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Gili Air, relaxing on a remote island

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Bungalow under the palms on Gili Air

Gili Air is one of the three gili islands near the coast of Lombok, Indonesia. It is close enough to Bali to attract tourists, but remote enough to not be overwhelmed by them. The tourists that come here are a mix between beach types and backpackers.

On Bali we read in our e-mail that Sandy and Alex, the scottish girls we met earlier on our world journey, arrived at Gili Air. We were planning to go this little island near the coast of Lombok ourselves, and decide to go there immediately.


The trip to Gili Air is one of many transfers. A minivan picks us up and brings us to a bus, that brings us to the ferry to Lombok. A bus on Lombok brings us to Sengigi, where a little boat brings us to the Gili islands (there are three of them: Gili Meno, Gili On the ferry from Bali to LombokTrawangan, and Gili Air), and another boat brings us to Gili Air. Most of our fellow travellers get grumpier along the way, apparently not used to uncomfortable journeys and delays. For us it's an easy trip since everything is arranged.

Dengue fever

As soon as we set foot on Gili Air, Sabine spots Sandie and Alex on a terrace. Pure coincidence, and we join them immediately, ignoring the touts around us. We have a lot to talk about, especially about the Dengue fever Alex had in Thailand and Malaysia and kept her in the hospital for two weeks. It gets late and for convenience we decide to check in in a bungalow next to our friends.

Views around

The next morning we make a trip around the island. Gili Air is small and there are no cars or motorbikes. The only transport is by horse and carriage or bicycle, nice and quiet. View from Gili AirFrom the east and south side, where we are located, Lombok is visible at a kilometre distance. At the west side, there is Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan behind that, the party island where it is more crowded, noisy and dirty. Further, in the distance, the silhouette of Gunung Agung, a volcano on Bali, is visible. Enough views to enjoy.

Gili Air is so small that we need to stop for a drink several times in order to not be back within the hour. We also inspect some other bungalows, but although ours is a bit more expensive, the difference is too small for the hassle of moving. And we actually like the western style toilet and a good service at our bungalow.


Patrick with moustache and goaty, looking like a VOC regentThen we decide it's time for a shaving session. Since Kuala Lumpur Patrick hasn't shaved so we could see what a beard on his face would look like. The gradual change disappointed us, and especially the moustache starts to irritate. So the beard has to go, and we do that in stages. We take pictures of Patrick with sideburns and circular beard, just the circular beard, moustache and goaty, and just the moustache. The results are unexpectedly spectacular. With the moustache and goaty he looks just like a VOC regent in the Indonesia of the 19th century, and the sideburns and circular beard aren't too bad either. When also the moustache is gone, we even have to get used to the bald face, something we never expected.

Instead of going around the island again, we also take a walk across it. Here we see the village with locals. Funny to see how daily life is going on here the old-fashioned way, despite the tourists just a few hundred meters away spending their money. The houses here are often just cottages, but once in a while we see a stone building. Horse and Carriage, the only transport option on Gili AirThese probably belong to westerners, owning one of the three diving schools on the island. But other than that, it is a nice, authentic village.


On Gili Air (to be pronounced as Gili Ah-Ee-r) we didn't do much. Swimming and snorkelling from the beach (even a boat trip is too much of a hassle for us�) and talking to acquaintances. Apart from Sandie and Alex we meet the couple from Quebec we went from Singapore to Sumatra with. And finally we meet a fellow Dutchmen who runs a little bungalow park here, and lives part of the year here, and the other part in Holland. We can imagine how that can be an ideal combination.

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