Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Eat Pray Love’ To Steal Show



Katrin Figge | September 24, 2010
United States actress Julia Roberts arrives for the screening of United States actress Julia Roberts arrives for the screening of 'Eat Pray Love' in Rome last week. Though the film flopped with critics, it remains in the spotlight in the run-up to the 2010 Balinale International Film Festival in Bali where the film was partially flimed. (AFP Photo)

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peterR
6:38am Sep 26, 2010

“Indonesia, with its 17,000 islands and more than 300 ethnic groups has great potential".

Why is it that just one island out of all of those thousands, can do anything?

I write this looking out over the rice fields of Ubud. The air is clear, its fresh, its peaceful and clean. I can see people from all over the World walking the country lanes every day.

Its just so different to anywhere else I have been in Indonesia. Why is that?

It is all about “Eat Pray Love.” Never mind that the movie, starring Julia Roberts, has failed to impress critics after premiering in the United States last month. This hasn’t stopped it from stealing the spotlight in the run-up to the 2010 Balinale International Film Festival.

The annual showcase will take place in Bali from Oct. 12-17. “Eat Pray Love,” which was partly shot on the resort island, will be featured on the opening day of the festival, but the nationwide premiere will come a week earlier in Jakarta on Oct. 4.

Based on US author Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir about her travels to Italy, India and Indonesia on a journey of self-discovery, the film has been deemed by some as “too preachy,” “superficial” and showing “a shallow view of Eastern spirituality.” But none of the festival’s organizers attending the Balinale press conference on Thursday afternoon in Jakarta seemed any less enthusiastic despite the mixed reviews.

And why should they? Even though some critics didn’t particularly like the film, the undeniable fact is that “Eat Pray Love” brought a lot of worldwide attention to Bali.

The movie, produced by Dede Gardner and Brad Pitt of Plan B Entertainment, was the first major studio film ever shot in this country, and it allegedly contributed an estimated $12.5 million to the local economy.

This is expected not only to have a positive effect in terms of tourist numbers, but the festival’s organizers were also optimistic and hopeful that Bali and Indonesia in general could become an interesting and lucrative location for international movie productions in the future.

Festival founders Christine Hakim, a renowned Indonesian actress, and Deborah Gabinetti, were both on hand at the press conference. They agree that “Eat Pray Love” is a major step in the right direction in putting Bali on the filmmaking map by showing that successful productions can be shot here.

“There have been concerns about bureaucracy and security, especially after the Bali bombings, but in the end, all obstacles were overcome,” said Christine, who also had a small role in the movie.

“Of course we hope that through this film and also the Balinale festival, we can promote Indonesia, and it is our wish that Bali can one day become the film center of Asia,” she said.

“Indonesia, with its 17,000 islands and more than 300 ethnic groups has great potential. Geographically speaking alone, there is nothing Indonesia can’t offer — we have tropical rainforests, we have mountains, we have the ocean.”

Christine said about 300 locals worked on the production. “The art director of the film actually told me that his favorite crew was the Indonesian one.”

Speaking about her own experience in the film, Christine said she initially wasn’t interested in auditioning for a role.

“At that time, I was focusing on my father who was in the hospital and eventually passed away,” she said. “So I didn’t really care about the fact that ‘Eat Pray Love’ was going to be filmed in Bali. Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, even those names couldn’t get my attention.”

In the end, it was Gabinetti who persuaded her to try out for a part in the film, and this is how she eventually ended up playing Wayan Nuriasih, a traditional Balinese healer. Once she got the part, she said she completely immersed herself in the project.

“I just wanted to be professional about it, so during the time we were filming, I didn’t answer any phone calls or text messages,” she said. “And I didn’t even think about the fact that I was going to meet and work with Julia Roberts.”

She had bigger things to worry about. “This was a role I had to speak English for, and ideally, I had to have the same pronunciation as a Balinese speaking English,” she said.

However, Christine remembers her time on location as a pleasant experience. “On set, there was a lot of joking and laughter,” she said. “At times, it was even hard for the actors to concentrate on their work.”

When the 53-year-old actress attended the US premiere of the film in August and walked down the red carpet alongside international celebrities — an experience that could be overwhelming to some — Christine said her main goal was to be a worthy representative of her country.

“I wanted to take the opportunity to promote Indonesia abroad,” she said. “But at the same time I knew ... that the international audience is probably more familiar with Bali [than Indonesia in general]. So I wore a traditional costume from Bali — after all this is where the film was shot.”

She added that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism also did its part to highlight Indonesian culture during the premiere by organizing a demonstration on how to make batik and providing Indonesian cuisine.

Despite all eyes being on “Eat Pray Love,” there are many other highlights at the Balinale not to be overlooked.

“This year, I think, we have the best program to date,” Gabinetti said.

“The short films that we reviewed were fantastic. We had a record number of submissions, and they were such creative and inspiring stories, interesting and unique, and so we are showing a series of short films — and I’m pleased to say that most of them are Indonesian.”

Some other notable films on the ticket for the Balinale are “A Good Day to Die,” the award-winning documentary about the Native American resistance movement, the Chinese drama “Ocean Heaven” starring Jet Li, and the musical comedy “Bran Nue Dae” from Australia.

Also three Indonesian feature films are on the schedule: “The Dreamer,” “7 Hearts, 7 Loves, 7 Women” and “I Know What You Did on Facebook.”

“We try not only to entertain but also show films that inspire young Indonesians to tell their own stories,” Gabinetti said.

For this reason, there will also be workshops for aspiring filmmakers as well as discussions with visiting directors and other experts from the industry. All these events are of equal importance to the festival’s organizers — even though nobody would blame them for keeping the spotlight on the big draw.

“ ‘Eat Pray Love’ is a commercial success, and a film festival should not be based on commercial films,” Gabinetti said.

“But this was an extremely important film for us, as they not only used the location but they used local talent and a local crew, so of course, we are going to feature that film.”


Tuesday, Oct. 12
7:30 p.m. “Eat Pray Love” (US)
8 p.m. “Eat Pray Love” (US)

Wednesday, Oct. 13
1 p.m. “I Know What You Did on Facebook” (Indonesia)
2:30 p.m. “A Good Day to Die” (US)
4:30 p.m. “As the Rain Was Falling” (France) and “Home by Christmas” (NZ)
7 p.m. “Jesusito De Mi Vida” (Spain) and “Babies” (France)
9 p.m. “Animal Kingdom” (Australia)

Thursday, Oct. 14
1 p.m. “Debt” (Indonesia), “Little Black Dress” (US), “Debris” (S. Korea) and “3 Onions” (Indonesia)
2:30 p.m. “Me, Them & Lara” (Italy)
4:30 p.m. “Initiation at Wangi-Wangi Island” (Indonesia) and “Made in India” (India/US)
7 p.m. “Ocean Heaven” (China)
9 p.m. “Stone” (US)

Friday, Oct. 15
1 p.m. “Transparente” (Belgium), Purnama di Pesisir (Indonesia), El Cortejo (Spain) and Anak Anak Lumpur (Indonesia)
2:30 p.m. “7 Hearts, 7 Loves, 7 Women” (Indonesia)
4:30 p.m. “The Big Happiness” (NZ) and “Exit Through the Gift Shop” (US/UK)
7 p.m. “Poetry” (S. Korea)
9 p.m. “The Social Network” (US)

Saturday, Oct. 16
10 a.m. “Manual Practico Del Amigo Imaginario” (Spain) and “Bran Nue Dae” (Australia)

Sunday, Oct. 17
10 a.m. “Birth” (S. Korea) and “The Dreamer” (Indonesia)

Bali Skalees Go Down Under to Represent The Bali Skal Club

Four members of the Bali Skal Club will represent the Bali Skal Club, which is one of the largest and fastest growing clubs in the world, at the annual Skal Congress being held in Sydney next week .

Thousands of Hotel & Resort General managers, Travel agents and associates will attend the four day event hosted by the Sydney Skal Club which just celebrated it's 50th. anniversary.

The Congress Theme is - "Linking the World down under"

Sydney is one of the most famous destinations in the Southern Hemisphere; its Bridge and its Opera House being two instantly recognisable icons which clearly identify the city.

A Skål International World Congress hosted by Sydney will imbue the forum with all the renowned multi-cultural mateship, the welcoming sunshine, the fresh air and the sparkling waters for which Sydney is famous.

Truly Sydney will be the unique venue that will inspire Skålleagues the world over to attend the 71st Skål World Congress.

Skål is a professional organisation of tourism leaders around the world, promoting global tourism and friendship.

It is the only international group uniting all branches of the travel and tourism industry. Its members, the industry's managers and executives, meet at local, national, regional and international levels to discuss and pursue topics of common interest.

The first Club was founded in 1932 in Paris,

Skål International today has approximately 20,000 members in 480 Clubs throughout 89 nations. Most activities occur at local level, moving up through National Committees, under the umbrella of Skål International, headquartered at the General Secretariat in Torremolinos, Spain.

The Bali Skal Board consists of the following well known Bali Travel Industry Leaders.

