Gili Air - Mushrooms and Monitor Lizards

This is the first time I've worried about getting a sunburn IN the shower. 
In our rented cabin. It's a definite risk.

We're in Gili Air. 

East of Bali, off the coast of Lombok.

It’s gorgeous. Total tropical paradise.

Not many people here. 

So we rented bikes - $2 a day - in Yahuuut.

 (yes, 3 u’s!  I wonder - what is the story on THAT?) 

Needed bikes to explore the island and find some place to stay. 

Came across Island View Bungalows on the quiet windward side of the island.

Bungalows - lovely gardens - privacy. Little wooden shelters on the beach to drink beer.

Watch the sun set. 

A sleepy bar, and a bevy of young men from Lombok.

They couldn’t be more helpful or friendly. 

Breakfast comes with the room. Served anywhere we like. 

On our balcony, at the beach, in the bar -

The "main road" goes through Island View Bungalows. 

In the first 5 minutes, I see a LARGE lizard, maybe 4-5 feet long, with a long forked tongue. 

Not at ALL like an iguana. 

It was crawling through the garden near our bungalow. 

My first Komodo-style dragon! 

Although I think it’s a monitor lizard. 

Which I guess a Komodo dragon is, too. 

It slid under one of the bungalows. -Glad it's not ours.

Our bungalow. A/C. Hammock on the balcony. On the beach. $42.

There are no cars on the island, so no need for roads. 

No cars, no motorcycles, no dogs. 

This is the main road. 

"Downtown" Gili Air.

There are tracks - and trails - for bicycles and horse carts. 

Even our scuba equipment is transferred by horse cart.

We got on our bikes and explored the island. It isn’t big. 

It's only about 2 hours’ walk in total circumference. 

It’s gorgeous, almost empty, not expensive. 

I think it might be rainy season.

There is a mosque and a school in the middle, and about 3-4 villages. 

They’re simple places. Everyone says hello. 

Women wear scarves or more. It’s a Moslem island. 

The tourists - mostly young backpackers - are on the edges, at the beaches. 

The locals all live in the interior, in the villages. 

Not a bad system. 

Gili Air is one of 3 tiny Indonesian islands. 
Gili means "small island".

We took a ferry from Padang Bai in Bali to get here. 

At some point, I got a call from Kilian - “Are you ok?”
I had no idea there’d been a 7.8 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra.

That's pretty big.
(Don't even THINK about tsunamis-!)

No sign of any earthquake here...

I told him we'd been invited to a "trance" party on the beach tonight by a gang of young travelers. Most of the visitors to Gili Air are young backpackers. It's firmly on the "Banana Pancake Trail". Complete with mushroom shakes and all that. 

(Magic mushrooms grow wild here. They even put them on pizzas.) 

Tonight - or early tomorrow am - is apparently a full solar eclipse. 

However - we decline - a cold shower and a glass of wine in our air-conditioned room just sounds SO much more appealing! We'll get up early to see the eclipse.

So here we are tonight. Under the mosquito net, which gives it all a privacy and intimacy that’s kinda cool. Inside the net: My Kindle, phone, and computer - and an almost empty glass of Bintang beer. 

Most visitors pass through the Gilis quickly. Since we're here longer than most, we get to know the fellows working here. They're mostly from Lombok - (I remember an older man we stayed with in Malaysia complaining about those charming boys from Lombok who come over and steal the hearts of their daughters in Malaysia-! He was quite serious.) 

One night, the lads caught a large tuna, and asked whether we wanted it to share it - grilled or sushi. We got both. With a Bintang beer. On the beach. With a view of Gili Meno in front of us.


The diving and snorkeling here in Indonesia is impressive. 
(and I grew up in the Caribbean!) 

The dive instructors are often young Australians. 
Full of energy, very professional. The gear is usually good. 
The undersea wildlife is amazing. 

Plus, the wooden boats are just - fun. 

Today - Stan did a refresher course, since he hasn't been diving since Roatan. 
Diving:   490,000 rupiah (just under $40), including dives, boat, equipment, wetsuit. 

Can’t complain. 

The boats - including dive boats - are often handcrafted outriggers.


The food in Indonesia so far has been good: Nasi Goreng, Mei Goreng, Gado-Gado. 
Spices and noodles and rice and chilies. 
Not a lot of choices, but it’s filling and good.

 Most restaurants on the island are about the same, pretty simple but lovely, little bamboo platforms out on the beach. 

Tonight, had gin and tonics and Greek salad and spring rolls and satay - what international fare! 

Dinner main course is about 35,000 for something Indonesian (less than $3) and up - for fancy stuff. Wine is very pricey here - we’re trying to stick to beer. But the local beer is good.


 It's month 4 of our SE Asian trip. 

We've been playing it by ear for the last 3 months. 

At times, this feels like the BEST possible way to live! Always something new. 
Constantly learning - exploring - being challenged by the unknown. 

Finding unexpected corners of paradise, like Gili. 

It takes time to figure out where to go next and how to get there. Especially in this part of the world, where we really don't know our way around. We don't know what's possible. 

Also, Indonesia is HUGE. 

Good-bye to all our Island View friends...

So we're off to Flores. 
It's only the next island but one. 
You'd think it would be easy! But - it's not.

By boat it would take 3-4 days, sleeping on the deck. 

That's not for us. 

We start with a horse cart to the ferry port at 7 am.

 Found a seat on the public ferry, after having to climb aboard through the water. 

Thinking about a ferry crossing on a public boat, I was a bit apprehensive, after the regular reports of overloaded Indonesian ferries capsizing in rough waters and people drowning. 

But Lombok isn’t far, and it turned out the ferry wasn’t half as crowded as the one yesterday. 
Not as rough as I’d feared, either.

There were a couple of other travelers on board, but for the most part, all local. 
Women in headscarves, workers going home on their day off. 

The fare was 12,000 rupiah to Lombok. About 85 cents. 

We were met at the Lombok port by someone who handed us off to someone else who handed us off to a driver who took us to the airport at Bandera. (Can't believe that worked.)

 'Taxi' stop in Lombok. Stan's pants wet from getting off the ferry.

About 1.5 hours' drive or so through the mountains. 

Our plane was delayed, so no rush. Our connecting plane in Bali was also delayed. (we have to fly back to Bali in order to fly east to Flores.) Both planes are prop planes, about 80 passengers, almost all locals. 

The further east we get into Indonesia, the less I know about it. 
I have NO idea what tomorrow will look like.

That's fine by me.

Life is good.