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Great Escapes Mentawai | Raja Ampat | Flores | West Bali


This Issue

Great Escapes

Indonesia is a country of extraordinarily beautiful sights; many well known, some exotically unfamiliar. In this issue of Kabar, we are privileged to catch a glimpse of some of the most stunning of these, as we share Jez O’Hare’s breathtaking views from above, plunge to the depths of Indonesia’s finest dive sites, surf some of the best waves in the world, and feed the imagination for great escapes to come.

T his page: Aloita Resor t, Mentawai (JR) Cover image: Jez O’Hare

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Magical Mentawai

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Go West

Getting away from it all, as you’ve never gotten away before: Aloita Resort & Spa in the westerly Mentawai Archipelago.

Think you’ve seen it all in Bali? Time to go west, young man. Langham Dale leads the way.

kabar | issue 3 2009

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Fleeing to Flores

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Escape East

Meliana Salim escapes Bali and encounters some extraordinary creatures, both on land and under water.

Misool Eco Resort is a diver’s dream come true, in a fairytale setting. Joerg Meier takes us there.

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This Issue kabar | issue 3 2009

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Son of Sanur Sanur Village Festival is an annual

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celebration of community culture.

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Discovering a captivating clifftop at

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Indonesia’s Great Escapes Jez O’Hare’s breathtaking images of Indonesia are accompanied by a film

Karma Kandara.

Founder Gus De explains its

pitch from Marcel Thee: Indonesia,

importance.

The Movie.

To the Manor Born The Mansion in Ubud, Bali, is a home from home in a vibrantly artistic setting.

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Dusun Jogja A charming family-run escape in the heart of Yogyakarta.

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Navigator Finding your way around Indonesia in the cartographic company of Periplus.


This Issue

“The compulsive urge to travel

is a recognised physical condition.

It has its own word, dromomania, and I’m glad to say I suffer from it.” Michael Palin

Image above: Ngga Glacier, 4800 m above Papua courtesy of Jez O’Hare (see page 18 for Jez’s images of Indonesia)

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Contributors

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Joerg Meier

Joerg Meier is a Jakarta-based German citizen who has been in Indonesia for sixteen years. His first encounter with the archipelago was as a backpacker in 1993. Later, he became involved in relief and development projects and now works at the ASEAN Secretariat. He has travelled extensively across Indonesia, visiting nearly 100 islands over more than a decade.

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Langham Dale

Langham Dale grew up in Malacca and attended school in Melbourne; college followed in Los Angeles and university in New York City, where he studied the Stanislavski technique with the legendary Stella Adler. A true global citizen, he has worked as an actor and writer, living extensively in London, Paris, NYC, Bali and Sydney. He now splits his time between the latter two, making documentaries and batik, both sides of “the big gap”.

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Meliana Salim

Meliana Salim’s incessant appetite for adventure and travel has taken her across Canada and most of Asia. She currently resides in Bali, where she manages a representative office of an established Singapore-based publishing company. Since obtaining her diving certification in 2006, Meliana has had her heart set on promoting scuba diving and ocean conservation in Indonesia. As a moderator for a local diving forum (forumselam. com), she’s determined to share her incredible underwater journeys through her second love, photography. She’s a firm believer that divers should ‘Take only pictures; leave only bubbles; kill only time.’

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Marcel Thee

Marcel Thee is a freelance writer specializing in music, movies, and arts. He has written for numeorus independent music magazines, both locally and internationally. In 2002, he cofounded the Deathrockstar web-zine, which focused on the thriving local indie scene. His passions include the local arts scene, sushi, whodunnits, and Japanese women. He is also the leader of Jakarta indie band Sajama Cut.

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Arts & Culture

Village People August 2009 will see the celebration of the fourth annual Sanur Village Festival, with a promise from the organisers that this year’s event will be bigger and better than ever. With the theme of ‘Marine Life’, the five days of festivities will be heavy on cultural activities, with traditional performances, a parade, music, water sports and food festival as well as a photography exhibition and an underwater programme that will include coral reef plantation.

Image cour tesy of Sanur Village Festival


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Son of Sanur

The Sanur Village Festival will take place from August 12 – 16, 2009. For further details go to www.gotosanur.com.

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Ida Bagus Sidharta Putra, better known as Gus De, is the source of the vision and impetus behind the Sanur Village Festival. The descendent of the high priests of Majapahit spoke to Kabar about the importance of the festival, both for locals and visitors.


Ida Bagus Sidharta Putra

Gus De first studied in Jakarta before moving on to the States, eventually earning an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. Returning to his native Bali, he immediately became immersed in the life of his village, Sanur, and the wellbeing of its people. Explaining the motivation behind the creation of the Sanur Village Festival, he said: “In Bali, there are thousands of temple festivals, but tourist festivals are quite few. The aim of the Sanur Village Festival is to give a new experience to the tourist, exposing the different character of Sanur, reflecting the way of life of the Sanurian.”At the time, he felt that “Sanur had been the first tourist destination, but it was sleeping. The Bali tourism industry started in the 1920s, 1930s. But the revolution of the industry started when they built the Grand Bali Beach hotel in Sanur in the 1960s.” Sanur was growing at the time. A lot of the locals started homestays, including Gus De’s father who

had six rooms for guest accommodation. “They were really simple, local-style buildings – really Balinese, no AC, a lot of mosquitoes!” he remarked with a laugh. “But he saw that there would in future be a growth in tourism.” The name, Santrian, evokes a place of meditation. “Because our family are high priests, the name comes from there,” explained Gus De. His ancestors moved from East Java at the fall of the Majapahit kingdom in the sixteenth century to be advisors to the king in Klungkung. However, an eventual change in the attitude to the role of the high priests led to their departure from Klungkung: “they moved with their followers to Gianyar, Mas, Buleleng…and further south.” Gus De’s family and their followers moved to the area now known as Sanur. So, Santrian indicates the meditation space of the high priest’s family. It became the site of a hotel, but the family stays mindful of tradition. “Even today, if you want to enjoy quiet, stay with us! This is what we offer and this is what we want Sanur to keep. This is also the soul of the Sanur festival.” In 2006, the first year of the Sanur Village Festival, the organisers faced many obstacles; gaining support from the community and from the government, and winning acceptance from the industry. Since then, the event has proved to be a resounding success, and last year’s was the biggest and best so far. In accordance with the ‘going green’ theme, activities included coral plantation, planting trees, releasing baby turtles, while hundreds of outriggers with colourful sails took to the water and a mass yoga event was held on the sand with 1500 people meditating at one time. The 2009 theme is ‘Marine Life’, which reflects the importance of the sea for the traditional livelihoods of the people of Sanur and for religious rites, as well as for tourism. “This is a community event and it has to be supported by the community, it has to be of benefit to them. Marine is about leisure and tourism but it is also about conservation. These are the things that we will underline in this year’s festival.”π (JR)


