Wednesday, 6 February 2008

A week in Lombok

"Whatever you do," says the Lonely Planet's South East Asia on a Shoestring, "get the Perama boat to the Gili Islands to avoid running the gauntlet of menacing touts at Bangsal".

Except that this week, for some reason, all of Perama's boats are over on the other side of Lombok - no service running to the Gili Islands, sorry sir. Bugger! So we had to take the bus to Bangsal and face the fearsome mob of merchants... except there was no mob, no hassle - barely anyone there at all. We did have to wait 90 minutes before there were enough other people heading to Gili Air to fill the boat up, but for Rp 7000, (about EUR 50c), who cares? Not us.

The Gili Islands are three cute little blobs off the North West coast of Lombok. Not a lot goes on there, except for swimming, eating, and getting off your face on hallucinogens. We were offered a magic mushroom pizza within an hour of arriving, but politely declined... we're not hippies, thanks very much ;-)

We chose Gili Air cos it sounded like the nicest of the three. Gili Trawangan, the furthest west, is the most developed/touristy, and sounded to us like a sweaty disco nightmare. Gili Meno's in the middle and is full of mosquitoes. Our island was quiet. Almost too quiet, but it is low season here at the moment. This was the perfect place to start our Indonesian experience - totally relaxed, with plenty of time to learn about the food, the money, how much stuff costs and how bizarrely popular the "dark moon" psychedelic rave parties at Legend Bar are.

Favourite bits: Warung Munchies! The tastiest little spot for eating on Gili Air. Super nice food! Also the place where I discovered how much the price of beer has gone up here (from Rp 2500 to Rp 20000 - probably within a couple of years). Here's Debs noshing on the best tofu and vegetable soup ever:

Other good bits: we did a day trip on a little boat, snorkeling around the three islands. We saw turtles, Debs clung onto the outrigger and was sick 4 times, we fed bread to the cute little fish, we watched Dani (our guide) speargun an octopus to death, and we lamented the dreadful state of the coral, which has been dynamited/bleached to within an inch of its life. Shame.

Bad bits: showering in salty/brackish water for a week. Not nice, but it did provoke the best quote of the week from Debs: "I've got fat hair!"

All in all, a very relaxing week. Next stop, Bali!


1 comment:

kaeru said...

Have fun in Indonesia Ben. I'll be heading there in a month or so (will be my 3rd time there). There are a few smaller, less developed gilis at the south west tip of Lombok. I did some amazing snorkeling at one of them-Gili Nangu. Recommended.