paradise with a twist
The Gili Islands
After I made the decision to travel to the Gili’s the next question was, to which one? After discounting Gili Meno as it’s renowned as the honeymoon island (not the best place to visit alone) I decided to split the time between Gili Trawangan and Gili Air. Arriving in Gili Trawangan after a surviving the feeling of seasickness on the boat journey across from Bali, I checked into the hostel that had a party, drinking vibe about it. I was right about the vibe, drinking games turned into bar crawls and hangovers. To be honest it wasn’t the reason I came to the Gili’s and I couldn’t help feeling a bit low. Was I not supposed to feel on top of the world? I decided to make the most of it. With no vehicles on the Gili’s I opted to cycle my way around the island, stopping to take in the view, swim in the crystal-clear water and have a cocktail or two. Things were looking up. I even decided to paddle board, it was all going well until I fell over, took the skin off my knee and then got stuck going back against the current. I ended up leaving the board on the sand, walking back to the hire place and explaining that the board was half way down the beach. The guy just looked at me and went to retrieve it. Oh well. Goodbye Gili Trawangan, hello Gili Air.
Stepping off the boat, I knew, I had the feeling that this was my island the one where I would, relax, laugh and not want to leave. I was right.
Checking into the hostel I was shown to a hut made from bamboo, the beds were complete with a mosquito net and it was so basic, it was in perfect keeping with the island (if you overlooked the posh tourist hotels for people with money). The only downside came when one night I saw something run across the floor out the corner of my eye. I fell asleep though, somehow. The next morning though the girls in the hut next door said there was a rat in their room last night, I guess that’s what I saw. The huts being made from bamboo had gaps in the walls, easy for a rat to move in and out. The manager put traps down, so we just had to wait and see. In the evening I came back into the hut to a voice from a 6 foot 2 German guy, saying ‘I think there’s something in the corner of the room’ it was the rat in the trap. It made me smile that I had to investigate whilst he sat in the safety of his bed, so much for knights in shining armour. With the rat gone, people in the huts came together to share the story. It’s funny how you can bond over something as disgusting as a rat being in your room, but we did, and it left us with a story bound with laughter and one I certainly won’t forget.
With the sea being so clear I took the opportunity to join a snorkelling trip, it was a good decision; I even got a pair of pink fins that matched my nail varnish (sometimes you have to delight in the simple things!). Watching a sea turtle swim past me as I floated in the sea was a magical moment, they are such graceful, peaceful animals and the experience left me on a high. We visited several snorkelling sights and saw many, many fish but a lot of the coral was bleached, which was upsetting. Stopping at Gili Meno for lunch also meant I had now been to every Gili Island, which was a bonus!
After enjoying the snorkelling trip the pervious day a few of us decided to hire snorkels and see what we could see. It was all going so well until the waves knocked me into the coral and I cut my leg. Did someone say shark, only joking. It wasn’t bad but it did leave a scar, another one to add to the collection. All memories I guess!
Meeting so many people on Gili Air I never felt lonely; in fact the group just seemed to get bigger and more diverse. I loved being in the company of different nationalities too, although hearing about their cultures just made me want to travel even more, to see the countries they all called home. With the days spent snorkelling and chilling on the beach, the evenings spent at restaurants on the sand, eating grilled fish, drinking beer and talking, it’s no wonder I struggled to leave. I’d fallen in love with Gili Air and the people that made it so special but like all good things it had to come to an end.
“Travel is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, I would stay and love you, but I have to go.” Lisa St Aubin de Teran