The Gili Islands
Trip Start Dec 27, 2008
50Trip End Jun 27, 2009
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Our first stop was Gili Air, billed as the middle of the road option, not too loud, not too quiet; when we arrived at 6pm it was hard to imagine things getting any quieter. The horse and cart (cidomo) jingled its way toward us and took us to our bungalows, on the ten minute ride we saw about four people. But, this is partly the reason why we came, the islands (except Trawangan) don't really embrace all that comes with tourism,
After two nights we moved on to Gili Trawangan, the "party island". It was quite sad to see this beautiful island trying to be Ko Phi Phi, at times it towed the line between tacky and charming. Reassuringly a one hour walk around the entire island confirms that Trawangan isn't the black sheep of the Gili family. All the area not fronted by bars and dive schools have sandy, secluded (if a little narrow and littered) beaches. Sadly though, there are many signs reading 'Land for Sale', I think it's only a matter of time, I feel lucky to be seeing the islands as they are now.
While we were sat on the over-crowded, poser beach at Trawangan we looked across the water at Gili Meno, we hadn't planned to go as Air was quiet enough, but looking at the pristine, wide, white sand, deserted beaches made us want to be there, so we went. Meno has by far the best atmosphere; a calm, friendly one. Having said that, the accommodation is appalling so it's a good job the locals make up for it. Our bungalow had fresh water (not only is this cold but it's also salt water, really clean!) and frankly, it smelt of poo, writing this is bringing back the memory of the smell so I'll stop here.
In the centre of Meno there's a bird park, but honestly, it's not worth your time. The birds look a bit worse for wear, some look damaged (some look psychotic). Meno though is definitely worth the visit, don't be put off by people saying it's too quiet, it's not. With a permanent population of just 500, I'd say it's just right.
All the islands have a healthy population of stoned workers who constantly forget your order and offer you weed. Trawangan has numerous bars and cafes selling mushrooms but we declined (look mum, I'm being sensible).
Where I stayed