A breath of fresh Air
13.05.2012 - 17.05.2012 33 °C
Take some sand, add a few trees, bit of coral, beachside accommodation, a good dose of fresh air all in an area no more than 3km squared and you have the ingredients for one hell of an Island. Replicate this three times just off the coast of Lombok and welcome to the Gili Islands.
Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are some Indonesian gems and Gili Air was our chosen destination. We arrived into Dempasar Bali after the bus episode from Bromo and shared a taxi to our hostel with a couple of other guys from the bus. Jeff was waiting for us when we arrived and it was good to be reunited again for the 5th time on our year long jaunt after Jeff’s few days of luxury in Singapore and Hong Kong. We didn’t intend to stay in Bali as its somewhere that we can easily come back to from Perth at any time in the future, and there were less touristy places beckoning us to the East.
Gili Trawangan, Meno and Air as seen from our plane ride later in the trip
We started off with a couple of hours back on a bus to get to the east coast of Bali for a fast ferry over to the Gilis. One thing we noticed in Bali was how much the tourist dollar (especially the dominating Aussie dollar) has pushed prices up in comparison to the rest of Indonesia. Accommodation, food and transport were all easily 2 to 3 times the price of what we were paying in Sumatra and Java. We opted for the fast ferry which although expensive got us to Gili Air in 90 minutes rather than the days travelling that the public ferry takes.
Getting to the island it was pretty clear that it was nice and basic. There was no landing at a big jetty or anything, it was straight off the boat into the water with your bags. Then on the dirt track that is called a road, the only forms of transport are these horse and cart arrangements that they have. All really simple and makes this place a paradise away from the big resorts.
We headed on a search of a place to stay and after walking along the beach, in coconut plantations and up dirt tracks, we settled on a 3 person room in the backpacker part of one of the dive places which was nice and cheap, but without air-conditioning. The rest of the day was very relaxing as we pulled up a spot at one of the many wooden pergolas along the beach and watched the world slowly rotating.
After a relaxing afternoon we headed off for a walk along the beach to see what we could find. As the island is so small though we were already half way around it before we realised so we figured that we may as well continue even though it was getting dark. We ended up seeing the red sky over Gili Meno and Trawangen as the sun set and then walked the last quarter of the island in darkness. As we were walking along the beach in the darkness I spotted something glowing in the water, then another and again. At first we thought it was fish or something but looking closer there were florescent green dots in the water that seemed to be leaving a fluorescent trail behind them before fading away. We thought maybe we were seeing coral spawning, what ever it was it was pretty awesome to see just as the 3 of us were walking along the deserted beach. It turns out that what we were seeing is algae
‘Bioluminescence an amazing natural phenomena that occurs when a type of planktonic algae (microscopic free-floating algae) has high densities of excess nutrients. The glow appears when the algae is disturbed by motion.’
We didn’t get any photos of this ourselves without a tripod being handy, so if you want to see what its like this website has a few damn good examples... http://philhart.com/content/bioluminescence-gippsland-lakes
The next day we hired some snorkels and flippers and walking just a couple of meters off the beach were swimming amongst the coral and tropical fish.
Considering the walk around the island the night before wasn’t too strenuous, we decided to see it in daylight hoping to find another good snorkelling spot but halfway around the island, there was a menacing looking storm cloud rolling our way. Just as we were completing the circuit of the island the heavens opened. Seeking refuge in the closest bar, we waited out the first rains before making our way back to the guesthouse, constantly stopping for another drink as the rain started up again.
We finished off our final day on Gili Air by doing nothing but enjoying the forced relaxation. We messed around on the floating things that were outside one of the restaurants, read books, swam in the pool and ate good food.
The taxi boat to Lombok left early the following day and we enjoyed the bus ride down the Lombok coast to the town of Senggigi where we spent a night before heading off on our boat ride to Komodo. We had a great seafood feast down on the beach for dinner whilst overlooking Bali as the sun set behind its volcanic peak and surfers caught the last waves of the day. A great end to some great days in Indonsesia.
Jeff – escaping the hustle and bustle of Kuta for another bout of Koh Tao like paradise. Such a simple little island which can be walked around in a minute, it has not been overdeveloped and so was a very relaxing few days. Lots of pineapple juice, nasi goreng, cocktails and the odd bintang. Magic.
Tanya – Great stop again, just in case we hadn’t been recharging the batteries enough lately!
Daniel – After the Thai islands where it’s almost impossible to find some beach to enjoy by yourself (even on our favourite Koh Tao), you come to Indonesia and just a short boat trip from Bali there are islands like this. We will definitely come back here in the coming years, lets hope that the winds of change from tourism do not sweep through too heavily.