I'm sort of a big deal around here...Gili Trawangan
There are some things you just have to do when you're in the Gili Islands...you have to rent a bike complete with basket and bell and have the most fun circumnavigating the island, you have to meet Jeremy Clarkson in a bar and have him offer you his boat to stay on in Sydneym you have to have cocktails and edemame beans every afternoon on the beach and you might have to swim back to Bali if the petrol on your boat is "a little bit finished"...
Not recommended is drinking four bottles of wine at the bar with the hotel owner and then deciding to teach him and the barmen the bloody dance routine too. Don't get me wrong, this was fun at the time but the next day not so much of a hoot...
We set off for the Gili Islands, a group of three islands just off the coast of Lombok on Friday morning (25th Feb), another 6am pick up. We'd opted for the fast boat, a one hour trip as opposed to the five hour ferry after our last hellish boat trip and so arrived in Gili Trawangan, the largest of the islands later that morning. The boats pull up directly on the beach and you have to get out and walk through the water to shore, the island was absolutely stunning and bar far the most idyllic place we've been so far. Infact, we loved it so much that our initial two night stay became six nights, then seven and then when we did eventually leave, we were back within 24 hours and stayed for another couple of days.
The island is relitavely small, you can cycle around it in around 40 minutes but that is another story...along the south beach there are restaurants serving BBQ on the beach each night plus bars and apartments. There's not a single car on the island, just horse and cart or push bikes and unlike in Kuta, you can sit on the beach totally undisturbed. We were staying at Tir Na Nog, an Irish bar, restaurant and apartments. The name means Land of Youth and the place was amazing, the nicest we've stayed at since State Tower in Bangkok, we instantly felt at home. All the staff were lovely, so helpful and friendly and within days they knew us by name (and by dance) coincidentally the bar was also one of the best on the island and somewhere we spent a lot of our time and had some very funny, random nights.
We tended to go for dinner then find ourselves a spot at the bar, perch on a couple of bar stools and be there until sunrise. Mostly without havnig to buy our own drinks at al, making friends with all sorts of weird and wonderfuls.
There was the night we had four borrles of wine and met Jeremy Clarkson...Matthew (who looked like a cross netween Jeremy Clarkson and Matthew Kelly) and Jonno (who said he thought we looked 14 years old - after he'd bought us a bottle of wine) owned the Neach House Hotel next door to ours. Jeremy offered us his boat to stay on whilst we were in Sydney and when we asked him if he had any suggestions of what would be a good thing to do for Lodge's birthday he suggested getting a helicopter to the top of a volcano and having a picnic. He was being totally serious as well. They did buy us a bottle of wine though, our third of the night before leaving us to make friends with Chris (a young English guy who owned our hotel) and Andy (borderline gay) naturally, we had another bottle of wine with them by which time the bar was empty bar us, the staff and the DJ and so we took it upon ourselves to teach them all our dance routine. After that everytime the saw us they'd do the dance and when the song came on, all the staff would try and encourage us to dance on the bar.There was the night we met the Aussies...who we helped run up a multi-million bar bill while encouraging the bar staff to get drunk with us and then watching in awe as they did magic tricks - the best we've seen so far and for some strange reason we seem to have met a lot of magicians.
And there was the night of Lodge's birthday which ended up with her being sick and us both being in bed by 10pm not even due to alcohol. By chance, the following night, Wednesday was party night at our hotel (each night of the week a different bar had a party night where everyone on the island went). We were meant to be checking out Thursday morning but before we headed to bed at 6am we'd already arranged with Chris (hotel owner) a later check out time and hangover depending, staying an extra night. Party night was a lot of fun and althuogh we didn't move from our spot at the bar for nine hours, we made loads of friends, ahd the most random night and were the last to leave, obviously. The night started when the waiter in the restaurant sent me a rose (made from tissue - not a good start) his name was Julien although he pronounced it Julie-Anne and his name badge said Wan...go figure...and he made me promise to meet him at the party later. When we arrived at the bar, we were greeted by the bar staff doing our dance and Chris bought us a shot that had been invented at Tir Na Nog called Vodka Joss. It turned out to be a powdered version of red bull which you pured into your mouth followed by a double shot of vodka, which you then gurgled and swallowed...thankfully it didn't send Lodge as loopy as the Thai Red Bull did!
