Whenever you walk along the fruits and vegetables section in a supermarket, chances are you’re not seeing all of the delicious, sweet fruits that the mother nature has to offer. Some fruits are probably very unfamiliar to you, while for us they are simply part of daily lives. That explains why many westerners I know are plain fascinated when they see weird-looking Indonesian fruits for the first time.

But here, we are in the middle of the ocean with limited access to the outside world and unfortunately less fruits to choose from. Nevertheless, below are some of the fruits that you will commonly encounter in tropical Asian countries and when you’re lucky you may be able to discover some around Gili Island.

Dragon fruit

Funny how in native Indonesian tongue we call this fruit buah naga, which is a literal translation of dragon fruit. It probably has something to do with its skin and fiery red color. Sometimes we do serve it as fruit salad in the morning. I talked to a small juce stall owner and she told me that dragon fruit is always available throughout the year because we can always buy it from Lombok, Bali or Java. (photo:


Salak or snake fruit sometimes can be rare in Gili Island. As the name suggest, this fruit has skin which ressemble the skin of snakes. Salak is usually served just as it is, meaning you just need to peel off the skin, bite some of the flesh and throw the pit away. (photo:


Known as the banned fruits from airplane cabin and hotel rooms. Durian or king fruit has very strong smell which instantly divides people into two: yay or nay-ers. I myself despise durian and I never come near it. It may look scary from the outside but behind those sharp, rough spikes is the soft, creamy flesh of the fruit. According to the friendly juice seller I talked to before, durian is commonly sold in Gili around the end of the year, together with mangosten and rambutan.  (photo:


Affectionately called queen of fruits, mangosten is more commonly used as traditional medicine than a dessert. It is native to South-East Asia and it ranks amongst one of the rarest fruit in the world. Ripe mangosten is easily opened by gentle squeeze to expose the soft, white edible inside. (photo:


If you have never seen one you will possibly have funny reaction looking at this fruit. Whan on earth is this thing? Rambutan in Indonesian means hairy like the appearance of the fruit suggests. It is one of the favorite fruit of many Indonesians. Take the hairy skins off and taste the sweet flesh inside. (photo:

Star fruit

Star fruit or carambola is another exotic fruits you can easily find growing naturally in Indonesia. This fruit has a unique shape and it looks like a star when cut, hence the name. This juicy fruit is generally eaten right away out of the tree, made into juice, or used as ingredient in cooking. Ripe, yellow-ish carambolas are usually the best with their sweet taste instead of sour green ones.



Jack fruit is another “wonder” fruit from Asia. According to researchers this fruit thrives in  warming climate and is very nutritious. It is huge and it can easily weigh more than 10 lbs. In Indonesian you can see it prepared in many ways: cooked in curries, put in ice cream, eaten with sticky rice, etc.
(photo: the


Last but not the least is the soursop. Soursop grows in big, evergreen trees which easily reach 13 feet tall. Go to any restaurants in Indonesia and most likely you will see the soursop juice in the menu. But in the other hand, this fruit is surprisingly popular amongst scientists due its potential to help fight cancer.

So next time you visit Gili Island, keep an eye of those fruits and definitely taste some. It’s worth mentioning though that we serve fruit salad every morning, and typically we try to get the best fruits available at the time.


A tiny island where no motorized vehicles exist, it is a paradise for slow, relaxing bicycle ride. Being a cycling enthusiast myself, I am immediately overjoyed to imagine a fine afternoon spent bicycling and exploring this beautiful island.

Once you’ve hopped off the boat you will notice the bike rentals everywhere. There are numerous choices of bicycles going from regular cruising/city bike, tougher cross-country mountain bike, fat bike, kids, tandem and even BMX. From the point of view of a mountain biker, I’d surely pick a good cross-country bike to wander the sandy terrain of the island. Expect to pay about IDR 25,000 to 100,000 for a day-long bike renting.

Plenty of choices to rent one

Best Way to Explore the Island

Bicycle is simply part of everybody’s daily life here. One of the best thing in Gili is the absence of roaring engine and pollution from car. We’d like to keep it that way so everybody rides. Tourists, local people, police officers they all rely on bicycles for their activities.

