Riding Around Gili T

photos of passersby during one of our last lunches on the island

Though Gili Trawangan is quite a small island, it’s not a bad idea to rent a bike as a more efficient (and enjoyable!) way to get around the island. In fact, sometimes it fels as if there are more bikes than people as you make your way past and between the handlebars and wheels, or are forced to jump out of the way for the millionth time when yet another shrill dingding harasses you from behind. I suppose at this point it doesn’t bear repeating that there are no motorized vehicles of any kind on the island, so if the feet are starting to feel tired bikes and horse-drawn carriages are the only options on the table. I saw rental prices ranging between 20,000Rupiah and 50,000Rupiah, so don’t be afraid to shop around and negotiate. (We only inquired into a horse-drawn carriage once and found it to be a non-negotiable 50,000Rupiah– for one ride– if you were interested. Not sure what other drivers were charging.)

As I mentioned earlier, we actually had a slight mishap with our bikes… Our friends had assured us they hadn’t been locking their bikes and had experienced no problems. So, when stopping for one quick happy hour drink, we decided to follow suit. And returned 30 minutes later to find Wayne’s bike gone. Amazingly, the next day he was able to spot it tucked away in another bar’s ‘parking lot’ (for lack of better term) and we were able to enjoy the bikes the way God intended– by taking leave of the tourist-ridden perimeter of the island, and instead entering the maze of local agriculture (and normal culture, I guess) in the island’s interior. I will say I had scenes from Ladri di Bicicletti (The Bicycle Thief– or perhaps its oft-heralded parody, The iPhone Thief) coursing through my head for the near entirety of the search. Guess that’s what happens when you major in History and minor in Media Studies, even three years after graduation (whoa, I think tomorrow might be the official anniversary? Blood still runs blue and orange!)…

Anyway after re-securing what was rightfully, temporarily, ours it was time to let our intrepid natures take over and see what was awaiting us in the lush labyrinth of Gili T. We found a completely different side of the island… quiet, rural, and perfectly charming. It was a nice surprise as someone had assured us there was ‘nothing’ awaiting us there! (Though I guess maybe it’s a matter of semantics…)

can’t tell you how many different spellings of ‘laundry’ we encountered…

most of these pictures were taken from my bike, so excuse the blurriness… though i feel it almost adds to this one?

they start ’em early in the sticks.

a close encounter!

he was searching for something in the brush.

The next day we decided to go for a ride around the circumference of the island– something that only took one long, taxing hour on account of the few sandy stretches we’d always attempt to power through even though nine times out of ten it would require getting off the bike and pushing. It was still a neat way to see everything the island had to offer. (Okay, maybe not everything.)

entering sandy territory…

lombok visible in the distance (or is it bali?)

flip flop tree

island goats? i’ll allow it.

here’s lookin’ at you, kid.

my bike in all its glory, with a cute sea turtle emblazoned building.

So that’s that. Slowly but surely reaching the end.

And now I gotta run– testing out Jess and Danny’s balsamic salmon recipe and it’s almost time to throw it in the oven! Can’t waitttt.

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Gili Trawangan

Though we arrived on the island too late to really appreciate the beauty of the surroundings on account of the darkness, come morning it was easy to see why it is so popular (and the potential it held for diving). Crystalline turquoise water, white sand (though not without its fair share of sharp coral in some places!), and self-proclaimed “Turtlle (sic) Points” where majestic sea turtles (and sting rays on one special occasion) could be seen when snorkeling really made for some unique opportunities for us.

By day there were many activities in and out of the water to keep visitors busy: surfing, snorkeling, diving, renting a bike to explore the island inside and out (it only takes a day to do so!), yoga, boat trips to the other islands, or just lazing around with a good book. By night things livened up… there were tons of bars and restaurants to suit any appetite and budget; a central food market with lots of fresh seafood and local fare; and special parties every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at set locations. We were even “lucky” enough to be around for a Full Moon Party! (Explanation of quotes to follow.) I’ll include that when researching the island beforehand we read that as per its reputation as a “party island” we should expect to encounter many offers of drugs during our time on the island; we were indeed approached on occasion by people hawking a variety of narcotics, but it was far from in our faces the entire time and easily avoidable.

