Here? Hmm... Doesn't look like we're getting on a big boat. It was a small boat, more like a long-tail boat you get in Thailand but wider and double in length. I can't imagine taking these boats during rough seas as I'm sure it will just tip over, especially if the weight distribution is not even.
20 minutes later we were on Gili Air, the second largest of the 3 islands is a perfect getaway after a long journey up Mt. Rinjani. The guys were beat, I'm still sore hence Gili Air was the best choice as we wanted to relax and take it easy for a few days.
As soon as we got here, managed to get a room for Rp.200,000 a night, free wifi with fan. Although we had a communal showers and toilets, it was really good for its price. Before we explored the island, I jumped into the shower only to realise that we didn't have hot showers (which was fine as the island it too hot and humid) but it was salt water! Fresh water is a rare commodity here so salt water is normal. Even after a shower, you're still sticky and my hair... Now I look like a proper backpacker.
The next day we went about to explore the island. Now the main beach, since it's usually tourist concentrated, the prices are higher. We ventured into the island, to the villages and discovered that it was cheaper to eat and live in land plus it's even more quiet down here. It's not far from the main beach, just look out for Omah Gili sign, and walk along the concrete wall and you'll get into the village.
They are no motorised vehicles are allowed on all the islands so it's either you walk, rent a bicycle or take a cidomo (horse-wheeled carriage). The heat on the other hand is unbearable. It's so hot that at mid day you might want to find a shade and just stay there. The flies can be a pain plus with your skin covered in salt, I feel like those salted fish being laid out to dry.
People here on the island are really nice too, just like in Lombok. And they speak really good English. We managed to find a nice little eatery, Warung Kampung, which serves good food for really cheap. Plus we personally liked coming here as the owner and the people working here are just a delight. They would joke with us, tell us stories and just fun to be around with. Always happy, always smiling and they have a fairly good command in English. They told us that there are two schools on the island and the education level in the school is up to 12 years old (primary school). For those who wish to further their education up to high school and beyond would have to get to the mainland, Lombok, to do so. But the children prefer not to further their primary school education as even if they complete their secondary education, they are not guaranteed a good job. So they rather find a job right after primary school and start saving.
There are so many dive schools here. We were staying with 7seas which also has a dive school and for the days you dive, you get 20% off the room. A lot of other dive schools here do the same but from what I heard, Blue Marlin and Manta Dive have accommodation plus they are one of the best dive operators on the island. Same goes to Gili Air Dive centre. Blue Marlin is further down the island, follow the main road around the coast, and they have a huge accommodation selection. Manta dive is also pretty good as they start from Rs.550,000 onwards with hot water showers and breakfast included during low season. Fun dives cost Rs.370,000 per dive while night dives cost Rs.470,000. The prices are the same all over the island. From what I have checked, Blue Marlin and Manta Dive have a pretty sweet deal on dives and accommodation if you can afford it. Other wise they are many other cheaper options. Gili Air Dive have a deal with Sunrise Resort that you get 10% on the days you dive and if you do more than 5 fun dives, you get 15% off the room. But not all their rooms come with hot water plus it's pretty expensive for what it is.
We will be heading to Gili Meno soon. The tickets cost Rp.25,000 per person on the island hopper. The little boats leave twice a day, at 8:30 am and 3:00 pm. But we were advised by almost everyone to be there at least 30 minutes earlier as they can leave early if the boats are full. The tickets are purchased at the office by the pier.
Gili Air is really chilled out, with a bit of entertainment. But if you are into your magic mushrooms, they are sold here like hot cakes and you can get them almost everywhere as it's 'legal' to sell them here. I can't say I did much on Gili Air as I'm tending to my wounds and sore legs from the climb. The only thing to do here is scuba diving and snorkelling, again I can't do till my wounds heal! So am hoping to dive in Gili Meno on the Meno wall.
Next up: Gili Meno