Sunday, September 18, 2011

Gili Islands, Lombok

We haven’t been very organized with the planning of our visit to Indonesia, so on a whim we decided to go to the Gili Islands in Lombok.  They are on the way if you want to see the Komodo Dragons in Flores but we were still debating if that was something we would be doings.  The costs associated are a little steep.  To get to the islands, of course, you have to take a ferry.  We opted for the fast boat (1.5 hours) as I had no desire to spend 3 hours on a boat.  After the bus took us from Ubud to the ferry terminal we boarded our surprisingly small boat.  There were maybe 20 people on board.  We started chatting with a Canadian girl that was sitting in front of us and she told us she gets sea sick.  We started sharing stories and I told her that I don’t get sea sick but I don’t like boats and am generally bad luck on a boat.  We shared stories with her about the horrible boat rides we had had over the past 8 months.  She wasn’t thrilled with the stories but she was happy we shared our Gravol with her.  We were happy to get rid of it as we don’t use it and just carry it around.  The boat ride, of course, was not smooth at all.  The wind was quite strong as were the waves.  It was not a fun ride.  One girl (not the Canadian girl) was extremely sea sick.  Literally, the whole time she was throwing up.  Other people started getting sea sick too but most managed okay.  I was stressed out but an hour into the trip I though, okay, half hour to go.  Then found out the ride would actually take 2.5 hours.  Great.  So I did the only thing I could think of to get my mind off the situation, and I started reading my book.  The time just flew by and before I knew it we had reached the Gili Islands. 

We were staying on Gili Trawangan as it’s the budget island, although we weren’t able to find a room for less than $20 per night.  Gili Trawangan is 1 of 3 islands that make up the Gili Islands (although the world Gili actually means island).  The other two are right next to each other and you can see the shore of Gili Meno quite clearly, with Gili Air on the other side of it. There aren’t any cars on the islands and the only way to get around is by foot, bicycle or horse carriage.  The island is not that large so we opted for the “by foot” option as to rent a bicycle costs as much as renting a motor bike in Kuta.   The island is surrounded by coral so there are only a few spots good for swimming.  Since the islands are so close it would be tempting to swim across to them but the currents are really strong in the deep waters and you can see the currents from the beach as the water rushes past.  But there’s no danger in the shallow swimming parts.  That evening we explored the island a bit and ate at one of the many cafes.  The island is quite busy as well and doesn’t have a remote feeling to it at all, but the beach is nice and the water is crystal clear.

We had been having trouble sleeping as everywhere you go in Indonesia there are roosters and they start their crowing at 4:30am and continue intermittently throughout the day.  In addition, since Indonesia is a Muslim country, all the Mosques start their prayers at 5am over the speakers.  We were hoping to at least avoid the roosters on Gili T but that was not to be.  You do get the hang of putting your head between the pillow and the mattress to drown out the sound after a while though.  So far we have been unsuccessful in finding ear plugs.  The next day we spent the day at the beach.  The weather was great and the sea was warm but the winds had not died down at all the sand kept being blow right into our faces, hair, ears…everywhere really.  We ended up getting burned even though we spent most of the day in shade, but I guess the sunscreen had washed off while we were swimming.  That night we discovered a great night market with different food stalls.  It’s currently Ramadan so all the people fast during the day and eat only after sunset so all the great food stalls open up in the evening.  The food is great and cheap!  After we ate, we bought some Bintangs and sat on the porch of our room.  The next couple of days we spent on the beach as well, and our routine didn’t vary too much from the first day, except that one day we took the time to walk around the whole island, which took just over an hour.  After 4 days of this we decided it was time to leave.  We had been planning on doing some scuba diving there but the prices were a little expensive so we decided to pass.

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