The Gilli Isles
Feb 16, 2014
For the last 6 days e have been staying on the Gilli Islands which are between Bali and Lombok. They are like 3 jewels strung out in a blue ocean. Gilli Air has the largest indigenous population and has a family/laid back vibe to it that makes anyone feel comfortable. We spent three lovely days there when we cycled round the island( quite challenging as there is a lot of sand) and got faintly lost in the centre that is bigger than you think. We snorkelled and saw a multitude of fish though the coral here is pretty but not spectacular.
After 3 days we transferred to Gill Trabangan which has the reputation of a party island but we found a nice hotel (Vamara) just out of the noisy bit. It's also off season so everywhere is pretty quiet anyway. We do go around spotting older people though and get excited when we are not the only ones here!
Our hotel is on Turtle beach so off Dave went into the ocean (we are mean so only hire one snorkel) he came back very excited almost immediately - I've see 2! Quick go in there and sure enough I saw them too, magical they glide along so effortlessly almost as though flying through the underwater tropical garden.
We went to Gilli Meno today which is so laid back it nearly falls over! Swam along together with another turtle -what a treat for valentines day! Although it is wet season so far we have been blessed with lots of dry weather. It has been cloudy sometimes and the locals were exclaiming about the murky weather - we have since found out this is partly due to ash from a volcano eruption in Java. The boat trip back was exciting as the waves were pretty big and the flat bottomed boat didn't feel particularly stable it then turned into quite a storm which drenched the whole island for the full moon party. We didn't actually go, but we did have a nice Italian meal preceded by cocktails on the beach. I have to say it was possibly the most romantic Valentines day we have spent! Tomorrow off to meet the dragons!
Funny how things turn out. We hadn't booked our return flight back from Flores as we had difficulty getting it to accept our credit card. We turned up on the tatty key at Bangsal on Lombok and hassled with porters who had grabbed our bags from the boat then demanded payment. Saw our cruise boat for the next few days, not impressive, and then met at the local cafe. After a great deal of deliberating they came round to us all saying they had too many people and had expected a bigger boat! They offered us an alternative as follows. A car to the bus station, air con bus to first ferry, back on the bus for about 10 hours to meet our transfer that takes us to our final ferry 7 hours into llabuanbjo Flores and then do the trip back to Lombok in reverse. Guess what we said yes! Well it seemed like fate to me. I wasn't happy about that many people on a small boat and it seemed to make the decision about what we do next.
So, as I write this, we are sitting on the ferry on the last bit,feeling very sticky and vaguely spaced out. The good thing was that we saw some of the islands by road which were wonderfully lush and scenic. It's much wilder here with steep mountains covered in jungle and the valleys planted with lush rice paddies. There were traditional stilt houses on Sumbawa and it is much more sparsely populated than Bali or Lombok. I found it surreal to travel along on the bus and go miles with only the light from the moon and the very occasional light bulb flickering in someone's house. We also have a chance to get to know our travelling companions, Tucker - US Tamara and Miriam -Switzerland and Paul and Amarna Rumania what an international lot.
The bad bits were that we were cold with the air con and the driver played awful music at high volume. We were eventually ditched at a tatty dirty bus station at Bima at 3.30 am to then wait until 6 for our next bus to leave. As you can imagine this didn't go down that well.
Tonight we have the chioce of staying on the boat or a hotel. I bet you can guess which one I'll choose.