Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 13 May 2014 • Destination
The day was getting dark as we were crossing from Tembowong port to Via Vacare resort on Gili Gede. Anna, a German tourist, and I were sitting calmly on the chartered boat that created a rather loud noise. Sitting near the machine were the boatman and Ratu, the guy in charge of our pick-up from the minute we landed on the Praya International Airport. For the whole 30 minutes I was gazing at the silhouette of Gili Gede in front of us.
Honestly, I was disappointed. I wished to gaze upon sunset from the gili, but my flight with Garuda Indonesia from Jakarta to Lombok was delayed for unclear reasons, so I couldn’t get to the island on time. I wish I could start this story cheerfully, but I couldn’t because this was truly how I felt that day. But don’t worry, I’m not going to go emo til the end of this post.
The next morning, I was woken up by the bright sun and the chirping of birds. Okay, honestly I’m not sure about the chirping, I just wanted to sound poetic. But really, I was lucky to be greeted by the bright sun and breezy wind, though I must say that the best part was waking up to the ocean view! Seriously, nothing can beat that, not even my mom’s cook’s cooking!
Gili Gede is a small island (I can only remind people for hundreds of time that gili means island, it’s not an island’s name) located southwest to Lombok Island in the Lombok regency. Most people would’ve probably heard of Gili Trawangan, Meno and Air on the northwest of Lombok, and that’s exactly why I went a different direction. Yeah, I was on a hipster mood.
The first morning of my stay, I took a walk around the village near Via Vacare, accompanied by Ketut, one of the resort’s staff. It was a mild trekking through some area with dense trees and shrubs that lead to a beach where fishermen rested their boats. The sand was light brown and trash was scattered on some parts of the beach, but the water was blue.
A boat was being repaired using traditional tools, just a few meters from the shoreline. Two men were working on it directly under the hot sun. A few other men were sitting and chatting nearby, and they stared at us when we were passing by. What? Did I have tissue stuck in the back of my pants? Then one of them asked Ketut where I was from. They thought I was a foreigner! According to Ketut, only a few Indonesian tourists have been to Gili Gede. (Hipster mode: so on!)
“Good morning!” I said opening the small talk in Indonesian, with a polite smile.
“Good morning. What are you doing on this island?” One of them asked from under the shade.
“Just traveling. I’m on a vacation.”
“Oh, I see.” But I could still see a puzzled look on their faces.
Curious villagers aside, Ketut and I then continued our walk to the village. We passed some people that knew Ketut. Though not originally from the island, he is apparently quite famous there. Some people were teasing him, as if we were having a fling or something. Ooh, I just hope I didn’t make any village girl jealous!
It was on a weekend, so school was off. Children were playing with marbles on the pathways. All sorts of people were hanging out and watching the building of a mosque. Like the fishermen, people were asking Ketut where I was from, thinking I didn’t speak the language. However, they were so welcome and friendly. A woman asked me to photograph her with her shy kid and a man posed for me the second he saw me holding a camera.
We then walked passed some houses, some were made of bricks and some were more like shacks. On the other side of the island we found ourselves another beach with less people and boats. The water was so clear and flat, and Lombok Island was in sight.
The village life as a whole felt very peaceful, in spite the children running around and a few motorcycles passing by.
I spent the rest of the day lazing around the resort and snorkeling. Ratu arranged a snorkeling trip for Anna, Rasika and me to a nearby island.
We crossed to the other island by a wooden boat. When snorkeling, we didn’t go far from the shore as the current was pretty heavy to go against. Soon it got really cloudy and windy, we decided to take off, back to Gili Gede.
The underwater scene was just okay for me. Rasika and Anna were pretty happy with it, I’m not sure whether they have snorkeled much before. Not so many fishes or colorful corals were seen but visibility was not too bad.
I was snorkeling using my own fins, snorkel and mask. The other girls rented theirs from Via Vacare. The whole snorkeling trip cost IDR 50,000 per person, but that was on a discount because it took only about 1-2 hours, which was, I think, much shorter than the usual snorkeling trips they have.
I could actually snorkel just in front of my bungalow before we decided to go on this trip, but…I was too lazy. It was so hot, I preferred to snooze at the terrace of my bungalow.
If you’re looking for crazy partying and hectic vacation life, Gili Gede wouldn’t be the right place for you, unless you burn a house, which I strongly don’t recommend. On the second night of my stay, I spent it with the small gang at the resort, watching the sunset and hanging out at the gazebo.
As it rained in the afternoon, just after we got back from snorkeling, I didn’t expect the sunset would be as gorgeous as it turned out to be. It started out reddish, then gradually turned violet and pinkish, with some orange emanating from the sun onto the ocean bed. Though it looked pretty and romantic, the ambiance was quite the opposite with Ratu’s joking versions of songs while playing the guitar and singing, with the rest of the guys singing off beat and laughed at each other’s jokes. I was enjoying all that while still clicking my cameras, not wanting to miss any single change of colors at the horizon. Finally, I got the sunset view I had hoped for since my arrival to Lombok ☺
For accommodation, you can check out our review of Via Vacara Resort in Gili Gede.