Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reality Check For China's Real Estate-The latest news out of China is bearish.

The latest news out of China is bearish. However, you have to be very careful of how you interpret the numbers. Those who want to present the bullish view will give you sales or price numbers for real estate for the first half or the last year. That disguises the plunge in sales since April.

For example, the year-over-years sales increase in China property prices is 11.4%. However, sales since April have plunged. Prices are always slow to follow initially, as speculators refuse to sell at prices lower than the peak price. They hope prices will come back. So, sales plunge. Condo sales in Beijing are down about 90% since April. Officially, sales in Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou in the first half of the year were down 50%. The unofficial numbers should be worse.

Land prices in 103 cities for the first half were down 9%. Imagine! That includes the last part of the price surge in early 2010.

Economists in China now say that the government will stop tightening measures when prices have dropped 20–30%. That’s just what Japan said in 1990. At that time, I wrote that when bureaucrats aim for a 30% decline, they will get a decline of 50% or more, namely a disaster. Actually they got a 70% decline in real estate values over the past 20 years.

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The chief economist for Nomura Securities (NMR) (a Japanese firm) in China says: “I believe such a price fall will have limited impact on China’s economy.” He may have said the same thing in Japan in 1990.

In China, car sales, which had been booming early this year, dropped a hefty 5.25% from May to June. In May, the year-over-year sales rise was 29.8% in May. China Daily reports that a leading Nissan dealer said that sales in June plunged 50% or more from the prior month. Sales people have nothing to do.

On August 2, The HSBC China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index was released, showing a decline to 49.4 from 50.4 in June. Anything below 50 shows contraction. This is the first time below 50 since the bottom of the last serious economic plunge in March 2009.

All the above confirms what we have been forecasting for several months: Government efforts to stop real estate inflation is resulting in the bursting of a huge speculative real estate bubble. If you want to know how it will work out, just go to Las Vegas or Miami.

Source: http://blogs.forbes.com/

Bali Ranks 2nd in Best Asian holiday destinations



http://smarttravelasia.com/travelpoll.htm
ASIA
2010 Rank 2009 Rank
1. Kerala, India 3
2. Bali, Indonesia 1
3. Phuket, Thailand 2
4. Hong Kong 4
5. Hoi An, Vietnam
5
6. Bangkok, Thailand
Shanghai, China 5
8
7. Hanoi, Vietnam
Langkawi, Malaysia -
6
8. Koh Samui, Thailand
Rajasthan, India 9
10
9. Seoul, South Korea
Boracay, Philippines -
6
10. Angkor (Siem Reap), Cambodia
Goa, India
Penang, Malaysia 8
6
10

Monday, August 30, 2010

2,500-Year-Old Human Remains Discovered in Bali

Made Arya Kencana | August 29, 2010

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peterR
5:58am Aug 30, 2010

The remains were found outside Telkoms offices, apparently the person died while waiting to get a Speedy connection installed.

Denpasar. Archeologists in Bali say they have unearthed ancient human remains that date back to about 500 B.C. at a village in the island’s southeast.

Ayu Kusumawati, a researcher from the Denpasar Archeological Society, said on Sunday that two sarcophagi had been discovered by a bricklayer in a quarry near Keramas village in Gianyar.

She said the group opened one of the stone caskets on Sunday. It contained a human skeleton with all the bones intact. The second sarcophagus is set to be opened on Monday.

Ayu said both of the coffins had identical markings on the outside, which culminated in a tortoise-shaped relief at the top. A pitcher was also found inside the opened sarcophagus.

The findings, she said, indicated that the remains were about 2,500 years old. “Both the pitcher and the sarcophagi show signs of advanced stonework and ironwork,” she said.

Burials in a sarcophagi were exclusively the domain of the nobility, Ayu added, while the tortoise motifs represented the channel through which the spirits of those inside could journey to the afterlife.

Meanwhile, the archeological society’s chairman, Wayan Suantika, said the latest findings brought to 16 the total number of sarcophagi unearthed at Keramas over the past four years.

In May, four burial plots were found, although each had already been opened and their contents emptied, he said.

Suantika said that his organization was working with the Prehistoric Artifacts Preservation Society and the local administration to establish a museum in the area to house the discovered sarcophagi.

“Obviously it won’t be easy, but once we get this museum in place, it will be a huge drawing card for tourists,” he said.

10 Things to do in Bali




by Justin Delaney (RSS feed) on Aug 30th 2010 at 4:30PM
Located just south of the equator, Bali bombards you with beauty, beaches, and culture. The entire experience feels at once effortless and nonpareil – the apex of tropical living. Sure, the beaches provide a gravity that draws travelers from all over the globe to this tiny Indonesian Island, but the culture brings them back. The lure is as persistent and persuasive as a boiler room hustler. There's a saying that God lives in the Himalayas. I have a feeling he vacations in Bali.

There are no direct flights from the United States to Bali. The easiest way to get to Bali is through Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, or Jakarta. From any of these locations, it's simple to hop on a direct flight to Bali's airport in Denpasar. The cheapest international flights to Bali are from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur on Airasia or Jetstar. It's possible to fly from the United States to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur for under $1000 round trip, and onward to Bali for around $100 round trip. This is the cheapest way to get to Bali.


So what do you do when you've actually reached this pristine place? Read on...

Bicycle around Ubud

The streets of Ubud teem with culture. A great way to see the town, surrounding artistic villages, and working rice paddies is on bicycle. Start at Monkey Forest and visit with the infamous residents -- crab-eating macaques. Mid-day, head over to Goa Gajah, one of Bali's most unique holy places. To end your day, ride to the village of Petulu. A massive nightly Heron migration is said to be the manifestation of spirits felled in a communist cleansing back in the 1960s. The birds began showing up exactly one week after an especially brutal massacre and have roosted in Petulu every night since. The scene is holy.

No trip to Bali is complete without a stay in Ubud. Some of my favorite Ubud guest-houses are Tegal Sari, Tepi Sawah, and Greenfields. Book early and get a view overlooking the rice paddies. Some great bike tour companies are Bike Baik and Banyan Tree, but setting off on your own trip of discovery is much more exhilarating.


Gallery: Beautiful Bali

* A Balinese Temple
* Pura Ulun Danu Bratan - Lake Bratan
* Balinese countryside
* South Bali
* Road trip to lake Bratan, through small villages
* Greenfields room

Learn to Surf in Kuta

If the heart of Bali's culture beats in Ubud, then its hard charging Bintang gripping extremities flail about in Kuta. The scene is all here: bikinis on the beach, clubs that go all night, expat bars, hip travel cognoscenti, and intoxicated Australian high fivers. Depending on the experience you expect to derive from travel, Kuta will either be a place to remember or a place to forget. Perhaps, even a place to remember forgetting. Either way, Kuta does surf lessons brilliantly. Since the Kuta wave breaks over sand rather than coral, new riders do not exit the water grasping for gauze. This provides a perfect arrangement for wide-eyed noobs to pick up the surf game. After a day spent learning your way around a barrel, quench your thirst with fresh fruit drinks and a sunset at KuDeTa.

There's a saying that God lives in the Himalayas. I have a feeling he vacations in Bali.
Kuta Beach is a quick ride from the airport and full of cheap accommodations. Some great surfing schools are Odyssey and Rip Curl School of Surf, though hiring a local guide will likely be cheaper. If you possess some serious skills check out the legendary Ulu Watu break. KuDeTa is a seaside bar and restaurant that draws huge crowds. Get there early to secure a spot for sunset.

Sunset at Tanah Lot

The sea-draped temple of Tanah Lot rises out of the surf like a hazy dream along Bali's southwest coast. Beneath the waves that crash along the dark temple walls, a pride of banded sea kraits patrol the waters. The snakes guard the temple from evil spirits and harm. (Or so I've been told.) Tanah Lot is many things: magical, stunning, unlikely, romantic, and strange. It has a plucked from a dream aesthetic that allows you to believe the lore and have fun with it. A local told me about those sea kraits, and I believed him because the place looks so unreal. It seems to exist on dreamlike terms. Catching it at sunset frames the temple at its most beautiful and surreal.

On a map, Tanah Lot seems close to much of south Bali. Due to the layout of the roads, however, it takes quite a while to get there. It is best to hire a driver. Enjoy the sunset from the beach at low tide or up on the cliffs at a cafe. The nearby markets are a great place to grab some touristy trinkets and cheap art. I once bought 5 Balinese paintings for $27. If you enjoy golfing, then the nearby Nirwana Resort has the best links course in Bali.


Kecak Dance in Ulu Watu

In the 1930's, a German artist taught the Balinese a peculiar performance called the Kecak. The dance has no instruments, just vocal chords, about 100 of them. They chant generously and costumed performers dance and act out the Ramayana. While the 20th century German impetus may sound slightly inauthentic, you will hardly care about details as the sun slowly sets beyond the cliffs of Ulu Watu and you get lost in the chant. There is also lots of fire.

The show begins at 6:00pm nightly. Hire a taxi to drop you off at Ulu Watu temple. Once there, follow the crowds to the performance area. It is perched on the cliffs at the southernmost tip of Bali. Your driver will undoubtedly offer to take you to a Jimbaran seafood dinner after the show. Decline this service. It is an expensive tourist trap.


Snorkeling around Menjangan Island

Menjangan Island in the far west is a long trip from almost anywhere in Bali. The remote location augments the pristine experience by discouraging crowds. Much of West Bali is sparsely populated parkland, so it is a departure from the bustling south. In Menjangan, hire a boatman to take you out to the reefs for the day, and prepare to get your mind blown. Snorkeling does not get better than this. The bright reefs and strange fish will tattoo a smile upon your face. At the end of the day, shack up on the beach in nearby Pemuteran. It is wise to stay a night, or three. If you have time, then take a trip into Taman Nasional Bali Barat to view some Balinese flora and fauna.

