Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Gili Islands

We spent the morning watching a great team put the best NBA player on the planet (along with his squad of goons) in a 3-2 hole.  Go Celtics.  Unlike Europe, Asia is a great place to get feeds of U.S. televised events.  We had no problems watching the last 2 games of the NBA finals, simply watching them with breakfast instead of dinner. 

Our road to the Gili Islands began in a crowded van in front of our hotel.  First, we would need to travel overland to Padang Bai, a small fishing village on the eastern coast of Bali, in the shadow of the great Mount Agung.  Once there, a fast boat will transport us across the Lombok Strait and to Gili Trawangan.  Underneath the strait, a trench tears deep into the ocean floor, marking the fulcrum point where the Eurasian and Australian plates decided to head in different directions. 

On our way to Padang Bai, we must have passed by 17 Dolce and Gabbana stores.  In Asia, counterfeit stuff is everywhere.  In fact, the real thing is truly elusive.  My favorite incidence of the blatantly fake was a jacket that I spied at a Laos airport.  This jacket flaunted a bold Prada badge on the front with very large Dolce and Gabbana Embroidery spread across the back.  Surely a collaboration has not taken place.  If you are shopping for this type of pirate gear at a local market, and ask about the authenticity of the merchandise, the shopkeeper will respond, "It is same same, but different."  This phrase has sort of real world memed into a role of its own.  Now, one can buy shirts that say "Same Same but different" moniker at the very shops that sell the knock-off gear.  The marketplace is an evolutionary place.

900 horses of fast boat thrust delivered us safely to the Gili Islands.  Our boat driver reassured us on the way, "If we crash, no panic, sharks are vegetarian."  Thankfully, we saw no sharks, though dolphins gracefully swam along us as we tore across the surface.  We are staying on the largest of the 3 islands, Gili Trawangan, also known as the party island due to availability of illicit drugs and no law enforcement whatsoever.  It is definitely a change of pace for a country with a death penalty for drug possession.  I have been offered mushrooms about 10 times, and at this point, I may as well be writing this from Jupiter.  Just kidding.

Since I am writing an article about the Gili Islands for a much larger publication and that article is singularly exclusive, I have to redact my exact musings on this extremely unique island.  I will list some of its eccentricities plainly below:

1.  It is basically a tropical Amsterdam, made all the stranger with strict Indonesian drug policies, including death penalty
2.  The tap water is salt water
3.  Cars are outlawed on the island.  Horse and carriage is the primary method of transport, and candles are used to illuminate the horse carriages.  It is definitely unintentionally romantic.
4.  The island is small enough to walk around 3 hours
5.  The entire island is run by diesel generators, and blackouts are rampant
6.  About 90% of the cats are missing about 70% of their tails
7.  No dogs, not one, though there are more cats than people
8.  Structures built with no heavy machinery, concrete is hauled in bag by bag literally on heads
9.  There is no police, though village elders will judge you if you fall too out of line
10.  Mexican food is everywhere, though the translation is a bit off.  It is quite ordinary to order a plate of pajitas, or perhaps facos.

The Gilis also possess some of the most beautiful beaches.  We are absolutely awestruck with the beauty here.  Also, our villa is extremely spacious and Kristin and I may want to design an exact replica for our future home.  We have 3 bedrooms, a pool, and vaunted ceilings that seem to stretch to heaven.    

 Padang Bai, Bali

 This is where we depart for the Gili Islands 

 Some boats

 We were taking the Gili Cat boat to Gili T

 Rooster Hostages 

 Padang Bai Dock 

 Indonesia has the best water 

 Makes me want to jump in 

 It was a great day for boating 

 Our sled as we speed along the Bali coast 

 Comfortable ride

 A boat in the middle of the ocean 

 The Lombok coast with a storm rolling in.  Lombok is just east of Bali.

 The crew

 Lombok looks pretty damn appealing.  Lombok is a very muslim country, whereas Bali is hindu 

 The Gili Islands, very flat 

 We have arrived

 The strip, only transport on this island is mini-horse carriage 

 Hee-ya He-ya

 Felt bad for these beasts of burden

 Our pool and spa at Baruna villas

 Our abode

 The bed 

 Our very nice bathroom

 The sense of space is great in this place, everything is proportioned perfectly 

 "You can try please"

 The strip is lined with bars like this on the beach 

 It was an overcast day 

 But who cares

 We ordered tacos or facos

 More beach 

 Kristin drinking a Bintang 

 Some local kids playing in the water.  Glad this kid has his pants on, many kids just treat the whole island like their own nudist colony

 Our place at night 

 Some buddies 

 Seafood salesman 

 We had delicious shrimp for about 5us each

 The island is overrun with cats that stalk about at night

 This guy claimed to be from Atlanta 


 Watching the world cup match in the streets, the electricity failed, everyone shrugged their shoulders and went home.