Unlike my million-post recap of Bali-by-event, I’m going to bombard you with all of my “general” Gili T pictures from the 5 days we spent there now, with shots from diving (we did a photography dive as one of the Specialties for our Advanced Course… one of the better decisions of my life) and some of our island bike rides to follow in later posts.

not a bad view to wake up to! (not that this was exactly seen directly from the ‘stank room;’ we’d gone to breakfast at a nearby venue.)

one of the bungalows we’d looked at before going was listed at being ‘behind the turtle hatchery’… but for some reason i wasn’t actually expecting a turtle hatchery?

“no naked”. hahaha!

rainbow over on gili air! a nice addition to any afternoon.

night market.

had dinner there one night… black pepper squid and some delicious snapper, courtesy of this sassy lady!

horses in the moonlight.

we did our diving with trawangan dive and were really happy with the experience. as i said i’ll do a full post about the diving but in the mean time i’ll include some shots from the boat.

look at that water! i mean, look at it!!! ridiculous visibility…

the infamous “stank room.” we left it and dear romi after 2 nights to move onto greener pastures.

our new digs at blue star bungalows!

the view. definitely an upgrade!

did i mention we were right next to the turtle viewing point? we must have seen at least four or five while we were staying here. amazing creatures!

So I’d hinted at the possibility that maybe we actually weren’t so “lucky” to be around for the Full Moon Party. It’s not that we weren’t lucky or it wasn’t fun. I just feel that so many people come to Thailand and like, plan their vacations around attending the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan and there’s a lot of hype concerning it and therefore the wrong idea might have been conveyed. First, though the Thai Full Moon Parties have already lost their luster for me anyway, this was nothing of that caliber (complete stretches of bucket vendors along the entire beach, 10,000 people, tons of DJs playing any kind of music you could want to hear, etc etc). There was a bonfire, one bar (that was overpriced and wayyyy too crowded for our liking so whenever it was time for another drink we headed to the nearby Rudy’s Bar, which provided a nice reprieve from the madness), a DJ booth, and (granted) a big crowd of people getting sloppier as the night went on. We had fun, but I wouldn’t call it a crowning moment of the trip by any means. Actually, that makes it quite a lot like the Full Moon Parties I’ve been to in Thailand!

our crew at the onset of the full moon party (please note the guy in the back. though we all look fairly dazzling here i must say he’s my favorite part of the photo.)

gavin (in the middle) did his advanced diving course with us and his friend paul is on the left. not sure on the identity of the indonesian guy haha.

the shark from nemo!

one shot of the full moon haha.

The night of the Full Moon should have been our penultimate night on the island. Should have been. We finished and should have paid for our diving that day, leaving us one last day to enjoy our surroundings before heading back to Ubud for one more shopping day.

Except… we decided to put the courses on my credit card, and, as it turns out, my credit card was expired. (whoops) It so happens that I have a wonderfully generous mother who always comes through in the clutch who was able to transfer me the needed funds at a moment’s notice, but even so, it was Easter Weekend and it took an extra day for them to go through. (whoops) But as Adam, our dive instructor noted, there were worse places we could have been stuck. Can’t really complain about an extra day in paradise, right?

haha, oh yeah! we’d rented bikes the night of the full moon party, and didn’t lock them up because our friends assured us they’d had bikes for 2 days and there was never a problem. plus we were just grabbing one happy hour drink so the risk was low anyway. except wayne’s ended up being taken! (we’re sure it was an accident; there was one just like it at the place we had a drink, but the hotel owners wouldn’t let us take it because we couldn’t prove there had been a mix-up.) so we had to drive around like this for a day until, by some amazing stroke of luck, wayne happened to see his own on the side of the road the next afternoon. how charming though, right? (even if it made for a bit of a sore bum…)

yes please?

sunset on our last night.

one last amazing seafood dinner…

in addition to no motorized transport there are no dogs on gili t! but there are tons of kitties. also if you’re admiring those flip flops i got them in ubud for 25,000 rupiah ($2.50). then someone at the market tried to charge me 80,000 rupiah for the same ones not 30 minutes later! and then ollie destroyed one last week… you’d think after 3 other pairs i’d learn…

So that’s the not-so-brief overview of Gili T…

On a completely unrelated note I’m terrified that the coffee shop in which I currently find myself is closing. I have only my bicycle, and no rain jacket, and it’s completely pouring outside! Guess this gives me time to plan my lesson for the police officers we start teaching tomorrow (assuming the café stays open and I’m not forced to destroy my computer more than it’s already destroyed on account of my dropping it a few months ago…).