The drive is over 3 hours from south Bali, so a day trip is way too cumbersome. A great way to experience Menjangan is too stay in nearby Pemuteran for a few nights. The Amertha in Pemuteran grazes perfection. Its secluded location framed by towering mountains and gorgeous villas with private pools is well worth the modest splurge. The amazing house reef full of critters just meters offshore will almost talk you out of visiting Menjangan. Don't let it.


Road Trip to Lake Bratan

With taxi rates substantially lower than Western standards, it is cheap and easy to hire a driver for a good old-fashioned chauffeured road trip: $50 for an entire day is about average. One of my favorite paths begins in the southern part of Bali and snakes up through the lush highlands ending at the otherworldly Lake Bratan. It takes about 2 hours. The lake is home to the unbelievably photogenic cover-girl temple, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. The mist hangs low, the air is much cooler, and it all feels so right. This is an enlightened place.

Arrange a driver for the day through your guest-house or hotel, or use my favorite driver, the extremely jovial Made Dana (081338719877).


Climbing Mount Batur

The volcanic Mount Batur and surrounding lake provide a proper setting for a gorgeous clamber to the summit. The best time to climb is the morning. Most groups begin their ascent around 4am, hitting the summit at 6 to watch the sun slowly rise over the Lombok strait. Bring a jacket and be careful at the summit. Batur is an active volcano and an unfortunate tourist fell into the cauldron in early 2010.

You can arrange a trip up the mountain with your guest-house or driver. It is not too physically demanding. If you find yourself bit by the climbing bug, check out Mt. Rinjani on nearby Lombok Island. It is beast and takes several days to summit.


Eat Babi Guling at Ibu Oka in Ubud

Babi Guling, or suckling pig, has made a name for itself as Bali's main course. Many roadside warungs serve the oinkers, but Ibu Oka has garnered some serious praise for its delectable hogs. Anthony Bourdain called it the best. We are in agreement on this point. Just go there, order a combo plate, and find a place in the crowds to hunker down and grub. It costs about 2.50 for a plate, which is a small penance for something with a "best" moniker. Wash it all down with an ice cold fruit drink.

It is hard to miss Ibu Oka in the heart of Ubud near Ubud Market. Just ask around. Be sure to arrive early for lunch; 11 am is early enough. They only prepare a few beasts each day, and once the food is gone... they shut down.


Rafting through the heart of Bali

You will get drenched, and you will love it. Rafting through the heart of Bali thrills the heart and frightens the mind. The rapids shoot you through Bali's lush interior like a drunken torpedo. The voyage zips passed rice paddies with working farmers and kids flying kites. It feels like traveling through a privileged backstage portion of Bali, and that is a great feeling.

Bali adventure tours near Ubud can arrange your rafting adventure. Like everything else is Bali, just ask your driver or guest-house for arrangements to be made. They will be happy to phone in their commission. Banyan Tree also arranges rafting excursions.

Attend a Buffalo Race in Negara

Water Buffaloes serve many purposes throughout Southeast Asia. They are agricultural tractors, beasts of burden, milk producers, a source of food, and...racing machines. In western Bali, on Sundays, these beasts line up and drag jockeyed chariots around an oval course like cans behind a car. The brightly accessorized water buffaloes grunt around the dusty track while local spectators shout their Bahasa encouragements.

Negara is quite a haul from South Bali, and the buffalo races start very early on every other Sunday during the dry season (July to October) around 7am. To arrive on time, it is best to stay the night prior to the races. Medewi is a nearby surf town with nice accommodations. Check out Medewi Beach Cottages or Medewi Bay Retreat. Once there, it is simple to arrange a driver to the races. To determine when the races take place, ask a tour operator or driver before heading towards West Bali. Things change often in Bali, and it is best to be informed to avoid disappointment.

Justin Delaney is a Seed.com contributor. All the photos above are copyright Justin Delaney. Read his blog (and check out more of his top-notch photos) at Goboogo.

Filed under: Arts and Culture, Hiking, History, Paddling, Scuba Diving, Surfing, Food and Drink, Photos, Asia, Indonesia, Hotels and Accommodations, Ecotourism, Budget Travel

Retailers Looking Forward to Bumper Holiday Spending



Irvan Tisnabudi | August 30, 2010
The country’s retailers are expecting revenues to surge by about 18 percent this year, largely on the back of increased spending during the lead-up to the Idul Fitri holiday next month. (Antara Photo/Andika Wahyu) The country’s retailers are expecting revenues to surge by about 18 percent this year, largely on the back of increased spending during the lead-up to the Idul Fitri holiday next month. (Antara Photo/Andika Wahyu)

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Jakarta. With a little help from seasonal spending around the Idul Fitri holiday, nationwide retail sales were expected to surge by about 18 percent this year, the Association of Indonesian Retailers said on Monday.

“For 2010, we predict the total market size for the modern retail markets will grow … from Rp 85 trillion [$9.44 billion] in revenue last year to about Rp 100 trillion this year,” Rudi Sumampouw, secretary general of the association, also known as Aprindo, told the Jakarta Globe.

Rudi said that while revenue only totaled Rp 35 trillion in the first half of the year, its second-half sales should top Rp 65 trillion with the Idul Fitri holiday fueling a big push in consumer spending.

“Consumers’ buying power increases due to things such as the holiday bonuses that companies give to their employees,” he said.

Danny Kojongian, director of corporate communications at Matahari Putra Prima, told the Globe that sales at MPP retail stores picked up every year during Ramadan, the fasting month leading up to the Idul Fitri, or Lebaran, festivities.

MPP runs Matahari department stores and Hypermart supermarkets across the country.

“Sales during the holy month account for 30 percent of the annual sales for Matahari department stores and 15 percent of the annual sales at Hypermarts,” Danny said.

“During the fasting month all the way up to Lebaran, Matahari department stores conduct Lebaran Sales.”

The country’s modern retail market is comprised of minimarkets, supermarkets, hypermarkets, department stores and specialty stores.

According to Aprindo data, specialty stores, which make up the biggest portion of the market, should see their total revenues up by about 14 percent, increasing to Rp 80 trillion this year compared to Rp 70 trillion last year.

Examples of specialty stores include Gramedia book stores and Guardian drug stores.

There are currently 1.1 million specialty stores across the country, compared to 900,000 at the end of last year.

Meanwhile, the total revenue of Indonesian minimarkets, such as Indomart and Alfamart, should increase from Rp 5 trillion in 2009 to Rp 7 trillion this year.

Hypermarkets, among them Hypermart and Carrefour, are expected to see revenue jump from Rp 3 trillion last year to Rp 4 trillion for 2010.

Supermarkets, such as Hero, can expect total revenues to reach Rp 5 trillion this year, up from Rp 4.2 trillion last year.

Aprindo also said that department stores such as Matahari would see their revenue increase to Rp 4 trillion this year, up from Rp 2.8 trillion last year.

Akhmad Nurcahyadi, an analyst at BNI Securities, said share prices in most listed retail companies had risen by as much as 30 percent this year, although he warned investors not to expect continued gains.

“But because this increase is seasonal, once we get closer to the end of the year, the stock prices will decrease to a level I predict will be an average of about 10 percent higher compared to January’s prices,” he said.

“It’s during these few weeks before the Lebaran holiday that the stock prices will reach their peak.”


How do you plan to spend your Idul Fitri bonus?

SMS +62 811 991 8111 or e-mail yourview@thejakartaglobe.com

(Please add your name and city)

Singapore Tightens Loan Limits to Cool Housing Market

By Shamim Adam and Joyce Koh - Aug 30, 2010 1:44 PM GMT+0800


Public housing complexes in Singapore

A Mass Rapid Transport train travels past public housing complexes in Singapore. Singapore joins Hong Kong and China in introducing measures this year to cool their property markets amid concerns that asset bubbles are forming as home prices surge. Photographer: Charles Pertwee/Bloomberg
A condominium development in Singapore

The Singapore Flyer operates near a condominium development in Singapore. Property prices have surged as Singapore's $182 billion economy rebounded from last year’s global slump to expand at a record 17.9 percent pace in the six months through June. Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said more measures will be taken to cool the property market during the annual National Day Rally speech. Source: Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) via Bloomberg

Singapore increased down payments for second mortgages and imposed a stamp duty on property held for less than three years to curb speculation after home prices surged 38 percent in the second quarter.

Buyers who hold more than one mortgage can only borrow up to 70 percent of a property’s value, versus 80 percent previously, and must pay 10 percent in cash, up from 5 percent, the government said in a statement today. A seller’s stamp duty will apply to all residential units and land sold within three years of purchase, from one year. The changes take effect today.

Singapore joins Hong Kong and China in introducing measures this year to cool their property markets amid concerns that asset bubbles are forming as home prices surge. Hong Kong said this month it will tighten mortgage lending rules and increase the supply of land, while China’s restrictions include higher down payments and mortgage rates for multiple-home buyers.

“The government is taking a preemptive approach to make sure prices don’t get out of hand,” said Donald Han, a Singapore-based managing director at real estate adviser Cushman & Wakefield Inc. “Most of the measures are really targeting repeat buyers and speculators who buy and sell over the short term, which is now defined as within three years.”

Stocks, Bonds

CapitaLand Ltd., Southeast Asia’s biggest developer, dropped 1 percent to S$3.96 as of 1:15 p.m. in Singapore trading, while the benchmark Straits Times Index rose 0.6 percent. City Developments Ltd., the island’s second-largest developer by market value, fell 3.2 percent to S$11.58, headed for its biggest decline since February.

