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Life Away from Madness, Gili Trawangan

I live in a city of sky scrappers, polished roads, lavish restaurants, extravagant man made architectures and amusement parks. Why should I go out when people flock in Singapore as if a dream destination? I have different dreams, I want to go away from this madness. I would love to spend time on a place where no roads, no cars , no industries, time stands still, and man and nature walk hand in hand!
Gili Trawangan is one such lesser known place away from madness.

What is Gili Trawangan?

Gili Islands is a group of three small island near Lombok, Indonesia. Lombok, known as Bali’s little sister is off the east coast of Bali. Mainly inhabited by Muslim people these islands are still not hub of commercialization. Gili Trawangan is the biggest of all three, followed by Gili Meno and Gili Air respectively.

I caught a speed boat from Bali and came to Gili T. Island has a small private harbour. Speed boats would normally put a make shift plank to disembark the passenger. Harbour is filled with tourist as speed boats run during first half of day, when sea is calm. I got my heavy Forclaz backpack and started searching for a cheap stay option. Finding Hotels/Home-stays/dorms is not very difficult if you haven’t already pre-booked. I do not generally pre-book if I have time to explore and find accommodation. That is why I try to reach my destination for the day in early half of day. Speed boat drops on the east coast of island and that is where most of stay options/restaurants/bars are located. West coast is dominated by expensive beach resorts. Home-stays range from 150K IDR to 250K IDR depending on AC availability and Breakfast inclusion. Breakfast served is simple bread butter/jam or pancakes with coffee.

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Water is pretty clean on entire Island

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Beach shacks

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What an awesome setting to view sunset

With a population of less than 1000 people, Gili T. is a small island. Since I wanted to take a leisure walk across the island with numerous photography breaks, I decided to explore the island on foot. and It took me nearly 2 hours to traverse through the outer periphery of island while taking frequent photography break. Option of hiring a bicycle is also available. Alternatively one can take a horse cart to move around the island. There are no motored vehicles on Island. Unbelievable!
Carrying water bottle and some snacks is good decision as it generally quite hot during day time.

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One of many beautiful beaches on the island

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Local boat

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Afraid not if you forgot some beach essentials

Sunset

Gili T showed me the best sunset of my life. I will suggest to view the sunset from west coast (somewhere near Aston Beach Resort). Walk to west coast will take nearly 30 mins from east coast but worth a walk. Almost on all four days I stayed in Gili T I made sure to view the sun getting into sea besides Bali’s Mount Agung. What a spectacular view. I can cross seven seas to get this view!

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Where to Eat in Gili Trawangan?

Night market is the best place to eat. Market is a paradise for Sea food lovers and had lots of BBQ options. I could not find any vegetarian option, so I had to skip the local food and rely on “Pesona Indian and Sheesha Restaurant”. Pesona offered mouth watering India food, amazing Sheesha and Bintang. Restaurant has awesome ambiance and offers couch sitting which were however, not very clean. Rates were competitive and I almost had dinner here on all days I stayed in Gili T. A vegetarian meal set me back by 40k – 60k IDR.

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Night Market/Warungs are the best place to enjoy local delicacies

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Pesona Restaurant served some amazing Seesha and Bintan

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Beer Pong? Anyone?

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And yes, you can fly as high as you want πŸ˜‰

Where to Stay

There is no dearth of stay options in Gili T. Where a backpackers lodge start from 80K IDR, you can stay in luxury resorts from 1500K IDR.

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Signboards will help you locate your homestay/hotel

How to reach Gili Trawangan

From Bali

By Flight

Lombok has its own international airport, Bandara Internasional Lombok. Airport is 40km south-east of Mataram (and 20km north of Kuta Lombok) in Central Lombok. However frequency of international flight is less and tickets are expensive. So flying from Bali to Lombok is a cheaper option. A flight from bali to Lombok will set you back by 550K IDR approximately, depending on how early you book. If you are only heading to Gili T, I will suggest you to take next option.

