30.11.2014 - 05.12.2014 31 °C
Goodbye to Gili T
I'm back at Scallywags on Gili Trewagan for a fifth and final night. The day has been clear, but as I sip my fresh coconut, a full moon illuminates the sky, though a white most rises over Lombok in the distance. My goal for tomorrow is to actually wake up in time to walk the few short metres from my eastern-facing accommodation at The Yoga Garden to witness the sunrise. I shoulda/woulda/coulda done this any of the other mornings, but after a month of the alarm going off at 5am at Radiantly Alive Yoga Teacher Training, my inner night owl has reared its ugly head, and I've been so happy to sleep in.
I'm clearly a creature of habit, patronising Scallywags for the fifth night in a row as I am. It's a cute, white-clapboard place overlooking the water, charmingly overstaffed in the way Indonesia seems to be. Prices are Western, as seems to be the norm here, but from 6pm every night there is a BBQ and salad bar on offer. The salad options are always the same- pasta, coleslaw, couscous- but consistently good.
The days have passed at leisure. The Yoga Garden offers two yoga classes per day (usually Hatha or Ashtanga at 7, followed by Vinyasa or Yin at 4.30), so I've been getting my Om on, then heading to Kayu Cafe (Gili T's healthy, organic option) to look at jobs, write, and listen to Ted Talks. There's plenty of activity on the island, for those who are so inclined: plenty of establishments offer PADI courses and fun dives, and excursions such as glass-bottom snorkelling trips to the other Gilis. I was hoping for more beach time than I've gotten...the weather has been average, and after circumnavigating the (7km-around) island, I discovered that the coral beds out to sea don't really provide for particularly nice sun baking or swimming opportunities.
Overall, the island isn't exactly what I expected, but I've enjoyed it. After 6 weeks in Bali and Singapore, it's been a wonderful relief to be on an island without scooters buzzing around everywhere. Gili T is lined with a sometimes-paved, sometimes-dirt (and muddy) track, and the only options for getting around are horse-and-cart, push bike or by foot. I found walking was the best option. Everything on the main strip is an easy walk, and I saw plenty of other travellers struggling with their bikes through puddles and sandy quagmires. I didn't really need the carts to get me anywhere, and I heard that the horses aren't treated well and only live for three years, so that's not for me. I've found the Indonesians more than accommodating and hospitable (amongst the best in anywhere I've traveled), but in addition to their friendly out outgoing natures, I think the charm of the service here comes in part because everything is so laid-back. So far nothing here is corporate/multi-national, and I hope it stays that way.
I stayed at The Yoga Garden, which is wonderful in its proximity to the boat pier (a 2-minute walk at the most), cleanliness, facilities and helpful staff. The rooms are en-suite and immaculate, and I paid $65/night which includes breakfast and a big discount on the yoga classes held in their shala. They also offer free-diving. The rooms and premises are spotless, and there is a pool on site. I'd definitely stay here again and would recommend it to anyone.
Scallywags also has accommodation at between $100-200/night, and if I came again with a bigger budget, I'd consider staying here as it looks nice.
Believe it or not, I did try a few different places for lunch, but my favourites (and daily haunts) are:
Kayu Cafe: After struggling to find decent (read: healthy) food in Singapore and Seminyak, Kayu is a godsend. They have everything from Blissballs to homemade cakes to quinoa bowls, but their delicious choice green juices tipped the scales for me. They have an indoor cafe with BBC (I got to sob my way through their coverage of Phillip Hughes' funeral) and an area with decking on the beach.
Scallywags: As mentioned above, I've been coming here religiously from night one, and I'd keep coming back if I was staying longer. They have an extensive menu with wraps, burgers and salads, but a real highlight is the nightly BBQ (fish, meat, kebabs), which comes with a baked potato and the salad bar. The staff are attentive and spot-on, and there is a plethora of drinks to choose from.
I haven't been out at all, but all along the strip is a huge selection of bars, some of which have live music, cushions on the sand, a dance floor, shisha, you name it. We are in low season right now, but I can imagine it gets pretty pumping. Western prices.
Scuba diving is plentiful. If you wanted to do a PADI or are already certified and want to go on fun dives or night-diving, you're in the right place. There are dive shops and tourist info shops everywhere, so you can easily book into any activity you might like.
There are also many spas offering massages, pedicures and other treatments in decent facilities at decent prices. I loved the Hot Stone Massage at Exquisit Spa for $22.
Incredibly laid-back vibe
Friendly and helpful locals
Easy to get back and forth from Bali (about $100 return including land transfers to your destination in Bali), several companies to choose from and multiple departures per day
Plenty to keep you busy if you're feeling active
Great seafood options
Be Prepared For...
The road situation seems to be a work-in-progress (pavement has been ongoing since I've been here), but some sections of the street are unpaved, muddy and can flood. Bring a really crappy pair of flip-flops or prepare to go barefoot.
Anywhere off the main strip (on the eastern side of the island), is quite desolate and strewn with garbage. I felt very safe in the central area, but I wouldn't want to walk to the northern or southern ends of the island on my own after dark. Like much of Indonesia, there doesn't seem to be any sort of civic planning, so the areas that are built-up are manicured, and everywhere else is quite uncared-for.
Western prices. Everything comes in by boat and is transported locally by horse, but don't expect crazy bargains here.
What I'll Miss Most...
Fresh coconut water every day
Lack of traffic