We had to get up at 5.45am ready for a 6am taxi to take us down to a meeting point in the town centre where we would be picked up by the transfer company. Surprisingly both were on time.
The drive there was fine, but when we got there we had to stand in the heat waiting for the boat to turn up. We were basically the first ones there and our boat seemed to be the last or one of the last to leave. I think it was about 45 mins late leaving, but in 30 degrees with high humidity, it felt so much longer. When we got off of the boat at Gili Trawangan (Gili T), we went the wrong way with our cases so had to turn back. There are no cars on the island, only horses which we didn’t want to use as it was very questionable how well looked after they are.We both got burnt from this and just wanted to get into the pool.
The hotel was pretty nice and the pool was lovely but we jumped in only to find it was as hot as having a bath. It was not what was needed so we headed to the beach where we spent about 2 hours solidly in the sea. The current was pretty strong even at knee level which meant it was quite hard to sit still, we just got pulled around constantly. The beach was a lot nicer than the Seminyak/Canggu beaches as this was white sand and calm looking sea (except for the current) with cafes and bars running along the edge.
We headed back to the hotel to get ready and went along the road to the Broken Compass for some food. I wasn’t expecting much as it was a hostel restaurant but we both had such nice food. I ordered a masaman curry and Aimee had a Mie Goreng. Just opposite was Castle which we had heard is a very social and busy hostel with a bar area so we went in to have a look. Drinks were pretty cheap and we joined a big table of people and played a few games, we then went with everyone to another bar. I tried a Juke shot (not sure what its actually called) which was basically vodka with sherbet, I loved it.
We continued to another bar with everyone and ended in Jiggys. Here we danced and chatted outside, then eventually made it home about 4.30am, shortly followed by the Muslim call to pray booming so loudly I could hear it through my ear plugs. These prayers and songs would happen every few hours and were played through a tanoy so there was really no way of avoiding it, we heard it so much I ended up singing/humming along to one of the songs as I knew it so well.
The next day was a bit of a write off to be honest. When we managed to leave the hotel we hired bikes and cycled along the coast looking at the sea, beach front bars, locals building, quirky art work and just generally taking in the island. It was such a great way to see so much more and not just the main tourist area. The track was quite bumpy so we couldn’t go too fast but we got quite far round the island.
We stopped off at a beach front bar and sat down on the bean bags looking out at the ocean. We watched as numerous people tried to get photos on a swing in the sea, one woman even had a drone which I think was pretty over the top unless they were filming a commercial. Men road past on horses in the shallow water as the sun was setting. It was all so lovely and calm.
The bike ride back was interesting to say the least. We hadn’t thought about the fact there are no lights on the path so we were cycling back in the dark on a path with massive holes in the floor, sand and stones. At one point something ran in front of us and it was a few goats crossing to the sea, Aimee lost her sunglasses and my phone flew out the basket but we made it back to the main strip.
We popped over to Gili Meno for the day to see what this island was like and to do some snorkelling. The boat only took about 20 minutes once we had actually leave the shore. It was a super hot day but we walked along the path by the beach front to see what was around.
It was too hot to continue walking so we stopped off in the shade and sat on a big wooden platform thing and had a drink. We hired some snorkelling equipment and got into the sea. The same strong current was pulling us constantly along to the right and out away from the beach. We had to keep checking where we were in relation to our stuff to make sure we didn’t end up too far away and wouldn’t be able to get back. I haven’t felt a strong current like that in such calm waters before, it was quite scary. It made snorkelling harder to as you couldn’t float in one place for long.
We saw a lot of fish and anchors and boat wreckages, we were desperately trying to see a turtle but we weren’t lucky enough. We later found out if we had of gone a bit further up the beach its the main turtle potting area but of course we hadn’t of known that. We both burnt the whole of our backs from being in the water face down, just adding to my weird marks I still had from Sri Lanka. We got some lunch at one of the cafes along the front and I tried Gado Gado which is tofu, corn cakes, vegetables, satay sauce and rice.
When we got back to T we stopped off and had a crepe. I had chocolate of course. After getting back to the room we both just wanted to cool down as not only was it still boiling but our sunburn was just heating us up even more. For dinner we went down to Scallywags and sat right next to the sea. We went for the BBQ buffet where you go and pick the fish or meat you want and they cook it fresh for you. You then get your salad from the buffet bar. It was all really good I ate too much. Afterwards we went for a drink at a bar further along where a few frozen daiquiris were consumed and we met a few Swedish girls we sat and chatted to for a while.
The next day we got to the ticket station for 9.30am like we were advised to, had a quick breakfast then waited for the 10.30am boat to take us back to mainland Bali. This boat didn’t turn up until about 12.30pm but of course they didn’t tell us it was going to be this late so we all sat in the heat waiting and waiting. I wish they would just say its going to be delayed so we could have gone and done something or at least sat in a bar and had a drink, it was just so frustrating.
When the boat eventually left the water was really choppy so we were going up and down and up and down with waves crashing all around. Water was flying in and all windows and doors had to be shut which made it so hot. The heat mixed with the constant crashing up and down did not make an enjoyable ride at all. We got off the boat after 3pm then had to get up to Ubud. We had a transfer included but they said it would take about 2/2.5hours because of the stop offs. Whether this was true or not we were not in the mood for that so got a taxi instead. We had agreed on a price before getting in then on the journey he said he wanted a big tip as it was too cheap. I really don’t appreciate people asking for tips, but we gave him a little one, ironically he would have gotten more if he hadn’t asked.
We thought we had booked an average hotel but turns out it was super lovely, which was a great surprise after a day of sitting in the sun, nearly being sick on a boat, then being with a rude taxi driver.
Overview of the Gilis
Gili T is the biggest and most built up island out of the three, with Meno being nicknamed the ‘honeymoon island’ as its really quiet and Air is supposed to be a mix of the two.
No cars are on any of the islands which really helps to create a laid back atmosphere as its just people, push bikes and horses. You can cycle the whole of T in about an hour I think so everywhere is easy to get to by foot or bike. There are so many bars and cafes on the beach front it makes it so easy to take a walk and just stop wherever you want for a break, this is not the case in Seminyak/Canggu.
The weather is also a bit more stable and hotter too as its closer to the equator. The sand is whiter and the water is clearer meaning spending time on the beach is what most people choose to do. Diving and snorkelling are the main activities with every other shop advertising equipment and trips.
It’s defiantly a great place to go to relax and stare out to sea for a few days. Just remember everything takes longer than it should so expect to wait for drinks, food, the bill and especially the boats!