A breath of fresh [Gilli] Air

Paradise

This was possibly the most wonderful place I visited on all
of my travels, and the most relaxing. There are three Gilli islands, just off the coast
of Bali; Gilli Air, Gilli Meno and Gilli Trawanagan (or commonly known as Gilli
T). The islands are very small and very beautiful. The plan was for me to spend
a couple of days on each island, so about a week in total. However I absolutely
fell in love with Gilli Air and decided to stay there the entire week.

By this time it was coming to the end of my travels and I
was so tired, I guess this is partly the reason for me staying so long. I am
tired of packing my bag, of carry it around, of looking for somewhere new to
stay and haggling for a cheaper price. And Gilli Air was the perfect place to
stay for a week.

There were two options of transport to the island; slowboat
or speedboat. The speed boat apparently took 1-2 hours, the fastboat (including
a lot of waiting around and buses either end) took all in all 12 hours. I opted
for the slow boat as I thought it might be a nice experience and I wasn’t in any
particular rush.

The slow boat was indeed VERY slow, I was picked up from my
hotel at 6am and did not arrive to the island until 6pm. The journey included a
bus to the port, an hour wait there, a 5 hour ferry to Lombok, an hour wait to
dock there, a 2 hour bus to the other side of Lombok, an hour wait there, a
longboat over to the Gilli’s. Normally this type of journey wouldn’t bother me
so much, but I guess it was the way that I was just getting so tired of it all,
but I decided I would get the fast boat when I return to Bali.

The last leg of a long journey....

When I arrived at the island it was only me and a couple of
others that got off, as most people go to Gilli T (the party island). I had to
wade through the shallow waters with all my bags and then got a horse and cart
to take me to a bungalow of my choice.

Local Gilli transport

The island is so peaceful. There is no motorised traffic,
only horse and cart, so this adds real character to the place. There is one
main road that leads around the island that is a sand road and runs between the
bungalows and the  beach front sitting areas. You can walk around the entire island in only 1 ½ hours.

My bungalow I found was wonderful. It was near the top of
the island and was a large wooden bungalow. It had a hammock outside and was
surrounded by beautiful pink flowers and had a sea view. It was so relaxing, I
spent to many hours just laying in my hammock thinking about things and
listening to the nature surrounding me.

Gilli accommodation

The island has some tourism, but not a lot. All of the
places to stay are cute little bungalows, and there aren’t too many of them.
Each place has kind of wooden seating areas with a roof over them, and they are
a really nice place to sit and watch the oceans waves. I really can’t describe
just how relaxing this place was. I would sit and watch the ocean and take in
the breath-taking views that were in front of me. In the morning little black
and yellow bees would buzz around, and in the afternoon these were replaced by
really sweet chirping little butterfly sized birds. It was so lovely.

Ocean views....

It did not take me long to discover the H20 Yoga centre on
the island. I bought a package of yoga classes and decided to turn my trip here
into a kind of little yoga/meditation/relaxation retreat. Each evening I went
to the yoga centre to do the sunset yoga, which was fantastic. They really
worked on the relaxation and breathing side of it, rather than the physical
side, which was nice in the heat. The yoga centre basically was a ring with a
roof over the top, where you would undertake the exercise. There was also the
zen centre which was basically just a relaxing area in which you could read
books etc. The classes were good, and were lit by candlelight; allowing you to
really experience the sun setting. When you closed your eyes for the meditation
time at the end of the session it would be pitch black when you opened them
again-it really was wonderful.

H20 Yoga

The yoga centre also offered a free meditation for beginners
session on the Monday I was there, which I thought was great. They taught us
basic meditation techniques including the breathing technique, mantra and
walking meditation (they might not be the correct terms). That was great, and I
will try to use these techniques when I am back home and living under the pressures
of normal life again.

Life on the island was lovely. Everybody was so friendly.
Almost everybody, locals and tourists, would ask how you are as you walk past
and would always seem happy. But then who wouldn’t be happy when you are living
on paradise????

Each day I would get up leisurely, have banana pancakes for
breakfast and lots of fresh exotic fruit, then head down to the beach. There
was only one place on the island (near the bottom) that was really good for
swimming as there were rocks along most of the island (which was used mainly
for snorkelling) and it was so beautiful. The sand was white and soft and the
water was crystal clear. There was a kind of semi-circle of shallow water,
where the colour was a pale blue/green and then the colour dramatically became
a navy blue, indicating the sudden depth of the water. The water was so warm
and so clean, it was lovely.

The beach

After I would chill out on the beach I would normally spend
some time watching the waves before getting ready for my evening yoga class.
Then I would enjoy some dinner, read a little, and head to bed. It was the
perfect week. I couldn’t ask for any more. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

This was, to me, absolute paradise. Fantastically relaxing,
and just as beautiful, it was difficult to tear myself away. I could have
stayed here forever. This place has actually inspired me to take up yoga and
meditation more regularly. It has also made me consider perhaps in the future
training to be a yoga teacher myself. I think I need to work on my skills a bit
first (I am not claiming to be fantastic at yoga), but I have looked into yoga
teacher courses, possibly in India or Nepal, or Bali and thought that could be
a lovely little extra to run my own evening classes a couple of times a week.
But that is way off in the future….we will see…..

So after 6 days I decided that it was time for me to head over
to Ubud. I booked to speed boat, which was more than double in price than the
slow boat. However when I reached the harbour I was informed that the waters
were too rough for the speedboat and that we would have to take the slowboat
for the same cost! I tried to argue that it should be cheaper and their answer
was that we had already missed the ordinary slow boat and that they would have
to charter a boat and therefore it will cost more. They gave me the option of
staying another day and taking the slow boat tomorrow but I decided I wanted to
leave.

For me, this wasn’t such a big deal as I have done many long
journeys such as this on my travels. However for many others it was a big deal.
I felt like a celebrity at that harbour, rumour had got around that I had taken
the slow boat already, so one by one almost everybody came up to me to ask
questions such as ‘does it really take this length of time? What is it like? Is
there food on board?’ etc etc It was really quite funny. This time fortunately
it only took 11 hours, but it was not quite the same as the 1-2 hours I was
prepared for. But hey, you have to expect these things when you are in Asia,
and deal with it. And after all of my yoga and meditation I was feeling
particularly calm, so it was no problem. Nevermind, nothing could spoil my
perfect week on this paradise island, nothing. : )

Living life in paradise