You have to get a tiny, extremely scary plane (fucking terrifying considering one had crashed recently on the same route) from Bali to one of the islands island next it, Lombok, then a taxi ride at 60mph on the wrong side of the road, on the edge of a mountain, then finally a boat from port to port. I savored this story when I got back, but it turns out most people had been there on their gap yah and already knew all about it. The Gilis are a set of 3 islands off Lombok, the biggest being Gili Trawangan – where I went for a few days. There are no police, no cars – just horse drawn carts (cidomos) that cost about $10 to go 500m down the road, diving shacks selling magic mushroom milkshakes on the side of the road, far too many Australians in Bintang vests, board-shorts & neon wayfarers and some Ibiza aspiring bars that have got it completely wrong.
The traveling neo-hippies obviously love this place because it’s all like ‘yeah, we just get high and live off the land’ (pretty much everything, including water, is piped or shipped in daily) and for some reason the south east Asian island has adopted reggae as it’s soundtrack, playing it out of every shop – so they’re all at home playing bongos and guitars, and trying to sing in Jamaican accents. Other than them you get all the Australian gap year surfer guys walking up and down the street, sleazing in the day and silently staring at a tree for 3 hours after a ‘trippy milkshake’ in the evening, German tourists in speedos and sandals, families and all the locals. It’s weird, one half of the island is basically that film ‘The Beach,’ but with a few shops and restaurants, and the other half is that film ‘The Beach,’ but without Leonardo Dicaprio, Tilda Swinton and that douche who gets angry at Leo – so just locals basically. Except for shop owners, the locals seem to stay inland – probably to avoid all the tourists – the only signs the main street has is a couple of ‘Warning-Tourist’ boards.
During the day it’s all beautiful people lying on the beach, lounging around, bongo circles (which can get kind of lame) and little beach activities -check out the turtle who stared me out when I was snorkeling, ^^^ but at night the beach-front turns in to a weird hybrid of Ibiza/Australia on a Friday night/oasis for mid-life crisis afflicted men/Amsterdam. Seeing as the police only visit every now and then no-one really has to worry about being openly fucked – so the beach is dotted with people smoking ‘pol pot,’ (local bush-weed) and tripping balls on the grey, slimy milkshakes – staring at a dude spin flames around his head.
There are a few bars playing stuff like Jon Bon Jovi & the Vengaboys full of drunk travelers hooking up – a couple of shacks playing reggae and two bars that are owned by a middle-aged guy who lives on a mock pirate ship and seems to be stuck in a misguided attempt to turn the island in to “Ibiza – The Chillout Session Greatest Hits.” One place is called Horizontal (cringe lulz) and the other, Cupid Stunt (geddit?!?!?) and they’re both resplendent with maroon velvet beds and flashy bars, but no-one goes to either. I don’t know who convinced him the island needed a big flashy place playing shit house music, but they’re laughing. If you walk up to both ends of the island you can find some good spots where it suddenly feels like you’re in a completely secluded paradise, which is pretty cool.
As shit as I may have made it sound, this place is amazing – make sure you brave the journey out to the Gilis if you ever find yourself that end of the world.