48 hours in: Gili Trawangan
Also commonly known as a backpacker haven, or a divers delight, we visited Gili Trawangan for 2 nights during our time in Indonesia during April/May. With crystal clear waters surrounding the islands (the Gili's are made up of 3 islands, Gili Trawangan - the biggest island, Gili Air & Gili Meno, with Gili T being the biggest & most populated island), and only a 2 hour fast boat ride away from Bali it was an easy short trip to see a different part of Indonesia, a relatively pristine and untouched area of the world (& with the mode of transport consisting only of foot, bike & donkey rides, how could it not be pristine?)
Stepping off the boat and straight onto the sand at Gili T really makes you feel like you've stepped into a place where time isn't important, that it's a concept that should be left behind on the boat you just arrived on. The laidback culture on the island is truly a breath of fresh air (even more laidback than in Bali, so if a simple & slowing down of pace is what you're after, look no further). We hopped onto a donkey "taxi" and set off on our merry way to our accommodation - we had actually organised someone from the hotel to come meet us but a mix up of boat timings meant us getting to the hotel ourselves. Upon arriving at our accommodation we were greeted with immense, friendly smiles by the staff & shown our rooms. Villa Nero was another escape; it was completely different to the surrounding environment - modern, clean & simple. That afternoon was a super chilled out one as we set out to explore a little bit of the island, enjoying some time in the water, organising a snorkelling trip for the next day, and then finishing our day with a delicious meal at Scallywags - fresh seafood of your choice grilled to perfection.
Our second day at Gili T started off with a quick dip at the hotel pool & then a wander down to the pier for the start of our snorkelling day trip. When organising one, always remember to negotiate the prices between the vendors as they're all selling the same thing so competition is rife! It was a full day with 3 stops to see different things at each stop & spotting sea turtles if you're lucky (we weren't so lucky on this particular day). We stopped at Gili Air for a peaceful beachside lunch while soaking in the sunshine as much as possible!
Upon arriving back at Gili T, we wandered down to Ombak Villa Sunset hotel. I had seen photos of these swings half immersed in the water & I could not wait to get down there to swing around & take my own photos. There are 2 swings here; a double swing & a single swing. I was immediately drawn to the single swing and joined the queue so Matt & I could take turns on this. We arrived at a good & bad time - good because there weren't many people there yet as it was quite a while before sunset, but bad because the light was quite harsh. Tip: Matt ventured to the swings early in the morning & lighting was perfect at this time - if you're a morning person I definitely recommend this option! After getting all the shots we wanted to, we then chilled on the beanbags on the beach & ordered cocktails while we waited for sunset. Clear, uninterrupted views made for a beautiful sunset - when is the sunset never beautiful though?
That night we decided to try something different & eat at the night markets as I had read it was something to try out when in Gili T. I loved it - dirty, raw (not the food haha) and local. It's by no means a glamourous experience - cutlery was optional at the stall I ordered my ikan goreng (fried fish) & rice and had to politely ask them for it. Don't get me wrong, I love an amazing fine dining experience, but we'll always try to experience the local cuisine in any way it presents itself to us!
And that concluded our time in Gili T, a simple, idyllic island to get away from it all and say goodbye to schedules :)