On the day that we were leaving Kuta, when we were paying for our stay at the hostel, I found out that the moped crash had caused some damage to the bike and so I was now liable to pay for it. Luckily, due to the insane amount of mopeds in South East Asia, parts for them were incredibly cheap, so I only had to part with what roughly equated to £10. With it paid for, we ordered a taxi to take us to Sengiggi, which was near the harbour. We planned to stay at a hostel there for a night and then move onto the Gili Trawangan the morning after. However, our driver was useless and dropped us off nearly 2km away from our intended hostel. We had to get another taxi, but rather than backtrack, we decided to abandon our original plan and just head straight to the harbour. We decided to rock up to Gili T a day early.
When we reached the harbour, we booked the next available boat and waited. When it arrived, we found out that these boats were not what you would called well equipped. They were small, local wooden boats that made you question their ability to stay together when out at sea. The boat did not pull in at the pier either, instead, it got as close to the beach as it could, forcing us to wade into the sea with our bags so that we could throw them onto the boat and then pull ourselves aboard. Anya was smart enough to take off her boots before doing this, but I was too lazy and submerged them into the sea instead. A decision that meant my boots still smell funny up until this day. With everyone on board (consisting of mainly locals), the boat set off towards Gili T. The 40 minute journey proved to be extremely difficult, with the rocky waves causing both of us to try desperately to fight off sea sickness. Neither of us ended up being sick, but it certainly was a struggle at times to hold back the urges to vomit.
Our own paradise
With us glad to finally reach the shores of Gili T, we jumped off of the boat and waded through the water onto dry land. The island was simply stunning. It was lined with white, powdery beaches that stretched out as far as the eye could see. Bars and restaurants bordered them, but did not take away any of their beauty. A busy strip of shops, accommodation and diving offices were built up behind it. Everything that you could want was within walking distance. It immediately felt like being in paradise, and topping it all off was the beautiful weather that welcomed us to the island. To this day, Gili T’s beaches and Gili T’s laid back party atmosphere has impressed us more than most.
We were also pleasantly surprised to find that this small island had no cars or scooters. What we were not happy to see though, was the alternative. Small, mistreated horses were forced to pull around carts all the day to act as a substitute to taxis. Anya and I vowed to never use one of these horse and carts. It was horrible to watch. Therefore, we walked to our hostel, and when we arrived we explained that we had arrived one day too early for our 3 night booking. They told us it was okay as they still had spaces available and showed us to our room. We were told that we needed to change rooms the next day, but we were just glad that they still had space. When we were settled, we messaged our Canadian friend and found out that she also had arrived. So she came over to visit with a friend she had already made, a pleasant Dutch girl, so that evening we went to dinner together and for some drinks afterwards. They told us that they planned to go snorkelling the next day and asked if we wanted to join them. Anya was keen but I was not sure because of my wounds. I told them that I would make a decision in the morning.
With the evening done, we returned to our hostel and went to bed … only to be awoken at half 4 in the morning to this…
Forgive me for only providing a link rather than embedding it directly into this blog, but WordPress foolishly expects me to pay for such a feature. Anyway, it turns out that there was a mosque a street or two away from our hostel, and it used its megaphone during any of its prayer times, which included one at 04:30 a.m. Anya’s reaction was one of pure anger, while mine was of utter disbelief. Such a disbelief even, that I found myself laughing uncontrollably. It was an inexplicable experience. It sounded like the man praying into the megaphone was in the room with us. After about 20 minutes, with me exhausted from laughing so much, we were allowed to sleep again.
When we awoke, this time not to the sound of prayers from the mosque, I too decided that I would go snorkelling because otherwise I would have sat around bored until we were allowed to check into our new room. So we had breakfast, checked out of our room and met the other girls. They were not happy. The Dutch girl was covered in bed bug bites, and the Canadian was fearful that they had gotten into her clothes. They both checked out of their hostel, and would find another after snorkelling.
Before we booked Gili Beach Bum, our hostel, Anya discovered from reading reviews online that every single hostel on the island suffered from a bed bug problem. This meant that choosing a place to stay was very difficult, and we were taking a risk regardless of what we had chosen. We were lucky to have not awoken to any bed bug bites, meaning that our mattresses were clean, but we had witnessed a woman complaining at the reception when we first arrived because her mattresses was full of them. We just hoped that our next room would not have them either.
