The next leg of our Indonesian adventure has taken us back to Bali for a short stop over in the Sanur and then onto the island of Gili Air off the North Coast of Lombok island. Our small island tour continues after visiting Seraya, small island as in smaller than all the main islands across Indonesia. Apparently the country is made up of more the 17000 individual islands so we are only seeing a very minute sample. To get to Gili Air there are boat choices - slow public ferry (12 - 14 hrs) or fast private boat (1.5 hrs) and as you can guess we were not taking any chances and took the fast boat :). As we got onto the boat panic did set in and not because we were getting onto a boat but rather the fact that we were surrounded by far to many other tourists. So far we have done a fair job at avoiding the crowds but it seemed as though Gili was where they were hiding. Luckily Gili is made up of three small islands (Trawangan, Meno and Air) and the majority of our fellow tourists all left us when we arrived at Gili Trawangan and we were left with a few older and wiser travelers.
Upon arriving we faced the usual gauntlet of tourists hunters all trying to get us to stay in their home stay and we were promptly escorted to the far end of the island (little did we know how far it really was) where upon we were presented with a nice bungalow (including air con and a Hayley approved bathroom) at a reasonable price. However, as we are now super heroes and in an attempt to shake of these new names we declined this home stay for one closer to the beach (we DECIDED to be closer to the beach as we were on an island) this did come at a greater expense, no air con and a bathroom that would not be approved by the powers that be). Nonetheless, we were happy with it and decided to stay.
Gili Air is apparently the chilled social island (not the party of Gili Trawangan nor the remoteness of Gili Menos) and it is full of bars and restaurants around the island rim. In order to maintain the chilled atmosphere a key element of your stay apparently should include the F*****g B****y Fresh Magic Mushroom (as per several signs and salesmen). We were pretty shocked by this, being naive and well behaved South Africans, and politely declined the offers (Wes ran away in panic once or twice) choosing beer instead (nothing like a good beer). The other thing that we quickly learned is that Lombok always seems to be covered in clouds and rain is never far away as we discovered that afternoon. After the last two weeks of crazy humidity and heat this was very refreshing so we could not complain.
We also discovered that the the tree outside our room (note: more expensive, no AC and bad bathroom) also breeds Tiger mozzies that attack as soon as fresh blood comes near. Approaching our home had to be done quickly and cunningly to avoid the blood suckers. Wesley does seem to chase them away and send them to me and currently he cannot recall a single bite whereas I am constantly riddled.
Sadly we quickly realised that whilst the island was very beautiful and interesting there is only so much we could do without having to fork out a fortune. On top of this our island expectations were rather high after our adventure on Seraya. We decided to try snorkeling and whilst it was very clear there was very little coral life and not that many new or interesting fish. However, we can add a small crayfish type animal and a pipe fish (sea horse family) to our list. The snorkeling on Seraya had been calm and relaxing whereas now we had to compete with boats and other snorkelers. It was also sad to see that the snorkeling operators are giving people bread to feed the fish and hence disturbing their natural way of life.
Post the snorkel we had came to the realisation that the island held very little else for us and since we both suffer from the inability to sit around and do nothing at all or as some people call relaxing that we should maybe make our way to the main land. Initially we had planned to go the very next day but figured that we should go to Gili Menos for a visit and at least say that we had been there and explored. Then the trouble came :) or Happy Hour as some call it. 4 beers later, the clouds had parted above Mt. Rinjani giving us an amazing view we were well on our way to party party land. This resulted in us firstly searching for a party and when we could not find one we started circumnavigating the island to protect it from Pirates. Wes was armed with a fearsome stick and I had found a tree :). Once we were bored of this the pools along the East coast were very inviting and we had to make sure that they were thoroughly tested :) Needless to say we "relaxed" the next day.
We now head to Kuta, Lombok on the Southern point of the main island for our last days here in Indonesia. Sadly our trip is slowly winding down but Kuta is proving to be very entertaining.
Gili Air Highlights:
Views of Mt. Rinjani
Addendum to previous blog about Labuan Bajo: I certainly was not crying. I am a manly man :)