Friday, June 6, 2014

The Gili Islands of Lombok, Indonesia

This post is part of the #limbonisASIA tripSee here for detailed expenses and more info

The Gili Islands of Lombok, Indonesia (Indonesie): Trawangan, Meno, Air

Gili islands from Google Maps

It is my 17th day in Lombok, and today, i'm finally on a boat to Bali. I was just so hooked with Lombok, such that, If not for the expiration of my 30 day visa, I would have spent even more time in Lombok.

Apart from Gunung Rinjani, and the beaches proximal to Kuta,I've spent 9 nights between the 3 Gili Islands; 4 nights in Trawangan, 4 nights in Meno, and 1 night in Air. 

I was told ahead by some backpackers I met before that If i'm on budget, i'd rather be doing Gili Meno rather than Trawangan; Trawangan is said to be the party island, and to be the most expensive of three.

Me (and my newfound travel buddies) did not have any booked accomodation, and luckily, we were offered (right in the harbour) a 130,000IDR room per night in Pondok Hadi Homestay. We were also allowed to cook, which saved me a lot of money.

Accomodation in the island range from 80,000IDR up. There was also one backpacker dorm (aircon) en route to our accomodation from the harbour, but I did not really get any chance to ask how much (i'm guessing it's around 60K though).

Indeed, Trawangan is like a freedom island; While there is a police station at the back of the island, and the police roam at night for those smoking joints, or doing drugs in the beach, drugs is offered even more easily than a cigarette or food; You can just walk outside your homestay (or even the staff of your guesthouse), and get unlimited offer for any kind of drug you can think of. There was also the popular mushroom (which was sold at 100IDR per scoop, and less if you're getting more).

For food and drinks, you may get a 15,000IDR meal (nasi goreng, nasi campur, gado gado, etc) from the local warungs (restaurants) found within (not beachfront) the island; Those restaurants on the beachfront would offer the same from 22,000IDR up. Beer would be 30,000 (small; 330ml) or 35,000 (big; 660ml) from the mart; Add 5,000IDR up if you're getting it from the bars. There were also some local brands of bottles of rum, vodka, etc but prices are quite expensive too; A bottle would be around 200,000IDR (~$20). Then again, it's still cheaper than getting it in shots from the bars.

Cocktails would normally be around 25,000 per serving (and earlier at night, during happy hours, they are offered on buy one take one). Cigarettes would be around 2,000 up (in the mini marts)  more compared to bangsal.  

Bangsal Port in  LombokIndonesia

Boat in Bangsal en route to Gili in  LombokIndonesia

While bars and restaurants will normally have a sign saying "no outside food or drinks allowed", they don't really notice, especially when there's already a huge crown in the establishment. We went to one "dark moon" party at the Surf bar; There were some local today-in-next-day-out sheds that sold cigarettes, drinks, and chips right in front of the bar during the event, and most people bought their beer from here, and drank it at the venue. (I thought they made comparably more money that the organizer of the event).

Fire dancing in Gili Trawangan in in  LombokIndonesia

dark moon party at Gili Trawangan in in  LombokIndonesia

Dark Moon party in Gili Trawangan in in  LombokIndonesia

fireworks in the dark moon party in Gili Trawangan in in  LombokIndonesia

From the harbour is where most establishments are setup; Towards left, facing the island, are the more lucrative hotels and resorts, to several vacant and unattended lots; This is also where the sun sets; The beach on this side has rocky (sharp pebbles) bed though so not so great for swimming. You can see all these rocks when it goes low tide during sunset.

 Towards the right are the better swimming area, finer sand, and snorkelling area.

port in Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

beach road in Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

beach road in Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

beach road in Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

beach front of some resort in Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

beach front of some resort in Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

beach front of some resort in Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

shoreline in Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

beach front of some resort in Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

beach front of some resort in Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

love park in Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

beach front of some resort in Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

We walked around the island and it took us less than half an hour to go round. There are some roads inland in case you'd want to get to another side, but there's a good chance you'll get lost. 

inland Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

Of the three islands (Trawangan, Meno, and Air), Trawangan would have the best rate to the dollar at 11,400IDR per dollar; It goes as low as 10,200 in Gili Air.

exchange rate in Gili Trawangan in  LombokIndonesia

(Please see recent article on how to do it cheap in Gili Trawangan).

