Being silly in Gilli

Trip Start Dec 29, 2009
Trip End Jul 18, 2010

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Where I stayed
Nusa Tiga

Flag of Indonesia  , Nusa Tenggara Barat,
Thursday, April 1, 2010

We had a terrible time entering Indonesia.  In all the kafuffle coming through the arrivals hall, Gwen managed to get her visa stolen, having just paid $25 for it.  We know it was stolen as, much later on, half of it was found discarded on the floor of the arrivals hall.  It had been used by someone else - a bloke from the UK.  On realising that the visa had gone missing, Gwen also managed to give the immigration officer the mistaken impression that she was accusing him of stealing it.  She blatantly wasn't making that allegation, but that didn't stop the authorities carting her off to an interrogation room and yelling at her in either Balinese or Bahasa (both local languages), it was difficult for us to tell, having only briefly perused our phrasebook.. 

When they finally explained in English, it was not good news.  They were threatening deportation.  Tears failed to move them.  In fact, once they checked their records and realised that Gwen's vias had been used by someone else, they became suspicious that we were putting on an act to try and evade the visa charges.  It was only when we begged them to confirm our story of having legitimitely bought a visa with the visa office that they relented.  Luckily the woman in the visa office remembered us and came up trumps as our star witness.  She said that we'd given her the money for two visas.  It was then that we found the discarded half of Gwen's used visa.  However, that wasn't the end of the matter.  Rather than let Gwen go on the basis that she'd been the victim of a crime (commited by a fellow Brit too!), they insisted that she pay again. 

Upset and out of pocket, we hailed a taxi outside the terminal gates (cheaper than those from inside).  So tired were we and so affable was our taxi driver that we decided to ask him to take us all the way to the ferry terminal at Pak Bara, rather than spend the night in nearby Kuta.  The driver was delighted because the two hour journey was on his way home and meant much more money for him. 

Pak Bara seemed like a nice little town, but although we spent the night we barely explored it. We did find a delightful restaurant, however, right by the ferry dock.  Its called Alola and if you're ever in that part of the world you must stop by and try their chicken cheesy beans dish.  We know it sounds odd, but it tasted fab!  After lunch,a local man was kind enough to give Gwen a free lift to and from the ATM on the back of his gleaming motorbike.  Then we hopped aboard the one o'clock ferry destined for Gilli Trewangan, the largest of the Gilli Islands, which was to be our home for the next nine days.

To say that we didn't do much for those nine days would be an understatement.  Its been heralded as the new Ibiza, but although Gilli Trewangan is not lacking in gorgeous, chilled-out bars, from where you can view the splendid sunsets, it lacks the energy and big clubs of Ibiza.  The drugs on offer here come in the form of readily available magic mushroom concoctions, ranging from shakes to pizza.  There are no police on the island.  Its community regulated.  Security guards step in if there's a fight, but the open trade in fungal hallucinogens is ignored.  Though we didn't try them, we met people who did and the opinions varied from "a truly magic experience" to "terrifying" through to "damp squid, didn't feel a thing".

What we did do was walk the island twice, taking in the beautiful scenery including white sand beaches and clear, light blue water.  A circuit takes about four hours at a leisurely pace. Our advice would be not to bother hiring a bike as dragging one through the sand didn#'t look like much fun, judging by the red faced huffing and puffing of the tourists who tried it. The only hazards are the pony and carts that jog silently along the sanded paths, creeping up on you so that you have to jump out of the way at the last minute to avoid being flattened.  There are no motorised vehicles on the island, which adds to the chilled vibe.

There are parties to be had on Gilli T and we did have a "few drinks".  It was lovely to meet up for beers again with a girl we first met in Ton Sai a month or so previously..  There's even an Irish bar, which was chock full of Swedish teenagers, when we were there.  However, the vast majority of the bars are concentrated in a small "strip" leaving the rest of the island in peace.  Our bungalow at Nusa Tiga was at the quiet north end of the island, a good half hour walk from the busy bit... and that was the way we liked it.  Its basic, so basic in fact that the showers are salt water, which left Gwen looking like Worzel Gummidge on a bad hair day.  However, its located right on the best snorkelling beach, with comfy beach sofas outside for reading and playing Scrabble and the cook rusltes up a mean gado gado (delicious Indonesian dish with peanut sauce, egg and stir fried vegetables).

By far the best bit of our stay here was the fact that you could  walk straight off the beach outside our bungalow and swim out to the most incredible coral reef.  We saw brightly coloured little fishes, amazing plant life and, most incredible of all, a giant turtle within touching distance, chomping away, unconcerned by our presence.  There is a turtle sactuary on Gilli T, but we never expected to see them in the wild so easily.  We were both buzzing for hours, and still are at the memory.  The sight of that turtle serenely "flying" through the water, which was so blue it was almost violet in colour, above bright pink and orange coral will stay with us forever.  Like something out of "Finding Nemo", but real, it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip so far. 

We left Gilli T at sunrise, refreshed and looking forward to seeing David and Shauna and the others for some serious partying.

And, did we party?  You bet...
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