11th Jun 2012
Gili T - beaches, tea and bikes
After 4 nights of sleeping in a very rocky bunkbed, it was nice to spend a night back in our original hostel in Sengiggi with Mary the kitten but we weren’t going to be staying for long, as we had a boat booked in the morning bound for the island of Gili Trawangan off the north coast of Lombok – the larger of 3 islands and the one famed to be full of gorgeous beaches, delicious food and lively parties.
We ended up travelling with our Canadian friends from the Komodo trip who were trying to get to the 2nd island of Gili Air, and at various points through the morning we bumped into each other as we tried to make sense of the transport system – getting dropped off here, picked up there, walk up that road, wait here. It all seems confusing at the time but somehow, in the strange Asian logic, it works out and you end up where you’re meant to be.
We had opted for the local boat being the cheapest option, and were bundled on board with crates of beer. It was a very bumpy crossing and I spent most of the time holding up the tower of Bintang boxes which seemed destined to topple onto me and overboard. But after about 40 minutes, we arrived on land and pulled up on one of the white sandy beaches of Gili T. It was certainly a busy island, but being so small there are no motorised vehicles – just a few horse and carts to get you around. But we decided to walk to our hostel – a place called Gili Hideaway which we had booked a week before. Being our last beach stop, we were splashing out a little on accommodation and knowing that this island is renowned for parties, we had chosen a place off the beach which can get quite noisy. What a good choice we had made!
We were greeted by a very friendly guy called Suka who seemed to know us both by name and welcomed us with a complimentary juice before showing us to our Umbrella Hut – a large square wooden hut with thatched bamboo roof, set in a private garden complete with a seating area (and space to hang Chris’ hammock) and a beautiful outside bathroom – it was peaceful and felt like a million miles away from anywhere. We were offered free tea and coffee in the afternoons, and they served up a selection of cakes, plus we had a free breakfast! This place was heaven.
So having settled in, we headed out to explore and walked down the main strip filled with bars, restaurants, shops and cafes – it felt a lot like Thailand with friendly locals and a real beach feel. And, sure enough, it wasn’t long before we bumped into Devon and Kristen, our Canadian friends, and enjoyed a coffee with them for the rest of the afternoon. They told us to try the street market for dinner later so we headed back for more coffee (freebies!) and to try out the bamboo shower, before making our way to the street market for some food. And it was alive with people and full of simple food trolleys and gas stoves but the smell was the best part – delicious! We chose a small stall called Annies and took up a spot on a couple of plastic seats – it’s such a sociable way of eating as you all crowd together round a table. Chris enjoyed a creamy Thai curry and I had a cashew nut and chicken dish – the best food in ages!
Our 2nd day on the island and we decided it would be fun to rent a couple of bikes and cycle round the island. So we hired a couple of old, rusty bikes from our hostel and set out on the only road around the island. I say ‘road’ but it was more like a dirt track which turned into sand a lot of the time meaning you had to push the bike about 30% of the time but it was still good fun, and I managed to keep up with Chris. And it was a great way to see the island, and the views back to Lombok and out across to Bali. The beaches were stunning but you could tell there was quite a strong current at times which we had been warned about – being so close to the other island of Gili Air, a lot of people think they can simply swim across the channel but this would be a very bad idea if you knew about the strength of the sea. We continued the ride, stopping off for photos and eventually ended up back where we started, bumping into a few people from our Komodo boat trip. Such a small place! So we stopped here and spent the afternoon on the beach with them, and enjoyed some brilliant snorkelling from here where we spotted a turtle – quite a large one who looked to be getting quite angry in his search for food as we watched him use his front flippers to churn up coral and seaweed.
Pretty much the rest of our time on Gili T was spent at the beach, walking through the town and enjoying free tea and cake in the afternoons. We did indulge on our second day with a traditional massage – the first massage that Chris has ever had, so he was very excited about it! I enjoyed an amazing 1 hour full body Lombok massage while Chris opted for the rougher 1 hour full body sports massage which left him feeling 50% relaxed, 35% beaten up and 15% worn out. Money well spent!
After packing so much into Indonesia, and knowing that this really is the end of our time in South East Asia – we counted Singapore as city time – we took full advantage of our gorgeous hostel, the lovely sunshine, delicious food and perfect beaches. It was beginning to dawn on us that New Zealand was about 1 week away – no more cheap meals out, no more shorts and t-shirts, no more £1 beers but LOADS of action packed things to do.
But before we say goodbye officially we still had the big smoke of Singapore to see and Chris’ birthday to celebrate! And being cheapskates again, we had opted for the low cost ticket back to Bali for our flight to the city which was going to involve 2 boats, 3 buses, 1 taxi and 10 hours! Bring it on!