We headed to the Gili Islands in search of some much-needed chill after climbing Rinjani. But not the Gili’s you’re thinking of…
The Secret Gili’s. Twelve small, relatively unknown islands off the south-west coast of Lombok. We had a week free before heading back to Bali and were keen for a break from the touristy towns. So we took a taxi from Kuta to Tembowong Harbour, where we caught a boat to a little-known hideaway.We stayed at a little place called Via Vacare, on the sunset side of Gili Gede, the largest of the twelve islands.
With only four bungalows right on the beach and not much to do here but snorkel, eat and read, we were pretty happy to settle here indefinitely. Via Vacare’s philosophy is to practice ‘The Art of Doing Nothing‘. To ‘challenge our views and habits’ and become aware of the everyday luxuries we take for granted. To just be.
With no wifi, no running water, and electricity for just a few hours a day, it felt like something out of Blue Lagoon. We had cold bucket showers in an open-air bathroom and used seawater and a bucket to flush. All of our meals were included, as there are no restaurants or bars on the island. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were served at the communal table in the main house, overlooking nearby Gili Rengit and Gili Anyaran. The dinner bell rang around sunset (island time), with a selection of fresh local dishes each night.
We met Kaitlin, a gorgeous girl from the UK travelling solo for six months, and a couple from the Netherlands.This was our home for the week, a wooden bungalow with polished concrete floors, Ikat details (traditional Indonesian dyeing technique), and a grass roof. Dreams.We slept with the doors and windows open – listening to the sound of the waves – with nothing but the mosquito net.We made a pact to not use our devices for the week (music and camera allowed). We wanted to switch-off. Which meant more time to daydream, lie in the sun, draw, read, snorkel off the nearby islands, actually talk to each other…
Our time on Gili Gede gave us the opportunity to step back and think about our choices, how we live our lives, and what we take for granted. It gave us the space to be mindful, rather than our minds being full.
Everything ends up in our ocean.
Whilst the islands were stunning and well worth visiting, we did see first-hand the negative impact of a world addicted to plastic and packaging. The old saying ‘everything ends up in our oceans’, rings true here.
After heavy rains, the rubbish that is thrown into the rivers and creeks on the mainland ends up in the waters surrounding the islands. Washed-up rubbish was tangled in the seaweed and floating in the water at most of the beaches we visited, including the one we stayed on. I could still appreciate the beauty of this place, but it was hard to see just how much waste we humans create.
Fellow Via Vacare guest, Kaitlin.
Describe Gili Gede in one word
What does responsible tourism mean to you?
‘Take no piece and leave no trace’
It also means to me the concept of seeing more than the postcard version of the places you are lucky enough to visit, meeting the people, trying to understand the heritage and what makes the place unique, a beach is sometimes just a beach.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
At the drop of a hat I would always say my home village Nethybridge in the highlands of Scotland; it’s still the most beautiful place in the world to me. But if we are mixing things up, I’ve heard of a quirky little village called Punto Del Diablo on the coast of Uruguay so there I think.
A clean bed, cold wine, 10am sunshine, when risks and/or hard work pay off and love in all its forms.
What’s your favourite song?
September by Earth, Wind & Fire