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Navigation Aids Finding your place on the map

In ancient Greece, the periplus was a navigation manuscript created by seafarers who kept a log of ports and landmarks along the coast, with additional notes of information that would be of assistance in future voyages and that contributed to understanding the geography of the region. It is apt then that Periplus is the publisher of perhaps the best and most comprehensive selection of maps of Indonesia available. In addition their Indonesia Travel Atlas is a useful travel companion that is part selection of maps, part guidebook, honing in on the country’s significant towns and cities in more detail, while providing a concise cultural and historical perspective on each region. Periplus. We would be lost without them.

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Going East Land of Water offers a visual journey imbued with a captain’s insight and an explorer’s passion. An archipelago can perhaps only truly be explored through the seas that surround its Islands. The journey documented in Land of Water lays witness to how otherworldly it is to be seaborne through Indonesia and it is a touching homage to travel, seamanship, and Indonesia. With a design that wonderfully incorporates a plethora of images and writings that take you from Bali to Komodo, with smatterings of the rest of the archipelago and a captain’s insight into taking on both Indonesia’s waters and its bureaucracy, this book is a collaboration of two gentleman: one who captures in photographs his voyage across Nusantara, and another who captures in writing that which is felt and often unseen. Bringing together the passion of designers, publishers, photographers and travellers, it is one of those rare experiences that balance photography and writing to create a passionate story about places too rarely experienced, bringing focus to the pleasures of the journey itself rather than the goal of reaching a destination. George Tahija, the photographer-explorer, and Paul Dean, the seaman-explorer, share with you their passion for this Land of Water in what feels like the ultimate scrapbook of seafarers determined to go beyond the seas and experience the people and understand the land that is a part of all of us. With this book you begin to taste something imagined on a plane journey over Nusa Tenggara and feel that itch to travel, really travel. π (AH)


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Instant Karma With its captivating clifftop setting, perched at the southern extremity of the limestone Bukit peninsula in Bali, the Karma Kandara experience offers a chance to turn your back for a while on worldly concerns, in perfect communion with sea and sky.

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Image cour tesy of Karma Kendara

Ciliquat nit utpat adiam eniam vercin ute conumsa ndignis autem illandi gnissectet wismolore dolorperatio core tio ese ex exer sit lorper si. An enit autpat ea faccum irit, consed el doloree tuerci el euguer sis nonsequatum ea amconse niscipsum iriureet eu feugiat. Et nonsequate dolor sed tionsed diat.


Nammos Beach Club (AH)


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Karma founder John Spence had the intention of creating an Amanstandard vacation option that was more amenable to families. The exmusic promoter (he worked with the likes of Eurythmics, Culture Club and Bananarama) had come to expect certain standards of service and accommodation but found that there was a gap in the high-end market when it came to catering for a range of guests that could extend from young families to canoodling couples and everything in between.

Atop the cliff, you can take in the full glory of the true-blue trio of swimming pool, sun, and sky. This is the stunning setting for Il Mare restaurant, where Raymond Saja’s menu is designed to complement the dramatic vista

Residing at Karma Kandara feels like staying in a home rather than a typical resort villa; it takes just minutes to get comfortably settled in. Each residence has either two or three pavilions with en suite bedrooms, large, fully equipped kitchens rather than ‘kitchenettes’ (the fridge is even stocked with Haagen Dazs and a variety of cheeses), and open plan living spaces, roofed in alang alang or sirap wood tiles. Outdoors, a pretty garden in which you’ll find a bale with electricity socket so that you can lounge outdoors all day with your laptop surfing the net, occasionally cooling off in the infinity edge pool. Step outside your colourful door and the limestone-walled walkways lead you past your neighbours through vibrant tropical flora and down to the bridge, from where you will catch your first glimpse of Nammos Beach Club. A friendly group of monkeys may swing by – playful and perky here at Kandara, unlike their more aggressive brethren in nearby Uluwatu. Atop the cliff, you can take in the full glory of the true-blue trio of swimming pool, sun, and sky. This is the stunning setting for Il Mare restaurant, where Raymond Saja’s menu is designed to complement the dramatic vista, “Mediterranean style with a Pan-Asian flourish”. The Moroccan Spiced Ahi Tuna is a dish to return for, again and again. Next to Il Mare, step into the inclinator – or, as some staff sweetly call it, “the train” – and glide down to Nammos Beach Club 100 metres below. For the more energetic, the steps down provide a mild workout and a sense that you’ve earned the delicious punch packed by that first sip of your Rum Runner, as you watch the sun creep down behind the horizon. Tropical luxury doesn’t get much better than this. π (JR)

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Jez O’Hare’s Indonesia images by Jez O’Hare | words by Marcel Thee

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Wayag, Raja Ampat, West Papua