Current Board Members
President Mr Urs Klee
Vice President Mr Jean Charles Le Coz
Past President Mr Keith Bell
Secretary & Treasurer Mr Malcolm Scott
Program & Events Officer Mr Adrian Forsyth
Public Relations Officer Mr Goestamar Ardibrata
Membership Development Officer Mr Bruce Jellard
Publicity & Communications Officer Mr Steve Charles
International Relations Officer Ms Chrissie Lincoln
Auditor Ms Barbara Purwa
Auditor Mr Alex Kesper

World’s Best Junior Surfers to Assemble in Bali for Oakley ASP World Pro



Kolohe Andino, Oakley Pro Jr : photo courtesy ASP



Oakley ASP World Pro Junior

Stop No. 1 on the 2010 ASP World Junior Tour
Keramas, Bali, Indonesia
2 - 13 October 2010

Live Coverage | Results/Photos/Videos etc


Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 29 September, 2010 : - - Keramas, Bali Indonesia -- The Oakley ASP World Pro Junior, the opening stop on the 2010 ASP World Junior Tour (WJT), will commence its waiting period this weekend in Bali, ushering in the greatest assemblage of junior surfing talent from around the globe.

Surfing young guns Conner Coffin (USA) and Keala Naihe (Haw) will challenge the world's best junior surfers in arguably one of the world's best high-performance waves after being awarded wildcards into the high stakes event, which will run at Keramas from October 2-13 and offer a prize pool of US $95,000.

With a surfing attack built on power and topped with an increasingly progressive repertoire, Coffin, 17, is looking to add to his trophy case with a big result in the tournament.

Coffin, who has an amazingly smooth, clean, and powerful pointbreak style, was raised in Santa Barbara’s legendary point breaks, and should ultimately put him in good stead at the right-hand waves of Keramas. In Round 1, Coffin will come up against Kiron Jabour (HAW) and Chris Salisbury (AUS).

Naihe is also positioned well for an impressive showing at the prestigious tournament and will face Marc Lacomare (FRA) and Charles Martin (GLP) in Round 1 of competition.

Ronny Nelson, Oakley Sports Marketing Manager, is excited to see Conner and Naihe lineup in the event. "Choosing wildcards is always a hard thing to do, there are so many options out there but at the end of the day you need to look at who will do well or even win the event," he said.

"In my eyes, I feel that Conner and Keala will best represent Oakley and have a great chance to win. Conner’s explosive surfing in punchy waves will be his advantage while the smooth finesse surfing and knowledge of reef breaks will suit Keala in Bali. Oakley is really happy that Conner and Keala are competing in the first event of two to help crown a legitimate ASP World Junior champion.

Similar to years past, athletes compete on their respective regional ASP Pro Junior Series throughout the season to qualify for the ASP World Junior Tour. Qualification for the ASP WJT is based on regional results from January 1 through August 31, 2010.

The inaugural ASP World Junior Tour will see six representatives from ASP Australasia, ASP South America, ASP North America and ASP Europe, five representatives from ASP Africa, ASP Hawaii and ASP Japan, and additional wildcards to make up the 48-man field.

The ASP World Junior Tour events will also feature an 18-woman field, which will crown the undisputed ASP Women’s World Junior Champion. The undisputed ASP World Junior Champions will be the No. 1 ranked male and female surfer after the completion of the ASP World Junior Tour.

The Oakley ASP World Pro Junior will be webcast LIVE via oakleyprojunior.com. For more information, log onto aspworldtour.com

Check the Live Coverage

Govt revokes decree on work-day shift for industries

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 09/29/2010 10:06 AM | Business
A | A | A |

The government has finally decided to revoke a 2008 joint decree signed by five ministers that obliges industries in Java and Bali to move two of five work days to Saturday and Sunday to overcome shortages in the islands’ electricity supply.

The secretary general of the Industry Ministry, Agus Tjahayana, said in Jakarta on Monday that the decree was no longer needed because state-owned electricity company PLN had provided enough supply following the operation of several coal-fired power plants recently.

“The five ministers agreed to revoke the decree,” he told reporters in a press conference at the ministry on Monday. He added that by repealing the decree, industries could normalize their work days to Monday-Friday.

In July 2008, the Industry Minister, the Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, the Manpower and Transmigration Minister, the Home Minister and the State-Owned Enterprises Minister issued the joint decree after PLN posted a supply deficit of about 600 Megawatts a day between Monday and Friday, while on Saturday and Sunday there was a surplus of 3000 MW.

The decree obliged industries to shift two of five work days from Monday-Friday to Saturday-Sunday to avoid regular blackouts during the week.

Agus said the current electricity supply was not worrisome because heavy rainfall had increased
water reserves to generate electricity from hydropower plants on the two islands.

The additional supply from newly operational coal-fired power plants in Java would be able to maintain the stability of the electricity supply for the people and industries, he said.

PLN is building a number large coal-fired power plants in Java as part of the first 1,000-power-plant development program. Most of them have begun commercial operation. They include PLTU Labuan Banten with a capacity of 300 MW, PLTU Suralaya, Banten with a capacity of 625 MW, PLTU Indramayu, West Java with a capacity of 3x330 MW and PLTU Rembang, in Central Java with a capacity of 2x630 MW. (rdf)

Govt revokes decree on work-day shift for industries

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 09/29/2010 10:06 AM | Business
A | A | A |

The government has finally decided to revoke a 2008 joint decree signed by five ministers that obliges industries in Java and Bali to move two of five work days to Saturday and Sunday to overcome shortages in the islands’ electricity supply.

The secretary general of the Industry Ministry, Agus Tjahayana, said in Jakarta on Monday that the decree was no longer needed because state-owned electricity company PLN had provided enough supply following the operation of several coal-fired power plants recently.

“The five ministers agreed to revoke the decree,” he told reporters in a press conference at the ministry on Monday. He added that by repealing the decree, industries could normalize their work days to Monday-Friday.

In July 2008, the Industry Minister, the Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, the Manpower and Transmigration Minister, the Home Minister and the State-Owned Enterprises Minister issued the joint decree after PLN posted a supply deficit of about 600 Megawatts a day between Monday and Friday, while on Saturday and Sunday there was a surplus of 3000 MW.

The decree obliged industries to shift two of five work days from Monday-Friday to Saturday-Sunday to avoid regular blackouts during the week.

Agus said the current electricity supply was not worrisome because heavy rainfall had increased
water reserves to generate electricity from hydropower plants on the two islands.

The additional supply from newly operational coal-fired power plants in Java would be able to maintain the stability of the electricity supply for the people and industries, he said.

PLN is building a number large coal-fired power plants in Java as part of the first 1,000-power-plant development program. Most of them have begun commercial operation. They include PLTU Labuan Banten with a capacity of 300 MW, PLTU Suralaya, Banten with a capacity of 625 MW, PLTU Indramayu, West Java with a capacity of 3x330 MW and PLTU Rembang, in Central Java with a capacity of 2x630 MW. (rdf)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SAS under fire over Kopassus training

SAS under fire over Kopassus training

By Indonesia correspondent Matt Brown

Updated 8 hours 26 minutes ago
Indonesian soldiers from Kopassus special forces perform at a ceremony in Jakarta

Trained with SAS: Kopassus soldiers in Jakarta (Reuters: Crack Palinggi)

Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission has criticised Australian training for the controversial special forces unit, Kopassus.

Soldiers from Australia's SAS and Kopassus are wrapping up counter-terrorism training after a hostage rescue exercise on Bali yesterday.

Australia's commander of special forces says Kopassus is working hard to overcome the concern about human rights abuses that has blighted its record.

The Human Rights Commission was established by the Indonesian government to highlight serious abuse, and it says Kopassus needs human rights training, not combat drills.

In the past it has investigated and found members of Kopassus implicated in major crimes.

It says Kopassus is changing, but vice-chairman Nur Khollis says the counter-terrorism training provided to Kopassus is not part of the solution.

"I don't think Kopassus needs it right now," he said.

"Because the most important thing for this highly-skilled unit is the knowledge of human rights. This is the main problem in several cases."

Papuan activists, protesting against human rights abuses in their province, have a similar plea.

Papuan student Oktovianus Pogau says Kopassus mistreats people there "right now".

"We respectfully request the Australian Government to stop the cooperation with Kopassus", he said.

Covert unit

The Australian training involved close-quarters fighting yesterday in Bali's international airport as Kopassus soldiers dispatched mock terrorists with ease and rescued their hostages. Several Australian soldiers were among the assault team.

Supporters of the training have argued it does not legitimise or bolster Kopassus as a whole because it is focused on Detachment 81, the counter-terrorism unit.

But the idea that it is sealed off from other sections of Kopassus is a fiction.

The ABC learned that last week - while the SAS was training Detachment 81 for their exercise - another group of officers was in town, studying the terrain.

They were not from Detachment 81, but from Sandi Yudha, the much feared covert warfare and intelligence unit of Kopassus.

For decades the unit has targeted separatists and democracy activists alike.

A week ago in Bali its members were at the airport preparing the way, mapping the terminal and gathering intelligence for their joint exercise with the SAS.

As Kopassus prepares for renewed assistance from the United States military it is reaching out to the National Human Rights Commission for training in civil rights.

It is part of an effort to satisfy American conditions on deeper ties.

The Commission is keen to oblige but vice-chairman Nur Khollis warns real change will not be easy.

"I think the most difficult thing to change is the paradigm," he said.

"It's about learning, an ethos which develops within an organisation, this takes a long time."

He says the commission's efforts to bring human rights abusers to justice have been met with a barrier of resistance and inaction - stretching from Kopassus all the way up to the president of Indonesia.

ADB Lifts Forecasts for Asia, Indonesia

The Asian Development Bank raised its forecast for the region’s economic growth this year, crediting a rapid recovery in exports even as it warned the risk of another recession in advanced countries had not completely receded.

The Manila-based development bank said on Tuesday it now expected developing Asia to grow 8.2 percent this year compared with a projection of 7.5 percent growth issued in April. The forecast, which did not include Japan, covered 44 developing and newly industrialized nations in Asia.

It forecasts Indonesia’s economy will expand 6.1 percent this year, faster than the previous projection of 5.5 percent.

