Sunday – A trip to Gili!

After the events of the previous evening it was time to part ways with Heemi this morning, we had sat down to breakfast together and dad and I had to work out what we were going to do with the day when we were presented with an offer. A couple we had met at the hotel had hired a boat and captain to head out to do some snorkeling over at the Gili islands and as much as neither of us were a big fan of boats we decided to take advantage of the offer as it gave us something different to do and they were good company (they seemed to deal ok with dad never shutting up) they were heading off just after breakfast so we parted ways with Heemi and headed off for a day of boating and swimming definitely not something you hear me say every day.

The day was looking slightly overcast but very nice out and the ocean was nice and calm, which was good as dad was worried about getting seasick and I am not a huge fan of boats to begin with but we were both comfortable on the way over. There are some huge sea turtles in that area and it was one of the attractions that they had wanted to see, on the way out we were keeping an eye on the water however for the most part they were not forthcoming however at one point I was wondering what they heck that was in the water as it was rather large, then it surfaced for a moment but was quickly gone so I only saw the one turtle hopefully next time around we can get a swarm of them and actually get some photos. 🙂

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We took the one on the left over to the islands, the Marlin a nice blue the captain was a rather nice older Indonesian guy. I think he definitely thought dad was crazy he was shaking his head and smiling at many points

The ride over from Sengiggi beach took about an hour and was pretty smooth sailing, over in the distance though there was storm clouds and a lot of mist indicating pretty much a wall of water however at least for now it was a fairly clear and sunny day. Our first stop was Gili Trawangan referred mostly as Gili T (much easier to say) where we had an hour to do some exploration. Didn’t do much island exploration here however did do a lot of ocean exploring. It was also the first place that I had seen more than a small amount of people at once; The beach however wasn’t what I would consider crowded and there was still plenty of space on the sands as well as the water for considerably more people. We rented flippers and a mask/snorkel for $4 and set about swimming and the water here was absolutely amazing!

The sands here is actually mostly pieces of coral  broken up which is kind of sad as it is probably due to how the boats come in, they don’t come all the way into shore they come up to about waist high and you jump off and walk the remaining distance to the shore and I believe that is what dregs up most of the broken fragments of coral. The ground up sections don’t have the same consistency as sand and I found it a little different getting used to walking on, thankfully there is also a reasonable amount of larger rocks to help with the footing as you move back into shore. Visibility with a mask was considerably better you can pretty much almost see forever and the sheer amount of varying fish swimming about you even close into shore was really something else especially considering I have never really had that before. From the shore it drops off at a reasonable rate but then there are 2 considerably sharper drop offs; The first one was just over my ability to stand but not by much it took me a bit longer to move deeper out however as I had never swum with fins before and they took me a bit of getting used to not using knees. Once I found my sea legs however I headed out deeper and spent most of my time hanging out near the second drop off.

The second dropoff pretty much was a huge drop off it quickly disappeared to considerably deeper however the sight here was phenomenal just after the drop off it was like watching a wall of tropical fish just happily swimming along. Dad stayed in close to the shore and both Kendall and I offered to bring him out to see it but he wouldn’t have a bar of it. At least there were lots of colourful little fishies swimming around where he was to keep him entertained and I believe it was a groper that he spent a good half an hour trying to catch, thankfully it was toying with him and he was to slow for it. It was also the first time I saw an actual use for an underwater camera as I would have loved to be able to take some snaps of the sights of the depths, I am so used to the beauty of the world above that I am feeling somewhat sheepish in not considering the beauty that can be seen below. I believe it was also the first time I had gone shirtless since I was a kid at the beach as I have always been rather self conscious in that regard.

From the people I saw on the beach everyone was rather right that I had nothing to worry about in that regard as there were plenty of people in far worse shape than me without their shirt on and I guess my constant thought that no one wants to see me without a shirt also needs to be re-evaluated as I did get many smiles from the opposite sex. However it was time to pack the fins and snorkel in and head off to the next island on the chain Gili Mono where we would be having lunch.

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The storm brewing in the distance

The storm was well and truly over the main island of Lombok on our way out to Mono and it was obvious that we would not be escaping it a bit later on however for the ride over to Gili Mono it was still smooth sailing aside from a couple of small bumps mostly caused by the wake of larger vessels. The water however at our next location was fundamentally different; When we were heading into shore we stopped much further out however it seems to be considerably shallower compared to the water around Gili T and as dad went to jump off the captain stopped him and told him to put on his thongs and after I did the same I could see why. Like Gili T there was a lot of underwater coral here however the bulk of it was rather pointy and sharp and just jumping off unprotected would have likely led to a stabbed foot something to definitely remember for the next time as you will definitely want feet protection.

Was a bit of a walk into shore which got sandier as we got closer but the water was really really odd. It wasn’t as clear as Gili T and it didn’t have anywhere near a consistent temperature with some sections normal, others warm, and others still almost boiling on the skin in small patches as we got in which continued all the way to shore; No idea what caused it but it was certainly unique. After lunch dad swam there and he said it was considerably more salty and actually burnt his eyes a little.

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Gili Mono

We came ashore at a small restaurant which was to be where we had lunch, ordered dad a club sandwich and I had a chicken noodle dish. Had been making a point of trying out different fruit drinks and we had a papaya milkshake followed by a mango milkshake which was delicious; I went a tad different and had a Singapore Sling it was nowhere near as good as the one I remember in Singapore but it was still a refreshing drink. The food here is a bit more expensive compared to the mainland but was still reasonably priced overall. As we finished our lunch however the rains set in and the captain said we would wait it out; thankfully it was not too heavy as it looked like we were just getting the tail edge of the storm so we were only delayed about half an hour before we continued on to our final stop before heading back the small island of Gili Air.

The water was slightly more choppier than earlier in the day but the design of the boat handles it well and it was still fairly smooth sailing, it is only about 1.5km between islands so we were over there pretty quick however given the time waiting out the rain on Mono we only had about 20 minutes before we had to head back over to Sengiggi so we just walked along the edge of the island. It seems that beach side is small cafes and bars and the other side of the street is hotels, dive schools and bungalows for accommodation. Of all the islands this felt the most laid back overall and there would still be plenty of choice for what you wanted to do both during the day and in the evenings. Unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to test out the water here so not sure what it is like or if there is good snorkeling, but there is always next time.

One thing I loved about the islands is there is no motorized transportation over there it is all by foot, bicycle or horse drawn cart making the air very clean and crisp coming in off the ocean. From what I can gather they are also the party islands (first place I had seen drugs talked about so far in Lombok and it escalated quickly from weed to crystal meth) which is definitely not my thing, however I would go back to either Gili T or Gili Air to stay but would choose a place back from the party areas and spend my days snorkeling and walking around the island, I reckon a couple of laps a day would be awesome for fitness. Overall if you like beaches I think it is an awesome place and highly recommend it even if going shirtless for the first time in years left only the area covered with shorts unburnt, my back and shoulders were the worst casualties and are still peeling now at least they don’t hurt any more though aside from occasional itching.

Still well worth it!

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