Saturday, March 21, 2015

3/1/15 Day 409 Beach Vision and Island Time on Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia

Beautiful Gili Air, it all starts at the port of Bangsal on Lombok where boats do not cross the 1 kilometer until a minimum of 35 people have paid their fare of 15,000 rupiah (1$) and queued at the dock. In reality they wait until they have nearly doubled the safe capacity and then they pack as many vegetables, eggs and ingredients as the boat can hold without taking on water, then the boat chugs across the small stretch across to paradise. The sands are seashell white interspersed with primarily white coral clutter with sparse red or blue chunks. It only takes 90 minutes to circle the entire island on foot, the Bali Sea that reaches around the perimeter is crystal clear. The reef is shallow enough to walk more than 100 meters from the beach in knee deep water, not that walking on coral is recommended as it harms the fragile ecosystem. The snorkeling along these reefs is fantastic, we spotted many colorful fish on our daily snorkels and even saw a turtle happily mowing down his seaweed lunch just meters offshore. Often shortly before or after we would exit the water one of the local dive or glass bottom boats would disrupt our serene beach time dropping off tourists who can't swim in orange vests to thrash about and step on all of the few bits of surviving coral, we deemed the awkward floaters marshmallows. Not far from the sandy perimeter there is a dirt path that circles the entire island for the Cimodos, or horse drawn carts and the few bicycles that call Gili Air home. Motorbikes are non-existent and the vibe of the island benefits immensely as it is quieter and slower paced. The center of the island can be a bit of a confusing maze of dirt paths, seemingly tangling in all directions but many of them lead to our favorite warungs and food carts, others lead to bungalows and homestays nestled into the warmth of the island center and if you walk in any direction long enough you will inevitably find yourself on a beach. We managed to strike a deal at Nina's Cottages for 100,000 rupiah a night (<8$), there is a huge deck upstairs, a frilly mosquito net to really set the place off, and most importantly like most of the rest of Gili Air there is no fresh water luxuries here the running water is salinated so sheds feel a bit foolish after a beach day. Fresh water can be bought bottled, or refilled from 19 liter jugs at almost any restaurant or store for just 3,000-5,000 rupiah a litre. Most of the food is catered towards the package tourists with humongous menus featuring wood fire pizza, Kraft cheese melted burgers and of course fresh grilled fish. The local food is minimal and tucked away on those secret pathways in the middle. We managed to find a few cheap tasty gems, Bambu Homestay's owner almost exclusively produces martabak filled thick with: chicken, cheese, cabbage and carrot folded into a pan fried crispy crepe for only 25,000 (2$). The roofs are all thatched throughout Gilli Air and it appears that there is nothing they cannot make out of bamboo as they are constantly building more bungalows and restaurants. There is no pressure to sell on the Gilis, everyone seems to own bungalows and if you want to stay that is fine they will take your money, but unlike other place in Indonesia they do not really seek out business they will be chilling out on the beach. We got to know the locals and they never seemed to be doing much of anything, except living on island time. We adapted quickly to island time and simply watched the clouds float by while soaking up the sun and gorgeous visions. 

Flying over Lombok from Left to right Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air
Our boat ride from mainland to Lombok to Gili Air
Pack it full

Cimodo, horse drawn cart 

Our home away from home at Nina's
Our porch
Check out that princess palace complete with tiger sheets
This man's martabak is the ultimate
Martabak at its finest 

Mie Ayam, chicken noodle
Fat tire bikes for beach cruising
Most bars advertise their legal produce openly alongside happy hour specials

Curious about all of the signs a bartender was eager to show us their fresh non-alcoholic stock

Beach bars galore

Crystal clear waters

Constantly building bungalows
Catching and killing the fish 
Displaying and selling the fish
Just another breathtaking sunset

Orange marshmallows

Jules ordered a crepe and got to make it herself

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