As Close as it Gets to Paradise
Trip Start Jul 12, 2009
27Trip End Nov 04, 2009
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The Gilis are a welcome contrast to the wild and crazy life of Kuta. The first (and most important) difference is that there are no cars or motorbikes on the Gilis, meaning that we were not constantly watching our backs and moving out of the way as motorbikes whizzed past. Instead, the only form of transportation is horse drawn carriages and bicycles. Second, the island is very small. It only takes two hours to make a loop around the entire island, although the majority of action takes place on the dirt road near the docks which comprises about about one third of the island's circumference. Indonesian culture is lacking on the island - it is very heavily geared toward accommodating the tourists - i.e. there are a lot of Western restaurants, including Mexican and Italian restaurants, although every restaurant has an Indonesian section of the menu. The ocean surrounding the Gilis is absolutely stunning. The water is turquoise due to the abundance of coral reef encompassing the ocean floor. The beaches themselves are covered in blanched shards of coral, creating a bit of an obstacle course when entering the water
Luckily, we met the fellow members of the "Six Pack" quickly and we immediately had a group of friends to explore the island with. We spent the new couple of days with them, hitting the beach daily and eating dinner together at night before heading to some of the local bars. We had a lot of interaction with the locals on the island as well, mostly with the owners and workers at the tree house but also the locals that worked at Rudys, the restaurant near our hotel that served double spirits for $1.30. Unfortunately, the Swedes (Andre and Molle) left after our second night, where we made a bonfire on the beach and laid in the sand watching the stars and chatting. The third night, Joe, Whitney and I went to the local movie theater. The theater is a covered hut which projects movies on a wall in front of several rows of pillows. The movies are free with the purchase of food or drink. We watched a double feature, laying on the ground eating chicken satay off of our stomachs (if you sat up you would obstruct the view of the person behind you).
Joe left on my forth day, and Whitney and I negotiated with the owners of the hotel in order to get the price of the room reduced enough that we could afford it on our own (we really didn't want to move all of our stuff and we were also told that accommodation was hard to find due to the impending conclusion of Ramada - plus we were enjoying the free banana pancake and fruit breakfast every morning)
The next day, we woke up late and met up with the pilots (Steve, Mike and Lee) for lunch at a restaurant on the water. We spent the rest of the day walking around the island until we found this amazing point at the southern end where we posted up for a long time.The tide was very, very low, exposing at least a hundred yards of the sea floor, carpeted in white coral and a plethora of shells. The boys stayed behind and Whitney and I ran out on to the coral until we reached a section of sand where the water had almost reached. The view was spectacular - the contrast of the coral, the turquoise water, the green and brown island (Lombok), and the azure sky with the sun peaking through the clouds
When the boys motioned for us to come back, we weren't ready to leave such a beautiful sight but regretfully followed them back to town, stopping at a beautiful new resort on the way for a drink at their beachfront restaurant. We made our way back to the main stretch of road, ate dinner at a Japanese restaurant (I will never eat sushi in SE Asia again! So not the same!) and hung out listening to music for a while before we headed to bed. The next day, Whit and I slept in, found a super cheap Indonesian place for lunch, hit up the internet cafe, and read in hammocks for a bit before making our way back to the movie theater for a double feature and dinner on our bellies again (The Hangover and Milk this time...great movies!).
Unfortunately, getting off the Gili's proved to be quite difficult, as our final days there coincided perfectly with the end of Ramadan. The slow (and cheap) boat that we took over to the island was no running, and instead we had to shell out $55 to take the fast boat (which was still four hours total travel time)
We leave Kuala Lumpur today (the reason I keep coming back is that Air Asia is based out of Kuala Lumpur and so we basically have to come here every time we want to fly between non-central cities) and head to Phuket. We plan to stay in Thailand for an entire month, then head to Laos for a week and a half. I booked my flight home while were were in the Gilis - I arrive in Los Angeles on November 4. I can't believe I only have six weeks left!!!