Going a complete circle by bike took me less than an hour.  Certainly, there is some hidden, off the beaten path further inland worth exploring, if you are up to the challenge.

The best time to ride is about 5 p.m. in the afternoon. From our villa, you can just head out and turn right by the main street until you finally get to the point where you can see the sunset from the beach.

But if you don’t feel like pedaling, some tourists enjoy long walk traversing the island. I did it once with a little bit of jogging in between and it took me just a little over an hour.

Another alternative is go around the island by horse-drawn carriage a.k.a cidomo as the locals say it, especially if you carry quite a lot of luggage.

Tourists I talked to with their bikes
Ambary’s bike at the beach

In the end, I must say that bicycle is the best way to get around the island when time-energy efficiency is put in to account. Surely you will come into agreement once you’ve felt smooth breeze of the wind in your face while pedaling. Furthermore, they say that you haven’t really stayed in Gili Trawangan until you have experienced a good day on the saddle.

Bikes parked by the beach

It marked the final party for them at the party island during this visit, albeit it was different this time as it was held at the alley in front of the house. It was held in the Gili T atmosphere of a tiny island where everyone on the whole island knows each other. Guests from other small accommodations met for the first time and have fun as if they had known each other for a long time.
The young guys spent 5 nights at the private villa and did not want to waste any minute of it, having fun at the party spots which are within walking distance from the house.
Both like going out, with Andrew seemed never to leave the house without his camera and Jens never do so without his guitar.
The staff told me they enjoyed hearing Andrew singing hip hop songs with his beautiful voice and recalled that Jens like playing blues.


From the first moment when he made the reservation and when I saw a photograph of him playing guitar, my initial response was he would be a good guest and so would his friend be.
Back to the party scene, Gili Trawangan is well known as a party island, in addition to its well known snorkeling and diving sites. Some bars stay open until 2 am.
One big party is allowed to last until 4 am, which is rotated so that there is only one such party on one particular night.
Currently the schedule is Blue Marlin rave party on Monday nights, Wednesday nights at ‘Shipwrecked Bar’ at the ‘Tir na Nog’ Irish bar with a mix of funky house music,
Friday night parties at New Rudy’s Bar, and Reggae music on Thursday nights at Sama Sama bar and Quiz night at Trawangan Dive (Bar) also on Thursdays.These bars are mostly within 5 – 10 minute walking distance from Ambary House. Dark moon party and full moon party. Saturday nights at Sama-Sama and Sunday nights at Evolution.


Young Australians Paul and Alex often spent partying until the wee hours of the day during their recent one-week stay at Ambary House on the party island of Indonesia’s Gili Trawangan, amid a steady interest among your travelers in one of Southeast Asia’s most famous party islands.

The full moon party in the island may not be as crazy as that of the full moon party at Thailand’s Koh Phangan island but still Gili Trawangan, which also offers top snorkeling and diving sites around it, is filled with top notch party places where you can have some drinks, meet new friends and dance all night.

“It’s not unusual for us to wake up at two or three o’clock in the morning, hearing our guests unlock the entrance gate and walk into the inner area of the villa,” said Rian, an Ambary House staff who has been working for the villa since it was still in construction period. The staff live in an annexed building near the villas’ entrance gate.

Ambary House, which is located in a quiet lane several blocks behind the party area in the southern part of the island, recently received a steady stream of guests mostly young men and women in their twenties with many staying more than three days, spending their nights out in the bars such as Irish Bar Tir Na Nog and the New Rudy’s that line up the main street about five minutes away.

It was a pity I was away from Gili Trawangan when both Paul and Alex were staying in the island but they must have made many new friends during their stay on the island, including with Ambary House staff especially Arief with whom they had had beers and done a snorkeling trip together around the three Gilis : Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air.

Paul later wrote in a review about his stay at Ambary House on : “We got along with Arief so well we insisted he leave the villa and come snorkeling with us one day which was lovely ….We will never forget him or the kindest he gave to us.”