CapitaLand’s S$250 million ($185 million) in 4.35 percent notes due 2019 fell to 101.88 cents on the dollar from 102.48 cents on Aug. 27, the lowest in about two weeks, according to Standard Chartered Plc prices. City Developments’ S$90 million in 2.92 percent notes due 2014 fell to 101.68 cents, the lowest since Aug. 10, according to DBS Group Holdings Ltd.

Property prices have surged as Singapore’s $182 billion economy rebounded from last year’s global slump to expand at a record 17.9 percent pace in the six months through June.

The city-state has been attempting to rein in home prices since last year when the government barred interest-only loans for some housing projects and stopped allowing developers to absorb interest payments for apartments still being built.

Previous Measures

The government in February said it will levy a seller’s stamp duty on all residential properties and land that are sold within one year from the date of purchase. The city-state then also lowered the loan-to-value limit to 80 percent from 90 percent for all housing loans provided by financial institutions regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

The island nation’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday said previous measures failed to keep prices in check.

“We twice attempted to cool the property market, once last year and once in February this year, but the prices are still rising,” Lee said in a televised speech. “Our purpose is to make sure in the long term, Singaporeans can own their homes and afford it and it will be a gradually appreciating asset which will grow as Singapore grows.”

Singapore’s property market would form a bubble if the current momentum continued, Mah Bow Tan, Minister of National Development, said today after the measures.

Prices Surge

“The property market is currently very buoyant,” the government said in the latest statement. “The government’s objective is to ensure a stable and sustainable property market where prices move in line with economic fundamentals.”

Singapore private residential prices rose 38 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

The island led 36 markets around the world in property- value changes last quarter, gaining 34 percent from a year earlier, according to the Global Property Guide in its survey of house prices.

Price levels have exceeded the historical peak in the second quarter of 1996, the government said today.

The government expects gross domestic product to grow 13 percent to 15 percent this year after the nation in 2009 exited its worst recession since independence 45 years ago.

‘Severe Implications’

“Should economic growth falter and the market corrects, property buyers could face capital losses, with implications on their own finances and the economy as a whole,” the government said. “Moreover, the current low global interest rate environment will not continue indefinitely, and higher interest rates could have severe implications for buyers who have overextended themselves.”

Hong Kong Aug. 13 raised down payments for apartments costing HK$12 million ($1.54 million) or more to 40 percent, from 30 percent. The government has been accelerating its auctions of land for development in a bid to cool prices that have soared about 45 percent since the beginning of 2009, boosted by mortgage rates at the lowest in two decades and buying by mainland Chinese.

John Tsang, Hong Kong’s financial secretary, said home prices are approaching the level of 1997, the height of a previous bubble that was followed by a six-year slump.

China, South Korea

In China, the banking regulator has ordered stress tests for lenders to gauge the impact of home prices falling as much as 60 percent in the hardest-hit markets, a person with knowledge of the matter said. China’s property prices rose at the slowest pace in six months in July as the government cracked down on speculation to prevent asset bubbles.

China has restricted pre-sales by developers, curbed loans for third-home purchases, raised minimum mortgage rates and tightened down-payment requirements for multiple-home purchases. It has also instructed lenders to halt third-home loans in areas with “excessive price gains.”

Taiwan in June introduced a 70 percent cap on loans for second homes, after low borrowing costs fueled lending and a jump in home prices. Central Bank Governor Perng Fai-nan wrote to the chairmen of all financial institutions on the island last month, asking them to take steps to prevent housing speculation.

Malaysia’s central bank has written to financial institutions to get their feedback on the possibility of capping the loan-to-value ratio for mortgages at 80 percent, the Edge weekly reported Aug. 28, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

South Korea may be an exception in Asia as the government steps up measures to spur the property market. The government yesterday said it will ease mortgage lending rules and extend tax breaks to encourage buyers back after home sales slumped to the lowest level in almost a year and a half.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shamim Adam in Singapore at sadam2@bloomberg.net; Joyce Koh in Singapore at jkoh38@bloomberg.net

U.K. House Prices Drop the Most in 16 Months

, Hometrack Says
By Craig Stirling - Aug 30, 2010 7:01 AM GMT+0800
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-29/u-k-house-prices-fall-most-in-16-months-as-market-hits-repricing-phase.html

The average cost of a home fell 0.3 percent from the previous month to 158,200 pounds ($246,000), the London-based property researcher said in an e-mailed statement today. Photographer: Colin McPherson/Bloomberg

U.K. home values dropped in August by the most in 16 months as the housing market endured a “modest re-pricing” that is likely to last as long as a year, Hometrack Ltd. said.

The average cost of a home fell 0.3 percent from the previous month to 158,200 pounds ($246,000), the London-based property researcher said in an e-mailed statement today. That was the biggest drop since April 2009. Hometrack’s index is based on a survey of 5,100 real-estate agents and surveyors.

The report adds to mounting evidence that the housing market is weakening, and economists predict data tomorrow may show that banks granted the fewest mortgages in more than a year last month. Britain’s economy “remains fragile” and officials may need to expand their emergency stimulus to aid the recovery, Bank of England Deputy Governor Charles Bean said on Aug. 28.

“The housing market is in the process of a modest re- pricing that is likely to run for the next six to 12 months,” Richard Donnell, Hometrack’s director of research, said in the statement. There is also “growing weakness on the demand side, a weakness which represents more than just a seasonal blip.”

From a year earlier, prices rose 1.5 percent, the least in five months, Hometrack said. Demand for homes, measured by the change in new buyers registering with real-estate agents, fell for a second month, dropping by 2.2 percent.

The supply of homes “has improved markedly and this has reduced the support for house prices provided by the scarcity of housing for sale over 2009 and early 2010,” Donnell said. Prices fell in every region apart from Wales, where they were unchanged, the report showed.

“The deleveraging process is incomplete, the recovery remains fragile and a considerable margin of spare capacity is yet to be worked off,” Bean said at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “Further policy action may yet be necessary.”

U.K. banks probably approved 46,500 mortgages in July, the least in 14 months, according to the median forecast of 19 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. The Bank of England will release that data tomorrow.

To contact the reporter on this story: Craig Stirling in London at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

Twenty-Nine House Damaged in Bali Clash

Monday, August 30 2010 14:10 WIB | Bali Update | Dibaca 23 kali

Singaraja (Antara Bali) - At least 29 houses were damaged and eight people injured after two neighborhood organizations at Pengastulan village in Buleleng district, Bali, clashed early Sunday.

"Some of the residents carried pointed weapons but they did not become embroiled in a physical clash. They only pelted stones, bottles and rooftile fragments at each other. The clash did not spread as the police came to restore the situation," Pengastulan village head Ketut Yasa said.

Three of the injured were in a critical condition. They were identified as Muhamad Syarif and Muhammad Azim of Kauman neighborhood organization and Putu Suarjana of Pala neighborhood organization, Ketut said.

Some of the injured were treated at a nearby hospital, while the others treated their injuries themselves, he said.

Seririt subdistrict head Putu Kariaman said the clash was the fourth of its kind in the past few years.

A source told ANTARA some of the residents threw a molotov cocktail at one of the houses but it did not cause fire.

Yasa said 23 of the houses were in Kauman neighborhood organization. They were damaged on their roofs and windows.

The two conflicting neighborhood organizations were reconciled after the security agencies held a meeting with the figures from both sides at around 2 p.m. on Sunday.(*)

Twenty-Nine House Damaged in Bali Clash

Monday, August 30 2010 14:10 WIB | Bali Update | Dibaca 23 kali

Singaraja (Antara Bali) - At least 29 houses were damaged and eight people injured after two neighborhood organizations at Pengastulan village in Buleleng district, Bali, clashed early Sunday.

"Some of the residents carried pointed weapons but they did not become embroiled in a physical clash. They only pelted stones, bottles and rooftile fragments at each other. The clash did not spread as the police came to restore the situation," Pengastulan village head Ketut Yasa said.

Three of the injured were in a critical condition. They were identified as Muhamad Syarif and Muhammad Azim of Kauman neighborhood organization and Putu Suarjana of Pala neighborhood organization, Ketut said.

Some of the injured were treated at a nearby hospital, while the others treated their injuries themselves, he said.

Seririt subdistrict head Putu Kariaman said the clash was the fourth of its kind in the past few years.

A source told ANTARA some of the residents threw a molotov cocktail at one of the houses but it did not cause fire.

Yasa said 23 of the houses were in Kauman neighborhood organization. They were damaged on their roofs and windows.

The two conflicting neighborhood organizations were reconciled after the security agencies held a meeting with the figures from both sides at around 2 p.m. on Sunday.(*)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

138 Passengers Rescued After Ferry Runs Aground in Bali

Made Arya Kencana | August 27, 2010
Passengers of the ill-fated Darma Rucitra ferry being rescued in Singaraja, Bali. (Photo courtesy of Metro TV) Passengers of the ill-fated Darma Rucitra ferry being rescued in Singaraja, Bali. (Photo courtesy of Metro TV)

Jakarta Globe Roland
2:19pm Aug 27, 2010

So much about increased safety awareness safety on Indonesian ferries after numerous accidents which did cost hundreds of people their life. And I don't mean the headlined accident, while also this one is rather suspicious (why did they sail in the first place when there were rather bad "natural factors" - strong winds and heavy seas?) but bout the second featured accident which cost cost the life of 9 passengers because the ship was overcrowded and there were no life jackets available! Aren't here any basic safety measures and is there never an audit checking up on at least the safety jackets or life rafts, which, I believe are mandatory on any passenger carrying vessel!

Denpasar. Nearly 140 passengers were finally rescued unharmed from a ferry on Friday morning after it ran aground in Singaraja, Bali, on Thursday evening.

