Gili T.

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Not Magic Mushrooms

Flag of Indonesia  , West Nusa Tenggara,
Thursday, July 21, 2011

This morning we were up by 6:00AM to catch a sunrise dive. Today, Mark gave me the camera to serve as part of my buoyancy test but also as a way for me to capture what I saw so we could identify it later. This morning we dropped in earlier out and down the wall. As soon as we entered we were greeted by at least 15 bumphead parrot fish, a shark and a barracuda within the first two minutes. We slowly drifted to the wreck for more of the "same, same but different," (a typical Indonesian expression by the way). Back on the wreck I was beginning to feel a difference in my ability. I was much more comfortable with my buoyancy, learning how to control it with my breathing and proud of myself for clearing the mask underwater without any problem. Not to mention that I managed to snap a few good photos, definitely a challenging task with moving fish as your target.

After xloie minutes under, we surfaced, dried off and had breakfast. Digested a bit and then went back out for our last dive to test my navigation skills. Luckily we practiced in the parking lot first, we all know how retarded I am when it comes to directions so imagine having nothing but similar looking coral as a reference. Actually we use a compass and it is quite systematical and fortunately managing an out and back and a square were doable, even with a mild current.

Two dives under our belt already, it was only 10:30AM which gave us plenty of time to get me back to Padangbai for the 1:00PM fast boat to Gili Islands. The drive back was as beautiful the second time around but annoying to get caught behind the loads of slow trucks that travel this two lane road.

I arrived at the meeting point for the fast boat with time to spare. The Gili Islands are located on the northwestern tip of Lombok and are made up of Gili Trawangan aka the party island; Gili Meno, the high end resort, honeymoon island and Gili Air, which falls somewhere in between. Not interested in the “magic mushrooms” or backpacker partying, I originally thought to land in Gili Air, but I quickly reconsidered and got off the boat with the masses in Gili T. The water is the turquoise shade you dream about and since there is no motorized traffic on the island it makes for a somewhat peaceful place to be. Although everyone gets around on beat up rental bikes or the local chidomos, jingling horse-drawn carriages that for a high fee take you from one end of the island to the other. Meanwhile you can walk the circumference of the entire island in an hour and half. Actually, I tempted to ride it on a bike but due to long patches of deep dry sand, I found myself nearly walking more than riding.

I didn't walk far from the boat before accepting the first available room I found at Aquadiction. Typical in the price range ($18) the high ceiling bungalow came equipped with a fan and an outdoor bathroom with sea water.

I spent the afternoon admiring the water and constant activity all around. It is obviously high season and this island is flooded with backpackers. Everywhere I turn people are walking with their big pack on the back and the smaller one in the front. Not to mention that every five feet is someone renting snorkeling equipment or bikes and in between are loads of dive shops.

As my departure date approaches, I knew I wanted to get to Kimodo Island and Labuan Bajo somehow. Unfortunately, with my timeframe my options are limited. Everywhere there are locals offering snorkeling cruises over four to five days that would get me to my destination but I would still need to figure a way back to Bali. After more research, and unable to secure a cheap flight back to Bali from Flores, I decided to sign up for a seven day diving cruise with Gili Divers. Although I was not thrilled with spending that many days at sea again, I liked the idea of making use of my new certification and seizing the opportunity to experience world class diving as long as I am already here. The one deciding factor was to see how well I could manage in current since I was aware that the current is strong in Labuan Bajo, which is why I didn’t do my preliminary certification there to begin with.

Lauren, a California native as well and dive instructor at the shop agreed that a fun dive locally in Gili would help me determine if I was prepared for Komodo cruise. So we scheduled one for the morning of the 23rd which would be the same day that the cruise would depart if I were to join.

Tonight I caught the local open cinema at 9:00PM just in time for the screening of Water for Elephants. Everyone piles in on mattresses and bean bags and as long as you order food or drink the movie is free.

After the movie I stumbled upon the final 20km of the Tour de France which held my attention for some time. Finally I met Novri, a Lombok native who works as a waitress at the top end resort Villa Ombuk. She is probably 4’9” and so genuinely sweet. We sat and talked for an hour, she told me about her five month old son who currently resides with her mom in Lombok, and her Belgian husband who she basically supports. Actually it sounds like she struggles trying to support everyone on her basic “locals” salary. I learned that to rent a flat in Indonesia ones is required usually to pay a year up front, in some cases it could be an even longer commitment. It bummed me out to hear her carrying the weight for her entire family. We exchanged contact info and I agreed to come visit her again tomorrow.
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