One of my neighbours on Gili Air…
Arrived on Gili Air, almost lost my bag on the boat… The bags were divided by destination, so there was Lombok, Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan. Of course mine was on the bottom of the biggest pile… The bags for Gili Trawangan. Got off the boat embraced Joeri who was patiently waiting and after 3 years we took off exactly where we finished last time we saw each other. I find that this is actually what happens all the time and what will show if someone is a real friend. No matter how long you haven’t seen them, if it feels like it was just yesterday than these friends are most likely there to stay. This, no surprise, was exactly the case with Joeri. We had a drink at the Dive resort where he works, walked over to his place and I went for a walk along the tiny island and had a long-awaited swim in the ocean.
Gili Air to me felt like a dream… I knew beforehand that there were no cars and basically no paved roads and I really longed for silence… which is such a rare luxury in China. Unless you are prepared to sit at home all the time. To quote one of my good friends in Xiamen: ‘The only non crowded & touristy place in China is your living room’. This island was really about going back to basics… no fresh water, no hot water, electrical breakdowns, no cars, limited internet. Maybe for many it sounds quite horrible but it was actually all very nice and had something very spiritual and magical. The slightly salty water coming out of the tap was actually something I quite liked… Other people with curls will know why. Curls and Salt water are like a great combo! It’s like a permanent beach hair look. The cold water was coming freshly out of the ground so in this hot weather the water actually doesn’t get very cold at all, more like a pleasantly refreshing luke warm shower. OK, I have no silver lining for the electrical breakdown, especially at night when this meant the AC\fan would stop as well and turn your room into an instant sauna… Not even in the most romantic movie could they turn this into a sexy moment. No cars means a lot of children playing carelessly on the ‘roads’ which is such a nice sight to see kids running around freely as they should. The limited internet in these modern days is actually a blessing in the sky. I love social media and to be connected a lot with friends and family and how the internet makes our world so much bigger, meaning we get in touch with people we normally would never meet but it’s also very nice to be disconnected for a while and focus on other things and enjoying what’s immediately around you especially in a place as magical as this.
No cars and no roads means lots of sand, which means walking around barefoot most of the times. I have to say that the first afternoon I was there I wasn’t a big fan of the barefoot walking. I thought it was rather ‘granola’ but the next morning when I started my dive course and when you walk in and out of a place all the time and you have to take of your flip-flops everytime I soon found it easier to just walk around barefoot all the time and after a while I started to even forget about flip-flops. It’s just an idea of how careless and free this place is… Anyway when you’re on holiday and the place lends itself to it you should try it as well to just walk around barefoot. It felt very free-spirited and independent without being too ‘granola’ 🙂
Just a simple delicious lunch on the beach… garlic BBQ prawns with a slice of lemon.
No cars meant other ways of transport; there are 3 options; By foot, by bike or by horse cart… These hors carts are quite pretty to look at but honestly I found it quite sad as well. I understand that locals use them and when you have a lot to carry there is just no other way but in a place that was so tiny and easy to get around I prefered to not use the horses at all.
This dude was my actual other neighbour… Every time I left my room he was the first thing I saw. So imagine there is a resort where you pass along the pool onto a small lane that has small bungalows on both sides and then there is a gap where there is some land with grazing cow and then the row of bungalows continues. Most people of Gili Air have cows or goats as neighbours. There is also the occasional animal passing by on the street, going for an afternoon stroll.
Clear blue skies… everyday!
Although this is a touristy island, it still has a farely solid local community as well, so there are always actually quite a lot of people on this island. Did I mention how small it is? You can walk around it in an hour or so! Despite the amount of people there actually are it doesn’t feel crowded AT ALL! on the contrary, it feels empty. Long empty stretches of beaches all to yourself, especially on the north side of the island. So when I arrived and went for my first stroll this was all I saw…. sand, ocean, cows, goats, palm trees, the occasional tourist, every now and then some cool looking beach bars and that was it. Obviously I was quite surprised when the first night we went to the south side of the island and I saw a sandy lane of really nice looking beachfront restaurants that were all FULL! full with tourists… I still wonder to this day where they all go during the day. I guess a big part of them were there for the same reason I was: Scuba Diving!