July 21 Bali to Lombok to Gili Trawangan
07.08.2012 29 °C
After not having any luck trying to book a flight on line to Lombok last night we decided to go straight to the airport after breakfast and see if we could just get a flight. We found a flight with Merpati Air for $40 Canadian and flew to Lombok. We knew where we were heading because we had a guide book. I sat beside a nineteen year old boy from Lombok who was just heading home after his first year of University in Yogyakarta. I mentioned that he hadn't touched his food on the plane and he explained to me that he was fasting. We knew that we were heading to a Muslim country and that they had started Ramadan so I asked him if he could at least drink the water bottle that came in our little boxed lunches. He replied "No". He also told me that he prayed 5 times a day, the first time being at 5am. (Now can you imaging getting a Canadian teen to get up to pray at 5am?) (Also, you may have noted that they do serve food (for free!!) in other countries on much smaller airlines than West Jet and they give you a whole water bottle all to yourself whoo!whoo! ) When we were over the Island of Lombok, I thought we should start to loose altitude as I knew that the airport was just inland on the north east part of the island. I also knew that heading east, the Gili Islands would be to the north. Well, not so... my young friend pointed the opposite direction and we were flying further into the middle of the country. Did we get on the wrong plane?? As far as my guide book led me to believe, there was only one airport on this island.
We landed, collected our luggage, negotiated a taxi and began travelling. This is when we found out that they had closed the airport in October and moved it into the middle of the Island. (No one thought to tell us of course) So now we know the lovely new airport is in Praya and it is a long way to get to the harbour where you catch boats to take you to the little Gili Islands. We also figured out that there are many islands named Gili (perhaps Gili means Island!) After adjusting to the news, we sat back and enjoyed the sigthseeing tour of much of Lombok. Where we flew in was very flat and completely divided into farmland for rice, corn and other crops. As we progressed north we saw many small villages with a mixture of horse and cart, motorcycles and small trucks and cars. It was a real mixture of modern creeping in with the old ways.
We arrived at the dock and climbed up the ramp and made our way down the path looking for places to stay. The path was adjacent to the beach and was full of people riding bicycles and horse carts as well as various backpackers. The path was also lined with bars and signs advertising guest houses and other types of backpacker accomodations. There was a hustler on every corner trying to get you to stay at their place. (theirs not being sold out because it was miles down alleys and no where near the beach.) We were finding that they would double the price when they heard we only wanted to stay one night and some of the places were really dumps and not very clean. We settled on one of the places way back and we were satisfied with it as it was clean. There was not a top sheet or blanket. (Hey you get what you pay for) I used my sarong and the fan kept me warm.
We had dinner near the jetty at an open air food area where each portable stall cooked a different type of food. Many had fresh fish on display. We sat a a picnic table and enjoyed some local dishes which were delicious. Later, we found a nice beach bar and sat and relaxed in the warm evening breeze and listened to the music coming from another near by bar. Walking around, we realized that Gili Tawangan although known as the backpackers island has another side to it. If you turn to the left off the dock, you will find high end resorts with beautiful swimming pools and restaurants. The beaches looked really nice on that side and people were really dressed for nightlife. Most girls wear dresses in the evening.
Cameron knew one of his buddies from Calgary was on the island but because he had said that he would be on a party boat all night and they did not have cell phones or internet, we had no hope of finding him. We headed for bed but forgot to buy water. Mark went back to find a store and buy some and by fluke, he ran into Cam's buddy. He was very happy to see Mark as his friends were leaving the next day and he didn't want to leave yet. Mark went back and got the boys and they all went back to join Cam's buddy Pete at the bar.