Well we’ve just had three of the funniest days ever!
The Gili islands are remote islands, so tiny that they have no cars and no large buildings. People travel around by bicycle or horse and carriage. Having a break from that overpowering smell of cheap petrol has been really refreshing, but it’s heartbreaking seeing tiny horses that probably aren’t looked after properly, running about in the heat, dragging around other people’s weight. We refused to use one the whole time we’ve been here. Each morning we can hear them trotting past our bedroom, with the carriage bells like a disappointing Santa Claus’ sleigh.
Gili T is made up of lots of different alleyways with restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels/ hostels, with the main strip being bang on the beach. The streets are laid out in an organised, checkered manner, and it’s not until you venture to the other side of the island that you come across the larger stretches of land with tropical woodlands, ranches, cows and goats. These areas of the island are a lot more remote, away from the hectic touristy area. I think that’s where most of the locals live, as we passed a lot of shacks and houses when we explored up there.
The walls are grafitti’d and the smells of beach BBQ after beach BBQ after beach BBQ pollute the air by night. Like most other places, every other shack is an office for organising tours and boat trips. There are no stray dogs here, just lots of cats. But it’s actually the first place in Asia where I’ve seen pubic recycle bins!
The majority of the locals here seem so away with the fairies and it’s probably to do with the magic mushrooms over here. Either that or everybody is just on a new level of chilled and where they’re not familiar with the rush of city life, everything is at a much slower pace. Getting served over the last three days has proved difficult. Then when we finally have been served, part of our order has either been wrong, forgotten or taken over an hour to come to the table. Tonight, Jenny ordered a pancake with just sugar and was literally given served SUGAR ON A PLATE. Just two sachets. Neatly laid out on a plastic plate.
We’re staying in Calypso hostel, one of the cheapest places I could find on the island, but it’s still about £7-£8 a night. If you’re a backpacker and just looking for a place to rest your head, this place will do just fine if it’s just for a couple of nights. The layout of the room is a bit weird though; there’s only three beds per room and they’re all kind of on top of each other.
The middle bed, my bed, is like a surgeon table raised above the other two beds! Jess has Thomas the tank engine bed sheets and Jenny has Cars hahaha. And it does get very hot. So hot that one night at about ten PM me and Jess found ourselves wondering into other hostels, asking if they had any room at the inn. We had no luck.
In the end we tried taking a fan from upstairs and it was like a scene out of the chuckle brothers. After whispering and creeping up the stairs, we looked at each other, then at the dirty, dusty fan, then back at each other, debating. That fan had never been moved, let alone cleaned. Fuck it, we can’t sleep in that heat, we thought. Turning it on to test that it worked, we were attacked by dust particles to the face like flies splattering into the windscreen of a big truck. We turned it back off and unplugged it from the wall, picked it up (it was really heavy), and started walking with it, only to discover it was attached to the wall by some sort of security wire. Nice one.
Jess especially wasn’t too happy about the heat and lack of space and dirty bathroom in the hostel. I guess me and Jenny are pretty used to it now… “Live like a peasant, sweat like a pig,” Jess said hahaha.
On our first night here, we treated ourselves to a night out, as it’s been a while since it’s been the three of us drunk together. We sat at a cool, tiki bar with beer pong tables and awful music; they had a drink offer there which turned out to be a bit of a catch. We still got a more cheap drinks than we would have elsewhere, but long story short we had only a certain amount of bottles of booze between us and everyone else that bought the drinks deal. We had to down shots of tequila and rum and cokes and vodka and cokes as quickly as we could. Mixing alcohol in the first place is never a good idea, but when it’s local booze, that’s just a really bad idea. I had flashbacks to the hangover that made me bed bound in Vietnam but still soldiered on…
Our night ended up at this Reggae bar on the beach front, which is really good. All the music is live so you actually get some decent songs, instead of Despacito, Pitball, and Justin Bieber on repeat. I stupidly got a massive bottle of beer there too, on top of the other spirits.
