I rarely return to the same place, always seeking new experiences, so much so, that I seldom order something on a menu if I’ve tried it before. It may come as surprise then to find myself back on the Gili Islands, which is off the North East coast of Bali in Indonesia.
I got “stuck” on the Gili Islands for a while travelling through South East Asia in 2014 and let me tell you, it’s not a bad place to hang around. The islands have no motorised vehicles, good weather year round and a great selection of eateries, many serving fresh fish on the sand – my favourite!
During my time on the island I made plenty of friends who give me the perfect excuse to return. Gili Air is my haven, a place where I return to relax, unwind, enjoy some of life’s luxuries while not having to indulge in the same conversations with others at the local hostel – not that there’s anything wrong with that, it just gets tiring!
I spend my days alone, reading, writing and planning my next adventure before meeting up with local island folk in the evenings. It’s not a bad life. I used to spend my weekends at friends Mowie and Rad’s place Mowie’s Bar, which is where I’ve based myself this time around. My old school friend Lauren came to meet me for ten days of sun, sea, sand and…seafood!
Revisiting the majority of restaurants on the island and trying some newbies, we agreed that Zipp Bar was our favourite beach BBQ with the glaze on my mixed fish kebab winning me over. Le Cirque provide an even better feed with a decent unlimited salad buffet but at a slightly higher price.
I had my fair share of desserts too: Raw Cheesecake from Mowie’s, Banoffee Pie from Waterfront, Brownies from Scallywags and Banoffee Crumble from Le Cirque, not to mention countless ice creams – hey I’m on one life long holiday!
Lauren and I spent our days doing absolutely nothing, just how it should be on paradise island. We did make it over to tiny Gili Meno to visit my friends at Gili Meno Eco Hostel which I helped set up last year.
I was eager to show Lauren my old stomping ground and took her out to my favourite snorkel spot for her first swim with giant sea turtles. It’s safe to say I think she enjoyed it!
I also took her to party island, Gili Trawangan for one night of partying which happened to be Hallowe’en.
It was great fun and as always, Gili T provided a cracking night out but one night was more than enough for me. I just can’t hack it like I used to!
The next morning Lauren and I said our farewells and I headed back to Gili Air for some much needed sleep. I decided to stay put for another few days instead of doing all those “culturally-rich” activities I feel I ought to. Why move when you’re perfectly happy where you are? That’s my motto anyway.
Despite doing nothing this past week, time has flown by. I went to the movies a lot, I enjoyed many fresh young coconuts on my hunt for adequate wifi and as usual, I failed to accomplish any of my “life to do” list.
It’s been nice though and I have had some small ‘adventures’ like loosing my house keys, getting lost amongst island back alleys and the most recent incident involving my most precious possession
It was midnight and I was fast asleep when I realised I had left my iPad on charge at the restaurant we ate at a few hours earlier. I jumped out of bed, threw on a long t-shirt that I could just about get away with as resembling a dress and started walking.
There was no way I would reach the other side of the island before it became deserted, let alone with a huge slice of Banoffee Pie inside me, so I resorted to stealing borrowing a bike from god knows where and setting off in the midnight darkness. Now let me tell you, riding a bike half a sleep over cobbled ground whilst wearing absolutely no underwear and a little “dress” was not at all fun.
I raced over the sand and finally reached Raja Bar (great value cocktails btw!) with no sign of iPad behind the bar. Luckily there were two young brothers still up watching a film. After I had explained what happened one of the brothers got on his phone and within minutes l was reunited with my iPad. Phew.
During my cycle back I had time to reflect on the situation and questioned myself for not being that ‘bothered’ prior to my iPad being returned. I guess it’s because things like this happen A LOT to me and each time I’ve been lucky and to this day I’ve had nothing stolen *touch wood*. It does make me wonder though whether the same outcome would have occurred if I was in England. I dread to think.
As un-culturally rich the Gili Islands may seem, if you look hard enough you’ll get a glimpse of local Indonesian life. I regularly eat at local Warungs like Warung Padang who serve traditional food from Sumatra.
I also make an effort to support local tradesmen like Mohammed, regularly picking up traditional desserts from neighbouring island Lombok for myself and the local staff at Mowie’s who I’ve grown very fond of. I tried plenty of sticky rice, cassava with coconut and palm sugar, Apem (ants nest cake) and Kelpon which is green and white glutinous rice balls filled with palm sugar and topped with coconut. Basically all of the desserts here contain coconut and palm sugar. Can’t complain!
I’ve had a great time at Mowie’s on Gili Air catching up with old friends and taking some time out to relax and spending my days doing absolutely nothing. I knew I still had it in me! 😉
There’s no doubt I’ll be back, hopefully armed with a Go-Pro and ticket to the top of active volcano Mount Rinjani on Lombok, which I plan to conquer one day. Thanks to all my old friends for catching up with me and to all my new ones for going for dessert with me. Until next time Gili islands!
Living life, loving the Gili Islands,