Monday, 26 November 2012

Gili Air

Firstly i would like to dedicate this post to a beautiful lady who we met on the boat during the crossing to Gili Air called, Maya. She's from Prague and her partner Vincent, who used to live in Penzance, Cornwall and teach at a local school there (small world!) were on holiday island hopping and exploring Bali. We bumped into them many of times during our stay on Gili Air and i can honestly say I've never met such a lovely, kind and honest couple. 

We stayed in touch via email but after 2 weeks of leaving Gili Air i received a heartbreaking email from Vincent explaining that during their trip, Maya, had contracted a serious eye infection and had lost the sight in one eye. Maya had to be flown back to Prague for an operation because the infection had destroyed the sight in her eye. Both Ian and I were in complete shock and really saddened to hear the news.

We still keep in touch to this day and thankfully because of Mayas' positive attitude, her determination to succeed and live life to the full, she has quickly learnt to adapt after her life changing illness. 

Pictured below are Vincent & Maya

We paid 25,000IR each for a boat crossing from Gili Meno to Gili Air. I quickly found a cheap fan room in the village for 70,000IR per night (no breakfast included) called ‘Eazy Gili Home Stay’. The room was clean enough and quite spacious with a large bed and a sitting area outside.

Our first day here we explored the whole island on foot, stopping off for some lunch along the way and looking at some alternative accommodation a bit nearer to the beach.
We looked at a vast variety of rooms and found that unless you look around you will find yourself paying too much for some of the rooms available. An example of this was where a backpackers located at a dive centre were charging 150,000IR for a pokey room with a shared bathroom! 
Alternatively you can also really splash out on accommodation here, some of the places we viewed, just out of curiosity, were amazing. One place in particular that stood out was called ‘Kai’s Beach House’; check out their website here It had the most beautifully carved wooden furniture and was decorated with a quirky/beach theme throughout with a plunge pool in the garden.
We then came across a place that looked like it would be within our budget. It was called ‘Diva Beach Bungalows’, it only had 3 rooms and a little shack bar/restaurant overlooking the beach. It was located further away from the main strip of bars/restaurants and closer to sunset beach.
We secured a fan room (pictured below) for 110,000IR per night that included breakfast. The room was much nicer/cleaner than the room from the previous night and it was right by the beach.

The beaches here are not as appealing as Gili Meno, the tide comes up quite high meaning there is not a lot of sand left and I saw quite a bit of rubbish, especially where there were sun loungers. I still much preferred this island to Gili Trewangan, just because of the driftwood shack bars/restaurants and although much more developed compared with Gili Meno it is still quite laid back and the prices for food etc are quite reasonable.
That evening we went to the ‘Zipp Bar’ where we took advantage of the buy one get one free happy hour cocktails and chatted to the friendly bar staff. Needless to say the following morning we were both feeling a little fragile. 

After our cocktail night we had to pack up our belongings and move to our new room. We had planned on getting a lift with a horse and cart driver. That was until they quoted us 50,000IR! We laughed about the price and were then quoted 30,000IR but we still felt it was too much as it was less than 1 mile away and all of the drivers were just sitting around doing nothing or playing chess, they weren't exactly in demand for their services.
We instead decided to save ourselves some money and walk. So, with the both of us feeling a slightly worse for wear, we dragged/carried our entire luggage along a sandy track. We stopped off a few times along the way to try and get some of our energy back, before finally arriving at ‘Diva Beach Bungalows’, drenched in sweat and gasping for water.

Due to the overcast weather we spent most of our days reading and writing on the balcony area of our room and in random hut cafes on the beach. Ian did go snorkeling a couple of times and saw a huge sea snake, an octopus and a turtle. You do have to go out past the dead coral to see anything but it is not too far from the shore.
Because of the overcast and rainy weather we left after 4 nights of being on the island. We paid 40,000IR for a horse and cart to take us to the boat, which despite our reservations about the cost was actually a really enjoyable ride.