Friday, January 18, 2013

Gili Trawangan, Lombok

Gili Trawangan is one of 3 islands just off Lombok in Indonesia. On the reccomendation of a friend we decided to look it up, and upon doing some reading saw that it seemed like a pretty special place. 

Book ticket.

The fast boat from Padang Bai in Bali costs you about $100-120 (depending on your haggling skills!) and takes about 60-90 minutes. Both our trips there and back were good, pretty calm waters, felt totally safe and had great views. Others didn't think so though, and the smell of vomit wafted around the inside of the boat from some poor girl who sat right up the front.

Hot tip: if you suspect seasickness might be an issue for you, sit at the back of the boat where there is less movement and more air. It's also easier for you to rush outside for a vom, rather than do it on the floor of the boat. Thanks chick.

Aaaaanyway. The special thing about Gili T is that there are NO cars allowed. Just bikes, and horse and carts, which cost you about $5 for them to take you almost anywhere. All over the island you can hear the tooting of their bells, or the clanging of their random metal instrument against another random instrument - in order to alert you to get outta the way. They don't really stop that fast...

While we were there it rained a bit which explains the flooded roads you'll see in the pics. We got sick of having mud flicking up onto our legs from our thongs, and ended up sitting in a bar drinking mojitos while it hammered down. We all know the rain had nothing to do with the drinks... I'll take an excuse if one is presented to me, alright?

The mojitos were served to me by a kid who looked about 15, wouldn't tell me his age, was getting hammered himself behind the bar, and danced like Michael Jackson. None of the other barstaff seemed to like him. When his boss wasn't there, the drinks were strong, so we loved him. It was here that we discovered a lot of mojitos are made with brown sugar in this part of the world. It looks like shit but tastes amazing - I much prefer them this way!

One of the most memorable things about Gili T is the street side grills - they are everywhere. You just pick what you like and they grill it for you. Cheap seafood, chicken, beef, pork, whatever. They have more legit and sanitary options all along the street, like the picture below, which a lot of people go for. Most of them are attached to restaurants.

But I mean... we're in Indonesia, street food is king. We didn't bother with the clean, refridgerated options. We went straight for the local street food market, where the meat has been sitting out, they pick it up with their hands and throw it in the fryer, and you get no options for how you want it done. How they make it is how you get it. It was AWESOME. 

These guys made awesome satay sticks, and when they saw I was taking pics, were all about getting in them! They answered all my questions about how they cook their fish (as best they could, their English wasn't amazing, my Indonesian is non existant). 

The fish is gutted and butterflied then put in a wire rack which is clamped shut. They brush the skin with garlic oil and grill it for a while where it moves onto the next guy, and he brushes chilli oil onto it and keeps grilling. Finally once he's cooked it longer, he passes it onto the 3rd guy who brushes thick soy sauce over it and grills it a little longer, where it's plonked onto a plate with some rice and a lime wedge and you're done. They smelled amazing, but S and I are both not massively into seafood and didn't order one. We did get the satays from these guys though and they were probably the best I've had. So tasty, chargrilled and retained their moisture. I wanted more but S pushed me along to try something else.

We had nasi goreng which we shared, and it was the BEST I've had, it was delicious. Wok fresh, I don't even know what went in it, but it was topped with a fried egg and finished off with a dollop of spicy sambal. We hoed into it like there was no tomorrow! I also got the fried chicken with sambal and rice, which was yummy. S mentioned the sambal was hot and the stall holder who was having a smoke near our table said it was only medium heat, with a snigger. S felt the challenge had been issued, and asked for some of the HOT sambal. He put on a brave face at first, but that was because it took a minute to really hit him. Then it was a lingering burn, and he went all bogan on me and chugged his beer. 

I had to go and buy him another beer. 

Oh this chicken also made me sick....... Oooops. S didn't eat any of it because he thought it looked a bit dodgy but I was getting into the spirit of the whole experience and eating everything I could see. This was the only thing I ate that he didn't so... yeah. Bali belly isn't fun kids.

Nothing that a trip down a dodgy alleyway to a dodgy medical clinic with a dodgy doctor who charged me $50 to poke me and give me immodium and some antibiotics, couldn't fix.

Long story short - Go to Gili T, it's beautiful. Ride around the island (doesn't take long), go snorkelling, relax by the beach, and eat some street food.

Just don't get the chicken.

No, stuff it, get it, it's great, just go to the pharmacy and ask for the bali belly antibiotics FIRST. Get on top of those little mofos. Who are they to stop me eating chicken anyway!?


  1. Gili Trawangan still has it's designation as the most famous island among three Gilis (Gili Air, Gili Meno, Gili Trawangan). Though the other two Gilis have more gorgeous scenic, more clean, and less crowded.
    Travelers from Bali can reach the gilis with fast boats to Gilis.

  2. we fell in love with Gili Trawwangan

    very nice life in GILI

    We will come back and will stay on VILLAS OTTALIA GILI TRAWANGAN , the paradise !!!

  3. Super helpful post! We're trying to decide now which Gili to stay on, and you might have just convinced us to go for Gili T :)

  4. Lucky you only got sick off the chicken!
    Sounds like you were drinking at Rudy's which got busted for putting methanol in their drinks after an Aussie backpacker died.

  5. What a thorough article. I really enjoyed reading this and it kinda takes me back to last year when I also visited Gili Island. Anyway, later I found out that there's plenty other beautiful islands in Indonesia like Derawan Island or Kei Island. Have you heard about that? I usually read for my daily digest about Indonesia's tourism destinations. You should read it too, and maybe one day we got bump into each other in some place in Indonesia. ;)

  6. Interesting information. Gili Island is an exotic tourist location with its unique ecosystem. Very interesting, and existing accommodation is very unique and fun. The other alternatives for tours in Indonesia. and this year I wanted to visit this place. nice.

  7. Hello guys. If u have a vacation on Bali, I totally recommend you to go to the Gili, namely to the Trawangan
    island. To get there just ask guys from easygili. com how to buy ticket on speed boat. They helped me. So,
    now you're standing on the coast of the island. Now you can do what you want, but don't drink cheap alchohol
    or you may die. This is bad idea to do it here. Buy a beer, man. Everybody have to dive at least one time and
    try local fishing. The feeling was inexpressible!