“Overall, developing Asia’s recovery seems to have taken firm hold,” the ADB said in the report released in Hong Kong.

Increased consumer and business spending as a result of government stimulus also played its part in the recovery from the financial crisis, it added.

In predictions for individual economies, the ADB maintained its forecast of 9.6 percent growth for China, the world’s second-biggest economy.

South Korea and Taiwan were raised to 6 percent and 7.7 percent respectively. India’s anticipated growth was edged up from 8.2 percent to 8.5 percent, although the bank warned about high inflation due to scant monsoon rains in 2009 that suppressed harvests.

However, the ADB said governments should sustain the expansion by refraining from tightening fiscal and monetary policies “too quickly.”

“Shifting too quickly to fiscal and monetary tightening could heighten the risk of another contraction,” it said in the report.

India this month increased its benchmark interest rate for a fifth time this year.

Thailand in August raised its key rate and signaled further increases after the economy overcame political unrest to grow faster than estimated last quarter.

Taiwan, Malaysia and South Korea are also among those that have boosted borrowing costs.

Indonesia’s benchmark rate has been at a historic low of 6.5 percent since August 2009.

Developing Asian countries “are starting to raise interest rates, that means interest rate differentials between emerging Asia and industrialized countries will widen, that would attract more capital inflow,” said Jong-Wha Lee, the ADB’s chief economist.

The capital inflow presented “potential risk to the global economy” and “another threat to financial stability” should there be fund reversal, he said.

Meanwhile, inflation in Asia would generally be within central banks’ “comfort zones” and might average 4.1 percent in 2010 and 3.9 percent in 2011, the ADB said.

The bank also warned about possible weakness in the United States, Europe and Japan, highlighting sluggishness in the American housing market and the risk of sovereign debt defaults in Europe.

“The global recovery remains shaky, and downside risks lurk. The possibility of a double-dip recession in the major industrial economies has not receded completely,” the report said.

The bank called for more flexibility in the exchange rates of emerging currencies, including China’s yuan.

“I do think the emerging currencies in Asia need to be more flexible and probably need to appreciate against the G-3 currencies,” ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda said in reference to the US dollar, euro and yen.

Kuroda made the comment when asked whether the yuan should appreciate, amid claims from the United States that China was undervaluing its currency to boost exports.

“If you look at the US, Europe and Japan, their economies are recovering but their growth prospects in the medium to long-term are much lower than emerging Asia,” he said.

“That means that some exchange rate realignment would be necessary and already realignment is occurring in many parts of Asia.”

China pledged in June to loosen its grip on the yuan, which has been effectively pegged at about 6.8 to the dollar since mid-2008.

The United States maintains that Beijing is keeping its currency artificially low against the dollar to make its exports more competitive, and is showing increasing signs of frustration over the long-running row.

The US House of Representatives will this week vote on draft legislation that will open the way for retaliation against China over the yuan issue.


Bloomberg, AP & AFP

Ubud Writers Event Draws 135 writers form 27 countries

We are almost there! 135 writers from 27 countries will converge in the village of Ubud for our 7th Festival. We can’t wait for it to begin. Some vital last minute things to let you in on before the fun begins ...

There is limited transport available to some Special Events and Workshops. Register your intention to use the transport at the Transport Information Desk opposite Indus. Be prepared to use your own, get a driver, hire a car, all the venues are well known so ask around and get a map.

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER?
Come to the grand table and indulge in the very best of Balinese food with an intimate three-course dinner presented by Janet De Neefe. Take your seat at the literary dinner of the year and dine with the festival’s hottest stars while De Neefe shares the pinnacles of her food experience from over 20 years in Bali, served with matching wines. Watch the sun set over the ricefields, breathe in the balmy tropics and make friends with the Festivals finest guests. Louis De Bernières, Anne Enright, William Dalrymple, Nam Le, Tabish Khair, Dede Oetomo, Noor Huda Ismail, Suad Amiry, Kris Saknussem, Ali Eteraz, Hande Altayli, Tony Maniaty, Pauline Nguyen and Mark Jensen.
Seats strictly limited !
7.00pm FRIDAY 8 OCTOBER
Honeymoon Guesthouse Jalan Bisma
Rp 3 million | AU $360
Book Club Breakfast- Louis De Bernières
SATURDAY 09:00 - 10:30 | Three Monkeys
The Ubud Book Club presents the first of the annual breakfast events with that darling of reading groups all over the world, Louis de Bernières, as they discuss his latest novel, Notwithstanding: Stories from an English Village.
Rp 200,000 : AU$25

Book Club Breakfast- Cate Kennedy
SUNDAY 09:00 - 10:30 | Three Monkeys
Sunday morning blues? Cate Kennedy and the Ubud Book Club have just the thing. One of Australia’s finest short story writers and travel writers, Cate’s recent novel, The World Beneath. gets the book club treatment.
Rp 200,000 : AU$25

WORKSHOP
Apples Are Not Oranges: The Fine Art of Reviewing- Sian Prior
THURSDAY 09:30 - 12:30
Most culture vultures depend on well-informed critics. So what are the vital ingredients of an engaging, authoritative arts critique? And how do you avoid the trap of comparing apples with oranges? In this practical three-hour workshop learn how to compress facts, context and evaluation into pithy and persuasive reviews

PERFORMANCE
Tolstoys Wife
Saturday, 9 October | 7.30PM | Amandari
Jennifer Claire’s sold out performance in 2009 returns for her final Festival performance her solo show Tolstoy’s Wife. Be transported back to 1850 St Petersburg, as a woman relives her life with one of the world’s most renowned writers. Taken from the diaries of Countess Tolstoy.
Written and performed by Jennifer Claire.
Rp 300,000 : AU$35

CULTURAL WORKSHOP
Red Lantern Cooking Class Mark Jensen
Friday, 8 October | 10:00 - 13:00 | Mozaic Restaurant
Join chef Mark Jensen from Sydney’s legendary Red Lantern restaurant for an intimate cooking class where you can learn the secrets to his award-winning contemporary Vietnamese recipes. Held in the exclusive surrounds of Mozaic’s private workshop / dining room.
Rp 500,000 : AU$63

FREE CULTURAL PROGRAM
Agnihorta: Pray for the Universe
Wednesday, 6 October | 20:00 - on | Second Honeymoon
Spiritualists will perform the ancient ritual of Agnihotra to pray for the universe as well as for the success of the Festival. A beautiful ceremony involving a consecrated fire, beautiful offering and sacred chanting, Agnihotra was initially a Vedic ritual carried out by Hindu followers. Nowadays it has transformed into a non-sectarian ritual for the healing and purification of the universe. All are welcome to attend this free event. Heal the Masses
Wednesday, 6 October | 11:00 - on | Wantilan Ubud
Famed traditional healer Jro Mangku Made Subagia, SH M.Phil., and his senior disciples at Siwa Agung Jagadhita, will hold a mass healing session for local residents as well as international guests. His methods are based on Bali’s esoteric teachings on divine energy, which emphasise the importance of balancing spiritual awareness with physical fitness. Feel free to participate to have yourself checked for physical or spiritual related illnesses. All are welcome to attend this free event.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Jakarta Stocks Surge Higher on US Data, Rupiah Steady Near Three-Year High

Bloomberg & JG | September 27, 2010
World stocks rose modestly on Monday as improved United States indicators eased some worries. (Antara Photo) World stocks rose modestly on Monday as improved United States indicators eased some worries. (Antara Photo)

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Jakarta. The Indonesian stock market joined in a global rally on Monday as better-than-expected economic data out of the United States on Friday boosted confidence in the global economic recovery, pushing commodities prices higher.

The Jakarta Composite Index surged 70.41 points, or 2.1 percent, to close at 3,468.04, as it continued its march to a new all-time high. Volume was heavy, with about 6.97 billion shares worth Rp 6.24 trillion ($692.5 million) changing hands. Gainers trounced decliners 159 to 58.

The JCI has risen 19 percent in the third quarter, making it Southeast Asia’s third-best performer after the Philippines’ 22 percent and Thailand’s 21 percent over the period.

The region’s strong economic performance continued to lure foreign investors. Indonesia has recorded $1.39 billion of foreign buying so far in the third quarter, three times higher than the previous quarter.

Astra Agro Lestari, the nation’s largest listed plantation company, gained 2.1 percent to Rp 22,350, the highest close since April 28. Palm oil futures advanced 1.5 percent to 2,741 ringgit ($887) a metric ton in Kuala Lumpur, rising for a second day.

Astra International, Indonesia’s biggest automotive retailer, climbed 3.8 percent to Rp 58,100. Domestic vehicle sales in August rose to 64,762 units from 48,099 units a year earlier, Astra said, citing data from an industry association.

Astra Graphia, which sells and rents office equipment, jumped 24 percent to Rp 620, the steepest gain since April 2009. Kim Eng Securities said in a report on Monday that the company expected 2010 net income to rise 35 percent from a year earlier.

Tri Polyta Indonesia, producer of polypropylene, surged 13 percent to Rp 3,675, a record close.

Chandra Asri, also in petrochemicals, will be merged into Tri Polyta through a $1.2 billion share-swap, the two companies said in a statement published in Bisnis Indonesia on Monday.

Each share of Chandra Asri will be swapped with 42,660.5 new shares of Tri Polyta with completion of the transaction expected by January, the statement said.

Bank Central Asia, Indonesia’s biggest lender by market value, climbed 3.1 percent to Rp 6,700 amid speculation that next year’s inflation will remain benign, providing greater scope for the central bank to delay raising borrowing costs, said Muhamad Sugiarto, an analyst at Lautandhana Securindo.

