On our last morning in Ubud we arose early in the morning and drove from the interior of Bali to the Eastern Coast of the island where we boarded a two hour boat ride that would take us to the idyllic island of Gili Trawangan.
Gili Trawangan (nicknamed Gili T) is one of three small islands off the Western Coast of Lombok, the island due East of Bali.
After arriving at the dock in Gili T we slowly disembarked the boat and were greeted with the familiar faces of Agus and Bobby, the staff at our Airbnb. On a previous trip with Andrew we had the good fortune of finding this place that we aptly name “The Pimp Palace.” The place is incredible in all ways—staff, design, luxury, and location. I was so happy to be returning.
Agus greeted me with a salute and a huge smile. I saluted him back and then it was big hugs and and a boisterous “welcome home!” Travis shot me a confused look and said, “wait how do you know this guy.” I proceeded with a matter of fact, “just normal island stuff” and went back to giggling and catching up with Agus on our walk to the house rental.
We walked the short distance to our “home” and Travis and Jen quickly realized that the hype was real. We had the next four nights to enjoy ourselves in this lovely abode.
After introducing the staff to Travis and Jen and getting checked in, we headed out for a walking tour and light bite at Kayu Cafe. My favorite healthy food spot on the island. While there we met a fellow traveler who told us about some swings in the sea on the western part of the island. We made a mental note to check those out at some point.
Later that day we settled on the popular Beach House Restaurant for dinner. The restaurant serves up delicious seafood that you get to pick out fresh. I especially loved it when Travis opted for the lobster. He was celebrating and it was fabulous.
Another honorable story mention from the night blended humor with tragedy. Travis had ordered a glass of Grey Goose on the rocks when Jen was away from the table. Upon arriving back, Jen mistakenly took it as her glass of water but fearing the tap water from the ice poured the contents of the glass into the sand at our table. We laughed, Travis cried. He gave her a look like why, why. Jen shot him back a look like hey I’m not looking to get Bali belly. Married couples and their ability to communicate without words is fun stuff.
After dinner we night capped it with Bintang’s and a little Sheesha at the bar across the way.
Our afternoons on Gili T were put to great use with a good amount of beach time. Our favorite place to grab lunch and relax during the day was Pearl Beach. The establishment offers a delicious menu and a stretch of sea view lounge chairs. Perfect place for taking in all the beauty that Gili T has to offer.
Most evenings we spent on the look out for different sunset spots. After the Ubud hanging garden fiasco we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss another sun dip.
Although we almost had a near miss when the bikes that we were renting weren’t available so we we had to charter a horse ridden carriage to hurry us over to the side of the island with sunset views.
Fortunately we made it in time to order up some sundowners and sit on the sand and watch a perfect close out to the day.
One day Agus told us about a bar, named after his daughter, Amalika that had just opened up on the west side of the island. He told us it was a perfect spot for sunsets and he would provide us with delicious cocktails. This was obviously an easy sale. Now that we were with bikes we cruised over and were delighted to be given the best seat in the house. While delivering on his promise Agus did indeed serve up some tasty beverages.
The all time best sunset of the trip was on our last night. For exercise and sight-seeing we had ridden our bikes around the entire circle of the island. As we were cruising along Peter casually mentioned that maybe the area we were passing would make for a good sunset spot. It was completely vacant away from any island buzz. It did seem pretty perfect. We ended up getting some of my favorite shots from our time on Gili T.
Including the picture on the cover on of my blog.
All the while this curious gentleman was serving up Bintangs. They start em young on the island.
We did make it to Ombak Hotel where the swings over the sea are located. That was great fun and we had a successful photo shoot. Unfortunately Peter had work commitments and was unable to join us on this activity.
A unique factoid abut Gili T is that magic mushrooms are legal and every chance a local gets they will attempt a sale. For example while I was ordering dinner at Pizzeria Regina I requested mushrooms on my pie. I was then asked “you want magic mushroom?” So no joke if I were to have misunderstood his question or not known what he was talking about, I could have gone on a psychedelic trip shortly after dinner. Why is Jaime licking herself like a cat, my friends would have asked themselves. As we walked out we were stopped by the table next to us for a chat and within a minute we were privy that they had ordered up some pizzas with magic mushrooms. The conversation topic went into something about the walls breathing and walks into the mountains to medicine men shelters.
On a separate occasion when I found myself alone ahead of the gang on my bike, I stopped to the side to wait for them. Shortly there after I was approached by a Muslim woman in full headscarf. She asked me where I was from. Who I was on vacation with. If I was married. Do I want magic mushrooms? I burst out laughing and asked her if she ever did them. She replied no, but told me I would love them. I kind of wanted to say if you do it, I’ll do it. Instead I thanked her and kindly declined the offer. Weird and odd exchange. It’s not everyday that a Muslim woman offers to sell you psychedelics while out on a charming beach bike cruise. Or in most cases never.
We enjoyed our last dinner at Ko Ko Mo, the only upscale restaurant on the island. We designated it our night to celebrate Travis’s 40th. To all of our pleasant surprise the restaurant exceeded any expectations we could have had. The location is just far enough off the main strip that makes is a quieter more serene atmosphere. Additionally the service and food were both impeccable. The staff was so attentive and continued to bring delicious dish after delicious dish. When it came to bringing out dessert, they dimmed the lights and the entire staff came over and sang the best Happy Birthday song. Travis even shed a tear. Although it very well could have been the “Bintangs” talking. Sorry Trav!
Shortly after dinner we headed home. We had an early boat ride the next morning. Something you want nothing close to resembling a hangover for. Peter and I went ahead of Travis and Jen on our bikes and called it a night.
The next morning Travis wasn’t feeling so hot. In a turn of events he went out bar hopping with Agus and Bobby till 4am after we all went to bed. Needless to say he was not feeling great and dreading life on a rocky boat crossing the notoriously wicked waters of the Lombok Straight. I gave him a couple prescription anti-nausea pills which thankfully seemed to do the trick. Thanks to our buddies Agus and Bobby for showing Travis a good time on his 40th. Gotta love it.
Gili T was great to us. I could tell Travis especially liked it. He has been to Ibiza in the past. And Gili T is being compared to what Ibiza use to be like in the 80′s before the bohemian vibe turned into bling and celebrity spotting. It’s becoming less backpacker and more hip. It has always been an incredibly fun and memorable place for me. I have seen some pretty significant changes since my first visit three years ago with luxury hotels going up. However the laid back vibe and quaintness have remained the same. If you find yourself in Bali then I would highly recommend making it over to the Gili islands. If not just for the beauty alone.
As always thanks for reading.