Finding Paradise in Gili Air

Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
Trip End Apr 01, 2011

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Flag of Indonesia  , Nusa Tenggara Barat,
Thursday, November 4, 2010

After a long but enjoyable journey which took me to Badang Bai, then by boat to the middle of the west coast of Lombok, up the west coast to the north-west corner by shuttle bus, then over the sea again, i arrived on Gilli Air, the smallest of the three Gilli Islands. I was immediately impressed with its calming atmosphere as i strolled down small grassy paths, which meandered amongst small village houses, coconut groves and a random smattering of cows, goats and chickens. It is about 1km square, so its very small and walking around the sandy beach which spans the entire islands circumference, lapped by clear blue waters, takes about an hour in a half.

My accommodation is a private bamboo bungalow, set in a lazy coconut grove and swinging in the hammock set up on the porch is incredibly relaxing and definitely something i want more of in my life. Having given myself one day to accustomise myself to the island, i settled into the way of life and met a few of the locals running the nearby restaurants and bars along the beach. Taking a walk the next morning is the first time ive walked along a beach for an hour and a half and ended up in the same place i started. It was a strange and unique feeling that emphasised just how small the piece of land that i'm standing on really is.

After sampling some of the amazingly tasty local food and having an extremely relaxing evening and first day relaxing in the sun, i made my way up to the Space Bar in the North West of the island in the evening to see what this festival was all about. Upon my arrival i was immediately dazzled by the decoration they had set up for the weekend. The only lights in the whole bar and the neighbouring area were UV lights and they had gone to town with UV artwork hanging from palm trees and the DJ booth looked like some kind of glowing Ultra Violet neon Alien Pod. There were only about 8 people there, incuding myself, and they were playing minimal techno instead of PsyTrance, so it looked like it would be a bit of a wash out. I met a couple of people there who had travelled with me from Bali, who came along because i had been talking about it so much and met another Swedish couple, but they all left fairly early, having lost faith in the night after finding out that the good music would be the next day. I stayed on for a bit and was considering going home, when suddenly, out of the darkness erupted some amazing music and the night suddenly sprang to life. I had an amazing time and pretty much danced until 6am, before finally giving in to fatigue and walking the deceptively long walk home through the pitch black tunnels of trees.

Sleeping most of the day, i awoke and readied myself for another night of fun. I had been somewhat gifted, as i was under the impression that it was only a one night thing, but as it turned out, the music played non-stop from Friday to Sunday. So, as tired as i was, i couldn't miss out on an opportunity like this and dragged myself up to the bar, a little later this time, to allow more people to arrive. This time i went along with the Indonesian guy who ran the Homestay i was staying at, a Canadian girl and another local, who took delight in introducing us to their local drink, Rice Wine. Im not sure if this is the same as Sake the Japanese drink, but it tasted like paintstripper and clay. Those guys headed back early as they were not overly into PsyTrance, but me, being an avid fan, stayed on and danced the night away, chatting to this guy i had met the previous night. Dancing again until 6am i hesitantly began the hike back home. It may be a small island, but after dancing all night and staggering through pitch blackness, over sand, in flip flops, it begins to take its toll. By the time i approached my homely bungalow, the sun was beginning to rise. So i set up camp on some sun loungers on the beach and, in the peaceful silence of the dawning morning, watched one of the most impressive sunsets i have ever seen. Culminating with the sunbeams breaking out inbetween two volcanos, over the ocean, on Lombok. The biggest of which, i later found out to be called Rinjani. What a beautiful way to end two amazing nights.

This peace and serenity was shattered like a dropped wine glass, when, at 9am, someone just nearby decided it would be a great idea to break out the chainsaw and start carving up a tree for about 4 hours. On top of this, the power had cut out, killing the fan, making it literally impossible to stay inside the bungalow due to the foreboding heat and my blessed hammock was just not the same, to the soundtrack of someone making a boat with a chainsaw. So i gave up, headed down the beach, went for an incredibly refreshing swim, then sorted out my boat for the next day and went to sleep for the rest of the afternoon, after the Gili Chainsaw Massacre had finished corrupting the day. I woke up later, just in time to head over to the West side of the island, to watch the sun setting over the ocean next to the backdrop of the volcanos of Bali in the distance. Making this the first time i have ever watched the sunrise over the ocean (and over a volcano), and then the sunset over the ocean (and a volcano) in the same day.

Alas, my time on this serene little paradise island has been cut short, as i have completely spent all my money and there aren’t any cash machines on the whole island. Forcing me, regrettably, to leave this little blob of heaven, reminding me that, even in a perfect place like this, the system has dug its talons in deep and our lives are ruled by the dollar. In this very brief stay i have definitely fallen in love with Gili Air. It is paradise, like the Maldives for backpackers, with extremely friendly locals and a perfect vibe. I will always have a place in my heart for this little slice of heaven.

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Geoff and Peg on

Following your blogs with interest, quite a rollercoaster journey. Happy New Year take care.

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