First impressions of Trawangan, Gili Islands, Bali

Food & Drink, Religion & Spirituality, Travel | | July 31, 2011 at 17:55

The Gili Island of Trawangan itself is much much different from what I was expecting. I think the good old days of relaxed backpackers, drinking mushroom shakes and hanging out on the beach in bean bags like what was described to me by Indonesian locals in Sanur is long gone.

I’m not sure how often they update the Lonely Planet guide, but the one we have is from 2009 and it says there is one restaurant with wi-fi, and one intenet cafe and no ATMs.  Now there are at least 5 netcafes, tons of restaurants with wi-fi and every major bank has an ATM onsite.  Most the resturants look fairly new and modern and serve all type of western food. Half the resturants in the guide I don’t even think are here anymore.

Prices for accommodations are much much higher than the guide states as well, saying high season prices are 100k [$12] a night, but they are more like 250k to 400k [$30-$47] and that’s not even the higher class resorts that now dot the main strip.

There are alot of older couples walking around, some with families, but the Island still has its fill of young backpackers looking to party at one of the few bars on the main strip.

Prices are quite reasonable. Most restaurants offer food in the 40k [$5] or higher range, which is about what you would expect to pay in Sanur. You can find it even cheaper sometimes. We found Tir na Nog Irish Bar and most of its drinks are actually cheaper than anywhere I’ve found in Bali. It was pumping last night with a 100+  backpackers partying til 3am.

But I would say get here quick, because the glory of Trawangan is rapidly fading, and it won’t be long before all the character is stripped from this place by rich tourists with money to spend. While reseaching this place, I read a blog online by a man who has been coming here since the 80’s  who said he believes it’s due to the newer speedboat services which cater to the richer tourist and generally exclude the backpackers who cannot afford the $120 roundtrip ticket to the Island. It has brought a new influx of money and different style to the Island, and it’s only going to get worse. I was here on a Saturday night and didn’t see a single person partying on the beach or a beanbag.

But don’t get me wrong. I like this Island alot and think I’m going to have a blast in the few days I have here.  I just don’t know how long its special magic will last.

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