By Ferry

You can take a cab from Bali Airport to Padang Bai harbour, it will charge approximately 300K IDR. From Padang Bai harbour you can take a public ferry, which is cheaper but take 5 hours to reach Lombok or you can take a faster AC speed boat directly to Gili T. A speed boat will charge you 250K IDR to 650K IDR depending on your bargain from Padang Bai. Booking a return trip can be make the deal sweeter.
Speed boat start at around 9AM and leave till 1PM.
I will recommend taking the speed boat if you are not too tight on budget.
Warning: Indonesia is not known for best maritime safety standard and numerous cases of boat mishaps can be found on internet.
Please try to go for reputed companies only. I took speed boat from Marina Srikandi and found services satisfactory. If you pre-book with them check if they can arrange pick up from Bali airport http://marinasrikandi.com/
Though prebooking is not mandatory. You can show up at Padang Bai harbour and get a ticket.

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From Lombok

By Ferry

A public ferry will take you from Sengigi to Gili Trawangan in 2 hours for 10K IDR or a speed boat takes 30 minutes, but will be costlier.

If you are heading to Gili T., please check “What to do in Gili Trawangan

I booked a “Three day trek to Mt Rinjani” from Gili T and returned to Gili T for couple of more day, before I headed to Kuta, Bali.

29 thoughts on “Life Away from Madness, Gili Trawangan

  1. Chandrasekar

    Brilliant write up and complemented with amazing pics.. I was waiting for this write up and finally it’s here and it didn’t fail me to impress.. Gili and Bromo are already topping my wish list

    1. Ankur Post author

      Thanks Chandra. Gili T is one place where you can really head to unwind and practically be lazy πŸ™‚

  2. Neha saini

    Really impressive Ankur,,,such a wonderful description about the place complimented by ur beautiful photography.Looking forward to more such writings of urs. Chees!!

    1. Ankur Post author

      Hey Neha, glad you liked my posts. Indeed this place is too amazing to miss. Another post dedicated to activities on the island is on its way. Do not miss it 😊

  3. hackernewbie

    Man!! I can so much relate to you. Over these years, my time in Bangalore, I have not been able to like it the way I like small and quaint places. Gilli T seems to be one such place, away from the madness. And your photos, they are always brilliant… no different this time as well.

    Cheers,
    Rajiv

    1. Ankur Post author

      Rajiv, I agree, Small places have a charm of its own. Isn’t it ironical, city dwellers like to live in countryside and rural folks want to flock in cities. Maybe its just grass is always greener on the other side πŸ™‚

        1. Ankur Post author

          As a matter of fact, I would like to live in a countryside area. Where I can live in a peaceful small town and have access to facilities of big cities, accessible by few hours drive. Who says we cant have best of both worlds πŸ˜‰

  4. Andapo

    Lovely place this island, Indonesia… its buzzing but peaceful… good you know the tric to find the accomdation for you without prebooking. So you just reach a place, and find out which place to stay asking the locals or how you get your accomodation… anyway I reckon for a guy it does not matter, you would not be picky accomodation and will just be fine if it is affordable(:

    1. Ankur Post author

      I believe pre booking steals the fun of being able to take decision on the go.
      I can imagine for girls it might be a bit difficult to book on the go, but a little knowledge of place you are landing is great. For example; Gili T is perfectly safe for a solo girl to show up and book accommodation. Showing up early(first half of day) provides enough time to look for a few stay options and decide. I generally travel on a strict budget and prefer to save of stay options πŸ™‚

      1. Minty Mile

        Good good(: I would never go to a place without a accomodation which has decent reveiws… glad you can do it(: I know of a cyclist who stays on road if he finds no accomodation… travels around India telling people about Gender Equality or the need for all of us to be intolerant to gender crimes and not told attitudes or thoughts that can lead to commiting crimes later…anyway.. https://www.facebook.com/genderfreedom?fref=ts … sometimes I update the travels of the fellow if he tells me too… anyway

        1. Ankur Post author

          Hello Minty Mile, I seldom stay in one place for all my vacation days. So even if I do not like the accommodation I can certainly move out next day. I have observed that newer homestays/GH/Hotels may be good and cheap but they might not be listed on web or travel portals. And well known places charge more on online booking due to their higher credibility in market.
          Not prebooking may go wrong sometime, but few hiccups is also okay while traveling. We travel to get out of our comfort zone, isn’t it? πŸ™‚

