The Gilis are a group of 3 islands that lie to the northwest of Lombok. The biggest of them is Gili Trawangan or Gili-T for short. Our guide for the day, a lad named Duell, told us Gili T was known as the party island because the entire island partied till the wee hours of the morning. Gili T was also supposed to be the most crowded. Gili Meno or Gili M, is the smallest of the three. Because of obvious reasons that I will describe below, it turned out to be my favorite. That leaves out Gili Air or Gili A – which is another little gem.
Duell told us they usually visit Gili T first, followed by Gili M and then Gili A. I requested him to reverse the order as Gili A was the farthest. I wanted our return journey to be the shortest and for that, Gili T seemed better suited as the last stop.
On the way, the boatman stopped the engine and started anchoring the boat just off the shore. As the boat lay bobbing in the gentle waters, he started reeling in a fishing line. After heaving and pulling for almost a minute, he pulled the catch into the boat. It turned out to be a fully grown barracuda. As the gasping barracuda started thrashing wildly about in our tiny boat, we gingerly moved towards the bow, afraid of losing our balance on the bobbing boat and the bite of the barracuda.
“No proplem (sic)” the boatman assured us with a smile and kicked the barracuda down into the boat’s hold. It did manage to inflict some damage on Duell’s ankles and fingers, but he just brushed it off. But we were soon we were on our way. The boatman told me in his broken English, that an entire barracuda could fetch between 70K and 100K IDR, if he managed to sell it to a restaurant in Senggigi.
Gili M turned out to be the smallest of the three and also the most isolated. There was only a handful of tourists as we walked across the western shore line. Soon enough, a horse cart drew out of nowhere but we kept walking. It was mid-afternoon and even in the hot sun, I have never ever seen the skies so beautiful or felt such cool and inviting waters anywhere in India. To top it all, the sense of isolation and the lack of a touristy feel made us feel like we were the only ones on the island. True to the Australian gentleman we met on the flight to Lombok, the sand was powdery white. Without a doubt, Gili M had turned out to be the best beach we had ever been to.
From Gili M, we hopped on to Gili T for lunch. We spent the better part of the afternoon polishing off some Nasi-Goreng and a pizza and downing a few drinks before deciding it was time to leave. Gili T was so crowded, it felt like a backpacker’s paradise. Wonder how this island must be, post sunset.
On the way back however to Lombok, Duell warned us that the sea might be a bit choppy. Choppy turned out to be an understatement for city-dwellers who are not used to sailing 1 meter high waves in the open seas on a small engine powered boat. It had taken us 40 0dd minutes to get to Gili Air in the morning. A few tension laden moments later we could see the shoreline of Lombok approaching. However, the turbulence of the waves meant we could not throw anchor at our resort. This meant we had to go up the island, till Mangsit beach where we could alight. It had taken us almost an hour and a half to get back to Lombok from Gili T. Thankfully, we did make it back in one piece and I thanked the boatman and Duell for ensuring a safe landing. Before we knew it, we were back in the cozy confines of our room at the resort, watching yet another sunset go down and reflecting on what had been one of the most memorable day of our lives. That indeed, is what I call a day well spent.