Diving around a Tropical Island

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Where I stayed
Lucky Cottages

Flag of Indonesia  , West Nusa Tenggara,
Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 1 – Transit to Gili Air and Diving Hans Reef
Had a 7am shuttle and thankfully had a watch showing the right time after having missed the start of the show a couple of night earlier. Given the tour agency didnt have my hotel name or room number that was definitely a good thing this time.

Had been holding onto the walking sticks one of the french girls from bromo had forgotten on the off chance I might run into them. Since this hadnt been the case I decided to ditch my walking stick in exchange for one of the new ones I had picked up and left the other one behind. Unfortunately I also managed to leave my mobile (first big thing this year) which I had been using as an alarm clock. Woke up before it, switched it off and am guessing that it managed to find its way under a pillow while I was packing since I did a final check before leaving and didnt see it lying on the bed.

Headed out to the road where I was to get the bus and watched as a lady came out and put a number of palm leaf baskets filled with flowers out the front of her house/business and onto her car. Also went through a small ritual and sprinkled some water. Am guessing that this is is daily thing since whenever I seem to go walking the sides of the streets are littered with the baskets.

A guy finally arrived to take me to the bus and spent an hour or so on it travelling to Padangbai where the fast boats were waiting to take people to the Gili Islands. Another hour or so bouncing over the waves playing with the window to try and get some air into the cabin but keep the water out.

Once at Gili Air headed out looking for a place to stay and wandered to the left where I had had a place suggested. Sunset something or other. Found a Sunset (not sure if place I was looking for) but definitely out of my price range. Continued on a bit further and found something a bit cheaper. In the end could of gotten something a bit nicer for the price but it wouldnt have been as close to the sea. While looking around for a place ran into the french couple from Bromo and they mentioned that they had seen lots of fish at Palua Menjangji. Something I hadnt seen.

After dropping off the bags headed back in the other direction to look for a dive shop. Seems I am staying on the quieter side of the island since the right hand side of the dock seemed to have lots of places to stay and restaurants. Checked out a few dive shops but prices were the same and so were sites visited so ended up picking the one closest to where I was staying.

Decided to do a dive that afternoon but quickly grabbed lunch first. Seems that my luck with weather and diving is still bad and only one site, Hans reef, was possible to visit due to the wind making the seas to rough to go anywhere else. Had a nice enough dive with just me and the divemaster. This was good if for no other reason than I stayed under for an hour and hit 50bar before I got out. Must have been doing pretty good on air since I went as deep as 20m and the divemaster was checking his air before heading up.

Saw a fair few large schools of fish but not quite as many as Palua Weh. Lots of nice corals and sponges though in large lumps and underwater hills separated by regions of sand. Main things I saw were a couple of blue spotted sting rays and some turtles which seemed to be living on one of the reef hills. Found one of these resting in one of the vase like sponges/corals.

After the dive wandered through the middle of the island to the other side and then around to kill some time. Had decided to try the yoga class here even though at 100,000R it seemed a bit expensive by Indonesian prices. Guess thats what happens when you have people trying to fund there change of lifestyle with tourist dollars. Nice to do the class but once again a fairly basic and simple class without anything really interesting to it.

After the class headed back to the bungalow, watched a video and pretty much called it a night.

Day 2 - Diving Deep Turbo, Island Loop
Woke up with the wind blowing through my bedroom window which was angood indication about the bad state of the sea. After grabbing my gear from the shop we headed out into some rough and choppy seas. Had originally planned on going to shark point on the far side of Gili T but ended up at Deep Turbo which was on the other calmer side of the island.

This wasnt to bad a dive and once again it was just me and the divemaster so I didnt have to come up until I hit 50bar which was at about the 1hr limit that had been set for the dive. This time though we did go down with another group due to the strength of the currents but they had there own divemaster and so I didnt need to go up when they ran out of air.

Once again had clumps of reef separated by sand but this time also had a bit of a wall under which I could swim on my back. Also found that there was a bit more marine life at this site. In the end saw a couple of turtles and both a white tip and black tip shark swimming around the reef.

Ended up spending a fair bit of time drifting over sand near the end of the dive but I didnt mind since I just like to float around sometimes with my legs crossed and just think about my bouancy. With the strength of the current that was there I didnt really need to worry to much about kicking the flipper to move. It was basically float and watch the world go by. Only time that you really needed to kick was to resist the current in order to see something interesting.

After the dive headed back to Gili Air and found that the seas were even rougher than before. Had lots of water come spraying over the bow as we plowed over and through the waves. Definitely seems I have no luck with the weather when it comes to diving since the rough seas meant the only possible dive for the afternoon would be Hans reef again which I decided not to do.

In the end read a bit, slept a bit and spent the afternoon wandering around the island. Found that given the island had no vehicles the only mode of transport are horse drawn carts that are used to ferry both people and items. Also found lots of boats on the beach shore though not sure whether this was due to a lack of tourists or the bad weather keeping them land bound.

