Friday, January 28, 2011

Temple Exclusion Zones Move a Step Closer

DENPASAR

Enforcement of a five-kilometre building exclusion zone around Bali’s major temples – including Uluwatu on the Bukit in Badung where major development has already taken place – has moved a step closer.

Bangli Regent I Made Gianyar said last week he would seek clarification from Governor I Made Mangku Pastika, on behalf of all nine district heads, about the status of the exclusion rule. He said the only thing districts were waiting for was a ruling from the governor.

Regent Gianyar said there had been confusion up to now because decisions about temples’ sanctity in relation to nearby developments had not been accompanied by explanations.

He said earlier challenges from other regents had been due to differences of interpretation and it was this that needed to be sorted out. It was believed violations of the five-kilometre exclusion rule had been authorised because of pressure from developers.

Building permits are issued by regencies, not by the provincial authorities.

Meanwhile Bali’s legislature has urged the provincial government to do more to publicise the new planning rules so that people understand them and they can be enforced.

Legislators said it was particularly important that people understood the five-kilometre building exclusion zone around major temples, a primary focus of the new rules.

Commission I chairman Made Arjaya said it was also important to demonstrate that the new zoning laws – which have to be enforced by district administrations – should not face legal challenge.

Arjaya said the problem was that there were “rogue elements” in the investment community that were trying to exploit public disquiet and thus provoke them to reject the new rules.

Filed under: Headlines

10,000 Ancient Scripts to Go Digital

DENPASAR

A new programme will scan and digitally store 10,000 ancient Balinese manuscripts this year, as part of the provincial government’s plan to safeguard religious and social texts currently only held on lontar (leaf) scrolls.

The documents to be data-based in 2011 include most of the Ramayana story, the Usadha (treatment techniques) and lontar scripts describing Hindu life philosophy.

American academic Ron Jenkins, professor of theatre at the Wesleyan University and an acknowledged expert on Indonesian culture, is providing advice on the project.

Jenkins, who was awarded a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship in 2007 for an Indonesian translation project, has written extensively on Balinese art in collaboration with artists Nyoman Catra and Nyoman Gunarsa.

The head of the office of Balinese culture, Ketut Suastika, said when announcing the project last Thursday that it was also aimed at introducing the literary heritage of Bali to the world.

The digital records to be established will also provide the scripts in Balinese, Bahasa Indonesia and English as well as the original Sanskrit.

“We can then make better use of the material and also safeguard it because palm leaf scrolls are very fragile,” he said.

The material will be available online.

Filed under: Headlines

Bridegroom Dies on Way to Wedding

GIANYAR

A third-time bridegroom, Wayan Terang, 50, died on his way to his wedding in Klungkung.

He became ill after a stop at Ubud while travelling with the wedding party from his home at Busung Biu in Singaraja and died at a clinic he was rushed to in a vain attempt to revive him.

The bride fainted when told of his death.

Filed under: Headlines

Rabies-Hit Penida Mounts Mass Dog Cull

SEMARAPURA

Authorities on Nusa Penida killed more than 1,000 stray dogs in two days after the island’s first rabies deaths including a man from Batu Kandik village, who died in Sanglah Hospital three weeks ago.

Klungkung regency animal husbandry chief Gusti Ngurah Badiwangsa said the mass cull was necessary because Nusa Penida – part of Klungkung – was overrun with wild dogs, many of which lived in remote hill country, inaccessible bushland and caves.

“It takes a long time to eradicate these wild dogs,” he said.

Badiwangsa said the cull on Wednesday and Thursday (January 12 and 13) involved 20 animal husbandry officials from Semarapura, six provincial government officers, village leaders, village guards and local people.

It targeted nearly all the 16 villages on Nusa Penida. “The most intensive part of the operation was in four villages where rabies is a direct threat, Batu Kandik, Bunga Mekar, Sakti and Batu Madeg,” he said.

Rabies is believed to have reached Nusa Penida either through dogs brought from mainland Bali where the disease is now widespread and endemic or through a Nusa Penida dog taken on a trip to Bali and returning with the fatal virus.

A Denpasar man died of rabies last week. He was from Tanjung Buntak Satu in East Denpasar, off Jl Hyam Wuruk. He had been bitten by a neighbour’s dog four months before he became ill but had not sought post-exposure vaccination.

Bali’s rabies death toll now stands at 121 on one set of figures but the health office is still saying 118.

A leading provincial legislator has accused the central government of being heartless in holding up funds it allocated to buy vaccine.

Ketut Kariyasa Adnyana, vice chairman of Commission IV in the provincial House of Representatives, said last year’s allocation of Rp15 billion (US1.65 million) had only arrived at the end of November.

“Their commitment must be to up-front funding,” he said.

Filed under: Headlines

Papuans Rally for Independence

JAYAPURA

Hundreds of Papuans protested on Wednesday rejecting the region’s special autonomy within Indonesia and demanding a referendum on self-determination.

Carrying a wooden coffin covered with a black cloth which said “Special Autonomy is Dead in Papua,” more than 1,000 activists, students and church leaders protested in front of the provincial parliament in Jayapura, witnesses said.

“Independence for Papua; reject special autonomy,” they shouted.

“Indonesia the coloniser; Indonesia the oppressor; Indonesia the robber.”

They also called for the upper house of tribal leaders called the Papua People’s Assembly (MRP) to be disbanded.

“The MRP had done nothing to improve the welfare of Papuans. Our people are poor in their own land,” protest coordinator Selpius Bobi said.

“We reject special autonomy as that is the Indonesian government’s policy which has never supported the natives. We want a referendum that will allow us to determine our own fate,” he added.

Papua’s special autonomy status, introduced in 2001 after the fall of former president Suharto’s military dictatorship, has seen powers including control of most tax revenue from natural resources devolved to the provincial government.

Filed under: News Alerts

Will Lombok be the ‘New Bali’?

by Barrie | January 26th, 2011  

Lombok has always lagged behind Bali in regards to tourism. These days, Lombok is used as a stepping stone to the nearby Gili Islands. This doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do on the island.

On the contrary, Lombok is an island of stunning palm-fringed, white sand beaches and the interior of the island has majestic panoramas overlooked by Gunung Rinjani. Add to that the mystical Sasak culture and you have a perfect island holiday. There are a multitude of five star resorts and a variety of other accommodation to suit all budgets.

But, will it become the ‘new Bali’? There is no doubt that Bali is getting a bit worn around the edges and tourists are looking for other destinations. Nothing could be better than Bali’s sister island; Lombok. All pointers to this happening are promising. A new international airport is expected to open later this year, and, also the big investments from the Middle-East.

In an article appearing in the newspaper WAToday, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is leading a bidding race to develop an unspoilt southern coastline of white sand into a world class resort and luxury residential community. I was recently in Lombok and visited this area around Kuta and yes, it is pristine. The whole idea of this development will be eco-based tourism. This alone will surely attract many visitors. After all, it’s only a half hour flight from Denpasar.

Lombok’s culture is not as obviously rich as Bali’s, but taking a tough hike up an active volcano, Mount Rinjani, or snorkelling in pristine waters will seem appealing to tourists and travellers alike.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

French Tourist Cleaned Out

LOVINA

Buleleng Police are investigating the theft of cash from the hotel room of a French tourist who did not immediately notice the money was missing but reported the theft to Lovina Police later.

Guillaume Fonts, 27, was staying at the Anturan Puspa Rama hotel at Lovina when the theft occurred. He told police he believed the money was taken by a cleaner.

Fonts told police he had left the money, Rp500,000 (US$55) and €200 (Rp2.2 million), with other material on a table, when a cleaner asked him to vacate the room while it was serviced.

Buleleng Police spokesman I Nyoman Sukasena said last week the theft was being investigated. “Police do not yet know the culprit,” he said.

Fonts told police in a statement: “After the cleaner finished I was asked to check that everything was OK. But later, in the afternoon, the money was not there.”

Filed under: News Alerts

Warned-Off Bali

Intending visitors to our island had even more cause to worry about their holiday this week when alerts were issued over a potential new health outbreak: Legionnaire’s disease, a bacterial infection that can be fatal and that has reportedly struck down 10 Australians who became ill after returning home from Bali.

Health chief Nyoman Sutedja told the Australian authorities this week, following a request from the Australian Consulate-General in Denpasar, that so far there was no evidence of Legionnaire’s in Bali but that further checks were being carried out, with suspicion falling on hotels in Kuta that are failing to maintain adequate sanitary standards.

That wasn’t enough to prevent the Australians from issuing a travel alert for Bali to its citizens, saying: “Indonesian health authorities and the World Health Organisation are aware of the problem and are investigating possible sources of outbreak.”

It is of particular concern that Legionnaire’s, identified in the US in 1976, develops in warm-water environments such as plumbing and air-conditioning, and is contracted through inhalation; the mortality rate can be as high as 50 percent. Many low-cost “Melati”-class establishments in Bali provide substandard facilities including bathroom services. Tap water in Bali, and indeed around the country, is not suitable for human consumption – too many visitors can testify to this inadequacy, alas – but beyond that, failure to service and clean water systems is a major health issue, not only for Legionnaire’s disease but also for endemic diseases such as dengue fever, whose virus resides in water-hatching mosquitoes.

The Health Department must immediately launch a check of all small-hotel operators in Bali, particularly around the Kuta area, a favourite of budget-holiday Australians. It must ensure that those who are in breach of hygiene regulations are forced to close if they do not immediately – to a near deadline – act to ensure the health and safety of their guests. The Bali Hotels Association, which represents primarily the international sector of the industry, is taking steps of its own to ensure adequate maintenance is done and world-standard checks applied. 

Bali is in the midst of a virulent outbreak of rabies that has claimed more than 120 lives in two years. Amid a disastrously hopeless campaign to vaccinate the primary carrier of the virus, street dogs, instead of drastically cutting back their massive numbers, human deaths will continue, thus causing immense harm to Bali’s international reputation.

