After a relatively relaxed few nights in Ubud, we were certainly looking forward to letting our hair down a little more on Gili T but perhaps a 2am 7000ft mountain hike, 3-hour car journey and 2-hour boat ride wasn’t the best way to start a night out, or maybe it was…
We arrived on Gili Trawangan in the late afternoon and dragged our suitcases through the sand-covered streets until we reached our accommodation, the Gili Amor Boutique Resort. We were tucked away down one of the side-streets – the perfect location for getting away from the noise of the bar-lined beach front, but just a couple of minutes walk away from the action.
I’d been unsure of what to expect from Gili T, with friends saying that I might find the whole of Bali and the islands a little too ‘commercialised’ especially after some of the other places I have visited on my travels. Gili T however, was probably more of a pleasant surprise, whilst Ubud had been the real disappointment with its car-lined streets and constant beeping.
Yes the island was ‘built-up’ but if you go with the expectation that the island is catered to tourists and just make the most of that fact, then it isn’t so bad. Plus, we’d purposefully chosen to visit Gili Air afterwards, which we predicted would be a welcome respite after three days of partying.
So, after dumping our bags, and receiving a warm welcome from the hotel staff, we caught the last rays of the day from the sun loungers by the pool before changing into our party wear and heading out to explore the infamous nightlife.
Post Canggu and Ubud, we were beginning to realise that we might need to cut down on our flash-packing ways if we were going to stick to the budget we had planned for our two-week trip. So, instead of opting for one of the restaurants en route to the seafront, we instead chose to peruse the food market stalls; each offering a similar display of fresh fish, salads and various Balinese dishes such as Nasi Goreng (stir fried rice and fresh fish) – which is exactly what we opted for. Delicious and super cheap, we wandered out of the markets feeling fully satisfied, the taste of the Bintang beer still on our tongues, making us crave another. Just as we were heading towards the bars, we bumped into our friends from Canggu, including the handsome (but very shy) Dutch guy I’d met at the beach party. Needless to say, we left the markets grinning, knowing we’d undoubtedly bump into them later that evening when perhaps a few more Bintangs might loosen our tongues a little more to continue the flirting.
We wandered along the beach front, glad to leave the traffic of Ubud behind to be replaced by the odd cyclist or horse and carriage passing by as we strolled. There was a much more laid-back vibe to Gili T, I think there’s just something about being on an island (whether a tourist-strewn one or not) that gives the feeling of being completely removed from life at home, which is exactly the feeling I was searching for on this trip.
We stopped outside one of the larger bars and grabbed a bean bag on the beachfront before ordering what had now become our holiday drink, a Cosmopolitan (or two). The atmosphere was a little sedated though so post-drinks, we headed back up the beach to discover a livelier bar (Jiggy’s) where the party was already beginning to get started. We were still a little sleepy after our long travel day but that was soon sorted with a couple of tequila shots and some gin & tonics. By the time we were starting to feel ready for a dance, the Dutch guys had arrived and it wasn’t long before we bridged the gap between glances across the sandy dance floor and being reacquainted to our former friendliness.
We danced until the music stopped, which was in fact earlier than we’d expected (although I couldn’t tell you what time) due to the fact the Muslim observance of Ramadan was taking place during our time on the Gili Islands. But by now, our sleep deprived 24 hours was catching up on us anyway, so much so that a ‘romantic’ horse and carriage ride seemed like the only option for the journey to bed.
Sunset on Gili T
The next day we hired out some bikes and cycled around half of the island (an easy enough task despite the fact that Trawangan is the largest of the Gili Islands at just 15km2), regularly stopping for some much-needed refreshments and the occasional jump in a pool to cool off. By the time the late afternoon arrived, we perched ourselves on some beanbags at the Paradise Sunset Bar, took the obligatory swing-in-the-sea photos and then watched at the crowds began to descend to watch the sunset.
Sadly, the sky was a little cloudy that night so it wasn’t the most impressive sunset, but the setting was stunning all the same.
Sticking to our budget-friendly dinners, that evening we once again headed to the food markets, this time to sample the fish skewers and salads on offer. I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry though and as I bit into some dubious-tasting calamari, I had a feeling that I might regret my choice later that evening. Sure enough, after a rather tame night out, I awoke around 4am and the food poisoning began. The next day was spent between sickness and sleep, but thankfully I emerged from my bed around 5pm to join Sophie for a rather mellow evening on the beach.
Needless to say, I was rather glad to be leaving for our next adventure the following day, the nightlife hadn’t quite lived up to its reputation (more than likely due to the religious holiday) so we were ready to move onwards to discover another of Lombok’s islands, Gili Air.