Have you ever wondered what the world would look like without cars? How would it be to walk wherever you want without long distances to cross? How would the air smell and how would it feel without the constant traffic noise?
You can experience all this on Gili Trawangan, a small island in the Indonesian archipelago. I’ll try to walk you through my impressions of its spirituality and people who see beyond what the western world teaches us. I’ll share how we forgot the reality and let the Indonesian simplicity guide us.
How to reach the tiny Gili islands
Our trip to Indonesia started with two weeks of remote work on Bali, after which we took another two weeks of vacation and moved to the nearby islands. There were sixteen of us at the beginning who worked remotely from the paradise island. Now it was just Lela, Nikola and me searching for a new adventure, while all the others were going back to Serbia. It was such a strange feeling when we said goodbye to our computers and continued the trip with lighter suitcases. The Indonesian archipelago was full of surprises and we were rushing into the unknown.
Finding cheap tickets for a boat to take us to the Gili islands from Bali was complicated. We didn’t want to use the slower public boats that would have taken several hours on the sea, but the fast private ones were overpriced. In the end, the manager of the house we rented got us a good deal.
In Indonesia it was vital to talk to people, make connections and ask for help.
Everybody knew somebody that knew somebody that could help. It was like a family business with tourists, except that the family was the whole country.
How to live life without the complexity
Gili Trawangan was like a dream island, small enough to be walked around in two hours. There were no cars or other vehicles except for the horse carriages and bicycles. We walked to our hostel Good Vibes Bungalows consisting of an outside bar in a lovely garden and a few wooden houses with bamboo roofs. It was run by a Canadian guy, funny to talk with in the morning, wasted after the sunset. He had been a businessman for years in Canada, concentrated on self-improvement and career. Then one day he just woke up realizing he had got fed up with everything, came to Gili Trawangan, invested his savings into this hostel and enjoyed hanging out with adventurous young people visiting from all over the world while smoking weed in between.
Another cool person we met in the hostel was a girl who was working in the open bar. Each day she would tell us another name, so it was difficult to know which the real one was. When Nikola woke up earlier one day and went to ask for breakfast, he could have sworn she appeared out of nowhere as if she had been sleeping right behind the bar. Indeed there was a hidden mattress leaning against the bar. I climbed on a chair the next day to find the mattress lying on the floor and our favorite bartender sleeping peacefully on it. When she woke up, she just lifted it up and asked what we wanted for breakfast with a huge smile on her face. Man, these people were not making things more complicated than they had to be.
Back to basics and spirituality
The whole island seemed like a spiritual scene from a movie. There was no concrete. The main street was just soil, covered with dust that becomes a muddy river when it rains. Now it was beaten by tourists and horse hoofs. The dominating color was brown: the ground, wooden bars and restaurants on both sides, terraces with massage tables and horse carriages. All the other colors were matching, making the whole scene vibrant and peaceful at the same time. I thought no such thing could make you pissed in a place like this. Everything around was happening in slow motion.
One of the beaches was for swimming above corals and had turquoise water through which you could see your feet and the fish no matter how deep you went. The other one had big waves for the surfers. Then there were perfect places for snorkeling, and all along the shore, you could see pieces of the divers’ equipment floating on the surface of the clear water.
On one of our walks around the island, we met a group of people just hanging around and singing. They immediately invited us to join. The other group was baking some potatoes and mushrooms on the fire. We ended up in a bar called Exile where we started talking to the band members. One of them was a math teacher from Lombok who had given up his profession. He came to Gili to play percussions and smoke weed every morning on top of a small hill on the island, watching the sunrise and meditating.
Where to go for a romantic vacation
Gili Trawangan is a party island with lots of drunken young people during the holiday season. Lucky for us, May was still pre-season and the place was not crowded yet. Two neighboring islands Gili Meno and Gili Air were for couples, the first one quiet, the other one almost abandoned. Each of the three islands had luxurious resorts but in a cool and relaxed way. Nothing exaggerated and with much better prices than anywhere in the world.
We still preferred paying six dollars per night for our cool hostel and meeting interesting people. I went on a snorkeling trip around the islands to swim with the fish and turtles. The words won’t help me here to describe the excitement.
What if you could have all the time in the world
I got an idea of how I’m going to live my life when I get fed up with a busy city life. We spent only three days on Gili Trawangan, enough to get inspired by the place and the people who choose to live by their own standards. The only problem you might have on Gili Trawangan is the floods that last for almost six months a year, but even then there are tourists on the island and the party goes on without any hassle and worries.
I’m not sure if you ever get bored here without issues popping up all the time as when you live in an environment hungry for money and success, always complaining about the lack of time.
Here you have all the time in the world. The question is whether you know how to use it.