[Travel] Gili Trawangan (and a quick scam story)

Hi peeps! I just got back from my short vacation in Gili Trawangan, Lombok Island, Indonesia, and now I’m going to share about my trip with you guys!

I’d like to apologise in advance for my incapability of telling stories, but I hope that this post could be a part of your references if one day you decided to go to Gili Trawangan, a very small island on the west side of Lombok!

This was the 2nd time I went to Lombok Island. I fell in love with it when I went there on mid 2013 and always wanted to go back. Plane tickets are purchased in BatikAir website; round trip from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Jakarta (CGK) to Lombok International Airport, Lombok (LOP) costed around Rp 1.7 million, or about US$125. Domestic flights are expensive in Indonesia :/ I wish we have a REAL budget airline company.

Note: 13700 rupiah is equivalent to 1 USD

Day 1 (25 Jan 2016)

Our flight from Jakarta departed at 08:50 (GMT +7) in the morning and arrived in Lombok at 11:50 (GMT +8). It was a pleasant 2 hours flight as they gave us a small meal and a cup of water. Yup, most domestic flights don’t offer any drinks. The only airline companies in Indonesia that provide free drinks nowadays are BatikAir and Garuda Indonesia Airline (and, gosh, this one’s so expensive that no one would fly with them without promos. But they do offer the best service ever).

We ordered a private driver from a small tour owner to get to Bangsal Port for Rp 300,000 (US$ 22) which is quite similar to the taxi rate, but we didn’t want to risk of being late because the last public boat to Gili Trawangan sailed at about 15:00 – 16:00. Now this is where it got pretty fishy. The private driver seemed very nice at first. In 1 and half an hour we arrived at a suspicious small restaurant and the private driver ordered us to get out of the car to “arrange” our next transportation to Gili Trawangan. I immediately knew that they wanted us to rent their charter fast boat that usually costed around Rp 500,000. Before they said anything I told them “we want to use the public boat, we’re just going to walk there then,” as I grabbed my luggage and walked like 5 steps. The driver’s face immediately seemed quite offended and he tried to keep smiling to us and said “okay I’ll take you to the public boat counter”.

So we were then told to get back in the car and he drove us for another 800 meters to NEARBY the port, not on the port. He stopped at a small wood-made house and said it was the official public boat counter. They do have the banners and everything. There were like 5 locals (his friends) offered us fast boat charter but we just kept walking inside the house and the counter guy told us to sign up for the public boat first by listing our names. He said that the public boat would only sail if the list was already completed, “it would even sail on the next day,” they firmly said, just to scare us. 50 rows, and only 5 people have signed up. My SO blindly signed our names and complied as they escort us to the next door restaurant and there were several tricked Caucasians waited for the imaginary public boat as well. The weirdest thing is, they didn’t even charge us for the ticket. Gosh, you would NEVER get rich by pulling up such scam. I know that by late afternoon these people would say stuffs like “sorry no more public boats, you should get an expensive fast boat or you will not be able to cross the sea.” I told my group to just walk away to the port and we did. I was right, the official counter was just beside the shore. We finally bought the last ticket batch of public boat to Gili Trawangan for only Rp 20,000 (US$ 1.46). Phew! Finally!

We immediately checked in to Martas hotel. It’s a nice hotel with bungalows ran by a local and his spouse from UK. The hotel offered welcoming drink which was a very nice gesture indeed! I drank my watermelon juice in seconds because I was soo thirsty and tired. After that we were escorted into our rooms which were quite large and clean. We put our luggages, cleaned ourselves up and went around to get some food which was around 16:30. I heard about ko ko mo restaurant which had the best seafood to offer with ‘reasonable price’. The atmosphere was indeed romantic and quite, but the food price… it was crazy for me. I expected that I could spend about Rp 50,000 to Rp 100,000 for each meal. But in that famous restaurant, the main course costed around Rp 170,000 – 270,000 each (21% service & government tax included). That was without a drink. I thought that I read somewhere that the restaurant was quite affordable. Turns out that the writer’s version of “affordable” was different than mine. But the taste… I would never want to try seafood in that price range in Jakarta anymore. The prawn and the scallop that I ordered was beautifully marinated prior to the grilling process. Best. Seafood. Ever.

The sun had finally set behind the cloud (poor me 😦 ) and there weren’t many things to do in the evening, except if you want to mingle with the other tourists. We were too tired to even think of that and went back to the hotel to plan for next days’ trip and sleep early.


Day 2 (26 January 2016)

Our original plan was to go to Gili Air by island hopping boat which only sail at 08:30. But…. the morning I woke up, it was raining. Gosh, it was a nice weather to keep sleeping. We ended up waking at around 9. Martas offered breakfast to each of their guests, and the breakfast was really great although it was not in the form of buffet. We would place an order for the food (choices between pancakes or any form of eggs with toasts, complementary fruits, juices, coffee and tea) and they would serve the food just like any restaurants. All of the breakfast are great; I had absolutely nothing to complain about.