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Escapism. Nothing defines the success of a movie more than its ability to transport its audience from the everyday burdens of the real world into a universe of excitement and awe, even if only for a few hours. And, surely nothing provides a sense of escape greater than a grand postcard-esque view of a faraway land. From the fairytale sights of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the majestic visuals of Lawrence of Arabia, to the enchanted Russian landscape of Doctor Zhivago, it’s not hard to feel a sense of wonder at the scenes that capture the stunning beauty of the story’s setting. Watching the epic Baz Luhrmann-directed Australia a few months ago, I couldn’t help but experience those old romantic sentiments of wonder, losing all critical sense about the film itself. Only after two and a half hours of the running time had passed did the rational sense of boredom started to sink in, and I could objectively view Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman’s mechanical, albeit dependable, acting and the dragging storyline for what it is – a bloated, Titanic-scale production with a great view. For the first hundred minutes or so, I felt a sense of familiarity with every aspect of the film. And then it hit me. The scenery, the history, and the romantic notion of a nation; we have it all here in Indonesia. Living in Jakarta, it is easy to forget the singular beauty of the archipelago. But anyone who has visited, or even seen pictures of, the spectacular coral reefs of Lombok or the Banda Islands can tell you that Indonesia’s stunning scenery gives the Australian Outback a run for its money. Whereas many of Australia’s early action scenes were set in the outback of Darwin, Indonesia: the Movie could generate equal excitement with chase scenes through Sumatra’s rainforests. Remember how your heart pounded during the last hour of the Mel Gibson-directed Apocalyptico? The 2.5 million hectare Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra site - comprising of three national parks, and included in the 2004 UNESCO World Heritage list - would provide an expansive maze in which our protagonist could pull out a few tricks with the leaves-and-sticks to use against his assailants. Maybe he could even team up with the abundant animals roaming the area. After all, the Sumatra rainforests is home to more than 200 mammal species; and some 580 bird species of which 465 are resident and 21 are endemic. Of the mammal species, 22 are Asian, not found elsewhere in the archipelago and 15 are confined to the Indonesian region, including the endemic Sumatran orangutan. Having an orangutan sidekick might have its problematic moments, but at least it could freak out the bad guys.

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Paramotoring above the Kei Islands, SE Maluku


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above Rouffaer Reserves, Papua left Seaweed farming, Nusa Ceningan, Bali

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And if navigating through a dense and huge forest is not tiring enough for our heroes and villains, what about rummaging through the underground passages of The Water Castle in Jogjakarta? Better known as Taman Sari, this pleasure garden provides a backdrop of ruins, pools, arches and huge underground passages originally built as an escape route for the Sultan’s family. When they were in a safe place, the water gate would open and flood the passages to their pursuers. Very Bond-esque, indeed. If Indonesia needed a little sense of mystery for its suspense, then Jogjakarta’s ethnic mysticism would surely provide more than enough material, with its Wayang (shadow and wooden puppets), rituals, and ancient religious temples such as the Borobudur and Prambanan. The Borobudur temple is the largest Buddhist shrine in Indonesia, dating from the ninth century. Borobudur was unknown and neglected for almost a thousand years, covered under thick layers of volcanic ash. The Prambanan on the other hand is a ten-century-old Hindu temple, dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. It is locally referred to as Candi Loro Jonggrang, meaning, ‘slender virgin’. Not only will these myth-laden settings add suspense, they provide a spiritual insight into a side of Indonesia of which many might not be aware. What about a historical setting? Indonesia has certainly been through its fair share of heart-breaking war travesties. The decades of Dutch and Japanese occupation provide an abundance of historical incidents that could be transformed into golden cinematic moments.

23 Images cour tesy of Jez O’Hare

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Searching for clues (à la Indiana Jones) in Jakarta’s Fatahillah Museum could shed some light on Indonesia’s royal history. Or maybe our hero could solve some text-based puzzles, as in The Da Vinci Code, in the National Library of Indonesia. For those key romantic scenes, what passionate kiss should not be backed by one of the archipelago’s fabled beaches, where two of Indonesia’s most beautiful thespians share a loving romantic gaze as the movie draws to a dramatic conclusion? I can hear the collective “awwww”s already. The Senggigi beach in Lombok, for one, provides an endless view of clear waters and romantic sunsets. The legendary Pasir Panjang (literally, ‘Long Sands’) in the Kei Island of Maluku would also provide a stunning closing shot for Indonesia. Now, all that is required is a generous budget and the passion to bring the story to the big screen. We will be waiting and, when it comes, we will certainly be watching. π Jez O’Hare is interviewed on p.32 of this issue of Expat. More of his photography can be found at www.indonesiaphotography.com top Flying abover the Rouffaer Reserves, Papua

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Images © Jez O’Hare

right Misool, Raja Ampat, Papua


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The Escape Azure Seas and Javanese Fisherman: Pulau Macan, Pulau Seribu The fisherman cruised up in his rugged boat, displaying his morning’s catch; most of which quickly became fresh sashimi. The clarity of the water in Pulau Seribu is testament to the rejuvenation this quick escape provides Jakarta’s weary. The Photographer Brandon Hoover has made Indonesia his home since 2002. His love for the country is expressed through his passion for photography. He currently has an exhibition of his work in Eastern Promise in Kemang until July. Sadly, he will be leaving for the Philippines soon, but will always consider Indonesia to be his second home. www.thejavajive.com.


The Aloita A-Bar, with Pulau Setan in the background. (JR)


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Magical Mentawai Staying at Aloita Resort in the Mentawai Islands takes the concept of “getting away from it all” to a new level. The islands are famous as a surfing Mecca, the place every serious surfer must visit at least once before they die. However, Aloita offers much more than a surfing holiday: from diving, fishing, cultural excursions to visit the indigenous tribes of the Mentawai, or simply stepping into the crystal clear waters to snorkel outside your bungalow door, there is much to do here. But perhaps the most precious thing this escape offers is the opportunity to lean back, relax, and do absolutely nothing at all. The harbour at Padang is abuzz with activity. We are met by a member of Aloita staff, who proves to be the sweetest ‘fixer’ ever, carefully and confidently shepherding us through the excitement and up to our cabin. The AC cabins are roomy, clean, and equipped with TV, DVD player and sound system. However, it is probably advisable to bring your own entertainment unless you are an aficionado of cheesy movies and gooey lovesongs; while the Batak folk ballads are rather good, two listens will probably suffice for most music lovers.

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this spread, anticlockwise from left: Idyllic vista from the Aloita jetty. (JR)

Exploring the islands in a wooden pom-pom. (JR)

Spearfishing around Pulau Setan often yield catches such as this Dogfish Tuna for dinner. (image courtesy of Aloita Resort)

Paradise shack at the resort’s edge. (JR)


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Left page from top: Visiting the Mentawai tribes in Siberut. (image courtesy of Aloita Resort) Watching the surf at the Bankvaults break. (image courtesy of Clint Reid) At Sipora Harbour. (JR) This page: Welcome to Paradise: Aloita Resort & Spa. (image courtesy of Aloita Resort)

It is also possible to travel to the Mentawai islands by plane from Padang, a 40-minute journey. For more information on getting there and on accommodation at Aloita Resort & Spa, contact: Aloita Resort & Spa 
 Tua Pejat, Mentawai Islands 
 West Sumatra, Indonesia 
 Mentawai Office: +62 812 6643941 
 Padang Office: +62 751 36387 www.aloitaresort.com For KITAS/KIMS rates, see Expat.

