May 18, 2015

Gili Air

i circumnavigate the island in less than an hour on a bike i rented.  that included two stops.  one for jumba [something the yoga instructor recommended] and one for coffee.  the bike i rent from the yoga centre is really nice and it makes getting around the island super fast.  most bikes i have rented in SE Asia come with optional pedals and other various missing parts so this is a treat.  the only other mode of transportation on the island are horse drawn carriages which i was able to avoid. 

the island is ringed by an amazing reef and is well known for it's sea turtle population, excellent diving and snorkeling.  one of the expats is complaining about the locals lack of concern about destroying the reef with their anchors and fishing practices but overall Gili Air seems to be pretty eco conscious... some places serve the cocktails without straws [or use bamboo straws] to reduce the impact of plastic on the island.  also missing is a huge trash pile that is common on so many of these beautiful islands.  the perimeter of the island is ringed with bungalos and small guest homes.  there aren't any large resorts on this island. 

beyond the water sports there is plenty to do and there is a party scene after dark although less so on this island than a the neighbor island.  it's about $2US for an island transfer so there's a lot of island hopping but i'm content to stay here so i never venture over to the other islands.  Lombok is culturally very different from Bali with the main influence being religion.  Bali is Hindu while Lombok is Muslim.  having been a guest in both places i can say the people of Bali are much more welcoming and engaging with the tourists.

the place i am staying is great.  except for the rooster that i would have killed had it not been a very fast rooster.  it woke me up two mornings before the sun was even up.  what is reason for roosters anyway?  in a departure from the rest of SE Asia there are no dogs on the island.  there are cats and i find one of them on my door mat several mornings but she's a fickle girl and i spot her napping on other door mats as well.  there is a pool and about 15 or so bungalows.  

there are less expensive bungalows but i opt for this one [$30US] becuase it has a/c which isn't really necessary but i don't like sleeping with the windows open becuase of the bugs and misquitos.  this iydlic island is a cesspool of tropical diseases - if you've heard of it - they've got it.  

the owner is a european transplant and when he leaves for the weekend the local staff turns the lobby into a hangout for thier friends. imagine a group of ten guys laying around on the couches, smoking cigarettes and watching their version of mtv.  so that part i didn't enjoy but i was too lazy to move to a different location.  the staff in general here was a huge adjustment after being treated like family in Bali.

outdoor shower
the first half of my week on the island was filled with sun but a cloud system moved over the island for the last few days.  the yoga platform was open on all sides and made for a magical experience with the rain pouring down on all sides.  because the bungalow shower was outside and the mix of the rain and the warm water from the shower also made for showering interesting.

mango tree in the garden
the Gili Islands are wonderful and after a long week unwinding in Bali, a week relaxing on the island it wouldn't take long before this became a lifestyle and it became impossible to leave.  but leave i do and i take another well organized boat and van shuttle back to Bali where they drop me at the hotel i stayed when i first arrived.  i've got another day in Bali to do some shipping, shopping and last trip to the beach before i leave.

cock that woke me up in the mornings

things i didn't need the last few days
after yoga a group would all meet up on the beach for snorkeling and eating and enjoying the island but the last few days i was using an umbrella more than my snorkel.  still the access to the reef is fantastic and sitting in the beach huts while a storm moves through is equally amazing.  

Gili Air is on the right
the thunder and lighting and pouring rain are bold reminders of insignificant we are to the ecosystem here.  there are no police on the island.  in the event something goes missing you are instructed to visit the village chief!

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