Gili Air, Lombok

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Gili Air, Lombok

Having been back from Bali for about a week now I decided it was about time I finally finished off these blogs. This past week has been very crazy with dealing with jet lag, settling into a new and busy varsity routine and dealing with the grief of the death of my grandpa. This week has been a lot more tangible and I’m starting to feel just a tiny bit more normal (thankfully).

As I write this I’m sitting layered up with so many warm jerseys and scarves as it pours with rain outside. Many of you reading this are probably in a similar situation, so let me steal just a few minutes of your time and transport you back to two weeks ago on the sunny tropical island of Gili Air, Lombok.

As we begin this visualisation, I’d like you to imagine a little island with no real roads, just dirt tracks with people making use of bicycles and horse-drawn carriages as their transport, swaying palm trees over crystal clear waters lining white sandy beaches. Welcome to paradise, aka Gili Air.

We arrived on the island after a two and a half hour ferry ride from Nusa Lembongan with Gili Getaway and then walked across the island to find our amazing accommodation: Ardi Beltza Bungalows. We absolutely loved our stay here as the staff were so helpful and friendly, the bungalows were designed in the traditional style and there was a lovely pool with deckchairs and umbrellas.

For most of this trip we’ve been very much on the go, adventuring around form place to place and doing lots of amazing things. Here on Gili Air we only had one agenda: RELAX. It was so good to wind down after a busy trip and recharge before heading back to the daily grind back home. We spent our time cycling around the island, stopping at lots of different beaches along the way and diving into the crystal clear waters for a snorkel whenever we wanted. We tried out lots of lovely restaurants and had delicious cocktails while sitting on colourful beanbags watching the sunset.

The only other activity we did was go on a boat snorkeling trip around all three of the Gili islands. Our little glass bottomed boat took us to various snorkeling spots around Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air (the three little islands just off the main island of Lombok, Bali’s neighbouring island).

Our first two stops we were treated to the most incredible turtle sightings. We saw 12 different turtles within a really short period of time. They are honestly the most gentle and lovely creatures you can share your snorkel or dive with, allowing you to swim alongside them for a long time. I am so incredibly grateful for all the amazing interactions I’ve had with these animals during this trip.

Our next stop was just off Gili Meno where the underwater sculpture, ‘The Nest’ is located. This is an incredible underwater statue by Jason deCaires Taylor. A beautiful circle of men and women, representing the Circle of Life and our interconnectedness as humanity, has been built from stainless stain and pH neutral cement. This statue serves as a base for new corals to grow upon, in turn creating new habitats for fish. The artist is wanting to help make positive changes to counteract how man has destroyed the reef and its co-inhabiting ocean species.

I thought it was incredibly beautiful and mystical and really love the idea and heart behind this work of art. We loved swimming in and around the statue alongside so many colourful fishies.

Our final stop was off Gili Air at Hans Reef where we saw a huge array of colourful tropical fish, from puffer fish to boxfish, trumpet fish and butterfly fish. It was our final snorkel in the warm Indo-Pacific waters. I have really cherished the opportunity to swim alongside so many intricately beautiful, vibrantly colourful and curious creatures over the duration of my holiday. There’s something so wonderful about tropical waters and it’s definitely what’s going to keep calling me back to South East Asia for a long time still.

After the most relaxing few days we began our loooong journey back to Cape Town. Horse carriage to the port, ferry to Bali, taxi to the airport, flight to Singapore and flight to Cape Town. It took us 30 hours door to door. In between we had the scariest boat ride I’ve ever experienced (with swells taller than the boat that made me feel like we were going to tip right over any second), and found out about the death of my Grandpa just minutes before boarding our flight home. So definitely not the most pleasant journey!

If the long-haul travel journeys of this trip have told me anything, its that I really don’t enjoy the long, uncomfortable journey and flight, BUT the incredible highs of experiencing a new and beautiful place, seeing unforgettable views and learning the most important life lessons from different cultures around the world, make every uncomfortable experience SO VERY WORTH IT.

We had the most incredible trip to Bali and I would very honestly recommend it as the best trip you can take if you’ve never traveled before or are daunted about planning a trip alone. It was the easiest country to travel around. Transport organisation is literally just a Whatsapp message to a driver, distances between places are super short and tangible, food and accommodation is really reasonable (much cheaper than Cape Town) and basically the whole country wants to make your stay pleasant and enjoyable. I’ll write a full-on guide to Bali blog post at some point with all the juicy details and hands on practical advice. But for now I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our adventure and feel inspired to visit this beautiful island in Indonesia!

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