Whilst on the island I was keen to eat fish, so after having a conversation with Kitty (The owner of the Homestay I stayed at) about where the best place to eat fresh fish was, I headed to the local night markets.
Kitty told me that this is where the fishermen take their catch at the end of the day, the fish is fresh and most of all cheap....sold on the idea of sampling the catch of the day, off I went on my merry way to get myself some dinner.
From the harbour (with the beach to your back and the high street in front of you, the night markets are 5-10 minute walk to your left)
The night markets are what you would expect them to be: loud, crowded and slightly overwhelming...but I guess that is all part of the fun. When I first got there I was a bit confused as to what the 'system' was. There were multiple stalls displaying a variety of fish, stalls selling balinese, asian and other types of food and people EVERYWHERE. It was hard to establish who was queuing where (if at all). It was tempting to leave and go find a more relaxing venue to have dinner, but the smell of the freshly grilled fish which lingered in the air was enough motivation to stay.
I picked a fish stall at random and tried to join the queue. When it came to my turn I had no idea what to order. Firstly I didn't have a clue what 80% of the fish on display were and secondly I didn't have a clue how much they would cost. With little time to think or barter, I picked a small looking fish, a few prawns and hoped for the best. The total came to the equivalent of $15 which was a lot cheaper than if I had ordered the same meal at a restaurant.
Once I had placed my order I was told to sit down, when I looked behind me all I saw were long tables covered in plastic table clothes with people consuming their meals or patiently waiting for their order to arrive. As 'a table for one' was not an option, I sheepishly asked a group if the last free chair next to them was taken. "No, go ahead sit down, where are you from?" and that my friends is how easy it is to meet people when you travel solo!
I sat down, waited and chatted to my new acquaintances for 10 minutes before my food finally arrived. The fish was served in a basket alongside some steamed rice. As I tucked in I couldn't have been happier to have stayed. The prawns were out of this world and the grilled fish was white and fluffy. A french family to my right hand side, struck up a conversation about the lobster they had ordered and how it would have cost them a fortune to order the same meal back at home.
I finished my meal, bid farewell to the new people I had met and left the night markets enjoying the buzz of the place and feeling fuller and happier than when I first walked in.
Moral of the story? If you want to eat fresh, delicious cheap fish whilst on Gili T, head over to the night markets. It is definitely a culinary and social experience, but one you won't regret!