On a more local level, Governor I Made Mangku Pastika has ordered the closure of illegal roadside bordellos operating under the guise of caf├ęs and frequented by Balinese and other Indonesians as Bali’s HIV infection rate soars, placing our island among the top AIDS regions in the country. This directive must be enforced by the authorities to ensure they are made to shut down.

We have been hit by serious global health crises in the recent past, among them SARS and swine flu. Our current emergencies are peculiar to Bali, and that should make them eminently easier to deal with. Failure to act could result in a swift downturn in visitor numbers at a time when they are at a record high.

Filed under: Editorial

‘Dirty Dukun’ Held Over Four Sex Assaults

DENPASAR

A dukun (shaman or wise man) who sexually molested at least four female patients at his practice at Padang Galak, East Denpasar, is under arrest and reportedly contrite for his offences.

Police detained Muhammad Nursidik, 32, from Jember in East Java and a qualified lawyer, after complaints from women who had sought treatment from him.

They believe there are more women the man may have molested who have yet to come forward to make complaints.

Nursidik, who has had a practice for six years from his office in Jl Padang Galak, was caught because a 23-year-old woman from Jl Imam Bonjol in Denpasar complained she had been repeatedly sexually molested by him.

East Denpasar Police went to the premises but Nursidik was not there. So they organised a “sting” operation to nab him, getting a relative of the woman to telephone him and say she had told them she had been molested.

Nursidik offered the relative Rp5 million (US$550) to settle the problem and was arrested when he arrived at the agreed location to hand over the money.

Police said this week he had admitted to molesting four female patients but they believed there were more and were still questioning Nursidik.

They said Nursidik duped one of the women into an unwanted sexual encounter by telling her he needed to have relations with her in order to cure her stomach and headaches.

When she arrived with her husband he sent him out to buy eggs that he would then break and smear over her. The offence took place while the husband was away getting eggs.

Nursidik told police investigators he had molested four women but only one of them had known his name.

“I molested them. I am very sorry for what I did. I am resigned to my fate and accept my punishment,” he told the media at East Denpasar Police headquarters.

Filed under: Headlines

Tunisia, a Game Changer in the Middle East

By Radwan Masmoudi

There has been a democratic revolution in Tunisia over the past four weeks. This is a new and exciting era in Tunisian history, and an example for other countries of the Arab world.

Unfortunately, however, it all started when a 26-year-old university graduate set himself on fire on 17 December in a town square in Sidi-Bouzid, in the south of Tunisia. He died a few days later.

Daily demonstrations and clashes with the police ensued and quickly spread to other cities. The demands initially focused on economic issues, such as employment and poverty alleviations, but quickly became political: denouncing corruption and demanding accountability, freedom of expression and a representative government.

The overwhelming majority of the demonstrations have been peaceful, ranging in size from a few hundred to over 40,000 people. The government, the opposition and experts on Tunisia were caught off-guard by the magnitude and the strength of these spontaneous demonstrations, and by the veracity of their political demands.

Tunisia has often been cited as a “good student” of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It has enjoyed sustained economic growth in the past 20 years – extraordinary by Arab standards – posting an average of five percent annual growth. However, the “spoils” of development have not been shared equally between all sectors or regions of the country.

Corruption is rampant, with a few families and individuals controlling an increasing proportion of the economy. Tunisians speak daily about how the “Trabelsi clan” – the family of the president’s wife – is above the law and forcibly stealing private and public lands and properties.

Officially unemployment is at 14 percent; however, among recent university graduates (85,000 students graduate every year), it is estimated to be between 34 and 36 percent.

A restive youth decided to take matters into its own hand. The half of the Tunisian population under 25 years of age declared “enough is enough” and took to the streets to demand immediate changes.

Promises by Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of creating 300,000 jobs over the next two years and guaranteeing a job for every graduate within two years of entering the job market did not appear to satisfy popular thirst for major reforms, especially at the political level. On 12 January, Ben Ali indefinitely closed all schools and universities, called in the army, announced the release of all prisoners and an investigation looking into charges of corruption. But it was too little too late. On 14 January Ben Ali stepped down.

The opposition has now been galvanised and united like never before. In the past, the government played on the divisions between Islamic and secular forces to keep the opposition weak and divided, but Tunisians abhor violence and extremism, and do not want a theocratic government. What they do want and deserve is a democratic system of government that is based on their Islamic values and identity.

It appears that opposition leaders have finally overcome their fears of the regime, and mistrust of each other, and are willing to work together for political and economic reforms. Tunisians, across the board, realise that prosperity for the majority of people or economic development that benefits everyone will not be possible without political reforms, a major clampdown on corruption, and a representative and accountable government that listens to the people, and protects their rights and interests.

The rules of the game are changing. The interim government, or any future government, must pay close attention to public opinion and sentiments. They promise to legalise all political parties, and organise free and fair elections with international observers within six months. They also promise to reform the political system to allow greater transparency and accountability. Government officials have been reminded that they are public servants. Let’s see if they can act the part.

Having seen the success of people’s power in Tunisia, it is probable that other Arab populations will demand similar rights and reforms in the coming months and years. Already there are reports of self-immolation by people in Algeria, Egypt and Mauritania, hoping to be heard and to set their countries upon the same path as Tunisia. Arab leaders must reform or face their people.

The genie of democratic change is out of the bottle.

Radwan A. Masmoudi is president of the Washington-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy.

Filed under: Opinion

Mangrove Motorway

It is now apparently certain – such a qualification is always necessary here – that the preferred road option to solve the traffic jams between Jimbaran and Kuta is the elevated highway on pylons over the mangroves east of the present Bypass Ngurah Rai. The Sanur-Tanjung Benoa bridge was always a non-starter, given the muddle over who owns the land involved and the conflicting requirements of the Port of Benoa (which requires international-rules bridge clearance for shipping) and the airport, which must provide internationally acceptable minimum approach and takeoff heights above obstructions.

So on balance, the “mangrove motorway” is a reasonable solution to the problem. A new eleven-kilometre-long road to link South Denpasar with Nusa Dua is really the only option, given that any land-based “highway” here instantly acquires buildings and businesses alongside it that create further traffic problems and mostly foreclose on duplicating the carriageway or any other meaningful improvements. At least a highway on pylons over the swamp is unlikely to attract substantial additional infrastructure. The authorities will have to make sure the new road does not become a dumping ground for rubbish. There’s enough garbage in the tide zone already.

The price is high – the figure cited for building the road is Rp1.4 trillion (US$155 million) – but not only in cash. It will involve planting 1,000 massive concrete pylons in sensitive (never mind protected) mangrove forest that itself forms an essential breeding ground for marine life and plays a vital role in mitigating tsunamis and limiting coastal erosion. That there will be some damage to the mangrove forest is inevitable. That is a pity. But development always comes at some cost to the natural environment. On balance, and in this instance only, it’s probably worth the cost.

What now needs to happen is perhaps the hardest part of all. The national, provincial and local governments must not only resolve to work together – to play from the same shadow puppet script – but the work must be done quickly as well as safely. Environmental damage to the mangroves must be limited as far as is practically possible. And of course, Governor I Made Mangku Pastika requires it all to be finished and in operation by the time Bali hosts its extravaganza of the decade, the APEC Summit at Nusa Dua in 2113.

Filed under: Editorial

January 21-27, 2011

By Dr Robert Goldman

Longevity News and Review provides readers with the latest information in breakthroughs pertaining to the extension of the healthy human lifespan. These news summaries are compiled by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M; www.worldhealth.net), a non-profit medical society composed of 24,000 physician and scientist members from 110 nations, united in a mission to advance biomedical technologies to detect, prevent and treat aging related disease and to promote research into methods to retard and optimise the human aging process. Dr Robert Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., D.O., FAASP, A4M Chairman, and Dr Ronald Klatz, M.D., D.O., A4M President, physician co-founders of the anti-aging medical movement, distil these headlines and provide their commentary.

Retirement Promotes Wellbeing
Previous studies have suggested a number of health benefits of retirement. Hugo Westerlund, from Stockholm University, and colleagues assessed the health effects of retirement using data collected in the GAZEL study, which followed workers at a French national gas and electricity company, for a 15-year period. The 11,246 men and 2,858 women included in the study retired at an average age of 54.8 years; all were retired by age 64 years. The team utilised annual health questionnaires during the study, as well as health surveys conducted seven years prior to, and seven years following, retirement. Throughout the study, the cumulative prevalence of respiratory disease, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke increased with age, with no change in the trajectory at the time of retirement. However, the team observed substantial reductions in the prevalence of both mental fatigue and physical fatigue, from one year before to one year after retirement. They also observed a marked reduction in depressive symptoms in the same timeframe. Positing that by leaving the demands of work, people may feel less concerned about limited energy, leading to lower ratings of fatigue, and that retirement may allow people more time to engage in stimulating and restorative activities, such as physical exercise, the researchers conclude that: “Retirement did not change the risk of major chronic diseases but was associated with a substantial reduction in mental and physical fatigue and depressive symptoms, particularly among people with chronic diseases.”

Dr Klatz observes: Swedish researchers report that retirement is associated with sharp reductions in mental and physical fatigue, as well as more modest reductions in depression. This finding supports the notion of enjoying enhanced health in one’s later years.

