I decided to do a little solo exploring and was picked up at 7:30am by the Ocean Star shuttle that would deliver me and my over-packed backpack (mind you for only 3 nights) to Padang Bai. I am the worst when it comes to packing light- a lady needs her “stuff”! Again the driver was a very friendly fellow. We stopped by the beach to pick up a group of 4 French tourists who were also on the same path to the pristine Gili Islands. Hopped on the Ocean Star speed boat and joined my new French travel buddies on the rough 2 hour ride from Padang Bai to Gili Trawangan.
The anticipation of getting there was intense! I could not wait. We pull up to the shore and the water is crystal clear blue, lots of locals waiting to charm you so that you choose to stay at their bungalow or homestay, or encouraging you to try their magic mushroom shakes. I was there to do a little work on Mailbird in a new and extra peaceful environment. I also had plans to meet up with my Canadian friends who were also exploring the Indonesian islands, after an extended stay in Australia. Without any plans of where I would be staying once I got to Gili Trawangan, I wandered the sandy paved road where pony drawn carriages came charging through.
There are no motor vehicles on the island. I loved this. Just horses, carriages, bicycles and your own two feet. I wished my new friends from the boat ride good luck in finding a place to stay, knowing that I would be likely to run into them again since the island is rather small (approx. 2 hours to walk around the perimeter). I found my friends Christa and Bri, and they helped me try to locate a place to stay. As we made our way down the gorgeous beachfront, the local island boys would say things like “Ohhh reeeaally” in their best American accent. I guess this is to mimic how they think American girls sound when they talk!? I don’t know but it was hilarious. I’ve been sharing the idea of the Kuta Cowboy with my friends, just because it is the most ridiculous thing. So perhaps these local islanders could be called the “Gili Gigolos”.
I was trying to find a cheap place to stay around Rp. 80,000 ($8 usd) per night. Without putting much effort into in I found a place for Rp. 100,000 ($10 usd) per night. Another super friendly guy named Abdulah showed me the way to my room. And…..let’s just say it wasn’t exactly in the lap of luxury, but I thought I could tough it out. I noticed ants on the floor, and the shitty bed with no bed cover, just a sheet on a mattress, what looked to be a car seat placed in the room to serve as a couch, and a random splintery looking wooden cart. There was a hole that appeared to have been punched through the bathroom door, and a red light bulb in the bathroom that barely provided enough light, the toilet covered in black dirt and skid marks, and no sink. Still, I said no biggie. I can deal with this, it was a bed to sleep on.
Got ready to hit up the beach, little did I know that when I would return to my room all the monsters of the night would emerge…but we will get to that later. I slapped on some sunscreen and met up with Christa and Bri, found a nice spot on the beach in front of a cozy beach cafe called Gili Divers. A lot of the accommodations on Gili are for those who come to get their scuba diving certification, as they are supposed to have amazing reefs for exploring the underwater world, and the cutest sea turtles! I was happy to just be able to lounge on a bean bag chair on the stunning beach, grab a cold Bintang, listen to some good island tunes, while eating some Nasi Goreng. We made our way to the West side of the island to watch the sunset- so beautiful. It was a great day, and time to head back to my room to get ready for the night.
I walked into my room, and noticed a ton of little worms or centipedes crawling around on the floor. While stepping on them, giving me shivers up my spine, I found two cockroaches. Frantically stomping around killing bugs in my dodgy room, while still convincing myself to get over the bug infestation I nervously stepped into the bathroom to take a shower. When I shut the bathroom door, a very LARGE gecko starting scurrying up the wall and I jumped out of that bathroom as soon as possible screaming. I ran out to find Abdulah who showed me to my room, but he was nowhere to be found. I found a lady who was a spa worker trying to explain to her that there was a giant lizard in my bathroom. I didn’t know how to say lizard in Indonesian, so I described it to her by calling it a Komodo Dragon Kecil (small Komodo dragon). She helped manage to find one of the Creative Bungalow workers to “take care of the situation”.
This Indonesian guy dressed in the Canadian Tuxedo (denim on denim) arrives with a metal pipe, and I showed him the bug massacre in my room and the big ass gecko in the bathroom. I sat outside my room, but went back in to make sure I could see that the issue was taken care of. He was literally trying to stab and smash the gecko with the metal pipe he brought with him, instead of just freeing the gecko outside of my room. I told him not to kill the poor thing, so instead, he shoves the gecko down the drain and loosely covers it back up with the drain cover. I suggested that the gecko could still come out, considering his futile efforts to tightly seal the drain back up. That was it, I was NOT staying at this place.
I ended up setting up camp at Big Bubble Dive where Christa and Bri were staying, nice place, bug and gecko free. They had a nice terrace pillow lounger outside their room, so we grabbed the cushions and set up a rather comfy bed for me on the floor in their room. Relief. We got ready for the night, grabbed some cheap eats from the local food carts in the main center by the beach front. Satisfied, and ready to locate which bar the big island party would take place at. Gili is made up of 3 small islands, Air, Meno, and Trawangan (the party island). The Gili Trawangan island where we stayed is so small, that each night there is one bar that has a big party, so that is where the whole island ends up. Tonight was Rudy’s, the next night was Sama Sama (a reggae bar), the night after was Hardy’s where there was a nice beach bon fire.
Tried a Joss Shot which is some kind of crazy energy powder booster with ginseng that fizzes when mixed with water. You tip the sachet of this medicine citrus tasting powder back, then wash it down with a shot of vodka. That was quite an experience. My friend could barely stand the taste and fizzing effect once the Joss powder hit the back of her throat. Then we danced the night away to some Reggae, made our way back to Big Bubble Dive, only to get up in the morning and beach it all day and do it all over again. Another place we really liked was Tir Na Nog– an Irish but not so Irish bar that played really good music right by the ocean. Lot of fun on Gili! Back in Bali now…it is good to be home.
Now seeking Mailbird beta tester sign ups, and some inspiration for bird sounds.