Life on Gili
|The form of transport out here - the horse-cart.
January 3, 2008
This morning I took a boat ride out to the Gili Islands. Let’s just say that I have deemed the boat ride an ‘adventure activity’.
It was a small boat and when you see waves on both sides of you that are higher than your boat, you tend to do a little prayer
to God that you just make it to the island. Especially when you don’t see any lifejackets. By the time we got to Gili Trawangan,
my face and eyes were covered with saltwater. Never mind my clothes and bags. But the good thing is that I made it. And that
Gili Trawangan was more than worth all of the stinging in my eyes.
In fact, I have been a bit sucked in here. I have no idea how long I am going to stay here. But one thing’s for sure – it will be
longer than I originally thought.
The water is that shade of blue that you think of when you think of tropical islands. There are about three or four different
shades of varying blues. It made my mouth drop. I haven’t seen this type of water for quite some time – probably since the
Galapagos? It didn’t exist in Bali or in Lombok. Maybe I just needed to come out to a small island to see it. At least I am here
I spent a couple hours today walking up and down the main drag checking out options of places to stay. I was actually
surprised by how expensive some of the places were (yes, they were only $40-50 but that is pricey considering I am traveling
for a while in Indonesia and it is off season and that everyone had said how cheap it was to stay out here). I found a cute place
at one of the dive schools here (sounds weird but all of the dive schools seem to have really nice accommodations out
here…plus a pool!). Even that is setting me back $20/night for no A/C and a saltwater shower. But out here, those things aren’
t a huge deal. At least the saltwater isn’t.
The only form of transportation out here is horse-carts - other than being able to rent bikes. The cool thing is that many of the
bikes are small enough that I could potentially ride one around. But now I am getting ahead of myself. I did sign myself up for a
dive for tomorrow. I lied and told them the last time I dived was a month ago – anything to not have to do a refresher dive.
Nine months isn’t that far off…
I capped my night off at a great restaurant towards the end of the island called Scallywags. Just sitting there I met people. It is
so easy out here. All the more reason to love this place…
January 4, 2008
Okay. So the dive this morning left a lot to be desired. For starters, I need to get re-familiarized with the ‘buddy check’. Other
than the regulators, I have become clueless as to what we are supposed to check for. I don’t think I have had to do this since I
got certified as today might have been the first place that had us check on each other. Oopsies.
Even worse than that was the current. The second we went underneath the water, we were getting swept away. And then
there was the challenge of keeping an eye on where my dive buddy and the divemaster were while being swept away. Not an
easy task. We did see some turtles which was nice. It was a good thing that we could get pretty close since the visibility was
also another non-ideal factor. There were some positives that came out of the dive: We get to use shorty suits out here so I don’
t have to deal with my hatred of the full wetsuit; I got to get reacquainted with diving in challenging conditions; I wasn’t the
first one to run low on air (this was really exciting to me as I was thinking I would for sure be the liability to our group); and
the diving can only get better from here.
There was something cool though about dipping into the pool right after the dive and listening to the prayer call at the same
time. It’s not too often that you can be in a bikini and this close to a mosque (though I could have done without the 4:30am
prayer call this morning).
I signed up for the second dive since it was in a location I wanted to go to. The weather was also getting worse and worse and
now there was rain that was not letting up. With two minutes left to go, they changed the dive site because of the conditions. I
had no desire to go to the new location so I opted out. I had met a few girls earlier and one of them wasn’t diving then either so
I hung out with her while reading some of their People and US Weekly magazines. I can’t even tell you how excited I was about
this. When the other girls (Emily and Emily) got back from the dive, I was happy to find out that it was a pretty good thing that
I sat that one out. The current was so swift that they went the length of Gili Meno in just 24 minutes and had to come up with
half of their air leftover or else they would have gone into the open water. They even had to hold onto a rock at about 3 meters
for their safety stop. They were excited about the bumphead parrotfish they saw – but other than that, sounds like I really
didn’t miss a thing.
The four of us grabbed drinks and dinner tonight. It was fun. One of the Emily’s actually is working in Singapore right now so
maybe we’ll be able to meet up while Michelle and I are out there. But they are all heading off tomorrow to go to Ubud. It’s
funny to think that before coming here, I was thinking three nights would be more than enough. There is no way. No way at all.
January 5, 2008
I woke up this morning to lots of light. I figured I must have really slept in. I looked at my watch and knew it must be wrong.