We started the day by strolling around the island, walking to the north side of the island to find the turtle conservation building. The road was wet and patched by horse craps everywhere, therefore we chose to walk by the shore instead. Everything was incredibly beautiful: the sea, the boats and the yellowish white sand. I was quite saddened by the behaviours of some Indonesians that dump their trashes on the sea. They really don’t know how to preserve the beauty of our nature 😦 The government really need to educate the people more.. and on the side note we somehow didn’t manage to find the turtle conservation building :””(

Anyway after we gave up, we went to Warung Bu Dewi to have our lunch (nearby the jetty), but the place smelled really bad and had awfully lots of flies due to the prior rain. So we just ordered a take-out and eat in our hotel. It was pretty expensive for a ‘warung‘ food, I paid Rp 23,000 for rice, a small part of chicken wing, a 5 cm diameter of bakwan and tofu. In Jakarta on the same type of warung you could get all of get for just about Rp 14,000 with a disturbingly large chicken and incredibly large bakwan. You know that feeling when you’re satisfyingly full and your eyelids suddenly got heavier and heavier? Yup, we’re morons. We took a nap until 16:00; wasted a nice day just to get some sleep. I guess finals and thesis in college really took our energy away.

We walked south to the sunset point and encountered a bar named Paradise Sunset Bar. They provide bean bags for us to lay down and enjoy the sunset while drinking some cold beer or cocktails. I don’t know how to describe it, but I knew that I wanted to stay there for the rest of my life just to enjoy the sunset and the beach itself.

We had dinner at Scallywags but due to my concerns of money I ordered their Indonesian food instead of the well-known barbecue. The staff are not as nice to us as they’re with Caucasians; a common racism problem in Indonesia. Mostly because they want to show off their capability of communicating in basic English to foreigners and expected a tip. But I didn’t really mind that as long as they’re not being rude towards us. Most of other staffs are actually very nice and that’s all that matters.

After we arrived at the hotel we looked up for the land price of Lombok in general, and.. it was pretty much the same as Jakarta. So there goes my dream on having a nice resort in a such heavenly island D: I will get rich, I have to get rich! 😡


Day 3 (27 January 2016)

I planned to snorkel on this day but I still had that little dots of (pardon me) period. Groarr! And the worst thing that could happen on the beach happened: it rained all day. We really didn’t know what to do and we ended up do a crazy thing: left my camera, put our phones and wallets in a plastic bag, rent a bike and just cycled through the heavy rain around the island. We were looking for this swing by the sea, and guess what, we found it and took pictures! It was rather difficult to get to the swing because of the corals underneath the water, but we just had to do it! Ah, I forgot to mention that we had lunch at Tir Na Nog, an Irish bar and their food was good.

We went to Scallywags again for the dinner, but this time we ordered the seafood and monster rib barbecue. The seafood was all really great but the rib was…meh. But it was like 30 cm big and only costed around Rp 135,000. It was a rather gloomy night because we had to leave on the next day. Damn, I wish that I stayed for a whole week there! Unfortunately my savings didn’t support me 😦


Day 4 (28 January 2016)

We didn’t manage to wake up early on any single day, and this time we even woke up at 09:30. I don’t know why we slept so long and still got sleepy throughout the day. After we had our sweet breakfast we took our last stroll through the island. Unlike the previous days, the sun finally shooed out the clouds. Why did the universe do that..? It was cruel! All of our days there were full of clouds and the sun showed itself like it was mocking us 😦 We had our lunch at Black Penny: great Indonesian food and great pizza. The owner of Martas allowed us to check out late since they don’t have another guess for the day, so we checked out just after we had lunch and went back to Lombok island by the public boat. We took a cab to the airport and immediately slept right after we sat inside the car. The fare for the cab was Rp 300,000; similar to the private driver fare. Mind you, just get the Bluebird or Express cab because the two are the only trusted cab companies in Jakarta!

Luckily, my SO has a credit card that allows us to wait inside the airport lounge. So the group happily sit around and relax before we were called to board the plane. That was the first time I went to an airport lounge; I immediately tried their food because I was quite hungry. Anyway we finally flew back to Jakarta and arrived at 20:00.


And.. that was the end of the trip. It was really short I regret I didn’t just save all my money and spend a lot more time in Gili Trawangan.. Thank you for reading my extremely lame narrative about my trip and hope that you guys learned a thing or two from the scam! You should always do some RESEARCHES before you go anywhere that was not in your zone. I spent WEEKS to do a lot of researches when I was planning a long trip in Europe. Heck, I spent practically one day to plan a day in Europe. People often overestimated their capability of going on a non-tour trip, that’s why they lost their money and time on those scams. Trust me, all of those hours or days spend on your research would be worth it when you found out that you went to an amazing place that few people know, or your ability to avoid the scams or pickpockets because you’ve known their methods. See ya on my next post!


Disclaimer: All of the photos are taken by my group of friends and me using Nikon D5500, Samsung Note 4 and iPhone 5S.


3 thoughts on “[Travel] Gili Trawangan (and a quick scam story)

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