We’ve spent the last few days on Gili T. All a bit stressful and not something I’d organised beforehand.
A taxi driver we’d met had offered to assist me booking the boat tickets which I’d been looking at online and it just seemed so expensive for the boat over.
Getting to the Gili Islands (Gili T, Gili A & Gili M) is only possible via boat. There are loads of ‘fast boat’ companies which the crossing takes around 90 mins for around £50 per person return or you can get the ferry for pennies but it takes 8 hours!! I hate boat rides, I always get seasick so fast boat was the only option. Dewa our friendly taxi man booked us tickets for the boat with a company Semaya One, for 700,000 Rupiahs return whereas they were quoting me 1,200,000 so he saved us a fair bit of money! In with the ticket they come and collect you from your hotel and drop you back once you arrive back on Bali.
It’s was another 6am start to wait to be collected and whilst we were waiting I googled the boat company. BIG MISTAKE! It had horrendous reviews, but then I looked at some of the other companies and they all have rubbish reviews. Basically the boats don’t run to time schedule, it’s a very choppy crossing with lots of people being sick, they also serve Bintangs on board so there’s drunks, and sometimes the boats get cancelled! I think we experienced all of the above.
After the 6am start, being collected at 7.15am, an hours drive to Padang Bai we checked in ready for our 9.15am boat. Boat didn’t leave until 10am and it was a pretty choppy crossing. Luckily we both managed to hold it together on the way out and Faye slept for most of the way.
On arrival at Gili T the boat pulls up, you jump off into the shallow water and make your way up the beach. White sand and gorgeous blue sea! For this part I was very glad not to have luggage. People are trying to pull suitcases up the beach – looked very painful!
I’d pre booked our hotel the day before and looked up location in advance. Glad I did because there’s not really any street signs it’s just a case of figuring out if your North of South of the island and wandering around to find it. We stayed at a lovely hotel a few streets back from the main strip called Marta’s Hotel. We had a little bungalow, hot water (not all places do in Gili T!) and the staff were so friendly and helpful. Marta (Balinese) married his wife Joanna (English) 20 years ago and they run the hotel together. Breakfast was served on our little veranda – fresh fruit, juices and pancakes!
Once we’d checked in a put our bags down we went for a wander for lunch, ate in a place called Scallywag’s, a little tacky. Then went back to the hotel for a swim in the pool. It seemed much hotter on the Gili’s than in Bali.
Late afternoon we set out to climb up to sunset point. Hard work on the climb but well worth the hike. Perhaps worth wearing trainers though as we did it in dresses and flip flops! The decent on the other side of the mountain brings you down onto sunset beach were we stopped for dinner and watched the sun set.
There’s no motorised transport on the island so the options are push bikes or horse and carriage. I didn’t feel comfortable using the horse and carriage, they are just little ponies pulling 6 people at once, they looked shattered!
The next day we were due to get the 3pm boat back to Bali so we got up, hired bikes and cycled the whole way round the island – bloody boiling – not my best idea. We stopped off at north beach for some snorkelling and were lucky enough to see lots of fish and turtles.
Then it all went a bit wrong. We went to check in for the boat to be told boats weren’t running due to choppy sea. At this point we were exhausted, boiling and in desperate need of a shower! Our options were to get the 8 hour ferry – not a chance in hell – or wait until the morning and get first boat out at 11. So then we had to find a hotel for the night. We tried about 15 but they were all full. I then went back to Marta’s were we stayed the night before, they were also full but they could tell I was getting stressed so they made Faye some lunch and helped me find a little homestay a couple of roads behind them for £20! Joanna looked after Faye whilst I went to sort it out. It was very basic, cold water, a bit grubby, a few bugs, but the door locked! Marta’s let us use their pool for the rest of the day and helped us with everything.
That evening we went for an early dinner at Pearl on the south of the island. Lovely food and beautiful building. It was also Independence Day and one of the local hotels had a screen up on the beach for an open air cinema showing Independence Day, not the most child friendly film but never mind!! We both really enjoyed watching a movie and eating popcorn on sofas on the beach!
Next morning after not a lot of sleep we went down to the beach early to check in for the boat, said they were running again so we had an hour to kill, went for breakfast, had feet massages and went back down to the boat to be told it’d been pushed back another hour so we found a spot on the beach and chilled out for a very. long. time. After lots of back and forth the boat came at 2pm and it was a free for all to get onto the boat. Once we’d boarded I thought brilliant, 90 mins of feeling sick and we’re back! That however wasn’t the case! The boat went over to Lombok, I assume to drop a couple of people off. Then the boat didn’t move for ages and we were sat bobbing around and sweltering. After a while people started to go upstairs and find out what was going on, there was a lot of heated discussions starting. Basically the boat was apparently 12 people over the limit and the harbour master wouldn’t let us go until 12 people got off. The thing was none of the staff came and told us what the situation was. A few volunteers stepped up, there was talks of everyone chipping in and giving them some money to pay for their hotel in Lombok but we were still 3 short. 10 minutes later a big Geordie lad went upstairs to get to the bottom of what was going on and kept relaying the info back to everyone. Eventually the harbour master agreed to sign some bit of paper allowing us to go so an hour later we set sail again, 9 people over capacity. As we’d left so late the sea was awful, incredibly rough but so hot in the cabin so people were being ill everywhere and you’re not offered water or anything. We had a further 2 hours of this before we pulled up in Pandang Bai where people were fighting to get off the boat. Loads of people had missed flights!
Faye and I thought thank god we’re off that boat! Just an hours drive back to Sanur to our hotel, but, when the boat company was putting people in the taxis back we were forced into a 7 seat mini van that already had 9 people in and all their luggage. Faye had to sit on the floor whilst a Dutch guy stopped cases falling on her and I had to share a chair with his wife. Everyone was outraged but they really didn’t care and no one then spoke any English. So off in the car we went, again boiling, to arrive in Sanur and he pulled over. He didn’t drop us at the hotel just pulled into a lay by on the motor way next to a sign pointing to Sanur. He spoke no English and everyone in the van tried to help me but we just got out, walked to the nearest thing which was a Dunkin Donuts and used their wifi to order a Blue Bird cab. 8pm we got home. It took 11 hours. It was hellish.
I’m so grateful to Faye that day because she had the patience of a saint and didn’t moan once. All she simply said once we got back was ‘maybe can we not go there again’ and I don’t blame her. I don’t know if we used the wrong boat company or what but for us what was meant to be a quick overnight stop turned into 3 days. Perhaps Gili T was the wrong island to pick and we should of done Gili A which is meant to be more peaceful. In my opinion the tourists are ruining Gili T, the rubbish, the drinking etc. I am glad we went because if we didn’t I would of regretted it but I won’t be returning!
A highlight for Faye was she’s lost another tooth in Gili – it’s costing me a fortune!