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Belle’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 14 Aug 2011

Location: Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

MapWhere has the last week gone?! It's funny how when you approach the end of your travels it starts to feel as if they're suddenly going at warp speed instead of normal time...

My two days in the hellhole that is Kuta in Bali went by (thankfully) in a blur, though I did manage to meet up with my friends from the ashram as well as my friend from Raleigh, which made the trip worthwhile. On the second day an American guy I met in northern Thailand contacted me when I was in the supermarket buying supplies for my boat trip to the Gili islands the following day. I went to meet him and he decided to join me, so we booked the tickets and then went on a celebratory (and decidedly ill-advised) bar crawl with my other friends. This culminated in us dancing on the stage in a neon-lit club beside some hideous Australian chavs at 2am...not ideal for a 6am wake up and full day's bus and boat journey.

Needless to say the journey was pretty tough going, in part because of our hangovers and four hours of sleep, but primarily because the travel agent had completely failed to inform us it was not one six hour slow boat all the way to Gili Trawangan as we had been led to believe, but rather a six hour ferry followed by a two hour drive through Lombok, followed by a two hour wait and then another half hour boat trip to the island. I even managed to have an altercation with one of the touts when I made a joke about swimming to the island instead of taking his boat and he tried to withold my ticket because they did 'not like joking' there. Wow.

Fortunately we met two hilarious English guys on the ferry with whom I clicked immediately, so when we finally rocked up on Gili Trawangan as the sun was setting to find everywhere fully booked and the streets eerily deserted, we did at least have safety in numbers and a degree of residual (and much needed) humour. After wandering around in the dark for what felt like hours (I'm not even joking when I say I felt almost biblical the way everyone was closing their doors in our faces and telling us there was no room at the inn), we miraculously stumbled across a gorgeous bungalow near the beach which we managed to negotiate a reasonable price for with the owner, who also kindly provided an extra bed so the four of us could (just) squeeze in there. There's not much space in the room, granted, but we have a lovely porch complete with hammock and a gorgeous open air bathroom. I'm gutted that two of the boys are thinking of moving on tomorrow, meaning we'll have to give it up and find somewhere cheaper :(

The last few days have been a lot of fun, exploring the island and sunbathing by day and hitting the bars and restaurants by night. I'm sad that my little ready made group of friends (the three boys and two English girls I went to Bromo/Ijen with, who joined us two days ago) will probably all have moved on by Tuesday (not least because the cost of living here is high compared to other places I've been in SE Asia and I could really do with sharing a room!) but excited about doing my Advanced dive certificate here on Tues/Wed/Thurs, and about my friend Charlie arriving on Thursday. Tempted as I am to move on from here and explore the surrounding islands, there is a part of me that thinks it might be wise to just stay here until I head back to Bali on the 27th, primarily due to the cost of travelling around (though I suppose that is pretty much offset by the cost of staying here), but also because I feel I should be making the most of my final few days of relaxation before reality bites back in the UK and I'm working all hours to earn a crust!

Right, time to go and shower before dinner. Today we walked up to the view point in the middle of the island and, beautiful though it was, I'm covered in dust from head to toe! We also stopped for lunch at the most ridiculous restaurant on the beach - it took 45 minutes for our milkshakes to arrive and then our 'burgers' were an absolute joke (I will upload a pic soon).