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Bali and the Gili Islands

Bali and the Gili Islands

 

August 2017 I went to Bali with a friend of mine I met in Brisbane while living Australia  at a hostel.  She had already booked her trip to Bali back in May and asked if I wanted to come along. I was a bit hesitant at first but decided this is why I was in Australia to experience life and travel so I booked my ticket on the same flight and eagerly counted down the months till Bali.  The time came up fast before departure date and since my job at the time was insanely busy, she is the absolute best and booked everything.

Our trip was planned for 7 days, 1 in Kuta, 3 in Ubud, 2 in Gili T and last day in Seminyak before coming back to Brisbane. This was my first time really travelling to a country like Indonesia and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I can tell you Eat Pray Love is not at all what the real Bali is.  Movies…

 

Day one we arrived quite late and didn’t see much of Kuta except the hotel and of course what is a first night without some Bingtangs. If you have ever been to Bali you know Bingtang, the local beer that always seems to be slightly warm, it’s pretty much the only thing you will drink there.  The next morning we ventured off for breakfast and spent some time on the beach before heading to Ubud for 3 days which we were so excited to do.  Kuta is known for the clubby area and not the best place to visit in Bali. It’s insanely busy with scooters and traffic.  Pretty sure it’s also an Australian party mecca.

We arrived in Ubud and the hostel we stayed at was just lovely.  It was family owned, breakfast and coffee every morning and the brothers who worked there even drove us into town one night on their scooters.  It was more of a bed and breakfast/home stay than your typical hostel.  We thought Ubud was going to be quiet, but were we ever wrong.  Even though we stayed outside of the city, the scooters and traffic were insane everywhere.  One day we hired a driver for the day which I highly recommend and it cost about $30 Australian each.  We visited 6 locations and really got to experience the sites of Bali.  We saw the Monkey Forest where poor Marzia got bit by a monkey (not to worry they are all treated for rabies and there is a clinic on site so they claim.) We went to Ubud PalaceThe Tegalalang Rice FieldsGoa Gajah,  Tegenungan Waterfall and Tirta Empul Tampaksiring.  It was such an amazing day and we got to see and experience so much.

 

The Rice Terraces 

Tirta Temple where you can cleanse yourself in the sacred waters

 

After Ubud, we left for Gili T, part of the Gili Islands.  To get there you can take the fast boat which is about 1.5 hours and be warned it can be a terrifying ride. The boat drives fast and there are no seat belts.  You almost feel like you could die on this trip or injure yourself in what feels like intense airplane turbulence.  That summed up with fellow passengers suffering sea sickness in buckets makes it really luxurious.  To the Bali boat drivers this is normal and to the regular folk this can be a horrible experience especially if you suffer from  motion sickness and anxiety when it comes to these kinds of trips.  This is all part of the travelling experience that tests you.  Once you finally realize you are still alive and arrive on the glorious beaches of Gili T, you can’t even remember the boat ride because you are overwhelmed with pure beauty of white sane, crystal clear water, the chaotic crowds of backpackers and horse drawn taxis. There are no motorized vehicles on the island so if you want to get around, renting a bike is probably the best suggestion and you can rent one from almost anywhere.

Gili Islands

Gili T is an amazing and beautiful island.  I almost can’t explain how magical it is.  From the crystal clear water to the beautiful sunsets and beach swings, the free-spirited seem to flock here and I will be honest when I say I felt a connection with the island.  Two days was not enough.  Beach drum circles and bonfires at one corner, reggae music and dancing at the next, one head turn and the techno beach parties are going into the night.  You can truly find your place on this island no matter your preference.

Our first night we drank happy hour cocktails on the beach and watched the sunset while posing for the popular swing picture that Gili is known for, trust me you go there and you will do it too.

One of the famous swings Gili T 

 

The next day we went on a snorkeling trip around all of the Gili islands and it only cost $20 Australian each roughly.  The tour was on a glass bottom boat and we got to see turtles and sculptures hidden underwater.  The boat stopped for lunch on Gili Air and after that our group headed back just in time for sunset. It was an amazing experience all around except when I threw my shoulder out jumping off the boat.  For someone who is usually not that accident prone, this trip proved me wrong.

In Gili T there is a fantastic night market with so many mouth-watering options for food, it’s hard to decide what to satisfy your foodie-loving taste buds with.  I highly recommend you check out the night market if ever on the island.

There is a very common phrase you may hear when people talk of Bali and that is called “Bali Belly. ” A lovely gastro that can hit you out of nowhere.  I was so lucky to have gotten it twice.  Watch out where you eat and don’t drink the water.  I think I fell victim to cheap Mojitos.  I was soooo sick of Bintang at this point and I payed for it.  My guess is this is why the warm beer is so popular.

Last day in Gili T and I did not want to leave, especially knowing we had to take the death boat back and then another shuttle for 3 hours to Seminyak.  We arrived at our hostel at 10 pm after attempting to catch the 11 am death boat. Since it was full we had 4 more hours at the beach.  Not a bad layover!

Once we arrived at the hostel we were beyond starving and exhausted.  We ventured down the street to get some cheap JFC (Bali’s version of KFC.)  As we were finally ready to head back to the hostel for a good night sleep and Seminyak exploring the next day, I was in for a nice surprise that falls into the Bali can be a minefield category.  Mid conversation with Marzia and I had no idea what happened except I was in intense pain, 5 feet below the road, covered in sewage water  and unable to climb out.  In the pitch darkness of the road and clearly not paying attention, I managed to fall straight into a sewage ditch on the side of the road, slammed my knee on concrete and scraped my right arm on either concrete or the giant piece of wood that was sticking out the side of the ditch.  As I panicked not quite realizing what happened and if anything was broken, we luckily were able to wave someone down who drove by on a scooter and they stopped to help pull me out. BLESS!

The ditch I fell into in Seminyak (we went back the next day to see what it looked like in daylight.  Scary!)

Not sure whether to go to the hospital or back to the hostel, I realized nothing was broken and the lovely locals took us back to the hostel to mend the sewage wounds.  Bali locals are some of the loveliest people I have ever met.  The main thing I was worried about was getting some weird flesh eating disease from the sewage water. PANIC!!!  Mass amounts of rubbing alcohol and a trip to the doctor the next day, I hoped the flesh eating disease chance was minimized.  Inner anxiety got the best of me.    I can’t help but laugh when thinking of the situation.  Makes for a good travel story and adds to the overall experience.  Travel will always have its highs and lows and anything can happen.  These situations help shape you as a traveler and as a person.  I was so fortunate to have amazing people around to help (shout out to Marzia and the locals) and luckily not injure myself more that I did.

Bali was an incredible experience and it has only made me want to travel more.  Do I want to go back?  One day yes! The Gili Islands are still on my radar for another visit.

Safe travels and lookout for those ditches.

Lori

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