The rupiah traded near a three-year high after foreign investors added to their holdings of the country’s assets, at 8,954 per dollar as of the stock market’s close

“The rupiah will follow the strengthening Asian currencies on capital inflows,” said Aris Setiawan, a foreign-exchange trader at Bank Chinatrust Indonesia in Jakarta.

“The central bank has been active in the market, buying dollars this morning. The currency has room to strengthen, but Bank Indonesia wants to keep exports competitive.”

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Poets and Storytellers Shine Under Bali’s Sun

The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival was first organized by writer and Bali resident Janet De Neefe to hasten the recovery of tourism on the island after the 2002 terrorist bombing. From the ashes of those sad memories, the annual festival has risen into one of the biggest literary events in Asia.

Now in its fifth year, the festival will run between Oct. 6 and 10, the same month that commemorates the first Bali bombing.

The theme of this year’s festival is the Indonesian national motto “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” (“Unity in Diversity”).

It’s a phrase that originates from the Sutasoma, an ancient Javanese text which advocates respect between all people across religious, ethnic and social boundaries.

This year’s festival includes 120 writers from over 30 countries, among them Louis de Bernieres, best-selling author of “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,” William Dalrymple, award-winning travel writer and historian, Booker Prize winners Anne Enright and Thomas Keneally, renowned Indonesian poet Sitor Situmorang and Ma Jian, an important voice in contemporary Chinese literature.

The festival also has a new name and sponsor, Citibank.

“As part of one of the world’s largest financial institutions, with a presence in more than 100 countries, Citibank is the logical choice for our festival,” said Neefe, the festival director.

Citibank will help expand the reach of the festival by promoting it in 12 countries, with an end goal of bringing a larger international audience to Bali.

“Bali has always been a place where people of all nationalities come to enjoy life to the fullest, and we believe it is time that Bali became an international meeting point,” said Irfan Ahmed, a representative of Citibank Indonesia.

Expanding the range of the festival not only helps boost the profile of the event, but it also offers a way for young Indonesian writers to introduce their work to a larger audience.

This year’s festival will showcase some of the brightest emerging Indonesian writers, including the likes of Kurnia Effendi, Arif Riski and Iwan Darmawan.

All the writers were selected by a curatorial board composed of noted Indonesian short-story writer Triyanto Triwikromo and poets Cok Sawitri and M Aan Mansyur.

Triyanto said the selected writers represent Indonesia by “reflecting the diversity in genres, ideologies, themes and tendencies of Indonesian literature.”

The festival’s organizers received 105 submissions this year from writers all across the country, more than twice the number of submissions from 2009.

M Aan Mansyur said that all the writers chosen for the festival share a unique gift of bringing to light a wide array of issues in local society.“

Their courage in exploring and highlighting all aspects of local culture should be acknowledged and praised. Some of them have even broken boundaries traversing into and exploring other cultures.”

Program coordinator Wayan Juniartha said: “In the Festival’s early years, we used to separate panels for Indonesian writers and speakers, but we gradually merged them to provide opportunities for emerging Indonesian writers to speak alongside noted international writers.”

This year the festival will go on a mini-tour, visiting schools and universities across Bali, to let the writers share their skills and passion with young Indonesian students.

Other highlights will include a free performance of the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award-winning play “The Crocodile Hotel,” by Australian Julie Janson.

The play tells of an incident in 1920 in which a Makassar fisherman stole a sacred Australian aboriginal object, only to be killed by its owner.

Balinese poet Cok Sawitri will also read the ancient Javanese Sutasoma text, the original source of Indonesia’s national motto.

There will also be a tribute to the late President Gus Dur during the opening ceremony and Bali’s governor Pastika will be on hand to discuss his role as chief of police during the Bali bombings in 2002.

The festival will cap off the celebrations by bestowing a lifetime achievement award to a senior Indonesian author who has spent his or her life advancing the cause of Indonesian literature.

Known for bringing popular writers back for repeat performances, this year’s festival is no exception.


Elizabeth Sinclair | September 26, 2010

Several festival favorites are part of the schedule this year, including Australian hip-hop artist and poet, Omar bin Musa.

Omar was the grand prize winner at the 2008 Australian Poetry Slam, and a 2009 Festival guest.

Imran Ahmad, best known for his autobiography “Unimagined,” (which tells his experiences as a Muslim boy growing up in England) will also be there.

He was a guest at the Festival in 2008 and 2009, when the Indonesian language version of his memoir was launched.

“The thought of letting the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2010 slip by without being there was unbearable, so I am returning, this time as a ‘reader,’ ” Imran said, “I can’t wait to breathe in the magic of Ubud again.”

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/lifeandtimes/poets-and-storytellers-shine-under-balis-sun/398129

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Indonesian Government Agrees to Scale Back 2011 Electricity Rate Hike

Ririn Radiawati Kusuma | September 23, 2010
A worker tending to Jakarta’s labyrinth of power lines. The tangled cables are emblematic of state electricity provider PLN, which lawmakers say is inefficient. Despite the dire need to improve power infrastructure, the 2011 state budget may force PLN to slash costs. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal) A worker tending to Jakarta’s labyrinth of power lines. The tangled cables are emblematic of state electricity provider PLN, which lawmakers say is inefficient. Despite the dire need to improve power infrastructure, the 2011 state budget may force PLN to slash costs. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)

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Under pressure from lawmakers, the government on Thursday offered to reduce next year’s proposed electricity rate hike from 15 percent to 5.4 percent. The smaller increase would force power provider Perusahaan Listrik Negara to make steep cuts to its operating costs.

Members of the House of Representatives Commission VII, which oversees energy issues, argued that it was not necessary to raise rates. In a compromise, the government offered the smaller cut, but no final agreement was reached.

But even with an abbreviated rate hike, the size of the proposed electricity subsidy in the 2011 draft budget would be maintained at Rp 41 trillion ($4.6 billion), a 25 percent decrease from the 2010 subsidy.

The reduction would force PLN to cut costs by Rp 8.1 trillion, according to Energy Minister Darwin Zahedy Saleh.

Darwin said the state utility would be forced to cut costs by converting diesel-powered generating plants to use cheaper natural gas and trimming maintenance, human resources and administrative budgets.

PLN had said it would need a Rp 53 trillion subsidy to meet its current operating budget.

The government is eager to reduce fuel and electricity subsidies to relieve their burden on the state budget — the subsidies total Rp 111.9 trillion this year. In March, the government said it planned to eliminate all fuel and electricity subsidies by 2014.

On Wednesday, however, the government and House agreed to raise the quota on subsidized fuel for public consumption next year, while keeping the value of the subsidy unchanged.

The International Monetary Fund last week warned that the government must eliminate energy subsidies in order to sustain high economic growth, especially given an expected decline in national oil production revenue in coming years.

However, the House has been less eager to cut the subsidies, and lawmakers have frequently called on PLN to cut costs instead.

With a few exceptions, the utility has operated at a loss for years because the government forces it to sell electricity below generating costs.

PLN’s losses have hampered development of the country’s power grid and resulted in frequent blackouts.

Many lawmakers have criticized the plan to raise power rates, saying PLN should instead improve efficiency and complete long-delayed infrastructure to add 10,000 megawatts of generating capacity through its fast-track program.

According to Darwin, PLN said it would be able to slash costs by up to Rp 2.53 trillion a year when three gas fields in Sumatra begin production in 2011, providing additional fuel to power plants.

It can also save up to Rp 2.3 trillion once the floating storage receiving terminal to be operated by Pertamina,

Perusahaan Gas Negara and Nusantara Regas opens in West Java.

The terminal will make it easier for power plants to receive fuel.

Electricity analyst Fabby Tumiwa said converting power plants from diesel to gas should yield big savings for PLN, and said such savings were within reach.

“The government has made the right move. When PLN becomes more efficient, the subsidy will no longer be needed,” Fabby said.

Meanwhile, Sustainable Development Indonesia analyst Drajad Wibowo said PLN remained too inefficient, and that it was unprepared for subsidy cuts.

He said PLN would be forced to lower maintenance costs, in turn increasing the likelihood of outages and accidents.

“It’s just like suicide,” he said

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/business/indonesian-government-agrees-to-scale-back-2011-electricity-rate-hike/397760

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Roberts attends London premiere of 'Eat Pray Love'



Print
22/09/2010 - 20:07:19
London has rolled out the red carpet for one of Hollywood's biggest stars, Julia Roberts.

Roberts is attending the premiere of her new romantic drama 'Eat Pray Love', which is based on the best-selling book.

She plays a writer who packs in her job and goes on a journey of self-discovery.

Roberts said, of filming in Italy, India and Bali: "It had its challenges, but it was certainly something that we were prepared for and excited about," she said.


Read more: http://www.breakingnews.ie/entertainment/roberts-attends-london-premiere-of-eat-pray-love-474714.html#ixzz10ITjtYiU

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The US dollar continues to feel the weight of overnight remarks from the Federal Reserve

FOREX: The US dollar continues to feel the weight of overnight remarks
from the Federal Reserve, and as improving risk appetite keeps yen
crosses higher and the Australian dollar and the euro propped up,
mid-morning in Singapore.

Holidays in many centers in Asia, including in
China, Taiwan and South Korea, are keeping flows at a minimum, dealers
say.

