Saturday, 2 November 2013

Giddy About Gili

After spending some time in the overpopulated Jakarta, and with the prospect of driving through a dusty Australian desert looming ever closer, we decided to head to the Gili Islands to get some well deserved R&R.

The Gili Islands are an archipelago of three small islands — Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air — just off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia. Lombock being the island just east of the infamous Indonesian hotspot, Bali.

We were heading to the largest island of the three, Trawangan, as it was best able to cater to our budget travelling.

So as soon as we arrived in Bali we settled into our hostel, whilst Jess sorted out our transit to "The Gilis", I found myself a few play mates in the shape of three labrador cross puppies and their mum.

Tomorrow's journey was starting at 6am the next morning, with an estimated 5 hours of travel time, so we grabbed a quick bite to eat and settled in for an early night.

The next morning we were up, out and at the ferry terminal before we had time to wipe the sleep from our eyes. The Gilis have grown in popularity over the last 10 years, and judging by the crowds of people waiting for the ferry the islands are  still very much a fashionable place for all sorts of travellers wanting the remote island experience.

The ferry itself was fairly comfortable, they even gave us a little complimentary kiwifruit cake! The view of Bali as you head of is absolutely spectacular. These Indonesian islands just seem to get more tropical, more luscious, and more beautiful than the last.

Our ferry whizzed past the island of Lombock which was a huge island, but very beautiful, and looks as though it thoroughly warrants a visit of its own next time we are in Indonesia. However, even that paled in comparison to what we were presented with upon arrival in Gili Trawangan.

Crystal clear water, soft white sand, palm trees and cute local boats. It really was ticking everything anyone could want from a tropical island experience.

It was blisteringly hot, but we happily carried our bags along the small paths that snake around this tiny island (it only takes 1 and a half hours to walk all the way around). There are also no real roads on the island, because there are no cars or mopeds on the island.

To get around, you either have to pay for a horse drawn carriage, cycle or walk. And walk we did to the Gili Nyepi hostel.

After dropping our bags in the room we were given a complimentary cocktail, not something we have been accustomed to on this trip but certainly a most welcome surprise as the midday sun was in full force at this point.

It wasn't long before we were in our boardies and bikinis and cooling off at the beach in those beautiful turquoise waters.

After a few hours of getting our tan we thought we'd better go and say hi to some friends from Sydney who were also supposedly on the island.

Gareth would be celebrating his 30th birthday tomorrow, so he and his lovely wife Lisa had decided to celebrate in style by heading to the Gili islands as well. They had invited a few other mutual friends (Alex, Ger and Rhett) along for the party.

It didn't take long before the Bintang beers were being opened and we were all catching up on what we had been up to over the last few months.

We grabbed a table at the sunset bar on the south west side of the island to watch the colours change as the sun sank below the Java sea.

We grabbed a bite to eat at the night markets and before we knew it it was the early hours of the morning and we were still in the token Irish bar on the island. So we headed to bed as Lisa had arranged for us all to go diving with them for Gareth's birthday.

The next morning I raced along to Buddha Dive Centre where I met up with the guys. We were soon kitted up and on the boat. Gili Islands started on the road to the tourist mecca it is now because of the fantastic diving that can be done just off the island. Now there are approximately 8 separate dive schools on the island.

I'd not dived with friends before, so it pretty was amazing to be under water swimming after the pretty fishes and sea turtles with your mates.

Afterwards we headed back to our hostels for a little rest before heading out for another look at that beautiful sunset.

With the sun down, and the night lights on we headed to Scallywags where Lisa had booked a table for us all to have dinner at. They served BBQ'd fresh fish, traditional indonesian food as well as some western comforts so everyone was happy and properly well fed.

However, we could hear the music playing at the Irish bar down the road, so it didn't take us long after dinner to head down and grab ourselves a night cap! One drink turned into many! Beer turned into Vodka Joss (Vodka Joss is a shot of vodka and a powerful energy powder you pour into your mouth before downing the vodka, that is illegal everywhere but the Philippines and Indonesia).

Soon the Vodka Joss wasn't enough and we had Gareth downing Tequila suicides. If you don't know what a Tequila Suicide is, its a variation on the traditional tequila shot. You take salt and you make a nice line out of it, and ready a lime wedge. You proceed to snort the line of salt... squeeze the lime in your eye.. and then take the shot. Not for the faint of heart, but Gareth nailed it.

After that all we remember was waking up in the hostel bedroom, knowing that we had to leave the island. The pain of having to leave this paradise took away from the pain that was resonating through my brain courtesy of all those Vodka Joss shots.

We slowly dusted ourselves off and reluctantly headed to the beach where we were to get our ferry back to Bali. However, just before we got aboard we saw Gareth running over to thank us for being in Gili for his birthday. The pleasure of course was all ours.

With only one day before we head to Darwin, having so many Australian friends there it really was a perfect ending to Stage 2 of our trip, and has us excited about starting Stage 3 and driving down across Australia!

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