Today, we leave Seminyak and Bali for Gili Trawangan, part of the famed Gili archipelago off Lombok, south-east of Bali. Gili Trawangan – or Gili T as it is known in the region – is a two hour boat ride and the largest of the Gili Islands. It has a population of around 900 or so and tourists, depending on the time of year can swell that to anything like 1,500-2,000 people. The island has no cars (travel is by pony and cart – the famed ‘Cidomo’) an unreliable power supply and had its first ATM hooked up in 2008. Apart from the white sands and azure waters, people travel to Gili T from around the world for the Scuba diving, snorkelling and relative tranquility of the island. That being said, if you want a drink and a late night, Gili T can accommodate, and with gusto, as visitors to ‘The Beach House’ will testify to.
The boat ride from Bali to Gili T is largely and thankfully, uneventful. Such is the industriousness and foresight of our boat operator, that a tray of anti-seasickness tablets are there for the taking at check-in. Erring on the side of caution, Miss Emma and I down the tablets and get set for departure.
The boat is one big, loud powerful mo-fo. Three 250hp Johnson outboards roar their way into action and our Captain sets out for the Gili Islands and Lombok. Our boat is full – almost exclusively of fellow Australians and everyone is seemingly put off to sleep by the hum of the engines and the relative calm of the seas as we leave the harbor.
We arrive at Gili T in bright, warm sunshine. The locals excitedly docking the boat and welcoming the touring party with enthusiasm. We get our bags and our transfer is waiting for us. The Cidomo driver loads our gear and we set out for our hotel. While apart from bicycles the Cidomo is the primary mode of transport on Gili T, comfortable it aint. I only just manage to haul my carcass aboard and loaded with pity for the poor pony expected to cart us the kilometre or so from the (ahem) ‘port’ to our lodgings.
While these ponies aren’t exactly thoroughbreds, its fair to say that they would give the handicapper a good go over the 16 furlongs. They’re pretty tough hombres; ours isn’t even puffing when we reach our hotel; Ko-Ko-Mo (KKM) (and yes, like I have had to in the days leading up to this trip, I hope you now have that saccharine, beige cack that is one of the Beach Boys most soul-destroying moments firmly going through your mind at present.) a set of luxury Villas.
We are given the keys to Villa Hijau; a one bedroom oasis. There is an outdoor spa facing you as you walk in the door, with two day beds facing the spa. To the left, the outdoor living area with white marble tiled floor, an outdoor fridge and various elements to keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay. Entering through double sliding glass doors is the bedroom. A welcoming king-size bed with legions of pillows and a single bed sheet faces you as you enter.
To the right, the bathroom, shower and toilet. The shower is awesome; one of the doorless cubicle type of showers with room for two people on a romantic getaway to use together at the same time, if for nothing else to conserve water, given that rain on Gili T is as rare as rocking horse shit. Every drop on the island, we’re told is imported from Lombok. We decide showering together is probably a great way to ‘save water’. We unpack and end up napping for a few hours.
Dinner that night is at the KKM restaurant. Set upon a manicured beach, all of the tables rest on the sand, with flags fluttering on the evening breeze. The KKM menu is small but adheres to less is more thinking. Beef, chicken and of course, seafood dishes are the mainstay of the menu. The only truly Indonesian cuisine on the menu is the Nasi Goreng. Dinner that night is superb. Miss Emma dines upon Salmon and I enjoy a Tuna Steak. Open up a tin of Greenseas tuna at home and I can take it or leave it. More often than not, leaving it. For some reason, this tuna steak has me reappraising my entire position on the Tuna (why do American’s always specify ‘tuna fish’? Is there another form of tuna by which not specifying tuna FISH will leave a kitchen stumped? Has anyone had cause to simply order a tuna sandwich, only to have the waiting staff send it back, the customer apologising profusely “I’m sorry, I should have specified the Tuna BEAR, not the Tuna fish? Discuss…). The meals here at KKM are brilliant and the coffee is the nectar of the caffeine Gods.
Coming soon, Part 3 and 4…