Once we got back to Bali, it was time for a relaxing day trying to surf (I'll spare you the photos of fat yours truly), before we headed by boat to the Gili Islands, about 100 minutes east of Bali. These three drops of sand are just off the shore of Lombok, and have become quite popular within the last few years. We spent a total of three nights, which was just about perfect for our needs. Here are the photos.
Suzanne is ready for the crossing from the Balinese town of Padang Bai.
That's one fast boat.
If you come to the Gili Islands, be prepared for a watery landing, i.e. wear shorts and flip flops (I only had sneakers, which I had to remove, along with my socks). Also, you'll most likely land on Gili Trawangan (seen here), which is the biggest and westernmost island, from which you'll have to transfer to Gili Meno or Gili Air (many of the boats also journey to Air, but few make direct stops on Meno). Make sure you get cash here, because there's only one other ATM between the other 2 islands.
We stayed on Gili Meno, the middle (and most quiet) island, at the Sunset Gecko. The location was amazing, although the facilities were basic (as is normal for Gili Meno, since fresh water and other "luxuries" are at a premium).
Suz on the deck of our room at the Sunset Gecko.
The grounds of the Sunset Gecko, with Gili Trawangan in the distance past the amazingly colored water.
Time for a Bintang! I can't properly express in words how much I miss this Indonesian beer - it might just be the best thing to come out of Dutch colonization.
Gili Meno had a saltwater lake in the middle of it. That's mountainous Lombok in the background, past the palm trees of Gili Meno.
Local cattle, Gili Meno.
Kids playing near the mosque, Gili Meno. Unlike Hindu Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands are almost entirely Muslim... and it was Ramadan.
This is Bolong, who runs a turtle sanctuary on Gili Meno. He spends a good amount of money each week on the turtles, relying mostly on donations and his own modest income. His fellow locals think he's crazy for doing so. In any case, take a look at his website.
Day 2 = time to finally go scuba diving after 2 years of slumming it on land. I hadn't been since I got certified at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
These photos are all from the second of my two dives with Divine Divers on Gili Meno. The first dive was a refresher course at the Gili Meno wall, just offshore, during which point I saw the largest turtle I'll ever see in my life (its shell was well over a yard / meter across). Alas, no camera on that dive. This is the Halik Reef, north of Gili Trawangan.
Our guide, Huw (from Guernsey, Channel Islands, U.K.).
With me were a North American couple (1 Yank, 1 Canuck) who were living in Taiwan.
I was quite pleased to see another turtle, considering I spent US$30 to rent the camera for one dive. This one was puny compared to the previous dive's example, but this one was far more elegant.
That's my fellow diver, Orlando.
"Too much North Americanism for me, I'm outta here."
Yours truly giving the thumbs up during our safety stop.
Fellow diver Caitlin horses around near a gigantic coral formation.
Nothing like a coconut milkshake between dives. The Sunset Gecko makes a great one.
The Sunset Gecko's huts.
Next door to the Sunset Gecko was a boutique hotel, Mahamaya. I wanted to have a really nice dinner while we stayed on the Gili Islands, so I booked us a table.
It was actually this exact table.
Suz hadn't been feeling well (36 hour flu), but this cheered her up.
I'm struggling to remember our server's name (I think it might be Aci, pronounced Ah-chee), but in any case, she was awesome. Mahamaya has outstanding staff.
Gorgeous sunset, looking toward Gili Trawangan.
Mahamaya hotel and restaurant.
The next day, it was off to the easternmost island, Gili Air, because we couldn't get a third night at the Sunset Gecko. We took the cheap boat over in the morning.
There are no cars whatsoever on the Gili Islands. The sole transportation is by cidomo, seen here.
We stayed our final night at Sejuk Cottages - highly recommended. As much as we liked Gili Meno and Sunset Gecko, we decided that if we ever return to the Gili Islands, we're staying here for our entire trip.
Suzanne loved it upstairs in the loft.
Their welcome drink was a frozen latte. Really nice.
Up the way, I had barracuda for dinner. I recommend it - it's a tasty fish.
Gorgeous sky over Gili Air.
Suz, getting ready for a final Gili sunset.
The northwestern part of Gili Air.
As the sun went down, the lights went on around the island.
All things must come to an end - this is the pier in Gili Air, with Lombok in the background, as we waited for our extremely tardy boat back to Bali. Strangely, we didn't board the boat on this pier. Go figure.
Coming up next - Ubud, Bali. Stay tuned.