(Day 199 to 204)
09.06.2010 - 13.06.2010 33 °C
We boarded our Fast boat at about 09h, and it took us an hour and a half to Gili Trawangan, the larger of the 3 little Indonesian islands, north of Lombok. We were ready to take a slow boat but again much bargaining gained us a fast boat ticket for a few more Rupiahs than the 6-hour ferry would have.
Upon arrival, some further negotiating had to take place before we could get another boat to our chosen island, Gili Air, a stone’s throw away. Once there, we were taken to our accommodation on a sand track at the back of a (very shaky) horse cart. It felt like it would fall apart any second and I was quite pleased to arrive at our destination - whilst Martin was, of course, finding the whole thing hilarious and loving the ride!! This is the only form of transport on the islands along with bicycles, no cars, no motorbikes.
Gili Air is a quiet place, and days were spent slowly and peacefully. The restaurants are all along the beach, so it’s easy to get food from our spot on the beach and laze on the comfy loungers whilst reading in a book in the afternoon.
The snorkelling was very nice but the current strong, so we would both walk up the beach a fair bit and let ourselves drift down the coast to where we wanted to stop. The swimming spots were sadly not very many on the south-east where we were, but the advantage was that the reef was very close which provided great snorkelling.
Martin also went for a fun dive on one of the islands off Gili, his first since taking his open water course on Phi Phi, and said the visibility was amazingly good.
In the afternoons at low tide, and when the reef was out, the locals would head out with buckets to collect crabs and other marine creatures, while the kids played alongside to their heart content.
Another typical Gili trait is the electricity.. and its many many many power failures! The explanation is that the set up is very old and that the town grew too fast for the electricity supply to keep up with demand. As a result, the electricity gets used up during the day and then they have to cut it in the evenings (!!). Add to that our hostel is so basic that the owner refuses to buy a generator. We spent a good deal of time discussing this logic but the fact is that even though this lent a cozy atmosphere thanks to our rustic petrol lantern, we felt slightly jealous sleeping in the intense heat without a fan most nights and listening to our neighbours generators!
Food on the island is much the same as in Bali, a mixture of Indonesian and Western food to satisfy all appetites. We were told at first not to eat any uncooked veg as the water is not clean – it is in fact sea water that gets turned into “fresh” water: but not quite! In any case we were fine eating all sorts. Martin’s become quite a fan of Indonesian grub such as “Nasi goreng” which is basically fried rice with veggies & chicken cooked in a sweet soya sauce with a fried egg on top. Cheap and tasty. I don’t mind it myself every now and then, but a daily diet of noodles and rice, however delicious, is not quite my idea of keeping healthy.. To each his own. The “Warungs” which serve these are simple restaurants where food is good and very cheap.
Coffee is local and is served in your cup with bits floating everywhere . It’s our version of coffee in a plunger (you know the kind where you push veeeery slowly to filter the coffee before pouring?) except they just pop the coffee in with hot water and stir! Tasty but a bit grainy. They also serve condensed milk instead of regular milk, which could have been dangerous if I didn’t have my coffee black, as I could have tins of the stuff at a time, yum!
Our stay came near to an end on this quirky island, when the FIFA World cup started. We giggled as last minute huge TVs where installed in pubs and precariously hung from makeshift bamboo stands. Martin was hailed as a hero the whole day for being South African while locals flogged to him to ask for tips as they were all betting on South Africa winning
Of the four or five places showing the football – they ALL got the Opening ceremony time wrong so we sadly missed that.. One bar even had to cancel viewing after realising that they forgot to pay for the required channel! This was a very funny experience but by 10h after bar hoping for 2 hours between the few owning TVs searching for the match, we were still not sure whether we would see it or not. I went to bed and luckily Martin could see his country be represented in the first match of the Cup.
We celebrated my 29th birthday on the 12th. This was to be our last day on Gili Air, and it was a lovely relaxing day on the beach, where I was spoilt and looked after by my lovely husband. It ended with a delicious meal by candle light right near the water’s edge.
The next morning we went off to Senggigi in Lombok where we would be picked up for our Komodo boat trip. To get there from Gili Air, we had to take a boat to Bangsal and from there a bus to Senggigi, the whole trip took about 2 hours roughly.