will be used for building and infrastructure, the remaining four will be set aside to conserve the woods in cooperation with the villages.

The buildings in the park have been designed to represent various epoch in Indonesia’s history, from the stone and bronze ages, through kingdoms, the War of Independence, up to the present-day Indonesia. The replica of Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple, and the statue of Gajah Mada, the prime minister of the Majapahit empire, standing before a replica of the Majapahit palace gate, as well as the statues of Indonesia’s founding fathers, Sukarno and Hatta, are among the key pieces in this park.

One thing that truly will captivate visitor attention is the cultural kampung, a complex of at least 59 traditional houses representing the cultural richness of ethnic groups across the archipelago. Some were built on site, others are historical artifacts flown to Bali. Among the latter are a 100-year-old Limas house brought from Plaju in Palembang, a 19th century Javanese-style house from Yogyakarta, and a 70 year old Rumah gadang from Padang.

Visitors could see not only the architectural beauty of the houses but also the daily life of the native people from those houses. The park recruited staff from the respective ethnic groups to act as householders. Visitors will also have the chance to learn the art of batik in the park’s cloth museum, one of three museums on the site.

For more information and how to come there: www.taman-nusa.com

13 July 2013

Pic of the week


Bali - Jegog music from Jembrana

Out of the countless unique Balinese musical performances, the Jegog stands proud. As a spectacle it is outstanding, although sadly it is also among the most difficult to see.

The jegog is a brisk and raucous gamelan ensemble originating in Jembrana, and although it is not unusual to see dancers perform with it in shortened compositions for the tourist market, the jegog itself requires no dancers.

The obvious difference between the more commonly found gamelan and the jegog ensemble is that the jegog instruments are made from wood and bamboo rather than wood and metal. The jegog is pure bamboo percussion and there are no gongs. The other striking difference is size. The bass jegog, for example, is so large that the player sits astride it, mounted like one would sit on a cart. The bass bamboo tubes are at least 25 centimeters in diameter and around 3 meters long, the upper part is split and half removed whilst the lower part is whole and acts as a sound box.

The instruments are mounted on frames and played with a mallet. For important performances, the instruments are adorned with religious carvings, the Barong Ket, Rangda or Surya.

12 July 2013

A Balinese ceremony for the new toll road

Foto: Bali Daily
On Wednesday morning a religious ceremony to consecrate the island’s first toll road was solemnly performed.

Hundreds of Balinese Hindu devotees from seven customary villages around the new toll road, which connects Benoa Harbor-Ngurah Rai International Airport-Nusa Dua, took part in the ceremony, locally known as tawur gentuh and pemelaspasan. The ceremony took place on the new road near the Ngurah Rai airport toll gate and was led by three Hindu high priests.

A Pakelem ritual was also held in the last part of the ceremony. Pakelem is a traditional Balinese Hindu ritual that involves sacrificing live animals by drowning them in the sea. Several animals were sacrificed in the ritual, including a buffalo, a cow, a goat, a swan, a duck and several chickens.

Animal sacrifice plays an important part in numerous Balinese Hindu rituals. Hindu followers believe that through such sacrifice they will be able to appease the gods and bhutas (nature’s powers), and simultaneously restore the balance between the physical realm of sekala and the spiritual realm of niskala. The ceremony is aimed at neutralizing any negative forces and spiritual imbalance created during the construction of the toll road. The ceremony also symbolizes that that the 12.7-kilometer toll road is ready for operation.

The toll road is part of an expensive infrastructure overhaul designed for completion ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)Summit in early October. Around 21 heads of state are expected to attend the summit. The toll road is Bali’s latest attempt to ease congestion in the south of Bali.

11 July 2013

Gerokgak, North Bali, place for the new Bali airport

After years of speculation and discussion, the provincial administration has decided on Sumberkima village in Gerokgak, Buleleng regency, north Bali, as the most likely site for a new airport.

The planned airport development is awaiting completion of a feasibility study prior to producing the detailed engineering design.

The feasibility study must be carefully conducted, as the new site encompasses housing and residential areas affecting more than 800 families. Sumberkima village is also home to four major temples, Dalem, Pejarakan, Segara, Sudamala and Desa Temple. The village also has five mosques, Jami Al Amin, Annur, Jami Mujahidin, Nurul Huda and Darusalam Mosque. Another hurdle is the mountainous area, which poses crucial technical problems to the airport design. The planned airport is intended to have two runways and will require at least 1,000 hectares of land.

Sumberkima is located adjacent to many tourist sites, including Batu Ampar, Lovina, West Bali National Park and Menjangan Island. The provincial administration also plans a new toll road connecting Kuta-Soka-Seririt. The project is now looking for potential investors.

10 July 2013

Bali - pay day for the police in Sanur

Yesterday I was on my way from Kuta to Denpasar to buy some stuff for the construction of a swimming pool when I was stopped, close to Sanur, by some police officers along the side of the road. Once I stopped and the papers were checked I was prompted to come along because I was not wearing my seat-belt.

