A Scary Boat Ride and The Gili Islands

It’s a lovely morning in central Bali and we’re waiting on a busy street near a market for a lift. It’s only 7am and already it’s hot and humid. After a painstaking long wait and almost giving up hope of anything coming, suddenly we’re sat in a cramped van on our way to the east coast of Bali. The reason for the early start is to reach our next destination, the Gili Islands.

An hour later and once peeled from our sweaty seats we found ourselves in the chaotic port of Padang Bai. People and luggage were everywhere, and coming at us from all angles. Our passports were hurriedly checked and our rucksacks chucked onto a sorrowful looking trolley. We said to ourselves that no matter what we should follow those bags – the majority of our worldly possessions were in there after all.

We watched the bags be taken out onto a rickety old pier and tossed into the front of a boat. One of the guys apparently in charge signalled that we could jump on too and we were soon balanced on some suspect planks making our way on.

The next 2 hours we had a boat ride to remember. We had been told the route from Bali to the Gili Islands is well known to be rough and that was certainly correct. The ‘captain’ looked far too casual throughout, while monster waves battered the boat, rocking it uncontrollably at times. However the journey was worthwhile when we arrived into our home for the next week, Gili Air.

The island has a completely different feel to Bali itself. There are no motorised vehicles allowed, so pushbikes and horse are the main modes of transport, this simple fact really shapes the place. There are no roads, just sandy gravel tracks and it’s super quiet without the constant noise of scooter engines and horns. Pure bliss in our eyes. 

Our time on the island was completely loose, most days consisted of relaxing down the beach, taking a swim and then going for lunch. Drinking a coconut or searching for sea shells were regular activities. Catching a boat to the neighbouring island of Gili Meno was about as taxing as it got. 

Our accommodation was a small bamboo hut, which we fell in love with and found completely relaxing. It was like climbing into a treehouse each night. On top of this the locals were all so welcoming and we felt humbled to be in their presence. 

We really were lucky to experience the Gili Islands, a tropical paradise, not only in the way they look but also in the way they make you feel. Well worth the journey for sure.


Kicking Back and Surfing 

The feeling of almost complete freedom and relaxation that we feel in just two and a half weeks is quite hard to describe. It is surprising once routine is broken how much space you can feel in the mind.

Spending a week near the Great Ocean Road was super relaxing and allowed us to kick back big style, especially when down the beach. I took the chance to watch the sunrise and catch up on my journal one morning, it was amazing to absorb the atmosphere.

We also took a trip to Bells Beach near Torquay. It hosts a round of the World Surf League each year and to stand on the boardwalk over looking the famous break was humbling. The waves weren’t world class when we were there, but it was amazing all the same. After two tantalising weeks of looking at awesome waves it was now time to do what I enjoy most, surfing. 

Back near Ocean Grove we found a board hire shop and I chose one which stood out. I wasn’t fussy, anything would do at this stage. Paddling out into the sea I couldn’t help but think of the possibility of sharks or white pointers as the locals call them. I knew it was irrational and ignored it as best I could. Once out past the breakers I sat on the board absorbing the atmosphere. Before I knew it a lovely clean turquoise lump rose out the sea, I turned to the land and paddled hard. I felt the momentum take the board and I popped up to my feet. Suddenly the previously heavy feeling board came alive beneath me. As I peeled off the back of the wave after a nice ride I was grinning from ear to ear. Catching my first Southen Hemisphere wave felt incredible, all worries of sharks evaporated and I carried on riding for the next couple hours. Finished off by some sunbaking on the beach with Corker.

Afterwards we rewarded ourselves with our first Australian iced chocolates, which Ally’s cousins highly recommended. They were good, very good – see the photos below. 

We’ve now had a couple days back near Melbourne, and it’s been great to stop and reflect on the previous two weeks, what an amazing journey so far. Plans have been put in place for our next stop, Sydney. We’re looking forward to hitting the road.