Did you see the monkey fish?
Trip Start Sep 17, 2007
273Trip End Oct 08, 2008
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Really, Trawangan was sort of an accident. There are three Gilis (islands) in what is commonly called "The Gilis." Gili Air is family friendly, Gili Meno is where you enact your Robinson Crusoe fantasies, and Gili Trawagnan...well it's something else altogether. At first I thought Meno would be fun, but our big goal was diving, and the dive shops are more available on Trawangan, so there we went. When we arrived at the island it was dark and I ended up wading through the water in my pants. Fortunately they dry quickly. We turned left on the road (there's really only one and it goes all the way around, so it's hard to get lost) and started walking
The first night we ate dinner and then walked to the beach to see what stars we could see. We could see a lot of stars. It was quite lovely, and we didn't have to worry about being on the beach at night, which is a nice change.
A lazy morning was slightly interrupted by a 4:30 call to prayer followed by roosters, but we managed alright. Eventually we rolled out of bed for breakfast (which is free in Indonesia - score!): a delicious banana pancake-crepe and cup of coffee. This took about two hours due to the fact that we were perched on cushions about two meters from the beach and had no real need to go anywhere at all. Finally we got down to the business of seeing about diving. Adventure dives about doubled the cost of a fun dive, which nearly killed us, but eventually we decided to go for a night adventure dive. Again, nearly every shop had the same price, so it was really about personality, and I couldn't help liking Nicolas, who is a French geography major teaching diving around the world
In the afternoon we went for a walk to see what we could see. We found some very interesting spots where the surf was far away but the water came very close. These were thoroughly explored. The dirt road was quiet and shaded by palms and flower bushes. Then I got distracted by a bucolic scene involving a cow and Travis forged on ahead. A difference of opinion led me to turn back, while Travis did not. He took the opportunity to walk the rest of the way around the island, which he told me is very quiet but being developed all over the place. You can buy land there if you want to. I would if 1) I had money to spend and 2) I could afford to go there regularly. I went back the way I came until I found a little hut and contemplated Lombok and its volcano. I'm glad I didn't have to walk all the way around the island, because when Travis got back he was terribly sweaty.
All in all an uneventful day.
The next morning we awoke with the 4:30 call to prayer, followed by the cacophony of island roosters
We were in the water for two hours. The first time. After lunch we were in the water for another two, and that somehow managed to be cooler than the first time in. After swimming over some grasses and relatively tame corals we hit the reef and it was glorious. What fish! What corals! And enough urchins to make urchin soup for days (but don't ever go picking up things if you don't know if it's allowed or safe). I love the flourescent clams that burrow into the old coral. I never miss an opportunity to stare at them and wave at the water above them to make them close a little. They're very nifty and very electric colored. Travis and I swam about pointing at pretty fish or unusual ones. We found a couple tiny baby pufferfish. Getting up close and personal with corals is a good way to spot small fish because they often use the protection of the corals to make nurseries. At the drop-off there was a unicornfish patrol, and these beasties were well avoided because they were at least two feet long, and they look like triggerfish, which are territorial and bite when offended. We decided to try our luck with the other side of the jetty, but the surf was far too powerful and there was nothing to see. I did spot a shrimp and fish pair in the sand, though. First there was a hole, and I thought I saw a big claw, so I dived to get a better look. Then a shrimp popped out with a bunch of sand that had come into his little hole
On our second stint in the water we had a more seasoned eye and found a great many more things. It all started with the lionfish chilling on a coral plate. Travis swam right over it and I had to call him back. These things are way cool to look at, having their showy, spiny fins, but you don't want to run into them, which means you must have a great deal of control to hover around them, especially in the waters of Indonesia, known to have some of the swiftest currents in the world. Then Travis found a juvenial spadefish, which would have been rather boring brown and cream striped as an adult (but with large dorsal and anal fins, which is why they're called spadefish), but as a juvenial it has really spectacular wings that triple its body size. Nifty fish. Then as Travis led the way across a grassbed I saw some different urchins. In tropical Indian Ocean waters black spiny urchins are really common, others not so much. These were big, fat, and red, with short little spines, as opposed to the black ones with really long, thin spines and bodies slightly bigger than a golfball
As we passed the bar, one of the staff asked if we saw the monkey fish. Monkey fish? No...what's that? He smiled and shook his head. We forgot to pick up the key, so Travis waited outside the bungalow while I ran back. Then I learned. You see, this is why Trawagnan is different: various restaurants and juice bars on the island unabashedly advertise that they have THE FRESHEST magic mushrooms "guaranteed to send you to heaven and back, no transportation needed," as Rudy's bar proclaimed, along with some language my grandmother would not approve of, so I will not post it. The party also rotates among bars, so not only does every bar have some happy hour every day, but you are guranteed a jumpin' party every night if you care to find it
Our last night on the island we dived, but you'll have to read the next entry for that adventure!