Gili Trawangan and dealing with paradise

gili trawangan

From Bali it was just a short boat ride to Gili Trawangan – from one island paradise to another. Gili T proudly advertises itself as having no cars, no dogs, no police and no worries; the result is a paradise that can satisfy every hedonistic desire.

gili trawangan

I had a crew from Bali who were already on the island, they’d found a place to stay so it was simply a matter of dumping bags and heading for the beach. The island is ringed neatly by sandy beaches and on the most populated side of the island there’s a solid row of restaurants and bungalows that stretches for hundreds and hundreds of metres. There’s sun-beds and bean bags and they’ll happily serve you on the sand; grilled fish and banana juice, cocktails or a bintang.

gili trawangan

There’s something eerily meditative about this island. I settled into a spot in the shade; with my book out and mango juices flowing freely. I sunk deeper into the cushions and lost track of time. I dashed into the water every now and again to cool off and before long I was halfway through my book and the afternoon sun was heading for the horizon. I don’t know if it’s the air or if it’s the bed-rock below, but just being in this place is like a full-body massage, it will hold you in its gentle embrace and pull all your worries out through your pores… don’t try and resist it.

gili trawangan

I found some friends who were equally dazed by a day of horizontal bliss. We headed to the Western tip of the island for sunset. It’s a fitting way to divide the day, with the sun splashing the sky in pastel hues and a reggae bar pounding out some well worn dub.

When it gets dark on Gili Trawangan her mood changes. She’s manic, and with every ounce of gentle relaxation there’s an equal dose of unrestrained partying. The local lads will ply you with cocktails and arak shots, magic mushrooms and clouds of smoke. There’s an unspoken acceptance of illicit hedonism on this island, I’m not sure about the legal dealings, but to me it balances out and necessitates the days spent reclining, the two equal but opposite sides of the ying and the yang.

gili trawangan

Having said that it’s not all dive bars and bad electro music. There’s a staggering range of fine-dining restaurants on the island. Every cuisine is catered for; the options are limited only by your wallet. Be sure to check out the newly opened bar at the Pearl hotel. It’s down the far end of the strip and it’s hard to miss the pleasing architecture of it’s curving roof of bamboo and thatch…but more on that in a later post.Pearl bar Gili

This was my third trip to Gili Trawangan in about 5 years and in that short time I’ve seen it grow at a rapid rate. Each year new hotels and bungalows go up, and so do prices. There are huge villas going up on the back-side of the island; old bungalows are giving way to shiny new ones. The island is only small and everything is shipped in. I just wonder how long the island can manage having so many people and buildings piled on top of her. It’s a special spot, but I have a strange vision for Gili Trawangan, one day, when that one extra tourist or shipment lands on the sand, with that one extra bag of concrete…there’ll be a loud a plop and she’ll sink back into the ocean, like shampoo down the plug-hole.

I hope not, and I hope development is kept under control and that she can stay in balance.

gili trawangan

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