Gili Trawangan and Bali

I was so excited to be heading back to the Gilis. My previous trip there had been one of the best trips id ever done and I was excited to repeat It.

Gili Trawangan is when I first learnt to dive, something which has since gone on to become a great love of mine.

I remember the waters of Gili being crystal clear and the sea being full of fish.

They say bad things happen in 3s, well I got a dose of all 3 bad things in the space of 24 hours. After the joys of Waterbom park I realised that somewhere within the park (probably on one of the stupidly fast slides) my anklet had come off.

Now an anklet doesn’t seem too important right? Well I always wear my anklet, I had it custom made by my Jeweller friend Tom, who incidentally does fantastic work, his site can be found here.

I had it custom made to include a gold St Christopher, one that had 0 monetary value, but which had been worn by my Grandfather for years, he had worn it for so long it was almost razor thin. Now I had previously worn this as a pendant but as I was leaving Australia 4 years ago, the chain snapped. I didn’t ever want to lose it  so Tom made me the anklet.  

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My heart absolutely sunk, of all the things I own this was one of only 2 irreplaceable items. I could stomach losing anything else, but not that.

I emailed Waterbom and they assured me they would look for it but they didn’t hold up much hope of finding it.

Coupled with that, as we were leaving for Gili, I couldn’t find my passport! Bad thing number 2. Again that feeling returned, I felt almost sick. Fortunately after 10 minutes of frantic searching the wonderful Schmetters found it.

The 3rd thing happened as we arrived on Gili, I withdrew some cash, and in my haste forgot to take my card out of the machine, a fact I realised a few hours later. Unlike the UK the machines give you your money before the card, so in moments of high stress its easy to assume you have your cash so you must have your card. Upon realising this a few hours later that sinking feeling returned, for the 3rd time in 24 hours.

I was crushed, I just wanted to curl up and cry, I had planned to go to a film showing on the beach with Schmetters and Rob but instead went back alone to the hostel and started looking at flights home. Id had enough. I felt so angry at myself. I cancelled a planned visit from my dad for June as I told him I was coming home. Rob gave me some wonderful advice and told me to not book anything for a few days and see how I felt then.

As I was looking at jobs, housed and flights I received an email I hadn’t expected. Waterbom had found my anklet and were keeping it at reception for my return to Bali. I felt relief wash over me. Of the 3 bad things, 2 had been rectified and while my Credit card was gone, I still had my back up cards. All was not lost!

I cant praise Waterbom Park enough, the park itself is amazing, but the friendliness and professionalism of the staff there is an example to Asia. While over the 4 months of this trip the customer service ive experienced has been questionable at best, Waterbom were just incredible.

I am so grateful for there help, support and advice.

So spirits lifted it was time to enjoy the Gilis, we booked a day trip out snorkelling for the following day to enjoy the wonderful waters surrounding the island. Rob and Schmets don’t dive and with our time together limited I was keen to spend more time with them.

While I will always pick diving over snorkelling I still had a great day. We messed around in the water and saw lots of fish and some great coral, we even had a fleeting view of a swimming turtle. I think the highlight of the day was seeing Schmetters face as Rob and I taught her to dive down a few metres. When we met she could barely put her head underwater.

As good as he day was I don’t think the price I paid was worth it, in my infinite wisdom I forgot a key ingredient when snorkelling. Sunscreen! I think I got the worst sunburn of my life that day, my whole back was on fine! I’m very grateful for Schmets and her after sun!

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We were all suffering a bit from the sun, and though we had planned for a night of drinking and partying we were all in bed by 9!

I visited the dive shop I had learnt with the previously who were amazing 4 years ago and booked myself 3 dives, The first being a night dive, something id never done before.

It was quite earie entering the sea as the sun was going down, torch in hand. As the dive progressed the light deserted us and we were just going off the lights from our torches. Life underwater seems so different in the dark, the corals are different colours as are the fish. Some of the creatures eyes shine in the light too creating a very spooky atmosphere.

While I enjoyed the experience I think I prefer day diving as you see so much more. Night diving can be quite dangerous so I think my enjoyment was tempered a bit by the intense concentration throughout on my air consumption, where the other divers were and navigating the strong current we found half way through the dive.

The next morning I was back at the dive centre for 2 more dives. The first a site called Deep Turbo. The name says it all. The dive site is 30m deep and there are some really strong currents, meaning you can just drift along with minimal effort.

