We have been to Bali for 3 weeks before Gili but due to going back I will write after.
Gili Islands are three small islands close to Lombok which feature no cars or motobikes. Anyone who has spent a long time in Asia will appreciate how nice a change this is.
After a long bus, ferry, bus, boat trip with got to the biggest and most active island, Gili Trawangan. Gili T is the so called party island although I think this is pushing it. Yes there are lots of bars and restaurants but its hardly ibiza. As I said Gili T is the biggest island, although at 2 hours to walk around its hardly huge. Despite this we had a really interesting few days.
I SAW TWO TURTLES! whilst snorkelling the beautiful clear waters I glanced across and saw a stunning Mr. Turtle elegantly swimming. He rested on the bottom and I watched for a while. Then I noticed another turtle sat there about 10 feet away. I watched in awe as they both came up for air almost right next to me. For someone who has looked for turtles for such a long time it was an incredible experience.
Later that evening was another first. Not so nice though. We came across a couple who warned us that around the corner a hotel was on fire. As we walked around we saw it. Several buildings were beyond saving and were just shells. Everyone was getting buckets, bins, pans, anything to put out the fire on the thatch roof dangerously close to the firey embers from the nearby shell and tree. I ran in and helped along with other tourists and locals. We got bin after bin of water from the beach and passed them to the guys on the roof.
It was pretty crazy and smoke filled the air as a building at the back burnt. We managed to save the thatched building although it was touch and go as the roof was on fire in several places at one point. We left after about half an hour of fire fighting. The main buildings not burnt were saved, the ones that were still going were dying down leaving an empty shell.
Where were the fire service? Gili has no police or fire service. Village heads decide fate of the few criminals.
Gili Meno was much less crazy. It's the least populous. We had a nice time but we didn't get up to much. Gili Meno is all about chill out. Snorkelling was pretty poor from the shore though as its way to rocky and features a load of dead coral from dynamite fishing. Pretty sad sight.
Gili Air was lovely. An ideal mix of something to do and peacefulness. I also enjoyed some epic food. Fresh Sweet Lips fish with chili and lime dip all cooked on a wood fire was a delicious treat. The flavours were literally mouth watering. Thanks to the guys at Zipp Bar.
Gili Air also features a nice breeze at night which gets rid of the balmy nights of other Indonesian evenings. After a few nights of budget accommodation we splashed out on a stunning hut complete with outdoor secluded bathroom and Gili number one luxury, Hot Shower! Ran by a great guy called Dean, Villa Kampung is a superb place to stay. Look for the muscular guy in shades as you get off the boat.. with only two huts at present they are hot property and he has no signs at time of writing, so you really need to look for him.
The Gili islands are a stunning place as a whole and definitely worth a visit if you want peace and quiet but a nice restaurant in the evening.