I had reached my limit with work.
That’s pretty much how I ended up going on this trip with my companion. By early November 2019, I hadn’t explored much of Indonesia, not even a centimetre of Bali. If anything, this trip was going to offer only the tiniest peek into what the country was like—on the touristy side.
But it didn’t matter. I just needed a break. It took me a while to realize that the break I needed was quite different from a days-long escapade. However, for this time, it certainly helped to divert my mind from those worries and let myself belong to what felt like paradise, even though I arrived with a cold.
The Gili Islands are a group of three islands so tiny that no vehicle is needed to get around. They are essentially holiday islands, perfect for chilling or partying. We spent three days on Gili Trawangan, or Gili T., the largest island among them.
Snorkelling for the first time
Snorkelling is a must in a paradise like the Gili Islands. Without booking a package in advance, we found numerous guides on Gili T. offering snorkelling alongside diving packages. Despite my inability to swim (yes, I have a weakness for water), snorkelling seemed like the perfect way to experience the ocean. Lifejacket? Check!
A typical snorkelling itinerary usually includes visits to the underwater statues, Turtle Point, encounters with garden fishes, and sometimes exploring a shipwreck. Though we skipped the latter, which was supposed to be covered. It was unfortunate to witness the impact of over-tourism on the coral reef, leading to its deterioration. Nevertheless, it was still fascinating to witness a turtle gracefully approaching us. I couldn’t help but wish I had brought a GoPro.
Between snorkeling sessions, we made a pitstop at the island of Gili Air for lunch. Although we didn’t venture too far beyond the strip of shops and restaurants, it already felt like a refreshing change of scenery from Gili T. From Gili Air, we could also catch a glimpse of Lombok!
A movie on the beach
Experiencing a movie on the beach seemed like a quintessential Gili T activity that we couldn’t miss. We discovered three spots on the western side of the island where a large screen was set up, featuring selected movies projected in the evening after sunset. The cost of admission? At least one (expensive) drink. Opting for a less popular movie near the northern side of the island, we found ourselves the sole audience for the night. Ironically, the movie we ended up watching was ‘The Beach’—a classic Southeast Asian beach movie: check!
Despite the enchanting setting, we had to cover up with our beach towels as the mosquitoes were relentless. Even then, we weren’t spared a few bites, as expected in tropical places, even on a faraway island.
Once again, the western side of Gili T. proved renowned for its sunset. It’s also notably quieter than the lively eastern side. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to catch the sunset due to cloudy weather or arriving too late to see even a glimpse of the sun. Nevertheless, the emerging stars painted a beautiful night sky. It was a refreshing change for me, accustomed to city life devoid of stars due to light pollution.
The true vacation
This trip was initially planned to soothe my work-stressed soul, and three days and two nights on this island proved to be just the remedy. Most of our time was spent relaxing on the serene beach during the day. In the evening, we lay on our beach towels, gazing at the star-filled sky, and listening to the gentle waves. In my opinion, this laid-back vacation surpassed any hourly-filled itinerary, and I can confidently say I got the break I needed. It’s a true vacation, something I believe every working adult deserves.