While wandering round the island found that the area I was staying around was fairly undeveloped. Initially kept heading around the southern part of the Island and here you could find the odd bungalow or restaurant but for the most part you had large strips of empty beach. Am guessing that this in part has to do with the fact that the top of the reef here is exposed during low tide and so it doesnt make for a good swimming spot. Besides that the beach on this part of the island basically had no protection at all from the wind.

Kept wandering around and found that the middle of the island is full of coconut trees and cows. This seems to be where the islanders live whereas all the touristy stuff seems to be along the coast.

By the time I had walked around to the north eastern part of the island more and more cottages, guesthouses, bars and restaurants started to show up until they were basically side by side. While many these places all had little wooden platforms with roofs on them and pillows with chair back for sitting right by the beach. Certainly made for a comfortable place to watch the sea, have a drink, eat and when you felt like it, have a short walk to reach the sea. Definitely a pleasant way to spend a day or two though I think I would get bored after that, even with a book.

Kept walking around until I had looped the island and then went to my room to pick up the laptop. Had found one restaurant nearby that had Wifi and decided I would eat there (even though a little expensive) so that I could use it. Besides the Wifi, the restaurant was in a nice spot for watching the sun set over the volcano of Bali.

That night I found that I had a guest in my room during the night. It appears that the skin left over from a pineapple I had bought had attracted company. Found that from about 11pm to 3am I had a rat running round the room. Could hear it rustling through the plastic bag with the skin and at one point when I turned on the light I saw it scurrying down the cabinet on which the bag was located.

Pretty much ignored it even though the scurrying kept waking me up. Worst part though was I am sure it jumped on the bed at one point and put its paws on my back before scurrying off when I moved. Not 100% sure about this since it could have been my imagination (half asleep) but it did feel like something touched me. Thankfully by 3am the rat had decided to either go to sleep or wander off since it didnt continue to disturb my rest.

Day 3 – Diving Halik and Hans Reef
Another early dive with the weather a bit better first thing in the morning than it had been on the previous day. Ended up diving at Halik which had a similar reef to the day before though unlike the day before it did have a bit of a wall present for some of the dive. While it was a nice enough dive it wasnt all that interesting. Ended up seeing one white tip shark during the dive and a turtle. Once again found the most enjoyable part of the dive was drifting along in the current especially on the part that ran along the wall of coral.

Unlike my previous two dives this dive was with another couple and at the end of the dive I found that I was coming out with just under 100bar (the guy had less than 50) at the end of the dive. This was besides the fact that I had intentionally been going deeper so that each breath chewed up more air. I find its never good when you end a dive with that much air in the tank since it means you could have gone a fair bit longer.

In the end the dive was still 45minutes long and Im sure in the past I would have chewed up a lot more air. Really need to time myself but have the feeling that my air consumption is pretty good at the moment. Feel Im more likely to reach (or get close) to the max dive time availble than I once would have in the past.

On the way back to island found that the swell had once more picked up and the boat was jumping and spraying water over everyone. I though wasnt getting to wet since I was sitting up on the roof. Also this time didnt head straight back to Gili Air but stopped at Gili T to allow some people to use the ATM. Unfortunately it seemed that the ATM was empty of cash and so wasnt going any money. Definitely happy I took out what I thought would be enough money and wasnt relying on the ATM.

Once back at the island decided to do one more dive but since diving here had been more expensive then the previous two places I had been I didnt really have the cash. Thankfully they had credit card facilities so I could put some of the cost on card and not send myself broke.

While waiting for the dive had some lunch and got my credit card. Unfortunately I had lost the key to my room. It had been in my board shorts and I was pretty sure it was in the boat but I wasnt able to go out and get it since the boat was out on the water. Headed back to my bungalow anyways and was lucky enough to be able to break into the room. While this was good in this case it shows you how secure the room really was. Guess thats why I hide important things under the bed, mattress or pillow. While not the greatest spots at least they keep my important items out of plan site and someone at least has to look.

Once I had the card headed back to pay for the dive prior to doing it since I wanted to make sure the card was going to work, which it did, and then headed out for the second dive. Due to the weather it was once again at Hans Reef and while I enjoyed floating around (which was why I did it) didnt really have anything to see but the turtles I had seen on the previous dive, a stone fish, some sting rays and a few other bits and pieces. Looking back I should probably have gone out for a night dive since at least the marine life that came out would be different.

After the dive crashed out for a bit before once again wandering around the island and stopping off in the more developed part for dinner before heading back. On the way back tried to get a few photos of the stars but my maximum shutter time is 60seconds and this doesnt seem to be anywhere near long enough to do the sky justice. Found that out here on the island you could see lots and lots of stars and the lighter strip of the milky way splashed across the sky.

Rat was back again this night even though I had gotten rid of the skins. Heard it once again scurrying around the floor and am positive this time that at one point it started climbing up on my bed before my movements scared it off. Given the room was full of holes (especially the floor) wasnt much I could do about it except fend it off and ignore it. Am guessing that if I had chosen the other place I had been offered next door I wouldnt of had the same problems.

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