On the way to Gili Trawangan…

We left Bali to go to the small island of Gili Trawangan for four days.

It turned into a full week away, packed with wonderful experiences to savour – very good ones…

Taking the slow ferry overnight to Lembar, Lombok, we decided to stay in a cabin.  We wanted to be fresh in the morning for the motorbike drive through Lombok and up to Bangsal harbour, the entry point for the three Gili’s.

I had the top bunk next to the porthole

I had the top bunk next to the porthole

Clanking up the narrow metal steps on the inside of a rusty old ferry boat we were guided to our tiny room.  It featured bunk beds – that were obviously very recently used!

Staff clothing hung on the hooks, ships paraphernalia adorned the top of a locked cabinet and some personal belongings were quickly whisked away before they gave us a key and we handed over far more money than was warranted for such a place to rest.

But it was 3am and we had already waited over 3 hours for the ferry with queues of people leaving Bali before Nyepi day.  We just wanted to lay down and get a little sleep.  We decided to see it as a very unusual ‘cruise’ – one worthy of blogging about.

I fell asleep, fully clothed, to the sound of a western couple outside complaining bitterly about the conditions and the price – they must have accepted it in the end though as they were in the queue for the bathroom in the morning.

Good morning Lombok

Good morning Lombok

Waking to the sound of the loudspeaker talking in Indonesian I looked outside the porthole.  A glistening blue sea was topped by deep green hillsides.

Soon after driving off the ferry in the bright morning sunshine we stopped to refill and I noticed a horse and cart (the local taxi service called Cidomos) next to the petrol station – an odd combination of old and new.

There are many Cidomos in Lombok (relatively few in Bali).  Below is another one at the traffic lights – the driver looks comfortable enough with his feet up.

Local taxi

Local taxi

Of course in Gili, where we were heading, they only have Cidomos – there are no cars or motorbikes whatsoever on all three islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air – and if you haven’t already guessed, ‘Gili’ means small island).

However you can hire pushbikes to get around each island – and we did, but that is for my next post.  First, let me show you more of our journey through Lombok.

Lombok coast

The Lombok coast – as we zoomed past on the motorbike

The coast road offers many scenic views of sandy bays on the way from the tourist town of Sengiggi right up to Bangsal harbour.

Below you can see a small shack on the left selling refreshments and petrol too! (petrol stations aren’t available in villages)

Typical coastal view

Typical coastal view

Here is our first sighting of Gili Trawangan.

Destination... a small island in the middle of the ocean

Destination… a small island in the middle of the ocean

Time to put the motorbike in storage and get our feet wet as we board the small boat which ferries tourists, locals and assorted produce across from the mainland harbour to the islands.

Ferry boat to Gili T.

Ferry boat to Gili T.

The word harbour is rather misleading as there aren’t any jetties to use for getting on the boats – you just wade, ankle or knee deep, depending on the luck of the tides, and clambour up onto the boat while carrying your rucksack on your back.

The water is very warm though and it feels good to get sand between your toes – it’s a taste of the island to come.

Look out for my next post about the Gili T music scene, the food market, bicyle rides, bonfires on the beach and stunning sunsets and scenery – nearly there…. (the next instalment can be found by clicking here or go straight to Gili Sunsets or here for more from the Gili islands.

Nearly there...

Nearly there…

Leave a comment


  1. Carol Annis-brown

     /  23/03/2013

    Great story about your trip to the Gili islands. I so want to get back to bali!

    • Hey Carol, nice to hear from you.
      Where have you and Paulette been travelling to recently?
      So you miss Bali – well it’s time to book that flight then!
      Hope to see you soon.
      PS You wont believe how much my garden has grown since you were here.

  2. Julie, for a few days holiday would you choose Lombok or Gili Trewangan?

    • Gili T. – or, if you just want relaxation then Gili Air or Gili Meno (as Gili T is more of a party island).

  3. kuatarina Mount

     /  20/03/2013

    I like how the Cidomos were outside the petrol station…filling up?

  1. More from the Gili islands | Julie in Bali
  2. Jump off the boat – shoes full of sand | Julie in Bali

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