Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Week 23.2 - Gili Trawangan

We returned to ‘Hilton’ for our last meal in Lombok, a delicious chicken noodle soup prepared by our new friend, Siti, she was even good enough to remember that the spice nearly killed me last time so gave Kyle his chillies on the side. The next morning after a breakfast of chocolate toasties topped with cheese (don’t try that at home) we waved goodbye to the lovely family at Werdhi guesthouse and made our way to Bangsal harbour bound for Gili T. The guesthouse kindly provided us a transfer for this 45 minute journey and on the way we passed through many little villages and got stopped by the police. Turns out the police wait on random roads and pull over anything and everything that goes by, you are requested to hand over both your licence and insurance, not having one of these papers can lead to a fine…as we found out from our driver. Although it did look as though other people were handing over cash to escape this fine, more corruption maybe? We also passed many silver backed monkeys sitting on the side of the road, they didn’t even flinch when a car came by, infact some just casually strolled out in front of you, expecting the car to stop.

On arrival at Bangsal harbour we were approached by every tout going, and it is here where you need to be careful! The local boat costs 15,000 rupiah and only leaves when it is full, full means 50+ people and the boats are tiny, they also take ages to fill! The touts will then quote you 500,000 rupiah for two on the express boat or 1,000,000 rupiah for a return, this is when you kindly decline their offer and keep walking to the main office in front of the pier. From here an express boat to any of the Gili islands will cost you 85,000 rupiah per person. These guys will also try and sell you the return ticket, you don’t need it, it’s cheaper to buy a new ticket on the islands.

The boat left the cloudy shores of Lombok behind and headed towards the blue skies of the Gili islands, first stop Gili Air, second Gili Meno and finally our destination Gili Trawangan. All of the islands look amazing with crystal blue waters and golden sandy beaches. However, Gili T is known as the party island and we ended up here mainly because of the low prices. This party scene hits you as soon as the pier ends, there’s loud music, bars and cheap tat shops everywhere, throw in a load of tourists in shite t-shirts and you’re on to a winner. Thankfully our guesthouse, Adam Bungalows, is located at the North of the island and as far away from the hustle and bustle as possible. Unfortunately the only way to get to the north is by a horse drawn tuk tuk, however none of them will take you as it’s too far…they’re telling me, it was a fucking nightmare walking down the thin strip in the heat, with my backpack, dodging wankers and bikes…I was fuming by the time we arrived, and the huge blister between my toes didn’t help my mood any either! Thankfully check in was smooth and our bungalow though basic is actually pretty nice, and less than 100 metres away from the beach. 

After a quick change into our swimwear we headed to the beach. Made up of soft sand and coral like Lombok, the sea is so clear you can see all the sea life below without a snorkel. We spent the day relaxing, and walking between the coral reef trying to catch a glimpse of the famous sea turtles. It wasn’t our day, but not ones to be defeated we planned on renting snorkels (eurgh) and trying again the next day.

As I mentioned earlier Gili T is known as the party island and they advertise mushrooms everywhere, you can’t walk 5 meters without someone offering them to you along with a various other drugs. In most circumstances this is a clever way to make money by working with the police, and they will report you as soon as you say yes! So we ignored the shouts and the offers and made our way to a lovely beach front restaurant for tea, as is always the case for us, as soon as our food was served the rain set in! So it was a mad dash undercover to enjoy our evening meal and listen to the live band, who were actually pretty good until they started playing Coldplay, that was our queue to leave. 

A breakfast of Lombok coffee and banana pancakes saw us fit for a day of snorkelling. Kyle spent a good 2 hours searching for sea turtles and just as he was about to give up he saw two! A really old brown one and a multicoloured younger one, he was lucky enough to swim around with them on his own too! Feeling left out I decided to go out with him for round two, and some kind lady lent me some of those geeky shoes that let you walk on the sea floor without cutting yourself on coral and stuff, this meant that I was OK until the floor disappeared. I couldn’t go out as far as Kyle had but where he took me I was able to see angel fish, bright blue tiny fish, black fish, white fish, anemones and a huge amount of cool coral. We were going to try swim out further but the waves were that strong I just kept getting pushed backwards. I do however feel like it was a massive achievement for me to get out that far, a few weeks ago I wouldn’t of even put my head under the water in the sea and I swore I’d never snorkel again!

