Travel and Adventure 

The Gili Islands: world class scuba diving and mellow vibe make this hideaway a treasure

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Thankfully, "progress" and development move along pretty slowly on the Gilis, but still more upscale lodges, villas and solar powered eco-retreats have sprung up in Gili T, stripping the island of some of its backpacker cred, but also bolstering the Gili Eco Trust, a local environmental group focusing on reef restoration. By all accounts Gili Meno and Air remains as mellow as ever.

In recent years more upscale lodges and solar powered eco-retreats have sprung up on Gili T, stripping the island of some of its backpacker street cred, but also bolstering the Gili Eco Trust, a local environmental group focusing on reef restoration.

The socio-political situation of Gili Trawangan is unique and pretty kick-ass - the whole place is run by an elected "Island Leader" (members of island's oldest families usually win) and that's it. Anyone who commits a crime, brings a dog ashore, or screws up in any way gets booted off the island and that's that, problem solved. Thanks to this there is no need for police and little or no crime. No one has to "stay with the stuff" at the beach because the islanders all know and look after each other and understand tourism is the only game in town.

Gili Trawangan is predominantly Muslim, so women should only wear bikinis on the beach, not in town. The locals will never say anything but astute observers will notice that it makes them uncomfortable.

When the cops do show up on Gili T, they have to instantly report to the Island Leader so people can keep and eye on them. Crazy right? Crazy awesome. Lombok cops are notorious for their extremely active role in the drug trade and the people of the Gilis know that hard drugs and crime go hand in hand.

No cops can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but to the people of Gili Trawangan it apparently means being entrepreneurial and selling hallucinatory "magic" mushrooms to any man, woman or teenager who wants them. Signs in the street advertise trips to "heaven and back" or "to the moon" as openly and creatively as possible, yet the actual transactions are more discreet - shakes, tea or omelettes ordered with hushed tones and sideways glances. Is it legal? Who knows? Doing drugs in any foreign country is usually risky and/or stupidly not worth it. The Gilis are still part of Indonesia, where harsh drug sentences range from 20 years to the death penalty ...  but no cops means no cops and besides, mushrooms are food, aren't they? The tea tastes woody and comes on fast and strong.

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