Beetroot Boost Brain Health
Beetroot is high in nitrates, which are converted by the digestive process into nitrite, a compound that helps to open up the blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen specifically to places that are lacking oxygen. Daniel Kim-Shapiro, from Wake Forest University, and colleagues have found that that drinking beetroot juice also increases perfusion, or blood flow, to the brain. The team enrolled 14 adults, ages 70 and older, for a four-day study. On the first day, subjects reported to the lab after a 10-hour fast, completed a health status report, and consumed either a high- or low-nitrate breakfast. The high-nitrate breakfast included 16 ounces of beetroot juice. They were sent home with lunch, dinner and snacks conforming to their assigned diets. The next day, following another 10-hour fast, the subjects returned to the lab, where they ate their assigned breakfasts. One hour after breakfast, an MRI recorded the blood flow in each subject’s brain. Blood tests before and after breakfast confirmed nitrite levels in the body. For the third and fourth days of the study, the researchers switched the diets and repeated the process for each subject. The MRIs showed that after eating a high-nitrate diet, the older adults had increased blood flow to the white matter of the frontal lobes – the areas of the brain commonly associated with degeneration that leads to dementia and other cognitive conditions. The researchers conclude that: “These results suggest that dietary nitrate may be useful in improving regional brain perfusion in older adults in critical brain areas known to be involved in executive functioning.”

Remarks Dr Goldman: Drinking beetroot juice increases blood flow to the brain, suggesting a potential functional role for the food to combat dementia. This is an intriguing discovery of a functional health role for a simple vegetable.

Tai Chi Lessens Arthritis Pain 
Tai Chi is a Chinese wellness practice that has been previously associated with a variety of physical and mental health benefits. Leigh F. Callahan, from the University of North Carolina, and colleagues studied 354 men and women, ages 18 years and over, with any type of self-reported, doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Subjects were randomly assigned to two groups: the intervention group received the eight-week, twice-weekly Tai Chi course immediately, whereas the other group was a delayed control group (received the Tai Chi course after eight weeks). At the end of eight week study period, those men and women who had received the immediate intervention showed moderate improvements in pain, fatigue and stiffness. They also had an increased sense of wellbeing, as measured by the psychosocial variables, and they had improved reach or balance. 

Comments Dr Klatz: Finding that arthritis suffers engaging in the Chinese wellness practice of Tai Chi experience reduced pain, fatigue and stiffness, as well as improve their balance and sense of well-being, these researchers offer an accessible approach to counter a debilitating disease.

Anti-aging medicine is the fastest-growing medical specialty throughout the world and is founded on the application of advanced scientific and medical technologies for the early detection, prevention, treatment and reversal of age-related dysfunction, disorders and diseases. It is a healthcare model promoting innovative science and research to prolong the healthy lifespan in humans. As such, anti-aging medicine is based on solid scientific principles of responsible medical care that are consistent with those applied in other preventive health specialties. The goal of anti-aging medicine is not to merely prolong the total years of an individual’s life, but to ensure that those years are enjoyed in a productive and vital fashion.
Visit the A4M’s World Health Network website, at www.worldhealth.net, to learn more about the A4M and its educational endeavours and to sign up for your free subscription to the Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.

Filed under: Longevity News & Review

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

All Set for the Mangrove Motorway

DENPASAR

South Bali’s new traffic-beating road option has finally been settled: it will be an 11.5-kilometre elevated road on concrete pylons built in the protected mangrove forest of Benoa Harbour and run from South Denpasar to Nusa Dua east of the congested Ngurah Rai Bypass.

The proposed Sanur-Tanjung Benoa toll bridge plan has been abandoned as have other proposals for tunnels and flyovers.

Instead a Rp1.4-trillion (US$154-million) toll way on 1,000 pylons will take traffic from Pedungan in South Denpasar to Nusa Dua. The final plan was approved by the central government this month, according to a Bali government spokesman.

The new highway will have an airport access point.

A two-month survey of the proposed route will be done before construction contracts are let. But the timeframe is short because under a presidential instruction the new road must be operation before an APEC Summit meeting due to be held in Bali in 2013.

The project is being financed by four state-owned enterprises including the airport and Port of Benoa operators and the Bali Tourism Development Corporation.

News of the road decision came as the vice-chairman of the Bali House of Representatives, Ketut Suwandhi, announced that earlier plans to build a toll way and bridge connecting Serangan Island – Turtle Island in Benoa Harbour – with Tanjung Benoa could not proceed because of uncertain land titles on Serangan and the reported bankruptcy of the Turtle Island Development Corporation (BTID).

But the bridge plan had already run into difficulties due to conflicting requirements from the Port of Benoa and Ngurah Rai International Airport. International maritime regulations require a minimum clearance for shipping under bridges and international air transport rules set strict height limits on structures below landing and takeoff flight paths at airports.

Suwandhi said he hoped the “mangrove motorway” plan would not endanger the natural environment, but acknowledged that some impact on the mangroves was inevitable.

Mangroves are protected internationally because they are critical marine life breeding grounds and also protect coastlines from erosion and help limit damage from tsunamis.

Suwandhi said construction of the new highway should include funding for mangrove reforestation after the road is completed.

Local Indonesian-language media say the new highway will be dubbed the JDR – Jalan di Atas Rawa.

Filed under: Headlines

Denial Doesn’t Rate on Judgment Day

The national government is to be commended for quickly committing US$1 million in flood relief to the crippled Australian state of Queensland. While the amount is a fraction of the estimated $10 billion damage unleashed on homes, businesses and infrastructure by Queensland’s rampaging rivers, it is an honourable gesture, and fitting given Australia’s long and generous contribution to disaster relief, education, health, infrastructure and campaigns such as terror prevention in Indonesia.

The thousands of Australian families who lost their homes, possessions, livelihoods and in some cases their loved ones need the Jakarta finance bureaucrats to be more conscientious in releasing the aid than they’ve been in discharging funds committed to rabies control in Bali. This tardiness is an inexcusable disgrace and a link in the chain of shameful mismanagement that continues to cost lives.

Bali’s steadfast failure to exercise duty of care in addressing the spreading rabies epidemic is outrageous and short-sighted beyond belief.  Rabies is not, despite widespread nonchalance, a force of nature that can’t be stopped. It can.

Praise is due to Klungkung officials for acting quickly to cull 1,000 wild dogs after the recent deaths from rabies of two Nusa Penida residents, the first on that isolated island. Let’s hope they follow through and that others heed their rare example.

With 121 fatalities (the latest official figure), continuing community ignorance, packs of threatening dogs and uneasy tourism markets, it is well past time to strive for rabies elimination on the same scale as we would respond to an act of terror or natural disaster. And if that means setting up camps of military to hunt infected animals, so be it.

It’s past time to wrench ourselves out of denial, face up to the rabies emergency and avert the economic catastrophe that will come if the crisis spreads, claims more lives, diminishes international faith in our capacity and willpower to deal with it and then pierces the heart of tourism. Soon, if the deaths and inertia continue, travellers will conclude that Bali cares only for their currency, not for their welfare.

Indonesia was not judged on its preparedness and response to the 2004 tsunami that devastated Banda Aceh and near coastal areas. The event took everyone in its destructive path around the Indian Ocean coastline by surprise. You can’t control a tsunami. But now that the world has been brutally reminded of the ruinous potential of this force of nature, authorities in danger zones are expected to be alert, forewarned and equipped to save lives and minimise disruption.

Last October’s tsunami off the west coast of Sumatra claimed more than 100 lives due to missing or non-operational warning buoys. Indonesia will be judged on its response to the next tsunami. Substantial international resources have been devoted to ensuring better outcomes.

Just as we were judged to have been inadequate in our efforts to prevent the terror of the second Bali bombings in 2005, and subsequently were sentenced to years of low visitor numbers and economic pain, we will be judged on our response to rabies and our preparedness to face other disasters.

Our island has grown up quickly. It has embraced the advantages of investment-driven growth. Many people drive or employ drivers for their new-model cars, send their children to preferred schools, own their own homes and take family holidays.

And that is terrific. However Bali, with the support of Jakarta, whose coffers are nicely enriched by taxes gathered here, must preserve its economy by returning the world’s respect for its environment and culture. Bali must make its people, guests and its reputation safe from rabies and it must show commitment and readiness to deal competently with the many natural and other disasters to which it is exposed.

Recent news that vital security procedures at the strategic entry point of Gilimanuk are wheeled out for VIP visitors and otherwise ignored demands investigation. If proven true, those responsible for such abject delinquency should face criminal charges.

Our international airport recently held a major emergency response exercise. One hopes something was lost in the translation, but the reported 30-minute duration of the exercise is pitiful for a scenario in which terrorism, death and injury landed at Ngurah Rai. This is a situation that takes days, maybe weeks to work through.

Your columnist was involved in monthly crisis response exercises at a major Australian city airport. Annually we were called out without notice for the big drill, which involved all emergency services, police, military, hospitals, local and overseas governments, embassies, airlines, community groups and so on. We operated in crisis conditions for 24 hours.

While none of us ever felt fully equipped to deal with a real disaster of any magnitude, there is no doubt we were far better primed professionally and emotionally to handle the casualties and damage, chaos, confusion and heartache that such an emergency would bring. And this would have been evident to observers.

So come on, Bali. Get serious about rabies elimination, security and crisis response. Show the world you care.

How could all that angst expressed by Balinese for failing to take care of their guests who were harmed in the bombings be so quickly dispelled? Bali will be judged very harshly if only another economic catastrophe, following preventable human loss, provokes responsible action.

LC

Filed under: ILAND

World-Class Bali Is Just Dying for Development

By Novar Caine

It is a rare beast indeed, and when it comes galloping through the gates, it’s most welcome. On our small island that sells itself as world class, we’re lacking in so many facilities that developed nations deem basic. Services like efficient public transportation – imagine that – instead of haggling with brutish taxi drivers who turn on each other like animals; sparkling and accommodating ports of entry; smooth roads, even.

It’s such a shame that while Bali – southern Bali, at least – is dotted with the finest establishments you’d find anywhere, the facade is ripped apart a short step outside your door.

There’s really no need for it. We have a multimillion-dollar cruise port on the east coast that somehow ended up shrink-sized and cannot yet be used. There’s a road plan to ease the congestion around the airport but each week brings fresh revelations that it’s underground, overground, round and round – and going nowhere. There’s a stumbling revamp of the airport, long since unable to cope with 2.5 million foreign tourists a year, never mind the millions more coming from other parts of the country.

