There are two ways to get to the Gili Islands from Bali. The first is by taking the fast boat and basically takes about an hour. The other and MUCH cheaper way is by slow boat and although it is advertised to take 7hrs I can personally tell you now that it will take longer. Following four hours sitting on the top deck of a ferry boat in full sun, then a few hours driving up the coast of Lombok, then another 45min boat trip, interspersed of course with several bouts of just standing and waiting around, I found myself on Gili Trawangan. This is the largest of three small islands off the coast of Lombok known for its parties, beaches, and marine life.
I landed in Gili T with two new friends Anna and Sarah from England and we settled ourselves in a bungalow behind Rudy's pub, famous for its Friday night parties and mushroom shakes and with a very wildtra staff who love to dance behind the bar and crack jokes to people walking by on the street. Unfortunately after our very first night I was struck with the dreaded traveller's diarrhea and spent the following few days sleeping lots and unable to consume more than a third of any food I ordered. I did manage to force down a whole ice cream cone but I was rewarded with some intense stomach cramps.
Lucky for me though Saturday and Sunday nights in Gili are considered to be nights off and the big party nights are Monday, Wednesday, Friday so I was recovered enough by Monday night to do a little bit of dancing. It was at this point that Sarah and I had set up our formula for life in the Gilis: dive, party, recover on the beach, repeat. The diving was probably the best I had ever seen and I got to see so many different sea life and beautiful coral. You're guaranteed to see a sea turtle on any given dive and on our last dive in Gili we had the extremely good luck of seeing a manta ray. It was huge and I spent about 10mins chasing it as it swam away then turning tail when it was swimming towards me, a truly amazing experience.
Other highlights on Gili included riding.pushing bicycles around the sandy road that runs around the island (there are no cars in Gili) during which we got caught in a torrential downpour and had to seek refuge at a random beach bar secluded from the majority of the island which is normally frequented at sunset. One day the island was circled by a helicopter film crew because the contestants from the amazing race were performing one of their challenges on the island. Probably one of the best things about Gili though is the homemade gelato stands set up conveniently both on the beach and next to where I was staying, it was a delicious curse.
The time flew while I was there and after 10 days I realized it was time to move on so Sarah and I left and spent a few days in Sengigi on Lombok. Nothing super exciting happened while we were there since the rainy season was hitting Lombok pretty hard. Sarah and I were on separate buses getting into Sengigi and they of course didn't drop us off in the same place in town but luckily on one of my ventures to search for her I met a local guy, Raja, who had recently set up his own small guest house. We ended up with a gorgeous room at an excellent price and full access to his kitchen plus we had hot water for showers! This was absolutely amazing after the salt water showers in Gili from a broken shower head. Our big plans to rent bikes and tour some of the country side the following day were dashed by the endless rain so instead we settled in for a typical rainy day at the cottage. We spent the day reading, mending clothes, writing post cards, and we taught Raja how to play monopoly. Some of Raja's friends came over and they cooked us some of the best food that I had while I was in Indonesia. All in all it was a fairly enjoyable end to my venture with Sarah. The following day I booted it back to Bali as fast as possible on the slow boat to catch my flight to Vietnam.