I interrupt this blog post for a very important news bulletin:
I, Hepzibah Clair Deane, have a tan. That is all.
(So does Tom.)
After a really great time on Gili Air, off we toddled to explore the other two Gili Islands. Our first stop was Gili Meno where we stayed a total of four nights. We arrived in torrential downpour, which was quite fun. I always love a tropical storm. We’d decided to splash out a bit and spend a total of twenty quid for a bungalow for the evening. Our twenty quid bought us a private bungalow with ensuite, hot water, coffee and tea and air con plus breakfast the next day. Compared to the time we spent forty quid for a night in the worst hostel in Queenstown NZ complete with dirty sheets, unusable kitchen and people shagging in the bathrooms, we were really quite pleased with ourselves.
So far in Bali and the Gilis, we have spent £20.00 a day each including food and accommodation, bits and bobs of clothes/sarong shopping, lots of beer, sun cream, the snorkel trip and the expensive boat trip from Bali to the islands (£60 quid return each.) You could easily do it cheaper by not going shopping and cutting down on the beer, and travelling on the cheap boat. I think I’m really pleased with how we planned our route on the trip (expensive countries first, then cheap) it feels like a huge relief to be in a country where the cost of living is a lot less, and to be able to treat ourselves a little bit without constantly worrying about the budget.
Gili Meno was an interesting experience… It’s renowned for being the most quiet of the a Gilis, and popular for honeymooners. As it’s currently March, it’s the end of the wet season here and one of the most quiet times of year. We found that the locals were in rest mode, not really very friendly or interested in us. We couldn’t afford to stay in the huge fancy resorts aimed at newly weds, and instead stayed in the homestays, which were absolutely fine. It only became tricky at meal times, where we chose to eat at the family run restaurants as opposed to the few expensive bars on the beach. It was fine really, just a little awkward when we had to ask if we could eat in most places, and then the person running the restaurant would literally disappear off to buy the ingredients and our drinks and then spend about an hour preparing food. Although they were friendly, I felt really awkward and like I was putting them out, even though they seemed happy for the business.
There is very little to do on Gili Meno. One of the best things was the turtle sanctuary where turtle eggs are hatched and then the babies are looked after until they’re eight months old and big enough to survive in the sea. I’ll never forget the day old turtles we saw. Adorable.
There was no wifi so we read a lot, wandered the whole way round the island, sunbathed and got harassed a lot by people selling jewellery, sarongs, and insect repellant. One evening we found a bar offering a free buffet if you bought drinks. That was a great evening. There were loads of power cuts the whole time we were on the island. When we were sat at a table enjoying drinks, all the lights went out leaving us to see by the candles on the table and someone shouted “welcome to Gili Meno!!” I also weirdly enjoyed the thunderstorms at night where the flashes of lightening would light up the whole room like day, and the rumbles would shake the whole bungalow. I’m sure Gili Meno is better at a busier time of year, but by the time we left we were desperate for a bit of noise and to see some people who smile.
Well we got what we asked for at Gili Trawangan! We got off the boat, dodging horses, people on scooters, people washing the streets with hoses, stray cats, other bewildered travellers with rucksacks and wheelie bags (the latter of whom I’ve recently developed a irrational hatred of. The same goes for people with small rucksacks. Jealous much?) and we headed to our homestay.
On the way, I twisted my ankle and fell flat on my face in the middle of the road, pinned down by my rucksack and in the shock started CRYING. As if that wasn’t mortifying enough, there were loads of locals watching, and I could barely get my bag off me! I did a roll similar to a tortoise stuck on its back. Everyone came to help, and Tom picked me up and brushed me down…. The result was a grazed knee, foot and toe and a battered ego. I hate that bloody rucksack. Later in the evening, Tom was chasing a mosquito in the dark around the room, and thinking he saw it on my foot, pressed his thumb into the open wound from earlier. My eyes watered in pain and in hysterics. So funny.
Similarly to the other Gilis, our time on Gili T has sort of blurred into one because we didn’t really do very much. Here are some highlights:
– walking across the island through the rural villages to the other side, away from the strip where it was super quiet, and getting invited to use the swimming pool of a posh resort if we bought some drinks. Coconut in hand (£1.25 each) we floated in luxury around a pool that we had to ourselves, and lazed on the sun loungers that were more comfy than the average bed.
– going shopping again (hehe) and being asked to take my shoes off at the threshold of the shop. I obliged and was looking around when I slipped barefoot in cat sick. The whole experience made me oddly nostalgic for Penny and Parker…
– discovering the night market on the recommendation of Meg (thanks flower!) and having a super cheap platter of different Indonesian dishes.
– the best cocktails of my life, made with real fruit juice (e.g they use an actual coconut and an actual pineapple for your piña colada!- )
– reading bloody loads of books and not feeling guilty because there’s nothing to do except chill out and swim in the sea. Which, by the way, is so blue and so clear. It’s just stunning!
– finding this toilet. Thank god it was out of order, I wasn’t expecting company!!
It’s with a heavy heart that we leave Bali tomorrow evening for Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia. I don’t want to go, I love it here!