Day 194: We May Never Want To Leave

Sat. 23rd February 2013

Janet thought that take up on this offer would be briskWe are going to the (small) island of Gili Trawangan because the brother of a friend of ours is part owner of a dive shop there. These sort of tenuous connections have worked well for us on our trip so far and I think we might have come up trumps again. Before leaving the UK, we really didn’t know too much about the 3 Gili isles that cluster together off Lombok, other than that they have a reputation as having some of the best dive sites in the world. As we did more planning for the Indonesia segment and started liaising with the Trawangan Dive people over dates and availability and then transfers, we were warned that we ‘may never want to leave’.

Whilst we will return to Lombok after our stay on Gili, we want to ensure that we see the town of Senggigi and feel that we can tick it off our list of places seen. It is also a good opportunity to research the transport options on the island and beyond. Our plan is to continue heading along the Indonesian archipelago – across Lombok, then Sumbawa and on to Flores and Komodo – to see some the less touristy parts of the country.

Outrigger fishing boat on Senggigi beachOur transfer to Gili is arranged for 2:30 and so that leaves us time to have a wander around Senggigi, which turns out to be another town built around a long main street that follows the curves of the coast. At least this runs by the beach and so we drop down and find a beach that seems to be predominantly used by the locals with many of the long, thin, traditional, outrigger fishing boats pulled up on the beach. A reminder (and a similar photo) of our time in Tulum, Mexico and the fishing boats there.

The beach at SenggigiBack from the beach are restaurants that seem to be catering for a mix of tourists and locals. Behind the restaurants is a small market with stalls selling the usual sets of trinkets. Shopping is very easy when there is no room to carry anything! The whole place is on a smaller scale and less frenetic than we found on Bali – less busy, fewer people and fewer scooters. And this is the tourist part of Lombok. It will be interesting to see what we find as we head east.

Anyone for fresh coconut?There seem to be plenty of operators selling trips and tours that head to the places that we want to go. Some of these are a mix of bus and boat (which we will probably want) and some offer a 3 or 4 day boat trip. At least it looks like we’ll have some options, but we would quite like to DIY it (rather than take a tour) if at all possible.

Pool and restuarant in Kebun Villas, Senggigi - will we miss this?We go back to one of the beachside restaurants for a leisurely lunch – just watching the locals and the waves roll up the beach. Then it is time to head back to the hotel to check out, collect our backpacks and wait for our taxi to arrive. We spent 2, 3 and 1 nights in each of the last 3 towns and the seemingly never-ending repacking of our backpacks is a bit wearing – not only that but we are in fairly urgent need of a trip to the laundrette – so we have booked in for 5 nights in Gili.

The nearest Senggigi has to a shopping mallIt is a 20 minute drive up the coast to the place (village?) where the speedboat to take us across to Gili leaves from. Like all of the locals we have met, the taxi driver is friendly and very talkative. He is curious about England (and London in particular) and, unsurprisingly is a Man Utd fan (for goodness sake). He warns us that the speedboat ride will be bumpy – “you will feel like James Bond”.  When we arrive at the beach, he points out Captain Jack. You know you are getting old when the speedboat driver seems to be barely out of his teens.

Leaving LombokWe paddle out to the speedboat, climb aboard – fortunately Capt Jack and his crew take care of the backpacks. Three locals join us and we set off. No messing about, no safety briefings, no lifejackets – certainly no glass of champagne. The good news is that we could see all 3 Gili Isles from our starting point and it only took 15 minutes to get to GiliT. This is just as well as it was hard work bracing ourselves – trying to wedge ourselves into position as the boat bounced and crashed over the waves; trying to anticipate the hard landings by the big waves we climb up. The taxi driver was nearly right – we were more like James Bond’s martini than the man himself – shaken and not stirred!

Transport in Gili TrawanganOn arrival in GiliT it was as if we had gone back in time or to another planet. Wading ashore on the beach by the main (only?) jetty we have a horse and cart waiting for us – just as we had been told. There is barely enough room in the cart for both us and our backpacks and we do feel sorry for the horse and the load he has to pull. (It doesn’t look like they have an easy life here). There is only one road on the island, running around the shore. On the beachside it is mostly restaurants and on the other side is a mix of shops, hotels and lots of dive shops.

On the beach in Gili T - Gili Meno in the backgroundTrawangan Dive was about a 5 minute walk / ride from the jetty and we are staying in rooms just behind the dive shop. They’re clean, comfortable and air-conditioned – all we need. We get to meet and thank Corina who has helped us with all of the arrangements (including last minute switch of transport). I am signing up to do the Advanced Open Water Diver qualification and am given a loan copy of the course book along with the test cards with the test questions. My homework is to read, review and answer the questions on two chapters in time for the briefing session at 8:45 tomorrow morning.

Main street in Gili T - complete with Irish BarThat just leaves us time to do a little exploring of the ‘town’ while it is still daylight. It reminds us a little of Ihla Grande in Brazil (though that is so last year now!) – just not as big or developed (and with what looks to be much better diving. Also, the beach is much more like what we expected to find on Bali – fine, pale coral sand (albeit with lumps of coral) and warm blue water. Even with grey skies this does look a lot like paradise – will we want to leave?


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One Response to Day 194: We May Never Want To Leave

  1. I think you may find we cannot leave easily as the fast boats are cancelled until the waves are the right sort of waves. There are a lot worse places to be stranded!

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