If it crossed your mind that the development plan was being enacted by bumbling mismanagement that had no place in the public (or any) sector, you’d be on the mark. On an island that is crying out for development, it is a sad story of negligence and abandon.

So there was every reason to perk up this week at news that one of the world’s foremost sovereign wealth funds is reportedly planning to invest in Bali and help develop – to its own ends, of course, but naturally benefiting us – infrastructure here. The Government of Singapore Investment Corp is a wildly successful investment medium whose assets around the world total US$247.5 billion, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, an American entity that tracks such things.

For the most part, this Singapore behemoth knows a safe – and exceptionally profitable – bet when it sees one. And right now it’s eyeing up Indonesia, where it envisions huge prospects albeit with a decided lack of essentials. Its deputy chairman is Tony Tan, and he has told The Straits Times, Singapore’s government-owned daily, that the corporation is keen to plough money into infrastructure developments in this country.

“We would be interested in it because [the corporation] has quite a lot of experience in investing in infrastructure, (although) so far mainly in developed countries,” he was quoted as saying. It is understood that the investment firm will work with partners in Indonesia to identify what needs building up, and that among the projects that may come under discussion is a cruise-liner port in Bali.

Tan extended his reach by saying that “other companies would be very interested given Indonesia’s good fundamentals and obvious need for infrastructure investment.”

That Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia, was robust enough to withstand the global financial meltdown, in large part due to buoyant consumer spending, but lags far behind its near neighbours Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, is something that must be urgently rectified by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The capital itself is psychically paralysed because there are no networks to ferry people around. This perennial gridlock costs the country billions of dollars yearly in lost business. People just won’t attend meetings in the mid-afternoon, for instance, because they know they either won’t get there in time or they’ll end up choked in traffic for hours and lose out.  

Then there’s the whole issue of accountability, along with its cousin transparency and that detestable relation corruption. Funds appear and disappear at will. Work is started and soon stopped, as seen in pillars around Jakarta that are all that remain of the long-discussed monorail system. In other areas of the country projects are completed only to fall victim to official negligence and public theft – as in the impressive Suramadu Bridge connecting Surabaya and the island of Madura that had its lights pilfered immediately after it opened in June 2009.

Will the famously efficient Singaporeans do it any differently? Will they be a match for the vortex of Indonesian bureaucracy? With some luck, time will soon tell. If our foreign friends are willing to pour large sums of money into this country, we should invest some belief in them.

Tweet with Novar @novarcaineFiled under: At Large

Expat Property Developer Arrested over Embezzlement

DENPASAR

The head of Bali’s leading foreign-owned realtor Ray White Paradise Property has been arrested by police after a land sale to a Chinese woman went sour.

Mark Tuck, 60, was detained by Badung Police after a client, Dorothy Poon, 63, reported that land-title certificates for a Rp5.4-billion (US$597,600) plot of land in Seminyak were not handed over and some of the funds she had paid were not reimbursed, Badung Police spokesman Putu Indrajaya said.

Paradise Property, founded by British national Tuck six years ago, merged last year with the Indonesian arm of Australian real-estate giant Ray White.

An official with the company who asked not to be named told The Bali Times the case was not related to the company as it now exists.

“We cannot issue a statement as this is a case that involves only Mark personally. The companies formerly doing business under the [Paradise Property] brand name no longer exist and the ownership structure has changed,” he said.

Filed under: News Alerts

What to See in Ubud: The Herons of Petulu

by Barrie | January 26th, 2011  

Ubud will always be a special place in Bali for those wishing to escape the rat-race of the touristy areas of Kuta. In one of the most scenic areas on the island and directly north-east of Ubud in Central Bali is located the village of Petulu; famed for its artists, dancers and carvers of wood and stone. But that is not only what the village is renowned for. It is also a bird sanctuary and home to the famous Javan Pond Heron and Plumed Egrets.

Many of you who have explored the region around Ubud will know of this beautiful, scenic and quiet area. It is the Herons coming home to roost at dusk that is spectacular and so if you can time your visit to Petulu around 5pm in the afternoon. Massive flocks of these Herons seem to light the sky pure white as they arrive and village tradition dictates that these Herons may not be disturbed during their roosting.

No one really knows why the Herons, who first began roosting there in 1966, chose Petulu as their nesting site. Ask any of the elders in the village and they will tell you that the birds are in fact reincarnations of the tens of thousands of men and women who died during the civil unrest throughout Bali in 1966. It is a well known fact that many of those Balinese who died were laid to rest near the roosting grounds.

When the birds started arriving initially, it was only previous to that an elaborate sacrificial ceremony was held for protection and blessings after thousands of communists were butchered. Interestingly, twice a year on Saniscara Kliwon Landep the residents of Petulu hold a special ceremony for the White Herons.

The Traditional Weaving of Sukarara in Lombok

by Barrie | January 24th, 2011  

Lombok has so much to offer travellers and any visitor to the island will be first struck by the awesome and natural beauty of the environment. But, the island has so much more and their culture and handicrafts are amazing. When I last visited there I was particularly interested in the textiles woven using traditional looms.

Located in the centre of the island and only a short drive from the city of Mataram in the north-west of the island is a delightful but small village called Sukarara. A village that has some incredible views of the mountains and volcanoes of the north and all its buildings are traditionally laid adding to the experience.

The main focus of the village is in the production of fabrics and cloth used for a variety of things including clothing and other decorative items. In Sukarara are some of the most popular and aesthetically pleasing traditional designs to be found in the archipelago of Indonesia.

The useful force of earthy colours coupled with the traditional eastern patterns are entrancing in their design. Here one can witness the production of these amazing materials from the thread woven on looms. The villagers have retained the traditional customs and rituals, revered and practiced in Lombok over the centuries. The weaving community is an amazing experience and at Sukarara there are many workshops selling the goods woven in the village.

I visited the workshop of Panji Sari and the selection of woven cloth in a variety of colours was outstanding. Prices for these handmade textiles vary with some pieces fetching into the millions of Rupiah. Be prepared to bargain the price and you could find yourself with a beautiful hand-woven treasure. When visiting Lombok, Sukarara is the place to buy the traditional woven cloth.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Forecasts for week beginning January 22, 2011.

By Jonathan Cainer

This week’s most exciting development has got to be the moment when Saturn turns stationary. The planet of restriction, impediment and delay is beginning a phase of retrograde motion that is due to last till June. Retrograde motion may be an illusion, caused by the Earth’s motion, relative to that of a distant planet but it has deep symbolic significance. And what does it mean? It means, er… restriction, impediment and delay. So if the planet of restriction, impediment and delay is subject to restriction, impediment and delay, we can all expect to start making a lot of progress!

PISCES (February 20 – March 20)
The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. People who lead gloomy lives don’t have to worry about this. Everything merges into the same featureless terrain. When, though, there is a single source of hope and inspiration, the problems that are associated with this are shown up in sharp relief. We can see them so clearly outlined that we begin to wonder whether our faith is misguided. A great light is now shining down on you. It is creating a lot of joy – but it is also intensifying an apparent source of sadness or regret. Don’t let this upset you. Just keep looking at what’s good.

ARIES (March 21 – April 20)
Christopher Columbus upset many people with his plan to sail around the world. “You’re crazy,” they shouted. “You’ll fall off the edge!” He was pretty sure of himself, but there must have been a part of him that was worried. He took his risk – and, soon, you will have to take yours. So, how confident are you? Be glad of your doubt. That’s your sanity check. It is the reason why you won’t become overconfident and make some foolish mistake. Let it slow you down, but don’t let it stop you. You know what must be done. You are in an excellent position to do it. Be brave. You’ll yet change history!

TAURUS (April 21 – May 21)
“The universe as we know it is a joint product of the observer and the observed.” So said the great philosopher Teilhard de Chardin. Later, the physicist, Werner Heisenberg reached a very similar conclusion and came up with scientific proof to back it up! So, who is watching who in your world now? And to what extent can you alter the state of play by changing the way you look at what you seem to be seeing? You’re not as limited as you think or fear. Look this week for a way to change what you need to change. You’ll find it. Ask the universe for what you want. You could actually get it.

GEMINI (May 22 – June 22)
Some people love to argue. They’re not happy unless they’re unhappy. They’re only relaxed if they’re on edge. This may help them survive in this tense and turbulent world – but it’s hardly a state to aspire to. You and I want to relax and to know where we stand. Don’t we? Or maybe we feel that would be desperately dull. I mention this because, this week, you need to ask yourself what’s truly driving and motivating you. If you’re saying one thing and doing another, you’ll create a lot of confusion. Yet if you forget, this week, what you think you ought to want, you can get what you want.

CANCER (June 23 – July 23)
They say that what counts is not what you know but who you know. Yet what matters most is neither what you know nor who you know nor even what who you know knows. It is all down to who you know knows! With me so far? OK. This is where it gets tricky. If who you know knows what you know, they can tell what you know to who they know. But you want who they know to know you! So don’t tell all you know to you-know-who. Just get them to tell you what they know about who they know! Remember that and this will yet be a surprisingly straightforward and satisfying week.

LEO (July 24 – August 23)
It’s hard to know what really makes sense. You are experiencing problems in areas where life ought to be easy and you can’t quite see why this is happening. Crucial lines of communication are not as clear as they ought to be. That’s another reason why you are prone to feel frustrated or dispirited. Actually, though, you are going through an essential, if difficult, process. You are getting to grips with a real problem and, slowly but surely, you are finding a real way to solve it. Don’t take your worries too seriously. Just look, this week, for answers and slowly you’ll start to see them.

