Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The trip is part of the fun

Gili Islands leading Hotels offer to arrange transport directly from Mataram, Lombok's airport to the Gilis for very reasonable fees of around US$ 20/person/one way. They will bring you along the stunning road that runs up Lombok's west coast to their own private harbors.

Unspoiled beaches en-route to Gili Trawangan harbor

A boat or even a speedboat is then already waiting for you for the final leg. You can also get a boat directly from Bali. It's often a question of heading to the Padang Bay port and waiting until a boat is full enough for the captain to set off. The minimum journey time is then four hours, but waiting time might be much longer.

The Ubud community offers special Ubud / Gili Islands packages, which allows to explore the sights of Ubud - Bali's cultural capital - for a few days and a boat ride directly to Gili Trawangan for about the same price than the combined air/car and boat package via Mataram airport.

Alternative options per boat include:

Hotel Ombak's Speedboat brings you directly to their hotel, per person for less than US$ 10

We recommend to book your boat trip to the Gilis via Ubud.com and for those who can afford it the return via Hotel Vila Ombak or any other of the leading hotels of the islands. This not only to avoid any problems, but also to enjoy the trip to and from the Island as integrated parts of your holiday.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Corby's drug trial and Australian public opinion

Everybody's talking about it - and we receive tons of letters from readers with comments ranging from simple outcry over injustice to: Never Bali again.

Although the case is really little related to our central theme of Gili Islands affairs the impact on Bali and Gili Islands tourism of this trial is so big, that we try to address the issiue by publishing a well balanced commentary from Jakarta Post's chief editor Endy M. Bayuni. He concentrates in his article on the devasting effect the loud outcry of public opinon in Australia over the Colby case had on the trial by itself.

The 20-year prison term meted out by a court in Bali against Schapelle Corby on Friday for smuggling cannabis into the country is not the end of the road as far as her legal fight is concerned, but if there is one important lesson we can learn from the trial, it is that the massive public campaign in Australia, her home country, for her release has, at times, gone overboard and probably not helped her case at all.

We likely may never know for sure if the judges in the Denpasar District Court determined the sentence solely on the basis of evidence presented before them, or whether other factors, including undue outside pressure, influenced their decision. But we do know for sure that the sentence is rather severe even by Indonesian standards.
Read on...Did letter's like this really help Schapelle?
Russel Grove: "The photographs of Schapelle Corby broke my heart. I don't understand how we can, as a country, stand by and let a young lady rot away in a foreign prison. That is ridiculous. It is Indonesia, fine and dandy, but we need to find a rational platform to save this girl's life."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

More Asian tourists to the Gilis

In recent month quite a few articles have been published in Asian magazines about the Gili Islands. Newsweek's Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop shields some light on the trend behind this in the latest edition of the Newsweek, quoting one of the most well known Bali hoteliers:
"While 51 percent of our clients used to be Americans pre-2001, this group has now fallen to 21 percent," says Bradley Gardner, founder of the famed Begawan Giri Estate in Ubud, Bali. "Asian tourists" — mostly from Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong — "have taken over Asia since 2001." They are venturing far beyond familiar locales to places once the preserve of backpackers and intrepid Europeans.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Rip Curl assists tsunami survivors

Rip Curl Indonesia, based in Kuta, Bali has in cooperation with the Indonesian Development of Education and Permaculture (IDEP) and the Tsunami Relief Initiative-Bali Patok, Ubud, established Rip Curl Indian Ocean Aid.

Rip Curl Indonesia has donated Rp 213 million to tsunami survivors through the IDEP foundation, while Rip Curl Australia donated around Rp 143,500 million and Rp 200,000 million, directly managed by Robert Wilson from Rip Curl Indonesia.

Rip Curl Indian Ocean Aid comprises shipments of medical first-aid and equipment, food and drinking water, cooking utensils and water pumps. Shipment of these supplies was destined for people on Simeuleu island and Calang on the mainland of North Sumatra. Calang is situated between Banda Aceh and Meulaboh.

I saw you the day before you left Bali and knew, you will do good work. Keep on going Bob, and we hope to hear from you soon personally and not only via the Jakarta Post!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Help Sumatra - surfers are right there

Following the recent disaster of 26 December, we have received a number of requests for advice about organizations to donate funds to. Potential donors are very keen to help, given the scale of the disaster, but are understandably anxious that their assistance is channelled effectively, and transparently, with a minimum of 'operating expenses' and wastage. Such donors may for one reason or another be reluctant to give via the traditional worldwide organizations.

We understand these concerns, and as a result recommend the IDEP Foundation, based in Ubud-Bali, and here are several reasons why:

1) Several of IDEP's leaders both at the Bali head office and in the field in Sumatra have been known to us personally for as long as 28 years. Among other nationalities they are Australian, German, American, British, and of course Indonesian.

2) IDEP was founded and is staffed by lovers of Indonesia, based in Ubud. It speaks the language, literally - which is a very important attribute. Its philosophy in dealing with this disaster is intelligent aid, via intelligent channels, using intelligent people. By the way: One of their members posts an always up-to-date blog about current activities and the team. Highly recommended to have a look!

3) Perhaps most important of all, IDEP has teamed up with long-term expatriate residents of the west coast of Sumatra, who have been running diving and surfing trips for many years in the very islands and along the very coastlines that now lie devastated and inaccessible due to politics, distance, and destroyed roads and bridges. They are THERE. They KNOW the area. They HAVE the boats, including zodiacs for beaching where ports are destroyed, and they are actually based in Padang, the largest port on the west coast of Sumatra, which itself luckily escaped damage.

