As I continue to reflect on the travel I’ve done since moving to this region of the world, I can’t help but think about my trip to the Gili Islands. Where Jakarta is chaotic, the Gilis are calm. Jakarta screams while the Gilis whisper, and for this reason I really enjoyed my time while there.
My first year in Indonesia, I decided to do a yoga retreat during the March break. A married couple that I befriended at work loved diving off of Gili Air and I, well, just loved the beach. Still do.
Gili Trawangan (aka Gili T), where I stayed, is known as the party island. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a partier. I have to convince myself to go out and actually liked that Luang Prabang, Laos had a 11:30 PM curfew.
I say all this because it was very easy to avoid the party scene in Gili T. Ignore the middle-aged man who asks if you want to buy shrooms every day at the same corner and explore the island instead. Here are a few suggestions:
- Take a yoga class or two at Gili Yoga. Most days, I took two classes. One of my favorite memories in Indonesia is sitting on the wooden platform after a class and listening to the call to prayer. Glor-i-ous.
- Eat, sleep, read, repeat on the beach.While at Gili T, I (foolishly) attempted to walk around the entire island in the heat of the day. When the heat got the best of me, I ended up stopping at Pink Coco and camping out. The food was good and the staff extremely friendly. It was a nice place to watch the sunset too.
- Rent a rusty bike and circle the entire island. Cars are not allowed on the island, so that made the experience all the better (There are horse-drawn carts to get around, but I felt bad for the animals. Some were clearly overworked). At points, I had to push my bike through the sand, but it was a beautiful way to spend the day.
- Snorkel or scuba dive. The Gilis is a diving destination. Coral bleaching, pollution, and tourism are definitely damaging the wildlife. That being said, I’m so glad I snorkeled. I saw my first turtle there. As someone who loves the ocean but will only get in water up to my neck, another traveler I befriended had to convince me to snorkel. I’m so, so glad I did.
- Island hop to Gili Air and/or Gili Meno. One day I took the ferry over to visit my co-workers on Gili Air. Again, I rode a bike and had a wonderful time cycling around, being near the ocean, and eating. In March 2016, one-way fare cost 40,000 Rp (roughly 3 USD). The ferry left twice a day.
- Visit the Sama Sama reggae bar for live music. I have to be honest, I’m beyond tired of seeing Bob Marley murals and buildings decorated with red, green, yellow, and black whenever I go to a beach locale. As a Black woman with two-strand twists that are often mistaken for locs, I had locals come up to me soooo excited. Some asked me how I did my hair (and I laughed inside at the signs that promised to start locs for people). Still, if you want live music…it’s there.
What are your must-dos or want to dos when on an island vacation? Would you ever consider a yoga retreat?
Since I’m now down to my last six months of living abroad, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about the trips I’ve taken.
One of my favorite sojourns was to Pulau Macan (also known as Tiger Island) my first year in Indonesia. A part of the country’s Thousand Islands, I went with a friend and co-worker during a long weekend. Though meeting at Ancol, the launching point, was stressful and boarding what looked like an overpacked boat was worrisome, I truly enjoyed Pulau Macan.
The water around Jakarta is polluted, which is putting it mildly. It was (and still is) the only time in my life where I’ve seen water as black as my hair (not because of sediment) and an actual trash line that served as an uncomfortable reminder as to how “convenience” is killing the planet.
Once the boat’s blades were detangled from the trash and we were speeding across the ocean, I felt as if a centrifugal force was launching me from the megalopolis and into paradise.
Pulau Macan’s entire perimeter can be traversed on foot in less than ten minutes. Besides the quiet that came with smallness (and considerate travelers who were also visiting at the same time), there were simple yet delectable meals, a weak connection to force me off of my phone, blue starfish, my great friend from work, two amazing Malaysian women to chat with, and the ocean. What else could I need?
If ever around Jakarta, I would highly recommend spending even one night out there. If that’s not possible, let the pictures below serve as a quick travel journey for you.
I’m excited to announce that I had another piece of writing published to a travel site, this time to The Flight Deal. If you haven’t already heard of The Flight Deal, it’s a site that publishes daily airline fare deals. It’s definitely worth looking into if you’re planning a domestic or international destination.
Please check out at my latest piece here. I hope you all enjoy it!
Earlier I hinted that I would hopefully have my thoughts on a trip to Yogyakarta posted to another website. Well, that time is now here. I’m excited to announce that I’ve begun partnering with Black & Abroad to write about my travel experience as a woman of color.
Check it out here, and please leave comments. I hope you all enjoy the piece!
I recently visited Yogyakarta, Indonesia for the second time due to a Muslim holiday. The three day weekend reminded me about the best part of Indonesia: the plurality of religions. My dear friend from Belgium came to visit me in Indonesia, so I had to get her out of Jakarta and to the UNESCO World Heritage sites that are known as Borobudur and Prambanan. While Borobudur is a Buddhist temple and the other is Hindu, both are places I can visit every year. I’m blessed to have now walked in the shadows of Machu Picchu, magnificent churches, Uluru and my mother, and I can confidently say that Borobudur is one of my favorite spiritual places.
The mixing of religions is ever-present in Indonesia. Where else can you leave a Buddhist or Hindu temple only to see huge trucks moving oxen that would be slaughtered for a Muslim holy day?
A more detailed piece will, hopefully, be published on a travel site soon so stay tuned!
I recently took a trip to Nusa Dua, Bali to attend a jazz festival. Stay tuned for my post about that experience. Until then, here’s my first time lapse video using a GoPro. It was fun to try out this new technology and very cheap because instead of having to buy a new camera my school library allowed me to borrow one of these amazing ones for my weekend trip. Gotta love it!
Less than a month from now on the impossibly lush, green island of Sumatra there’s an opportunity to experience a unique cultural tradition in Indonesia: bull racing.
Seared to perfection, like one of my favorite Texas steaks, is my memory of this event.