We arrived on Gili Air, one of three Islands all with the name Gili just off the coast of Lombok, on Saturday not knowing what to expect. Overall my Indonesian experience has been good but a little on the disappointing side (see previous posts). We had penciled in a month to spend on one or more of these islands and I was wondering if we had made a terrible, horrible mistake (well, as terrible as spending time on a tropical island could be). We could travelled to a myriad of different places for our last month. My expectations were pretty low.
But low and behold (whatever that means) what a nice surprise Gili Air turned out to be! As soon as we stepped off the boat, and almost got run over by a horse pulling a wagon, I knew we had made the right choice. There’s just something about the feel of being on an island that is immensely appealing. Life seems a little more relaxed, time seems to slow down and not really matter at all. Every0ne seems pretty happy. I can dig it.
There are no motorized vehicles on this island outside the odd tiny electric scooter which is so very excellent as I’ve grown to despise automobile very much. The main form of transportation is the aforementioned horse and cart (I do fee quite bad for the horses, especially watching them pull a wagon full of fat sweaty tourists and all of their luggage) and bicycles. It’s a small island – it would take one about 1 and ½ hours to walk around the entire thing and it’s flat which is great for biking, especially for someone like Swanson who is not the strongest cyclist having wiped out twice in the first hour that we had bikes.
Unlike the overly-developed Thai Islands which are swarming with tourists, Gili Air has a nice mix of tourists and locals. It’s not too busy – high season hasn’t started yet so I can’t say what it’s like here then – and once you get off the main “road” you’re in pretty rural surroundings. It’s quite fun to bike around these quiet paths, checking stuff out.
Speaking of stuff, the wildlife here is crazy! It’s quite common to see spiders the size of my fist, monitor lizards strutting their stuff, cockroaches the size of a Buick (I chased one out of our room the other night), centipedes as long as my forearm and the odd Komodo Dragon skirting along the trails. I tried to take a photo of a giant one a couple of days ago but it was too fast for me. All I can say it was goddamn huge!
We’ve met a few interesting folks – this one dude from Australia who brought his weird Australian football with him and spent the days walking around Sengiggi, in very short shorts, looking for anyone to toss the ball around with him. He also claimed he was a chef, “Try the chicken parm! 9 out of 10!”. We also met a nice guy named Virgil who was from Romania where he worked as a space researcher for the Romanian Space Program. Yes, I was surprised as you to hear that there was a Romanian Space Program. There was a great dude named “Rocky” who owned the diabolical Riverside Hotel mentioned in the previous post. He knew his hotel was shitty and apologized for it’s shittyness many times. He also owned a great restaurant that we ate at at least four times. He was a hilarious guy and Swanson loved him.
Swanson finally met a friend – a kid named Scott, also from Australia, who’s 9, is into Minecraft and Adventure Time! He’s over the moon having a kid, and a boy, his age to play with. They’re staying at the same lovely home-stay that we are. The parents are nice and they like to drink quite a bit (did I mention they’re Australian?) so we have that in common. They are having a blast together. It will be interesting/sad to see what happens when they leave in a couple of days. I expect a few tears (from Swanson at least).
Gili Air is a fine place to wrap up the tropical adventure part of our trip. We’ll continue to enjoy the sun, the pool, the ocean, some amazing snorkeling (man, there’s a lot of freaky fish in the ocean!), eating pretty good food, drinking pretty good beer on the beach and watching the sunset. Tough life.
We have ten days in Japan before heading home in early July. I will miss this place but will be glad not to have bugs crawling all over me (I found some ants in my bed) and seeing spiders that don’t make me want to scream until my soul is dead.
Until then I’ll just have to make do with this…