Gili Aer & Lombok 08:21:93S 116:04:93E

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Thu 6 Nov 2008 04:48

We arrived in the anchorage on the south side of Gili Aer at lunch time on the 20th October, after an uneventful trip from Kekalok.


The anchorage is surrounded by a reef, which is not at all obvious and so we had some invaluable help from David on Rascal in the form of some waypoints which cleared us safely through the entrance to the reef. Once clear we headed into the anchoring area off the white sandy beach and ferry pier.


As luck would have it, one of the mooring buoys was free, so we had a good look at it first, then picked it up. As soon as possible after mooring , we went ashore in the dingy to find the owner of the mooring to ensure is was available to use and also most importantly, strong enough to hold us.  The guy who owned the mooring, was also the proprietor of “Wanderer” Bungalows & Bar, and turned out to be a real “Mr Fixit”. He confirmed we could use the mooring and that the divers had only just completed it that morning. From the description of what it consisted off, it was clearly strong enough to hold Zipadedoda.


Gili Aer is the smallest of the three Gili Islands off the NW coast of Lombok. They are all quite beautiful, with crystal clear water and pure white sandy beaches. The Island is small, you can walk around it in a couple of hours, and is home to countless beach bars, restaurants and dive companies. All servicing the visiting back packers. It is no doubt “Back Packer Paradise”.


Cars and Motor cycles are banned here. The most common form of transport being the pony and traps, and bicycles.


    Gili Transport on the Gili M25!


The island has a plethora of bungalows and low rent accommodation for the back packing community and scuba divers. It was the low season when we were there, so the island had a rather run down air to it, with a lot of bored looking young local men, lounging about in the bars. The other intriguing thing was the large number of Pizza restaurants along the beach.


A number of the other rally boats had arrived here the day before, and had organised a tour on Lombok for the following day. So we elected to join them.


    Gili to Lombok Ferry


The tour had been organised by “Mr Fixit”. Two tours were available. Either the local city with markets and temples or the scenic tour with a visit to the Air Terjun Water Falls, high up I the hills. The group elected for the latter and so we all assembled on the beach at 0800 to await our guide.  Once he had arrived, we all piled into the long boat ferry. This was a wooden construction, around 12 metres  long and two metres wide, with two 150 HP Yamaha outboard engines. Needless to say it covered the distance between Gili and Pamenang in no time. The landing is interesting. They throw out the bow anchor (literally) as they approach the beach. This is then tied off and as the anchor bites, the boat swings through 180 degrees, and then reverses to the beach with the engines raise to shallow mode. A stern anchor is then “walked” up the beach to secure the boat fore and aft.


After walking for several 100 metres towards town, our mini bus turned up. This was a rather beaten up affair. Definitely past its sell by date. So we clambered aboard and squeezed up with the guide, driver and drivers assistant. It was a serious crush and very uncomfortable, because it had no air conditioning and several seats were broken or had metal parts sticking thru the fabric.


Very soon we were driving passed fields full of Lombok Chillies, and many other crops. It was a four hour drive to the waterfalls, our main destination for the day.


The main crop on Lombok is rice. There were paddy fields every where and massive terracing schemes as we climbed up the winding roads into the hills.



Lombok as mentioned before is very volcanic. This gives it the correct ph value in the soil to support rice and many other crops. It is very fertile and when the Dutch were in control of Indonesia they helped the locals create a complex and effective system of irrigation to support the paddy fields through both the wet and dry seasons. They typically achieve 3 crops of rice each year.


The views of the scenery were simply breathtaking.  Lombok is a truly beautiful place and we would both like to come back one day and see much more of it, at a more leisurely pace.


We eventually arrived in the area for the water falls. First we stopped for a “comfort break” and a coffee, before embarking on the reasonably tough walk to the falls. About a one hour hike and scramble over boulders and wading through the river. We were guided along the way by an official park ranger, who certainly knew his “stuff”.


The forest here is splendid with some enormous trees raising up to 80 metres above the forest floor.



These were grand trees indeed, and once we reached the falls, everything was so green and damp, with the sun beating down on us. It was a delight to stand in the mist created by the falls with the cold water running over our feet to cool us down.



It is said that if you swim in the pool at the bottom of the falls, then you will emerge tens years younger. This was very temping, but the stones and the river bed were very slippery, to the point of being treacherous, so I elected to sit this one out and just take in all the surroundings and enjoy them.



After a good rest and relaxation we headed back for what was to turn out to be a very interesting and unusual return journey.


A already mentioned, there are many irrigation channels in these parts. In fact the water from the “Falls” is channelled  over an aqueduct in to the mountain to be delivered to a complex web of sluice gates and mini canals to cascade down through the hundreds of Paddy fields and hence to the sea.  Having walked over the top of an aqueduct, our guide then offered us the option to travel back to the start of our trek via a tunnel that carried this water.  A bit daunting, but the cooling water in the midday heat was just too tempting, so we opted for this route.



This was an unusual experience and one that a Health & Safety office would most certainly have banned!! It was pitch dark in the tunnel with only the occasional  hole letting in light from the wood and scrub above. There were holes in the tunnel floor too, which you could not see and rocks projecting from the tunnel roof.  But it was a novel experience and kept us cool.


We returned to our luxurious transport and decamped to a very low key restaurant for lunch. This was more like some ones home than a restaurant. But we made the most of it, drank them out of cold Bintang beer very quickly and they then had to send out for more. It transpired their fridge could only hold four bottles at a time! It took ages for the food to arrive, but in the end it was reasonable fare, and we were once again on our way through this beautiful countryside. But not before we all had to get out of the mini-bus at the restaurant to push it up the drive. The battery was flat and so it would not start. So we all pushed like mad once it was out of the drive, and the engine bust into life almost immediately. Phew…..


Two hours later whilst progressing along the main drag, through a village, the engine died and the mini-bus ground to a halt. After some discussion, it turned out that he had run out f petrol! This is when we discovered why the driver has an assistant. He was dispatched to the next road side shop to buy three bottles of petrol, in one litre plastic bottles that started out life as drinking water bottles.


Meantime some of the locals emerged from their homes for a chat and to show off their babies! One bloke spoke particularly good English and was a mine of information about Lombok. He was very inquisitive about what we were doing and in particular the BWR. It seems he had had some involvement with Sail Indonesia when it came through earlier in the year.


Once the emergency supply f petrol was installed we once again indulged in people power to get the mini-bus started, and then we were on our way.


Back at the harbour, Jennie discovered one of the local children chilling out in a hammock,



By this time we were all very tired, and I could easily have crawled in beside him. He looked so peaceful and blissfully asleep!


By the time we arrived back at Gili, it was dusk. There was a hive of activity as the local fishermen were casting their nets in the twilight.



That night we eat well on shore with Robert & Wendy from Heidenskip and Peter & Anne-Marie from Lousill. It was a fun evening, but at the end we were all very tired and glad to go back to our beds.


It was to be yet another early start for the relatively short trip trip down to Benoa, Bali the next day.