Thursday, 11 August 2016

Lombok Part 4: Leaving Senggigi For Gili Trawangan

After resting a night in Senggigi we headed for Gili Trawangan, a small island on the northwest coast of Lombok. Together with Gili Meno and Gili Air, this group of small islands form Lombok's most popular and most favored tourist destination. They are even dubbed by some as 'Unspoilt Paradise'. 

Getting To Gili Trawangan From Senggigi
There are many ways to get to the Gilis (meaning small islands) from where I stayed in Senggigi. Chartered and private speedboats are aplenty and may be the preferred choice for those who can afford to splurge. There are also travel agents like Perama Tour which provide transport service from your hotel in Senggigi all the way to Gili Trawangan for IND 165,000 per pax. This appears like a convenient choice and many opt for this package. We decided to go for a much cheaper option by booking a 'Shuttle' from Senggigi. This 'Shuttle' is a package that include land transport from our hotel to the gateway near Bangsal Harbour and a public boat ticket from Bangsal Harbour to Gili Trawangan. It does not include transport from the gateway to the harbour which is just a short stretch of 500 meters. For this 'shuttle' we paid IDR 60,000 per pax. We had all the time in the world anyway and didn't mind a little inconvenience when we could save so much. 
The 45 minutes' van drive along the coastal road to the harbour town was a pleasant experience. As the road is undulating there are many elevated stretches where you get to see stunning views of the beaches, the sea and even the three Gilis.
At one stretch along the coastal road we could even see the three Gilis lined up, with Gili Air closest to shore and Gili Trawangan furthest away. That was a spectacular sight indeed.
Our van stopped at Bunga Bunga Cafe just before the gateway to the harbour. Taxis and public transport are not allowed beyond this gateway for a good reason. This is to give coachmen of horse carts an income opportunity as many tourists with heavy luggage may find pulling their bags a distance of 500 meters to the harbour a bit too challenging.
This coachman just earned IDR 20,000 from us. IDR10,000 per pax is the normal rate to pay for the 500 metres stretch to the beachfront ticketing office.
There was not much hassle getting our boat tickets as claimed by many Lombok travel guides. There wasn't a single tout who harassed us that day.  The system has probably changed for the better.
Tickets to Gili Trawangan are priced at IDR15000 and the levy tax is IDR 5000 for foreign tourists. Our 'Shuttle' package of IDR 60,000 has included these expenses.
There are no proper piers for passengers using the public boats and they have to wade through a foot deep of sea water to get into the boats. When the waves come, it could be more than a foot deep so it is good to come prepared. The advice is to wear rubber slippers instead of shoes or sneakers and short pants instead of long ones. Carrying any luggage more than 15kg can also be a challenge as the bags has to be lifted above the sea. For those who can't manage, there are people waiting to give a hand for a nominal fee. These are some of the inconveniences using the public boats but it is an obvious cost saver and a priceless adventure.
Taking the public boat, one can expect to sit in with chickens, groceries and boxes of goods brought in by islanders who need to replenish their supplies from mainland Lombok. Our boat was not very congested. A bicycle and a few bags of foodstuff seen, that was all.
We bade farewell to Bangsal Harbour. The boat ride to Gili Trawangan was quite a short one less than 40 minutes.

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