The rest of the night you just couldn't make up, I was asked why I only had one leg on two seperate ocasions (??), Lodge offended some french guy who kept telling her his friend fancied her but couldn't speak any English, she told him she wasn't interested nor did she agree that "it was a shame the language barrier could get in the way of a beautiful romance". He got in a huff and his friend went for the more subtle approach seeing as he couldn't speak to her and went straight for the (french) kiss instead. Yuck. I meanwhile was being hassled by Julie-Anne's 'bodyguard' (a very small indonesian man) who kept tapping me and saying "Julie-Anne Julie-Anne Dance" while pointing in his direction. We were having too much fun at the bar to go and dance, we were hangin out with Chris and Adam our neighbour and every hour or so new guests would come and join us. There was a Matt CArdle lookalike who started off quite fun, then became a massive pain, an Aussie who thought we was a pirate and made aaarrrrr jokes all night, a Swedish guy who told Lodge he'd been dared by his (non-existant) friends to squeeze her boob and another randomer who Lodge decided she'd like to swap her dress for his vest - he wasn't so keen. Needless to say, we ended up staying an extra night and slept most of the next day.
Sleeping was something we did a lot of in Gili T, mainly to recover from our nightime antics and also because we loved our comfortable beds and air conditioned room. We did have a few day day adventures though...as well as sitting on the beach reading our new books (which when we went to buy from the book shop, we had to get the owner out of the bath so we could pay), we hired bikes and rode around the island, twice, and we had so much fun along the way.
Neither of us had ridden a bike for years, we had no idea how big the island was, how long it would take and ifthere was even just one track...maybe we should have a map? But we figured we'd give it a go and so we got ourselves two bicycles complete with a basket and a bell and we set off. It turned out to be one of our favourite days and so nice to have a little explore on our own. Neither of us could believe it when we made it back home in one peice in about 40 minutes so after a quick dip in the pool, we rode the circumfrence of the island again, this time the other way around. Quite a lot of parts of the track were too sandy to ride on so we had to push and amazingly I only fell off once - which with my biking track record is pretty remarkable! At this point I was laughing so much that all I could do to get Lodge's attention was to ring my bell and shout "man down" it was another pee your pants moment and a brilliant day even if we did have sore bums for days afterwards!
Despite the sickness in the evening, Lodge's birthday was a fun day too. Having only been up for seven hours before going back to bedon Monday, we woke up Tuesday, Lodge's 24th Birthday ready for a day of fun. I gave her her present which I'd had to hurriedly buy whilst she was in the toilet in Changi Airport and told her she'd get her other present at 3pm. We spent the morning by the pool before heading off for a birthday surprise, Lodge having no clue where I was taking her. Unfortunately my budget didn't stretch to taking a helicopter to the top of a volcano so I took her for a facial instead as she'd told me a few days before she'd never had one...and after her experience, she'll probably never have one again! The previous day, on the pretence of getting a bottle of water I'd snuck off to book the treatments. Being that the water shop was 20 metres away, Lodge was beginning to get worried after I'd been gone 20 minutes and came to find me but I managed to make up some bulls*** to throw her off the scent. We arrived for our facials only to be told that someone had gone sick and while one of us could have a facial, one of us would have to chose something else. I opted for a hair conditioning treatment expecting a simple hairwash/leave in conditioned/wash off but ended up sitting in a very funny dress with a white mask all over my face and a shower car on my head beore being told to lay down and take off my bra - which has become a common occurence in Indonesia - the lady didn't really speak English and I was unsure why having a hair wash required me to be topless by as in the restaurant in Bingin Beach, I went with it. Turns out I got a back massage too. Lodge in the other room had a lovely facial until the woman came at her with hot pins and began shoving them in her face! After all that, it was off to the cocktail bar where we could be found most afternoons during happy hour from 4pm - 7pm enjoying cocktails and Edemame beans.
Although we really didn't want to leave Trawangan, after a week we decided it was time to see what the other Gili Islands were like or time to head back to see more of Bali. However, unbeknown to us, going bak to Bali before Sunday- it was now Friday- was out of the question unless we wanted to be housebound and sit in complete darkness for 24 hours. You see, from 10pm on Friday and for the duration of Saturday it was Nyepi- the Balanese festival. This means everyone in Bali must stay inside with no lights on for 24 hours. Even the airport closes. They believe this allows all the dark spirits to pass through the island without harming anyone. Anyone found outside is arrested so now knowing this we headed for Gili Meno.
