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Trip Start Aug 16, 2006
Trip End Aug 2007

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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Monday, November 27, 2006

This was definitely one of 'those' journeys! The ones that start early and finish late, with many many stops in between and various challenges to overcome. First we took a bus to Padang Bai harbour on Bali's east coast - no problems there. Then we took a public ferry across to Lombok - a 5 hour journey to go 25 km to Lembar in southern Lombok. Most people had already bought onward tickets all the way to the Gili islands, so jumped straight into minivans waiting at the harbour. But we, being the tight-fisted travellers we have become, figured it would be cheaper to buy each leg of the journey separately (with a little haggling as necessary). In the end this was in fact the case but it wasn't without some big hassles. We had to bargain aggressively to get a minivan to take us from Lembar for anything remotely reasonable. The minivan then stopped at the operator's office in Mataram half way up the coast and while we waited an hour (for no apparent reason) we were cajoled into buying a ticket for the return journey. This was actually pretty risky as we had to pay up front and all we had then was a little piece of paper to cover us for the entire return trip by all modes of transport.
So anyway, we made it to Bangsal in time to for the last boat to the Gili islands. But first we had another half an hour to wait - again for no apparent reason - in some random hut (that happened to serve beer) around 200 metres from the harbour. We were then encouraged to take horse-drawn carts (for an exorbitant fee) the remaining distance to the beach. We refused and walked instead (despite being told we would miss the last boat). At the beach we were herded into a small boat and when it was full it finally left for the Gili's.
We had decided to stay on Gili Trawangan, the largest and most populated of the 3 islands. This was the last stop and we finally arrived at our destination at around 6pm, 12 hours after we set off.
Gili Trawangan was quite small (I walked around it in 1.5 hours) with white sandy beaches and surrounded by a coral reef that was great for snorkelling. The village had grown into a small tourist resort with bars and restaurants lining the main beach front. There were no motor vehicles allowed on the island so you'd get around by horse-drawn cart, bicycle or by walking.
We had lots of lazy days, getting out of bed late, sunbathing and snorkelling (we saw a few hawksbill turtles among other things) eating good food and drinking (we sampled the local spirit 'Arak' which was pretty good. The locals were really nice and friendly, especially at Rudy's bar where the staff were nuts - probably due to the properties of certain mushrooms that they sold!
A few pics from our time on Gili Trawangan:
IMG_1082 IMG_1081
After 7 days we headed back to Bali where we spent 2 more nights in Ubud before catching a flight to Bangkok...
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