05 September 2007

Gili Air

Anchored at Gili Air
Anchorage #59 in "101 Anchorages Within The Indonesian Archipelago" by Geoff Wilson

Lombok Island
West Nusa Tenggara

Team Sandpiper has been anchored off the small island of Gili Air for the last 4 days. We left Gili Lawang at 7am hoping to catch a following tide. No such luck. So we motored around the north end of Lombok Island and caught a following tide on the west side of Lombok Island.

We arrived in Gili Air at 3pm and found a free mooring buoy which we quickly tied off to. We are big fans of mooring buoys as we can leave the boat right away to go ashore and not worry about Sandpiper dragging anchor when there is a wind or tide change. The downside to this is you really have no idea what the mooring looks like below the water. You just hope that everything is good down there.

Gili Air gets our vote as one of our most favorite stops in Indonesia so far. That is why we have spent the last four days here along with our friends from SV Uterus. Gili Air is one of 3 small islands 1/2 mile off the northwest coast of Lombok Island. All 3 islands are little different. Gili Air is about 2 miles across and has small beach bungalows and beach bars that cater to western tourists. The beach bungalows are mostly set up for back packers. There is no air conditioning and the rooms are quite cheap. Also, there are no motor vehicles on any of the 3 islands. If you want to get around, then there are small horses that drag small carts (called cidomos) around to take you to where you need to go.

The beach bars all have little shacks with comfy pillows that you can hang out in while they keep bringing ice cold, super cheap, Bintangs.

This time of year is near the off season for tourists. So we really have the island to ourselves at night because most the visitors come over from Lombok Island in small boats and are all gone by sunset.

We had a great dinner with our friends from SV Uterus at a small restaurant along the shoreline. We had plate full of giant prawns that they grilled up for us, along with many cold Bintangs to wash all this down. It cost only for USD$30.00 for all 4 of us.

Another favorite thing we found is that some of the restaurants here have bamboo enclosures with large pillows on the beach where you can watch DVD movies while you have your lunch. We liked this so much we did this for two days in a row!

We also took a tour of the island on one of the cidomos (horse drawn carts). That was alot of fun. The horses are quite small. And I think we gave our horse a good work out.

Today Amy and I woke early and took a small, wooden, ferry boat over to Gili Trawangan. On the way the ferry stopped at Gili Meno, which is the middle of these 3 islands. Gili Meno is the second largest of the three island. It too has beach bungalows and small restaurants, but it does not have power, so everything is very basic.

Gili Trawangan is the largest of the three islands, and it is the main island where tourists come to play. There are many small hotels and restaurants. Some of the hotels are quite nice with pools, air conditioning, and satellite TV. Gili Trawangan is known for its party atmosphere and there are many bars to choose from. We had our first western food since arriving in Indonesia having a giant breakfast. Amy had a Bloody Mary and I had a great Irish Coffee. After breakfast we walked around looking at all the white tourists drinking Margaritas on the beach. This was followed up with burgers and frys for lunch.

These islands are known as the place to come and party. There are no police and you can pretty much get anything you need here. Everywhere we went there were signs for "magic mushroom" omelets. Anything you wanted to smoke is here as well. The weird part about these 3 islands is that all the Indonesians that live here claim to be Muslim. But they certainly don't seem to be following any of its preachings. It is definitely a huge contrast to the Indonesia we have experienced so far. But it is tons of fun!

I would very much recommend to anyone that was looking to go somewhere for a vacation to check out the Gili Islands. It is only a ferry ride over from Bali. If you are done hanging out here, then you can go back and spend the rest of your time in Bali. Indonesia is very inexpensive and you would really have to go out of your way to spend a lot of money.

Team Sandpiper's current plans are to motor 1 mile over to Lombok Island in the morning and see about loading up on diesel. This is supposed to be a cheap place to get fuel. Then we are going to leave the following morning to work our way west towards a marina in Bali, 50 miles away, where we are planning on spending several weeks.

Tom and Amy

No comments: