25 kilometres from Bali are 3 islands called the Gilis. They are part of Lombok which is the closest island to them but most people get the fast boat from Bali.
We left pretty early and headed to a small port east of Bali to reduce the boat journey. We had to wait in a restaurant of their choice for 1 hour but they were conveniently serving breakfast! We had breaky before we heard screaming from the kitchen only to turn round to see a fire had started there! The women screamed and did nothing, so luckily a male worker sprinted (we think) to turn the gas off. He later came out with a pipe, presumably that had caught on fire. We breathed a sigh of relief on that one!
The boat journey. The next paragraph was almost never written as we both felt like we weren't going to make it to the Gili islands. We have been on many boats big and small in rough seas and calm but the next hour and a half were the worst ever. The boat had 3 seats either side and was enclosed with roof and sides but open back. So it felt like a semi enclosed coffin.
The journey started well until the boat veered left and banked right after a loud thud.
The man behind the wheel turned around with confused/concerned look and his face. I didn't use the term 'captain' as he wasn't worthy of the title! Whatever it was it got fixed and we continued.
The sea got slightly choppier but not enough to explain the next hour. Out of nowhere the boat crashed into a wave and water covered the boat. Water came in through the open vents on the roof and gaps in windows. We looked out the window and we could see the sea, not spray, half way up the window so we were under briefly. This was enough for us and quite a lot of people to panic (one girl even put her lifejacket on).
The wave knocked out the drivers windscreen wiper too. He didn't stop to fix it though, he just carried on despite not being able to see the waves. He crashed into several more waves which also sent water over the top of the boat. The boat also veered so far over a few times we thought it was capsizing. The other crew members seemed calm enough which helped although a guy was wiping the inside of the captains window with a soggy tissue, even though it was the outside he couldn't see out of!
The strange thing was, the whole time the sea didn't look rough. It just seemed the driver had no experience in navigating waves at sea.
It was probably normal but being in that boat didn't feel safe. If the boat had been open roof and sides we would've felt safer as you would just fall into the water if anything happens!
Anyway we made it eventually after a 1 and a half hour white knuckle ride.
We got off at largest of the 3 islands - Gili Tarawangan. We had no plans or knew how long to stay.
We walked north of the boat landing area (there was no pier, you just jumped in shin deep water and carried your bags to shore) and found somewhere to stay opposite the main beach. The room had all the mod cons again...a bed, a saltwater tap/shower and a mouse that ate our soap everynight! It had a terrace to sit on though and they did excellent banana pancakes for breakfast.
Tired we decided to hit the beach as it was partly sunny. There was a great view of Lombok's volcano opposite, but unfortunately that was the last we would see of it.
The sea was calm, the weather was nice so we decided to rent snorkel, mask and flippers and go turtle spotting. We headed to 'turtle point' to surely(?!) see some.
After about 5 minutes of swimming something squeezed my arm tightly enough to stop blood circulating! It was Emma and she had spotted a turtle! THINK FAN FARE MUSIC! It was about 1 metre in diameter, so pretty huge! We followed it for about 10 minutes watching it eat the coral and swimming up for air before it swam off into the very dark depths. We saw 2 more so it was no fluke and 'turtle point' lived up to its name. It was a great experience especially as they have been so elusive in our past snorkelling trips!
The nightlife on the island is surprisingly good with huge bars and even louder sound systems all in one area, so is easy to skip it and have a few quiet beers on the beach if you want to get away from it all.
The next few days all merged into one as the weather was bad. One day was spent eating out 3 meals and playing monopoly the others, on the internet. Martin and Anne made it over on the 2nd day so we had a couple of great days and nights with them. We went snorkeling again but the sea was too rough and murky, although we did still see 2 more turtles. We also went for a walk through the middle of the island and saw some huge spiders. There were also a flock of birds making sounds that birds don't normally make!
We hired bikes for the last few days which were great fun and enabled us to cycle all the way around. They were some nice beaches to watch the sunset, although we didn't see one.
We had planned to stay on the Gili islands longer and go to the others two islands (Gili Air and Meno) but the weather was bad so we decided to be adventurous and book some trips.
Photos (AND video below)...