Ospar Silaban, a local official from state-owned transportation management company ASDP, told the Jakarta Globe that 138 passengers were evacuated from the ill-fated Darma Rucitra after it was left high and dry in Tanjung Gowa after a crossing from East Java.

“Our priority was rescuing the passengers and thank God all of them survived,” he said.

He said the accident was caused by “natural factors,” namely heavy seas and strong ocean currents.

The ship remains beached and salvage crews are waiting for high tide this afternoon before attempting to refloat the vessel.

On Wednesday, the Putra Romo carrying more than 26 passengers sank in Badung Strait, Bali. Nine passengers died and another two are missing, feared.

A police investigation revealed the boat was overcrowded and their were no lifejackets.

Expats Complain of Stricter Requirements for Indonesian Credit Cards

Irvan Tisnabudi | August 27, 2010

Expats should not expect the same banking standards as they receive in their own country or overseas, while they are in Indonesia. The situation is different here and the banks are obviously making plenty of profits from the local market. When I was an expat in various european countries (even eastern europe) I never had any problems and the service was excellent. But I've had loads of problems in Indonesia. My advice is to go to BCA and deposit 15jta into a blocked account. They will then give you a credit card and every 6 months you can't increase your credit limit by calling halo bca. HSBC and CITIbank operations in indonesia are nowhere near as good as they are overseas. Here, they behave with a very local mindset. We would expect such international companies to behave more professionally, but they don't. And they don't train their staff properly either. Best option is BCA, but make your application at a major branch, not the smaller ones because they are not able to process your application.

Roland
11:41am Aug 28, 2010

Interestingly I had a while ago from Citibank for a Platinmum card which I accepted - but actually with a desperately low limit, less than 20 % compared to my former Diners Club Card, which I had still from my home country but returned in the end as almost nobody accepts this card in Indonesia. I know though that I got the offer from Citibank only as I had over a period of time a few 'major' foreign currency transfers from Europe, at least in their eyes and they were Citibank account to Citibank account!

Don't get me going about BCA - the most arrogant bunch of morons with zero customer service. Some of the smaller branches are a bit better and some individual employees are alright but in general their attitude is deliberately not service minded at all. Just around 2 years ago I moved all my accounts to Mandiri, which is friendlier, although my request for a credit card (even though I have a flawless credit record with Citibank for over 10 years) got so far not honoured!

In regards of loans from banks - it is well known that bank clerks approving loans are expecting in general for a successful application an 'appreciation' of 5 - 10% of the total sum, regardless of the bank, but again first BCA, followed by BRI, regardless of the collateral one might is able to offer!

Rico Frans' excuse that foreigners need an ownership of property (which of course they are not allowed to by Indonesian law, not even apartments) is a very thinly veiled excuse - or, what I don't believe he simply doesn't know about that!

bulegaul
10:34am Aug 28, 2010

Rico Frans from Citibank is talking nonsense! I've been in Indonesia 8 years, am a Premier customer at HSBC (says something about my worth!), have a Premier Credit Card from HSBC, Platinum Mastercard and Visa cards from ANZ..yet, three separate applications from Citibank have been rejected. And of course they won't tell you why. I use BCA as my daily transaction account but they also won't give me a Credit Card. I don't need more credit. I just want access to their special offers which in the case of Citibank are often very good. As far as I can tell, the banks think all foreigners are going to flee leaving a huge debt behind. I'd be interested to hear the default rate for foreigners vs locals. Anyone brave enough to tell?

garydean
8:52am Aug 28, 2010

Because foreigners tended to rent, Frans said, locals — who were more likely to own homes — had a better chance of approval.

Husna Zahir, chairwoman of the Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation (YLKI), said because expatriates were seen as more mobile, banks screened them more carefully than Indonesians.

Marta, from AKKI, said there were no laws specifically related to credit cards for foreigners, and that each bank had its own guidelines depending on its “risk appetite.”

“Banks should want as much clarity on their customers’ status as possible — especially with foreigners — because credit cards offer noncollateral credit,” he said.

Steve added that banks also had a “card-for-card” mentality, whereby applicants who already have a credit card from another lender would have an easier time getting additional lines of credit.

citibank: "He also said having a history with a bank would also make applying for a credit card much easier."

ahem. foreigners are not permitted to own property under indonesian law.

sounds like citibank grasping for excuses.


peterR
8:04am Aug 28, 2010

I think that everybody in Indonesia, including banks, make the basic assumption that everybody here is dishonest. They also have to huge problem of debt recovery through the law. The system of law is weak and corrupt. When I asked a relative how credit finance companies and banks recovered bad debt in Indonesia, he said that they sent round 'agents' to visit the debtor. From my experience, international banks like HSBC in Indonesia, from whom one would expect more progressive thinking, actually have a very local mindset. The service I receive from HSBC in Indonesia simply does not compare with what I would expect in my home country. Having said that, bank service is always pretty crap anywhere unless you are loaded. The banks even promote varying degrees of service by having the likes of 'Premier' service for the well healed, and 'Indifferent' for the peasants. For the arrogance that most bank show, considering that their greed and incompetence has over recent times brought the world to its knees and ruined the lives of many hundreds of millions, they should be gratefull they were not ripped apart by mobs in the streets. But with time honed smugness, they can still say down their noses, "I am sorry but you simply don't meet our requirements".

peterR
7:57am Aug 28, 2010

I think that everybody in Indonesia, including banks, make the basic assumption that everybody here is dishonest. They also have to huge problem of debt recovery through the law. The system of law is weak and corrupt. When I asked a relative how credit finance companies and banks recovered bad debt in Indonesia, he said that they sent round 'agents' to visit the debtor. From my experience, international banks like HSBC in Indonesia, from whom one would expect more progressive thinking, actually have a very local mindset. The service I receive from HSBC in Indonesia simply does not compare with what I would expect in my home country. Having said that, bank service is always pretty crap anywhere unless you are loaded. The banks even promote varying degrees of service by having the likes of 'Premier' service for the well healed, and 'Indifferent' for the peasants.

Jakarta. While most Indonesians are being bombarded by aggressive marketing for credit cards, some foreign nationals living in the country say they are still finding it difficult getting them.

Several expatriates who spoke to the Jakarta Globe said both local and international banks in Jakarta often required hefty deposits on credit cards, sometimes up to 110 percent of the available credit, while others said their applications had simply either been ignored or they were told they were not eligible because they were not citizens.

“I was told to do a one-time deposit totaling 110 percent of the credit card limit of the type of card I chose when I applied for a Bank CIMB Niaga credit card,” said Thomas, an English language tutor.

“But I thought that putting in a deposit would lose the basic purpose of getting a credit card in the first place, so I rejected the offer.”

Even at international banks, such as Citibank, Thomas said his applications were turned down as soon as he told them he did not have a credit card from a local bank.

A marketing manager at a beverage distribution company in Jakarta told the Globe that two local banks, Bank Negara Indonesia and Bank Mega, had told her that she needed a deposit of 80 percent of the credit limit before her application would be approved.

“Other than that, my credit card applications for two foreign banks, HSBC and Citibank, received no further feedback or processing,” she said, asking not to be identified.

Steve Marta, general manager of the Indonesian Credit Card Association (AKKI), acknowledged that banks often had additional requirements for foreign nationals who were seeking credit.

“Foreigners tend to be more mobile,” he said. “This gives banks more leeway when determining whether foreigners will be granted credit cards, compared to when they process local applicants.”

According to Marta, banks should only require a passport and temporary residency permit, or Kitas, as well as evidence of sufficient income, in order to qualify, but many asked for other “flexible” requirements when processing non-Indonesian applicants.

As an example, he said a letter of notice from the person’s employer regarding his or her employment status would facilitate the filtering process.

Several credit card applications examined by the Globe, however, did not list letters of notice as a requirement.

Zulnasri, head of BNI’s external communication division, acknowledged that the bank had different requirements for expatriates, but denied that it intentionally made it more difficult for them to obtain cards.

“We don’t want to make it hard for foreigners, because offering credit cards is like selling a product — so we want to sell as many as possible,” he said.

“But we have to sell them safely, or else we’ll suffer losses. This also occurs in other countries, like in Singapore — it’s hard for foreigners to apply for credit cards there.”

Rico Frans, head of country marketing at Citibank, said his bank welcomed foreign credit-card applicants, as long as they had a local residence, a Kitas and a passport.

He explained that further screening took into account whether applicants were renting or owned their residence, but said that process was the same for locals and foreigners alike.

Because foreigners tended to rent, Frans said, locals — who were more likely to own homes — had a better chance of approval.

Husna Zahir, chairwoman of the Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation (YLKI), said because expatriates were seen as more mobile, banks screened them more carefully than Indonesians.

Marta, from AKKI, said there were no laws specifically related to credit cards for foreigners, and that each bank had its own guidelines depending on its “risk appetite.”

“Banks should want as much clarity on their customers’ status as possible — especially with foreigners — because credit cards offer noncollateral credit,” he said.

Steve added that banks also had a “card-for-card” mentality, whereby applicants who already have a credit card from another lender would have an easier time getting additional lines of credit.

He also said having a history with a bank would also make applying for a credit card much easier.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quiksilver and Coca-Cola outfitting Bali lifeguards Bali lifeguards


: photo courtesy Quiksilver

Bali Lifeguards Sport New Uniforms Courtesy of Quiksilver and Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 24 August, 2010 : - - On Friday morning August 21 during one of their training programs on Kuta Beach, South Bali’s Badung Lifeguard Department took a break to receive brand new uniforms, hats, and sunglasses courtesy of Quiksilver SEA and Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia (CCAI).

On hand to present the new apparel to the lifeguards and their captains were Quiksilver’s Surf Team Captain Tipi Jabrik (who is also CCAI’s CSR Ambassador), Advertising and Promotion Manager Ms Putu Purniati, and Tech Manager Sam Gosling, along with Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia’s Business Services Director Bruce Waterfield.