We booked the snorkelling just in time before it was due to start, so I quickly ran back to the hostel to get some water while I still could, and thankfully I did, because the muppet that was Anya had left her tablet under her pillow in the room after we had checked out. One of the staff members had found it when they checked the room and told me to go quickly get it. Who knows if it would have still been around when we got back from snorkelling?
With the tablet safe, and a ‘nightmare’ avoided, we proceeded on with our day. We tried on our fins and masks, and were boarded onto a boat. We were then taken to our first snorkelling point, so that we could jump in and see what the island’s surrounding marine life had to offer. We were treated to beautiful coral and impressively coloured fish. I was so glad at this point that I had been able to reign in my fear of the sea to some degree, and was actually able to enjoy this.
After some exploration, we were told to return to the boat so that we could be taken to the next snorkelling point: the highly-anticipated ‘Turtle Point’. I do not think that a single person on that boat was not excited at the prospect of seeing some sea turtles in their natural habitat, and before we were even close to the right area, one turtle quickly shot by our boat. Only a few had managed to see it in time, so everyone had a sharp eye out for them after that. As we approached the intended area, one of the tour guides was already on the lookout for some turtles. It did not take him long to start shouting out, “Turtle! Turtle!” and low and behold, a ginormous turtle had come up one side of the boat for air. I couldn’t believe it, I had imagined these turtles to be no more than 2 feet long, but this one had clocked in at well over a metre. Everyone on the boat was astonished and tried as quickly as possible to jump off the boat so that they could get a closer look. Never had I been so willing to jump into the sea at top speed.
With everyone in the sea, it did not take long for the turtle to get the air it required and re-submerge itself into the dark, murky depths of the sea. It was peculiar to see the turtle so calm when people were suddenly appearing in the water around it. It did not care at all, and continued on about its business as normal. Now that the turtle was gone, everyone dispersed in search of more turtles. Unfortunately, I did not get far because my snorkel was in poor condition, failed me and caused me to swallow large amounts of sea water. I had to return to the boat within a few minutes so that I could cough it all back up. Anya, on the other hand, did not have this problem so managed to find another two turtles during her exploration before having to return to the boat. It was a shame that I did not get to see any more than the first two turtles, but I did not care, I was still amazed at the ones I had seen and was happy.
When everyone was back on the boat, we were taken to Gili Air for lunch, with a service so quick that the food managed to beat the drinks to the table. With our bellies now full, we returned to the boat so that we could be taken to one more area for snorkelling. At around this time, the waters began to become rougher, and by the time we reached our snorkelling destination, the waters were too dangerous to jump into. We were then taken to another spot with calmer waters. The snorkelling was pleasant, but there was no way it could top our interactions with the turtles.
Afterwards, we returned to land, checked into our new room and showered while the two other girls went their separate ways to find new hostels to stay at. In the meantime, we met our new roommate, a fun Australian teacher who frequently visited Indonesia during the holidays. She was in the middle of a diving course so she had to be up early the next day, but as the next day was going to be her last, she said she would join us for drinks then.
When the Canadian had found her new place, she met up with us so we could go out for dinner and drinks to finish off our day. We found a brilliant little Indian restaurant and while having a delicious meal, we were suddenly joined by an odd Swedish couple. They were very nice people, but the guy was funny for all of the wrong reasons. He had clearly smoked too much pot in his life, and it left him odder than most. Nevertheless, he provided some great entertainment that night.
The next day, we met up with the Canadian only to learn that bad luck had fallen upon her. Her new hostel also had a bed bug problem, because she was now covered in bed bug bites just like the Dutch girl had been. Her hostel was kind enough to move her to a new room and had all of her clothes put into the laundry. Once again, Anya and I were fortunate to wake up to no bites whatsoever. Our new room appeared to be clean too.
Our plan for the day was to explore the island. It was a small island, and could be cycled around comfortably in an hour. The Australian had now finished her morning dives, and ultimately her course, so joined the three of us. Our plans failed however. We did not make it very far before being distracted by the cocktails served at the Indian restaurant from the previous night. After spending a fair amount of time there, we decided to give up on our idea of exploration and returned to our hostel. The hostel had its own pool bar, so we decided that we would continue our period of relaxation there. We treated ourselves to rum coconuts.