VIRGO (August 24 – September 23)
Look up at the sky. Is there a large hand reaching down from it towards you? Have you passed any surprisingly vociferous burning bushes recently? Oh well. Perhaps your great communication from the Divine Creator has been delivered to the wrong address. Or maybe the cosmos has sent you an email and it has gone into your spam folder. Something out there somewhere, though, wants to get a message to you. There is something it is trying to tell you. Be open to hints, signs and signals over the course of the coming week. There is now a much easier way to get what you want.

LIBRA (September 24 – October 23)
There is no forecast for you here; I am not allowed to supply a reading. New government rulings dictate that a permit must now be granted before any kind of cosmic consultation can take place. You must make an application – in triplicate. Probably, though, it will be turned down. The authorities do not like to encourage this kind of thing. So that’s it. Sorry. Er, actually, I’m just illustrating the kind of frustrating impediment that it’s common to come up against while Saturn turns stationary in your sign. Yet all you really have to do this week is remain good humoured and patiently persistent.

SCORPIO (October 24 – November 22)
Think about how hard you have worked. How much effort you have invested. Has it all paid off? Of course not. Nothing we ever do is 100 per cent successful. It’s the same with the money we spend. Not every penny can be parted with wisely, no matter how frugal we try to be. We either accept this or we drive ourselves insane in an effort to achieve unattainable perfection. Now, think of an aspiration that you are all but ready to give up on; a campaign that you have lost faith in. Put more energy into your great dream this week, it won’t all work out… but some of it will.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23 – December 21)
Venus remains in your sign. If, lately, your love life has become wonderful, your financial situation has become more encouraging and you have become full of inspiring, creative energy, you can expect all of this to continue over the coming week. And, if it hasn’t? Then, all the aforementioned must be rushing its way into your world as fast as it possibly can. Venus does not have long left now in which to shower you with an annual quota of gifts and advantages. Perhaps something is standing in her way? Consider what you can possibly alter to allow this planet more access to your life.

CAPRICORN (December 22 – January 20)
You were not born yesterday. You have been around the block a few times. Not, I hasten to add, that this is obvious from your appearance. To look at you, we would all think you were at least 10 years younger – 20, probably. But from the way you are acting these days, it is clear you have been learning some very important lessons and you now have the benefit of experience to draw on. Trust your wisdom this week. Don’t make the kind of mistake that you might have done when you were younger. Ask the universe for what you want. While Saturn is stationary, you could actually get it.

AQUARIUS (January 21 – February 19)
For some while now, you have felt rather like someone who is trying to push a heavy cart up a steep hill. If you have not already reached the brow and begun to enjoy an exciting, easy descent, you will start to have that experience very soon. A sense of fresh hope is about to be awakened. Saturn, the traditional ruler of your sign, is now starting to stand still in the sector of the sky which, as far as you are concerned, governs power, status, authority, influence and importance. It also, of course, brings pressure. But you’re used to that and will cope with it as things begin to go your way.

To purchase a full personal chart reading based on your exact date, place and time of birth – or to hear Jonathan’s weekly spoken forecast for your sign visit www.cainer.com

Filed under: Week Ahead

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New-Deal PLN Has Started So Well With Its ‘Only Nine’ Blackouts

By Hector

It’s very brave of PLN to promise Bali that it will have no more than nine unfortunate blackouts this year. You’ll know what we’re talking about: when it suddenly goes black and PLN’s surprised; and the customers affected are, to be polite, exasperated. Apparently it’s all part of the new-look PLN, the brand spanking-new and shiny exemplar of public utilities. The one that says it will now do maintenance on a needs basis, not on a timetable. There are, we are assured, to be no more instances such as: “This connection’s faulty? No, it can’t be. It’s not due for inspection for another four months.”

Or perhaps they’re just thinking no one will keep count. Perhaps few will, inured as people here are to the sorry fact that the 220 volts PLN is mandated to supply is often more like 80 and may not be delivered anyway. But The Diary encourages counting: it seems essential, really, in so many areas of life. And we’re keeping count here at The Cage.

PLN, adept at inventiveness in public comment – “Our undersea cable was struck by lightning” is still the stand-out best; it comes from the farcical 2009-2010 round of extraordinary excuses for inexplicable service failures – so they’re no doubt already primed to go and scripted with another astonishing list of things “my friend did.”

But just so they know: We’re two thirds of the way through the first month of 2011 and Ungasan has already had three little surprises from the gallant lads at the power monopoly. At that rate they’ll have blown their “budget” by the end of March. But that’s no surprise, either.

Sore Point

The Diary watched, fascinated, the other day when a cast of several turned up in the little park across from The Cage and set about a lovely Flamboyant, in full bloom, with a mixture of gesticulation, shouted advice, and one little saw.

By happenstance, or possibly the curious fact that the Balinese always seem to know about a lot of things they don’t actually ever mention to foreign devils (sorry, guests), it was just before tropical storm Vince, late of Australian waters, sailed past well to the south of Bali but nonetheless gave us (or at least the Bukit) a full gale and driving rain experience.

The little saw, we saw, was wielded by our handyman, who moonlights for The Diary and others when not doing his day job. He was chiefly assisted by another nice chap we know, who is employed as caretaker at one of the White Elephant Corporation’s many nearby establishments. There were several housemaids about, apparently to add descant to the chorus of shouted advice, though ours, who sensibly works half days – two non-demanding bules are hardly worth a full shift, after all – had long gone home. Even the neighbouring Balinese family compound sent along a party of observers.

The lovely little flamboyant’s offence was that some of its branches were entangled with the sagging PLN power cable. And of course the tree should be kept trimmed – as PLN now advises, having itself lately discovered that wriggly little branches and its pathetic power cables don’t mix. Especially when your power cable is such a total sap that it will fall down if hit with a wet twig. But why you should wait to doctor a tree until it is in beautiful full bloom is a conundrum, or would be, if this were not the country it is.

Our Man climbed the tree. He sawed. Limbs – tree limbs luckily – one by one became subject to the inexorable process of gravitational force. Thus impelled they fell, unimpeded by corrective human action, into the power cable. Luckily, but only just, the poor thing survived this assault. And our power stayed on until later that night (see above).

Doggone It

We were surprised to read in last week’s paper that Klungkung, with the assistance of six provincial officials among an army of others, had conducted a mass cull of wild dogs on Nusa Penida, the iconoclastic little island off East Bali’s southern coast that is part of Bali’s smallest regency.

They did this in response to the first rabies death on the island. It is terrible to think that 1,000 dogs were killed, but even more terrible to consider that if the available reservoir for the rabies virus is not savagely reduced more people might die of the horrific but entirely preventable disease.

Bali’s government did have a policy of culling – though too late, it having dithered too long when it became apparent rabies was present on the Bukit way back in 2008 – but just after Governor I Made Mangku Pastika restated the policy, last September, the international doggy lobby got in his ear and waved sheaves of promissory notes. Shortly afterwards, Bali’s official policy for not effectively dealing with rabies was changed to find-the-mutts-and-vaccinate-them.

Readers will be aware that The Bali Times views the present policy as madness; a lot of our readers do, too. Nusa Penida is an isolated island – that’s a point made in this week’s ILAND column on Page 9, by the way, which we recommend you read – and maybe (just maybe) a quarantine and extermination policy would work there. It needs strict, no exceptions, enforcement, however. And that’s a tall order here, as we know.

There’s been a further rabies death on Bali’s mainland, too – a man from Tanjung Bungkak Satu in Denpasar, just off Jl Hayam Wuruk. He had been bitten by a neighbour’s pet four months before he became ill and hadn’t got the post-exposure vaccine. The Klungkung victim hadn’t either.

The death toll from rabies is now 121.

Treat in Store

If it pleases the gods, The Diary may get a chance to indulge the senses in the fine Perth Festival, which is on now and runs through to the beginning of March. A visit to Western Australia is on the cards. It’s a private visit, so no questions please.

Should this occur, and time in Perth is allowed in the schedule, the festival programme is a winner. It includes films, one of The Diary’s great loves, and other entertainments.

Sadly, on the proposed schedule, the final element of the programme – the Writers Festival on the University of Western Australia’s lovely Claremont campus – will be missed. That’s a real shame. We love a good writers’ festival. 
Pin-Up Girl

Janet de Neefe’s 2011 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, from October 5-9, is themed Nandurin Karang Awak – Cultivate the Land Within. To plough the first furrow, organisers have put on a poster design competition that offers prizes worth more than Rp20 million (that’s around US$2,200 at the moment).

Thanks, Citibank. The competition closes on February 20. Details are available from UWRF on www.ubudwritersfestival.com.

Get painting!

Say Cheese

A new place to eat at Bukit Jimbaran has caught The Diary’s eye. It’s called Gorgonzola. It does great thin-crust pizzas – try the Blue – and fabulous pasta. What more could a hungry Diarist want? Well, maybe the mousse …

Officially it’s also a wine bar, but to The Diary’s mind the place better suits a cold beer (make mine a Bintang) which seems to go with the ambience. There is wine available, however, which is always a bonus; and great espresso, which is even better.

The place is doing a roaring trade. Last Sunday night when The Diary dropped in (for the Blue pizza, natch) the roofed but open-air section was packed with diners, as were the comfortable sofa settings outside on the terrace. We squeezed onto a sofa setting. Then it rained (again – surprise!) and the under-the-roof section became suddenly a lot more crowded.

But owner and Maitre d’ Gibson Saragi – he’s from Sumatra – had things under control in no time. There’s an air-conditioned dining room as well. It’s usually where the Indonesian diners go. That may be where the mahi mahi gets eaten as well.

Gorgonzola’s been open for around six weeks and does takeaway. The new immigration detention centre is just up the road – Gorgonzola is on Jl Raya Uluwatu, on the left as you head uphill – but we haven’t yet suggested to Gibson that he should add qabili pilau, Afghanistan’s yummy national dish of baked brown rice with lamb and raisins, to the menu to cater for the absconding Afghan trade.

