Backpacking Asia - Gili Trawangan
I've always been of the general mindset that my trips should focus on having as many life-changing experiences as possible. I've never been a huge fan of the all-inclusive type vacation because I feel as if there are better things to do and more interesting places to visit. Instead of spending a week laying on a beach and doing nothing, I'd rather be exploring new places and experiencing different cultures.
That's not to say that I don't enjoy relaxing or spending time at the beach. I've spent time doing this in places like Spain, Mexico and Barbados and I've always had a good time. The trick for me has always been to mix this in with getting out there and exploring the country you're visiting. A perfect example of this is Mexico, where we spent time on the beach in Playa del Carmen but also visited the ruins at Chichen Itza and Tulum.
I recently had the opportunity to travel across parts of Asia for nearly 4 weeks. I started off by spending a week in Bali for work, but the rest of the trip was spent going back to my backpacking roots and travelling across Asia on my own. Since I was already in Bali for work, I decided to spend 4 days in the Gili Islands to relax and get some rest and beach time before strapping on my backpack and heading back on the road.
I ended up spending my 4 days on Gili Trawangan and the only way I could describe those 4 days is by saying that I spent 4 days in paradise. This wasn't the "paradise" that all-inclusive resorts and getaways offer you, this was a real, authentic paradise. The weather was perfect, the waters were stunning with their different shades of blue and turquoise, there was fresh fruit and seafood available every single day, the sunset was out of a movie and I was able to relax and spend each day doing anything and everything (or nothing) that my heart desired.
Taking the previous paragraph into account, the best part might have actually been that I was literally in the middle of nowhere. Getting to the Gili Islands is often an adventure in itself and while the islands are getting more and more visitors every year, the overall numbers still pale in comparison to places like Cancun for example. Spending those 4 days on Gili Trawangan, I was able to relax and forget about everything in my life that didn't revolve around me being on that island during that very moment.
If you ever ask me, I will always choose a trip full of experiences over a vacation where you sit around and do nothing. But in reality the best trips are the ones where you have a little bit of both. I had an amazing time visiting Bali for work, exploring South Korea with my cousin and wandering through Tokyo on my own, but spending those 4 days in the Gili Islands was also an experience I'll never forget and it helped re-energize my batteries for the backpacking portion of my trip. If you ever make your way down to Indonesia, make sure to take a bit of time to relax in the Gili Islands. There's no paradise like it.