One party after another
The one issue with our hostel was the lack of a good common area to meet other people from our hostel, but while we were all at the pool, one of the staff members approached us and told us if we would be interested in a family dinner with everyone else from the hostel as a means to meet people. We were obviously keen on the idea, as our last 2 nights had only concluded with a few drinks and nothing more, this was our chance to have a proper night out. We got ourselves ready and went upstairs to meet everyone else from our hostel for dinner. We met many people over dinner, with the meal that we were served randomly being gnocchi, but it was the Americans who stood out. They were genuine, warm-hearted and downright hilarious (it may have helped that one of them looked like a young Jon Malkovich with the voice of Jonah Hill). It was these people that we spent our night with and by the morning, we all treated each other like great friends.
But at the end of that night, I had returned home before Anya had. Foolishly, I locked the door from the inside after being spooked out by a prostitute who had wanted to sell me her services. I was somehow unaware that I was the one with the key despite opening the door with it. I quickly fell asleep, and eventually Anya returned to find that the door was locked. The top of my bed was right next to the door, meaning that my head could not have been more than 3 feet away from it, so Anya began knocking on the door to wake me up and let her in. I did not wake up. She began to call my name. I did not wake up. She began to knock on the door more violently while calling my name through the hole in the door. I did not wake up. Anya began to violently attack the door while screaming my name. I still did not wake up.
After 20 minutes, some locals nearby told her to give up, so she went upstairs to where we had eaten our family dinner earlier that night. Anya had a plan. She knew that the prayers from the mosque would begin to blare out at 4:30 a.m., and they would almost definitely awake me, as they always did, so she waited. Right on cue, at 4:30 a.m., the megaphone began to blast out the morning prayer. This was Anya’s chance. She bolted downstairs and to the door of our room. Surely enough, inside I had been half-awoken by the mosque, so she called out for me to open the door and I finally heard her. I let her in, she told me her tale, I laughed and then went back to sleep.
It had been an exciting night, with a hilarious ending for Anya, but we all suffered for it the next day. We had no choice but to treat ourselves to hungover burgers. This day quickly became bittersweet, as we had to bid farewell to our Australian friend. It was time for her to go home. We could not believe that we had only known her for less than 2 days. It had felt much longer, and it was a shame to part ways with her. In fact, our time at Gili T was supposed to be coming to an end at this point, with the last night we had booked forthcoming. We did not want to leave the island. We were in love with it. The beaches, the people, the wildlife and the convenience of having it all on your doorstep. We were in love with all of it. So rather than just extend by one day, we extended it by three. We would spend a week on Gili T, a quarter of our entire time in Indonesia.
Now without the fear of leaving looming over us, Anya and I thought that perhaps we could finally explore the island while our Canadian friend was scuba diving. Our plans failed again, with the day and night following a similar trend to the last. A day of relaxation followed by going out in the evening. This obviously resulted in the need for another hungover burger the next morning. It was on that morning that we discovered that the upcoming evening was going to be our last with the Americans. We obviously needed to make the most of it, but it was still sad news nonetheless. Saying farewell to such great people was never easy for us, but there was a silver lining to all this: the French Canadians, which we had met in Kuta, were due to arrive in a matter of hours.
The reunion with them quickly led to discussions about that evening. We had already planned on going to go out with the Americans, so now the French Canadians wanted to join in on these plans. It was something that we could not have been more thrilled about. The French Canadians and the Americans together? The formula was perfect. Therefore, we took on another round of punishment to our livers and ended up at a bar with unlimited drinks. It was so good to be with the French Canadians again, and instantly we remembered all the reasons why is was so fun it was to be around these guys. Much to no one’s surprise, we had another great night out.
The next morning, after what felt like the hundredth hungover burger, we bid a sad farewell to our American friends and also had to bid farewell to our Canadian friend. She was moving onto Canggu, which was also going to be our next destination, meaning that at least one of these farewells was only temporary. After all that, we proceeded with not doing very much at all once again. We began to wonder if we would ever actually try and explore the rest of the island after so many failed attempts. In a move that stunned no one, we went out yet again that night with the French Canadians.
A nightmare that was not my own.
I do not know if my luck had somehow changed by this point, because on that night out a nightmare had befallen Anya rather than me for once. Anya had unknowingly lost her card at some point during the night. It is not known whether it was pickpocketed from her or it had fallen out onto the floor at some point, but the card ended up in someone else’s hands. Anya was actually still completely oblivious to this the next day … until she received a text saying that her card been declined at another hostel. She was confused and upon trying to find her card, she quickly realised that it was gone. She blocked it, looked up where the hostel was, and went to find her card. Oddly, no one at the hostel knew what she was talking about, and had told her that no one had tried to make any payments to them yet that day. Anya had no choice but to accept that the card was lost, and proceeded with having another card ordered home.