Dollar-yen is now at Y84.90, after a Y84.78 to Y85.19 range this
morning, euro-yen is at Y112.91, in a tight Y112.78 to Y112.94 range.
Euro-dollar is at $1.3299 now, at the top of a $1.3248 to $1.3312 range.
The dollar's DXY index is at 80.20, after a 80.12 to 80.31 range

The number of homes changing hands in the UK has halved since August 2007

UK PRESS: The number of homes changing hands in the UK has halved since
August 2007, the Telegraph reports. Around 85,000 properties worth more
than stg40,000 were sold during the month, down from 90,000 in July,
according to HM Revenue & Customs. The figures highlight the current
subdued state of the housing market and the level was less than half the
162,000 homes that were sold in August 2007.

From Market News International

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Ginger Kitten Adopted by a Long Tailed Macaque Monkey in Ubud Bali




Posted by Brian McLaren on Sep 21st, 2010 and filed under Offbeat.
At the Monkey Forest Park, in the Ubud region of Bali, Indonesia, There is another adorable animal story, teach us about love each others.

A photographer, Anne Young, who takes the pictures, was vacationing at the place when she found a young male long-tailed macaque monkey that had adopted a ginger kitten, the monkey protectively nursing for and grooming the kitten while keeping other treats away.

Hope for Bali’s Remote Hamlets



Report Lisa Siregar | September 20, 2010

Life is simple, but definitely not easy, for the residents of Cegi and Pengalusan, two of the most isolated hamlets in Ban village in East Bali.

Ban consists of 15 hamlets that stretch for more than 7,000 hectares up the slopes of Agung and Abang mountains. Cegi and Pengalusan are the closest to Agung’s crater.

Residents of the hamlets live among a harsh mountainous landscape, linked to the other hamlets by a series of narrow dirt tracks.

Daily life in the hamlets stands in stark contrast to the modern and glamorous sun-kissed existence around the beach communities of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak.

For decades, the forgotten residents of Cegi and Pengalusan survived without ready access to clean water, markets or health and education facilities. And until recently, leaving the hamlets meant a lengthy walk just to reach the nearest paved road.

Ineh Radiasa, who lives in Pengalusan hamlet, said that the lack of ready access to basic necessities meant that many of the children living in the remote hamlet were illiterate and suffered from high rates of malnutrition.

“The closest Puskesmas [community health center] is about a three-hour walk away, so when someone is sick, we carry them together and walk there,” she said.

However, life is looking up for residents. Last month saw the completion of an asphalt road connecting the two hamlets to the others, making their area reachable by motorized vehicles.

“Before there was a road it was such hard work just to be able to get here,” said Ni Luh Toni Parwati, head of the Puskesmas in the town of Kubu. “Whenever I climbed up here, I always got a stomachache.”

She regularly made the arduous trek to the hamlets to run a posyandu, a monthly health check-up booth.

The new road is the welcome result of efforts by the East Bali Poverty Project, a nonprofit organization founded by an Englishman named David Booth in 1998.

The foundation helps underprivileged people to improve their situations by educating them about sanitation, nutrition and farming techniques. The educational aspect is key, as stated in Booth’s overriding principle: “No money, no gifts, only knowledge.”

Booth said that he started the East Bali Poverty Project to help the residents help themselves. So far, the project has helped to improve the lives of some 3,000 families around Ban village.

“You don’t just give help to people and then leave,” Booth said. “That is immoral.”

Booth said he had traveled to 45 countries and seen some of their poorest, most isolated areas. But he said that none were as difficult to provide aid to as Ban.

According to Booth, overall health conditions in the village were very poor, with little basic sanitation. Parents needed to be told to keep their children from accidentally eating animal feces.

And before attending health classes that the foundation offered, some villagers neglected washing their clothes and had never properly brushed their teeth.

Booth said he first stumbled on the remote area in the early 1990s. According to him, the existence of the far-flung communities was unknown to the government at that time.

But even though their village is isolated and offers few creature comforts, Booth discovered a group of people who are tied to the land and reluctant to leave.

“We were born here, our ancestors are here and our temple is here,” said Nyoman, a resident of Pengalusan.

It is hard to believe that the residents live just a short drive from some of the world’s most attractive tourist destinations. Their daily life reflects the simplicity of their surroundings.

Many women earn a living by making and selling plaited rattan baskets.

Another common way to earn money is through raising cows, and every day, large groups of men and children walk into the forest to scythe grass to feed their livestock.

Leading such a spartan existence, basic activities such as record-keeping were never practiced When the foundation members began offering educational programs for the children, they had trouble sorting them based on their ages.

“We had to guess the children’s ages,” Booth said. “No one knows, there was no record and documentation never was important.”

Booth created his own textbook to help educated the villagers. The book, titled “The Art of Learning by Doing,” is a bilingual guidebook specifically aimed at the people of East Bali.

Among its chapters are lessons on health, hygiene, farming and art. It even covers extracurricular activities such as martial arts and yoga.

Villagers said their lives had improved since East Bali Poverty Project began working in the area.

“Our neighborhood used to be dirty, there was trash everywhere and our houses were broken,” Ineh said. “It was before Pak David taught us to clean up.”

Booth runs his foundation with donations from dozens of sources including corporations, schools and individuals. His own dedication to helping the poor stems from his own experience of growing up poor.

He said that his family was so poor that his parents were uneasy about their son going to university. In 2004, Booth was named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his charitable work.

From donations, the foundation has been able to build much-needed infrastructure around Ban, such as toilets and an art center for the students.

Now, children and teens living in the village are able to dream bigger.

Ketut Tangkil and Komang Simpen are both 17 and taking a government-approved education program equivalent to high school. They said they wanted to contribute to their village when they grew up.

Ketut wants to be a math teacher and Komang wants to be the first dentist in his hamlet. “Seeing people help us makes me want to help others,” Komang said.
http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/lifeandtimes/hope-for-balis-remote-hamlets/397106

DIRECT flights between Cairns and Bali are on the radar of international carrier Strategic Airlines

We'll go to Bali too - maybe

Nick Dalton

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

© The Cairns Post



DIRECT flights between Cairns and Bali are on the radar of international carrier Strategic Airlines. Would you like to fly to Bali direct?

Airline head of commercial Damien Vasta said the flights could happen as early as next year.

But, he said, it would depend upon demand and the response from Cairns residents to the airline’s just announced flights to Denpasar from Townsville.

"It is certainly not off the radar," Mr Vasta said.

Last week, Strategic announced it would start twice weekly flights to Bali from Townsville in December.

Mr Vasta revealed it was "a toss up" between Townsville and Cairns for the start of the December services to the popular leisure destination.

But he said one of the factors in Townsville’s favour was that it had no overseas services, despite all the facilities.

Mr Vasta said he had held talks with Cairns airport and would continue to do so.

Cairns Airport chief executive officer Stephen Gregg said he had held discussions.

Mr Vasta said they would closely monitor the demand from Cairns and bookings by travel agents.

He said if there were enough people travelling from Cairns to Townsville to catch the Bali flights then there was a possibility a service could operate from the Far North direct to Denpasar.

Mr Vasta said it would have to be financially viable and it was something that could be considered in 2011.

"It wouldn’t be until the new year and it would need to stack up," he said.

Mr Vasta said the Cairns-Bali flight could come via Townsville.

He said the airline would expand its services and fleet but would not add new aircraft for the sake of it.

The airline has three Airbus A320s and one A330.

The airline will fly to Bali on Friday and Sunday with an A320 featuring 12 business class seats and 144 economy class seats.

To coincide with the new international service, the airline is also launching twice-weekly direct flights between Brisbane and Townsville from December 3.

The airline will offer an introductory one-way Townsville to Bali fare of $199.

Mr Vasta said the Townsville service was to fulfil a growing need for local and regional residents, tourists, and sectors such as mining.

PLN to build world’s tallest power pylons Java to Bali

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 09/21/2010 8:58 AM | Business
A | A | A |

State electricity producer PT PLN is set to build two of the world’s tallest electricity towers in Java and Bali at 376-meters high each, company president director Dahlan Iskan said Monday.

The construction of the tallest power pylons in the world is part of an overhead crossing project which is worth US$240 million in total investment. The overhead transmission grid will transmit power supply from Java to Bali.

Dahlan said PLN was ready to hold the bidding process for the Bali tower in October.

“We have received a recommendation from the Bali Provincial Legislative Council [DPRD] to construct the tower there,” he was quoted as saying by detik.com news portal.

Currently there are several tall electricity towers in the world such as the Jianggyin Crossing in China at 346 meters and Orinoco Crossing in Venezuela at 240 meters.

“China will construct another tower in Zhejiang which will be 370-meters high, however, our towers will be even higher at 376 meters,” Dahlan said.

He estimated the construction of the two towers would require some Rp 300 billion (US$33.3 million).

PLN director of planning and technology Nasri Sebayang said previously that the Java-Bali Overhead Crossing 500 kilovolt (kV) High Voltage Aerial Cable (HVAC) would interconnect Paiton-Banyuwangi-Gilimanuk-New Kapal.

The project is expected to be completed in 2015.

“The connection will distribute up to 1,800 megawatts [MW] of electricity to Bali,” he said last week.

Currently there is a submersible electricity interconnection bringing some 160 to 200 MW of electricity from Java to Bali.

The overhead project will be carried out in two phases.

In the first phase, PLN will construct two 376 meter-high towers in Java and Bali, then operate a 150 kV transmission cable to Gilimanuk power station in Bali bringing some 300 MW of electricity.

Once the first phase is completed in 2012, the electricity supply to Bali would be between 460 and 500 MW.

The project’s second phase will bring another 500 MW of electricity connecting the Paiton power plants in East Java, directly with Bali.

This electricity interconnection will allow PLN to transmit surplus electricity from Java to Bali which does not have major power plants.