Jenny ended up getting her phone stolen which was a bit shit. We’d made it so far without anything getting stolen! Certain people linger at the edges of the dance floor like Cheetahs, just waiting and choosing who their going to pounce on.
We do love the Indonesian people though. They’re all so lovely and cheeky and whenever they find out you’re English they say “lovely, jubbly” or “do you want any wa’er” (water, purposely dropping the T).
When we got back to our hostel I ended up throwing up the booze and noodles in a carrier bag whilst naked, then Jess picked me up to take me to the bathroom and Jenny said it was the funniest image she’d ever seen. Me, sprawled out, half dead and Jess being a mum. The next morning I woke up with the sound of the clacking horse shoes and a piece of gum still in my mouth (ooops). The hangover was deadly. Coming from someone who does not get hangovers, it’s obvious there must be something really, really dodgy in the local spirits. Stay awayyyy people.
A well-needed pool day help aid the hangover. Because there are so many rocks and coral in the water here, we’ve been using a hotel’s pool instead of the beach. We’ve been chatting to these Australian guys that are actually staying there, but they probably think we’re weirdos because none of us can keep our inner freak inside. When we were hungover yesterday me and Jess were like the loners at the other end of the pool, sliding backwards and forwards, pulling each other’s legs, making weird noises and weird faces at each other, whilst everyone else acted normal and socialised down the deep end.
Later that night, we hired out push bikes and had a therapeutic ride over to the other side of the island, where the sunset is best. The sunset really was beautiful. We sat and played card games and watched people queue up to take photos on the famous Gili T swing and hammock in the water.
The sun was proud and beaming. The sky went from blue to purple to orange, yellow and red and the water from the sea reflected each colour. The waves in the sea were the biggest waves I’d ever seen- proper surfer waves.
Unfortunately that was one of the night where the service was awful and the food was awful (Jess’ Pad Thai tasted like farm yard and Jenny’s tuna sandwich was messy, school- dinner slop). Don’t go to EXCILE!! Our cycle back was enjoyable and quite scary. It was dark and the pavements are so bumpy so we had to take it slowly. There was something about the end of that night that felt really magical. Maybe it’s to do with the fact I was tired and hungover and everything felt dream-like, but it was really nice.
On our last day today, we did a snorkelling tour and it’s the best snorkelling we have done it Asia so far (and the cheapest). The cheap price was explained when we got on the small boat and we realised we’d be sharing it with a gazillion other people. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the waves were choppy.
We were meant to snorkel over a ship wreck at our first stop, but the captain moved on because it was too busy, which I was a bit gutted about. We saw a bit of through the glass bottom of the boat, but not much. But we moved onto somewhere else and saw so many different types of brightly coloured fish. The water was a bit deeper, so we didn’t have the fear of cutting ourselves on coral and there were no sea urchins.
I FINALLY SAW TURTLES! SOOO HAPPY! The second stop was a small journey away and the water was much deeper. The first turtle we saw was swimming under the glass bottom boat, but the second one was huge and was actually surfaced with it’s head popping out of the water! I didn’t get any photos unfortunately. When we jumped in the water and swam along, we saw so many more, resting on the sea bed.
Our last stop was good too. We swam through lots of busy schools of holographic-looking fish and fed them some food. We even saw a black and white stripy sea snake which was really cool. I thought I’d be scared if I ever saw one, but it actually intrigued me and I swam closer to it. The tour ended with lunch on Gili Air, where we had some disgusting cocktails which we couldn’t finish but some good Indonesian food to make up for it.
We’re back off to Bali tomorrow for our final few days before heading to Oz. I’m dreading having Jess leave, but we’re going to make the most of our last couple of days together. Overall, I guess we’ve learnt a few things from Gili T:
1) Don’t drink the local spirits.
2) Double and triple check your accommodation has air con
3) Go out for a meal at least an hour before you want to eat.