Gili Air is the smallest of the three Gili Islands, off the coast of Lombok. Our four nights there were spent relaxing on beach-front hammocks, reading, sipping cocktails or a cool Bintang, and diving. Therese competed her PADI Open Water Certification, and the diving was spectacular! We did four dives in the area and encountered a dozen huge Green and Hawksbill Sea Turtles, a few white-tipped sharks, blue-spotted stingrays, clown fish, giant sea bass, a poisonous eel snake, rock fish, frog fish, and countless varieties of glorious tropical fish.
We found a great two story bungalow in a central location at Nina Cottages. An open living area, two hammocks, and a bathroom on the lower floor, balcony and bedroom upstairs, including breakfast cost us $20 a night. We booked it for 4 nights, from Friday through Monday night.
Therese had a slight head cold on the first day, so she did all her PADI course material on Saturday while we relaxed and fell in love with paradise. And, as expected, paradise is pretty sweet. Mostly we relaxed in hammocks, read and enjoyed a drink or many.
Motorized transportation is not allowed on the island. To get around, you take a horse-drawn carriage or you walk, often barefoot. You can walk the entire island in about 90 minutes. We decided to cross straight through the middle for a taste of village life. We found kids playing soccer, a wedding reception for a local couple, and plenty of villagers going about their day. There's no running freshwater on the island, except maybe for the few highest-end places. Showers are taken with ambient temperature saltwater, either straight from the ocean or filtered slightly. I don't think i've ever lived without freshwater, but it is slightly liberating. You learn to just accept that you aren't going to be clean how you are used to. This is how people on islands all over the world live. Welcome to the land before modern conveniences, and enjoy it.
Every beach-front restaurant has hammocks or large pillows for sitting and lounging while you chill. The food was excellent and cheap. We enjoy delicious banana pancakes and coffee for breakfast every morning. Therese has been calling this trip Indonesian Adventure or BANANA PANCAKE MANIA. Common Indonesian fare in these parts is seafood, tempeh, curry, or fried noodles/rice with vegetables and chicken. You can get a hearty, satisfying meal for only $2. Or $5 with a large Bintang.
People on Gili Air are really friendly, and not like they only want your money. Some do, of course, but even when you tell the no, they still just smile and chat you up. Everyone is very relaxed. I asked this guy if i could take his picture and he was like, "sure man~ why not! :) everything is happy here!" or something like that.
There was a full-moon party one night, and at 4 am we could hear an unique blend of earth-pounding Drum n' Bass, rooster's trumpeting, and the Muslim call to prayer from the mosque in Lombok. We didn't make it out for the whole party, but i caught the end and the sunrise. That's Mt. Rinjani of Lombok in the background. Spoiler: Lombok will become important in Part 3.
Remember how we had all these plans to travel Bali and East Java? We've changed them, for therese is now completely hooked on SCUBA diving. We're booked on a 5 day liveaboard dive cruise from Lombok to Flores. This passes through Komodo and Rinca, home of the famous Komodo Dragons and one of the top-ten dive destinations in the world. Needless to say, we are very happy right now.