Sipping cocktails on the beach, watching the sun go down behind Bali and hearing the occasional clip-clop of a horse-drawn "cidomo" on the narrow dirt track behind me, I could be describing any of the three car-less Gili Islands. And a 90-minute walk around the island's circumference along deserted beaches, watching snorkellers explore the turquoise waters and coral reefs would also fit all three.
Watching the sun rise over Mount Rinjani from the balcony of my two story bamboo house could only be my favourite island Gili Air, with a fantastic choice of beach-side restaurants serving up all kinds of international cuisine as well as freshly caught fish grilling over charcoals. Visiting a turtle sanctuary with pools full of baby turtles awaiting release, and eating at ramshackle cafes on an almost deserted island would be Gili Meno. And the all-night parties and comings and goings of high-speed boats from Bali could only be Gili Trawangan, which claims to have "the largest Irish pub on the smallest island in the world". However, the only thing Irish that I could find about this pub would be that statement!
All three islands are idyllic, but are liable to change as more expensive resorts are built, and more people discover them. For now though, this was a perfect place to end a seven and a half month trip across Asia. So there you have it - what I am hoping is just the end of part one. I will be spending the summer in the UK, where I hope to see many of you over a beer or two! Then watch this space for part two…
Posted from UK, 25th May 2011.