Slice of Life Tuesday-The Challenge Facing The People of Gili Trawangan
I have just spent a few days on a small island off
Lombok called, Gili Trawangan. It was great to have a few days to
unwind after some hectic work in recent months. As the fog in my head receded,
the words began to flow and spill across my notebook pages. I embraced this
experience. It was like a curtain being drawn back and revealing something
exciting to the eye, the ear, and the
heart of the writer within. The pace of this small coral atoll requires the
visitor to adapt to a slower pace. I had no cause to resist.
There are no cars allowed on Gili Trawangan. No motorbikes, No Trucks. In fact, the road that encompasses the entire island is little more than a dusty track (8 kilometres in total) in most parts and requires attentive navigation. Bicycles are a favoured form of transport here. Many of the available tourist residences on the island offer- FREE BICYCLES as an incentive.
Vicki and I clambered onto bicycles and joined the throng of riders. It’s hot dry work here. The heat of the day is intense. You soon encounter loose, shifting sand that proves impenetrable on a bicycle. We are forced to dismount and walk. It’s a bit galling actually. We pass numerous other ‘walkers,’ and begin to understand where the term ‘push bikes’ may have originated. Great exercise though. Great sight seeing, -and pollution free transport at the same time.
Our island bike ride becomes a pattern of short riding stints interspersed by sand traps. We regularly dismount for fear of losing balance and toppling awkwardly into grey, gritty sand. Along the way we encounter a man selling fresh coconut drinks. He is conveniently situated at one of the many sand traps. Good business decision on his part, I thought.
The mass transit system on Gili is provided by pony carts that taxi people to all parts of the island. These ponies deserve the highest praise. These amazing little animals keep this island moving. They multi task in astonishing ways. Whether moving people and their luggage, or bricks and mortar, furniture, food and related goods, -it is the ponies that do the heavy haulage here. They are up for the challenge, resolutely pulling their varied loads throughout the day and into the night.
Adorned in harness and bridle bedecked with decorative bells attached to their chest-plates, they jauntily jingle along the dusty island tracks. You often hear them approaching a little before they trot fully into view –jingle, tinkle, tinkle, here comes the pony man.
In the last few years though, the tourists have been coming to this quaint little place in ever increasing numbers. They are attracted to the isolation, the quietness, not to mention the clear azure ocean and the chance to snorkel the surrounding coral reefs- and here’s the rub! With the tourists, development and the relentless push for progress accelerates rapidly. Simplicity is under threat, without doubt. I wonder how much longer the ponies can hold out against the odds here?
These thoughts and observations first appeared in my notebook while relaxing on Gili Trawangan. They have emerged here.
|The Pony carts of Gili Trawangan Island|
|Push bike action on the dusty tracks of Gili Trawangan Island|