World’s tallest electricity towers so far

Canadian Housing Sales Expected To Slow Down In Second Half Of 2010

Sales of existing properties in Canada improved in August with the latest figures showing that activity increased 4.1% in August, the first monthly rise since March.

The data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) shows that activity in the real estate market increases most in Ontario and British Columbia, with monthly gains in these two provinces accounting for most of the improvement in national sales activity in August.

Seasonally adjusted sales activity either increased or remained stable in over half of all local markets across Canada, the report also showed. And year to date transactions are up 2.2% compared to the first eight months of last year.

Activity rose sharply over the second half of 2009 and reached levels that are unlikely to be matched in the final four months of 2010, so year to date comparisons are forecast to turn down in the coming months. CREA is warning that the market is expected to cool in the rest of the year.

The number of new residential listings on Canadian MLS® Systems also edged up 1.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis in August compared to the previous month. Despite having edged slightly higher in all provinces except Alberta, new listings remain 16% below the peak reached last April on a national basis.

The average price of a home sold last month was $324,928, which is on par with the same month last year at $324,843. Average home prices eased slightly in Alberta and New Brunswick in August, but gains in every other province exceeded the national increase.

Average prices rose or were stable in nearly two thirds of all local markets on a year over year basis, but increases are shrinking in Canada’s most active and priciest markets.

The number of months of inventory represents the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity, and measures the balance between housing supply and demand. It stood at 6.9 months at the end of August 2010 on a national basis, which is down slightly from the seven months of inventory at the end of July 2010.

The seasonally adjusted number of months of inventory also stood at 6.9 months at the end of August on a national basis. This is down from 7.3 months at the end of July, and marks the first month over month decline since last November.

‘Rising interest rates and a projected slowdown in job growth mean that the Canadian housing market is expected to continue to cool. This is overlooked in recent commentary that suggests further changes to mortgage regulations may be needed. A further tightening of regulations could negatively impact Canada’s softening housing market and consumer confidence,’ said Georges Pahud, president of CREA.

High sales activity late last year and earlier this year borrowed from sales this summer and will continue do so over the coming months, according to Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.

‘This makes the return to more normal levels of sales activity look like a steep downward trend. The hangover from accelerated home purchases is likely to persist over the rest of the year. Although economic and job growth are expected to be tepid, they will continue to support housing markets,’ he added.

Source: http://www.nuwireinvestor.com/

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Around 150000 British nationals a year visit Indonesia, and the chief lure is Bali.



Travel: Bali, Indonesia
Published Date: 20 September 2010
By Wendy Gomersall

The little clinic of Balinese healer Wayan is already full of perfectly fit-looking foreigners by the time we arrive mid-morning. "God gave me special gift," she explains to us while plastering leaves all over a bod with earache.
Helpers deliver trays of vegetation to the assorted people sitting around. A healthy-looking Australian girl who hasn't enough cash for the treatments she wants is directed to an ATM around the corner.

A steady trickle of impressionable tourists,

particularly Americans, has been making the pilgrimage to the town of Ubud in central Bali ever since Wayan's friendship with writer Elizabeth Gilbert featured in the American's autobiographical book, Eat Pray Love. An endorsement from Oprah Winfrey considerably boosted the book's sales.

Now, with the imminent release in UK cinemas of the big-screen version of the story, starring Hollywood mega-celebs Julia Roberts as Gilbert and Javier Bardem as lover Felipe, the flow of clients seeking Wayan's help - and no doubt the number of other healers setting up shop hereabouts - is likely to escalate.

Wayan, and indeed the rest of the people on this idyllic Indonesian island, will surely welcome the interest. The after-effect of terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2005 severely reduced the numbers of tourists, thus bringing economic hardship for all the islanders who rely on visitors for their living.

Around 150,000 British nationals a year visit Indonesia, and the chief lure is Bali. With its livid green rice terraces and fields of crops, humid forests, massive volcanoes, serene, smiling people and more than 20,000 temples and shrines, no wonder it's called the Island of the Gods.

Most of Indonesia's population are Muslims, but 93 per cent of Bali's residents practise Balinese Hinduism, an intriguing blend of Indian Hinduism, Buddhism and animism. It is this exotic, intoxicating mix that draws the spiritually curious, including Elizabeth Gilbert.

In Eat Pray Love, after a painful divorce and love affair (and having secured a book advance), Gilbert runs off to Italy for the food (eat), India to meditate (pray) and Bali for "healing" (love). On the Indonesian island she meets the Brazilian she's now married to - and she's written another book about that.

In her search for self-knowledge and physical and spiritual healing, she latches on to a few characters she hopes will help do the job for her, Wayan included.

But seriously, why put yourself through all that navel-gazing when all you have to do on Bali is enjoy…

Eight degrees south of the equator and just 153km wide and 112km north to south, Bali is a laid-back playground with a diversity of attractions, from diving and sports galore, to arts and crafts; from sun, sea and sand, to captivating culture and souvenir shops, bars, clubs, restaurants and all the tourist trappings in the main towns.

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/features/Travel-Bali-Indonesia.6539170.jp

New internet modem for Bali

Aha! A different route to the Internet
Zatni Arbi, Contributor, Jakarta | Mon, 09/20/2010 8:46 AM | Sci-Tech
A | A | A |

“Our focus is on user experience,” Erik Meijer said during our one-on-one interview. Erik is the VP of Marketing at Bakrie Telecom (BTel) and the president director of Bakrie Connectivity (BCon), a subsidiary of BTel specifically focused on Internet connectivity using a BCon product, the Aha USB Modem.

Aha USB ModemAha USB Modem

A USB modem connecting a PC or notebook to the Internet over a mobile network is not a new concept.

There already are several 3G and HSDPA options offered by GSM operators. “I’ve seen people try to use them here, but sometimes they had to wait two days for the connection. We wanted our subscribers to say ‘Aha!’ when they receive an instant Internet connection,” Erik said.

That was the design philosophy of the Aha USB modem, which I took home and tried myself.

The sleek modem is almost twice as long as a regular thumb drive, but the user has to flip the connector mechanism out, which is actually a good design decision because it makes it possible to use the modem with other Internet-ready devices, such as tablets and pads.

Inserting the RUIM card into the modem is easy (the RUIM cards are very similar to a SIM card for a GSM phone).

Installation of the software driver is straightforward. An installation window immediately appears after inserting the connector to the USB port. After a few clicks, the modem is ready to connect.

Once connected, registration is required. On the dialer window, there are buttons to launch Google’s Chrome browser, the Google search bar, live online news tickers, and Picasa — Google’s photo management and editing software.

New updates are automatically downloaded and installed without additional charge, and the interface can be set in Indonesian or English.

Aha wireless Internet broadband is based on 1x EV-DO, the standard for CDMA technology high speed data developed by Qualcomm. It is not a new standard, and may not even be the “next generation”.

Qualcomm is now also embracing Time Division (TD) LTE as its upcoming access methodology.

In places where 1x EV-DO is not available, subscribers can still connect to the Internet via CDMA 2000-1x. However, download speed will drop from 3.1 Mbps to 153 kbps, which is still much better than a dial-up connection.

“Our Aha network is currently available in Surabaya, Malang, Semarang, Solo, Jogjakarta, Bandung, Tasikmalaya, Cirebon, Bogor, Denpasar, Jakarta and Medan. Fifteen thousand people are already using it,” Erik said, adding that subscriptions are rising.

So, what user experience did I acquire? I can tell you I was not disappointed. I had previously thought, 3G — never! HSDPA — only in my dreams. But I was amazed that I was still able to access the maximum 3.1 Mbps speed in my private study at home, where the GSM signals from two of the largest operators are not strong enough and I am often forced to rush outside even to take a call on my mobile phone.

The strength of the network coverage was already a huge plus, but then I received a courtesy call from Aha’s customer care center, to check if everything worked well. I have not had the chance to test the modem in other places, but if it works so well as in the area where I live, it is safe to assume that it will work well in the central business district.

“We made sure that our services were spot-on before we launched the service,” Erik said.

The service is available in the five mayoralties of Jakarta, and also in Karawang and Serang.

The Aha hardware is manufactured in China, but the applications and the user-friendly features are the product of local engineers. Erik said that because he and his team did not have experience developing this product, they contacted Google, the largest Internet company in the world today, and telecommunications giant Sprint, to ensure subscribers will be satisfied with the product and the service.

“Luckily we share the same vision, and they are eager to work with us and teach us how to make the product easy to use,” Erik said, adding that this is the reason behind the Google Chrome logo on the modem. “It is the first such product in the world to carry the logo.”

Aha subscribers have several subscription options based on download speed. They can subscribe on a daily or monthly basis, and they can easily change from one option to another. The price of the modem itself is Rp 499.000.

The Aha network uses BCon’s ISP license, which means that you can take the modem to another city and use it anywhere as long as there is BTel’s Ix-EV-DO or CDMA-1x coverage. But you cannot simply remove the RUIM card and insert it into a CDMA phone to make calls, because it would be crossing the boundaries of the carrier’s licensed territories.

My final question to Erik was why the service came to Jakarta after it was already offered in Surabaya, Semarang, Solo and the other cities. “In Jakarta, people have more alternatives for connecting to the Internet, but options for people in the regions are limited,” Erik said.

I understand that Jakarta is a tough nut to crack, especially with the upcoming launch of various WiMAX services. For us, however, the benefit remains the same: More choices will inevitably lead to better services at lower costs.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/09/20/aha-a-different-route-internet.html

Bali to see more tourists from China




Rita A.Widiadana, The Jakarta Post, Ubud | Mon, 09/20/2010 10:50 AM | Bali
A | A | A |

Delegations from China loved the beauty of Balinese traditional dances performed by the Tirtasari gamelan and dance troupe in Peliatan village in Ubud last Saturday.