But then I started becoming aware of the situation. Turns out it really was 2am. I had totally forgotten that the power on the
island went off last night just after I got home and that the lights were still switched on. Apparently the power came back on in
the middle of the night. Guess it wasn’t morning after all. Good thing – I wasn’t quite ready to wake up anyway.
I went over to say good-bye to the girls this morning. Then it was time to head out for my day o’ snorkeling around the Gili
Islands. We went to three different spots – one on each island. I saw a couple of turtles and some nice coral. I also met a couple
of people (Kim from Australia and Edo from Holland) who I am meeting up with a bit later on for drinks/dinner.
I just realized in the shower how sunburned my back got. Shoot! And this was with two different applications of SPF 50
sunscreen. The sun has also officially worn me out. I feel tired and exhausted. Probably nothing that a few drinks won’t cure…
January 6, 2008
Last night my stomach got revenge on me. I have no idea what happened or what it was from. So what for my ‘stomach of
steel’ theory I had about myself. This got in the way of meeting up with the snorkeling peeps. (But this is a small place – I
ended up running into Kim this morning so we are going to meet up for dinner tonight.) Later I ended up feeling better. And
what better thing to take advantage of than the personal ‘cinemas’ practically right on the beach. It is really quite cute – little
table/huts set up for people to have their own personal movie theater. For the low cost of a meal for about $3, you can pick any
movie in their pirated collection. My choice? Borat. I might have been the only person in the world who had never seen it. I
was due. All I can say is that when you live in a big city in America, you forget how ass-backwards the majority of our country
is. Sort of a sad eye-opener. Oh - and I can now completely understand why the people of Kazakhstan that were in that movie
had a problem with it. Wow.
Today my stomach has been problem-free. These little white pills I have are true miracle workers. I took advantage of the
free snorkeling trips the place I am staying at offers. They simply let us come aboard a boat with the divers. I didn’t see much
– mostly just several types of fishies. But it was still nice to be on a boat and get out into the ocean. It was just as nice coming
back to shore and taking advantage of the swimming pool. It’s no wonder how a person gets sucked in here.
I decided to do a lap around the island. It was a nice 1½ hour walk – but…whooooo…that heat. It takes it out of a person. Call
it a hunch, but I think by the time Michelle comes out to Singapore I am going to be quite a tanned individual. Not that I’m
trying to be. It’s just inevitable out here.
After some lunch (I love when food options consist of thinks like pumpkin-with-feta salad or baguettes with turkey, stuffing
and cranberry sauce….especially since I am attempting to be a more healthy person as of the New Year. That’s what happens
when a Vietnamese villager asks “Pregnant?” to you) I headed back into the pool at my place (no need to mention the mint
chip ice cream cone I ate) and then took a little nap.
Now I am refreshed and am looking forward to dinner in a bit. I decided today that I am going to stay another day and then it
will be time to head back to Bali. That would give me five absolutely wonderful days and nights out here. I could totally stay
longer but there are still several places I want to go in Bali before heading up to Java. All I know for sure is that I will come
back here the next time I come to Bali.
January 7, 2008
Dinner last night was good. Turned out Anita and Jamie (a couple I met while snorkeling today) met up for dinner. They are a
cute English couple who are traveling for a while. And they are fellow ‘Dream Diver’ residents as well.
Today I had a leisurely morning. In fact, I’m not really even sure of what I did. I think I sat by the beach for a while. It’s
amazing how the brain stops functioning while in a place like this.
I will talk about how it is odd that I find myself loving a place so much where almost every other bar and shack-like restaurant
offers ‘magic mushrooms’. I guess there are enough places that balance places like those out. I am also amazed at how much I
appreciate showers without hot water out here. There is no reason for hot water in a place like this. The cool water (as it’s not
‘cold’ either….just ‘normal’) is so refreshing that I never want to turn it off. I guess the other shocker that I don’t mind at all is
the fact that my shower isn’t freshwater (as some places here offer) but is saltwater. So I just try to avoid getting too much
water in my eyes and mouth. But after almost a week, I don’t even recognize it any more.
I signed up for a dive today which was supposed to be in Hann’s Reef. This area is known for the teeny tiny micro life it offers.
I have never seen anything like it so I was pumped up. Especially when one of the instructors said it was one of her favorite
But when I got there it turned out the dive spot changed. This happened to me the other day, too. But today it wasn’t because
of weather conditions – it was because boats from different dive schools were sent out to look for a lost diver. Apparently
someone who was on a dive with another company got lost from his group and now they were working on trying to spot him.
