I had never even heard of The Gili Islands. Some people described Gili as a modern day Woodstock. With beach parties, delicious cocktails and killer waves being the main attraction.
The Gilis are composed of three tiny islands Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan right at the foot of Lombok, Indonesia. To get to these islands from Ubud you pay a tour company to pick you up at you hotel, drive you an hour or so to the harbor, you then take a two hour “fast boat ride” to the island of your choice. We waited an hour to get on a fast boat which would stop at all three tiny islands. We chose Gili T for a three day tour.
We arrived on a cloudy day and made it through an involuntary obstacle course as we struggled to get off of the makeshift dock safely and dry. Lounging locals awakened offering some assistance and you guessed it, “the best tours on the island”. People come from all over the world to see their amazing coral reefs, go diving and wild out on party boats. I noticed that there were no cars on the island. Horse and buggies are the main form of transportation around the small island. We opted out of using these poor animals because they were dehydrated and overworked. I was told that traditional tuk tuks are too expensive for locals to maintain. This is possibly the only shame of this island and needs to be addressed.
I must admit that without the use of the horse and buggy it was a struggle getting to our hotel. We blindly booked Natya Hotel Gili Trawangan and it was the best choice we could have made. Natya Hotel was, comfortable, away from the noise of the parties, but close to the mix. Some of the hotels and resorts are clear across the other side of the island making the trek to the dock more difficult .
During the days we’d start with a quick breakfast, ride bikes to explore the other side of the island and drink smoothies. You forget for a minute that you’re an adult because all of the other adults are eating gelato, riding bikes and swimming too. I felt completely safe and at ease here. At times the rest of the world didn’t existed because I was truly in the moment.
In the evening we’d relax a bit, have dinner, usually something grilled, and grab a few drinks. Because we visited during Ramadan the parties ended earlier than normal. There was not a single police in sight. Perhaps the reason why partygoers downing Bintang by the boatloads, eating their weigh in mushrooms and smoking like chimneys.
We came across a spot blasting 90’s r&b. To get the crowd warmed up they enticed us with a fire show. The young Indonesian guys loved to interact and dance with everyone. Sama Sama Reggae Bar was great for good vibes and a jamming reggae band. As the night went on Jiggy Jigs became packed from the inside out with the intoxicated and lifted. Time seems to go by so slowly. There are no rules here. I felt as if everyone would be here forever, frozen in time. Never sad, never dying. Just young, wild and free.