Island Life: Gili Trawangan

Initially I had intended on visiting world famous Gili T for 3 nights alas my plans didn’t exactly work out, as all too often happens when travelling unfortunately. A day later than planned I made it to the beautiful Indonesian island to meet my friend from university and all was okay. In hindsight I think I only needed 2 nights anyway, as beautiful as it is it’s very much a party island but with such a limited amount of time in Indonesia I didn’t want to be spending my time going out and not seeing this amazing country.

How to get there…

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This is where my first problem arose. As I arrived into Bali relatively late one night I decided to book a cheap hotel very close to the airport and book a fast boat across to Gili T for the next afternoon. My first mistake was trying to book this all online with Komodo Wisata. In hindsight (which is such a wonderful thing, isn’t it?) I should have booked an open return through my hotel. Pretty much every single hostel, hotel, home stay and your next door neighbour can do this for you in Bali. So I ended up paying £19 for a one way ticket to Gili T (including hotel pick up, which is pretty standard). First of all, they didn’t even turn up the next at at 10am when I was supposed to be collected to make the 1.30pm departure from Padang Bai. After a rather panicky phone call they informed me I  had booked too late the night before and I would be on the 9.30am boat the following day. All this meant was an extra night in my hotel BaliRa Airport Hotel (which was basic but lovely) and the chance to explore Kuta a little. Not the end of the world I know.

Another “in hindsight” moment is I should have bought an open return like my friend Tom did. He paid 500k (in Indonesian Rupiah) which is about £25 and all he had to do was book onto the boat he wanted to return on with at least 24 hours notice. I ended up paying for another single whilst on Gili T which set me back 300k (roughly £15). Again, not the end of the world…just a little annoying. On the plus side this included a connection to Ubud (my next destination) at the other end.

The fast boats leave twice a day from both Padang Bai and the Gili islands; one morning and one afternoon. So if you miss the boat (quite literally) with these two you pretty much just have to wait for the next day. If you’re really desperate you could get the locals ferry which runs almost hourly and is a little cheaper. But bare in mind that this doesn’t include any transfers and takes about five hours…yep, it’s called a fast boat for a reason.

Where to stay…

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As I was meeting my uni friend I was pretty much happy to stay anywhere, he had already been on the island for 5 days so I was happy to go with his choice. Gili Backpackers had been recommended to me by another friend but it always seems to be fully booked so we bypassed that. We ended up at Gili Klapa which was an absolute dream. I literally couldn’t think of a more ideal hostel for me on a party island. It’s set quite a way back from the party area but easily reachable by walking or bike (50k to rent for 24 hours). There’s not cars on the island which I absolutely love. It’s by foot, bike or horse and cart here. This really adds to the chilled out vibe of the island.

It had a great pool, food & drink available at all hours and super friendly staff. There’s not much more you could want from a hostel really. If I was going to head back to Gili T I’d definitely stay here again, so it has my seal of approval!

What to do…

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Drink. That would be my first answer. And as shocking as most of my friends will find this I didn’t actually drink whilst on Gili T! As most backpackers will tell you alcohol will dry up most of your funds very quickly. Call me old fashioned but the reason I go travelling is to see these amazing different cultures…not to spend my days hungover on the beach. Don’t get me wrong, I like a drink as much as the next person but I spent a lot of my limited time on Gili T cringing at all the “lads of tour.” I was personally more than happy with a Lombok coffee (if you’re a coffee fiend like me Indonesia is the perfect place for you).

Having said that, the next thing I would recommend would be the er, local delicacy the magic mushroom shake or “shroom shake”. For some reason the Gili islands are some weird sort of safe heaven for the shrooms, unlike the rest of Indonesia where any type of drug is strongly prohibited and I would not recommend going near anything illegal whilst here. Anyway, I tried the shake whilst here with my friend Tom and his other friend. So I was with people I trusted and felt comfortable with. We paid 250k (about £12) for a double shot which I think we can all safely say was a tad too much, a single shot would have been more than enough. Watching the world famous sunset after a double shot of shrooms was a truly unforgettable experience though and if you’re with people you feel comfortable with I’d say give it a go (but maybe just a single shot).

Diving! Now unfortunately I didn’t have time to do any diving but I’m planning on doing my PADI at some point in the near future (underwater archaeology is pretty cool I heard). I had initially thought about going back to Thailand to do it (possibly Koh Tao?) as it’s really cheap there but I’ve been swayed by the Gili islands. When I head back I think I’ll more than likely stay on either Gili Air or Gili Memo as everyone I’ve spoken to have said how much more chilled out they are…definitely more up my street.

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Finally, you can’t go to Gili T and not get that sunset picture on those swings can you? I mean if you don’t Instagram that pic how are people going to know you’ve been there?! Funnily enough I actually bumped into the lovely Caitlin from the year below me at school whilst on Gili T (we even unintentionally ended up in the same hostel for one night). If anyone knows the sleepy little town of Alnwick where we’re from you’ll know how small it is yet I somehow keep bumping into people from home whilst on my travels. It’s either a very small world or we’re all doing terribly cliched routes…I’ll leave that up to you. Anyway, Caitlin and I managed to make it just in time to get one of the million dollar shots. There’s actually loads of swings but as expected they all get really busy at sunset and you actually have to queue up to get your pic. Not as carefree and unstaged as the picture would suggest…but oh well!

My stay on Gili T was short and sweet, and it’s somewhere I’d consider going back but due to my limited time in Indonesia I felt like there was a lot more to see and a lot more culture to be soaked up! Next stop Ubud…

 

Kathy x

 

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