15 Feb 213 260km // GILI TRAWANGAN // INDONESIA
Guys, we have FINALLY made it to Asia! Bar that one night in Bangkok back in 2015 *flashbacks of eating fried crickets, eeeek*, we have been saving ourselves for this incredibly diverse and totally-taking-us-out-of-the-comfort-zone part of the world, and even though it is indeed very different for us, some little nuances have made Gili T (our first stop) feel a little like home; a little bit like Africa, particularly Zanzibar (which we explored a little less than a year ago).
Our trip to Zanzibar can only be described as a dream. We bathed in the most turquoise waters, bar-hopped for happy hours on the beachfront, swam with turtles, and enjoyed some much needed cultural submersion, proving that to all the tourist-focused luxury is an equally flamboyant reality of humbling poverty.
Now, after getting our taste of Gili Trawangan (the largest and rowdiest of the three Gili islands off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia) we felt like we were having somewhat of a déjà vu experience, bathing in equally beautiful waters, bar-hopping on the beachfront (although we needed our crew from the Topdeck tour we did in East Africa – miss you guys!), we took an unforgettable snorkeling trip (paying only…wait for it…US$7 per person for a 6hr trip around all three Gili Islands finding turtles and coral reefs #unreal), and went from a mind-blowingingly perfect beach resort on the sunset side of the island called Le Pirate Beach Club (so good we’re considering moving there…if they’ll have us) to staying at a US$10 a night bungalow on the harbour side of the island, surrounded by the “real” Gili T – think muddy streets, roosters roaming the lands, rubbish scattered everywhere, and nothing but the sound of the Santa’s-reindeer-like horse-drawn carts, and nearby mosque chants.
If I can throw in a splash of #traveltips here – chances are you’ll fly in to Bali or Lombok if visiting Gili, so pre-book your first hotel night and the airport transfer to said hotel ONLY. You’ll very quickly realize that this is a cash-driven negotiation society, and you can very easily book everything by walking in and chatting to the hotel staff, or by Whatsapping the driver slash ferry organizer the night before departure (#truestory we saved ourselves US$135 by booking with our driver instead of online – let us know if you want our driver’s number).
And while we’re on the topic of bartering (something we’ve been told we have to do by EVERYONE we spoke to, pre-Gili-trip) we’d like to boldly say, “don’t barter all the time”. Sure, it’s good to hunt around and get yourself the best deal (isn’t that half the fun of budget travel?!) but don’t take advantage of the locals. The prices you’ll find (for the most part) are ridiculously cheaper than the first world countries (at least the ones we’ve seen) and by bartering you’re only assisting with the country’s poverty. Countries like Indonesia rely so heavily on tourism so it’s up to us travelers and tourists alike, to support the country’s economy…at least that’s how we feel 🙂
Thank you Gili T and the waters of all three Gili Islands – we will see you soon (when we convince Le Pirate Beach Club to take us in as permanent residents).