Back to the party scene, some bars may stay open until 2 am on the island but only one big party is allowed to last until 4 am, which is rotated so that there is only one such party on one particular night.
Currently the schedule is Blue Marlin rave party on Monday nights, Wednesday nights at ‘Shipwrecked Bar’ at the ‘Tir na Nog’ Irish bar with a mix of funky house music, Friday night parties at New Rudy’s Bar, and Reggae music on Thursday nights at Sama Sama bar. These bars are mostly within 5 – 10 minute walking distance from Ambary House.


A group of fresh college graduates from North America dropped by at Ambary House late last year as part of a journey through Southeast Asia for a documentary film, interviewing people they met along the way, including myself, about a pivotal point in our lives in the hopes of obtaining a deeper sense of what happiness is across different cult20141017_145849ures.

It’s a very interesting subject for me and very relevant as well after a pivotal point in my life under which I decided about four years ago not go back to my long-time profession as journalist despite being comfortable doing it for decades but
rather taking the plunge as an entrepreneur with all the associated uncertainties. It’s not been an easy thing even four years down the road.

“This film is for t
hose who are unsure of their next move in life; whether they are a graduate, recently laid off, unemployed, or employed but feel there may be more to life that they are missing out,” the college graduates wrote on their funding page.

The group, consisting of director/cinematographer Graham Sicalowski (white T-shirt), assistant director/cinematographer Max Bailey (grey T-shirt) and producer/interviewer Addie Sherman (not pictured here), asked me to rank six most important things in my life whether it is money first or second followed by career, community, family etc.

All the best for all the three of you.












Frequent travelers Jessi and Andre from Germany came as guests staying for just one night at Ambary House in October last year but left as friends, sending me these old pictures earlier today and reinforcing long-time friendship.In my view, this vacation rental business –of which Ambary House is in– should offer the opportunity for the hosts not just to earn extra income but make new friends while both the hosts and the travelers having the opportunity to learn something new be it arts, architecture, language or anything from each other.

Jessi and Andre unfortunately were unable to extend their stay then as the house had already been booked for the following days. They moved to another accommodation on the island. Still, they came to visit us again when they were about to leave the island. We took pictures and had a long chat on many things including the opportunity for my daughters to study in a small student city where Jessi and Andre live.

Many thanks again Jessi and Andre. Please keep in touch.


Indonesia’s Gili Trawangan still retains its well-earned reputation as a wild party destination with cheap accommodation. Whilst that is partially still true, the tiny island has matured into a destination that is increasingly becoming popular for travelling families staying in expensive hotels and villas.

Snorkeling, diving, beautiful beaches, close proximity to Bali – takes only about two hours from Padang Bai in East Bali – and of course the absence of motorized vehicles in the tiny island are among the factors that have made Gili Trawangan an increasingly popular tourist spot for families and for wedding. For pictures of activities on Gili see

Brazilian Armando Bevilacqua Junior spent a week with his two adult daughters and wife in Gili Trawangan in late August, staying at Ambary House. A director at a construction company in Sao Paulo, south Brazil, Armando liked spending time on the beach with his daughters, snorkeling or diving or just relaxing during the day.

“Nothing, just relaxing in the beach,” Armando liked to say with his broad smile when asked what’s his plans for the day during his stay in Ambary House. His wife, daughters Sabrina who is a journalist with an interest in environmental issues, and younger sister Isabella would usually stand behind him agreeing.

Armando and his family, unlike many other families who have stayed in Ambary House, did not rent a bike even for a single day during their one-week stay, preferring a long walk instead. The family, among few Brazilian tourists in Gili Trawangan, have travelled to many Muslim countries in the Middle East along with countries in Europe and America. This was their first visit to a Southeast Asian country and expected to go to other countries in the region next time.

I asked Armando how he manage to have the whole family travelling together in various countries every year given the daughters are already grown up and may have their own interest which could be different from that of his, the soft spoken director who has been working for the same company for decades said the daughters could have their own time, pursuing own interest such as going to parties on their own.

He, however, said it would be harder to go together as a family once the daughters got married.

@Matthias Garke, a German businessman in the wood processing business, also stayed for about a week in Ambary House, spending time on Gili’s beaches with his wife and two boys.

I was not in Gili when he was staying in the villa but we spoke on the phone and at one time explored ideas about the possibility of importing furniture from Indonesia. Travelling with the family while exploring possible business opportunities might be a good idea though doing so may risk protest from family members.