Pesta Blogger 2008 on the way

It took a bit of time putting it together but Pesta Blogger 2008 is finally on the way and the Pesta Blogger Committee held a press conference today to announce what’s in store for Indonesia’s bloggers this year.

At the press conference, held at the Ministry of Communications and Information this afternoon, Pesta Blogger 2008 Chairman Wicaksono, better known among bloggers as Ndoro Kakung, announced that this year’s event, which will be held at the BPPT building on 22 November, will aim for 1,000 participants. This is double the participation in last year’s Pesta Blogger.

Strong participation is expected from bloggers from outlying cities as their communities have been actively communicating with Pesta Blogger Committee members. In addition the communities have ben actively involved in social work that is consistent with this year’s Pesta Blogger theme of “Blogging for Society.”

There will also be some new activities in this year’s Pesta Blogger. One of them is the invitation of five foreign bloggers from neighboring countries and the US to visit Bali, Yogjakarta and Jakarta, and concluding their trip by haring their impressions about Indonesia, its culture and blogging community with the participants of Pesta Blogger 2008. This activity is being held in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Another new activity is the introduction of a photo contest this year that is being organized by blogger Iman Brotoseno who was present at today’s press conference together with other Pesta Blogger Committee members Enda Nasution, Chika, Hanny and Shinta.

Also at the press conference was the patron of Pesta Blogger, Minister of Communications and Informatics Muhammad Nuh and US Ambassador to Indonesia, Cameron Hume.

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Hailed out in Toulouse

Unspun was in Toulouse last week for Airbus’s Technical Press Briefing. Its an annual event where Airbus gets journalists (and their PR flacks, like moi) to the southern French city to make us knowledgeable about things like vortex factors, composites, alternative fuels and other aeronautical stuff that go into the construction of the A380 and other planes (aeronautical buffs go here. It’s a blog run by Jon Ostrower whom Unspun met over dinner before The Hail, but after the fourth glass of red wine. The non-aeronautically inclined who are more interested in The Hail and Toulouse can remain here).

Anyway, The Hail. As we hacks and flacks gathered in a restaurant somewhere in downtown Toulouse for a dinner on the second day of the briefing we began to hear loud noises outside. Then someone pointed to the window and we all rushed to it. And there, in the middle of Spring, were all these hailstones about half the size of golfballs raining down on the streets.

It was so heavy that within half an hour or so all Toulouse’s streets were covered with white ice or with ice and leaves torn by it from chestnut trees lining the streets. It was fun and different but walking home on the slippery and melting ice was no picnic. There was a stretch before the hotel where the melting ice and slurry caused calf deep flooding. A long time Toulousian resident said that she had not seen the likes of such heavy hail in Spring all her life.

We all ruminated about global warming and thoughts of the weather gone crazy. Good thing that the discussion at the Airbus briefing the day before was all about how the plane maker was conscious about reducing its emissions and impact to the environment and had devised innovative ways to reduce emissions, noise and other pollutants through its plane recycling program the day before.

Other than those to days the weather in Toulouse was superb, sunny and hovering in the 20s. There were lots of women to watch, parks to stroll and museums to visit. Things that made Unspun glad was an open-air photographic exhibition about satellite images on the park by the Garonne River, sculptures at the Musee des Augustins and just the change of scene in Toulouse. (and yes, Unspun did partake of the Toulousian specialty, foie gras). Here are some images to share with you (they are not usual Unspun quality because he was too lazy to bring the 40D and used a Lumix FX12 instead).

Space cadet menu

This has got to be on the same league as Malaysia’s plan to have its first astronaut make teh tarik in space.
Wonder what Indonesia’ contribution would be if it sends someone into space? Sambal Terasi? Lalapan in a can? Kecap ABC? Indomie? Instant Rawon? Space Tempe?
clipped from

The first Korean astronaut will carry a special version of his national dish into space.

Now kimchi is set to conquer the final frontier: space.

When South Korea’s first astronaut, Ko San, blasts off April 8 aboard a Russian spaceship bound for the International Space Station, the beloved national dish will be on board.

Three top government research institutes spent millions of dollars and several years perfecting a version of kimchi that would not turn dangerous when exposed to cosmic rays or other forms of radiation and would not put off non-Korean astronauts with its pungency.