At the end of the 10-hour overnight journey we reach Sipora island in the Mentawai archipelago. It was on these shores that Walter Gibson was washed up during World War Two, after harrowing weeks of drifting at sea in a lifeboat of the torpedoed ship that had been taking him from Padang to the safety of Ceylon. He and three other survivors were discovered by a group of islanders, “fearsome enough figures…[a]ll were tattooed in blue from the navel to the lower lip. They had no eyelashes, no eyebrows and their teeth were filed to a point. They carried spears, bows and machetes.” No such welcome awaits us, though indigenous tribes can still be visited on Siberut island, further north. The Aloita taxi pulls up alongside the ferry and we are whisked through the dawn over water with a surface as smooth and depth as transparent as glass. Aloita awaits, just ten minutes away on the island of Silabok. The resort is regarded as the plushest property in the Mentawai islands, with eight comfortable

and roomy air-conditioned cottages, a buffet restaurant and lounge, chilled-out A-Bar on the beach, and the Aloita Spa. Two surf/dive shuttle speedboats are there to take guests on daily adventures under skies that are dynamic, ever-changing; one view can be purple-grey, another blue, cotton-like wisps of white in between. In the presence of such awe-inspiring natural beauty, priorities shift and the outside world slowly becomes less and less interesting. At Aloita there is wireless internet in public spaces, a (usually switched off ) television at the bar, and a telephone signal from the jetty; but communicating with the outside world is a conscious decision, and disconnecting is easy, almost too easy. After a couple of days, any guilt slips away and you realise the irrelevance of so much of what is going on out there. Life is simple: pure shores and clear waters and one day at a time. π (JR)

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Fleeing to Flores W ords M E L I A N A S A L I M I mages M arni D alle and M eliana S alim

I will always remember taking my first breath underwater. It is one of the most liberating and astounding sensations imaginable. Scuba diving marks the beginning of my lifelong love affair with the ocean. My mask opens a window to an exciting new world; my fins propel me into extraordinary journeys. Within two years, I’ve logged in more than a hundred dives in most of Indonesia’s top-notch dive sites, stretching from the pristine waters of Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java, the infamous Bunaken National Marine Park in North Sulawesi, to my ultimate favourite: the sublime islands of Raja Ampat, West Papua.


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Visiting these monstrous pre-historic lizards in their natural habitat is high on our list. The real draw for us, however, is the adrenalineinfused diving in Komodo’s high-voltage current sites, arguably the richest marine ecosystems in the world.


FLORES

I live in Bali, but despite waking up to the ‘Morning of the World’ and diving the diverse waters of the ‘Islands of the Gods’, I find it hard to ignore my insatiable wanderlust and quest for adventures. The lure of the exotic islands of Flores (made famous with the 2004 discovery of Homo Floresiensis, or ‘Hobbits’), and Komodo is too strong to ignore. It doesn’t take much to persuade two like-minded divers looking to flee Bali to join me on a five-day escapade over the Easter weekend. A pleasant 1.5-hour flight to Labuan Bajo – the port of entry to Flores – grants us unobstructed aerial views of Komodo and Rinca Islands’ barren, savannah-like, undulating surfaces. Apparently that’s exactly the way West Flores’s legendary mascots – the Komodo dragons – like their environment. We arrive just in time to welcome the dry season between April and October. Visiting these monstrous pre-historic lizards in their natural habitat (they’re only found on Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and other smaller neighbouring islands) is high on our list. The real draw for us, however, is the adrenaline-infused diving in Komodo’s high-voltage current sites, arguably the richest marine ecosystems in the world. Life is simple on this side of the world. As we wander around town we can’t help but feel as if time has taken us backwards. This seemingly forgotten fishing village is lined with dilapidated

shophouses, a couple of mosques, several unassuming Catholic churches (the main religion in Flores, first introduced by the Portugese in the early 1500s), and brightly painted warungs advertising Padang food. Guesthouses, homestay cottages, travel agencies, and dive operators dot the main streets on both sides. Curious onlookers greet us with benign smiles and shy hellos from their modest dwellings tucked down Labuan Bajo’s intimate alleys. Bemo drivers and ojeks offer their services enthusiastically; some of whom remember my name from a printed sign our driver held back at the airport. Dusk creeps in as we grab a balcony seat at Paradise Bar, sip chilled Bintangs, and wait for the stars to come out – a perfect end to a blissful day. At the crack of dawn, the main jetty is jammed with people and activities. It seems like all of Labuan Bajo has congregated here: boat crew loading up supplies and equipment for the scheduled dives, fishermen transporting the day’s catch to a nearby market, and local children playing and fishing off the dock. The boat trip from Labuan Bajo to The Komodo National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Man and Biosphere Reserve – takes approximately 2.5 hours, with the promise of dolphin spotting along the way. Located between Sumbawa and Flores, the Park is a sprawling 2,321-square-kilometre project consisting of three main Islands: Komodo, Rinca and Padar. Divers are spoilt for choice

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with more than 50 unique dive sites, home to more than 1,000 species of rare fish, 260 species of progressive reef-building coral, 14 species of endangered whales, dolphins and giant turtles, and pelagic fish including sharks, manta rays and dugong. We begin with an early morning blood-pumping dive at Castle Rock. The top of a submerged sea mount (at 3 to 4-metre depth) offers shelter from the east-flowing current, hence the name. The turbulent drift dive allows for shoulder-brushing with reef sharks, enormous napoleon wrasses, green turtles, angel fish, and schooling anthias, black snappers, batfish and jacks. Diving Crystal Rock is an exhilarating experience not recommended for the faint-hearted. The name is derived from the crystal-clear water surrounding an open water pinnacle that rises to 14 metres with a 20-metre deep saddle in the centre. After several failed attempts at macro photography, I finally succumb to the powerful currents and tuck away my camera. We zoom past a resident school of yellow-ribbon sweet lips, playful batfish, fusiliers, big-eyed trevallies, tuna, and the occasional white-tip reef sharks. Batu Bolong (Hollow Rock) – a little rock pinnacle that lies in 75 metres of water – is not nicknamed ‘Current City’ for nothing. The strong currents and steep drop-offs are what protect this signature Komodo dive site from local fishermen’s destructive fishing techniques. A hit with divers and paradise for underwater photographers, Batu Bolong has it all: a kaleidoscopic spectacle of marine bio-diversity in action; spectacular drop-offs inundated with hard corals and hawksbill turtles feeding on tunicates and sponges; magnificent walls patrolled by pelagic such as reef sharks, napoleon wrasses, giant trevallies, and dog-toothed tuna; flamboyant soft corals swarming with brilliant reef fish everywhere you look. A manta ray makes a guest appearance from the deep blue that leaves us gasping for an encore dive. On our second day we take a breather from the underwater rollercoaster to visit Loh Buaya, the access point to see Komodo dragons (or ‘Ora’, as the locals dub them) on Rinca Island. Our first Komodo dragon sighting occurs just around the rangers’ camp. It is well past breakfast time. A handful of Komodo dragons seek refuge from the scorching sun under the cool shades of a structure which, not surprisingly, turns out to be the kitchen.