That evening we had another beautiful meal on the beach and a few beers, which we couldn’t enjoy thanks to the sunburn which we’d got earlier on. Turns out that factor 20, even with a pre tan, is not ideal in Indonesia! A quick trip to the shop and we’ve got all the aloe on the island and some factor 50 suncream, which I think we’ll both be using for the next few days, pre tan or not!

The following morning was a hot one and we were still a little pink in places from yesterdays sun, so we had a little swim and a quick sunbathe before spending the rest of the afternoon stretched out on a huge sheltered sun lounger drinking iced coffee and watching the world go by. We even found the time to have a look at a few hostels in Sydney, which are all shit and charge more than an evening at Buckingham palace…and I thought Japan was expensive. Kyle also booked us a little trip to a Volcano, this includes waking up at 1am and trekking for 4 hours, I’ll let you know how that one goes.

Later in the afternoon we hired some push bikes and cycled through the centre of Gili T to see the sunset at the other side of the beach. On the way we got lost in the local villages which was nice as we got to say hello to the local children, watch the teenagers climb trees for coconuts and see many little houses. Money from the island obviously doesn’t help the locals, their houses are basic, simple bricks and water, but like Cambodia they all seem more than happy with what they have. This kind of makes me feel bad for moaning about our basic bathroom! The road through the little village was bumpy and my chain fell off, this put Kyle in a bad mood, I obviously couldn’t fix it myself so he was the one who ended up covered in oil. Once we got closer to the beach the road smoothed out and all the fancier resorts came into view, you know the kind bungalows with private pools, we’d obviously approached the non backpacker side. The sunset was good, and it was entertaining watching all the dick heads queuing up in their Marbella bikinis to stand on a swing in the sea in front of it. 

We cycled the whole island in less than an hour and once the fancy restaurants and huge hotels started to thin we found ourself back in familiar territory, the busier backpacker bars close to the harbour. To be fair, it’s not as bad as most strips which we have seen, its considerably more chilled out and the music is ten times better. Plus the further away we are from the bars by our guesthouse, the less mushrooms and marujana you’re offered. We picked a place for tea that offered 20% off, it still turned out to be the most expensive meal we’ve had on the island, and it was pretty shit…next time we’ll look at the menu before assuming an offer is great. 

Our journey back to the guesthouse was a nightmare, the “road” gets thinner and bumpier again, filled with pot holes, people who can’t walk in a straight line and other cyclists that shouldn’t be allowed a bike. I was surprised we made it back in once piece. Oh and toe update, it now feels as though I’m walking around with a massive golf ball between my toes, how long does it take for skin to grow back? I’ve got a massive hike coming up after all!

Today was spent on the beach again, which doesn’t make for interesting reading really so I’ll update you on poo gate. Avert your eyes if your’e easily offended. I’m almost better, though I don’t want to jinx things, each meal now doesn’t result in a mad dash to the loo. It’s now poor Kyle that’s suffering, but he’s gone in the opposite direction and hasn’t had a poo for almost 7 days, unless you count coco pop poos? Not even coffee is helping him out.

Yesterday evening we had a lovey meal and beers on the beach, and said goodbye to our new friends at La Moomba beach bar (the only place we've been for lunch in 4 days). Gili T has been amazing, we love island life, everyone is happy all the time, every man and his dog has a guitar, roosters are your 5am wake up call, kids, adults and grandparents all ride BMX’s and evening fires are frequent on every corner to keep the mosquitos at bay. Today we made the short journey to Gili Meno, I said that we could swim the 2km but Kyle wasn’t feeling it with his backpack. Here’s hoping that this Gili is just as good.

Love Carrie xxx

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