Travelling goes hand in hand with making discoveries and learning something new but this time I may have hit the jackpot – I have learnt how to become totally relaxed.
The location for the source of this new found skill is Gili Trawangan, a tiny paradise island in Indonesia and a short hop skip and jump from popular Bali.
Let me set the scene – calm, clear water lapping at the shores of white beaches, no cars, just bikes or horse and cart for transport, friendly locals living on island time, beach bars, beachside massage parlours, diving, snorkelling and a whole lot of relaxing. Honestly, I could barely pluck up the motivation to write this article – I’m too relaxed.
I arrived in Bali three weeks ago after spending six weeks in Darwin, Australia, possibly one of the hottest places I have ever lived, and after escaping crazy Denpassar and Kuta via taxi, made it to the west coast and a beautiful resort in Medewi. One week of lounging by the pool, drinking Balinese Bintang beer and sampling the local cuisine was followed by a few days in the heart of the madness in Kuta. It was fun, it was hectic, but the beach was dirty and the local traders are constantly selling. Walking down a street can be an annoying experience if you are not in the right mood but there are bargains to be had if you have the patience for bartering. A new dress for $5? Yes please.
But now back to the relaxing part – Gili T, as it is known here. Gili T is one of three atolls that make up the Gili Islands and I am currently on what is known as the party island so if you would like to reach even further heights of relaxation then get yourself to either Gili Meno or Gili Air – equally as beautiful but quieter. The islands have only been inhabited for thirty years with Gili T being the first to be transformed into a hippie party haven for backpackers where anything goes, but there is also so much more to offer than the typical backpacker entertainment with chilled out restaurants, treehouse bars and bean bag seating on the beach to watch the stunning sunset.
Another gem is the night markets where you can pick up delicious chicken satay, rice and vegetables for $2.50 or fresh fish and seafood for a fraction of the price it would cost at home. The atmosphere is buzzing with locals and tourists mingling, smoke wafting over the crowd from the barbecues, pretty lights twinkling and lots of satisfied customers. The barbecued prawns in particular are amazing and it’s a great way to start the evening before heading off to a reggae bar for some live music.
As idyllic as it sounds, living on island time can’t last forever. After another five days in paradise I will be heading back to Bali to spend a week in Ubud, known as the cultural and spiritual centre of the island, where I will leave the Gili T indulgences behind to be replaced by visits to a monkey forest, a sunrise volcano trek and yoga. Then it’s off to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands for a week of some more island living in the Pacific before flying back to Sydney, work and reality. Yes, all good things must come to an end – especially holidays.
Fortunately, I left my old job in Sydney on good terms so I have a job to go back to which makes travelling so much easier and less stressful. However, my Australian visa expires in September so I have some serious thinking ahead about what to do next. Home? Another country? Visa extension? The more I think about it, the more options there are, confusing my relaxed mind. A tropical paradise island is no place for such serious thoughts — which is why they will be put on hold until I am back in the real world. There are better things to think about right now, like tonight’s full moon party. Reality can wait.