A Cultural Travel and Expat Blog

Storm Scenes from Gili Trawangan

Posted By in Indonesia, Travel Photography | 10 comments

Storm Scenes from Gili Trawangan

It was one of the more impulsive travel decisions we have ever made. We had planned to spend 5 days exploring Bali, but after less than a day in Kuta, we felt suffocated and depressed.  I had done some research, so I expected Kuta to be touristy.  What I didn’t expect was for the street vendors to tell me that they would starve to death if I didn’t buy a necklace, and for the locals to speak in unnatural Aussie slang.  The prices of everything from accommodation to food were so inflated that we began  to contemplate assuming fetal positions in our overpriced guesthouse until our onward flight a few days later.  It felt like Kuta was slipping its fingers into our wallets at every turn. I’ve never seen a place more broken and warped by tourism.  

We knew that we easily could leave and that more culture could be found by traveling to other cities in Bali; but it was as if we had become locked in some kind of dissociative Kuta-induced trance. We couldn’t make a choice about what to do or where to go. On our second night, Brent ran into some fellow Canadians at our guesthouse who couldn’t stop talking about their recent trip to the Gili Islands. It was all the sign we needed. We were on a boat the next morning.

Gili Trawangan

The Gili Islands are located off the coast of the larger Indonesian island of Lombok. Of the trio of islands, Gili Trawangan is the largest and most popular. After the urgent, frenzied energy of Kuta, arriving on Gili Trawangan felt like heaving a deep sigh. Bali is so large and developed that it had been easy to forget that we were on an island at all. In contrast, Gili Trawangan is so small that we were able to walk around its entire circumference in less than 2 hours. We were never far from the beach.

Gili Trawangan

Cars and motorbikes are illegal on the whole island, so people travel by foot, bike or horse-drawn carriage. There are tourist bars and restaurants, but the relaxed island vibes still dominate.

horses on Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan horses

It rained frequently, but they were big, beautiful rains that filled up the streets with deep puddles, and turned the sky to striking shades of slate.

Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan

 Gili Trawangan

 

Gili Trawangan

The most memorable moment of the whole trip ended up being a simple one. I returned to our guesthouse alone one night, and the room was silent except for the light sounds of rain hitting the pavement outside. Then, the electricity suddenly when out at the same moment that the call to prayer came piercing through the stillness of the night. Like in most of Indonesia, the locals on Gili Trawangan are predominantly Muslim. I sat in the peaceful darkness listening to how the haunting melody echoed over the entire island and mixed with the sounds of the storm.

Do you have a favourite place in Indonesia? Where would you like to visit?

 

If you have any questions about this post or anything else email me at jessica@waysofwanderers.com. Or share your thoughts in the comments! 

 

10 Comments

  1. Steph (@20YH) March 14, 2013

    That looks so cool & sounds like it was exactly the change you were looking for! I'm glad you were able to cut your losses and recognize that a place really just wasn't working for you so it was time to try something different. It happens to all of us because we just can't like everywhere. Honestly, I was never really interested in visiting Bali (though I did want to hit Indonesia), but due to some very cheap tickets, we will be flying there in late July. I think we will try to get ourselves to one of the "less touristy" areas right away & hopefully that will work for us. But it is good to know that the Gili islands are just a short ferry ride away!
    My recent post Finding the Thing You Can Never Leave Behind

    • waysofwanderers March 14, 2013

      I've heard Amed is a really nice area – it's mostly small, traditional fishing villages – that was one of the other options we were considering before we went out to the Gili Islands. I think as long as you stay far away from Kuta, you should be fine. Although if I could do it over, I would probably stay on Lombok instead of Bali; we only saw a glimpse of it, but it was quiet, beautiful, and a really good base for exploring some of the other islands in the area.

  2. sarahwriteshere2010 March 15, 2013

    Dear Jess,

    I don't know how to follow you on WordPress. Your site is well set up, I just don't know how to use the internet.

    • waysofwanderers March 16, 2013

      Hmm – I think there was a problem with my Feedburner. You should be able to enter your email address in the right-hand column now. I'm glad you pointed it out – I had no idea that people couldn't subscribe!

    • waysofwanderers April 3, 2013

      Thanks, Tammy! It was amazing to see people traveling un-ironically by horse-drawn carriage.

  3. Anne January 8, 2014

    HI Jessica, I'm sorry to hear your trip to Bali was spoiled by spending your time in Kuta. I was in Indonesia two years ago with a friend and spent 5 days in Bali at the beginning of the trip and then eight days at the end of the trip. The first five days we spent in Ubud which was a great place to be. Very friendly and laid back as well as a very interesting place to visit. We stayed in a beautiful homestay with a local family and were made very welcome. Very little begging there. The eight days at the end of the trip we spent in Sanur, a beach resort. It was glorious. Lovely beachside hotel at a very cheap and budget traveller price. We visited Kuta for the afternoon and all we did was do a quick walk of the beach and left, We were horrified at the difference in Kuta from the rest of the island. I really don't think Kuta is a good advert for Bali atall. Very dirty and overcommercialised.

    • waysofwanderers January 9, 2014

      I really wish we had gone to Ubud instead of Kuta. I'd definitely like to go back to Bali, since, I agree, I don't think Kuta reflects culture of the whole island.

  4. haileymariehirst October 31, 2014

    Hi Jessica! During our trip to Indonesia we opted to visit Ubud when we were in the Bali area, which I didn't find nearly as bad as you describe some parts of Kuta to be. By far my favorite part of our month long trip was the 8 days we spent on Nusa Lembongan. It is an incredibly relaxing island that has many different options for where to eat, where to scuba dive, and hidden places to explore! It was only a short 30-40 minute fast boat ride from Bali.
    My recent post San Juan Islands – Girls Weekend 1.0

  5. gilimenomojo November 14, 2014

    Hi Jessica! During our trip to Indonesia we opted to visit Ubud when we were in the Bali area, which I didn't find nearly as bad as you describe some parts of Kuta to be. By far my favorite part of our month long trip was the 8 days we spent on Nusa Lembongan. It is an incredibly relaxing island that has many different options for where to eat, where to scuba dive, and hidden places to explore! It was only a short 30-40 minute fast boat ride from Bali.

    iam from bali
    gilimenomojo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *