The Gorgeous Gili Islands

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May 1st 2011
Published: May 5th 2012
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We left Ubud after a great few days for the Gili islands, 3 small islands which were supposed to have amazing beaches. We were picked up early and driven to the port in the town of Padangbai about an hour away, where you get the boats to the Gili's from. This town is pretty small and people mainly only go through it to get the boats to/from the Gili's. After a bit of messing about (swapping tickets over, being herded from bus to boat etc), we hopped on the 'fast' boat which was due to take 2 hours to get to Gili Trawangan, the biggest of the 3 islands. Gili Meno and Gili Air are the other 2, one is inhabitable and the other is very quiet.

After about 3 hours (common theme in Asia- buses/boats are never as 'fast' as they say they are!) the boat pulled in as far as it could to Gili T and then we all had to swap into a speed boat which took us further to the shore, then jump out into the sea which was above our knees and wade in the rest of the way! As soon as we got to the shore we could see how much we would love this island! There are no cars or motorbikes, so the only way to get around it is bicycle, on foot, or by horse and cart!

We set off to find a room and as it was so hot we ended up staying in one of the first places we found, which was a nice little hotel with a pool in the 'center' of town - town being the handful of bars and restaurants which were a 3 minute walk to the right. To the left, it was a bit quieter with more simple accomodation. After checking in we were hungry for some lunch, so took a little stroll and ate at a place overlooking the sea, near the docks. Scott for some reason chose to have a burger, never really a good choice in Asia Vic says, and when it came it confirmed why. For a start, it was pretty pale and didn't look like meat at all! We asked the waitress if she had bought a veggie one by mistake, and they assured us it was beef. She told us that the beef in Indonesia is apparantly pale/white, not like ours in the UK, which is red/brown! So hesitantly Scott ate it, but would regret it over the next few days! We then chilled out on the gorgeous beach for the rest of the afternoon.

We had heard there were amazing sunsets to be seen at one end of the island, so we hired bicycles to ride around on for a couple of hours and watch the sunset. The island is very small so we rode from almost one end to the other in about 15/20 minutes, and then back up. The other side of the island isn't paved for bicycles! We made it to the top end in time to see the most incredible orange/red sunset, where a lot of people had also gathered to watch it, and stayed there for a while before riding back, giving the bikes back and going back to our room to shower and get ready for the evening.

Gili T has 3 bars and they each take it in turn one night a week to hold a party! So we took a walk to find a restaurant to eat in, passing an open air make shift cinema type place, where the locals had built small open 'cabin' type areas for you to sit in and hire a dvd to watch, which they would rig up to your own private tv and give you popcorn for that real cinema experience! After a bite to eat at one of the many fresh bbq's along the beach, which had all types of seafood, chicken, beef, pork etc, we went to find which bar was holding tonight's party. Before that we had a few drinks at a bar, which alongside advertising what drink specials it had on a black board, also showed that it had a variety of magic muchrooms for sale, as well as Opium and mushroom shakes! We had seen these discretely being sold in Laos but this was in the open for everyone to see which was pretty funny! This island is so chilled though it wasn't really surprising, although we didn't partake in these ourselves!

We then found the bar that was holding its weekly party and had a few drinks there whilst listening to some music, before we saw a guy we recognised, but couldn't work out where from at first. We got talking to him and soon realised we had met him when we were travelling and tubing in Laos almost 5 months before! The world really is a small place. He said he was still travelling, while we explained we had gone home and were just here on holiday but wished we were still travelling too! After a good few hours here we called it a night and walked the few minutes back to our room at around 2am, past the local guys who were just sitting outside their 'shops' and internet cafes. Even though Gili T is very small and quiet, its surprising that most places seem to be open at all times!

The next morning was gloriously sunny so we had a bit of breakfast and found a plot on the beach a bit furhter down to sit on for the day. The sea here is unbeleiveably turquoise and so clear, it was also very warm and shallow so you could walk out for a while and the water would still only come to your waist! We spent the day sunbathing on the sand and splashing around in the sea, thinking this place is paradise! We took a break for a bit of lunch (mixed noodles, a chicken sandwich and a fresh fruit shake each for around £4!) and then went back to the beach for more sunbathing, before it clouded over a little so we went back to our pool for a nap. We really are beach bums are heart and just love the sun!

We wanted to visit the other 2 Gili islands (Air & Meno) so booked a boat trip for the next day which would include a trip to these islands, snorkelling and hopefully seeing some turtles! That evening we had some dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant which had great pasta dishes, but Scott wasn't feeling great so we watched some football in a small bar and an early night, excited for the next day.

In the morning Scott still wasn't feeling great but we went ahead and did the tripm which turned out to be well worthwhile. We boarded a boat and set off first for some snorkelling which was amazing as these waters really are turquoise clear, and the coral life underwater was beautiful. We then stopped at another place where the boat guide said we would see turtles! We had never seen turtles in the wild before, so we jumped in the water and started to snorkel, when a couple of minutes later the guide pointed down to turtles which were swimming just below us!! It was amazing to see these creatures and we tried to swim with them for a while but then they went deeper and we lost them. Next stop was Gili Meno for lunch on the small beach there, so we sat under a wooden cabana type place and ordered some food. Thank god we were sheltered because out of nowhere the heavens opened and it absolutely poured down with rain for a good 20 minutes!! The rain then stopped as quickly as it came, so we were back on the boat to our next stop, Gili Air, for a short swim before it was time to head back to Gili T. We have always loved boat trips and this one was extra special!

That evening we were quite tired from the boat trip and Scott was still unwell, so we had a small dinner and stopped at a place which was open air and had a huge screen showing a film for a while.

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