Since we were so close to the Gili islands, we decided to add a trip to Gili Trawangan to our time in Bali. Actually the Gili islands belong to Lombok but for easy reference we decided to post our time there along with our Bali experiences.
Our time started with a “fast boat” from Padang Bai to Gili Trawangan. This is a trip of about 1,5 hours and it went reasonably well. The boys liked to look out the windows in the beginning but after a while there was so much water coming in that the windows were closed. Ethan was the only one who felt a little seasick towards the end, but it was also very hot in the boat with all the windows closed and the fans not working. So all in all I would say we were happy that it didn’t last too long! We arrived sweaty, tired and a little nauseous at the beach.
Now the Gili islands don’t have any motorized vehicles, only horse carts and bicycles. However after seeing those poor horses carrying everyone in the heat we decided to just drag our own suitcases to our apartment. It was tough! The kids were quite tired at this point, they had done so well the entire morning traveling by bus to the harbor and then by boat to the island. So they weren’t too happy about carrying their backpacks through the dusty roads in the heat of the day. But we made it!
Our room in Gili was a bit of a let down. We had booked through Airbnb, but upon arriving it was all in poor shape so that was disappointing especially when you feel overheated, dusty and dehydrated 😛 But the people on the island have had a hard time after the heavy earthquake in August so we were also just lucky that our room was still standing.
Everywhere you walk in Gili you can see the devastating effects of the earthquake. The house right next to our accommodation was nothing but rubble. Our host told us that the day of the earthquake, everyone on the island rushed to the lookout point (a small hill that is on the island) because they were so afraid of a tsunami that could follow. Many people have lost so much!
What really touched us though is to see everyone on the island working so hard to get everything cleaned up and rebuild. We saw them clearing debris, repairing roofs and building houses and new roads from early in the morning till late in the afternoon. The ocean and marine life is so beautiful but the island itself is in a bad condition. So this trip was very mixed for us, we feel privileged to have been there and enjoy the beautiful ocean, the warm weather and friendly people. But it is also sad to walk the streets and see so many people with nothing left.
Both Ethan and Graham had some days feeling sick. Ethan had stomach pains the first two days and just as he was getting better Graham had a day of stomach pains and everything coming out everywhere. It breaks a parents heart to see them like that and being so unable to do anything to make them better. Luckily they are strong boys and they both got better pretty soon. To be honest though, having days like that makes you want to pack everything and head back home where everything is known. Where you can eat all the food without worrying if you’ll get sick and drink water from the tap. But you know, we have only been gone for like 2 weeks so we are definitely not ready to take that step… but the thought does cross our minds and it just makes you thankful for the life we had before going on this trip. I think we will have many more of those moments during our travels, let’s keep it real 🙂
For us Gili was not really a place to bring the kids. Although they had a good time by the ocean, just getting to a place where we had some shade to sit under and a place without too much dead coral in the sand and water was hard. With temperatures around 30 degrees already in the mornings, the kids just weren’t very happy with the distances we had to walk in the sun. I guess this is also just a matter of getting used to for them, but we did find it sad that they sometimes had a hard time with it.
We did try renting some bikes one day, but since the island doesn’t have many visitors with kids, the kids bikes were hard to find. The ones we did find were in a very poor shape. The chain on Graham’s bike fell of every 20 meters or so, now I can laugh about it but in the heat with everyone just wanting to go home or get in the water our smiles weren’t always available!
I guess it now seems like we didn’t enjoy our time at all, but that is not entirely true! We did have some amazing experiences, snorkeling with so many beautiful fish and even sea turtles just a few meters into the ocean. For me, one of my “bucket list” experiences happened here in the Gili’s, and that was to teach our boys how to snorkel. They loved it! We were so proud that they dared to go with us with their little goggles on, pointing at all the fish they saw. Even now that memory still makes me smile, it was just very special to experience with our children. This experience made their world so much bigger in an instant!
We spent 4 days on Gili Trawangan and then decided to head back to Bali. For us this was enough, we could notice that the kids needed an easier pace for a while. You would think that nothing is more relaxed than spending time on a tropical island but somehow for us this just wasn’t the case. We long to have a little more control of our time and especially food. Having our own kitchen to make some home cooked meals and a supermarket that sells fresh veggies is high on my list right now!
So Gili Trawangan, thank you for the experience. Thank you for the beautiful ocean around you and we wish all the local people the best of luck and strength for their daily struggles to get the island back up after that devastating day.
We are off to a very long day of traveling now. We start by taking the boat back to Padang Bai in Bali. There a shuttle bus will take us straight to the airport where we will have to wait for a few hours. Our flight leaves at night and we will arrive early morning in Brisbane, Australia!
We are looking forward to our next adventures down under. For us this is where our real journey begins, let the search begin!
See you out there, the Meijer’s