When planning our drip to Bali we decided it would be much better to travel around several different areas, rather than stay in the same place for ten days. As a bit of a late addition, we decided to add in a trip to Gili Trawangan as a couple of people has recommended it to us.
The Gili islands are three small islands off the side of Lombok, one of the neighbouring islands to Bali. You have to get a boat to be able to visit them, but with the promise of white sandy beaches, amazing sunsets and a relaxing getaway - I was sold.
As you can tell by the title of this blog post, Gili T was really not what I had expected.
I was already really nervous about getting the boat and after arranging for a diver to come and get us and take us to the harbour, I was starting to get more and more nervous. We were told to stand in the Gili Gili ticket office for about ten minutes, before being heard like cattle to our boat. Luckily, it was pretty big so I was a little less worried it would be so rocky. Getting into the boat was easy enough, so we found some seats and settled down to watch Harry Potter, as they were showing it on the screens.
The girls left to go sit upstairs as they wanted to sunbathe, but being ginger and still a little nervous I thought it was best I stayed on the bottom deck. I did schooch over and look out the window though, which for me felt like a big step when until that day I’d never been on a boat on open sea water due to my fear.
After about an hour and a half, we arrived at the first stop - ours! We had to wait quite a while everyone in front of us clambered off, then when it was out turn to exit the boat I noticed that we only had a small ridge to guide ourselves a long to get to the steps at the front of the boat. With no time to think about it and a million people behind me, I held the side of the boat for dear life and walked along ridge. I don’t think anyone could tell, but I was petrified at this point. That was, until I saw the steps.
The steps were the smallest things known to man and so steep I didn’t have a clue how I was going to climb them without falling in. They were hardly being held on and so they were moving side to side with the water and I honestly thought I was going to fall flat on my face and into the water. Luckily I made it down okay, although I’m pretty sure I walked at the strangest angle ever.
As I looked up from the steps I could see people everywhere - where was this quite serene island experience I was promised?
We pushed our way through crowds of people until we were off the beach and onto the boardwalk area, which was just as busy. Before we even had a chance to catch our breath we were hounded by salesmen trying to get us to hire a bike or worse - go in a horse and cart….
Now I knew there were no cars on Gili T before we got there, so I just presumed that everyone just walked or cycled around. What I didn’t realise is that the island is filled with horses and carts, pulling tourists from place to place. The horses looked hot, tired and extremely dehydrated and although I felt the same, there was absolutely no way I was going to get on one of those. It was far too cruel and my heart broke every time I saw someone get in or take a photo in front of them.
Knowing we were going to walk to our hotel, we went to a nearby restaurant to get lunch and to use the WiFi for directions. It *said* it was about a 25 minute walk away but by the time we got there it was probably just over an hour, as part of it was walking on sand and ledges. I am SO glad we didn’t take out suitcases as it was a hard enough walk in peak sun as it was.
The further we got from the main town, the more gorgeous the island was becoming, and I could start to see why people liked it so much. The beaches were quiet, the hotels were incredible and there were opportunities to snorkel where ever you looked. I’m glad our hotel was this far out, as I think my impression of Gili T would have been completely tainted if I hadn’t had made it out this far.
With no plans to return back to the main part of the island, we went to the beach by our hotel and spent some time relaxing by the pool before heading to try snorkelling (I’ll be writing a whole post about this, don’t worry).
By the time we went for dinner, the heat from the walk over was really starting to hit me and it was very obvious I was feeling dehydrated or suffering from sun stroke, so I went back to hotel for an early night while Ashton and Tamzin went to see what the party at Sama Sama was like. I was gutted to miss out on one of the reasons we went to Gili T, but I’m glad I didn’t go out as I was rough all night.
The next morning we went snorkelling before heading back home. We were luckily dropped off at the harbour after our snorkelling excursion, which meant we didn’t have to do the long walk back with all our stuff again. Stupidly I’d lost our paperwork with our return boat information on, so I had to stop by the office early to make sure we could get on the same boat. They were understanding and let us have the same tickets again, but by the time we got on a new boat it was an hour or so after we had planned as there were lots of delays. The whole thing was a bit of a shambles as we were moved from corner to corner without really knowing what to do.
So, although parts of the island were beautiful and I had an INCREDIBLE time snorkelling, I don’t think Gili T was quite the experience I was expecting. The island was dirty, incredibly busy and I felt far too sorry for the horses to be able to go back into the main part of the island. It didn’t help that I was feeling unwell, but obviously that could have happened anywhere.
I think I’d go back to the Gili islands, but definitely one of the smaller, quieter ones so I could relax and spend some more time snorkelling.