This was my favorite of both islands. The vibe here is very relaxed. The noise level went down significantly from Gili Trawgawan. This island didn’t cater to the party crowd as much as Gili Trawgawan which was nice. The mixture of resorts, villas, and guest houses were blended in with the villages and homes of the local residents. The shoreline was mostly covered with beachfront restaurants. Buying a drink or meal, gave you access to their lounge chairs to use at the beach all day. The boat dropped us off at Scallywags Beach Club (our hotel’s beach club/restaurant). We thought this is great!
But when the bellman took our luggage and put it on a bicycle seat we started to wonder. He said “my taxi” and walked us to the actual hotel. We kept walking next to him pushing our bags on a bicycle seat. It was hot as hell and a long walk to the property. We walked through dirt alleyways, passed local homes and lots of chickens and roosters. Finally when we got there the first thing I thought is where and how are we going to find our way back?
The first thing we did was rent bikes. There was a place next door to the hotel which was awesome because like I said it’s really really really hot here. The roads are mostly dirt here and bumpy but I’ll take riding any day over walking. This island also uses cidomos (horse & cart). After researching (and seeing things) about cidomos, this wasn’t an option for transportation. I prayed every night for those little horses. Poor things.
The ocean is beautiful here. The water is clear and blue. During the low tide most of the water goes so far back it’s impossible to swim. Our hotel included free access to the Scallywags Beach Club. The tide never went down and we could swim all day. Like Gili Trawgawan, the shore is covered with sharp coral. Reef shoes are needed to get in and out comfortably. The great thing about the beach at Scallywags Beach Club was there was a drop off a few feet into the water, saving many feet from being cut. Snorkeling isn’t that great if you enter from the beach. Most of the coral is dead from the boats and human contact. There were some fish to see but not many.
A boat came in daily and ported on the beach full of locals from Lombok. After most of the locals got off the boat, a few stayed back to unload the items brought to the island.
One of the people I saw daily was an elder lady. She arrived everyday I was on the beach. I have never seen someone work so hard. The amount of weight this lady could carry on her head put most young strong men to shame. Can your grandma do this?
After seeing the movie Jaws (years ago) I’ve always been scared of being in the ocean too long. I get to a certain point and then my mind goes into this panic that something lurking deep is going to pop up in my face and kill me. My problem with swimming is I can float face down all day long (but I can’t breath obviously). Floating face up I sink every time.
The thing to do here is chill. Plain and simple. One day we decided to ride our bikes around the whole island. The problem was there weren’t any paved roads to ride on. We ended up pushing our bikes through thick sand most of the way. This resulting in being hot and bothered at certain points. On the bright side I got to see where the cows lived.
There were also few bars that openly offered magic mushroom shakes. No we didn’t but it was fun to see. They call them “umbrella shakes”.
Everyone here was so kind. Genuinely kind, not the fake “I have to be like this at work” kind. We spoke to a local and they told us most of the people there like having the tourist in their village. They are just as curious about foreigners as we are of them.
When we checked into the hotel the bellman told us Gili Air had “zero crime”. That sounded so unbelievable I asked him again “Did you say there is zero crime here?” He replied “Yes! Yes! Zero crime, everybody happy!”. We still locked everything up all of the time. After being there several days I started to believe him. Everyone seemed really happy and greeted us with a smile everywhere. Could this really be?
Well, a few days later we were leaving to go back to Bali. Our boat was late so I decided to buy a coffee at this place by the harbor called Coffee & Thyme. I put my phone on the counter to get the money out of my backpack. When I got back I quickly realized I left my phone on the counter there. I immediately walked back and asked if I left my phone there. They guy who rang me up said “no”. I told Doug (my boyfriend) what happened. He used the “find my iPhone” app. and found out it was there. Doug explained he was locking the phone. Shortly after, a local man came running with my phone! It had been tampered with. It looked as if it was pulled apart at the bottom. A few seconds later the same local man came back and said “they are asking for money”. I couldn’t believe it! What the? Needless to say, my gut was right about the “no crime” bullshit. Crime is everywhere no matter how nice everybody is. Too bad one asshole can ruin it for everyone but I learned two things from this. Lessons learned: 1) Always be on guard no matter what. 2) Don’t put an entire place down because of one asshole or bad experience. Goodbye Gili Air Island, it’s been nice.