And yes, about six meters from the public road, half hidden behind a tree was the chief money sergeant, sitting behind a wooden box. He show me a paper saying that the fine for not wearing a seat-belt was 250,000 rupiah, but today was my lucky day .. because for only 100,000 I could buy off the penalty and prosecution. The money disappeared directly in the wooden box, and without receipt I could continue my way.
And of course only foreigners where stopped by the police, while in the short time dozens of Balinese pass the police check point without helmet.
They learned about hidden camera's....

05 July 2013

Bali - Seaweed

The Indonesian Association of Seaweed is developing a seaweed farming area in Pandawa, Nusa Dua, as an Eco-tourism destination.

The association is working together with a local farmers group to promote the daily activities of the local farmers as a unique attraction for tourists. Bali, especially Nusa Dua, is one of the prime areas in Indonesia to cultivate seaweed. Indonesia is also the largest producer of Euchema Cottonii seaweed.

Late last year, the association signed an agreement with the local farmers group concerning the idea. At the same time, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister also declared Pandawa as a marine tourism area. Seaweed farming in the area has been threatened by the massive development of tourism facilities, with much property construction taking place in the area, especially around Geger Beach. During the last couple of years, tourism development at Geger Beach has been very fast, as proven by the sprawling construction of hotels and other tourism facilities. This has threatened the survival of seaweed farming. These developments have also caused the number of seaweed farmers to decrease to only around 30 families, who have to go further to find vacant land to dry their seaweed in the sun.

Seaweed farming could be part of tourism, and it is crucial to protect the coastal environment from abrasion. The association will use its networking to help local farmers market their product more widely and generate a higher quality and quantity. Indonesia produced around 180,000 tons of seaweed last year, 169,000 tons of which was exported.

04 July 2013

Bali Waterbom voted best Top Attraction in Asia

Bali Waterbom park has been voted the top attraction in Asia by TripAdvisor, beating out Universal Studios Singapore and Disneyland.

In a statement released yesterday, the online travel site detailed how a number of diverse tourist attractions across Asia were voted for by the public.

The Travelers Choice Awards Attractions were given based on the quality and quantity of the traveler reviews of attractions that appeared on TripAdvisor.

In second place was Universal Studios Singapore and third Ocean Park, Hong Kong, followed by DisneSea Tokyo and Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu, Japan. Hong Kong Disneyland came in position six.

Seventh was the Skyline Luge Sentosa at Sentosa Island, Singapore, eighth was Wonderland Amusement Park in Bangalore, India, ninth was Universal Studios Japan, Osaka, and last came Shanghai Circus World in China.

03 July 2013

Bali - save the turtles

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika has pledged to immediately stop the illegal slaughter of sea turtles on the island following international pressure.

Pastika stressed that he completely supported efforts to protect the endangered species.
“Turtles are one of the few surviving prehistoric animals in modern times.”

During his term as Bali Police chief, Pastika frequently held raids confiscating illegally traded and trafficked turtles. Earlier this year, the police seized 33 sea turtles at Tanjung Benoa, while in 2012, the authorities foiled attempts to smuggle 220 sea turtles.

The smuggling and illegal trading of sea turtles onto the island has been longstanding to meet demand for turtle meat, a traditional food in Bali. The Balinese also use turtle meat in several religious rituals as part of the offerings. However, since 2005, the powerful Indonesian Parishada Hindu Council (PHDI) confirmed that other meats, or images of the animals, could be used in place of the meat of endangered or protected animals, such as turtles and eagles.

Recently, around 25,000 people signed a petition urging Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika and the tourist industry to stop the illegal slaughter of sea turtles. The petition, on the website change.org, called for support from animal lovers, environmentalists and individuals to protect sea turtles across the island.

Since last March, Indonesia-based ProFauna and SOS-Sea turtle from Switzerland and France have collaborated in the effort to garner voices from the international community to end this cruelty.

Sea turtles, also known as green turtles, are an endangered species and protected by the 1990 law on natural resource conservation. They are also listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), meaning that any commercial trade of specimens caught in the wild of this species is illegal. Indonesia has ratified the convention.

02 July 2013

Lombok - Cocktails from Baywatch

Hollywood actor David Hasselhoff is making plans to become a pub and restaurant operator on Gili Trawangan, the island getaway located a short distance off the northwest coast of Lombok.

The star of the television series  Knight Rider and Baywatch, Hasselhof told the press that he has two Western Australian backers in his Indonesian venture.

Tight-lipped about the identity of his financial backers or details of the project, Hasselhoff did reveal that he has secured a location for the establishment that will be called “Bask.”

Hasselhoff (60) has a history of alcohol abuse and a reputation for drinking binges, is reported to be dating a 32-year-old former shop assistant from Wales, Hatley Roberts.