Perhaps we should. We hear this trade could from time to time be quite brisk. The last lot to do a bunk, courtesy of the four sleeping immigration officers on duty, said their official digs and the food they got were just not up to scratch.

Oops

Last week we had an item on the Banyan Tree at Ungasan, a fine establishment with a fabulous ocean cliff-top view and a signature restaurant where the cuisine is a gourmand’s delight.

Unfortunately we wrote that the restaurant was called Ju-Ju-Ma. Don’t know why; it was correctly named on Hector’s Blog. It must have been a gremlin or a joker in the works. Or maybe it’s just that the juju was too strong. It’s Ju-Ma-Na.   

diary@thebalitimes.com

Filed under: The Bali Times Diary

Friday, January 21, 2011

Investors Interested in Second Airport

SINGARAJA

Buleleng regency says it is continuing to improve coordination with provincial and central government officials in a bid to get Bali’s projected second international airport sited in the regency.

Local planning chief Gede Darmaja said the Buleleng authorities were sending new data to the cabinet secretary in Jakarta and possible investors in India and Turkey.

“Whatever data is necessary, we will send,” he said.

Darmaja said an Indian investor who visited some months ago had expressed interest in Buleleng as an international airport site.

Two locations are under consideration – Kubutambahan east of Singaraja and Gerokgak, where the existing Lt Col Vishnu airfield was already established. A third possible alternative was Pemuteran.

“A lot of alternatives are being studied,” Darmaja said.

He said any proposal to build a full-scale international airport in Buleleng would require intensive community consultation. “Clearly, construction of an airport will not be at the expense of society. There is a win-win solution,” he said.

The local legislator at Gerokgak, Nyoman Adnyana, said he was not fully briefed about the proposals.

“But if the airport ends up being built at Gerokgak residents will welcome it,” he said. “It would do a lot to improve the welfare of the people.”

Filed under: Headlines

Dutch Tourist Missing on Mt Agung

DENPASAR

A Dutchman and his Balinese guide have gone missing on the slopes of Bali’s highest mountain, the Mt Agung volcano in the northeast.

Denpasar Search and Rescue chief Ketut Parwa said the tourist, identified only as Eric, had been climbing the 3,142-meter-high peak with a local guide named as Wayan on Wednesday when they disappeared during inclement weather.

Four other climbers, including the Dutchman’s wife, who had been with the pair but became separated, reported their disappearance when they failed to come back down the mountain.

A search was continuing, Parwa said.

Mt Agung, an active volcano, is normally off-limits to climbers during the current wet season.

Filed under: News Alerts

Staying Healthy in Bali and Vaccinations

by Barrie | January 21st, 2011  

In light of the recent disease outbreaks in Bali including those of Dengue Fever, the Swine Flu and of late, Legionnaires Disease it seemed like a good idea to discuss health and travel. It’s important to note that when travelling anywhere in the tropics – whether it be only Bali or the other islands in the archipelago of Indonesia – be securely vaccinated. This is only common sense.

However, if you are heading over to Bali then I strongly urge you to at least have the Hepatitis A and B vaccinations. You do not want to end up with a bad case of the dreaded Bali Belly! These most prominent vaccinations are truly imperative and especially if travelling with children.

The list is simple – Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, Cholera and Typhoid. If you are worried about Japanese Encephalitis and Meningitis then by all means be covered but the former in reality is not needed for Bali and is a very painful vaccine procedure.

Reducing the risk of contracting any infections in Bali is simple. Before travelling to Bali consult your doctor. Find out what vaccinations are required and if any existing health concerns might prevent you from travelling. Make sure you carry a copy of your health record and prescription, if there are ongoing health issues that may require treatment while in Bali.

Drinking water: Tap water is unsafe to drink in Bali. Although the quality of water throughout the island varies greatly, some coming piped, some from a well, one should always assume it is unsafe to drink without boiling. People living in Bali shower with the local water, brushing teeth etc. with no ill effects, still your drinking water should be bottled water.

Water in warungs and restaurants is bottled water and food is washed in bottled water. The old claim that salad items should be avoided in Bali, because vegetables were washed in tap water is no longer true. Enjoy a great salad in Bali. Ice in drinks is generally okay, but you may want to decline ice in non-tourist areas.

Bali Belly / Diarrhea: A dose of the runs can knock the wind out of your trip to Bali. A simple way to deal with it is to restrict yourself to extremely simple food for 3 days, which means bread, plain rice, potatoes, plain meat with no sauce and NO green vegetables. You’d be amazed at how a vicious case of diarrhea can disappear under that regime. Diarrhea will deplete your body of fluid, which when combined with hot humid weather will compound your misery. Drink electrolyte drinks such as Pocari Sweat (blue can with white strip) available any where in Bali.

Cuts & Scrapes: Tiny cuts can develop into tropical ulcers under hot humid conditions. A cut measuring 2mm across can be 5cm in diameter within a week and 5mm deep. Wash out any cuts you get and apply Betadine, giving the cut plenty of air to dry.

First aid kit: Don’t expect locals to have or know how to use a first aid kit. Carry your own first aid travel kit and learn how to use it.

Here is a look at the possible diseases you can contract in Bali and how to recognize them.

Hepatitis: There are several types, but all leave the patient with a yellowing of the skin and eyes. This is combined with extreme tiredness, diarrhea and fever. This is a common disease in this part of the world and the effects may last several months. The 2 main kinds of Hepatitis are A & B.

Hepatitis A is generally transmitted by viruses in food, water and human saliva. Hepatitis B is transmitted by viruses in human sexual interaction, contaminated blood or syringes. Vaccines offer a degree of protection and the treatment for hepatitis includes avoiding alcohol.

Typhoid: Typhoid is one of the common vaccinations for Asia. The disease is transmitted by contaminated food or water. Symptoms are intense fever, headaches, abdominal pains, diarrhea and red spots on the body. Very similar symptoms to a type of malaria, with the exact same cycle of fever/chills.

Cholera: Transmitted by contaminated food and water. Symptoms include cramps, low energy, runny diarrhea and vomiting. This disease can quickly leave you dehydrated. In its most severe forms, cholera is one of the most rapidly fatal illnesses known: A healthy person may become hypotensive within an hour of the onset of symptoms and may die within 2-3 hours if no treatment is provided. Vaccinations are not that effective against Cholera.

Tetanus: Transmitted through contact via open wounds. The tetanus booster shot is a very common one to get for long tern travellers, just in case of an accident. Generalized tetanus is the most common type of tetanus, representing about 80% of cases. The generalized form usually presents with a descending pattern. The first sign is trismus or lockjaw, followed by stiffness of the neck, difficulty in swallowing, and rigidity of pectoral and calf muscles. Other symptoms include elevated temperature, sweating, elevated blood pressure, and episodic rapid heart rate. Spasms may occur frequently and last for several minutes. Spasms continue for 3–4 weeks and complete recovery may take months

Japanese Encephalitis: Transmitted by virus carried by mosquitoes. Most common in rural areas and carried by birds and other animals. Causes swelling of the brain which can be fatal. Japanese encephalitis has an incubation period of 5 to 15 days and the vast majority of infections are asymptomatic: only 1 in 250 infections develop into encephalitis. Severe rigors mark the onset of this disease in humans. Fever, headache and malaise are other non-specific symptoms of this disease which may last for a period of between 1 and 6 days.

Signs which develop during the acute encephalitic stage include neck rigidity, cachexia, hemiparesis, convulsions and a raised body temperature between 38 and 41 degrees Celsius. Mental retardation developed from this disease usually leads to coma. Mortality of this disease varies but is generally much higher in children.

Rabies: Very common disease in Asia, spread through the saliva of dogs, cats and monkeys, which pierce your skin. It is possible to get pre-departure shots for rabies, most people don’t bother. If you suspect the animal that bit you might have rabies consult a doctor for a series of shots. Any mammal may become infected with the rabies virus and develop symptoms, including humans.

Most animals can be infected by the virus and can transmit the disease to humans. Infected bats, monkeys, chickens, cattle, dogs or cats provide the greatest risk to humans. After a typical human infection by bite, the virus directly or indirectly enters the peripheral nervous system. It then travels along the nerves towards the central nervous system. During this phase, the virus cannot be easily detected within the host, and vaccination may still confer cell-mediated immunity to prevent symptomatic rabies. Once the virus reaches the brain, it rapidly causes encephalitis and symptoms appear.

Malaria: Caused by a parasite in the saliva of mosquitoes. Can be fatal. Symptoms are fever /shivering, headaches. Cycles of the symptoms come and go with periods of feeling fine. Each time the symptoms get worse, until the brain overheats. Malaria medication is available to take while on your trip and after you return home. Discuss the effectiveness of the various options with your doctor.

Among other ways of preventing malaria are:

Covering up with long pants and long sleeves at dawn/dusk.
Burning a mosquito coil to rid your room of mosquitoes before sleeping.
Using insect repellent at dawn/dusk sleeping under a mosquito net
Sleep with a strong fan on you
Avoiding black clothes
Sleep in an AC room and keep the doors and windows shut during the day

Dengue Fever: Transmitted by a virus carried by mosquitoes. This mosquito tends to attack during the day and is slightly larger than the malaria carrying variety. In Bali this mosquito likes to hide inside the petals of a certain yellow flower. Symptoms include headaches, fever, joint and muscle pain. The classic dengue fever lasts about six to seven days, with a smaller peak of fever at the trailing end of the fever (the so-called “biphasic pattern”).The only cure is rest and hydration. There are no drugs that will cure dengue but it is manageable.

The climate in Bali is one that is a natural breeding ground for germs. Add to that some of the local methods of washing and cooking and its no wonder people gets sick occasionally. The local method of washing one’s rear after going to the bathroom involves scooping water out of a mandi (brick reservoir of still water) and splashing over oneself with a plastic scoop. A trip to an airport bathroom, will reveal a floor covered in water, which has rebounded of someone else. Same thing for the toilet seat and people’s private bathrooms. A small house used by many people, will have micro-particles floating around on the bathroom floor.

