That Time Our Dreams Came True: Gili T

By Blonde Bowhemian - June 26, 2016

Oh, Gili T. Where do I even start? You’re definitely the weirdest place I’ve ever visited, but also low-key pretty cool. To give you some base info, Gili Trawangan is one of the three Gili islands off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia, about a 1.5 boat ride from the eastern coast of Bali. Gili T is a tiny island, easily walked around in less than 2 hours. There are no cars, all of the roads are dirt, and the only ways to get around are by foot, bike, or horse and carriage (more on that later…) There is one “main” road that circles the island with plenty of restaurants, bars, and stores on the eastern coast, and basically nothing on the western coast but a couple hotels and sunset bars. Besides the hotels and villas, the 2,500 locals live in pretty extreme poverty, sleeping in shacks and on the ground, creating a really big disparity between the locals and the tourists. Also, unlike Bali, which is Hindu, Gili T is Muslim, so the mosques can be heard all day and night, creating a unique atmosphere. 

Now that you have a little more grasp on the island that is Gili T, I’ll get into our trip! We arrived to Gili T via boat at around 11:30am and hopped off straight onto the beach (what’s a dock?!) Having no idea where to go, John checked the instructions from the airbnb hosts and we started huffing our way through the 90 degree heat to our villa, which was one of four standalone units, overlooking a garden, with a semi-outdoor bathroom - it was cute and just what we needed. We unpacked, cranked up the air conditioning, and decided to set out for some food. I thought it would be a good idea to follow my phone’s map and take some “shortcut” to the restaurant I wanted to go to. Nope. We ended up walking past endless shacks, garbage, stray animals, through a dump, and eventually through the back end of a hotel before arriving at the beach-front restaurant. I’m pretty sure John thought I was trying to kill us. But, hey! we made it alive and I had picked a gorgeous restaurant on the sand literally 3 feet from the water. We ~splurged~ on our lunch, paying a whole $20 total, and then convinced the guy to let us use the resorts’ chaise lounges if we bought a drink. Sadly, a storm rolled in and we had to leave pretty soon after, but it was nice while it lasted. 
"the harbor"
villa views
when the tide comes in and you're 3 feet from the water 
at least I didn't get sunburned!
We waited out the storm in our room then set back out to explore some more. Although it was cloudy, we thought we may still have a chance at some sort of sunset, so we took a horse and carriage to the south-western part of the island to Paradise Beach Bar. First off, these poor horses. They’re pretty small and are carrying these big carriages and multiple people all day long in the 90 degree heat for miles at a time. Definitely not up to PETA standards. But, we made it to our destination for 100,000 rupiah ($7…definitely a rip-off) and enjoyed our dinner and drinks on beach bags facing the water. Although we got basically zero semblance of a sunset, it was still beautiful outside so we didn’t mind. We stayed there longer for drinks, then decided to walk back to our room instead of taxi, but we got caught in the rain, so that was good.
sorry, buddy 
trip motto: it's still pretty even with no sunset
The next morning we enjoyed our banana pancakes and omelets before heading out to rent snorkel equipment. We had read that you could rent anywhere on the main road and then walk north, get in the water, and let the current take you back south to the main beach. Sounded like a solid plan, so with GoPro in hand, bathing suits on, and 100,000 rupiah to our name, we were off. We ended up getting fins and masks for 60,000 rupiah ($4) with no timeline of when we had to return them. Pretty sweet. So we walked north for a few minutes, hopped/wobbled into the water and set off. We didn’t even have to kick, the current was so strong we just floated along. On the initial swim, we went along right where the sand dropped off to the deeper water, looking for turtles, but we only saw some fish and coral. It took about 45 minutes for us to make it back to where we started and as soon as we got out we looked at each other, said “Again??” and set back off, determined to find our turtle friends. And we did!!! A little while into our second trip I spotted one, flailed around in the water and tapped John. We swam right over to the duuuuude and got a ton of GoPro footage and pics. However, I have the lung capacity of a chipmunk so I never made it down far enough to really get a good picture, and then when he came up for air (!) I kind of missed the frame of the pic…oh well. But, still, definitely the highlight of my trip/potentially of my life. We got out of the water afterwards and were so pumped it was kind of embarrassing tbh. Needless to say, we’re really excited to see Finding Dory together once John gets home. 

lol, snorkel masks are not for me
After changing into real clothes, we grabbed some lunch and coconuts while sitting in more bean bags on the beach, then headed off to get massages. We each got a one hour massage and a half hour foot massage for 100,000pp ($7…should be criminal but I’ll take it). I can’t even get my nails painted for $7 at home so this was amazing and I’m unsure why we didn’t do that every single day of our trip. Afterwards we were ~zen~ and relaxed and went to grab our camera before making the walk to Ombak Sunset, the famous sunset swing that’s all over Instagram and basically the reason we came to Gili T. Thinking it wouldn’t be too long of a walk and feeling cheap, we decided to forgo the horse taxi. Bad decision. It was like 2 miles. But, we got our exercise and still made it in time for the non-existent sunset. We had no idea what to expect but at the swing there was a line of people waiting to get their picture taken and professional photographers lol. We asked them to use my camera, thankfully, so we didn’t have to pay for their pics and got some snaps while onlookers cooed “awww so cute” and “omg adorable!" Yeah, we know.

Happy with our pictures, we set off down the beach for dinner in our own bungalow at the water’s edge. Amaaaaaaaazing. Buggy, but amaaaaaaazing. Knowing better, we hunted down a horse and carriage for our ride back to the main strip to see what was happening. We ended up finding pong tables at one of the bars and couldn’t resist playing a few games to defend America’s legacy against the foreigners (dw we won obvi). But, of course, I can’t drink beer, so these games consisted of me drinking multiple Sex on the Beaches….things are fuzzy. After claiming our stake, we went back home and off to bed. 

forget long walks on the beach, we like eating on the beach
usa ftw as usual
On our last morning, we did some shopping in town and ate some more gelato obvi, before heading to the beach with our bags and waiting for our boat back to Bali. Well, let’s just say there was some minor confusion - we didn’t know there was an office we had to check in at, our boat was cancelled so we were supposed to take another company's boat for free, and we missed that boat. Then a guy from another company approached us, explained this situation and said we could come on his boat that was leaving in 5 minutes. Thinking we were being scammed, we weren’t sure, but we also had no other option as the boat we were expecting was now 1.5 hours late. So, we sucked it up and bought the ticket and made our way back to Padang Bai in Bali where we explained the situation to our original company who said, “Not our fault.” Great. Plus we missed our taxi that we had paid for. But, the owner offered to drive us by himself to our hotel in Bingin Beach (over 2 hours away) for an extra 300,000 rupiah ($22). Having no other option, we begrudgingly accepted and made our way through the winding, rule-free roads of Bali to Bingin Beach. All in all, we each kissed around $40 goodbye from our mistake but ya win some ya lose some. Now for Bingin….

Stay tuned!



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