Panji sent me instructions on how to get to Gili Trawangan from Lombok airport. He was already there and had taken 5 hours and 74 IDR with option 2. Here is what he sent me, with few editions from my experience.
“You have two options.
- By Taxi: when you go out the airport there will be so many drivers offering you the car (taxi) to Bangsal (last harbour where you will take the boat to here). The prices are around Idr 250.000 – 350.000, it takes about 1,5 – 2hours and for the boat is 19.000 IDR tax incl.
- By public transport: you go out the airport, take the Damri Bus (idr 30,000) Destination to Senggigi but you will not stop at Senggigi, you will stop just outside of the city: tel lthe driver you want to go to Bangsal and ask him to drop you at to the minibus stop, destination Bayan. He will drop you off at a crossways. Cross the road twice to be on the smaller road on your left. If you see fruit stalls you are in the right place.
Get on the Minibus Destination to Bayan (15,000 to 25,000 IDR) and ask the driver to drop you at the last intersection near Bangsal Harbour.The bus takes over rolling hills and around rice fields. You are going the right direction.
After you get of from the minibus at intersection take the horsecar “Cimodo” to Bangsal, it’s just five minutes so negotiate to pay Idr 5000. I felt too sad for the horses to I took an Ojek for the same price.
When you arrive at Bangsal Harbour, find the “LOKET” to buy ticket for the public boat.
Following the instructions under option 2, I got to Gili T in 3 hours with only 76.000 IDR less in my pocket.
The trip in my minibus was awfully uncomfortable, as I had to sit on the floor, my ass burning, with no view from the open door in front of me because two guys stood hanging outside of it.
On the boat, I looked out at the Gilis.
Gili Air is the closest to Lombok. I didn’t stop there, as Jompa had been there that morning with Panji but left because you cant even swim with low tide, the island seems in phase of urbanization and it is not very clean.
Gili Meno looked beautiful, but Jompa had heard it’s good for honeymooners but a bit boring for us.
So I met her on Gili Trawangan, “Gili T”, “Gili Tralala”, “The Party Island”.
Daylife in Gili T
When you first walk along the only road on the island and see all the tropical bars, the nice restaurants, the clubs and speak to the chill people you think “I never want to leave this place”. And some people don’t. But it got a bit too much for me, eventually.
We stayed in the nice and cheap CEMOS homestay, run by a bunch of young local boys. They were extremely welcoming and prepared lovely breakfasts for us, with tropical fruits and omelette or banana pancakes. A great way to start a tough beach day! We would go to the far North of the island, the best area to admire the reef and spot turtles and other sea creatures. We once rented mask, snorkel and fins for 25.000 IDR each, but the afternoons after that we just used our swimming goggles. And it was equipped merely with these that one morning, after Juliette had joined us, I spotted Jujo. She is a beautiful green turle that I found right where the reef drops into the depths of the ocean. I followed her around as she cruised in the waves. It was an awesome experience to find this wonderful animal, which has probably been bred in the island’s turtle tanks and then released in the sea, swimming happily with no apparent fear of our excitement. We celebrated with a delicious lunch at Coral Beach Restaurant, were we got a cheap and nice meal right on the beach. Then took a nap on the comfy pillows of the shack just above where the waves melt into the beach releasing white bubbly foam and cradle you into midday siesta. Until some rude and noisy Germans started blabling about their amazing drunken night in the next door shack.
The beach right next to this restaurant is simply beautiful, and very uncrowded. The sea there gets to a nice depths without changing its crystal colour for about 500 meters, but it’s quite boring for snorkeling. For that you need to walk a little more north.
We ended up doing a lot of walking during our stay in Gili, one day walking its perimeter, the next walking across it: from Choral Beach to the swing in the sea, Ombak Sunset, to romantically enjoy watching the sun going down behind the clouds, before walking to the center for dinner. This would always be in Pasar Seni, the traditional warung market that from 6 to 11 at night sells amazing, spiced, traditional food for unbelievably good deals. We eat there every single night, I found amazing punpkin curry, and worked my way through the food stands every night, exploring the coconut and vegetable salads, the savory crepes and the heavenly cakes. We would then wadde back to the homestay, which is just around the corner and past the school for a brief rest, before heading back to the seafront for a few cocktails and dances.
Nightlife in Gili T
At least during the low season, every night there is a specific bar where the party is. We spent the Friday at Rudi’s enjoying the live rock band after a cocktail at Lava. On Saturday it was Sama Sama reggae bar, also featuring a live band, and also very crowded and fun. The drinks there are very good and cheap but if you want a fruity cocktail, make sure to order it at the inside bar instead of the beach kiosk, were they use concentrate instead of fresh fruits!
Sunday night sees parties at Evolution as well as the Irish Pub Tur Ma Nog, where they also have silent discos every night, during ramadan! But we took a mushroom shake with our neighbours at our homestay so that night we were not really in the mood for dancing. After drinking half a shake each, and another hald a couple of hours later, we felt giggly, silly and cozy. Our senses were stronger, so we could see and hear and feel everything with more intensity. For this reason, we only felt like chilling at the beginning, and later, when we started walking aimlessy along the promenade, we found it hard to take the decision to stop somewhere, even after it started pissing down with rain. We ran and walked, sang and laughed; completely drenched under the torrential wet season wheather. It was a lovely evening, that was finally ended when we started getting cold. That was the only time I’ve felt cold in Indo.
The next morning, I woke up to find one of my companions, Dennis, still up drinking beer, reporting he had continued his mushroom night walking around the island and drinking beer at his rastafari chillers bar while watching sunrise. I was impressed, and still tired. We walked to Surf Bar, which has lovely hammocks under the trees by the beach to sleep in all day. That evening, we went back to the hostel to smoke up with our Brazilian neighbours and have politically and sociologicaly significant conversations. But Dennis just sat there, not saying a word the whole evening. In the early hours in the morning, we went to get a slice of pizza at Little Italy. It was then that Dennis started talking about how we were going to swim back to Lombok.
“Oh no, Dennis, we’re just going to go to eat some pizza and then go to sleep”
“But how can I go back to my Hostel? They will find me there!”
We all stopped walking and looked at each-other, as we realized that Dennis had been tripping all day.
We sat down at the restaurant and Dennis told us the account of this day, and how after we had gone to bed that morning, he had hanged around with locals who had offered him ICE. “Free try man”.
Of course, one free try is enough to hook you up for life. And he had been on it all day, without realising he was smoking Meth. He hadn’t seen Breaking Bad.
That was when it all got a little too much for me. I suddenly became aware that most of the jolly faces that smiled at me every day on Gili T weren’t really there. That the continuous repeating “Weed? Mushrooms?” of the sellers in the streets got into your head with a feverish effect. That island.