Young, Wild and Free on Gili T

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Times have been a bit stressful over here trying to figure out my next moves, so I’m flashing back to a more carefree time: traveling through Bali with my girl Polly. Hell yeah, what a nice rhyme that makes.

I already told you a bit about Uluwatu and the Balinese philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, but now we’re totally switching gears to partying on notorious Gili T Island, situated just off of Lombok.

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Known in full as Gili Trawangan, Gili T may be the most insane place I’ve ever been – kiiiind of in a good way and kind of in a bad way. We planned to stay for three days and somehow got sucked in for a week. Think ultimate debauchery in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. We were in trouble.

It was one of those weeks we barely touched our phones – probably because Polly’s got stolen our first night on the island at Gili Hostel and Wi-Fi was really difficult to come by, but we’ll say it was because we were soooo busy having fun.

Which isn’t entirely a lie. We had a lot of fucking fun.

Admittedly, we partied our asses off.

We went from commanding the dance floor at Jiggy Jig to listening to the locals croon songs on the guitar until the sun came up at a little kebab shop on the beach. We downed our fair share of Joss shots, a disgusting combination of energy powder with 5-10x the amount of energy in a Red Bull chased by a shot of vodka, and sampled the island's locally grown mushrooms (best in shake form).

It was one hell of a trip. ;)

Somehow between all of that, we also managed to see the light of day. As Gili T is such a small island, you can actually bike around the entire perimeter in about 45 minutes, making for an excellent activity even when you’re hungover.

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If you’re super lazy, you can also take a horse-drawn tuk-tuk around the island, but it’s expensive and I have to say, those horses looked pretty damn miserable. We only took one when absolutely necessary with our luggage.

We also had the opportunity to go for a dive with Gili Divers. It was my first dive since the first time I tried it in the Great Barrier Reef and vowed to never dive again. I’ve always felt trapped under the water, and my first dive consisted of me clinging to the instructor for dear life.

After getting the rundown from a cute dive instructor named OJ at Gili Backpackers, we were more than convinced to give it another go. This time around, I actually got yelled at because I kept gliding away like a mermaid (or so I tell myself), too eager to discover what was around the next bend!

While we didn't get to see any sea turtles as I had hoped, we did encounter titan and red-toothed trigger fish, comet fish, black-botched porcupine fish and Napolean wrasse.

I don’t think I’ll be making it a new hobby anytime soon, but I’m so glad I gave it another try and conquered the fear of being deep under the water.

After almost five days of non-stop partying and activities, we finally booked a night at Le Pirate to recharge and actually ensure we’d wake up on time to catch the boat in the morning (may have missed it once or twice…).

By the end we were so ready to go, mainly to just massively chill out for a while, but I know Polly would agree Gili T gave us some of the best memories of our time in Bali.

We met some truly wonderful souls (I’m looking at you Michael Chandler!) and experienced a sunrise that will forever be imprinted on my memory ~ a morning that showed us the love of the locals, the comfort and ease of friendship and the sheer beauty of our natural surroundings.

WHERE TO STAY

Gili Backpackers, the best party hostel on the island, is your one-stop shop for swim, party, sleep, repeat. The pool is a great place to hang during the day and meet other travelers, but don’t get cocky and climb the rock wall if you’ve had too much to drink. You can set up a dive with Gili Divers right on site and get your pregame on with all the Joss shots you can handle at the bar. Best part of all? You can actually get some sleep here, as they kick everyone out and bring the party elsewhere after 10pm.

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To get away from it all and enjoy affordable beachfront luxury, Le Pirate is a cute and quirky eco-resort with the cutest thatch-roofed villas, a restaurant with healthy, organic options and a pristine pool overlooking the ocean. The movie nights on the beach are the perfect antidote to too many nights spent partying.

| PHOTOGRAPHY | by Polly Cannella and Amanda Boleman