Gili T

During our stay in Ubud, Polly and I booked ourselves a little holiday to the Gili Islands.

A holiday from a holiday. How insane does this sound? Don’t worry, I make myself feel sick, it’s fine.

Going to Gili Trawanga felt like a holiday. I know that sounds weird…I mean, isn’t this whole trip like one big holiday? But it really did! It felt like an actual vacation. An opportunity for me to vacate my overworked mind, and to actually feel a little deserted on a beautiful island, and to find comfort and peace with that.

I have been plonked within place after place, and haven’t experienced the ‘travelling’ side of getting from one destination to another; unless you count customs and the complimentary meals on flights. I was actually witnessing the journey. Experiencing it first hand. It’s hard to explain, but it just felt different.

I looked around and saw all the other travellers packed into this boat like myself and I felt such a surge of unity. We are doing this guys!? We are all bloody living!! We are clearly all in different stages of our lives, but this one, this wanderlust echoes through us all.

You know the images in holiday magazines that you ripped out when you were younger, or those desktop screensaver that would taunt you during your 9-5? THAT is Gili Trawanga ladies and gentlemen. THAT is where we arrived! I was inside my desktop screensaver. I was the man, without the ripped torso, gliding along the golden sands of Gili.

No cars. No motorbikes. No roads. No traffic lights. Zebra crossings had been replaced with actual horses crossing the crooked streets with carts. Turtles nesting in sand banks, and fluffy kittens pottering around the organic pathways. This was daytime in Gilli Trawanga during the burning sun which was softened with a gentle salty breeze.

We checked into our little hideaway, ‘Havana Hideaway‘ to be exact. If you are planning to go to Gili Trawanga, stay there. Seriously. I treated Polly to this little sanctuary during our stay here. Once again, we deserved it. Why not? People have been somewhat surprised that I have been staying in hotels during my travels here in Indonesia, rather than slumming it in hostels like travellers are ‘supposed’ to.

My argument is that I no longer have the desire to save that difference in currency for cocktails or local booze. I no longer have to choose between Bintang or Bathtubs, Pina Coladas or privacy, tequila or spa treatments. The money thay I am saving by not boozing allows for me to enjoy these small bonuses. This is my travel experience, and I’ve realised that I need home comforts to make me feel relaxed, not southern comfort.

We took ourselves to sunset point on the other side of the island. We cycled against the warm breeze, which soothed our sunkissed skin. The closer we edged towards sunset point, the louder Bob Marley’s dulcet tones were heard breaking through some tired speaker. The decor, the people and the overall vibe had completely shifted. Everyone had taken their seats ready for the show to begin. Background music accompanied the opening number; a horse cantering across the shore, with it’s silhouette being framed by the safron sky.

Show time. The velvet-looking cloud curtains parted, and there stood the lead. Everyone fixated on the sun which began it’s descent behind the ocean. It really was a beautiful performance. Flawless. Five stars. Tony award winning. Bravo.

Watching the sun set was never enough for me. It was never the main act. It was always the warm-up, or the host. “Ladies and gentleman, I will now be setting, I shan’t take up too much of your time. I am pleased to announce that it is now officially ok to get drunk”. Big applause. Cheers.

This was different. Possibly because I was in Indonesia, and the sun was surrounded by a completely different setting. But it is still the same sun. I find that both magical and overwhelming.

My mum once introduced me to the work of Anthony de Mello, and the specific conversation about the sun.

Recall the kind of feeling you have when someone praises you, when you are approved, accepted, applauded. And Contrast that with the kind of feeling that arises within you when you look at the sunset or the sunrise, or Nature in general or when you read a book or watch a movie that you thoroughly enjoy. Get the taste of this feeling.

Having done this, attempt to understand the true nature of worldly feelings, namely, the feelings of self-promotion, self-glorification. They are not natural.

They were invented by your society and your culture to make you productive and to make you controllable. These feelings do not produce the nourishment and happiness that is produced when one contemplates Nature of enjoys the company of one’s friends or one’s work. They were meant to produce thrills, excitement and emptiness.

We watched the sunset. We got emotional. We got deep. We took a breath and took it in. It was something I will never forget.

Then, night fell.

Once the sun had set, it was as if we had taken ourselves through the peacefulness of Page 3 within our glossy travel mag, and skimmed straight to Page 45; nightlife in Tenerife.Students with shot glasses stretched across the seafront lit up with strobe lighting and shroom sellers. The vibe had switched. Perfect for those travellers who wanted to get steaming drunk, but not the best for those travellers who wished to let off steam through serenity and silence. The sound of prayer filling the back lanes during Ramadan, whilst the beachfront played tribute to chart classics.

I felt somewhat jealous!? That, come nightfall, this island was no longer offered to me. It was as though, my time had expired. No-one was telling me I couldn’t join in. I could of stayed out and absorbed the nightlife…but I just didn’t need it. I just had FOMO; fear of missing out.

That fear wasn’t experienced in Ubud.

There are many words which the T could stand for in Gili T.(Trawanga obviously being one of them), but also; Tranquil, Time-Travel, Time-Out, and TEQUILA. But most of all…teachings.It taught me to let go, and let flow. Thank You Gilli T.


  1. Ah Ben! ❤️ one of my Goddaughter’s middle names is Gili after their parents, my best friends, traveled there and fell in love with the Islands. Sounds perfect. Sending love. Nat xx


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