4) The Gili Islands have strong connections to the diving and surfing community and knowing them involved gives us the utmost confidence in this project! Divers are good people, hands on and they like to help. We had recently a fire here on Gili Trawangan and the dive shops owners and members of their staff have been the first who helped to fight the fire.

5) IDEP's Sumatra Project has obtained the backing of both SurfAid and Ausaid, the Australian government's disaster relief organization.

Contributions can be sent by clicking here

Or directly to IDEP's Indonesian Bank Account, see here for details.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Gilis not effected by tidal waves

We just wanted everyone to know that the Gilis, Lombok and indeed the whole islands of Bali and Java has been unaffected by the terrible events of yesterday. The epicentre of the earthquake was off the western island of Sumatra, striking at about 0100 GMT (0800 local time) on Sunday. Dozens of buildings were destroyed in the initial quake before a huge wall of water, up to 10m high in places, hit the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra.

Aceh was the worst hit area, which lies closest to the epicentre - thousands are feared dead there. Coastal towns and villages, and the resort island of Nias, were swamped.

Aceh is more than 3000 km away from The Gilis.

The earthquake by itself was thus far enough from The Gilis not to affect us at all - and we were protected from the tidal wave due to our geographic position and THEREFORE EVERYTHING IS COMPLETELY NORMAL HERE. Thanks to all our caring friends who have emailed and telephoned us over the last 24 hours - it is much appreciated. For those of you arriving here in the next few days we would suggest that the ONLY concern you may have will be some congestion at Bangkok and Jakarta Airports. We therefore recommend to take flights via Singapore or Hongkong instead.

In the meantime our hearts go out to our friends and colleagues in Sumatra and to all the countries who have been hit so terribly.

Monday, December 13, 2004

New coral reef habitat

Should you be fortunate enough find yourself gazing out from Vila Ombak Diving Academy, across the sparkling seas to Mount Rinjani in Lombok, you will be sure to notice the bright pink marker buoys which denote the location of the Gili Islands first ever Bio Rock artificial reef installation.

Co-conceived by coral expert Tom Goreau and architect Wolf Hilbertz, Bio Rock, or Electric Reef installations, have proven successful in creating new coral reef habitat, not only in Indonesia, but in numerous locations around the region.

At the suggestion of Cody Shwaiko, and with the support of Bali Hai Diving Adventures, Tom and Wolf visited Gili Trawangan to assess the areas suitability for a trial installation. All indications were, that “Bio Rock” would be feasible in this location. Funded by Vila Ombak Diving Academy and made possible only by the generous donation of the time and expertise of Tom, Wolf, Cody and Global Coral Reef Alliance, coupled with the energy and enthusiasm of Jo McFarlane and Jesper Meyer, Vila Ombak Diving Academy’s management team, the Gili Islands first installation began to take shape on Nov 21, 2004.

Sometimes referred to as ‘Coral Arks’ due to their characteristic of rapidly providing new havens for fish and corals in areas where human impact has reduced coral reef habitat, the new artificial reef on Gili Trawangan was constructed using steel bars and copper wiring to produce a tunnel like steel frame. Electrodes are attached to transfer low voltage electricity into the sea water in contact with the steel. Using an onshore power source, (Although solar panels can also provide the power required) the voltage compares to that of 60-100 watt light bulb. In combination with an anode and cathode, the electric current causes dissolved minerals in sea water to crystallize, forming a limestone coating over the exposed steel, onto which coral larvae are able to settle. In order to accelerate the process, the Vila Ombak Diving Academy team collected live coral fragments already detached from surrounding healthy reef, and physically attached them to the structure, a process sometimes referred to as “seeding”

The electric stimulation of these coral fragments, has in some cases, been shown to result in growth rates three to five times that of unstimulated coral. Some studies have indicated stimulated corals may also be more tolerant to changes in surrounding water temperature.

“Stakeholder and community support is imperative to the success of any environmental initiative. We are fortunate the Kepala Dusun, or village head on Gil Trawangan, Mr. Taufik, is a SCUBA Diver himself. Taufik understands both the value of the Gili Islands Coral Reef assets to his community and the threat to the Coral reefs on a global scale. In addition, the local marine patrol “SATGAS”, funded by the Gili Eco Trust, will be key in the ongoing success of the project”

On November 23rd with the assistance of the local community, and with a hard earned sense of achievement, Jo, Jesper and the Vila Ombak Diving team lowered the completed structure carefully into place. Taufik was given the honor of becoming the first diver to seed the structure with a coral fragment.

“Within just 16 hours of the introduction of electricity, there was a visible white film around forming on the exposed steel. In some ways, the structure resembles an underwater Christmas tree adorned with carefully attached coral decorations! Moorish idols and Damsel Fish were already winding their way in and out of the structure. A fantastic green and yellow miamiridae nudibranch had also found a new home.”

Taufik provided the finishing touches by painting a succinct message on the surface marker buoys ‘Keep and Protect this Place’ and the installation was complete.

An open forum and evening screening, highlighting other successful Biorock projects, was held at Hotel Vila Ombak, in the hope of inspiring all dive resorts, hotel owners and the island community to team together and create a larger electric reef installation sometime in 2005.
“Our goal was to create something tangible, to demonstrate to everyone just one of the techniques available to secure and augment the coral reef assets of regions such as the Gil Islands.” said Jo.

Vila Ombak Diving Academy are now providing a signature Coral Reef Education Program, which includes learning about how coral reef communities are created, current global threats to coral reef and the future of the reef. The program also includes an interpreted dive or snorkel on the structure and the opportunity to attach a coral fragment. If you would like to get involved, please contact Jo and Jesper,
Tel :(+62) 0370 638 531/ SMS: (+62) 081 338 536 804