I took a wooden “ferry” from Bangsal port. The boat is also used to transport food to the island so it smelled like a grocery store. The ride was about forty minutes to Gili Trawagan, the bigger of the three Gili islands, which is where I stayed. There are no cars or motorbikes on the island; just bikes and horse and buggies.
I got off the ferry and ventured through the muddy streets in the pouring rain to Gili La Boheme. I walked into the hostel and felt like I was in a Anthropologie store. It’s bohemian chic and definitely one of the coolest places I’ve stayed so far. There are multiple hang out areas, an outdoor TV nook, and a 24/7 make-it-yourself crepe station (I was only able to make 2 crepes successfully the whole week and the rest came out like bread pudding.) Across the street is The Yoga Place, which I had actually found on TripAdvisor before arriving. It turns out the owner of La Boheme also owns The Yoga Place, as well as Le Petit Gili restaurant, and a few other places in town. All his properties have the same look and vibe.
That first day I took a yoga class at 4pm then a bunch of us from the hostel went to Le Petit Gili for happy hour and free tapas. I wandered through the nightly food market, which is in a lot right next to the restaurant. After the tapas I wasn’t that hungry so I just grabbed a grilled corn to go.
Every night, except Thursday, is a party night on the island. Bars are open and then at midnight everything shuts down except for one bar which rotates every night. That first night was Jiggy Jig’s, a dirty beer pong bar. I only stayed for one game, which I won for the team. The bar felt like university but not in the good way. I walked back and just as I stepped inside the hostel is started down pouring.
The next day it rained all day. I went across the street to the Yoga Place to read and eat lunch in their elevated lounge area. I had an avocado salad with cous cous, which ended up being my addiction for the next few days.
After lunch I went back to the hostel and we all just chilled out upstairs on bean bag chairs and played cards all day. Later that night we went to the night market for dinner. The market is full of grilled seafood stalls with whole fish, lobsters, squid, shrimp, crabs, etc. There are also stalls where you can get grilled meat/seafood skewers, and Warung stalls (pre-cooked local dishes). I “splurged” and split a grilled barracuda and a large squid with a German guy from my hostel. We haggled and ended up paying 100,000 rp ($8) for the whole meal which included rice and vegetables for both of us. Unfortunately I was disappointed by the meal because the seafood tasted incredibly fishy.
The next morning I went back to the Yoga Place and had the avocado salad for breakfast. Six of us girls then walked around the island. The main road continues in a full circle around the island and should take an hour to do, but somehow it took us five hours. We stopped at Laguna Restaurant on the beach for a cocktail first. When we got off the main drag we took a quick swim, and later we stopped on the Ombak Sunset Swings (swings in the ocean.) The swings are awesome but the water was too high at the time so it was impossible to swing.
Later on the six of us went to Gili Divers for happy hour and dinner. I had seafood pasta which had minuscule seafood but was still good.
The next day was sunny so we went to Egoiste restaurant on the beach to be on the beach. For lunch three of us ordered the avocado sandwich and we had the most ridiculous bread fiasco. The bread on the menu isn’t specified for that sandwich, but it is for every other sandwich. I asked for toast, like the Club sandwich had, and the other girls asked for panini bread, which was also on the menu. Five minutes later the waitress comes back and tells us she can’t make the sandwich because they’re missing ingredients; however, they can make the club sandwich and the only difference between the two is that the club has chicken. Once we establish that they do have the ingredients then she says they can’t make it because they don’t have baguettes, but none of us ordered it on a baguette. When the sandwiches finally do arrive mine is with toast and the other two are on baguettes.
We laid down on beds on the beach and relaxed. A little later I ordered an ice coffee which tasted like liquid tar. That restaurant was not doing it for us.
I went to yoga at 4pm then four of us went to dinner- my Swedish girl bunkmate and two girls from New Zealand who I had been hanging out with. We went to Regina Pizzeria which we had heard amazing things about, and the reviews were right. It’s real Italian wood-fire pizza with ingredients like home. I ordered the prosciutto fungi pizza with arugula and doused it with chili oil, just like home.
After dinner we went back and watched Birdman.
On my last day the four of us had planned to take a early morning yoga class then go to Gili Air to hang out on a nicer beach for the day. However, when me and NZ woke-up at 7am and saw that it was down pouring we decided to skip Air and do the afternoon class instead. But even that plan got confused when the sun decided to come out at 10am. So we ended up beach restaurant hoping on the main drag instead. First I had my avocado salad, then the four of us went to Pesona so NZ could get her Indian fix. We sipped orange juice on cushions looking out at the water. Then we walked the drag past all the fancy restaurants that we can’t afford, and I started salivating for octopus salad and ceviche. We turned back and stopped at New Rudy’s for a snack and pineapple juice- this time lounging on mats in a little bungalow.
We went back to the hostel and ordered dinner from Le Petit Gili, which does free delivery. I ordered the pasta bolognese and this time has a pasta fiasco. The restaurant called back to say they can’t make it not because they don’t have the sauce but because they don’t have spaghetti. I asked if they had other pasta and they do have penne but it didn’t even occur to them to substitute it. The type of pasta is not even listed on the menu, and it does not say spaghetti bolognese, just pasta bolognese.
The locals in the hostel were eating Duran fruit and I finally tried it. Duran is banned in my public places across Asia because of the smell. I don’t think the smell is that terrible; however, it did taste a bit like seafood so that freaked me out.
After dinner NZ, Sweden and I went out. We stopped at the first bar that gave us a free drink coupon and watched a cat hunt crabs on the beach while we drank it. We then went back to Pesona and had a shisha. Halfway through the waiter brought us a cup with bubble liquid and a big straw which kept us entertained for a while. I loved watching the bubbles pop and seeing a smoke cloud randomly in mid air.
After the shisha we wandered down the main strip and ended up at a small reggae hut bar where we sat for the rest of the night.
The next morning I left for Tulamben, Bali, on a speed ferry.
I’m completely obsessed with Sweet Corn this summer and this salad is the perfect healthy way to enjoy the vegetable as either a side dish or a snack.
- 1 package chopped kale, or 1 bunch kale
- 1 ripe avocado
- 3 ears of corn
- mashed or chopped garlic
- olive oil, salt
- lime (optional)
1. Put chopped kale into large bowl. Use your hand to mash avocado with kale leaves. (A bit messy but softens the kale leaves.)
2. Cut kernels off of corn.
3. Add garlic and 1 tablespoon oil to skillet (medium-high heat.) Sauté until garlic starts to brown. Add corn. Sauté until corn starts to char.
4. Mix corn into kale. Sprinkle with sale. Sprinkle with lime juice (optional)