Southeast Asia Travel

Gili T & the Ombak Swing

It started off like any other adventure. My sister and I had been in Kuta for a few days and were now heading to the island known as Gili Trawangan. The island is one of the three Gili Islands located off of Lombok island. I hadn’t really considered visiting Gili T. I was traveling to Indonesia to visit Bali; however, a colleague of mine suggested I visit the island. She explained it was a rather simple trek to make and was not to be missed. I took her suggestion and added it to my itinerary.

As I began to research the island I came across photos of a swing in the ocean and noticed the hashtag Gili T. Over the swing is a wood sign with the word Ombak, after googling Ombak I discovered it was a resort on the island. I booked us for two nights at the resort and I was excited about the idea of seeing this ocean swing and getting that picture perfect shot.  

We left Kuta in a van with three other travelers. My sister was crammed in the front seat with the three other women. I was in the back seat crammed in with all the luggage. The ride from Kuta to Padang Bai was about a 2 hour drive. Once in Padang Bai we would take a boat over to Gili T. I won’t lie the entire process of getting to our boat was a bit of a shit show, but isn’t that part of the adventure? Excited to head over to Gili T we patiently waited for our boat to arrive.

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We’d booked ourselves on one of the “fast boats” and once on board the real adventure began. I was not prepared for how choppy the waters would be that morning. It was an adrenaline filled two hour journey over to Gili T. Once we arrived on the island our hotel, unbeknownst to us, was on the opposite side of the island (clearly I did not research this excursion well). So we waited for a taxi, and by taxi I mean a horse drawn cart, to take us over to our hotel.

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We jumped into the back of this cart and for the second time that day I began to question, “Who’s idea was this?!” We rode along a rather bumpy path and I was fairly certain my sister or I were going to fall out of this wooden cart. Instead of taking the normal path our driver chose to take a roundabout way that ended up taking a bit longer than it should have. Out of our comfort zones and clearly not sure what we were getting ourselves into, we did our best to laugh it off.

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We arrived at our hotel checked in and went for dinner. The hotel unfortunately was a huge disappointment. I rarely if ever leave a negative review on Tripadvisor. I pride myself on providing honest feedback for my fellow travelers. However, Ombak Sunset was disappointing to say the least.

Aside from the issues we had at the hotel, my sister and I remained optimistic and hit the pool the following morning for some fun in the sun. The pool is the hotel’s most redeeming quality. It offers plenty of sun loungers, pool service, swim up bar and large bean bags to float around on. We snagged two loungers and had a delightful day by the pool. We even made new friends with a young couple visiting from Wales and their buddy Eduardo the flamingo.

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After two days on the island it was time to head back to Bali. We were pre-booked on a fast boat that was scheduled to leave at 10 am; however, when we showed up to check in we were told the boat was at capacity and we would have to wait for the afternoon one. Um, but we have our tickets for the 10 am boat? Too bad so sad no one cares what your ticket says. My sister was annoyed (thats putting it mildly), she was ready to get the f*ck off the island and so we were taken over to another boating company and asked to pay in US dollars if we wanted to get on their next boat. Annoyed at the entire situation we paid for new tickets and waited for our boat to arrive.

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We climbed up on the boat then sat down inside what was a fairly nice air conditioned area that had Backstreet Boys’ music videos playing on a large screen at the front of the boat. We settled into our seats excited to head back to Bali. It didn’t take long for this boat ride to turn into a nightmare. Thirty minutes into the ride the waters became so choppy our captain stopped the boat and a member of his crew slid a bucket down to him so he could vomit. Then black plastic bags were handed out as more than ½ of everyone on the boat began to get seasick. The captain stopped the boat 3 times to get sick himself.

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It was like a roller coaster ride. The boat would go up and then crash down hard onto the water. As I sat there watching people vomiting into their black bags I actually began to ponder, is this boat about to capsize? I actually had to look around to plan the easiest exit strategy, good times! My sister was in panic mode as well. I was doing my best to keep her calm. I covered us in essential oils both lavender for a calming effect and eucalyptus to keep us from becoming seasick. My sister sat quietly praying to herself. I held on to her arm and continually told her we would be okay. I even lied and would say I see land we are almost there, we so were not even close but I was doing everything to keep from freaking out myself.

After two hours on the scariest boat ride of my life we arrived in Padang Bai. We’d survived, we were alive and we had our vomit free bags! Excited to get the hell off the boat we lined up to exit and just as it was my turn to climb up and out I noticed the dock was about 3ft up from the opening of the boat with no ladder to climb up. I am not tall enough to step up from a rocking boat  onto a dock without a step! Two petite men had to hoist me up and my sister assisted from behind. Just as I jumped up onto the dock I felt something snap in my knee. My souvenir from my adventures in Gili T a tear in my left lateral meniscus, again good times!

A few days later we found ourselves having lunch outdoors among the rice fields of Ubud after a day exploring the temples. Sitting next to us we overhead two American travelers chatting about travels and we struck up a conversation with them. They were considering going to Gili T for the day to visit the Ombak swing. My sister was quick to warn them NO, do not go you will get stuck on the island or may possibly die on the boat ride over.

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My post is not meant to put down Gili T. It is my warning to do your research beforehand. Perhaps take the ferry. Sure the ferry is a five hour ride compared to a two hour “I am not sure if I am about to die boat ride”, but I’m pretty sure its the safer bet. Travel is all about getting out of your comfort zone and although it felt like a nightmare at the time I don’t regret going….and hey I got my shot on the famous Ombak swing.

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