When I use the word ‘ferry’, when referring to a boat, I have a rough idea of what this is. The ‘public ferry’ I took to go to Gili Trawangan, was one of the more ‘interesting’ journeys I have taken on this trip. The ‘Gilis’ are three tiny islands just off the coast of Lombok, I had intended to visit all three, but decided just the one was enough. Each island has its own features, Gili Meno is the smallest and least developed, Gili Trawangan is the largest and the most developed, the ‘party’ island, and Gili Air is in between the two.
My day started with getting to the harbour to catch the public ferry. Having discussed how to get to the islands with the very helpful chap at my hotel, I decided to use the public ferry. The ‘harbour’ is the beach and the ‘ferry’ is a little, wooden boat moored up on the beach, that one has to wade into the water to get on. All the provisions on the Gilis are taken over by boat and I found myself sitting on a little wooden seat surrounded, not just by humans, but by baskets of provisions and bags of grass, the ferry only leaves when it is completely full.
As I was ‘enjoying’ my journey, I was pleased to see that the ferry had life jackets, it looked like there were enough for all the humans on board. However, I was just very slightly concerned as to how they could be accessed, if the boat started sinking, as they were all very snugly tied up to the roof of the ferry.
It took about thirty minutes to get to Gili Trawangan, and once the ferry had moored up on the beach we all waded through the sea again to get onto the sand.
There are no motorcycles or dogs on any of the islands. If you have experienced an Asian country where motorcycles are a popular mode of transport you will know that motorcycle riders tend to ignore traffic lights, or any road traffic signs of any kind, and invariably they will ride on the pavement if this is the best route to get to their destination. So motorcycle free sounds idyllic, however on Gili Trawangan, horse and carts are the mode of transport. So as I was walking up to the pathway that runs parallel with the beach I was greeted by an aroma I rarely experience in my daily life, and that aroma was horse shit.
The beach is busy with people leaving and arriving on the island, boats also run from Bali so there is a constant stream of people and luggage, to and from the beach, and then off and on the horse drawn carts. When the carts aren’t being used to transport tourists, they are used to clear what looked like huge piles of rubbish, dotted along the beach, in between the seating areas of the bars and restaurants. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the beach, or the bars and restaurants that I saw. I was told that the beaches further around the island were better, but I didn’t really want to walk through all the hubbub to get there.
I was thinking of getting the next ferry back when I came a cross a vegan coffee shop, such joy. I had a leisurely lunch and bought a bag of goodies to take back to Lombok. Full of delicious food I felt slightly better about the boat trip back.
I didn’t have very long to wait for the next ferry back to Lombok. The total price of my two tickets worked out at the grand sum of 17 pence, GBP. Now I expect there is a human reading this that may say I got a bargain for my 17 pence. I would say that my desire to undertake cultural research, and experience a certain level of discomfort, so you, dear reader, don’t have to, does have limits, and paying 17 pence for this return trip was of little comfort to me.