Indonesia was the place I had the most concerns about visiting in South East Asia. I heard not to go outside after dark, to wrap up your backpack like a Rubik’s Cube before traveling anywhere and that Bali-belly was a certainty. However, after spending over two weeks in Bali and the Gili Islands and staring into the heart of all these things, we experienced few issues. In fact the most concerning aspect turned out to be how navigationally poor the taxi drivers were.
We began our travels by flying into Bali’s international airport. Our taxi driver couldn’t find out accommodation and drove around in circles laughing. We spent our first two nights at Kuta Beach, at a small hostel about 15 minutes walk from the main beach. We joined the throngs of tourists renting surf boards and played around in the shore break.
Attempting to catch an Uber to Balian Beach was a nightmare, and cost us a few hours in figuring out an alternative. We eventually went with a hostel organized driver and joined the abysmal traffic. At Balian Beach we had a lovely room, run by a sweet local family. The beach resembled Raglan, NZ, with black sand, windy days, and surging surf. A few restaurants were scattered along the beach, each with a rustic bamboo look and surfer vibe. We went on an adventure to find a secret beach, which was a highlight. The long beach was wild and untamed, perfect for a meander and child-like cartwheels.
From Balian Beach we took a local driver to Padang Bai, where we then caught a speed boat across to Gili Trawangan. All three Gili Islands have brilliant white sand and turquoise water. The water is warm and the beaches are clean. Each night the sunset lit up the sky and we lay in hammocks and admired the view. We had some long walks on all the islands with our backpacks, as there are no motorized vehicles allowed. They were a true paradise and a perfect wind-up to our South East Asian travels.
On Gili Trawangan we checked into the most amazing diving resort and proceeded to book a fun dive. I wasn’t sure about getting in the water again, but I did and (spoiler alert) I loved it! Diving with turtles was a life goal achieved. This was also where the Sony action cam drowned, RIP our brave little machine.
From Gili T we caught a speed boat to Gili Meno, the second of the three Gili Islands. This island is known as Honeymoon Island. There was little to do, but lie in hammocks and drink beer. So this is what we did. We also walked around the island, which can be done in an hour and a half.
We then caught a local boat to Gili Air, the last Gili Island. This island is “just right”. It isn’t as touristy as Gili T, but isn’t as sleepy as Gili Meno. Ben rented a stand up paddle board and battled the current to explore the island. I came down with a cold and opted to drink medicine in the form of beer. We also walked around the island twice, which only took one hour.
Sadly, we left the Gili Islands. We took a horrific boat ride to Sanur Beach, Bali. People clutched the handles and others were drowned rats. It’s not an experience I’d like to repeat. At Sanur, Ben went kite surfing and reignited his passion for the sport.
We then headed for Jimbaran, off the tourist trail, to meet up with my aunt and cousin. They showed us what life is like in Indonesia. We ate many spicy curries and admired their close knit community. They also took us to explore Padang Padang beach and the Uluwatu cliffs. This is also where I discovered our credit card had been compromised by some low-life with terrible taste in movies.
Indonesia was a fantastic place to visit. The beaches of the Gili Islands were by far the best we have encountered in South East Asia. Whilst I’ve had enough Nasi Goreng and Mee Goreng to last a lifetime, I will always look back at Indonesia as a tropical paradise.
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