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 By the way: Safe for now: The private, pristine and pretty Lombok

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Number of posts : 16
Location : Kerobokan, Bali
Registration date : 2008-08-01

PostSubject: By the way: Safe for now: The private, pristine and pretty Lombok   Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:18 pm

© Jakarta Post

Lynda Ibrahim | Sun, 03/22/2009 9:22 AM | Headlines

Lately, Iíve started feeling that nothing is sacred any more in a world where everything is as instant and as mass-produced as the ubiquitous Indomie noodles, without much regard to due process or uniqueness. Either the world is spinning too fast, or age has simply made me world-weary. So imagine my delight and surprise when I read, over the weekend, that the Lombok Megaproject had at last been unplugged.

Phew! That pretty, private heaven with its pristine white sands and almost turquoise water! My sanctuary for much-needed refuge from the hustle and bustle of life, where, on the three Gilis, there are no motor-powered vehicles and often no cell phone signal (a great cold-turkey rehab for those Crackberrys, Iíd say). Where reasonably-priced, yellow-toned natural pearls can still be found, if you know where to look, though riot-caused supply disruptions of Ambonís grey-toned pearls have jacked up the prices a bit lately. Perfect for visiting alone or with your best friend, and paradise if you come with The One. The place I first landed on in summer 1992 and have kept revisiting since, the place Iíve prayed should never to turn into another Bali.

Wait, Iím no Bali basher. I love the beautiful island, and years-long Balinese dance training gave me a lot of respect towards their unique culture. But to me, for the last decade it has become way too commercialized, often without due care, especially in the Kuta-Legian area where the beaches are more often cluttered with trash (in all its meanings), than not. Unless accompanying first-timer foreign friends with a list of must-see tourist spots, my Bali trips for the past few years have mostly consisted of a straight-to-Ubud ride, with a stop by the chic Seminyak shops on my way to the airport at the last day.

I first heard of the Lombok Megaproject during a long lunch with a high-flying PR person prior to the official announcement. Knowing of my love for Lombok, our PR friend filled me in with hush-hush details of how a massive sum of oil money would fund multiple resorts, an international airport and perhaps a possible highway, mistaking my stunned silence as a sign of awe.

Jaw dropping, I started having horrible images of Senggigi becoming a 24/7 boisterous strip where it would be too loud for fishes to swim close by, too dirty for young children to play sandcastles, or too risquť for a sedate holiday as drunken beach bums openly trade illicit chemicals. I thought of the charming Sasak villages and artisan communities becoming the commission-based mandatory stops of large tourist buses. I shuddered as I pictured hawkers outnumbering vacationers on the peaceful triangle of the Gilis, or noisy Jet Skis obstructing the direct view from Gili Terawanganís main beach to Gili Air, where now divers or strong swimmers can swim the short distance of clear, shallow water between the two islets. And I almost wept as a glimpse of motorcycles roaming the Gilis entered my mind.

Itís not that I donít want Lombok peopleís livelihood to be improved by tourism, and Iím sincerely looking forward to the gradual development of Lombok as a holiday destination. But the Megaproject just seemed to aim to whip Lombok into some one-stop-shopping for island vacationing in a slapdash stroke. Iím sure promises were pledged to preserve nature and culture during the process, yet I suspect keeping those promises would be harder than keeping a six-pack belly after babies. Why? Because being a developing country with prevalent poverty and income gaps, the lure of easy money would be too much to resist for both the locals and government, and sensibility would be nudged aside, and eventually thrown out of the window, until itís too late. Iím grateful that the Ubud royal family uses their cultural power to ban clubs, but nobody was there to rein in Kuta or Legian.

And somehow, the Dubai-based fund didnít make it any more encouraging to me. Yes, we all have seen how the rising petrodollar has turned the sleepy desert town into a bustling, ultra-modern city with architectural wonders competing to outdo each other. Itís been great for Dubai and I donít mind enjoying it while Iím there, yet I would seriously object if the serene Lombok should suddenly be bedecked in shiny, 24K-gold-gilded columns, supersized branded boutiques, or other in-your-face, ostentatious facades of opulence that have become Dubaiís pride. How soon before someone would think of constructing a series of man-made islets to flank the Gilis?

You can disagree with me, but whatís more important now is for us all to participate in developing Lombok tourism lest another mega-fund arrives. Divers have steadily been supportive, but more can be achieved if bridegrooms start considering Lombok for honeymoons, if ladies start collecting Lombok pearls they way they do Mikimotoís, or when interior designers start giving room to Lombok crafts for high-profile projects. Pretty, pristine, somewhat private, yet prosperous Lombok? I have hopes.
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Lombok Friend

Number of posts : 17
Location : California
Registration date : 2009-02-01

PostSubject: Re: By the way: Safe for now: The private, pristine and pretty Lombok   Thu Apr 09, 2009 5:20 pm

I coulden't agree more. So what next? Cool
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