Gili Trawangan

This summer has been very different to our last few. For a start, we didn’t return to the UK or US and we only went away for 10 days (hard life). We decided to head for Bali after sitting through numerous sickening stories about sunshine, indulgence and speedos.

After the long journey to DPS airport in Bali via train, metro, Beijing and Kuala Lumpa we arrived and spent the first night at Pelangi Bali Hotel & Spa, in Seminyak Beach.

The next morning we were up at 6am to be collected for our fast boat journey to Gili Trawangan. Again, we had heard about Gili T (I can use that term as I have been!) from a few friends and we were attracted to the thought of a peaceful desert island. After 2 hours in a minibus we arrived at Padong Harbour where we waited for about an hour to board the boat. The boat had a capacity of about 50 people and had the usual boat amenities like sponge cake, a car stereo pumping out love songs and a work experience guy who would take over the wheel whilst the captain was on the phone ordering lunch for his return. The speed of the boat meant that our voyage was a little rough! Luckily our stomachs managed to remain intact, but the small screaming child at the back was more than happy to show us what he had enjoyed for breakfast. An hour and forty minutes later we cruised into the harbour and couldn’t have been happier with our surroundings. The ‘Central’ area, as it is known, was a backpacker’s paradise with bars and shops lining the streets. This however meant that despite it only being mid-day there were already a few drunk, sunburnt people stumbling around.

We had booked this holiday back in May, as we heard that booking early was essential due to the holidays and the size of the island. We had searched all the usual places to find accommodation (booking.com, expedia, tripadvisor, airbnb) and we finally selected what looked like a hidden gem in the north of the island. With 6 cottages around a pool and a few minutes walk to the beach, Eden Cottages was a perfect retreat. A charm of the island is that it is motor-free (no cars, trucks or motorbikes), so to get to our cottage we used a horse and cart, locally called a cidomo. It was great to not be surrounded by cars and motor bikes but apparently the locals get frustrated with the huge deposits made by the horses on most of the roads and paths, as well as the dust they create. We found the ride in quite surreal, the sound of hooves and jingling bells is quite a contrast to the city streets of Tianjin.

The cottage was everything we hoped for, clean, comfortable and quiet. The staff was unobtrusive and helpful when needed. Amenities provided were basic; breakfast included (Mrs T adored the banana pancakes) and drinks for purchase. This encouraged us to get out each day and see what the island had to offer. After a day or two we settled into the routine of breakfast, beach, lunch, pool, siesta, dinner, Jack Bauer and sleep. It is fair to say that this was exactly what we needed.

There is a lot more we could say about Gili T but I will leave it to the pictures to showcase the island. Would I recommend Gili T? Yes, for sure. It caters to all: from quiet eco villas and posh resorts, to hostels above reggae bars and tattoo parlours. If you asked us where to stay we wouldn’t hesitate in pointing you to the north of the island, it is an escape from the high street (though only a 30 minute walk) and offers lovely beaches with stunning sunset views and some phenomenal restaurants (Wilson’s Retreat: we love you and your cheeky chocolate pudding).

Out and about the island:

Eden Cottages:

 

Gili Cooking School:

Sunset and dinner at Wilson’s Retreat:

-Mr T

Tianjin to Beijing International Airport (PEK)

After nearly a year living in Tianjin we are still exploring the best way to get up to Beijing for a flight.

As far as we are aware the 3 main options are:

Private car

Cost: 600 RMB (one way)

Travel time: 1 hour 40 min (off peak), 2 – 2 hours 30 minutes (peak, depending on traffic)

Positives: door to door service, ease of taking luggage) air conditioned vehicle, friendly driver (a wave at the terminal). Return journey is ideal after a long flight.

Negatives: price, very high in comparison to other options and price has risen 100 since we arrived this year.

Bus

Cost: 80 RMB (one way, per person)

Travel time: 2 – 2 hours 30 minutes depending on traffic. Information and timetable can be found here: Tianjin to PEK bus details

Positives: cost, dropped directly at the terminal

Negatives: travel time can be long and frustrating stuck in traffic

Train

Bullet Train to Beijing/Subway line 4 (3 stops to Xuanwumen), transfer at line 2 (8 stops to Dongzhimen), Board Airport Express (Terminal 3, followed by Terminal 2)

Cost: 54.5 + 2 + 25 = 81.5 RMB (one way, per person)

Travel time: 2 hours 15 minutes from Tianjin Zhan to Terminal 2

Positives: cost, not restricted to bus timetable (last bus is 18:30), subway trains are very frequent

Negatives: subway is always very busy, however at peak times it can be unbearable, some would say dangerous; not ideal for traveling with luggage, weather (very hot and humid in the summertime)

 

Today we tried out the bullet train/subway/airport express as we are traveling with little luggage and had a late flight. It was ok but not overly enjoyable. I think the bus is generally the best option depending on the time of your flight. We generally opt for a money saving choice on the way out but almost always indulge in being collected by Mr Fu. It is nice to be met at arrivals and whisked back to your doorstep within a couple of hours.

Happy travels!

-Mr & Mrs T