          1. Minty Mile

            Well… yes but depends for ladies perhapes its just my mindset prefer a safe accommodation over cheap one they don’t know… if you nothing about the place, where will you go hotel hunting?… I have been to Yercaud recently and booked one hotle which had ok reveiw, it was comfortable all right, but sort of had no guide. We did not know how to sitesee and wasted one evening, next morning we arranged an auto to take us around, he turned out supreb to take our disappointments of the first day away): … Murudeshwar we went we prebooked and we got a 1000 Rs hotle which is costly compared to the other hotles in the area, but we took that up because it was near to that sea and beach and seemed safe. In Pondy we booked a hotle which had ok reveiws and ok price, until the auto guy recommended other hotles to stay which was better as in 24 hours log out time plus food etc… but it was ok… if the place has people who guide you well it is ok… I try to apprear independent always not relying on auto’s unless necessary but that’s not possible when your new somewhere completely. Olden days yeah we did book online, but you did not have many women travelers around… so as a lady I won’t go to a place without a hotel and some strech of what I can do in the place. I don’t get it right a tall but nothing can be done. I keep hearing all stories still of bad hotels with hidden cameras and so not open to unknown hotles that much… but since I read some blogs and have been listening to stories I do see there are multiple ways of travel and styles… the more you know a place, the more perfect you get in going there or recommending to someone. Anyway abroad things might be different… but for a guy I reckon you stay anywhere it is fine, but again if you travel with family you got to plan and prebook I guess(: …

            1. Ankur Post author

              Thanks for sharing your experience! And I completely agree to what ever you have mentioned.
              If I have lesser number of days in hands, I also tend to check information about a place I am heading to and hotels available. Since I have a full time job, with limited leaves, I would normally do a few short trips and a one long trip a year. On shorter trips I would simply gather enough route/accommodation info. When I am on a longer trip, I tend to go with the flow and not prefer booking anything.
              Problem with female traveler is more due to cheats in industry. This problem is less in other South East Asian countries where even a solo female traveler will feel relatively safe. Scene of solo female tourism is fast changing. I know of so many female travelers already who are making a good mark. You might be probably aware of few. Some inspirations –
              Leena’s story on http://misswalkingshoes.com/about/
              Shivya’s story on http://the-shooting-star.com/

              1. Andapo

                Yeah solo women travellers are coming up these days(: … in metro cities are enough trekking groups and guidance to travel on… women of strong kind are always my inspiration be it office worker, mother, traveller, anybody… India may not be that solo women friendly travel destination but they can always travel with someone else, or join company of known people(:… maybe take help of trusted guide, find out accommodation from others, and be careful… to tell you the truth women are used to being extra careful, extra powerful than what they otherwise are, like they are used to do difficult things or different things, appear more bolder and learn to be comfortable being themselves however inconvenient things maybe… so I am sure there will be many women adventure people out there, they would have been there earlier too… thesedays onus is on women capable of handling and protecting oneself through her own strenght of charactor and travel does give one that freedom and develops that spirit… I don’t travel much, but I know you learn to adapt and adjust to many things, and developes variety… thanks for the links… I have seen shoot-star… I read another women’s blog who plans to go on a car trip with her 5 yr old daughter and camp under the skies.. anyway goodday

                1. Ankur Post author

                  These are some words of wisdom… ” travel does give one that freedom and develops that spirit”
                  Travel gives us an exposure to vast pool of experiences. And trust no one can teach us anything, except our own experiences (Good or Bad) πŸ™‚

  5. Kat

    Your photos are amazing! Lucky you, you got the chance to stay in Gili T. I didn’t, I had only went there for a day trip but perhaps one day, I might return again and stay there for a change. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    1. Ankur Post author

      Thanks Kat, I am glad you liked my pictures. Gili T, in my opinion is a place to spend time without looking at clock or calendar. just stay back and relax πŸ™‚

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