Ummm…not really the type of thing you want to hear. But Manta Dive has my full confidence – I have really never felt so
comfortable with a dive company. So anyway, the dive site changed to a place called ‘Manta Point’. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to
go…but then I thought to myself ‘How often do I have the chance to dive in Indonesia?’ So that did it. I went on the dive – and
couldn’t be happier that I did.
Within the first seven minutes, we already saw two loggerhead turtles and a black-tip reef shark (had never seen one of those
before!). We also saw a big humphead parrotfish (quite cool!), a white-tip reef shark, a trumpetfish and a beautiful white, black
and fluorescent yellow fish called the ‘Oriental sweetlips’. What’s not to love about that? And in between everything, we got to
look at awesome coral. One of the guys ran out of air early on so we had to come up after only 35 minutes. Kind of sucked since
I had 85 bar left. I could have still had another 15 minutes or so down there. Oh well. These things come along with the buddy
After some swimming back at my place, I ran into Anita and we decided to head out to the Sunset bar on the other side of the
island to…can you guess?...watch the sunset. It was absolutely stunning. I’m so glad she had that idea.
January 8, 2008
I was supposed to meet up with Anita and some other people I ran into at the Blue Marlin for the party that was going on there
last night (every night there is a different bar that hosts a big party). But I had to sit it out as something decided to get revenge
on my stomach. This was the THIRD time since I have been in Indonesia! I regret all the times I talked about how I never get
sick, etc. My system clearly wasn’t prepared for the Indonesian bacteria. Plus I am running low on meds. I have put my sister
up to the task of bringing me some prescription-strength meds – though by the time she gets here, I doubt I will really need
them in the destinations I will be heading to. But better to be safe than sorry. These little white pills that I still have with me
from my last trip have been my miracle workers while in this country.
Oh. I was also supposed to leave this morning. But I changed my mind last night. I changed my bus/ferry ticket. I decided that
I wasn’t ready to leave yet. I still needed another day. So I will just cut a day out of my time in Java. No biggy. I will make the
third attempt to dive in Hann’s Reef today. Because I am only here for this last day, it’s a pretty sure thing it won’t happen.
But I’m prepared for that. And if it does happen, I am waiting for it to be a very lackluster experience. But I will just wait and
January 9, 2007
I’m now on a boat back to Bali. I can’t believe how time completely disappeared while I was on Gili Trawangan.
I ended up doing a third dive yesterday in Hann’s Reef. I’m glad I did it because I was completely sure that I missed out on
something huge by not seeing that area. But, in all honesty, I didn’t find it something extremely spectacular. Though I did see
things I had never seen before. Sadly, that didn’t include my beloved seahorse. We saw things called robust ghost pipefish,
crocodile flatheads, peacock flounders, thornback cowfish, spiny devilfish and lionfish. Some of these things were incredibly
teeny-tiny. So that was pretty cool.
By the time the dive was completely done, it was already close to 5:00pm. Where did the day go?
I met a couple girls while on the boat and at the dive place. We all met up for dinner. One of them, Virginia, is here with a
friend who also came to dinner. They are Canadians who are teaching English in Korea. The other girl, Angela, is a Canadian
who is traveling around this part of the world until April. Fun way to spend my last night out here. We weren’t even sitting
next to the beach…but that doesn’t mean anything when the waves are going out of control. As we were in the middle of saying
our good-byes to Virginia and her friend, a wave of water landed smack in my lap. I didn’t just get ‘wet’ – it really felt like the
equivalent to if I had gone straight into the ocean with my clothes on. All I could do was laugh. It was pretty comical – if only it
didn’t feel so gross sitting around in sopping wet clothes. But I knew they would eventually dry. And they did. And I'm not sure
if this is true, but Angela said something about hearing that there was an earthquake in Indonesia so these waves that we were
experiencing (as the same thing was happening the night before) were a result of it. Maybe a baby tsunami? Doubtful. But I
can say what a shock it is having a wave of a small scale coming at you. I can't even imagine what the real thing must have
I had a really good time hanging out with Angela afterwards. I’m just bummed that I didn’t meet her earlier. But it doesn’t
really matter – I can put money on the fact that our paths will cross again considering she lives in Vancouver. So whether it’s
her coming to SF or me going up to BC, we will hang out again at some point.
And now…after about a week on the island…I am officially heading back to Bali. But one thing is for sure – the next time I
come to Bali, I will be returning to Gili Trawangan!
|Oh, how I love the water out here.
|Got a kick out of this sign.