Receiving the goods on behalf of the 160 man strong Badung Life Department was Coordinator Made Suparka, who was extremely grateful for the new uniforms, saying “We are so very thankful to Quiksilver and CCAI for their support. Having these new uniforms means a lot to us, for now when we are out on the beach we can be even more proud of our jobs as lifeguards, and everybody on the beach knows exactly where we are because we have such great new uniforms!”

The Badung Lifeguard Department is made of up 7 posts; Kuta, Canggu, Dreamland, Padang-Padang, Uluwatu, Club Med (Nusa Dua), and Nusa Dua, all of whom were represented at the presentation where they received 320 long-sleeved shirts, 320 short-sleeved shirts, 320 rashguard shirts, 320 hats, 640 pairs of boardshorts, 320 pairs of sunglasses, and 160 swimming trunks as part of the lifeguard support program that was initiated last year by Quiksilver and Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia.

“Quiksilver is proud to be able to support the Badung lifeguards as we know what a challenging job they have and how important it is, not only for the safety of the tourists but for the local people as well. They need good quality equipment in order to perform at their best, and they are also showing a good example of how to be protected against the sun while at the beach. We plan to support them for many years to come,” said Ms Purniati from Quiksilver.

Bruce Waterfield from Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia had this to add, “This is a great addition to CCAI’s commitment to protecting and preserving Bali’s beaches. These lifeguards play a critical role each day in making Bali’s beaches safe, so any help we can give them so they can do their jobs better is the right thing to do.

In conjunction with our beach cleanup and turtle conservation programs, together with our support of the Indonesian Surfing Championship Tour, we pleased with the progress we are making to help out in the community and we are committed to keep doing it for a long time to come.” The presentation took place in front of the Kuta Beach Lifeguard Headquarters on the beach near the Hard Rock CafĂ© at 9 am on Friday morning.

After the lifeguards were gathered together on the beach, Tipi Jabrik welcomed them all and gave them an overview of the presentation and the program. Next, Bruce Waterfield of CCAI took over the microphone to say a few words to the men, and then it was on to Sam Gosling and Ms Purniati from Quiksilver who symbolically presented the new uniforms.

To close out the morning’s presentation, Bruce Waterfield took the opportunity to present 13 new Coca-Cola surfboards to the group of very stoked Coca-Cola product retailers that had been called to the event to receive these special rewards for their loyalty and hard work on the beach.

Naturally there were plenty of Coca-Cola refreshments for all during the event, so everybody left the presentation with a good feeling and a positive outlook on the day, and with clean beaches and stylish lifeguards, the world famous beaches of Bali are now better and safer than ever!

www.quiksilver.com

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bali Wants to Install 1,000 More CCTV Cameras

Made Arya Kenana | August 22, 2010

Denpasar. Bali is so pleased with its eyes-in-the-sky that it wants to add an additional 1,000 closed-circuit television cameras throughout the beach resort island.

Nyoman Silanawa, who heads the province’s National Politics and Public Protection Bureau, said that the cameras will go up in a major city and across eight island districts. “We have allocated a budget of Rp 22 billion ($2.4 million),” he said.

The cameras will be monitored and controlled by local police stations and the Disaster Prevention Operations Control Center.

At present, the “Island of the Gods” has monitoring cameras hooked up at 12 strategic and often tourist-heavy locations.

But the Gilimanuk port in west Bali, which serves as a major gateway to and from Java, and the Padang Bay port, which is mainly used for traffic between the island and Lombok, will also be hooked up with the cameras.

“There will also be additions at Ngurah Rai International Airport and Benoa,” he said, adding that the island’s dominant tourism industry has been a major driver of increased security programs in the province. The Nusa Dua Bali Tourism Development Center is one such example, funding the instillation of 68 CCTV units in the enclave.

Silanawa said he hoped the work would be completed quickly to build on the advances the province has made in other areas of crisis management.

“We really hope that everything will be installed and integrated by 2013,” he said.

Bali has also drawn up plans to build 33 self-contained crisis centers. “The facilities will be equipped with fire fighters, security and health care officers,” Silanawa said.

Bali Police spokesman Comr. Gede Sugianyar Dwi Putra said the installation of the cameras have changed the way law enforcement operates on the island. “We have prevented many incidents, in cluding crimes against foreign tourists,” he said.

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/bali-wants-to-install-1000-more-cctv-cameras/392316

Bianco's world: Seven things to do in Bali



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Bianco's world: Seven things to do in Bali
Bali is a popular destination for travellers, and when you`re in Bali itself, there`s loads of things to see and do - here are the seven things to do in Bali.

Bali Bird Park

The Bali Bird Park houses a large number of birds from Indonesia (such as the magnificent Birds of Paradise) and others from around the globe in well designed enclosures.

When I went there in 2008, I even spotted a sulphur-crested cockatoo and other parrots from Australia. The Bali Bird Park is a perfect opportunity to get up close and take some great shots of birds that one might not otherwise come across.

(Photographs copyright: Bianco/Travel Tart)
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Bali- Island holiday homes beckon for Aussies



Fiji is among the destinations where Australians are buying holiday homes / Vomo Island Source: Supplied

FORGET the traditional shack on the coast - Australians are taking advantage of the strong Aussie dollar and abundance of budget flights to buy holiday homes overseas instead.

Fiji, Bali and Malaysia are among the most popular destinations for people looking to buy international properties as investments and vacation getaways.

"There's an increased number of people buying in New Zealand as well and that's mainly due to the fact they have some favourable exemptions there, such as no capital-gains tax," Property Planning Australia director Angelo Piazetta said.

"I think it just depends on who has the best marketing - in the past year people have been interested in Malaysia because there's new complexes or apartments going up there."

Bob Lowres and his wife, Libby, had been looking to buy a property in Noosa, but decided they could get more bang for their buck in Fiji when they decided to move from Brisbane eight years ago.

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* Fiji's dictator mustn't get away with it The Australian, 18 Jul 2010
* Developer pursues island dream The Australian, 30 Jun 2010
* Stepping out in $30,000 style Herald Sun, 30 Jun 2010
* The Bula effect The Australian, 21 May 2010
* Y they like folksy holiday Herald Sun, 9 May 2010

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But when Mr Lowres felt he wasn't quite ready to retire, the developer started looking for development opportunities and stumbled across Naisoso Island, where you can buy land and build a house from $500,000.

A $400 million master-planned resort, which will have 150 beachfront apartments, a four and five-star hotel, wellness centre and marina, has been so popular with Australians it is being dubbed "the new Niseko".

"When I was growing up the family holiday was very much the beachside home," he said.

"Now many baby boomers are reaching retirement, they want to enjoy it and I don't think this generation likes to rough it."

Real estate agent Carol West, from The Professionals Fiji, said the number of Australians buying there had doubled in the past two years.

Most Australian buyers were baby boomers and retirees from the Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne and a few from Adelaide and Noosa.

Ms West said people were realising how far their dollar could go there and that there were four airlines linking the countries.

"You can buy a property on Denarau for around $400,000 and the competition between the airlines drives the price of flights down," she said.

"People are realising they can get on a plane and be here in a few hours and be in a different world."

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/travel/island-holiday-homes-beckon-for-aussies/story-e6frfq7r-1225908366418#ixzz0xPYCep00

http://www.news.com.au/travel/island-holiday-homes-beckon-for-aussies/story-e6frfq7r-1225908366418

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Flour price may soar 20% in October due to low harvest

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 08/23/2010 9:57 AM | Business
A | A | A |

The Indonesian Sugar and Flour Traders Association (Apegti) predicts that the country’s flour price may rise 20 percent starting from October due to increased world wheat prices stemming from decreased global production.

The price of wheat in several stock exchanges rose after the government of Russia announced that the country would temporarily halt wheat exports from Aug. 15 to Dec. 31 due to the severe drought that hit the country recently.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that Russia’s 2010 wheat production may drop 20 million metric tons to 42 million or 43 million metric tons.

Two weeks ago, the price of a bushel of wheat at the Chicago Commodities Exchange rose US$5 to $7.50.

Apegti chairman Natsir Masyur said Saturday that the local price of flour would be hugely influenced by world wheat prices because the entire supply of wheat to the country was imported.

“Given our wheat stock, no price increase is expected until September, but after that, we may see a 20 percent increase in prices,” he told The Jakarta Post via telephone over the weekend.

He said that currently, Indonesia imported 4 million tons of wheat and 500,000 tons of wheat flour per year from other countries. Australia is the largest supplier of wheat to Indonesia, representing 75 percent or about 3 million tons of the total wheat import.

Although rice remains the major staple food in Indonesia, wheat flour is also widely used for making bread and especially instant noodles, which feature heavily in local cuisine.

Indonesian Flour Mills Association (Aptindo) chairman Fransiscus Welirang said the domestic flour industry was highly dependent on international market conditions and a domestic price increase was unavoidable.

“We follow the market, so domestic flour producers can’t determine the price on their own, ” he told the Post.

He said that if domestic flour producers increased prices, it could affect the purchasing power of people to buy flour and flour-based products.

However, Fransiscus said, increased prices of wheat and flour would not bring any serious impact as many alternatives were available in the country.

Fransiscus, who is also a director of PT Indofood Sukses Makmur, the world’s largest producer of instant noodles, said that his company had enough stock for the next three months, but could not ensure that prices would remain stable.

He added that the impact on Indonesia of the decline in Russian wheat production was not as bad as when Australia’s wheat production fell in 2008. He said that Russian wheat represented only 1.5 percent of the total wheat import.

