Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Gilis: A Week in Paradise

Gili T

Way back in September, we had one week off of work in honor of Idul Fitri, the end of Ramadan. Sarah and I, along with our friends Will, Zac, and Dani, headed out to the Gilis. The Gilis are three tiny droplets of white sand beaches, coral reefs, and sunshine. They're located right off the coast of the larger island, Lombok.

Here's our original plan: Fly into Lombok and catch a boat to Gili Trawangan (or just T), spend a night there, then head to the next island, Gili Meno, then head to the third island, Gili Air, for the third night. After that, we'd head back to Lombok, rent bikes and explore the deserted white sand beaches and artist communities in the south of Lombok.

Here's what we did: We headed first to Gili T, as planned, and were in awe. One of the most amazing things we noticed: no vehicles. No cars with black fumes, no motorbikes speeding past. It was quiet. Gili T has the reputation of being the "party" island. It was quite touristy, but we were able to enjoy it enough to spend two nights there. Next, we headed to Gili Meno. Gili Meno is the "quiet" island. It's the smallest and least populated. Once we got there, it took hours for us to decide that we weren't leaving. We scrapped the original plan, and beached it for the rest of the week.

Gili Meno. Sarah and Dani looking out toward Lombok.
 We spent our days looking for different beautiful spots on the beach, eating at one of the few restaurants, and snorkeling. It was the most amazing snorkeling I've ever done. By far. The islands are surrounded by coral reefs that are brimming with tropical fish. Within minutes of starting we saw our first sea turtle swimming around looking for food in the coral. It was amazing. In addition to lots of other fish I can't identify, we also saw a beautiful lion fish.

Now enjoy some pictures of our paradise, with a smattering of comments. travel hammock served me well.

Will, relaxing with a book on the beach.

Yes, that's a beautiful rainbow.

Mermaid boat

Oh, chilis, the source of so much pain.

The view from Sarah's and my front porch.

Coconut milkshakes

What?? A cow on the beach?!?

Watching sunset our last night. That's Gunung (volcano) Agung in Bali next to the setting sun.

Our motley crew. Couldn't ask for a better group of travel buddies.

To view the above sunset, we had to head around to the west side of the island (obviously). From our room, Sarah and I walked around the north end of the island and it took maybe twenty minutes to find the Sunset Cafe. Will, Zac, and Dani met us there, arriving by a horse and buggy. There are no motorized vehicles on the island, but there are plenty of these little carriages, that go flying by you on the dirt paths. Well, after sunset, we decided to take them back around to the other side. They wouldn't let us all ride in one (they're small), so we got two of them. Zac and Dani climbed into one and we three grabbed the other. As soon as we got in, our horse starting going berserk. It started bucking and swinging around side to side, meanwhile we are looking at each other, like "What the hell is going on?" The driver kept assuring us it was OK, but he obviously couldn't control this huge animal. When the horse backed up (with us in the carriage behind him) straight into the other horse and buggy, nearly impaling Sarah on a wooden post, we jumped out and walked away as quickly as you can before it's considered a run. The guy tried to get us to come back, saying it was OK, but we'd seen enough. That was really scary. We were in real danger from this poor, miserable animal. It scared the you know what out of us. So we starting walking back around the north end, adrenaline flowing and nerves on high. Minutes later, we hear the 'jingle-jingle' of the horse buggy coming up the path toward us. In our frightened state, we immediately decided it was a good idea to hide in the bushes. We hid in the bushes! From a horse! We were still scared it would know we were in there, maybe smell us, and come charging at us. Luckily, it went right on past. Of course. So we kept walking. After a few more minutes, we got to another restaurant, and lo and behold, there was the horse and buggy waiting there. We had to walk by in shame. The driver surely must have known that we hid in the bushes. How else could he have passed us on the small path? Well we completed our walk of shame, and we made it back safely. Whew. It was scary as hell at the time, but it provided us with lots of laughs later.
And here is sunrise on our last morning.

Masala Dosas! The most amazing food. We liked it so much the first time we ordered it, that we ordered it again. That's the only time I've ever finished dinner and then started over and ate dinner again.

On the boat ride back to Lombok

Zac and Dani, enjoying the ride.

Mountain traffic in Lombok

And what trip would be complete without lots of monkeys?

We pulled over at a monkey-feeding spot and took lots of pictures. I was standing right there next to all these cute little monkeys!

Of course, Baby Monkey, was the coolest.


Alas, our trip had to end. But of course there will be more cool trips. We are headed to Bali in about a week and a half for another week-long vacation. We will explore different parts of the island, including Ubud, the cultural center with lots of gamelan music and other dance and music. And of course, there will be beaches and monkeys.

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