As we mentioned before, there are no motorized vehicles on the Gili Islands, the only means of transportation are your own two feet, bicycles and cidomo (the horse-drawn carts). We tried out the cidomos yesterday on Gili Meno, but the horses didn’t seem to enjoy their position, so today we decided to rent a couple of old bikes (24h for 80.000 rupiah / 6 euros) and make a sight-seeing tour around the island.
Just like on Bali, having wheels changes everything. You don’t get bugged by trouts trying to sell you jewelery, flip-flops, boat trips back to Bali or snorkeling gear, you can go ”home” from the beach to get something you forgot and you can cruise along the main road like a local. The old bikes we hired are even cruiser models with big seats, bent frames and wide tyres. They have seen better days, but not being brand new just gives them authentic street cred. Although we normally never have to walk further than a few hundred meters here on the island, it’s just lovely to rest your feet on the pedals instead of the dirty street.
So we decided to explore the rest of the island with our cruisers. As mentioned earlier, the main road runs along the beach all the way around the island, but there are only a few spots where there actually are some action. The island’s east coast is where 95% of all the restaurants, bars, shops and accommodation are situated. Going south from there, passing Vila Ombak, the luxury hotel with free Wi-Fi (as long as you buy a beer or two), there is nothing but sand, cactuses and the beach. Along the whole western coast, we passed only a handful of hotels, of which some had gone bankrupt, a stable with ”adventure horse riding”, more cidomos and some other explorers curious about the other side of Gili T.
This day was an especially hot day, and biking in loose sand is not your average stroll in the park, so the sweat soon started running down our chests and foreheads; a stop for a drink was inevitable. In the middle of nowhere, a luxurious hotel resort popped up at the side of the road. On the sea side of the road, the hotel had its own little strip of the beach with some tables, chairs, cushions and bamboo huts for eating and relaxing. This was the perfect oasis for rehydration with shade, a warm wind coming in from Bali and the sea in three-four shades of turquoise. Too bad we didn’t have a camera anymore, the view would have been the perfect paradise postcard.
We have experienced the hard way how easily you get sun burned down here. Fredrik burnt his shoulders badly on our way to Sanur last week and Outi burnt her back and bum cheeks while we we’re out snorkeling yesterday, although she had applied a lot of factor 50 sun lotion. The problem with sun lotion here is that the body doesn’t have time to absorb it before you sweat it all off. The only way to do it is to apply the sun lotion right away when you get up in the morning, while the bungalow room is still cool thanks to the air conditioner, and let it get sucked up for about half an hour before stepping out the door. And even though the mornings can be cloudy, it doesn’t mean that the sky won’t be blue in the afternoon, followed by a thunderstorm and pouring rain in the evening, which is followed by a starlit sky in the night. The weather changes extremely quickly here.
We also booked us in for our first post-graduate dive for tomorrow. The dive school arranges ”fun dives” where a group of certified divers go to a predefined location with a dive master as guide. It will be the first time we don’t have to do any skills under water and can just enjoy the dive. On the other hand, we don’t have anyone especially looking after us, so we have to know what we’re doing.
For the dive, we’ll also hire a camera with waterproof casing for some wicked scuba pictures! We’ll have the camera for two days, so we’ll get some pictures from the Gilis and New Year’s Eve after all. The only cameras we can buy here on Gili T is disposable underwater cameras with 35mm film, so we’re thinking about getting one of those to get even a few pics from the trip back to Bali. Maybe we’ll buy a new pocket camera somewhere later.
One thing we’ve noticed here on Gili T is the amount of young men in their 20’s. They’re everywhere doing everything. Our hotel manager Herman is 21 and his deputy about the same age. The Internet cafes are all run by 15-20 year olds and all bartenders and waiters are about 20. Jon and Christy told us a story about how this island is a bit of a gigolo paradise for these guys. It’s like Thailand for women, where Indonesian men hook up with Caucasian girls, especially on Monday nights. Herman told me that he had found two Canadian girls (five years older than him) for NYE and was a bit confused how to handle them both…
Every night is party night on this island, which make you forget what weekday it is rather quickly. It just doesn’t matter. Each night, there’s at least one or two bars that advertise some special party going on ”from sundown to late”. There’s music in every corner, mixed with noise from carpenters building new hotels and bars. Even now at the time of writing here on our ”sunset balcony”, the sound from Herman and his friends drumming and singing I’m Yours by Json Mraz down the street is broken by the sound of doves flying around in the sky and the neighbor’s rooster marking his territory. A typical Trawangian night is about to begin yet again.