The Gilis 

1 Feb

On January 25th we went from Amed to Gili Trawangan on a ferry that we booked from the best value company we could find. It was an easy enough ride and after scaling the side of the boat and jumping down, we planted our feet on the island. We walked for a few minutes down a road off the main strip until we arrived at our guesthouse, Deep House, a haven of beautiful bungalows and a staff that could rival any resort. From the moment we arrived they were nothing but perfect. Once they saw our vodka bottles they offered to hold them in the fridge and later when we were pregaming, they chipped us ice and provided us cups for all our booze. Additionally our room was perfect, with super comfortable beds, towels and a modern bathroom. We asked Ken, the owner (and a former resident of NJ, hayyy) where we should go that day, since we arrived so early, and he told us that we should rent some snorkeling gear and go see the turtles when they come in at high tide to feed. We spent the afternoon on the beach, after walking past some cute eateries and boutiques, and then headed towards the turtles. On the way to the turtles, we encountered the mushrooms area, as in all the bars on the island that outwardly advertise mushrooms and mushroom shakes. While drugs are very strictly illegal in Indonesia, mushrooms are allowed on the islands due to some sketchy payoffs that occur (I believe). This was not something we were interested in, but it certainly had a presence on the island. We made it to the turtle beach, avoiding the calls of the mushroom salesmen, and instantly were able to encounter sea turtles. Right when I went under the shallow water I found two smaller ones and eventually a massive turtle that we followed around and watched eat from just a few feet away. It was the most beautiful creature that I have ever seen and I was simply mesmerized by him.

That evening we were pregaming at the bar at the hostel and didn’t end up making it out the door until after one. We spent about an hour trying to find a bar that was open and full of people but completely failed to do so. We were surprised how quiet it was given the island’s party reputation. We later learned that we had turned the wrong way on the main street and that the late night bars are to the right rather than to the left. We ended up giving up that evening and only properly made it out a few nights later, when we met up with a friend we had made in Bali at his hostel and went out with a group of people from there. The bar played excellent music and we had a fun night of it, ending it with some fried rice, of course.

We spent about 6 days on Gili T, most of which were very chill. After our first failed night out we were in bed all day with hangovers accompanied by the rainy weather that torments Indonesia during low season. After our hangover day we were anxious to get moving and decided to walk to a “peak” on the island as well as around the whole perimeter of the island which was to take about two hours. We made it up to the peak of the island, which offered a pretty good view, encountered an old Japanese bunker from World War II and descended the other end to reach the other side of the island, the sunset side. We made our way around there stopping and looking at all the restaurant menus trying to decide where we should come for our sunset beer later. The island as a whole is truly gorgeous and much cleaner than I had expected. After walking about six miles we headed to the beach before going to the bar for sunset. Naturally, the sun disappeared as the afternoon rain prepared to come in and our sunset beers turned into rainy beers under our little beach bungalow setup. We made our way back in the rain, stopping for take way nasi goreng, and had our proper night out that evening.

Now, while we were supposed to be heading to Gili Air, the smallest of the three islands known for its very chill vibe, we were convinced by hostel owner Ken to stay and go to a beach party on Gili Meno (the middle island), where a famous DJ from Ibiza was going to be playing. We dragged ourselves from sleep to have breakfast and a few beers to head over to what we expected to be a ridiculous DJ set and day party. Given that Gili Meno is known as the honeymoon island, we should have predicted that was not the way it would be. A bunch of people from our guesthouse and the adjoining one headed out for the day, taking a rough boat ride across to Karma beach resort, where the party was to be. Karma wasn’t exactly a concert venue, and simply had the DJ, Jon Sa Trinxa, set up his tables in the corner of their restaurant. Everyone was sitting down, waiting for him to start and ordering drinks, but we instead decided to venture a little down the beach and find a cheaper place we could have a beer. The three of us and two other girls, Rosa and Sophie, had a beer and good conversation at a small place, which turned out to be the highlight of the day, before heading back to Karma. When we got there, well after the DJ was supposed to have started, there was still nothing going on. We were told that something was wrong with the equipment and he wouldn’t be able to spin so they were just playing his music. We sat down for the free glass of wine we were promised with our boat ticket and talked amongst us before heading back out yet again for some cheap food. We returned, hoping that it was time for the boat to leave, but were told we would have to wait another hour. Angela complained to the owner of Karma about how the day was not what we had expected and in turn he gave us all a free glass of wine which we happily slugged down while waiting for the damn boat to be ready. Finally, during the middle of a storm, they dropped us back to the Gili T, where we booked a snorkeling trip for the following day that the girls had already booked.

Our bad luck continued the following day for our snorkeling trip. While it wasn’t raining (for the majority of it) the currents were terribly strong from the bad weather the islands had been having. The boat takes you to three different sites to snorkel and we found ourselves over it after just the first site. The current completely swept you away from the boat and, confused as to what to do, everyone was trying to swim back to the boat. Apparently the guy heading the trip had told us that the boat would pick us up where the current took us but no one understood him. I spent more time trying to get back to the boat and avoiding the coral I was being tossed into than actually enjoying the fish and creatures beneath. To top it off, on the swim back, everyone found themselves amidst a school of jellyfish. So I was stung all over my body by little (thankfully) jellyfish which was terribly uncomfortable. At the second site half the boat didn’t go in the water. I only decided to go in to say I did, and really didn’t see much. We stopped for lunch at Gili Air, but half the girls didn’t get served their lunch in time to leave for the boat again, which made me thankful I had opted for some street corn on the cob rather than a sit down meal. For our final site, we were supposed to see impressive sea turtles, but only saw a small baby one that the guide had to track down for us, which did not compare to the turtles we saw on or own the first day on the island. Other than the single turtle, you couldn’t really see anything as the visibility in the water was terrible thanks again to the weather. Another defeated day, we returned to the guest house after a big meal and prepared our things for our trip back to Bali the following day.

We had a terribly rough boat ride back to Bali, with the waves fighting hungrily to get in through the window cracks in the boat (and often succeeding). We made it without any vomiting incidents and hopped onto a shuttle bus that would take us to the airport. Our flight to Labuan Bajo, a small town in Flores a few islands east of Bali, was not until the following day, but we booked a hotel (yes, I said hotel) walking distance from the airport for ease. We got a pretty good deal on the hotel and decided, fuck it, lets do it. While the crappy weather prevented us from using the pool, we had hot showers, pampered ourselves and laid in big fluffy beds watching actual American TV shows (lots of CSI). It is the first time in 5 months that I was able to flip through English channels and I can’t lie, it was glorious. After our one night of luxury, we headed out the next afternoon to the airport for our quick flight, which was of course delayed by weather, to Labuan Bajo.


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