Honestly, up until Day 2, I was a bit disappointed in my decision to come to Gili and was tempted to turn around and head back to Nusa Lembongan since it was a bit too crowded and touristy for me. Please keep in mind that this is all relative. It's still no Cancun. When I say it was too crowded for me, you have to realize that the island is comprised of only dirt roads for horse carts and bicycles. There are NO motorized vehicles on the entire island and "downtown" is one strip of a few waterfront restaurants and shops. But still, I expected less.
Day 1: My first night on the island, I showered and settled in (unpacked & washed clothes), walked through town, had dinner on the waterfront-- $5 salad & $3 banana flambé and ended the night watching Torrente on my laptop.
Day2: I worked out in my room, talked to my family and then rented a bike for $3 to explore the island. When I got on my bike, I had no idea where I was going. Just decided to head on the direction of the other island and go for it. At one point, as I pedaled through cow fields, I came to a 3-way split in the "road." I tried to ask 2 guys in a horse cart which way to go and the conversation went something like this:
Me: "Is it this way or that way to the beach?"
Me: "So I go this way? Or I go that way?"
Me: "This way?" (pointing in one direction)
Me: "Or that way?" (pointing in a different direction)
This went on for about 5 minutes before I just picked one and went for it. It was at this point that I learned they did know how to say "no," as they tried to shout at me above their chuckles. We all had a good laugh and I changed to the right path.
As I exited the fields, I came upon a deserted beach. Now THIS is what I came to the island for! I stayed for a few hours and then pedaled back along a different path, coming across a bungalow-style hotel, The Exile. As I entered the grounds and saw the all bamboo-construction of the place, the library tiki hut, private beach with shady trees, and met the amazingly-friendly staff and owner, Rezel, I knew this was where I wanted to stay! They had ONE single bungalow so I put down a deposit and made plans to return the next day. Needless to say, that bike was the best money I've ever spent, $3 to find my paradise!
Giddy with my new find, I returned to town for lunch at "Café Kecil." The food was so good and cheap that I returned for dinner too. I tried something new, Gado Gado and I LOVED it! For $1.50 I got a plate full of vegetables covered in peanut sauce and topped with eggs and tofu---delicious, healthy, and full of vitamins and protein! It rained a bit during the day so I took a nap before heading out to explore a bit. At dinner, I people watched and loved watching the kids ride by on their bikes, babie's sitting in front bike baskets, and seeing the dress of the people here (very distinct). Since I knew I was leaving town for the next few days, I splurged and spent my last night at the spa, confirming my return ferry ticket, deflating my head after getting hit on by all the locals (I'm not sure if I was looking that good or just because I was walking alone, but I'm gonna make myself feel good and go with first option). Ended the night by watching "Bridesmaids."