Apart from Russia, the Canadian government also predicts that its wheat production may fall 15 percent to 22.7 million metric tons this year from 26.5 million metric tons last year. The major causes of the decline in Canada wheat production were flooding in Saskatchewan and Manitoba that curbed seeding and crop development.

The FAO revised its prediction on the world’s total wheat production from 676 million to 651 million metric tons, but said that the current wheat crisis had small possibility of turning into a severe food crisis. (rdf)

Bali named best leisure destination




Ni Komang Erviani, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar | Mon, 08/23/2010 11:04 AM | Bali
A | A | A |

Bali has gained further global recognition as the island was recently named “The Best Leisure Destination in Asia Pacific” by readers of Business Traveler magazine published in Hong Kong.

In a statement to the Bali Tourism Board (BTB), the magazine’s managing director, Peggy Teo, said the nomination was based on a readers’ survey conducted from April to June this year. The award for the nomination will be presented at an official event in Hong Kong next month.

“We hope the Bali governor will attend the event to represent Bali in receiving this award,” BTB chairman Ngurah Wijaya said Saturday.

Wijaya said the award would improve the island’s image internationally. “This is once again global recognition that Bali is the best tourist destination. We should be proud.”

“The world will take not of this award, and this will make Bali more popular among foreign tourists.”

Bali has received more than 10 international awards as a favorite tourist destination, the tourism agency said.

US publication Travel and Leisure magazine named Bali “The Best Island in The World” for nine consecutive years from 2001 to 2009. The island was also acknowledged as “The Best Spa Destination 2009” by SENSES magazine published in Germany.

In January, Ubud was awarded “The Best City in Asia” by travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler.

In response to the award, Bali should work on its flaws, especially infrastructure, Wijaya said.

“Our infrastructure is poor. We should improve this so tourists won’t be disappointed,” he said.

Ngurah Rai International Airport remains the priority as the airport can no longer accommodate the rising number of tourists, he said.

He said new hotels continue to sprout up, causing unhealthy business competition. Currently, there are more than 50,000 hotel rooms in Bali.

If the condition persists, Wijaya went on, it is feared that Bali would be known as a budget destination. This could be damaging to the island’s tourism. He said the administration’s plan to build an airport in northern Bali could be a long-term solution “but we can’t rely on it and we should have a short-term solution”.

A short-term solution he suggested was that the administration upgrade Ngurah Rai airport to make it possible for larger aircraft to land there. He added, “if expanding the airport is impossible, the administration should stop issuing licenses for new hotels.”

Tourism agency head Ida Bagus Subhiksu said he was proud of the award, saying it would promote Bali and would hopefully increase tourist arrivals.

Subhiksu said the award should motivate the island to make some improvements. “Although we have been awarded the best destination, many problems persist, mainly with regards to cleanliness and traffic jams. We should improve this.”

As of June this year, 1.2 million foreign tourists, mostly from Australia, Japan and China, have visited the island, a 13 percent increase from the same period last year.

A new film, starring none other than the hippie-haired Julia Roberts, will only boost a phenomenon that has seen foreign visitors to Bali


Still crazy after all these years (except this time they are loaded)

One woman's spiritual quest spawned a multimillion-pound film franchise and sent tourists flocking to find themselves in six-star retreats

The Independent

Peace and love: Julia Roberts with Swami Dharmdev at Hari Mandir Ashram in New Delhi. The actress was shooting Eat Pray Love, the film of the book by Elizabeth Gilbert which has sold more than seven million copies

AP

Peace and love: Julia Roberts with Swami Dharmdev at Hari Mandir Ashram in New Delhi. The actress was shooting Eat Pray Love, the film of the book by Elizabeth Gilbert which has sold more than seven million copies

It is one of life's ultimate ironies. A book about one woman's spiritual quest to find herself has spawned a multimillion-pound film franchise and sparked a fresh stampede for the hippie trail she followed on her path to enlightenment.

Travel agents have rushed to cash in on the publishing sensation that is Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love – which has sold more than seven million copies since it came out four years ago – with special packages designed for the book's acolytes. A new film, starring none other than the hippie-haired Julia Roberts, will only boost a phenomenon that has seen foreign visitors to Bali, the Indonesian island that featured in the travel memoir, soar to a record 2.2 million last year.

In the book, Gilbert embarks on a journey of self-discovery after a messy divorce. Her alliterative route, which took in Italy, India and Indonesia, has rekindled interest in the mystical hippie trail, as popularised by the likes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney in the 1960s. The one difference is that this time round, rather than hitchhike their way across the vast expanses of the Asian subcontinent, or slum it in 50p-a-night hostels, travellers are hopping on planes and flexing their credit cards to check in to six-star former palaces that have been repackaged as retreats for the materially devout.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mentally Unwell Man Wounds Eight During Rampage with Samurai Sword in Bali Made Arya Kencana | August 20, 2010

Bali. A man armed with a Samurai sword went on a rampage on the resort Island of Bali on Thursday night, wounding seven locals and a domestic tourist, a survivor and Bali Police said on Friday.

The victims, including the tourist from Yogyakarta, suffered injuries to their heads, necks, backs and arms and have been hospitalized in the Sanglah General Hospital.

Rawiyah, one of the survivors, told the Jakarta Globe from her hospital bed that she and her family had gathered in front of their shop near the Kuta Puri Hotel on Jalan Pantai Kuta when she was allegedly attacked by Putu Eka, the son of the hotel owner.

She said she attempted to run into the back of her store but she was chased and suffered slash wounds to her back.

“It happened very fast. He (Putu Eka) suddenly attacked many people,” Rawiyah said.

Kuta Police Chief Adj. Comr. Wimboko told the Globe that Putu Eka was eventually restrained and beaten by locals before he was handed over to Kuta Police.

“We have given explanation to locals and tourists about what happened so they won’t get worried,” Wimboko said.

The police took Putu to Bangli Mental Hospital because he was “uncontrollable.” Wimboko Edo was possibly suffering from depression.

“The allegation is supported by the family’s statement,” he said.

Putu Eka’s family apologized to the victims’ families and promised to cover the victims’ hospital bills.

“Putu Eka has been suffering from psychological problems but he had never endangered other people’s lives. We, his family, apologize to the families of the victims and the locals,” said Ngurah Gede, the family representatives.

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/mentally-unwell-man-wounds-eight-during-rampage-with-samurai-sword-in-bali/391981

Robin Gilbert performs on point with Carlos Fittante in Bali.



The Joys & Travails of Dancing On Point in Bali
BALAM Dance Theatre | Aug 20, 2010 | there are 0 comments 0
Robin Gilbert performs on point with Carlos Fittante in Bali.


Have you ever tried rehearsing or performing on point on a cement floor? BALAM Dance Theatre's ballerina and lead female dancer, Robin Gilbert, knows from experience. She has been performing in Bali this month in the role of Tigerlily on point on some of the most challenging dance surfaces, ranging from cement to cliff side earth and flora.

Artistic Director Carlos Fittante sat down with Gilbert to discuss the joys and travails of dancing ballet fusion on point in Bali.

http://blog.danceruniverse.com/blog/story/2010/8/20/122120/509

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Backpacker Guide to Cheap Eats in Ubud

Report Thomas Hogue | August 19, 2010
Lada Warung offers hearty fare at reasonable prices in a welcoming setting.   (JG Photos/Thomas Hogue) Lada Warung offers hearty fare at reasonable prices in a welcoming setting.   (JG Photos/Thomas Hogue)

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Almost imperceptibly over the last few years — as Bali’s tourism numbers have ramped up even higher — restaurants in the island’s cultural hub of Ubud have become ever flashier and upscale, with the price of a meal approaching what used to be the cost of a month’s lodging. And judging by the ultramodern makeovers of some of Ubud’s old standbys — Ary’s Warung, Jalan Monkey Forest’s Gayatri Cafe — the inexpensive meal for the traveler on a budget has become a thing of the past.

Or has it?

Taking a spin around town — when the traffic permits — with an eye peeled for the out-of-the-way and the overlooked, it is still possible to find local warungs that serve up good fare at reasonable prices.

So, if you find yourself in the Bali heartland and need to fill your stomach without emptying your wallet, here are some of Ubud’s eating establishments where meals go for Rp 20,000-50,000 ($2.25-$5.60) a head.

Expect to pay a little more if you choose to quench your thirst with a cold Bintang.

Lada Warung Top of Jalan Hanoman, on the right

My wife says this used to be a tiny hole-in-the-wall, but a revamp has turned it into a breezy two-story restaurant with a Mediterranean feel.

The whitewashed walls are adorned with antique pictures of Bali, while ceiling fans turn lazily above the wooden tables and chairs, and tile floors.

Traditional Indonesian entrees range from Rp 15,000-25,000. Nasi goreng and mie goreng go for Rp 22,000-24,000.

Coffees and the now de rigueur fresh juices run Rp 10,000-20,000 each, and small and large bottles of Bintang cost Rp 18,000 and Rp 25,000, respectively.

When I visited for Lada Warung for lunch, I picked fare from the cafeteria’s daily line-up and had a red chicken curry, fried potato and corn patties, vegetables and a glass of watermelon juice, all for just Rp 35,000.

The best seats in the house are upstairs, and the free WiFi makes this a good place to spend a cool afternoon.

Mangga Madu At the beginning of Jalan Gunung Sari, on the right as you head toward Maya Resort

This has been a family favorite ever since my wife introduced it to me a few years back. When we are in town, we eat here at least once a week.

Most local standards run in the Rp 9,000-15,000 range, with Western dishes priced from Rp 19,000 to 25,000. The most expensive item on the menu is ayam keju, a breaded chicken and cheese cutlet with fries.

We’ve never been here when there wasn’t a steady stream of local and foreign diners who obviously appreciate good, hearty food at bargain prices.