Now obviously I was not glad that this had happened to Anya. I could easily imagine how annoyed I would have been if it had happened to me, but there was some form of joy in the back of my mind nevertheless. Not at the misfortune that transpired against Anya, but at the prospect, the possibility even, that my luck on this trip may have turned somehow. I found myself wondering if perhaps I would not end up experiencing any more ‘nightmares’ on this trip. Care to take a guess if I was right on that one?
The final night
With the issue regarding Anya’s missing card finally sorted, we quickly realised that our last day on the island was upon us and we still had not explored the island. We could delay it no longer, so despite being very hungover, Anya and I rented some bicycles and proceeded with taking a tour of the island. Anya’s hangover must have been worse than mine, because at nearly the half way point around the island, Anya had decided that she could go no further and told me to go on. We split ways and went different ways around the island. Anya went back the way from which we returned and I took the unexplored route. We met back at our hostel and rested before meeting up for dinner with the French Canadians. It was our last night, so we had decided we would take it easy. We wanted to be in good shape for the boat ride the next day back to Bali.
At dinner, the French Canadians desperately tried to convince us to go out with them again, but we told them that we could not risk being ill for the boat ride. We exchanged farewells and headed back to the hostel, but as Anya got ready to go to bed, I found myself questioning my decision to not join the French Canadians one last time for a night out. Eventually I managed to convince myself that staying in was the actual mistake, so I quickly changed and headed out to find the French Canadians. I knew exactly where they would be: the bar with the unlimited drinks offer. I was not wrong and another fun night followed. To me, it was the perfect way to say goodbye to them.
With that, the next morning we boarded a ferry and headed back to Bali. Before we knew it, we were in Canggu. Despite the fact that we had been at Gili T for a week, we still wished that we could have stayed for longer on the island. Even now, months later while writing this, Anya and I still maintain that Gili T is one of the highlights of this trip. We constantly tell people to go there if they plan on going to Indonesia, and we constantly hear others rave on about Gili T themselves if they have already been there. We both want to return there someday.
After arriving in Canggu, we proceeded to do nothing for the next two days. Gili had exhausted us, and now Canggu was giving us our overdue detoxes. On the third and final night however, we met up one last time with our Canadian friend for dinner before bidding each other farewell. It was time for her to head home, and it was time for us to head to our next destination: Vietnam.
I wish that I could end the blog here, but it just wouldn’t be one of my blogs if there wasn’t a ‘nightmare’ to tell…
Nightmare the Fifth
After our final night’s rest in Canggu, we prepared ourselves for our flight to Vietnam. We had a morning flight booked, so we made sure to get up with ample time to arrange transport and arrive at the airport 2 hours before flying. But there was a problem in our wake. There were only two roads of Canggu. One of those roads was a narrow street built through rice paddies, and on the day of our flight, this road had been blocked. Two cars from opposite directions had tried to pass each other on a narrow strip of road. What resulted of this were two cars half hanging off the road and dipping into the rice paddies on either side of the road. There was no way through.
What this meant was that there was now only one road out of Canggu. With a whole town’s worth of people trying to leave it to get to work, it was clear that it would be difficult to leave Canggu. In reality, it was even worse than that. It had left the sole road out of Canggu completely deadlocked. We joined the queue, and in an hour and a half had only managed to move about 50 or 60 metres. It was hopeless. We had to give up our attempt of making our flight. To our annoyance, any flights later that day, or the next, cost an absolute fortune, yet we had no choice. When we returned to the hostel, we paid the hefty price for a flight later in the evening of the same day.
To further increase our annoyance, our original flight only had a 2 hour layover in Singapore, but our new flight had a 7 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur. We were forced to sleep in a freezing terminal on hard, uncomfortable benches that felt no better than the tiled floor beneath them. But when I say slept, what I actually mean is that we shivered ourselves into exhaustion, in the freezing cold, for hours on end. During that time, our only, but constant, wish was that time would do us a favour and speed up.
After the ordeal, we readily jumped onto our second flight. In a little over an hour, we had made it. We had reached Vietnam. We were sad to leave Indonesia, and the fond memories of it that it had given us, but we were also excited for what laid ahead of us. To explore a country that ran along the entire spine of South East Asia.