Showering is a variation of the same, with scoops of water being tipped over the participant, ending up all over the bathroom. Fortunately for most visitors a shared bathroom will never be necessary during a trip to Bali and most restaurants have western standards.

So, it is vital to be of reasonable heath before travelling to Bali. People with low immune systems are more prevalent to contracting a disease. And most importantly: HAVE TRAVEL INSURANCE!

Gilimanuk Security a Sham, Say Locals

GILIMANUK

Shocking has evidence emerged that the much-vaunted security clamp at Gilimanuk, Bali’s Java ferry entry port, is just a sham unless anyone important is around.

An investigation by the Indonesian-language news service Berita showed a number of crucial security facilities at the port – including the metal-detector screen – are only used if there is a visiting official.

Berita said it monitored the Port of Gilimanuk last Sunday and found that security personnel there generally checked only people who came to their attention.

Specialist security equipment supplied to the port to meet Bali’s commitment to total security surveillance is left unused unless provincial or national government officials are present.

It is supposed to be used round the clock, seven days a week.

Berita also reported its monitoring showed non-Bali residents arriving at Gilimanuk were still able to evade internal migration checks at the port simply by slipping out of a door before the security check, directly to the bus stop.

Gilimanuk has been supplied with additional security personnel from police, local security and the military continuously since 2005.

Local residents also complain that extortion and other corruption is still rife at Gilimanuk, especially in regard to the entry of people from other provinces without papers authorising a move to Bali.

One resident said: “Bali is really hollow at the west door.”

Gilimanuk residents say the security weakness is not only Jembrana’s responsibility but also that of the provincial government and the Bali Police.

“Now is the time for the provincial government and the Bali Police to intervene to formulate better security standard operating procedures,” another resident said.

Filed under: Headlines

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pura Besakih to Clean Up its Image

by Barrie | January 19th, 2011  

It has been some time since I last visited the Mother Temple of Bali; Pura Besakih. I suppose it was all the hassling touts and sellers that were a massive put-off, but nonetheless, it is one of those sacred sights in Bali that is a must-see for every tourist to Bali.

The other problem that disgusted me was back in the late ‘80’s when wandering through the complex I came across some graffiti scrawled on one of the monuments by some peabrain with absolutely no respect for Balinese culture and religion as welll as the holiness of this magnificent structure.

Besakih temple is the most important temple in Bali. Known as the Mother Temple, Besakih sits on the western slop of Gunung Agung, the most holy place for Balinese Hindus. The temple is actually a complex made up of twenty-two temples that sit on parallel ridges. It has stepped terraces and flights of stairs which ascend to a number of courtyards and brick gateways that lead up to the main spire Meru structure, which is called Pura Penataran Agung. All this is aligned along a single axis and designed to lead the spiritual upward and closer to the mountain which is considered sacred.

I was reading an interesting article in the Bali Discovery newsletter this morning regarding the clean-up of the temples’ image. According to the article: While Besakih remains a major tourist and spiritual destination on the island of Bali, a Karangasem Regency religious leader recently expressed to Bisnis Bali his view that all parties involved with the sacred temple, both religious devotees and tourist visitors, need to achieve a shared view of the site and the important role it plays in the island’s cultural and religious life. He said that guides leading people through the complex must always respect the sacred nature of the Temple, obey all rules already in place and not defraud or coerce those visiting the site.

After reading the entire article it has definitely inspired me to return once more and experience the essence of beauty and holiness that the temple is known for. I just hope they rein-in those annoying touts and sellers.

Taxman Jailed in Massive Corruption Case

JAKARTA

A Jakarta court sentenced a low-level tax official on Wednesday who admitted to causing hundreds of millions of dollars in state losses to seven years in jail, well short of the 20 years sought by prosecutors.

Gayus Tambunan, 31, was convicted of bribing officials, abuse of power and using false documents in a case that has shocked and enthralled the country for almost a year.

The case has exposed a vast web of corruption allegedly involving top police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens and corporate taxpayers including companies linked to powerful politicians.

It has also savaged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s image as tough on corruption and highlighted his weakness in the face of vested interests who run what he refers to as the “court mafia” in the heart of the nation’s judiciary.

Wearing a brown batik shirt, Tambunan listened intently and showed little emotion as the judges read out the verdict.

“I respect the sentence as the judges considered everything … The prosecutors’ recommendation was totally outrageous. They just wanted revenge,” he told the court.

Acquitted in an earlier graft trial that was subsequently found to have been rigged, Tambunan amassed a huge fortune and lived in an opulent mansion paid for with bribes from companies he had helped to dodge tax.

His official monthly salary was only a few hundred dollars but Rp28 billion (US$3.1 million) was found in his bank accounts — money he said came from companies linked to powerful Golkar party chief Aburizal Bakrie.

Bakrie denies any wrongdoing and dismisses Tambunan’s claims that Bakrie Group companies used his services to dodge hundreds of millions of dollars in tax.

Other firms the portly tax official has publicly implicated include US energy giant Chevron, which also denies the allegations.

In all, Tambunan’s alleged crimes cost the state Rp7 trillion ($780 million) in lost revenue, according to a tally by Tempo newsmagazine.
He was re-arrested in Singapore — a popular destination for Indonesian graft suspects — in March last year and told investigators he was only a small fish in an ocean of corruption.

His candid statements about the police and prosecutors he allegedly bribed and the services he allegedly provided to scores of corporate taxpayers have earned him a level of sympathy among anti-graft activists and ordinary Indonesians, who now want his corporate accomplices to face justice.

“Make me an advisor to the national police chief, attorney general and the KPK (anti-graft commission) chairman and I promise that within two years Indonesia will be clean,” he famously told the court.

“I would not just go after the small fish, but also the sharks and the whales.”

His notoriety was only enhanced by his repeated “holidays” from prison during his trial, complete with clumsy disguises and paid for with generous bribes to prison guards and officials.

The vacations were exposed when a local newspaper photographer snapped him at a tennis tournament in Bali in November, wearing thick black spectacles and a wig.

A vigilant civilian later spotted him, wearing the same disguise, on a flight to Singapore in September.

Police eventually admitted he had obtained a fake passport and travelled to Singapore, Malaysia and Macau when he was supposed to be behind bars. On Tuesday it emerged that Tambunan had also obtained a false South American passport.

Anti-graft activists suspect the trips were part of his efforts to launder his ill-gotten gains.

Filed under: Headlines

Death-Row Australian Collapses in Prison

DENPASAR

Andrew Chan, one of three Australians on death row in Bali for heroin smuggling, collapsed in Kerobokan Prison and has been taken to hospital, prison authorities said on Tuesday.

Chan, 27 and part of the so-called Bali Nine gang arrested in Bali in 2005, is awaiting the outcome of a final appeal to the Supreme Court in Jakarta in a bid to avoid the firing squad.

Kerobokan Prison chief Siswanto told reporters the prison doctor indicated that the inmate may be suffering from pneumonia, and was taken to Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar on Monday afternoon for treatment.

“He had trouble breathing and we had to take him to hospital,” Siswanto said.

Chan was judged to be one of the ringleaders of the 2005 plot to smuggle 8.3 kilograms of heroin from Bali to Australia with packs of the drug taped to smugglers’ bodies.

Filed under: News Alerts

Temple Theft Man Gets Six-and-a-Half Years’ Jail

AMLAPURA

One of the men in the temple theft ring broken by police last year has been sentenced to six-and-a-half-years’ jail after a trial in the Amlapura District Court in Karangasem, the regency where many of the thefts took place.

Komang Gede Pariana, 23, also known as Roko Apple, was sentenced by a panel of judges chaired by Judge Wayan Merta. The sentence was six months longer than the term sought by the prosecution.

Evidence at the trial convinced the judges that Pariana, from Rendang, Karangasem, was guilty of theft with aggravation, contrary to article 363 of the Criminal Code.

The judges said they found no extenuating circumstances and Pariana had broken religious symbols and violated the law on cultural property.

Pariana, formerly a truck driver, told the court he had been a member of the theft ring with two other men yet to face trial, one of them I Gusti Putu Oka Riadi Aji, 55, also known as Gung Tabanan and identified as the gang leader.

He admitted having broken into the Dalem Dadia Pering Temple at Rendang and another temple at Muncan, and to having acted as the supervisor of the break-in gang on those occasions.

Pariana’s cousin, Wayan Eka Putra, 25, also known as Surung, is charged with the same offences on a separate indictment.

Italian national Roberto Gamba, 60, who was arrested along with Pariana and others last year, remains in police custody under investigation over allegations that he organised the overseas sale of prohibited relics.

It is alleged the string of 30 or more temple thefts since 2006 commenced at about the time Gamba arrived in Bali to live.

Filed under: Headlines

Authorities Probing Legionnaire’s Outbreak in Bali

DENPASAR

The authorities are investigating reports of an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in Bali, an official said on Tuesday after 10 Australians returned home with the disease.

Bali Health Department chief Nyoman Sutedja said the Australian government had passed on information about a possible outbreak but so far no sign of the disease had been found.

“We are investigating in the field after receiving a report from the Australian consulate. From the hospitals here we have received no reports of people being infected with Legionnaire’s,” he said.

“We suspect that the disease came from hotels that failed to clean up their water supply.”

The Australian government has updated its travel advice to citizens visiting Indonesia, saying a “small number of cases” of Legionnaire’s disease had been recorded in travellers who had returned from Bali since August.

“Travellers in Bali or who have recently returned, who experience ‘flu-like’ symptoms such as fever and cough, should consult their GPs (doctor) or hospital emergency departments, and advise them of their recent travel,” it said.

“Indonesian health authorities and the World Health Organization are aware of the problem and are investigating possible sources of outbreak.”