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On our last and most memorable dive we cruise along the surface of Karang Makassar (also known as Manta Point), South Komodo, all geared-up and impatiently looking out for lurking shadows beneath. This is the premier site for manta sightings. Within minutes our eagle-eyed divemaster signals to the captain. Our boat comes to an abrupt halt and all hell breaks loose.

An adult male dragon can grow to more than three metres long and weigh a hefty 160 kilograms, making them the largest lizards on the planet. Unimpressed with our ‘domesticated’ dragons, we let the park ranger, Pak Latih, lead us on an hour-long hiking tour across the open grass-woodland savannas and tropical deciduous forests. An expert in his field with 27 years of experience, Pak Latih reveals that the population of the dragons is in decline. There’s only a total of 1,600 Komodo dragons left in the wild (down from 3,300), 700 of which reside in Loh Buaya. The strict anti-poaching laws implemented by the Komodo National Park (established in 1980) help to a certain extent; the main contributing factor being a lack of food supplies on the islands. The dragons are cannibalistic (the younger dragons often roll in larger dragons’ feces to disguise their juvenile scent and protect themselves), tertiary predators that scavenge from carcasses of water buffalos, monkeys, goats, dogs, wild boars, and deer. Months ago a fisherman was fatally attacked by a Komodo dragon while fruit-picking off a tree. There’s also a chilling tale of a park ranger who accidentally stepped on a dragon while leading a trek. He suffered from the venomous bite but survived, thanks to immediate medical attention. Perhaps trekking is not such a good idea after all.

We’re happy to be back in the waters by mid-afternoon and on our way to the designated dive site: Tatawa Besar (Big Tatawa). The entry point of the dive is dictated by the prevailing current, north or south. We have to keep alert for a swift up-current before entering the main current and descending down to an infinite sloping reef. The reward for this tricky dive is a photographer’s paradise. To my right is a gradual sloping plateau of reefs beaming with a prolific collections of robust soft and hard corals in every colour of the rainbow. Moray eels promptly retreat upon approach; lionfish, scorpionfish, pipefish, pufferfish, nudibranch, and rare invertebrates call this place heaven. To my left black-tip reef sharks, giant trevally, hawksbill turtles, napoleon wrasses, and bumphead parrotfish emerge from the vastness of blue. Overhead a plethora of schooling jackfish forms a vortex circling fellow bewildered divers. Utterly mesmerizing! On our last and most memorable dive we cruise along the surface of Karang Makassar (also known as Manta Point), South Komodo, all geared-up and impatiently looking out for lurking shadows beneath. This is the premier site for manta sightings. Within minutes our eagle-eyed divemaster signals to the captain. Our boat comes to an abrupt halt and all hell breaks loose. At a maximum depth of 16 metres, it takes a minute for our eyes to get accustomed to the plankton-infested milky waters – the perfect feeding grounds for these giants. We are instantly greeted by a resting marble stingray.

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Suddenly a manta ray swoops overhead, promptly followed by another, and another. We kneel on the shallow sandy bottom and watch in complete awe, marveling at the finesse with which these majestic mantas glide in to feed off the rich waters. Then as if on cue they disappear into the murk. The spectacular vista is addictive; we linger, praying for more. A three-metre manta comes directly at me, vacuuming up clouds of plankton; so close I can lean back and capture a shot of its underbelly. This surreal, heart-to-heart moment with the manta makes me feel rather small and insignificant. We somersault with more than 15 mantas in total for almost an hour. With heavy, humbled hearts we tear ourselves away from this endlessly entertaining live performance, and back to the quiet pulse of Labuan Bajo. Flores (Portugese for ‘flowers’) is an open invitation to take a new look at nature, explore the indigenous culture, and delight in village charm. As divers we’ve been given the privilege to witness what lies beneath this enchanting land – a veritable underwater garden. There are plenty of wonders and untamed regions yet to be discovered. Come with an open mind and tread gently. Experience a simpler life and marvel in the abundant blessings of Flores and Komodo. π

Getting There: From any major Indonesian airports, fly to Labuan Bajo. TransNusa Airlines – www.transnusa.co.id Indonesia Air Transport – www.iat.co.id Merpati Airlines www.merpati.co.id/EN Contact the local dive centres, excursion boats, or tour operators to arrange for a trip to the Komodo National Park. Accommodation: Villa Seirama Alam info@enjoyflores.com Mobile: +62 813 14293436 Bajo Komodo Eco Lodge Phone: +62 385 41362 www.ecolodgesindonesia.com Bintang Flores Hotel Phone: +62 385 42000 www.bintangfloreshotel.com Food: Pesona Bali Gardena Restaurant Paradise Bar

Dive Operator: Dive Komodo info@divekomodo.com www.divekomodo.com Labuan Bajo Office: +62 385 41862 Bali Office: +62 8155 701 393 Diving Conditions: Best time to dive: April through December Depth: 5 to 40+ metres Current: depending on the site, moderate to raging Visibility: varies from 5 to 30+ metres Water temperature: 20-27°C Experience Level: intermediate to advanced divers Access: Komodo Liveaboard from Bali and Flores Islands, or land-based dives from Labuan Bajo, Flores with a local dive operator. Highlights: Manta rays, macro, pelagic, turtles, pristine beaches, uninhabited islands, Komodo dragons. Useful Links: www.komodonationalpark.org www.floreskomodo.com www.flores-komodo.com

Tour Operator: Getrudis Tours & Travel Labuan Bajo Office: +62 385 41373 Mobile: +62 813 3809 6912 getrudistour@yahoo.com

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Go West W ords & I mages L angham D ale

“Go West, young man,” I was told by my trusty friends living in the hills. “Barat Laut, north-west, surga dunia,” was their command. “That’s where you ought to go: Taman Nasional Bali Barat (West Bali National Park), to be exact.” And I agreed, whole-heartedly.