All drinks, juices and coffees are less than Rp 10,000, and small and large Bintangs cost Rp 14,000 and 24,000, respectively. Unless you are trying to make up for a lost meal, it’s simply not possible to top Rp 50,000 a head.

Our affection for this friendly warung has so far kept us from trying Warung Mina, another establishment with its own following across the street. Warung Mina has slightly higher prices for its local fare and a broader range of Western dishes, including pizza.

Dewa Warung Jalan Gootama, just north of Jalan Dewi Sita, on the right

If there was ever any doubt about the value of a mention in Lonely Planet, drop by this unassuming place on a small lane in the center of Ubud and watch the backpackers flock.

One of Dewa Warung’s selling points is that it doesn’t add MSG to its food, but I’m not so certain that’s the main draw. And certainly not a lot of capital has been wasted on the concrete-slab-asbestos-roof decor.

Maybe it’s the feeling that this could have been a dining experience that one would have had in Ubud in the 1970s and ’80s, before the daily traffic jams and the three-day tourist hordes.

The food includes the usual standard warung fare with a healthy selection of vegetarian options, though the tempeh curry dish I had over rice was a little bland.

Prices range from Rp 8,000-17,000, with the nasi and mie goreng standards at Rp 10,000-12,000. Juices are Rp 6,000, and Bintang runs Rp 15,000 for a small bottle and Rp 22,000 for a large bottle.

Made’s Warung About 150 meters from the top of the Penestanan steps, on the left

Made’s Warung has been a feature of Penestanan life for the last couple of decades, and many a newbie expatriate in Ubud has counted on its physical and spiritual sustenance to carry them through the day.

Sitting atop the Penestanan ridge, you can always catch a cool breeze here and a friendly greeting from Made, her husband or the other long-time cook.

This used to be the only place in Penestanan to grab a passable Western breakfast without hiking or cycling into Ubud, and it’s still a reliable place for standard Indonesia fare.

Dishes range from Rp 10,000-27,000, with one or two Western plates that hit close to the Rp 50,000 mark.

The best deal is the nasi campur , a mixed rice entree that serves up chicken, pork, tempeh, vegetables, sahur (shaved coconut and peanut) and egg, all for Rp 20,500.

Lala & Lili is also on top of the Penestanan ridge and has more of a Western cafe feel to it.

Ibu Oka’s Babi Guling Jalan Suweta, behind the dance performance hall, on the left as you head north

No list of local restaurants would be complete without mentioning this place. Judging by the tour buses, hotel vans and hungry tourists, this — and not some fancy-shmancy place with a French chef — is the best-known eatery in Ubud.

The restaurant dishes out roast pork done the traditional Balinese way, and that tasty bit on your plate today was probably a happy pig in a sty yesterday at 5 p.m.

Ibu Oka has found a winning formula and stuck with it since Dutch colonial times. The basic serving consists of rice, roast pork, a crackling or two, a piece of sausage and stewed green vegetables, all for Rp 30,000 — unless, of course, you are a local, because just like everything else in Bali, there is a tourist price and then there is a local price.

Puteri Minang Padang Food Jalan Raya Ubud, just a few doors down from Ganesha Bookshop

Masakan Padang eateries are ubiquitous across Indonesia, and can be a real budget saver for travelers and others looking to fill their bellies on the cheap.

There are several places in Ubud that serve up Padang, but the favorite seems to be the centrally located Puteri Minang on Ubud’s main street, just around the corner from the post office.

The eatery offers cafeteria-style service and a basic selection of rice, vegetables, tuna or chicken curry, beef rendang, tempeh, tofu and other Indonesian standards.

If you worry about food that is cooked in the morning and re-heated several times throughout the day, then get there between 10:30 and 11:00 in the morning for an early lunch or a late breakfast and the dishes will be coming straight out of the kitchen.

A plate piled high with rice and a selection of dishes, and a cold drink costs between Rp 20,000-25,000. No beer is served here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Indonesia AirAsia goes regional

Editor's Note I hope they do a lot better on their international routes than they have on Indonesian Routes providing very poor service on two flights I took with the average delay of one and onehalf hours.
I
Mimi Hudoyo, Jakarta (2010-08-16)

CHANGING gears to go from domestic to regional, Indonesia AirAsia (IAA) is closing its Jakarta-Medan and Jakarta-Surabaya routes on October 1 to focus on new routes.

IAA spokesman Audrey Progastama Petriny was quoted by Tempo Daily as saying: "This is in line with our business strategy, to change from a domestic to an international player."

IAA is planning to operate from Medan to Malaysian cities such as Kota Kinabalu and Penang, and Hong Kong. Another new route is from Surabaya to Kuala Lumpur.

The airline, however, has not announced when the new regional routes will start.

Jakarta-Medan and Jakarta-Surabaya are 'fat routes' for the airline with last July's average load factor reaching 89 per cent and 78 per cent respectively.

16 August 2010, TTGTravelHub.Net Daily News

SBY Sees 7.7% GDP Growth, Fall in Poverty By End of Term

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Jakarta. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he was seeking to achieve annual growth of 7.7 percent and create 10.7 million new jobs by the end of his second term in 2014.

He also aimed to cut the poverty rate by about a third to between 8 percent and 10 percent over the next four years, the president said on Tuesday in his annual state of the nation address to the legislature.

“Improving Indonesia’s economy must benefit its poorest citizens, Yudhoyono said. “Development is useless if more people are marginalized. Growth is useless if the gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider.”

Yudhoyono was elected to a second five-year term in July 2009 on promises to boost economic growth by cleaning up corruption, speeding up infrastructure development and reforming the sluggish civil service.

“This fight will face challenges and resistance as happened in other countries, but we won’t be discouraged,” Yudhoyono said. “We all want to see corruption eliminated from Indonesia.”

Indonesia’s ranking in Transparency International’s 2009 corruption perception index improved to 111 from 126 a year earlier, according to the organization’s Web site.

The index measures the perceived level of public-sector corruption in 180 countries and territories around the world.

But Yudhoyono has been slow to deliver results and has failed to wholeheartedly support his top reformers against the corrupt political and business elite, proving a disappointment to many ordinary Indonesians.

Yudhoyono has failed to defend his top reformers — former Finance Minister, Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Vice President Boediono over their decision to bail out small lender Bank Century.

The politicking by members of his own coalition has exposed rifts within his government and his inability to exert control over key coalition members, and distracted from pushing ahead with reforms and passing legislation.

Since its inauguration, Yudhoyono’s second term government has passed only a handful of bills, none of which address the issues investors see as most urgent: labor law reform, clean governance and bureaucratic reform.

Anton Gunawan, an economist at Bank Danamon in Jakarta, said progress had been slow, with a poor working relationship between central and regional governments and disruption from a legislature full of vested interests.

Other analysts agreed. “What people are looking for is the action, not the words. That’s where we haven’t seen much being delivered,” said David Kiu, a political risk analyst at Eurasia Group. 

Sanjay Gupta an avid art collector picked up some life-size rare paintings on his trip to Bali.



Sanjay Gupta is a Bollywood writer-director known for his dark thrillers

TNN, Aug 17, 2010, 12.00am IST
Article

And the filmmaker felt that perhaps he may have some answering to do at the Mumbai airport. However sources say he reportedly got away from scrutiny because his wife Anu’s designer bag attracted more attention than the paintings he bought in Bali. Sanjay was last heard telling folks that his wife is indeed his saviour!

Read more: Anu does the trick for Sanjay - News & Interviews - Bollywood - Entertainment - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/bollywood/news-interviews/Anu-does-the-trick-for-Sanjay-/articleshow/6319676.cms#ixzz0wuvjw7LF

Traveller's Guide: Bali




Beautiful beaches, exquisite temples, great food, tropical scenery and mighty volcanoes – this Indonesian island has it all, says Iain Stewart

Saturday, 14 August 2010

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The Independent
Worth the long journey?

The beautiful Indonesian island of Bali appeals to a full spectrum of visitors: karma-seekers attracted to the island's spiritual side; budget-challenged backpackers; hikers and bikers; Aussie and European families; and hardcore surfers. Tourism is the engine room of the economy, much of it centred on Kuta beach in the south, close to the airport. (This area is plagued by heavy traffic, tacky bars and incessant hassle from street vendors peddling everything from trinkets to massages.)

The island packs a lot into its modest footprint on the globe, offering nature on a very grand scale indeed. Only 80 miles across, it's incredibly fecund, and impossibly green away from the heavily developed southern strip. Bali's central volcanoes (Agung is more than 10,000 feet high) attract heavy rainfall, and the soundtrack to life in rural parts is a gurgling stream rushing past a rice field – along with the call of the cockerel and buzz of a moped.

Even though Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country, nine out of 10 Balinese are Hindu. It's an intensely spiritual island whose endemic religion dictates daily life from early dawn – offerings are presented to spirits, incense is burned, and prayers recited on every street corner.

An excellent place to get a feel for Balinese culture in the otherwise deadly-dull capital, Denpasar, is at the Negeri Propinsi Bali museum. It has strong ethnographic content and superb antique textiles, and its compound contains fine examples of Balinese temple pavilions; it opens 8am-4pm Sunday-Thursday, 8am-12.30pm on Friday; admission is 5000Rp (35p).

Is Bali artistic?

Yes. The island's artistic tradition is profound. Hundreds of painters and sculptors are based around Ubud in central Bali, contemporary artists gravitate to Seminyak and cottage industries are everywhere, with villages dedicated to every kind of art form, and roadsides lined with wood carvings and batik paintings.

This artistic mindset permeates the whole island: aesthetically, many rural Balinese houses resemble temples, featuring walls topped with carvings of gods and exquisite gardens. Balinese style influences hotel, restaurant and spa design throughout the island. Many hotels, such as the Waka di Ume (00 62 361 484085; wakadiume.com; from £154 per night double) in Ubud, have gorgeous outdoor bathrooms with pebble floors that mirror traditional public bathing places in the countryside.

