Leaving Bali wasn’t easy. Especially knowing that we were leaving behind family, hot water and room service. We also opted to fly rather than take the fast boat across ( mainly because boats and I don’t always mix) to Gili Air. This meant that we stayed overnight in a town in Lombok called Senggigi. We booked home-stay type accommodation and were picked up from the airport by Steph, the owner of the home-stay. During the car ride our very accomodating host overheard Brooke complaining about how hungry she was and decided to take us to lunch so we could try a traditional Lombok meal called ‘nasi balap’; which from what we could gather was rice, spicy coconut, peanuts and beans. The girls had pretty much lived off hot chips and spaghetti so naturally I was concerned about how we were going to navigate this politely. Lombok is known for its chillies and spicy food, our kids don’t do spicy. Thankfully Maya ate a respectable amount of her meal telling Steph how delicious it was. Phew! Brooke ate nothing of course.
The next morning we took the public boat across to Gili Air. This involved lugging all of our bags and 3 kids onto a crowded boat packed full of local produce to deliver to the cafes and restaurants. There was no peer/ jetty and no one waiting to help us at the other end. Thankfully we were able to grab a map and work out where we needed to get to. Fortunately it was only a 15 minute walk to our accommodation, Rosie’s Garden, which felt more like 15 hours in the heat carrying our bags. There are no cars, taxis or motorcycles on Gili Air. Mental note, on the way back we would pay for a horse and cart.
We all agreed it was worth the effort when we were relaxing by the beach, drink in hand, watching the sunset. Gili Air is completely unrecognisable from my last visit over 20 years ago. I remember an island without fast-boat access, a scattering of accommodation options, no electricity and evenings spent on the beach talking with the locals and watching the shooting stars. The girls refer to my frequent recollections as ‘in the olden days…’ ha ha. Now days, most of the coastline is developed with beach-side bars and accommodation. There are cafes, shops, spas and pretty much everything you could possibly need. There are also boat loads of tourists on the islands. The food and drinks weren’t cheap ( by Indonesian standards) but the quality was good.
Gili Air has been a bit of a highlight so far. We rented a glass bottom boat for a day and snorkelled with the turtles and fish. We stopped off at Gili Meno for lunch and a visit to a turtle hatchery where eggs are collected by local fisherman and brought there so that the young turtles can hatch and grow ( about 1 year) until they are released back into the ocean.
Maya also took to snorkelling like a true mermaid, diving under the water to get a closer look at the sea life. She didn’t want the day to end!
Besides enjoying a slower pace of life, we played on the beach, rode bikes, watched the sunset, ate chargrilled corn and enjoyed island living. It was definitely a welcome escape from the business of Bali and just what we needed before bracing ourselves for Yogyakarta.