Image Courtesy of Novus Gawana.


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Menjangan Awaits, Langham Dale

They know me well, those darling pals; and knew too well of my quest – to hunt down the pure essential escape holiday in Bali. I needed a break. I sought change from life on the ridge and to get as far away as possible from the Ubud crowd, and the Kuta crawl, the Legian loll, Kerobokan crash, or Semin-yak. Oh yeah, who needs an excuse for an adventure anyway? And I wanted to do it all too: diving, trekking, riding, sailing, swimming with dolphins, that sort of stuff – hot-springs and spaing. The list was extensive, but, hey, I’m that sort of guy. And Bali’s that sort of island. And I desired crisp sheets, delicious food, exceptional service; all in idyllic surrounds – for sure. Life is for the living, I tell myself, as I lightly pack a few sarong – kamben halus, of course; not forgetting the saput, and my most berani batik jawa udeng, head-scarf oleh-oleh from my best mate, woodcarver extraordinaire Ida Bagus Gusde Negara of Mas. Next, whack in a singlet, t, polo, mod batik silk and I’m cookin’, sweating like the proverbial … and “definitely 5-star

compatible,” I reckon. Grab those swimmers. It’s a three-and-ahalf-hour road-trip by car. Arriving on the coastal plain, in the royal kingdom of Buleleng, with the mountains of Jembrana looming behind me, I feel soothed by the calm sea, the quiet and dreamy fishing villages dotted with coconut palms. Java is in the distance. Selat Bali or the Bali Strait splashes nearby, and the Java Sea swells just around the corner. Here, tucked away in tranquil Teluk Bajul, a cozy bay surrounded by 70,000 glorious, unspoiled hectares of West Bali National Park monsoon forest, keeps hidden another isle, tiny and uninhabited: Menjangan. Taking its name from the sweet, indigenous Menjangan (Bali red deer), abounding across the region in scattered herds, endangered species thriving in sanctuary, protecting two pura: one high up and very busy over Galungan/Kuningan times. The area is also renowned for jungle trekking, kayaking,


WEST BALI

Novus Gawana Resort & Spa, Banyuwedang A unique experience of exploring nature between sea and mountains, with a wide variety of wildlife on view, from 5-star luxurious surrounds in elegant Lumbungs and intimate Mangrove Suites, (USD210 - 400++ per double per night), all bath tubs and spas yielding divine, natural artesian, skin rejuvenating, air panas from hot springs adjacent. Extensive menu changes daily. Special honeymoon, romantic private dinners and diving packages available, with on-site Dive Centre facilities including complete equipment and SSI-certified dive masters. www.novusgawana.com Novus Gawana Lumbung with a view

See Expat for Novus Gawana Kitas Special Offer.

horse riding and wildlife watching; not only deer, but green and black monkeys, reptiles, a wide variety of birds, native ayam hitam, massive mangroves plus world-class diving sites; such as Mad Bay, Coral Garden, bat and underwater caves, and wrecks. Where you dive or snorkel to discover clear, underwater beauty with an amazing array of living coral and tropical fish: including schools of electric blue and yellow Javanese Damsels, red-orange Yellowfin Flashers, Angel Zebras, pulsating Picture Dragonets, fascinating Chromo Doris Choi, pink lobster and exotic Banggai Cardinals. All accessed by boat, jukung, dive centre or ferry. The Menjangan lights at night are a virtual star-gazers delight, far too vibrant

to catch sleep; a glimmering, glittering plethora of bintang yang gede dan kecil beckoning warm northern skies. The Milky Way is like a dream world and I’m f loating star-spangled on cloud nine. My wish comes true upon seeing my first falling star, then a second opportunity with another, and then again, a third, before WOW: a f lash of kinetic lightning from the distant, mountain hung backdrop lets me know I’m truly alive and not actually up there, with them all, astral travelling. The locals call it surga dunia – we call it heaven, in a world of paradise. π

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Liana Moored for your pleasure, Menjangan

Puri Ganesha, Pemuteran Bali’s most secret exclusive beachfront hideaways and spa – four peaceful wantilan, traditional Balinese two-storey thatched 1, 2 and 3-bedroom villas from USD500 675++ a night. Delight in laid-back luxury accommodation with antique furniture and colonial touches, set in open gardens leading to the sea, with private 12-metre swimming pools, 5-star service and a full selection of delicious organic “Living Food”, plus extensive “Raw Food” vegetarian menu. Early morning swims with dolphins can be organized, as can arrival by limo, Harley Davidson, private yacht, helicopter or charter plane; plus yoga, massage, diving, private Gamelan orchestra performances, Balinese wedding blessings and special honeymoons. www.puriganesha.com Serene & Sublime Puri Ganesha

Menjangan Jungle & Beach Resort, West Bali National Park The other side of Bali is a natural wildlife environment where you enjoy magnificent sunrises, romantic sunsets and wonderful sea views surrounded by the vast West Bali National Park, with spectacular sights of monsoon forests, mountains and mangroves from either the Bali Tower, deluxe pool-side suites or luxury sea front 1, 2, and 3 bedroom Cliff Villas ranging from USD180 - 530++ per room per night. With international-class stables, horseback trekking and diving packages available. Arrive swiftly by seaplane or helicopter. www.menjangan.net

Bali Tower West Bali National Park, Menjangan

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Spa Escape

Open Seasons Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts were pioneers of the ‘spa revolution’ in the 1980s; in 1986, they first added a spa to complement already existing fitness facilities. Since then, spas have become the norm at hotels and resorts worldwide, but Four Seasons stay to the fore. Their Bali properties in Sayan and Jimbaran continue to win awards for both spa facilities and individual treatments. For more information or to make a reservation, call +62 361 977577 (Sayan) or +62 361 701010 (Jimbaran).