The delegations are on a visit to Indonesia to attend a public seminar on “Indonesia and China after the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations” to be held in Jakarta this Monday. There will be a meeting between scholars of both countries on Tuesday to have more intense discussions and gather new ideas on how to promote closer ties.

During the weekend the Chinese delegates attended cultural performances and visited tourist destinations including the Ubud art village and the Kintamani resort in Bangli.

“We were very delighted to watch such beautiful performances,” exclaimed delegation head Cai Jinbiao.

The troupe performed a series of dances including the Baris warrior dance and the Legong Lasem, Topeng (mask dance).

Jinbao said that Bali has always been one of the favorite destinations for travelers from China.

Data from the Bali Statistic Agency showed more and more travelers from China are visiting Bali, which saw a huge increase of 175.25 percent in Chinese tourist arrivals from only 11,422 in February 2009 to 31,441 in the same period this year.

Chinese visitors to Bali came third after Australia and Japan.

“There is a growing number of Chinese tourists coming here and we would like to see more. But, we also hope to welcome Indonesian tourists to our country,” noted Jinbao, who is also vice president of the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs.

Tourism and culture are among the priorities for development of Indonesia-China bilateral relations in addition to trade and investment.

Bali is long renowned for its links with Chinese people. Chinese influences on Balinese culture and traditions are evident until now. Chinese ornaments including Chinese old coins, Prada gold-printed textiles are extensively used for various rituals and traditional costumes.

Clara Juwono, a scholar from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said that all global destinations are seeing an increasing number of Chinese tourists.

“We will see a large number of Chinese tourists in countries in Asia, Europe, Australia and the US. They [the Chinese tourists] are everywhere, as the country is getting richer and richer. This will change the face of global tourism,” Clara said.

Despite the global economic crisis, the number of Chinese tourists traveling abroad rose 5.2 percent in 2009 to 42.2 million, up from less than 7 million in 2001, while total spending rose 16 percent from 2008 to about US$42 billion.

IB Ngurah Wijaya, head of the Bali Tourism Board, also said Bali has to provide facilities to cater for tourists coming from China and other countries.

Bali now has 766 tourist guides who speak Mandarin, which is inadequate to cater for the rising number of Mandarin-speaking visitors.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/09/20/bali-see-more-tourists-china.html

Bali Generates 45% of Indonesia's Foreign Exchange from Tourism.



Earlier, Antara reported that Bali contributes Rp. 34 trillion (US$3.7 billion) or 45% of all foreign exchange earned nationally from tourism.

This figure corresponds with the approximate 2 million Bali visitors from a national total of 6.4 million tourists in 2009.

Ida Bagus Kadek Subhisku, the head of the Bali Tourism Service said: "Bali belongs to us all, and is at the same time also a magnet to other regions in introducing their regions. Besides South Sulawesi, North Sumatra, Central Sulawesi, and West Papua, have also established tourism promotion cooperation with Bali."

Subhisku explained that hotels and restaurants in the Bandung regency of Bali earned Rp. 850 billion (US$92.4 million), followed by Denpasar and Gianyar.

Bali's man in charge of tourism admitted to the press that Bali's tourism infrastructure suffered from many shortcomings. Nonetheless, Bali boasts 270 individual tourist destinations, including 180 marine tourism facilities. The island's tourism industry also counts 155 star-rated hotels containing 46,000 rooms, and cottages or villas providing an additional 2,175 rooms. Bali has 1,693 restaurants, 635 registered travel agents and 8,000 licensed tour guides.

In the latest development, TTG Asia reports that the number of Australian visitors has surged 54% in the first 6 months this year compared to the same period in 2009.. Meanwhile also, Bali has been abuzz with domestic tourists during the recent Ied Holidays filling hotels to over 90% capacity.

For your comments or further inquiries, please email to tbsc-strategy@indo.net.id

From Indonesia Digest

Bali’s Economy Rising boosted by buoyant Tourism Growth


Strong Growth in Bali's Economy and Rising Per Capita Incomes Achieved in 2009.

Antara, the national news agency, reported that Bali's economy is recovering nicely form the world wide economic crisis and benefiting from the buoyant local tourism industry,writes balidiscovery.com

The chief of the Bali Central Statistic Bureau, Ida Komang Wisnu, said that the island's economy grew 1.19% in Q1 2010. Tourism was the main contributor to Bali's growth while the service sector outside of tourism shrank 1.07 % during the same period. This sluggish sub-sector of service sector is linked to a downturn in government spending.

Meanwhile, the section chief of Publications and Documentation in the Public Relations section of the Bali provincial government, I Ketut Teneng, said that Bali's economy grew by 5.33% in 2009, a figure officials hope will be surpassed for the entire year 2010.

The service sector accounts for 65.58% of Bali's total economy, followed by the primary sector (e.g. mining agriculture and fishing) at 18.86%, and the secondary sector (manufacturing) at 15.56%.

Bali gross domestic product totaled Rp. 57,579 trillion (US$6.3 billion) for 2009, increasing from Rp. 49,922 billion (US$5.4 billion) in 2008. This translated into a increase in the per capita gross domestic product for the Balinese to the level of Rp. 16.2 million (US$1,7,60), and increase of 14.08% over 2008.

Governor Pastika has announced his intention to increase the per capita income of the Balinese to Rp. 22.5 million (US$2,445) by 2013.

From Indonesia Digest

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Extreme weather and La Nina predicted to last until March 2011



This year it seems Indonesia has no dry season. Rains normally cease to fall during March through October except for some welcome showers. But not so this year. Extreme and unseasonal weather has continued to sweep through the archipelago with high waves, tropical rains, landslides and floods plaguing many parts of the islands. Even in July and August, which are normally the hottest months, rains have fallen non-stop even into September.

The Met office explains that the high precipitation – or it calls it “weather anomaly” -is caused by the continued warm surface of the entire Indonesian seas by 1° C from its normal 28° to 29 °Celcius. The phenomenon stimulates water evaporation which accumulates into dense rain clouds.

This is exacerbated by the regional impact of La Nina that started in August and is predicted to continue until January or even March next year, said Sri Woro Harijono, Head of the Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysical Board. The exact reason for the warming of the seas, though not yet ascertained, is an indication of global warming. Most impacted will be a large part of the islands of Java, Kalimantan and Sumatra.

The continous rains have also destroyed crops in Central Java, that include soya beans, corn and tobacco.

Whereas, as a side impact from the eruption of Mt. Sinabung, Sri Woro warns that North Sumatra must anticipate high rainfall since volcanic material will absorb water vapour, which will result in higher rainfall.

Indonesian Digest

Julia Roberts was stunning at the Rome premiere of her movie, Eat Pray Love,


Julia Roberts at the Eat Pray Love Rome premiere

Julia Roberts was stunning at the Rome premiere of her movie, Eat Pray Love, a third of which takes place in Rome. For the colorful premiere event, Julia Roberts wore a long-sleeved, floor-length, black lacy gown by Dolce and Gabbana.

Julia Roberts enjoyed a moment with her co-star Javier Bardem, who recently announced that he and wife Penelope Cruz are expecting their first child.

Julia Roberts at the Eat Pray Love Rome premiere, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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Indonesia plans 15 Destination Management Organizations (DMOs)


Having scrutinized Indonesia’s many tourism potentials, the government has finally decided to initially develop 15 clusters of attractions to be managed through 15 Destination Management Organizations (DMOs), confirmed Director General for Destinations Development, Firmansyah Rahim at the DMO Conference held recently in Jakarta.

