We like to discover a new place so once a month we try to go somewhere we have never been. For this month, we decided to visit our friend, Flora, who just relocated to Senggigi, Lombok since this summer. This time, two other friends joined our trip, Nancy and Eni, for a weekend getaway.
We left Sanur on Friday afternoon and drove straight to Padangbai, the harbor that propose direct ferries to Lembar Harbor in Lombok. We embarked on a ferry to Lembar with our motorbikes around 17:00 PM. It took us about 4 hours to reach Lembar, and it was already night when we disembarked. Another hour driving and we finally reached our destination. We couldn’t see how Senggigi looked like when we arrive, because obviously, you can’t really see at night.
During the evening discussions, and between two bites at some delicious local spaghetti al dente, we decided to go to Gili Trawangan for the weekend, since according to local knowledge, “there is nothing to do in Senggigi, the place is dead.”
A few games of chess were played, a few slice of cheese were bitten, and then everybody went to bed to gather some strength for the weekend to come.
Early Saturday morning, the troops woke up with the sun, enjoyed a 4-star breakfast composed of toasted bread with eggs and cheese and some delicious pink coloured juice (totally natural and organic).
Around 9:00 AM, all the necessary equipment and refreshments were packed, and the troop was on the road again, direction to the Gili Trawangan!!
There is a 30 minutes drive between Senggigi and Bangsal, the harbor, up North, where you can take a public boat which brings you to the Gili Trawangan (boat ticket 20,000 IDR / pax for 30 minutes).
Everything went fine, and we reached the Gilis a bit before noon. As a welcoming gift, while we were disembarking, an old lady released a certain amount of gas straight to the face of Flora hahaha :D, probably to make her feel the local vibe and spirit. She did not faint, but she turned green for a few seconds.
With happy mood despite Flora accident, we well arrived on the famous Gili Trawangan, partying hub next to Bali. In my mind, when I was thinking about Gili T, I was picturing wild and empty beaches, with few accommodations in the middle of the jungle. It was actually nothing like that. The place is a succession of café/restaurants/hotels along the white sand beach. The population is mainly composed of foreigners, and it is really packed even if the high season is over since a few months already.
As we arrived, our first objective was to find a place to stay, as beautiful and cheap cheap as possible. As there is no motorcycle on the island, the only ways to move around are bicycle and horses. In order to burn some calories, we decided to walk our way through the crowd and started looking for accommodations. The prices range from 15 to 80 USD per night, in regard to your expectations.
After half an hour or research and without finding an accommodation that would please everyone (understand the girls), the group decided to take a small break at a beach café. I went for a swim to explore the maritime locale inhabitants while the girls enjoyed some drinks. Then, Flora and Hera decided to continue their search of the perfect accommodations while the others continued enjoying the beachside café.
Around 14:00 PM, Hera and Flora finally came back from their walk, a few calories burnt and with a place to stay to propose. It is called Gili Smile Bungalow. The place was nice, relatively affordable, and in a good location (Gili main street). They offer free breakfast at the beach.
Around 17:00 PM, after a lazy afternoon consisting of naps, tanning sessions, and swimming, the troops reassembled and decided to rent bicycles to discover further Gili T’s beauties. Gili Trawangan is a tiny island, and you can bicycle your way around in about 30 minutes. You can also cross the island by the inside lands in 10 minutes. The other side of the island (west side) is way quieter and less crowded. Probably still developing, there are also less commercial activities. In other words, it is a perfect sunset spot!
We enjoyed a lovely sunset on the beach and around 19:00 PM we decided to have dinner at the night market.
Note: there are no lights whatsoever on the road so either you should bicycle during the day, either you should think about bringing some lighting equipment with you.
Dinner at the night market was nice. However, it takes some time to get your order, but you will find a large choice of delicious meals: any kind of fish, chicken, beef, vegetables. There is food for any taste. Account for around 50,000 IDR for your dinner.
Our belly full, we enjoyed another night ride back to our place. We met three friendly travelers, French, Italian and Dutch and shared some drinks and talked before going party. We walked through the main road passing by different bars and cafes. The nightlife on Gili Trawangan is really pleasant, you can find a few places video projecting movies on the beach, other bars propose live music. We played a beer pong in one bar. It was a fun night after a fun day.
The troops woke up early again on Sunday morning, to thoroughly enjoy our last day on the island. The breakfast was served in front of the sea: coffee, tea, pancakes, fruit platters.
Full of energy and ready for action, we decided to try the second transportation facility of the island: Cidomo, a horse cart taxi. Since we arrived on Gili, we saw so many people being carried on small cabins pulled by horses and we were excited to try it ourselves. However, we couldn’t cross this item off our bucket list, because the “regulation” forbids more than three people to embark the cabin, so we just ignored it and decided to bicycle again!
Hera and I went to a photoshoot in a secret spot, on the other side of the island, call “The Swing”. The place is mainly two wooden pillars holding a swing in the middle of the sea, and it looks very cool on the pictures! As we were on the other side of the island, we also had an eye at the famous homestay called Le Pirate. Small wooden houses are displayed in a large garden with two pools, and it looked quiet and peaceful but also slightly pricey.
Finally, we went back to our accommodation to pack our bags and take the powder of escampette. Around 12:00 PM, we were back on the same boat that brought us here, going the other way this time. Flora was very suspicious about who she was sitting next to, the smoking memory being still fresh in her mind. Finally, we disembarked on Bangsal safely and rushed to the only bakso (meatballs) of the harbor. The meal was quick, small but greatly enjoyed after all the emotions.
The journey back to our home in Denpasar took us 7 hours between motorbike driving and ferry. We arrived at our place late night on Sunday after a superb weekend.
The Gili islands are an excellent option if you want to escape for the weekend. Only a few hours from Bali, easy to access (ferry, fast boat or 30 minutes by plane), and affordable they offer a good escapade to enjoy some fresh air and relax. One of the coolest things is that there are no motorized vehicles and using a bicycle to go around feels so good. The other side of the island, far less crowded and wilder was my favorite. You can almost have a piece of beach just for yourself! The water is very clear and clean, however, due to the waves the snorkeling was not extraordinary.