49 Image cour tesy of Four Seasons

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ESCAPE EAST Ever longed to experience some of Indonesia’s greatest diving in an island setting that truly resembles paradise? Like the idea of enjoying a cold drink on the veranda of your water cottage, suspended above crystal clear waters in the gorgeous little bay of a private island, while beneath you mackerel are hunting for their prey and reef sharks, bat fish and turtles are passing through the turquoise waters? Interested in the efforts it takes to create ‘heaven on earth’ in the middle of nowhere? If your answer is yes, then read on and prepare to get packed for the journey of a lifetime! Joerg Meier is your guide.


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Cruising the nearby lagoons of Misool Island makes you feel like you’ve been caught in a fairy tale. On your way out from the resort, you are accompanied by schools of dolphins and flying fish.

page right (clockwise from top): A lagoon at Misool, Batfish, Whip Coral & a Manta

Raja Ampat

Having lived and worked in many remote parts of Indonesia from Aceh to Timor - over the last decade, I moved to Jakarta about a year ago for a new assignment. On encountering other expats there, I always feel kind of astonished when it takes them months to realize we have mountains and volcanoes just south and the Thousand Islands just north of the city. Some foreigners have been living here for ages, but venture beyond the boundaries of Kemang only to check out Bali’s party scene. Kasihan deh loe! For me, it was in 1995, while travelling in Timor, the Moluccan Islands and Irian Jaya, that my love for Eastern Indonesia unfolded. As a backpacker on a budget, my journeys through the most beautiful parts of this amazing archipelago involved odd rusty ferries, outrigger boats, untrustworthy vehicles on bumpy roads and exhausting long hikes. Places like the Banda and Kei Islands, or Fak Fak at Papua’s Bird’s Head, were accessible by Pelni; every step further was where the real adventure started. The idea of one day having a little getaway in this part of the archipelago seemed utopian to me back then.

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Nowadays the accessibility of remote places in Indonesia has certainly improved. But in early November 2006, I heard a story that amazed me. Briton Andrew Miners and some of his friends had just started the construction of a new dive resort on uninhabited Batbitim Island in the remote Misool area of Southern Raja Ampat. The fact that their resort was supposed to be the only resort operating in the Southern Raja Ampat region, which is pretty much as remote as it can be and is otherwise just visited by liveaboards, that they would strongly dedicate themselves to marine protection, and that Raja Ampat has a reputation for world class diving; all of this caught my attention. So when I learned that they were still looking for interested people to join the project as investors, I immediately became excited about the whole idea. In May 2007, I made my way from Aceh to Sorong, a town at the westernmost part of Papua’s Bird’s Head. After the overnight journey on a wooden cargo vessel from Sorong to Southern Raja Ampat, it took me seconds to fall in love with Batbitim. The island hosts palm-fringed powder-white beaches and is protected by pristine clear lagoons. Arriving here feels out of this world – simply stunning and breathtaking, almost unreal! Having travelled to almost a hundred islands all over Indonesia, I can assure you this is one of the places you must see if you think you’ve seen it all.


But despite the feeling of having arrived in paradise, the construction site I encountered in May 2007 left me in no doubt about the oceans of sweat and life-blood that had already gone into the project and still had to be invested at that stage. Every single piece of wood used to build the resort has been milled from salvaged driftwood, sometimes dug out from under metres of sand, along with free-fallen timber collected in Raja Ampat and the nearby Moluccan island of Seram. Not a single tree has been cut in the building of Misool Eco Resort. In addition, it hosts a 200 square kilometre fishing-free zone, operates ranger boats to control illegal shark fishing, and a turtle conservation centre is soon to be established on the island. Many places nowadays dub themselves ‘eco’, but Misool Eco Resort truly deserves the name. Eleven guest cottages, a state-of-the-art dive centre and a spacious restaurant serving delicious food are nestled in the island’s incredibly picturesque North Bay, surrounded by some of the world’s richest reefs with more than 30 great dive sites just a stone’s throw away and dozens, probably hundreds more, yet to be discovered.

But it is not only about the stunning scenery of the resort itself. Cruising the nearby lagoons of Misool Island makes you feel like you’ve been caught in a fairy tale. On your way out from the resort, you are accompanied by schools of dolphins and flying fish. If you raise your head, you can observe sea eagles and other flying predators fighting over their prey. Sharp, bizarre limestone rocks stick out of the water, some like mushrooms, shaped by water erosion and wind abrasion. Along some of the lime-stone walls and caves you will encounter rock paintings dating back over five thousand years. Although for me it’s about the diving, anthropologists, canoers and free climbers must feel equally happy in this environment. Fourteen years ago, when my love for Eastern Indonesia unfolded, I could never have imagined one day being a shareholder in a place like Misool Eco Resort. But then again, fifteen years ago when I first visited Jakarta and stayed on Jalan Jaksa, I had no clue about the mountains just south and the islands just north of the city. Exploring this country beyond the comfort zones of Kemang and Bali truly lets dreams become reality. π www.misoolecoresort.com


The Escape: Amed Bay “True vacations are rarer to come by these days; either terribly expensive or impossibly remote, getting there would, for many, mean losing your job. For most urbanites, the chances of such a vacation are as thin as the air on the Himalayas. As someone who takes photographs for a living, the ideal getaway is one that does not involve picking up the camera but rather enjoying real beauty with real eyes, no mobile reception, and plenty of space to walk. Such getaways are closer than most of us imagine. One of the last virgin places in Bali is Amed, a community village of fishermen where snorkelling happens at your doorstep and hiking at your backyard. As you walk out in the morning, the gallery of dawn presents to you the magnificent sunrise to meditate upon. Snorkelling, the undersea vista reveals the beautiful orchestra of the ocean. With the hills overseeing Amed bay, an afternoon hike is your prelude to the sunset opera, while the fresh, lovely delicacy served at the local warung is your finale. If living is an art, then Amed is the model existence that our lives should be built upon.”

The photographer: Will Wiriawan “Having trained as an architect, I spent time studying in Shanghai, a big city of hopes and dreams. As I travelled around China, I often recalled the place where I grew up - a small, quiet city on the island of Java, where the hopeful and the dreamers go by. Hundreds of picture-perfect landscapes later, I find that the perfect great escape is where your heart lies. As busy as life can be, one can always find peace with nature, in nature - where your heart beats as one with it. As your breath settles in the air, you don’t even need to open your eyes to realise that the picture was perfect all along.” A selection of Will Wiriawan’s photography can be found on his blog: www.portfoliography.com.