The fifteen DMO’s planned to be set up by 2014 are:
The Old Batavia area (Jakarta), Pangandaran beach and coastal area (West Java), LakeToba area (North Sumatra), the Bunaken islands (North Sulawesi), Tana Toraja highlands (South Sulawesi), Mentawai islands (West Sumatra), Bukittinggi (West Sumatra), Borobudur area (Central Java), Mt. Rinjani (West Nusatenggara) , Raja Ampat islands (West Papua), the Wakatobi islands (South East Sulawesi), Tanjung Putting Orang-utan reserve(South Kalimantan), the Derawan islands (East Kalimantan), Lake Batur- Mt. Kintamani (Bali), the Komodo-Kelimutu-Flores island (East Nusatenggara), and Mt. Bromo-Tengger-Mt. Semeru area (East Java).
DMOs are the latest concept in developing tourist destinations aimed at environmental, social and financial sustainability as well as global competitiveness of destinations based on strong management that comprise all stakeholders - the government, the industry, the local population and related interests. Thereby protecting the natural, cultural and social assets, to better provide economic welfare for the local population through tourism development and stakeholders participation.
At present three of the 15 DMO’s are already taking shape, they are the Flores DMO, initiated by Swiss Contact with Ausaid in West Flores, East Nusatenggara, now extending to include the entire island of Flores. Other projects are the Pangandaran project, south of Bandung, West Java, supported by UNWTO assistance for this tsunami-hit region and implemented by Indecon, and the Mt. Rinjani area in Lombok.
In all projects, key factor is the empowerment of the local population to organize itself and take ownership of developing the destination, once outside assistance is ceased.
The creation of tourism awareness among the local leadership and population seems to be the crucial and probably the most difficult part. Ary Suhandi, whose organization, Indecon (www.indecon.co.id) is charged with developing Pangandaran, said that this effort alone takes at least 2 years.
In West Manggarai, Flores, the local population and tourist industry, with the support of Swisscontact have so far managed to create a nucleus organization to grow into a Destination Management Organization for the region. This process, together with the identification of tourist attractions, active promotion of the region and the training of staff for the tourist industry has taken over 4 years. (www.florestourism.com)
Another DMO in devlopment is the Mt. Rinjani area in Lombok. For details visit www.lombokrinjanitrek.org.
Director General Firmansyah Rahim, warns, that the creation of sustanable destinations does not happen instantly, since the process to the fruition of these 15 Destinations to become globally competitive and self-sustainable may take some 30 years.
“We will only focus on Lake Toba and Pangandaran this year,” Firmansyah said. “Five more destinations, namely Komodo Island, Rinjani, Bali, Bunaken and Jakarta will be developed next year,” reported Jakarta Post. Another possibility is the Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Kalimantan.
Firmansyah also said the government would allocate an annual budget of Rp 1 billion (US$110,000) towards the development of one destination.
• Garuda Indonesia launches Jakarta-Tokyo flights
Japan Today reported that Garuda Indonesia has launched direct flights between Jakarta and Tokyo from August 31. GA884 departed Jakarta at 11:50 p.m. and arrived at Tokyo’s Narita airport at 9 a.m on 1 September.
The return flight, GA 885, leaves Tokyo at 12 noon and arrives in Jakarta at 17.45 p.m. The new service uses Airbus 330-200 that has a capacity of 222 passengers with a seating configuration of 36 passengers in Executive Class and 186 passengers in Economy Class.
Garuda Indonesia President and CEO Emirsyah Satar said, “In light of the growing trade relations between the two countries, we dedicate this direct service from Jakarta-Tokyo to passengers who are traveling on business to and from both countries. This service will ultimately add to the comfort and facility of traveling between Jakarta and Tokyo, particularly for Garuda Indonesia passengers.”
Garuda Indonesia already flies to other cities in Japan from Denpasar, Bali, such as to Nagoya three times a week and to Osaka five times a week, in addition to a daily schedule to Tokyo via Denpasar.
For passengers traveling from Japan, Garuda offers a new service, namely “Immigration on-Board,” which facilitates passengers with immigration assistance with Immigration officials issuing Visa On Arrival on board.
Meanwhile, in Jakarta, Garuda vice president corporate communications Pujobroto said: "We have received seven additional landing rights for Tokyo Narita Airport, allowing Garuda to have up to 14 flights a week.
Garuda will launch services to Amsterdam via Dubai on June 1. It also plans to operate Jakarta-Taipei flights, presently under codeshare with China Airlines, on its own by year-end. Garuda's Bali-Taipei flights will continue as a codeshare service with China Airlines.
Garuda Indonesia plans to add four European points after reopening its Jakarta-Dubai-Amsterdam service on June 1. Top on the list for 2011 or 2012 are Frankfurt, London, Paris and Rome, said the airline’s vice president corporate secretary Pujobroto.

From Indonesia Digest

House Hunting in ... Indonesia

Thursday, September 16, 2010
By VIRGINIA C. McGUIRE, The New York Times

A FURNISHED OPEN-AIR HOME ON A BEACHFRONT ESTATE ON THE ISLAND OF BALI

$3 MILLION

This property, consisting of six structures with a total of six bedrooms and seven baths, is a few miles north of the village of Candi Dasa on Bali's east coast. The main living space, completed in 2008, is an open-air pavilion facing the water, with a living room on the top floor and a dining room below. Bamboo screens can be lowered to protect the space from rain. The master suite, a separate structure adjacent to the main pavilion, has a bedroom, a sitting area and two bathrooms; all the rooms have views of the ocean and Bali's tallest mountain, Gunung Agung.

Two guest cottages, each with one bedroom, are nearby. Antique salvaged wood is used throughout most of the property. The roofs are thatched and sweep upward at the front and back, an architectural style from the Minangkabau culture of Western Sumatra, another island in the Indonesian archipelago.

The property also has two modern villas, one with one bedroom and one with two. Water features on the property include a swimming pool, a river and a shallow manmade lake with lily pads and water birds. The furniture is included in the sale.

All beaches in Indonesia are owned by the state, but this remote beach is rarely visited by outsiders. The waves are suitable for surfing, and fishing boats pass in front of the property. The island of Lombok is visible in clear weather.

The nearest market is five minutes away in Amlapura, and restaurants and hotels in the tourist town of Candi Dasa are 15 minutes away. It takes about two hours to drive to the airport in Denpasar, but a highway currently being built is expected to cut travel time.

MARKET OVERVIEW

The market in Bali for properties costing more than $750,000 faltered a bit during the economic downturn, said Jeffrey Kam, Knight Frank Indonesia's Jakarta-based residential director.

Matthew Georgeson, a partner at Elite Havens, a real estate firm in Bali, said the lack of financing for foreigners in Bali's property market had helped insulate it from the credit crunch. Mr. Kam estimated that the cost of vacant land in Bali had risen 20 percent over the past two years, especially in the villages of Bukit, Uluwatu and Ungasan, where recent hotel developments have attracted investors. He said the thriving tourism industry in Seminyak was also pushing prices up there.

Besides Bali, expatriates are most likely to live in the capital city, Jakarta, because of its business community. Mr. Kam says a typical apartment for a foreign business person in Jakarta costs 15,000,000 to 25,000,000 rupiahs per square meter ($155 to $258 per square foot, at 9,000 rupiahs to the dollar).

A 4,800 square-foot house with high-quality finishes and a quarter-acre of land in a popular tourist area costs about $1 million, Mr. Georgeson said. The property here is priced well above the average villa because of the quality of the architecture and because it is extremely rare to find a six-acre oceanfront estate.

WHO BUYS IN BALI

Bali's foreign buyers are more likely to be expatriates, Mr. Georgeson said. Such buyers come from other Asian countries, as well as Australia, France and England. "It really is the United Nations of buyers," he said. According to Mr. Kam, the country's immigration records show an increase in visitors from China and Russia recently.

BUYING BASICS

It is illegal for foreigners to own property in Indonesia, although Mr. Kam said the government was considering loosening the rules.

In the meantime, according to Mr. Georgeson, there are two common ways around the constraints. The first, getting a right-of-use certificate from the government, involves paying higher taxes. The other is finding a "nominee," an Indonesian citizen who will hold the title. "If you want to control the title," Mr. Georgeson said, "you've got to use a nominee."

The foreigner obtains a long-term lease on the property, often placing a lien on the title so the nominee won't have the power to sell without consent. Mr. Georgeson says that although many regular visitors to Bali use trusted local friends or employees as their nominees, there are also notaries who offer professional nominee services.

The government charges a transfer tax when property changes hands. Mr. Georgeson said the buyer pays 5 percent of the assessed value, which in Bali is much lower than the market value. Ultimately the transfer tax is usually 1 or 1.5 percent of the purchase price.

Other transaction costs include a 1 percent notary fee. Mr. Georgeson describes the notary as a government agent who acts for both parties. Hiring a private lawyer is optional but recommended. Lawyer fees usually run 0.5 to 1 percent of the purchase price.

Most properties are priced in United States dollars, and Mr. Georgeson says it is not uncommon for properties to be offered for sale without public announcements. In such cases, the services of a real estate agent are crucial. Land is usually priced in rupiah.


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10259/1088000-30.stm#ixzz0zwHboB4q
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10259/1088000-30.stm

Governor Made Mangku Pastika plans to halt the construction of hotels

Jakarta. Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika plans to halt the construction of hotels in key tourist areas on the island because the supply of rooms far exceeds demand.

“There is much more supply of hotel [rooms] than demand, there have been calls for us to soon put in place a moratorium,” he said.

In a meeting with tourism executives in Denpasar on Thursday, Pastika said the huge number of hotels, especially in the main tourist districts of Badung, Gianyar and Denpasar, has led to widespread traffic congestion.

He added that despite an increase in tourists, average occupancy rate of hotels in Bali was only around 70 percent. The Bali Tourism Office gave a lower figure — 56 percent.

Pastika attributed the low occupancy rate to the abundance of illegal hotels and villas, which took away clients from established hotels.

“We have to take concrete steps so official hotels do not continuously suffer losses,” he said.

The governor said he would soon send a letter discussing the issue to the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM).

Pastika added that hotels would still be built, but only in less-developed districts, including Buleleng to the north and Karangasem on the east coast.

“For the northern Bali region, we can still issue permits,” he said, citing Buleleng

Under the regional autonomy law, however, mayors and district heads — not the governor— directly issue construction and business permits.

Nyoman Suwirya Patra, head of the Bali Investment Coordinating Board, said the value of investment on the island in the first half of the year hit Rp 4.2 trillion ($466 million), far more than Rp 2.1 trillion for full-year 2009.

“The hotel sector really dominates investment compared to the other sectors,” he said.

Perry Markus, secretary of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (IHRA), said the number of hotel rooms in Bali, including in villas, could grow by 2,000 a year. The resort island now has 46,145 registered hotel and villa rooms.

Perry agreed the booming development of illegal hotels and villas in Bali caused low occupancy, adding the number of the unregistered hotels “is quite significant, at some 17,000.”

He supported Pastika’s plan to put a moratorium in place but said another solution would be to firmly enforce the law.

“More important is the enforcement of the law, by taking actions against illegal villas which have disturbed Bali’s tourism industry,” Perry said.

The Tourism Office earlier reported that in the first seven months of the year, foreign tourist arrivals reached 1,180,118, up 10.23 percent compared with the same period last year.

Australians accounted for the largest portion, at 23.56 percent, in total number of tourists over the period.

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/too-many-vacancies-has-bali-governor-weighing-hotel-building-moratorium/396750