Windows of Time - Senggigi / Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

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December 2nd 2016
Published: November 23rd 2016
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As my window of time closed on Bali, another was to inevitably open for me to go through on Lombok, the next island east in the archipelago. I made my way to Lombok via the four hour public ferry ($IDR36,0000) which called at Lembar harbour some 22km south of the capitol Mataram. Here I once again had to deal with the transport mob trying to rip me off so I again just started to walk. It worked in Bali and I had nothing to lose. Turns out it worked here as well as the crazy white guy walking down the main road to town got a fair price for the thirty minute journey north. Most people show up in Lombok and make a beeline for the Gili Islands. Once in Mataram I transferred to a public bemo and decided to make an unscheduled stop in the often overlooked beach town of Senggigi. Good choice as it was here I met the lovely Karis, an English girl with whom a window of time together would lead to adventure, hilarity, and friendship.

Senggigi is a fantastic one main drag of a town with scattered black sand volcanic beaches to the north and lush green tropical rainforest mountains to the east. Sprinkle in a couple of backpacker dive hotels, five star resorts, and strange karaoke/dance clubs and you have a recipe for a great time. I checked into a hostel (a first for Indonesia) where I met Karis who, like most people I met in Australia, is from England and has been living and working in Oz for the past two years. With her Australian Visa almost up she took a six week break to travel Indonesia with Lombok being the final stop. Teaming up we went to a strange Indonesian karaoke club in town that also seconds as an electronica dance club. I love when I meet people who get me out of my comfort zone as normally I have no (and still don't) business dancing the night away to Indonesian pop and J-Lo. But once in a blue moon it happens and I have the time of my life.

After a late night the best remedy whilst in the tropics is sweltering yourself on the beaches. The black volcanic sands here are so soft and the turquoise waters of the Indonesian Seas are to die for. With the golden rays of the equatorial sun on my body the dark tones on my skin have reached ridiculous new levels. Melanoma be damned! I've really honed my art of doing nothing on the beaches of Indonesia. After playing in the surf for a while Karis and I made our way back passing by a fancy boutique resort hotel on the beach. I made the suggestion we go in sit by the pool and act like we belong. The great thing about being a Westerner here is no one asks any questions. I quite enjoyed living the life of luxury at the hotel and I almost believed I was staying there. A good way to cool down on an otherwise hot afternoon.

Anytime I have a willing and trusting partner to hop on the back of a moto with me I'm all over it. Hiring a bike the next day we made our way north exploring the many inlets and coves that dot the western coastline of Lombok. We had no plan and just followed the curves of the road for a few hours until we turned off east and ended up high in the hills at some waterfall leaving the rice paddy fields and the heat of the day below. I loved cruising through the little villages with hordes of children chasing after us on the moto shouting "hello mister!". A real classic Asia moment for me. At one point we had to wait out a pretty heavy rainstorm for a few hours. Times like these are perfect for sharing travel stories and adventures. Some of the tales Karis had about doing farm work (a requirement for Australian Visas) had me rolling in laughter. A really great and unforgettable day with awesome company. After leaving the mountains heading back to Senggigi, we promptly ran out of gas. No worries though, a quick hike down the road and their is always someone in Indonesia selling petrol on the black market. All part of the adventure.

As with all windows of time, they eventually close. Karis' time had come to an end as she was back to Bali for a brief stint before flying back to Australia to face reality and start to work again. My window in Senggigi had come to a close as I was to move north to the Gili Islands bringing our collective window of time together to a close and as is usually the case I wish it were longer.

Such is life. The metaphor can be measured up in little snippets of time we devote ourselves to. Whether it be a hobby, a job, a relationship, the walk down a beach to view the sunset, or the years in our lives. For me, right now I treasure all of the windows of time I have because they inevitably come to an end and at the end of the day it always just ends up with me. The revolving door continues and for better or worse I push on down my own path trying to do the best I can. I appreciate all of the people who have come into my life and I hope in some small way I have influenced others who have accepted me into theirs. In the morning my window had closed on the mainland of Lombok and I slipped away bound north for the ferry to the Gili Islands.

Gili Trawangan

I've not really a lot to write about during my four days on Gili Trawangan. The Gili Islands consist of three separate coral islands off of the northern coast of Lombok - (from right as pictured below) Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan. I chose to stay on the latter as it is more developed and generally filled with more independent travelers. The island itself is nice enough and I enjoyed lounging on the many coral beaches. The surrounding waters are billed as fantastic dive sites but serve more to a learning environment for people getting certified rather than divers who already hold a PADI Certification. I did a fair bit of snorkeling on the reefs and saw many colorful fish and a few turtles making their way through the tides. Always cool to see these guys swimming around. I will say that the people of this island are total scam artists and have no genuine intention of getting to know you or speak with you unless it involves taking your money. I tired of walking up and down the main street with hawkers yelling in my ear in every direction trying to sell me things I do not need or have no intention of buying. Gili T (as it is affectionately known) is a bit of a party island which can be fun. But the prices are inflated and this place caters to the two and three week holiday makers. I had no desire to go to the clubs and down buy one get one free watered down cocktails to the tune of $10USD a piece.

I found a nice guesthouse for $IDR100,000 a night with Wi-Fi and breakfast included which was a steal. I checked in and paid the guy my first night. Today three days later wanting to pay my bill to the manger for the remaining three nights their was no record of my initial payment. My fault for not getting a receipt. The manager called the guy I paid and when he arrived at the guesthouse the kid looked me dead in the eye and said I never gave him a thing. Anger infused me. I checked out without paying my final night, but I had to check in somewhere else for $IDR100,000 so I still lost the $10USD. It's principle, not the money that bothers me. And it's not just this guy, everyone here in the Gilis is trying to scam me. This place sucks and I would not recommend anyone to come here unless you're a 22 year old drunken Aussie or Euro looking to go clubbing at some shak on the beach playing Rihanna over and over at inflated prices. You guys can have it.

Upon my final walk down the main street a local tried to coral me in staying at his guesthouse to which I replied I do not need him to follow me around and harass me into giving over my $Rupiah to him. He yelled at me that he doesn't need people like me who don't smile at his advances and he hoped I leave the island as soon as possible. I turned around and smiled and said "Dude I'm doing the best I can to get off off your pit, have fun here the rest of your life." It may have been harsh, but I'm at my wits end here. I've now negotiated a deal to go on a boat tomorrow for 4 Days and 4 Nights bound for the Island of Komodo where I will fulfill a lifelong dream held with my brother since we were children to chase some dragons. I have no idea of what to expect sailing the seas East or the conditions I will find myself in, but what I do know is that I am full of excitement and anticipation. If you do not hear anything (Internet will be non existent where I am headed) in the next 10 days or so, perhaps I'll be lost at sea and my window of time will have closed.

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