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Emily and Kirk Adventures

Gili Air, Lombak, Indonesia

INDONESIA | Monday, 21 November 2016 | Views [539]

After flying from Siem Reap to Kuta, Bali, we spent the night at the Best Western Kuta Villa.  We were not able to get the ferry that night, so we had to wait until morning.  The Best Western was so cool!  We had an “al fresco” bathroom, which means that it is outside (this is common in all of the cities we’ve been to, but this is the best one we’ve seen so far.)  It was raining buckets that night, so I actually took a shower in the rain!  

The next morning, we took the Wahana ferry to Gili Air.   This was the most disorganized ferry I have ever experienced.  This is not a judgement on the Wahana Ferry.  ALL of them were horribly disorganized.  We stood under the boiling hot sun on the dock for about 45 minutes waiting to board the ferry and the luggage situation was a mess.  When we arrived in Gili, unbelievably, the unloading process was even worse.  We had to drag our luggage across another boat, onto a floating dock which was dangerously unstable.  Then we fought our way through the crowd of people trying to load onto the ferry at the same time as we disembarked.  It was not a great experience.  When we finally got off the dock, we found a horse taxi to drive us to our hotel, the Balengku Home Stay.  Gili Air does not have any motorized vehicles at all.  I have to say that I was very conflicted about the way the horses were treated on Gili Air.  While they all seemed well-fed, they were frequently left harnessed to their carts in the hot sun, and I never saw a single horse being given water in the entire two weeks we stayed on the island.  I’m not a horse expert, and so I can’t say whether this is normal, but it seemed cruel to me.  We opted not to use horse taxis at all, except to take our luggage to and from the ferry dock.  Everywhere was within walking distance anyway.


Our room at the Balengku Home Stay was a cute villa with a patio, where we were served breakfast each morning.  It was in a very quiet area, about 10-minute walk to the town.  We booked this place because it was very inexpensive and we wanted to spend a couple of days getting to know Gili Air before we decided where to stay for two weeks.  We scoped out many places, but decided on Gili Air Resort, because of the quiet location on the corner of the island, and the lovely stretch of beach in front of the resort.  In general, once you get away from the dock area, Gili Air is a beautiful place, but the Gili Air Resort is especially picturesque.  


Our room at the Balengku Home Stay was a cute villa with a patio, where we were served breakfast each morning.  It had a great pool, too, with a pool bar.  Try not to get distracted by the sexy leg in the picture.  



The room was clean, although old and a little worn.  We had a fridge and freezing air conditioning, which was amazing after a day in the scorching sun.  The restaurant was good, but their nightly seafood BBQ on the beach was the best thing on the menu.  The staff was helpful and friendly, always calling us by name.  The pool was clean and refreshing.  The only complaint we had about this place was the WIFI.  In our room, we mostly could not get connection at all, but when we did, it was brutally slow.  Despite what the front desk told us, the “common areas” did not have faster WIFI.  I’m sure it sounds like I am being dramatic (first world problems!) but since both of us need to stay connected for our work, WIFI connection is not a small issue for us.  We were able to find a café nearby called Star Bar, which had much faster internet fro which we worked and drank cheap Lombak coffee every morning.  If WIFI isn’t an issue for you, I would highly recommend this hotel.  (Disclaimer…WIFI on Gili Air is not fast, no matter where you go.  Don’t expect to download movies or stream long videos unless you have hours to spare.)

We didn’t do too much on Gili Air.  Our main goal was to relax.   On our first day, we took a long walk all the way around the island, which took about 90 minutes.  You can also ride a bike, but there are stretches of powdery sand through which you will probably have to walk the bicycle.  It was a good introduction to the island, and gave us some good ideas about places we wanted to visit during our stay.  In the coming days, we had a happy shake at Reggae Bar, which was way more expensive than in Thailand, and not as good.  The sign below isn’t from Raggae Bar, but it was something we saw multiple times around the island.  Sorry about the shadow.  We are not photographers.  

The restaurants all pretty much serve the same Indonesian and Western dishes, but we did find one standout.  The Mexican Kitchen.  The chef was great!  The food was as close to real Mexican as we’ve had in months and they were happy to accommodate my dairy intolerance.  I highly recommend this place.  They don’t have a website, but here is their Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/gilimexicankitchen

The beaches on Gili Air are made of coarse coral and are therefore it is a bit difficult to walk on them without shoes.  The snorkeling is good here, especially because Gili Air is known for their abundance of sea turtles.  If you are planning to snorkel in low tide, you should consider renting a standup paddle board or kayak to take you out past the very shallow water, to the shelf where the snorkeling is best and you are more likely to see the turtles.  Alternatively, you can wait until high tide, when you can swim almost straight away off the beach.  I do not recommend trying to walk out to the shelf in low tide.  Kirk did, and he ended up with several cuts and scrapes on his legs and feet.  We saw lots of people with similar injuries.  

After two weeks on Gili Air, we were ready to move onto the next place.  We boarded the Wahana ferry on the morning of November (again, it was disorganized, it was over an hour late, and the ticketing process was confusing,) but we finally got on the boat.  Kirk and I both have suffered from sea sickness in the past, and we usually take Dramamine before boarding a ferry, but the seas looked so calm (file that under “foreshadowing”) that we didn’t think it necessary on that day.  When I take Dramamine, I always fall asleep immediately, and I wanted to see the journey this time.  That.  Was. A. Mistake.   It was hot that day, and, if you know me, you know that I don’t like being hot.  This boat ride was waaaayyy too hot!  We were sitting in the front of the boat, which we thought would be better, because there was a fan.  I felt fine for the first 30 minutes, but then, I started to feel over-heated.  It didn’t help that we were packed into this boat like sardines.  I was a little seasick, but mostly I was so hot, I couldn’t breathe.  I guess it was just me, because everyone else seemed to be having a party on the boat.   They were sleeping and eating and singing and drinking beer.  After a while, I started shaking uncontrollably and my skin got cold and then I started noticing that I was seasick.  Horribly seasick.  The seas were not calm at all (see the file entitled “foreshadowing”.)  Kirk tried to help me splash water on my face, but it just spilled all over my shorts (wet denim shorts feel awesome!)  When we finally docked, I was fighting back tears and nervous that I wouldn’t even be able to stand up and walk off the boat.  Of course, I lived to tell the story, but it was a miserable couple of hours.  I will never board a boat again without taking Dramamine.  Lesson learned.

Tags: #giliair, #indonesia, #kirmily



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