Their so-called space kimchi won approval this month from Russian authorities.

“This will greatly help my mission,” Mr. Ko, who is training in Russia, said in a statement transmitted through the Korea Aerospace Research Institute. “When you’re working in spacelike conditions and aren’t feeling too well, you miss Korean food.”

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Good or bad?

Don’t really know what to do of this piece of news. Embarrassingly although Unspun’s been diving in many parts of Indonesia and Papua, he hasn’t been to the fabled Raja Ampat area where the world’s best diving is said to be.Wakatobi is a base from which many divers in the Raja Ampat area depart from. Other operators have to sail in from other ports because the operators apparently jealously guard their turf.

So this news about opening up Wakatobi to progress, facilities and tourism is ostensibly good news. But you can’t help wondering if the authorities will muddle it up like the many, many tourism projects in Indonesia.

clipped from
Opening up Wakatobi as a world coral wonder
Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post, Wakatobi

Wakatobi regency in Southeast Sulawesi is hoping to transform the area into an international tourist destination for diving enthusiasts.

An island chain spanning 18,000 square kilometers, 3,070 of which have been designated a national park, Wakatobi is home to 65 diving spots and at least 942 fish species and around 750 coral species — or more than 90 percent of the 850 coral species in the world.

Wakatobi Regent Hugua said the biggest stumbling block was the lack of supporting infrastructure such as hotels, restaurants and an airport, as Wakatobi can only be reached by sea from Bau-Bau or the province capital of Kendari.

There is an airstrip in Tomia district, but it is privately owned by one of the two dive operators in Wakatobi and only serves chartered flights.

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The holiday that was

Welcome back to normal life those of you who have been off partying for Christmas and  and New Year’s.

Unspun spent the holiday in Manila and constantly wondered how a basket case, politically, like the Philippines can have a better and cleaner roads than Jakarta.

Other observations about Manila:

  • They have great, cheap medical service – Unspun’s boy was down with high fever and we suspected dengue. So we admitted him into Makati Medical Center for two nights. The staff there were professional, informative and very helpful. So were the doctors and nurses at the pediatrics section of the emergency ward. The hospital was a bit old and was being refurbished but still it was clean and well kept.And it was inexpensive. Compared to Jakarts. Cost of two nights stay and tratment in a private ward, including medication, doctors fees and blood testa -less than Rp3 million. Try getting something even close like this in one of the better hospitals in Jakarta.
  •  Food was good. Try Abe’s for some yummy Filipino food at Serendra, a outdoor strip of shops and open spaces at the space where the Bonifacio military base used to be. It’s just about 10 minutes from Makati. Unspun particularly liked the Crispy Pata, the baby squid in shrimp paste and the chicken with glutinous rice. Incidentally, when the Americans decamped the Salim Group and a local dealmaker bought up the place and had grand plans for its development. Then they were it by the Asian Monetary Crisis. (see here) The area is now springing to life.
  • Filipino salespersons seem more articulate and polite than their Indonesian counterparts but they are similarly vacuous when it comes to product knowledge
  • Philippine Airline’s checking in facilities and staff at the Manila airport suck. They are s-l-o-w. If you’re checking in Unspun suggests you go real arly. It took us 45 minutes of lining up before we reached the check in counter. Then it was another 15 minutes of mucking around. The immigration guys are no better.
  • There’s a lot of shopping malls in Manila. You wonder if Manilans do anything other than shopping as a past time in the city. Come to think of it that’s what Jakartans do.
  • The historical sites are not much better maintained than Jakarta’s. Both suck. Unspun visited Intramuros, the old quarter of Manila and the thought that kept creeping into his mind, as he passed the maintained fort where the Philippines national hero Jose Rizal was incarcerated and executed, was: what would Rizal say if he came back and saw how badly maintained the place was. I wasn’t dirty or anything, just unexciting and reeked of neglect.

Dive into this blog

iman.jpgIman Brotoseno is a gifted photographer and film maker and he brings his professional skills together with him when he goes diving. Unspun was fortunate enough to dive with Iman and his friends many times and each time we were not only treated to his sense of humor but also his great photos and videos.

He’s got a very neat Flash video of some of the dives he’s made in Indonesia. It certainly shows the great diving that’s to be had in Indonesia. Anyone interested in diving or would just like to see great footage of underwater marine life should just check it out.