The Gili Islands jutting out from the top of Lombok like the trailing clouds of a thought bubble have admittedly been devastated by tourism, but they still remain paradise islands due to one crucial factor: there is no motorised transport allowed.
I say 'allowed,' because this is clearly the result of litigation rather than everyone just agreeing to respect each other's peace and the sanctity of the environment. Imagine that! If you let them, they'd import a fleet of cheap scooters and cut the exhausts to produce that satisfying din, joining their buddies across South East Asia in the war against tranquillity. I know what you're like.
Of course, the locals have still found a way to provide comforting taxi hassle to tourists, lurking eagerly by the boat landing with their carts pulled by depressing, skinny horses to harrass new arrivals wading in through the shallow sea. But when you leave the village behind for the typhoon-battered east coast and inland coconut plantations you can truly enjoy peace and quiet. Apart from the periodic cacophony of the mosque five times a day. By which I obviously mean I have equal respect for all religions, especially the antisocially loud ones.
I could really live here. Maybe I'll look into it.
We stayed on this island a week, which wasn't long enough to get fully absorbed and to become intuitively familiar with every coconut tree, but it was a start.
In all that time, we didn't bother to visit the other two Gilis. That was partly thanks to the nonsensical bureaucratic faffing of having to transit via Lombok (the big blue one in the background) rather than just being able to get a boat to that beach over there. But also because of
I thought about what it would have been like to grow up here, spending most of my life in such a small location with physical boundaries. Without a decent science education or Carl Sagan's Cosmos to enlighten me, would I have fallen back on antiquated notions that this 3.5-square-kilometre island is all there is to the universe?
Alright, so that would have been spoiled a bit when looking out at the nearby Gili Meno and Gili Air, with Lombok in the background and Bali visible in the distance on clear days. I probably would have just become extremely racist against the noisy foreigners strutting around town in their underwear and done some kind of massacre.
Just be grateful I didn't write another story.
Hopefully one day I'll get marooned on a real desert island that doesn't operate regular ferry services back to civilisation, so I can have the authentic experience. As long as there are beachside restaurants with Wi-Fi and serving tapas, I'm not an animal.
There are supposedly about 800 normal people trying to get on with their lives here, around the bikini bikers and rude tourists taking photos of them (dick!)
Hanging out with coos guilt-tripped me into avoiding beef during my island exile... for a couple of days at least, then I guess I forgot and became an unprincipled monster again
This hill - the only thing rising above coconut-level on the Gili islands - supposedly offers a nice view all the way back to Bali at sunset. Never did quite find out how to get up there to take a nice photo for you. Get off my back, would you? I had things to do!