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  • Writer's pictureEvelyn Roberts

Gili Air, Lombok

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

July 2004

I've been on Gili Air now for 5 days and will be until July 3rd (turns out I couldn't tear myself away until the 4th... and not a single firework here!). It is a tiny tropical island; no cars or motorised vehicles of any kind (only horse drawn carts), no police (you go to the village chief if there is a problem). I haven't even heard a phone ring since being here, and there is only one American on the whole island (I haven't spoken to him, but I've heard him…), although many Europeans. I am staying in a place called Coconut Cottages, owned and run by a Scotswoman! It is heavenly, I have a thatched bamboo cottage up on stilts, very simple, with a great patio and hammock. It is very close to the ocean, set in the most beautiful coconut grove/tropical garden, and there seem to be no mosquitoes here either. However, this is quite dangerous, I'm paying less than $4 a day (breakfast included). I really could forget to leave, if it wasn't for all my buddies arriving soon I might have to be pried off the place.

I walk the circumference of the island daily along the shoreline, it takes about an hour and a half. There is great snorkelling and lots of people come here to dive. There are 2 other islands close by and I have taken a boat tour around them. Coming over from Bali took 5 hours on a boat (and several more by bus) and it was so good to be on the ocean that I became very nostalgic about my sailboat trip last year. Have only seen about 3 sailboats, and I resisted the urge to try and flag them down. Especially since one looked very dilapidated and had a black and red sail, my imagination went a little wild as this area is known for its pirates, but I'm quite sure there are no Johnny Depps amongst them!

The 1st morning I walked on the beach I started crying, it makes me so happy to know there are still places like this on the planet. It is part of Lombok and therefore Muslim, but not in the least fundamentalist, the women are not veiled and play a very active part in all of life. I have wandered through the centre of the island which has no tourists and everyone is warm and friendly, they all want to feed you and know where you are from. I have experienced no animosity whatsoever. I love Bali too, but it is very different (Hindu and far more tourist orientated), one big difference is there are countless dogs there, and none here (a Muslim thing I'm told... they don't like them). I think in the future I want to spend far more time in the more isolated parts of Indonesia, this island is the most perfect retreat I have ever found. As soon as I heard the name I knew I had to come, and the minute I got here I knew why. I am hatching some plans that would make it possible for me to spend more time here, next year in fact. More on that later.

And I am not hiding away from the world. By chance on the boat from Bali I met some French/English/ Australians who have been delightful company. I pretty much wander about by myself during the day; explore, do astrology and yoga and read, then in the evenings there are these little platforms on the beach where you sit on pillows, hang out with other travellers and the locals, listen to the ocean and eat amazing fresh caught fish and the local (sasak) Indonesian food. There really is nothing to do that doesn't involve the ocean, being self sufficient or simply interacting with others, which I find wonderful. I'm feeling completely at peace here, it's like a total recharge for the soul - no distractions. The full moon we just had was spectacular and the ocean so alive and bright beneath it. I spend several hours a day doing written astrology readings which has been a whole new experience for me, and I'm really enjoying it... (astrology aside.. this has been an interesting manifestation of this Venus in Gemini Retrograde cycle... ruler of my MC/5th/6th).

I'm now back in Ubud, in the rice fields with the ducks and the frogs, after quite a gruelling 10 hours on Indonesian public transport. I took a tourist package going over and it was much easier. It really was difficult to leave the Island, it's so special. The last day I rented a bike (I was $1 for the whole day!) and covered every inch of the island, and not one inch is paved. Such a simple lifestyle, and real community. I love how that felt, the old, young, and everyone in between, together, and seemingly very content and supportive of one another. I got to know so many of the local people that they were all waving when I left (probably thinking there goes that whacky woman). In a few days friends start arriving from the US, so I'm going to become more of a tourist, which will be fun and will make me see more of Bali itself.


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