As Sully mentioned, we made it to Gili Air last week, a pretty basic island locale indeed. We arrived via a ‘fast ferry', which consisted of about 150 tourists all jammed into seats at water level. The boat had 6 Yamaha 200HP engines on the back of it. Six!. Think we need to test that kind of power out on Lake Eugenia next summer! 1.5 hours later we were at the island and luckily our hotel was only 100 metres away from the dock when we arrived, so we rolled our luggage along the sandy cobbled roads to our destination. So far the luggage avec wheels has worked out really well and prevented me from becoming the backpacking sherpa for the trip. Along the way we gave way for a few bicyclists and horse drawn carts to pass. With no motorized transport allowed on this island, this is how people get around, although I have noticed a few silent electric scooters - they kind of sneak up on you. In any case, the lack of regular motorcycles especially makes for a more peaceful and stress-free time. They are everywhere on the mainland!? It’s a nice break.
The island was really small. One day it took us about 2 hours to walk the entire way around. Another day we rented bikes and explored some more. The boys and I alternated having dinner between the East and West side of the Island. The East has more options and a cooler breeze, while the West has a killer sunset and a chill vibe. Both work for us. I think we celebrated Max’s birthday on 3 separate occasions!? Max milking it for all it’s worth…banana splits always taste better on an island!
We’re loving snorkelling so we again headed out, this time on a glass bottom boat. Ha! ‘Glass bottom’ meant a pretty basic wooden boat with a couple of glass boxes covered in algae which clouded much of the view. And initially I was a little turned off when we were more or less crammed in with 40 other people, but eventually we arrived at our first snorkelling site and all was good. We were diving in the middle of the ocean between two Gili islands, dragged a bit by the current, what did I have to complain about!?. We followed our guide, who was expert at spotting turtles. He would dive down 20 or 30 feet to nudge the turtle, who would slowly swim away. Again we were able to swim with turtles, so cool!
Our last full day we rented bikes again and rode to other side of the island, which didn't take long, and found a place to spend the day. We sat on a bamboo lounge platform, ordered some food and drinks throughout the day, and enjoyed our time walking the beach, snorkelling, and just relaxing (or me, napping). When we were snorkelling, we saw a bunch of tropical fish among the coral, and a few small clams too. It was a great afternoon spent chilling in this spot. Sully reading All the Light We Cannot See (I just finished it - AMAZING!), Max ‘The Chamber of Secrets’, and me, Lonely Planet - SouthEast Asia on a shoestring…riveting. We were surrounded by a receding tide, with the jingling sounds of the odd horse drawn cart passing behind us and some Bob Marley music was playing in the distance, mixed occasionally with the distant call to prayer from a faraway mosque. It was sweet.
We again took the fast ferry back to mainland Bali from Gili Air. This time the ocean was much rougher and some people were sick. At one point I looked at Sully and his face was a lovely shade of green. I expected the worst, but he managed to make it to the mainland. We arrived and of course our pre-arranged shuttle van back to Ubud was no where to be found. Surprise, surprise. Pre-trip Jay probably would have been a tad upset about this. But I've managed to turn it down a few notches and had no problem with it. We didn't have anywhere that we needed to be (I actually said that to myself!) and so got in touch with the company and they ordered us another one. I sat in the shade, gave the boys some cash and watched them take off to go and barter for fruit, drinks and chips. They love this (probably as much as the locals love seeing them come to their stands) and it kept them busy while the van showed up. 5 days in Gili Air was fantastic. A mini vacation within a vacation. I'll probably need a few of those.