Gili T

Trip Start Aug 19, 2011
Trip End Feb 23, 2012

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Where I stayed
Pondok Wilban

Flag of Indonesia  , West Nusa Tenggara,
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's hard to know where to start with this place we’ve had such craic here. Neither of us had even heard of these islands until we came to Bali. They’re about 2 hours North East of Padangbai sea port using the fast boat. There’s 3 of them in total, Gilli Trawangan (Biggest), Gilli Meno and Gilli Air. We booked the boat from Ubud – 700,000rup return, with the initial plan to go to Lombok and return from there for our flights to Oz.

We got picked up at the guesthouse and took the 40 minute journey to the port to check in. Even waiting to board, the water around this side of Bali is literally crystal clear. The boat ride was about an hour and a half of fairly high speed motoring, crashing into waves and generally trying not to fall out of our seats, it was a good laugh. As soon as we reached Gilli T, the usual hoards of lads lit on us, trying to drag us in all directions to their guesthouses. About 20 minutes of wandering in the heat, we took a really nice Air conditioned bungalow in a place called Dino’s.

At Dino’s we made our first kitten friend who followed me up to the house for breakfast. Stray cats are all over the island and constantly coming up to you when you’re eating. They’ll jump right into your lap and cuddle up or onto the table if they’re really hungry. Most of them have stubby tails which I thought were cut until I asked about it and was told that’s the way God made them. Check out the pics they are adorable!

Once we settled in we grabbed a bite to eat and then plopped ourselves on the beach to soak up some rays. The next day we tried snorkeling which was a mess. Walking into the ocean took forever because I couldn’t get used to stepping on the sea grass. Once we got the snorkels on a turtle swam right past me which I didn’t even notice until Daire pointed him out. That was the highlight of the excursion. After that Daire swallowed tons of salt water and I kept getting water in my mask making it impossible to see anything. We were a disaster.

Daire said diving was way better than snorkeling so later that afternoon we went shopping for a dive shop. We found out that prices on the island are fixed for diving so finding the right dive shop is about finding the right crowd of people. When we stopped in at Trawangan Dive we liked the vibe and stuck with them. We are so happy we did. Trawanagan dive became our family away from home.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started. I decided to try it out before I got too involved so I took the discover diving class. Daire took his refresher class with me which was great. Phil, our instructor, soon to be friend, talked us through some theory and then we went into the pool, fitted with wet suits, fins, mask, bcd, and tank to learn some skills. Things were going great until Phil asked me to clear the respirator twice and I panicked on the second time. We were in the shallow end of the pool so I stood up and took a breath. I thought alright this isn’t so bad, went back down and tried again successfully this time. Pool time was over after an hour and it was time for the real thing around 2:30.  We dove to 12m and all I could do was think how much Sal would love this! He’s always had fish tanks filled with exotic fish, piranhas, and alligators (not all at the same time). Well, I fell in love with this new world underwater. I decided then and there as I was laughing at Phil imitate a rabbit fish that I was signing up for the open water course. Having a reason to get up early, study, take quizzes, review and practice new skills was exactly what I needed at this point in the vacation. I was craving the structure. After day 2 I decided that I was hooked and signed up for the advanced class. I don’t know what I loved more the diving or Phil. All I know is that a great teacher makes all the difference.

During the open water certification I was lucky enough to dive with white tipped reef sharks, turtles, lionfish, scorpion fish, blow fish, batfish, and rabbit fish. In order to earn an advanced certification I had to choose 5 specialized dives so I chose: night diving, photography, navigation, deep and naturalist. The night dive was a wreck dive and sorta reminded me of the beginning of titanic when they are exploring the ship. It was deadly. You are completely in the dark except for the light from your torch, which was scary especially since we had heard there was a shark that hung out around the wreck. The deep dive scared the hell out of me because we were going to sharks point and all I could think about was jaws. But once I was down 30m swimming with the sharks I saw how uninterested they were in us and was completely calmed. The navigation dive was handy since I learned how to use a compass underwater and notice my surroundings. The naturalist dive taught me about hard and soft coral (which is animal by the way), sea squirt, christmas tree worms, gorgonian sea fan, sea anemone, nudi branch, and feather stars.  Within the span of 5 days I had dived 11 times.

Daire and I got so sucked into Gili T that we were debating whether to skip Australia all together and become dive masters. It was practically impossible to leave the island. We tried a couple of times but kept getting diverted. The night before we were going to leave we went out with Julius a great friend and dive master in training, and Rodney a diver from Australian and had a great night at Rudy’s where they serve a special fungus. Unfortunately, we went to the night market for dinner that night and early that day I had lunch at Juku (recommended by the Lonely Liar) and was served a completely rotten avocado and got food poisoning. I couldn’t keep anything down and wasn’t strong enough to walk to the bathroom so he held my hair back while I filled bags with anything that was left in my stomach. For two solid days I hibernated in the room with Daire watching endless pirated dvds. He would run out to the store and buy me Gatorade and white rice which I couldn’t even look at because I felt so nauseous. Needless to say we didn’t leave the next day. My stomach wasn’t right until we reached Australia and settled in. 

We ended up staying an extra week because we just didn’t feel up to leaving. Every day we would say we are leaving tomorrow but were persuaded otherwise. We thought we would spend 3 days on the island and instead spent 3 weeks and wanted more.

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