The West Australian health department warned citizens who have recently visited Bali to be alert for symptoms after a total of 10 Australians were treated for the potentially fatal disease.

Five were diagnosed with severe pneumonia after returning from holidays in Bali in December.

Western Australia’s acting chief health officer, Andy Robertson, said the holidaymakers most likely caught the infection in the central Kuta area.

The disease most often affects middle-aged and elderly people, particularly those who smoke or who have lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease or a weakened immune system.

Symptoms are similar to a severe flu and could include fever, chills, muscle soreness, headaches, tiredness, reduced appetite, diarrhoea, dry coughing and breathlessness.

Health insurer International SOS said at least six victims were believed to have used the same Kuta hotel, and most had visited the same shopping centre.

Legionnaire’s disease is caused by bacteria that grow in water, particularly in warm environments such as hot tubs, hot water tanks, plumbing systems and air-conditioning systems.

It is contracted through inhalation of contaminated water droplets and is not known to be transmitted from person to person.

Bali has also been battling a rabies outbreak that has killed more than 100 people since November, 2008.

Filed under: Headlines

Corby ‘Home Detention’ Plan a Step Closer

JAKARTA

Bali’s celebrity prisoner Schapelle Corby and others may be a step closer to being sent home to serve their sentences following a meeting in Jakarta between the attorney general, Basrief Arief, and the secretary of the Australian attorney general’s department, Roger Wilkins.

Australia has been pursuing the prisoner-transfer agreement for more than five years but Jakarta has argued such an agreement would require approval from the House of Representatives.

Wilkins discussed the long stalled prisoner exchange treaty last week with Arief, who was said by the Attorney General’s Office spokesman Babul Khoir Harahap to have responded positively.

“The Australian government is asking for the exchange of prisoners, including Corby. The attorney general responded by saying that he agreed to the request,” Babul said. “But we need to discuss the issue further with the Justice and Human Rights Ministry.”

Basrief said the Corby case was not discussed in the meeting. The Australian is serving a 20-year prison term for smuggling drugs into Bali in 2004.

Under a prisoner-transfer agreement Corby and other Australians could be allowed to serve their prison terms in their own country, and vice versa.

The meeting also discussed extradition of Indonesian graft fugitive Adrian Kiki Ariawan, who has been in Australian detention since November 2008.

Ariawan was sentenced to life in prison for embezzling central bank funds while serving as a director of Bank Surya in 2002.

Filed under: Headlines

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Places to Visit in Northern Bali

by Barrie | January 18th, 2011  

Although Bali is a small island there is still so much to see and do, and, it will take more than one trip to the island to cover most of the attractions. The northern part of Bali is a good starting place and heading in that direction from Kuta a lot can be seen and done. You can immerse yourself in Balinese culture, see stunning temples and spectacular scenery that will take your breath away.

The far north of Bali has so much to offer the traveller in terms of things to see and do, great accommodation and, a coastline that will astound any traveller who appreciates the beauty of nature. Of course the focal point is Singaraja with its Dutch colonial architecture and wide streets, but, taking the road left or right out of the city affords many delightful surprises. However, do take time out to explore the former capital of Bali because you will not regret it.

Pura Ulun Danau Bratan: Located 2 hours north of Kuta on the shores of Lake Bratan. The temple is one of Bali’s kayangan jagat or directional temples and protects Bali from evil spirits but for the visiting tourist or traveller, it is a surreal and pleasant place.

Pura Ulun Danau Bratan was built in 1633 by the raja of Mengwi on the western shore of Lake Bratan. Dewi Danu, who is the Goddess of water and fertility, is the honoured deity. The temple itself sits in well manicured gardens and attracts local and foreign visitors. The two obvious part of the temple are the structures set on land and the ones set on a point, extending into the lake.

The temple on the shore, Pura Teratai Bang has its own 7-tier meru dedicated to Brahma, the Creator. You will often see Balinese worshipers inside this temple, taking blessings and praying. Being such a sacred place, you are asked to stay outside the inner courtyard, but it is possible to look over the wall and get good photos.
There is also a traditional market place in the carpark selling the norm but, there is a plethora of fresh fruit on sale as well that is the best to buy whenever you visit this place.

Kebun Raya Eka Karya Bali: Located in the small village of Candikuning not far from Danau Bratan is the Bali Botanical Gardens, its full name being Kebun Raya Eka Karya Bali. A short walk from the nearby Bukit Mungsu Markets, you really cannot miss the entrance as you will see a giant corn-on-the-cob statue marking the way.

Without a doubt this is one of the most stunningly beautiful attractions Bali has to offer visitors. The Botanical Gardens are located on the slopes of Gunung Pohon, or Tree Mountain giving it a surreal atmosphere. Although only a square kilometre in area I estimate you would need three days to explore this Botanist’s utopia. Originally built in 1959 the Bali Botanical Gardens has over 800 different species of trees from around the world. Also, there are over 400 species of Orchids to be found and many in full bloom.

Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan: After visiting Danau Bratan, take a drive north to the Munduk turnoff and then head to that town. Just pass the turn-off the first delight you will encounter is Lake Buyan (the lake is located around 55 km north of Denpasar). Further on is Lake Tamblingan. These two lakes are two of the four lakes on the island of Bali which have become tourist attractions. There are areas along the Munduk road where small parking places enable you to view both the lakes. Of the two lakes, Lake Buyan is the bigger with an area of some 4.93 sq km wide.

Gitgit: The most visited waterfall in Bali, these waterfalls are located around 10 kilometres south of Singaraja and a two and a half hour drive from Kuta. Gitgit is easy to find as it is well sign-posted and popular due to its location on the main road. The hardest thing about seeing this waterfall is the 500 metres of steps going down to the falls.

Singaraja: There is so much to see and experience in this city. Here are a few places:

Gedong Kirtya Museum and Library:
This is the only library in the world with a large collection of lontar manuscripts both ancient and sacred texts on leaves of the lontar palm. The building also houses books from the Dutch colonial era and some very interesting inscribed copper plates called prasasti. Not far from the Library is the museum which houses the collection of the last Raja of Buleleng.

Ling Gwan Kiong Chinese Temple:
Just off Jalan Erlangga and a stones throw from the ocean sits the beautiful Chinese temple Ling Gwan Kiong. A colourful and beautifully constructed klenteng, access to the temple is via a water bridge over a pond filled with pink and white lotus flowers. Bhudda statues and ornately decorated textiles are to be found everywhere. Particularly impressive are the murals of Deities hand-painted on the entrance doors and surrounding walls.

The Waterfront Harbour:
It is a quite place and there are some deserted and old Dutch warehouses to be found here but they are rundown but one can imagine the hive of activity that once occurred there. Take a stroll along the beach and have a look at some of the scattered traditional villages along this stretch. There is also a monument called Yudha Mandala Tama that was erected in 1987 and commemorates the independence struggle against the Dutch in the 1940’s.

Singaraja Central Market:
Located right in the centre of the city on the main street, this poky and dusty market is fabulous to meander through albeit a tad claustrophobiatic at times. The market is seldom visited by westerners so be aware of pilfering but it is a place where you an also get some great shopping and cheaper than in Kuta!. It is a general goods market meaning it has just about everything.

Lovina: Essentially consists of six traditional villages on a ten kilometre stretch of the main road which hugs the north coast – Temukus, Kalibukbuk, Anturan, Pemaron, Tukad Mungga and Kaliasem. It is a quiet area of Bali although it can get busy in July and August. The narrow black sand beaches are generally safe for swimming. At one time it was a popular tourist destination before the bombings, and now, there is a steady stream of tourists. There are an array of accommodation and a plethora of warungs and restaurants to choose from.

Dolphin Sighting:
Trips leave each morning and have very mixed reviews as the boats tend to outnumber the dolphins, but it can still be an enjoyable ride. June, July or August are the best time when the weather is good and the waters blue and clear. There are some 300 dolphins in the area. Prices are fixed.

Pengastulan: Like most towns in Bali, the prominent wide tree-lined streets of Pengastulan are a pleasure to drive down, and, the usual array of shops and warungs are scattered here and there. Pengastulan is truly a great place to stopover on your way to Lovina in the east, or, to take the north coastal road to Gilamanuk. The great attraction near the town has to be the Vihara.

Brahma Vihara Arama: Located SW of Lovina, 3 km inland from the town of Dencarik. Built in 1970, Brahma Vihara Arama is popular with Buddhist visitors form all over Asia and is a unique place. The location on the northern slope of the mountains, affords wonderful view of the north coast.
Brahma Vihara Arama has elements of Balinese Hinduism which include a couple of terrifying naga either side of the entrance and a Balinese Hindu kulkul (wooden bell) tower. The bell shaped structures, made of blocks of dark stone remind me of Borobudur in Central Java.

Air Sanih: Located 17 km from Singaraja. The springs are surrounded by garden and there are changing facilities and the water is ice-cold freshwater spring. Since 1930, Air Sanih has been well known as a tourist attraction for locals. People believe that the water comes from Lake Batur. You will also find a temple by the pool dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The small tourist scene that is set up here also attracts locals who love a late afternoon soak in the springs. Can be a good way to relax and check out the local scene also.

Pura Beji: This magnificent temple was built around the 15th Century and being a subak temple it is dedicated to the Goddess Dewi Sri (the goddess of rice in the Balinese Hindu religion). The front wall of the temple shows rewards that await the godly in heaven and the punishments awaiting the evil in hell. It is a perfect example of the rococo style of temple carving with animals, plants, and monsters motives and interspersed with demon heads.

It is the off-angel symmetry of some of the gateways that is interesting. The massive inner courtyard is adorned with frangipani trees and neatly trimmed lawn, wooden statues and a stunning padmasana of the sun-god. You will find carved into the walls the images of what is perceived to be Dutch soldiers playing musical instruments. Extremely bizarre.