After 4 nights in Trawangan, we decided to leave and part; Meantime, I decided to go and see Gili Meno (even just for a night or two) before leaving for Bali.

Meantime, I ended up volunteering for a soon-to-be hostel, and consequently, stayed in Gili Meno for 4nights and 5days with free accomodation and breakfast. 

Hostel under construction in Gili Meno,  LombokIndonesia

There is one backpacker dorm in Gili Meno at 50,000IDR per night, called Gili Meno Bird Park Resort, but they may not take guests at times (see recent post titled My First Volunteering Experience for narrative). If this hostel don't work, you may get a room for around 100K up.

The waters and sand at Gili Meno tend to be the same as that of Trawangan. 

Between the three islands though, it was only in Gili Meno where I saw a long continuous stretch of planktons (something I was looking forward on my trip back in Maldives). I did not see any in Trawangan, and saw a few in Gili Air, but at that part of the beach in front of Rama House (corner of Gili Meno and next to the hostel where I volunteered), there was about a 100m line up of planktons with around 2cm average interval each (Yeah, I have an SLR camera, and broke my tripod, just trying to capture their glitter whenever a wave comes and flush them).

port in Gili Meno, LombokIndonesia

Gili Meno, LombokIndonesia

Gili Meno, LombokIndonesia

Gili Meno, LombokIndonesia

grilled corn hub in Gili Meno, LombokIndonesia

passenger horse carts in the port of Gili Meno, LombokIndonesia

Gili Meno, LombokIndonesia

Meantime, Gili Meno is quite laidback. There are some beachfront cottages and bars that offer drinks, but would probably close between 9 and 10pm due to lack of customers. Beer is the same price, and again, depending on where you drink. 

Food is offered at the same price too, though inside the island, there is a warung where we get our Nasi Campur for just 12,000IDR. Other goods from the minimarts would have the same price as that in Trawangan. 

Nasi Campur in the warung in Gili Meno, LombokIndonesia

Gili Meno is great for relaxation, and for a nught or two, but just like me, you might bore yourself with the seclusion if you'd stay longer.

Mixing between what is in Trawangan, and what is not in Meno, you come up with Gili Air. 

Gili air gives you the flexibility of both party and silence. From the harbour and nearby are the restaurants, and shops, and to the sides of the island, and to the back, is the quiet and more relaxing space. Unlike Gili Meno though, there is one CIMB atm in the island.

map of Gili Air, LombokIndonesia

port in map of Gili Air, LombokIndonesia

my 70,000/night accomodation in map of Gili Air, LombokIndonesia

Food, such as nasi goreng, campur, etc, from the local warungs would be around 15,000up. For goods, there is one mini mart in front of my accomodation (called Bupanis Homestay, next to Gili Guesthouse) that offered prices almost the same as that in Bangsal. Beer would have the same price as the 2 other islands too.

In Gili Meno, our water is shipped by boat directly from a river in Lombok, and onto our tank in the hostel. There are some underground wells used, but tend to be salty; Saltiest in Trawangan, salty in Meno, and almost negligible in Air).

To get to these islands, visitor may take the public ferry from Bangsal Harbour for 10K IDR to Air, 12K to Meno, and (I think 20K to Trawangan). For shifting from one island to another, it would cost 25K for the boat; From trawangan to Meno, there's a trip at 8:30, and another at 4:00pm; From Meno to Air, is 9:50 and another in the afternoon (I think 5pm). Trips may not leave exactly as indicated,as sometimes, they wait until a good number of passengers is waiting to be board (others charter, or share a chartered price).

There are also trips (both fast and slow boat) coming to and from Bali. Rate provided to me for Gili to Air was 225K up (including shuttle transfers) for the fast boat.

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