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Vera Susanti, who took on the management of her family’s charming, intimate boutique hotel when she returned to her hometown after studies and work in Australia.

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Javanese Charm at Dusun Jogja Village Inn Tucked away in the quiet Prawirotaman area of Yogyakarta, Dusun Jogja Village Inn offers intimate, friendly surroundings with true Javanese hospitality The Inn’s simple exterior belies the astounding exotic gardens, beautifully landscaped swimming pool and individually designed bungalows inside the compound. The picturesque boutique hotel’s 24 rooms and suites mimic a traditional Javanese village. Designed by Paul Amron Yuwono and Terry Stark, the semi-ethnic compound exudes romantic intimacy in the relaxed, tranquil ambience of Yogyakarta. All rooms boast spacious private balconies overlooking the lush garden, rustic furniture and beautiful artwork. Their 16 deluxe rooms are accentuated with exquisite open-air baths on the ground floor and spacious open verandas overlooking the crystal-clear pool. Instead of chlorine, the swimming pool uses saltwater, which does not sting the eyes and is gentle on the skin. The family-owned hotel promotes environmental awareness by using recycled materials, minimizing the use of plastic and acrylic materials, through the green towel system, which encourages guests to hang the towels they are still using on the rack to minimize waste, and using recycled materials for letter-set and amenities packaging and recycled water for the fish ponds and swimming pool. For its efforts, the Dusun Jogja Village Inn was awarded the Sahwali Award by the IEMIC (Indonesian Environmental Management and Information Center) in 1997. This commitment to the environment is also reflected in another business of the family’s, plastic recycling, which since the 1970s has been collecting waste plastic material from Yogyakarta and its surroundings for recycling and reuse.

Dusun Jogja Village Inn Jl. Menukan 5 Yogyakarta Tel. +62 274 373 031 Email: info@jvidusun.co.id http://www.jvidusun.co.id

All rooms boast spacious private balconies overlooking the lush garden, rustic furniture and beautiful artwork.

The Joglo restaurant serves an array of international and exotic dishes (with specials such as gudeg mangar, ayam karang minaci, ayam tamansari), with tasty seafood and vegetarian menus. Facilities include a movie room, a meeting room, an internet corner, a fitness corner and a mini spa. On request, the hotel can arrange a village tour for you on an andong, a traditional horse-drawn cart. and they also offer a special honeymoon retreat package for 3 days and 2 nights. π

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To the Manor Born Situated in the artist community of Penestanan, just minutes from Ubud, The Mansion is a home from home; that is, if your home is akin to the expansive estate of a wealthy, well-read, exquisitely tasteful, art-collecting bon vivant. Out front, discreetly parked, is the Rolls Royce that sometimes surprises arriving honeymooners at the airport. Within, a world of artistic beauty awaits. Named one of the Best 100 New Hotels in the World by Conde Nast Traveller, residing in The Mansion, for any length of time, is a joy. The luxuriously appointed Deluxe Rooms, Villa Residences, The Governor Suite, The Ambassador Suite and The Presidential Suite are laid in polished marble and furnished with rare objets d’art and impossibly comfortable fourposter beds.

The award-winning Heaven & Earth Spa is in the capable hands of Ardhy, who has trained and practised internationally trained, and clearly has a genuine passion for his work. An evening massage is best followed by a quiet cup of tea in the garden, soaking in the peaceful atmosphere. The stately elegance of the Indochine restaurant is complemented by the relaxed outdoor poolside seating area with a valley view. The cuisine is particularly influenced by “light, fresh and spicy” Vietnamese flavours, interpreted with a modern twist.

“It fills my heart,” my companion says at breakfast in Café La Terrace, as we prepare to engage with some of the finest Bircher muesli served in Bali. Indeed, the colourful gardens outside and the richness of the décor within give The Mansion a warmth and sense of comfort not found in more minimalist abodes. In public areas, suites and rooms, an eclectic collection of art reflects the diversity of Indonesia’s traditional and contemporary creative output, with a wide selection of styles and media. In addition to the permanent collection on display, a range of works are also presented for sale in The Mansion gallery.

Also located on the estate is the Sayan Aesthetic Institute, offering a full range of anti-ageing treatments and cosmetic procedures, including cosmetic dentistry and teeth whitening, figure contouring and instant slimming, non-surgical aesthetic and cosmetic anti-ageing treatments and Spraytan sunless tanning. No other hotel in Bali offers these services and many guests enjoy the privacy afforded them as they spend time caring for their bodies, emerging slim and tanned with dazzling smiles. π (JR)

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The Mansion Resort Hotel & Spa Jl. Penestanan, Sayan, Ubud, Bali Tel. +62 361 972 616 Fax +62 361 972 632 www.themansion-bali.com


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The escape: Toraja “Toraja funeral rituals usually go on for up to seven days, depending on the status and class of the family. The richer and more powerful the individual, the more expensive is the funeral. One component of the ritual is the slaughter of water buffalo. The more powerful the person who died, the more buffalo are slaughtered at the death feast. Buffalo carcasses, including their heads, are usually lined up on a field waiting for their owner, who is in the “sleeping stage”. Torajans believe that the deceased will need the buffalo to make the journey and that they will be quicker to arrive at Puya if they have many buffalo. Slaughtering dozens of water buffalo and hundred of pigs using a machete is the climax of the elaborate death feast, with dancing and music and young boys who catch spurting blood in long bamboo tubes. Some of the slaughtered animals are given by guests as gifts, which are carefully noted because they will be considered debts of the deceased’s family.”

The photographer: Jerry Aurum “Some people know me as a designer, some as a photographer. I am also a wannabe writer and a terrible administrator. I am based in Jakarta. I hope my writing can give something back to my community. Creativity means touching as many hearts possible in such a unique way. Let’s share it and do it more often!”

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www.jerryaurum.com


Depth in Metres Captain Freddie’s series of illustrations combines sea charts and images of exotic mythical creatures in a similar manner to the traditional maps of the pioneering years of sea exploration. These mythical creatures of the past have a factual scientific explanation and some still exist in Indonesia today, but are on the brink of extinction and may, sadly, disappear within our lifetime. The charts, however, have depth soundings in metres, which is the modern system of measurement. They symbolise the link between mythology, present day reality, and science.

Kabar Indonesia 3  

Kabar Indonesia is a magazine showcasing some of the best writing and photography from this fascinating archipelago.