There are five other Waka hotels, all Balinese-owned and run, with graceful buildings constructed from local timber and roofs from alang alang thatch. All occupy gorgeous locations set in rural or beachside settings (including one lodge inside the Bali Barat National Park). Frankly, nowhere on earth does tropical chic better than Bali.

The back story?

Though Bali is isolated in faith terms today, Hinduism was the region's principal religion until the 15th century, when Muslim states in neighbouring Java began expanding. As a result, Hindus left East Java en masse for Bali, led by highly literate priests. Since then Bali has evolved its own ritualistic, all-encompassing form of Hinduism, which is very different from the religion practised in India or Nepal: for example, meat is widely eaten.

For authentic Balinese cooking, you can't beat the food market in Ubud, home to dozens of stalls churning out delicate, delicious little morsels such as sate lilit (minced chicken with shallots and lemongrass) grilled over charcoal. And while you're in town, drop by and taste suckling pig at Warung Ibu Oka on Jalan Suweta: if the island has a trademark dish, this is it. For any kind of religious ceremony, locals don traditional dress, made with elaborately patterned batik fabric; both sexes wear sarongs and sashes, and men put on colourful headbands. There are temples everywhere in Bali, even among the bars of Kuta, and at festivals the streets are full of colour and costume. The whole island seems to be moving from one religious event to another.

For the Balinese, positive and malevolent forces are everywhere. All kinds of purification rituals are performed to maintain harmony. After the 2002 bombings on Kuta beach, in which 202 people died, the whole island had to be spiritually cleansed: huge ceremonies were held at the sites of the attacks, and across Bali.

Heart and soul?

Ubud, Bali's spiritual centre, is still an overgrown village. It effortlessly combines the rustic and the spiritual (along with plenty of commerce, another Balinese talent). The whole place has the appearance of a temple, and many homes are still traditional compounds of brick walls topped with Hindu statues.

In some ways Ubud is a victim of its own success: the sheer number of cappuccino bars, spas and boutiques is startling, and traffic congestion is a problem. It's a sprawling place today, but somehow a uniquely Balinese identity endures, with shimmering rice fields behind every restaurant and hotel.

Ubud is undoubtedly Bali's foremost artistic centre; it's loaded with terrific museums and art galleries, such as the Neka (00 62 361 975074; museumneka.com), which features an important collection of Balinese artistic styles. Any day of the year you can catch a dance performance. One of the best places to go for these is the Ubud Palace (still the home of Balinese royalty), which has a highly atmospheric setting surrounded by a temple and gardens. The dances take place almost every evening at 7.30pm and cost from 80,000Rp (£5.60).

Balinese dance shows are stupendous – a blur of grace, agility and costume – and are inextricably linked to the island's spiritual heritage (most performances are versions of the Hindu epics Mahabharata or Ramayana).

Down south, the cliff-top temple Pura Luhur Uluwatu is a magnificent natural amphitheatre for the spell-binding Kecak dance, performed each sunset by dozens (sometimes hundreds) of bare-chested men above the crashing ocean.

Bali's most sacred temple is Pura Luhur Batukau, a spiritual site since the 11th century. It enjoys a gorgeous location on the lower slopes of Batukau mountain, where it is surrounded by misty forests. It also has beautiful garden courtyards and a seven-tiered pagoda. Strict rules are applied to admission: no menstruating or pregnant women, nor "mad ladies/gentleman".

Hip and happening?

Seminyak, eight kilometres north-west of Kuta, is one of Asia's most fashionable enclaves, home to numerous Indonesian designers and creative types, a glut of moneyed and slacking Westerners and the nation's most vibrant gay scene. It's not an easy place to negotiate, and many of the exclusive, hip hotels, lounge bars, galleries and spas are at the end of narrow semi-rural lanes that seem to lead nowhere. Ku De Ta (00 62 361 736969; kudeta.net) is Seminyak's most renowned hang-out. At night this beachfront lounge-restaurant is an ethereal scene with spotlights picking out the spray of the Indian Ocean rollers, the sea mist suspended in the ink-black tropical sky.

Off the beaten track?

It's quite feasible to visit some terrific volcanic scenery on a day trip from one of the southern resorts. Climbing the likes of Agung is a serious undertaking that takes planning, but, for a V

C quick hit, the hike up the mini-cone of Batur is not too strenuous. It's a couple of hours from the village of Toya Bungkah to the top, from where you can gaze into the smouldering guts of Batur; a local woman is sure to appear with an egg (which you can cook in no time close to a steam vent).

Near-deserted beaches are not impossible to find, but you won't find them close to the main strip in southern Bali. Head east where Pasir Putih (near Candidasa) is a gorgeous untouched crescent of white sand. Close by, Jemeluk has dark, grey sand and decent snorkelling, but no crowds.

Or for that desert-island experience, take a fast boat to the fabled Gili islands around 25 miles east of Bali. Tiny Gili Meno, with 400 residents, no dogs or motorised transport (everyone gets around by bike or horse and cart) is a vision of paradise, with chalk-white sands backed by coconut palms, and sea that's a near surreal shade of turquoise. Stay at Shack 58 (00 62 813 5357 7045; shack58.com), a simple, yet wonderfully elegant beachside address. A double room costs £64, including breakfast.

I'm hungry

Balinese food is hot and sweet, and uses a wonderful array of spices. The Balinese favour a meal of little snack-sized bites of myriad flavours and textures. Flavours are complex and spices are many: coriander, cardamom, chillies, garlic, ginger and cloves, mixed with palm sugar, shrimp paste, lemon basil and shavings of dried coconut.

Even the dreaded concept of fusion cooking seems to work here. Chandi (00 62 361 731060; chandibali.com) in Seminyak is the domain of chef Agung (ex-Nobu New York), who is constantly adding twists to classic Indonesian dishes such as beef rendang (45,000Rp, £3.20) Over at nearby Sarong (00 62 361 737809; sarongbali.com) they throw together inspired dishes such as little parcels of tuna sashimi with betel leaf, lemongrass, shallots and lemon basil (25,000Rp, £1.75 each), while the salt and pepper crispy Balinese pork is sublime (88,000Rp, £6.20). Of course Bali is a very international island, so if you'd rather not start the day with nasi goreng (fried rice), you won't have to search hard for croissants, fresh fruit and muesli, or even a Full Monty-style fry-up. A great meal can cost just a couple of pounds, though beware that the Indonesian government recently ramped up alcohol taxes so you'll pay more for wine or spirits than you would at home.

Iain Stewart is the author of Lonely Planet's Bali and Lombok guide

Warm waters, super surfers

Surf culture is everywhere in Bali and the waves are world-class. Surf folklore insists an American,

Bob Koke, kicked things off in 1936 when he pitched up with a long board on Kuta Beach. Today Bali borders on surf overkill at times with surf-themed bars, surf stores, surf safari expeditions and hundreds of stores selling (knock-off and genuine) surf gear. Until recently most Balinese would avoid the ocean: it was considered the domain of bad spirits. But times have changed and now locals win surf competitions all over the world.

Tempted? Well the water is reliably and enticingly warm. You'll find powerful beach breaks at Legian and Dreamland and reef breaks galore off the Bukit Peninsula, where the tubes of Uluwatu are probably the ultimate ride. Touristy Kuta remains an excellent place to learn to surf, drop by Pro Surf (00 62 361 744 1466; prosurfschool.com) for lessons (from £26.50).

Bali also offers terrific scuba diving; Indonesian coral reefs are some of the most diverse in the world. Top sites include Menjangan Island, where you're virtually guaranteed to see reef sharks, and Nusa Penida's Manta Point where divers encounter dozens of schooling manta rays. Giant sunfish (or mola mola) are also seen here between late July and November. British-run World Diving (00 62 812 39 0 0686; world-diving.com) offers dives on Nusa Penida (£49 for two dives).

Travel essentials: Bali

Getting there

* In the absence of direct flights to Bali's airport in Denpasar from the UK, the quickest routes take around 17 hours and cost from £750 return. Singapore Airlines (0844 800 2380; singaporeair.com) has excellent connections, and KLM (0871 231 0000; klm.com) has good deals. But you will almost always save cash by flying via the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and then getting an internal flight, for example on Air Asia (airasia.com). Emirates (0844 800 2777; emirates.com) and KLM often have London-Jakarta return flights for under £500.

Getting Around

* An international permit, available from Post Offices, is needed to drive in Bali. Police often stop foreign drivers and fine those caught without a permit.

* Car hire is inexpensive: from as little as 150,000Rp (£10.50) a day for an ageing Suzuki Jimny; perhaps 280,000Rp (£20) for a new-ish Toyota Kijang. Mopeds cost about 50,000Rp (£3.50) per day. Beware that roads are narrow, traffic is heavy (particularly in the south) and accident rates are high.

* If you'd rather let someone else negotiate the roads, hiring a car with a driver costs from 350,000Rp (£25) per day, excluding fuel. Or consider Perama (00 62 361 751551; peramatour.com): shuttle buses which connect all the main places. Don't use any taxis other than the reliable Bluebird Taxis (00 62 361 701111), which all have meters. A short trip costs around 20,000Rp (£1.40).

Dangers

* The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (fco.gov.uk) warns of a risk of terrorist attack, particularly at festive times: "You should be particularly vigilant during holiday periods such as Easter and Christmas, which can be a time of heightened tensions in Indonesia." It also warns of the threat of volcano eruptions and earthquakes. Rabies is an issue too (stray dogs should not be approached).

http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/asia/travellers-guide-bali-2052030.html