As well as Trawangan there is Gili Meno- which is billed as the quiet island and Gili Air which is inbetween the two. After a week of staying up till sunrise and sleeping until sunset we thought it'd be nice to see some daylight and with no nightlife temptation, Meno was the obvious choice. Big Mistake !! We hated it from the minute we got there and had to struggle off the boat with our bloody stupid, heavy bags. With nowhere to stay we had a wonder- quickly diregarding a place which stank of piss- and some sort of moment of madness picked a place in the swamp, which had an OUTSIDE bathroom. Initially we thought the place was quite cute, not a patch on where we'd been in Tranwangan but there we'd been a bit spoilt and after beeing labelled "the Flashpackers" we were keen to prove we could rough it too.
We I say we hated Meno, don't get me wrong, the island was beautiful still but it was too quiet for us and not a lot there. You could walk around it, which we did, in about an hour.
It was the room we hated mainly. Firstly, being literally in the middle of a swamp there were bugs everywhere and within minutes we were being eaten alive. THen there was the outdoor bathroom. The shower wasnt too bad, although it felt a little weird standing naked in your flip flops in the garden to wash your hair (I kind of understand why Harv hates it when we hose him down in the garden now !) Weirder still is having to poo in the garden, in a toilet that doesn't flush (which lets just say is doubly bad if, like Lodge and I, your Malaria tablets don't agree with you !) Oh, and then add in the thunder, lightening and torrential rain while you are doing your business too.. Jolly Good !! As well as the bathroom issues, our room was so dark and the light so pathetic we had to use a torch at all times even when it was light outside.. (We often found ourselves standing in just our knickers with a head torch on!). We could have left the doors open to let in some light but, as we learnt in Phi Phi, that only encourages unwelcome creatures to come in and we were already having enough problems with a very large lizard who was letting himself in through the roof. I'm talking the size of something you'd give a wide berth to if it were in a cage at the zoo, not a little Gheko !! Knowing our luck, if we'd left the door open in would walk a crocodile from the swamp and we were having enough trouble with the Mosi's- I don't think we have enough Germaline to treat a Croc bite too !!
So having got dressed in the dark we headed out for dinner by torch light and had to perform a funny 'leg up' run to prevent the toads stepping on our feet. Honestly, if only we had a camera man following us !..Not for the first time, we almost peed our pants laughing at ourselves ! Never have we been so glad to be woken by a 7am alarm and be on the first boat home- back to Gili T !!
Arriving back in Gili T we felt like we'd come home and were greeted by staff and friends we'd made with "You're back !... Welcome Home !" (and renditions of our dance !) We felt like proper locals. Unfortunately we couldn't stay at Tir Na Nog again as it was full due to Nyepi so after a very grumpy and almost fruitless search (in which a guy at a hotel asked Lodge to leave her sunglasses as a deposit!) we ended up at Unique Hotel. Another s*** hole which looked as if it had had all of the air and light sucked out of it- at least the bathroom was inside !
It didn't spoil our love for the island though and we found ourselves getting quite annoyed and defending the place like locals when a German woman in the cocktail bar (Yes, we were there again) kept saying the island was dirty and not as pretty as she expected. Errrm Sorry.. I forgot how pretty Germany was.. Silly Hairy Armpit b**** !!
After an emotional goodbye to the island, Rezza, Nana, Adi and the staff at Tir Na Nog we were on the boat back to Bali for one night before we headed to Oz. And one night of luxury it was- thanks to Craig/Dad who took pity on us and our few days of disasterous accommodation and booked us a lovely hotel in Kuta for the night. The Adhi Jaya Hotel was beautiful, pool was amazing, our room was perfect, the bed sooooo comfortable and most important of all it had a BATH ! After seven weeks of cold showers a bath with hot water was absolute heaven. Our last night in Bali was topped off with a takeaway Starbucks in bed and the best nights sleep in ages. Thanks Craig !
Our nice room was doubly appreciated after the drama on the boat on the way back to Bali which saw us stranded in the sea and having to be rescued by another boat as, in the words of our captain, "my petrol is a little bit finished"! Bloody fantastic ! We fly to Melbourne tonight and just hope our pilot is a bit more organised petrol-wise than our boat driver was !!