On this dive I found the most wonderful piece of coral, it resembled a tree branch as was 4 different colours, White, green, black and brown. It was like an underwater FAB ice lolly.

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The second dive was much shallower but an easier dive. Being the most experienced fun diver on the dive I was given a bit more freedom and responsibility by the Dive master which I really enjoyed. In my head I’m still a very new diver but having now logged 30+ dives and being a rescue diver, I guess I’m not such a novice now.

We got up-close and personal with an Eel and Turtle on this dive and it was fantastic. Sometimes shallower dives bare a bit more fruit than the deeper ones deeper doesn’t always mean better!

I hired a bike and went to meet Schmets, Rob, Megan and Hayden. Id met Megan and Hayden the night before after my night dive and we all hit it off immediately.  While id been underwater they had found a great spot for the sunset so I went to join them.

We lay on the beach, looking out over the ocean, Lombok island in the distance and a set of swings out in the water. It made for some great photos!

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After a couple of Beergaritas I cycled back. The Gili islands have no Motor vehicles so everyone is either on a bike, walking or in a horse and cart so cycling around is pretty safe. Although after the Beergaritas I was a bit wobbly on the bike!

We spent the next few hours propping up the bar before going out. While dancing I managed to slice open my big toe of some smashed glass! The perils of drinking in flip flops. This put an early end to mine and Schmets night as she came and played nurse to my toe! A Schmetterling Krankenschwester.

With sore heads we made our way back to Bali via the hot and sweaty ferry. My love for Gili as strong as ever. I really hope I get to go back there one day.

Schmets and I had booked a nice beachside hotel so said goodbye to Rob and arranged to meet the next day. The first port of call once back in Bali? Waterbom park to collect my anklet.

As promised it was waiting for me at reception and I was reunited with it. The clasp had broken so I cant wear it for the moment but its safe and sounds in my bag!

After a late night swim on our rooftop pool we retired for the night.

We met Rob the following day for some swimming and a massage. My burnt back had started peeling and according to Schmetters I looked like a snake, I felt very sorry for the masseuse as every few minutes he needed to swipe away the dead and peeled skin!

We said a sad farewell to Rob that evening as he was heading back to Australia before Schmets and I settled in for an Indonesian Buffet and evening of dancing.

There were only about 8 people watching the show and I think the compare took a shining to Schmets and I, interviewing Schmets and inviting her to play the instruments and dance with the dancers.

We were up early again the next morning for a 2 hour drive to Tulamben for another day of diving, well I was diving, Schmets was snorkelling. With a back covered in sunscreen she went off while I went under the water. Unfortunately she neglected to cover the backs of her legs, so got another Sunburn!!

The first dive of the day was to a site called Drop Off. it was a lovely dive with many colourful fish, the highlight being a Barracuda. Id show you photos except when I got down about 10M I realised my camera was missing its SD card!!!

For the second dive I had loaded the one from my phone so was able to be snap happy, and what a great dive for a camera it was. We dove The Garden Reef, a bio reef. Different statues and structures had been sunk to encourage coral growth in the area and the effect was spectacular. Hindu statues dotted the seabed covered in coral with lots of fish swimming around. I’m so pleased with the photos I got!

The last dive was the highlight though. The wreck of the USAT Liberty. A 75 year old wreck. Its is 125 metres long and a great wreck to dive. Its in good condition and the wide openings mean its a very easy wreck to penetrate, something which was another first for me. The dive was topped off when as we were doing out 5M safety stop a Black tipped reef shark swam by. It was there one minute and gone the next but it was so incredible. I love seeing sharks diving and I haven’t seen so many so each sighting is special.

Schmetters was a bit annoyed as she had finished snorkelling moments before we saw the shark!

The drive home was horrendous, the traffic was just so bad, instead of 2 hours it took 4, although this was made easier by stopping off to buy 12 doughnuts.

Schmets and I got dressed up before going out for our last meal together, my only shit was dirty so dressing up for me literally meant wearing trousers but Schmets looked amazing and we had a lovely evening.

The following morning we said a tearful goodbye as I left to head over to the Komodo Islands.

I’m so grateful to Schmets and Rob. The 3 weeks we were together were the best 3 weeks of this trip. We all share a very similar sense of humour and are all quite easy going. I’m really happy I met them. Great travel companions.

Schmets in particular has really helped me gain a bit more of my self esteem and confidence that was lost way back in A Decade of Reflection 16

Well as Whitesnake wrote in their classic 1982 hit

HERE I GO AGAIN ON MY OWN.

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