Following Bali, Holly and I parted ways with Autumn, and caught a ferry to the Gili Islands. The Gilis are these beautiful little islands off the coast of Lombok—there are 3 main ones; Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno.
The ferry dropped us on the beach—no harbor or anything, you just had to jump off the boat into the water and they passed luggage out in an assembly line type way. The view was incredible. You are on this island looking across the water to the island of Lombok, with its mountains right in front of you.
These little droplets of heaven (Gili Islands) were INCREDIBLE. First, there are no cars or motorcycles allowed on the islands, only horse-drawn buggies. After being in traffic congested cities around Indonesia, this is such a luxury. Gili T—the biggest one, is kind of like a mini-Bali in that it attracts loads of tourists and has a lot of Western food options. However, they are Muslim islands, not Hindu, so you had to make sure you were respectful and not walking around in bikini, etc. It was also strange to hear the call to prayer really loudly from our guesthouse, after not having heard it for a while in Tana Toraja or Bali. It was kind of a signal we’d be back to reality soon enough.
I’m now going to quote from my journal that I kept while there:
“Gili T was like a shock to the system. It kind of felt like Spring Break in Cancun (but not quite so wild)—just loads of young, pretty people in swimsuits.” There were so many tourists, and I guess it was what the beaches of Bali would be like perhaps.
Holly and I found western food again for dinner and ended up at an Irish bar called Tir na nog. To be honest, it couldn’t qualify as all that Irish considering it was on a tropical island beach, with sand for the floor and the worst club music ever blasting out of the speakers. HOWEVER, it was called Tir na nog, and so I was sold. There was a massive dance party going on our first night, and it was like watching girls on spring break. Very strange in Indonesia. We talked to some people we had met earlier that day, aaand Holly and I MIGHT have danced on the table to Gangnam Style. It was necessary. No one else seemed to understand the importance of this song (except maybe the barmen).
The next day (Valentine’s Day!) our wonderful friend Christen joined us! She lives on Lombok, so it’s a short trip away for her. We had a lovely day of relaxing on the beach, drinking banana juices, and lazing about basically. For our romantic Valentine’s dinner, we had a bit of trouble finding a place to eat (or more honestly, a place with affordable wine and good seating), and when we finally found it, it began to rain. But we didn’t let THAT stop us from having a great night.
We of course ended up back at Tir na nog, where things were a bit calmer than the previous night. We settled in at the bar and talked to our friends from the day before. The barmen—cute, young Indonesian guys were pretty funny entertaining us. One of them started making roses out of paper napkins and handing them to me from across the bar. As it was Valentine’s Day, and I’m a complete sap, I totally ate it up. Now don’t get me wrong, the kid looked about 18, so there was no hanky panky going on, but it was pretty funny. Turned out he was 24, and when he found out I was 26, he didn’t hold in his shock, “wow! Old!! Ha ha!” Hilarious!
Holly and I had another boogie to Gangnam Style, and Christen and I amused ourselves by talking to the flower-making barman.
The next day we headed to Gili Air—a much calmer version of Gili T. There weren’t as many people, but it was perfect. We checked into a cute cottage (minus A/C) with an awesome outdoor bathroom (although it only spouted salt water). We received a welcome coconut from the workers on the property. We found the most amazing restaurant that made incredible bruschetta and we may or may not have had about 6 plates of it by the time we left.
I feel like my posts are all about food. I can’t help it. In Bali/Gilis our minds were dominated by thoughts of food.
We set up camp at this restaurant on loungey chairs, and some Paks came by selling sarongs and pearls, and we indulged AGAIN.
I took the snorkel mask out a ways and saw a giant turtle—it was SOOOOOOO COOL! I followed him for a ways—it was SUCH an amazing sight. It really made me want to try diving, but I just don’t want to fork over all that money! And we needed more time to do something like that. Snorkeling sufficed. And sitting on the beach watching kids make boats was also pretty amusing.
After our chill lovely sunny afternoon, Christen & I went to yoga and it was a great 1 ½ hours. Felt good to do some exercise after a while!
We took a ferry off of Gili Air to go to Lombok (where Christen lives), and on the ferry ride across the sea—we saw a flippin CYCLONE in the distance! Most of the other passengers were people from Lombok who just go to the Gilis for the day to work, and even they looked a little alarmed, but they told us not to worry. Right! Well, right as we got back to land, the heavens opened up. Poor Christen had to drive her motorcycle back to Mataram (her city), while Holly and I got a taxi.
Lombok was really cool, although I haven’t seen as much as I should. Christen and I explored one day, and I wore her insanely heavy, huge helmet—I felt like my head weighed 20 pounds. It is always really interesting to see where other people live, and how their lives/cities compare to your own. Mataram was much calmer than Palembang, and being so close to the beach is lovely.
And alas, over a month of travel around Indonesia came to an end in Mataram, Lombok.
Indonesia is an incredibly beautiful, diverse country. I’d completely recommend traveling here. Do it!