A Love Story: Part Nine

An unbelievable sunset on Gili Air. Self-portrait by Our Visual World.

The Gili Islands are reminiscent of Bali’s past.

A kind of hidden treasure that won’t be kept a secret for very long.

The Gilis are east of Bali, just off the northern coast of Lombok. Most people wouldn’t be able to spot them on a map unless they zoomed in accidentally; which is pretty much what we did. The three islands that make up this region are Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air.

Gili T is known as the party island and a hotspot for anyone under the age of 30. It also boasts a shipwreck dive that attracts many scuba enthusiasts. Gili Meno is the Robinson Crusoe Island of the bunch and renowned for their sea turtle sightings. Lastly, there’s Gili Air, also known as the honeymooner island, and the pace we ultimately decided on.

After our long travel day from Ubud and a sea sickening journey across the Lombok Straight, we finally reached our hotel, Grand Sunset. We dropped our bags and grabbed a seat at the ocean front restaurant. We each ordered the Scratch Burger and settled in for an afternoon with our toes in the sand. When our meals were finally delivered, we couldn’t believe our senses. This quite literally was the best burger either of us has ever had. We ate rather silently, except for the moans between each bite. We went back to reception and booked the hotel for two more nights.

Sunset over Scratch restaurant, Grand Sunset, Gili Air.

This could very easily become a story about our love affair with a hamburger (we ordered it at least five more times), but there were other things that made us fall in love with Gili Air.

The island itself is still pretty undeveloped (at least as of January 2016). Aside from the guesthouses surrounding the main landing area, there is a lot of open space once you set out around the island. There are no cars and no motorbikes, which adds to the resounding tranquility of the Gilis. We opted many times to walk the long stretch of uninhabited beaches, but there were small horse carriages available should one need to get around. 
Our hotel was located on the northwest side. The room and the property were beyond expectations of what you would find on a small island like this. My memories of Koh Ta Kiev and the primitive accommodations were fresh in my brain; so I definitely wasn’t expecting this kind of luxury. 
The bathroom was open air with a waterfall shower draining into black polished rocks. Two chairs sat on our patio overlooking the gardens. The property boasted an infinity pool that overlooked the sea. Before us, we could see the jungles of Gili Meno. Had the currents been tamer, I think we very easily could have swum across the channel.

Our afternoons were spent exploring the small island on foot. Restaurants positioned hammocks and wooden platforms right on the beaches which we took advantage of quite frequently. There was sun and sand and live music at every turn. It was the paradise we were searching for and we were thankful to have finally found it.

Clockwise from top left: (1) We were able to find a tree and pitch our Eno Hammock as a storm rolled over the mountains of Lombok. (2) The waters were so shallow in some parts, we walked 500ft and were still knee-deep. Most of the beaches are made from dead coral, so shoes were required to trek out into the water. (3) A band from Lombok played traditional music with the waves crashing behind them. (4) Alleys throughout the island are unpaved and unmarked, which made for exciting exploration.

Our last night on Gili was something of a dream.

We walked until we found a restaurant that piqued our interest. There was a cover band playing to the sound of the waves. Patrons moved fluidly to the songs. Kyle made it abundantly clear he wouldn’t be dancing, but we agreed this was the place we wanted to spend our last moments on the island.

The trees were dressed in twinkle lights and tables placed under each of them. We drank lukewarm Bintang and ended up joining another couple. We talked politics and music and cultural oddities. We laughed and sang and drank without a care in the world. It couldn’t have been a more perfect end to a perfect trip. 
That’s when a song came on that I recognized immediately; a slow number that made my eyes well with tears. Kyle was talking to Linda and I interrupted their exchange. 
 “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I need to steal him for a dance.”

Kyle was adamant about not making a fool of himself, but somehow I coerced him out of his chair. Soon we were dancing barefoot under the stars.

The song was Home, by Michael Buble. It encapsulated everything I felt leading to that moment; leading to the night before I finally came home.

I’ve been keeping all the letters that I wrote to you.
Each one a line or two, “I’m fine baby, how are you?”

Well I would send them but I know that it’s just not enough.
My words were cold and flat, and you deserve more than that.

Another airplane, another sunny place,
I’m lucky I know, but I want to go home.
I’ve got to go home.

Let me go home.
I’m just too far from where you are.
I want to come home.

And I feel just like I’m living someone else’s life.
It’s like I just stepped outside when everything was going right.
And I know just why you could not come along with me.
This was not your dream, but you always believe in me.

Another winter day has come and gone away.
In even Paris and Rome and I want to go home.
Let me go home.

And I’m surrounded by a million people, I still feel alone.
Oh, let go home. I miss you, you know. 
Let me go home.
I’ve had my run. Baby, I’m done. I gotta go home.

Let me go home.
It will all right. I’ll be home tonight.
I’m coming back home.

I joked one time with an old friend, that I would marry the man who dipped me under the moonlight after our first dance. 
And what did Kyle do?

He held my body in his arms and dipped me so perfectly in tune with the end of the song. As he brought me back standing, I pulled him in for the deepest kiss. After that moment, there was no doubt in my mind.

This man is my forever.
And my home would be forever in his arms.

Some of our favorite moments on Gili Air. The sunsets are still some of the most extraordinary ones we’ve seen.

Special thanks to all the lovebirds in the world rooting for our success. Your endless support and readership give life to these stories. If you’re just joining, you can navigate our little love series here: 
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