Lombok and the Gilis

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September 26th 2010
Published: October 11th 2010
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G'day all (can you tell where we are yet?)

Soooooooo much to tell you and hopefully some pretty pics for you all to see now. There won't be too much today as i'm fighting the clock on the computer that keeps eating my $2...so flamin expensive here in Oz but more of that from Han later.

So i think that we last left you whilst we were being pampered at the 5 star hotel in Sengiggi, Lombok. Can't remember if Han had mentioned the local cuisine i tried - all good but if you're ever here, but PLEASE think twice about eating "Ayam Talliwang"........jesus your chocolate starfish will never be the same shape again!

Tuesday 21st September - The bus for the diving course picked us up early after another fab breakfast facing the beach and took us to an obscure harbour at the north of the island. We were both a bit worried at this point as the diving "school" that we'd booked with Abdul with the long hair ("long hair, long life") was essentially an unfinished hotel that was filthy. Thankfully that was just the equipment store and the real adventures were yet to come.

Boarded the catamaran boat type thing with the gear and set sail on the 30 minute journey to the Gili islands, not really knowing what to expect but with a great group of people. All the instructors were locals and were always smiling!! Arrived at Gili Trawangan which is the biggest of the 3 islands, and after picking up a couple of Aussies (Hayden and Matthew - cool guys) and a manic German (Julia - take a chill pill luv) we got straight into the diving. Training exercise in shallow water (3m) in the morning with no real probs apart from poor Han swallowing half the Bali Sea on one of the skill thingys where you take your mask off underwater. Thought she was going to give it in at that stage but like a trooper she kept going with some great results - "you look like a mermaid darlin". Lunch on the beach on the smallest island (Gili Meno) that had the dodgiest toilet i've ever seen (yes Elle it was a hole in the floor like Slumdog Millionaire). Fantastic place and REALLY quiet.

Dive 2 in the afternoon down to 12m and both Han and I are feeling like naturals although my ears wouldn't equalise and i had to come up to the surface a couple of times - ended up with a nosebleed whilst watching a school of flying fish. I can't really do justice to the sights we saw under the waves but amongst the gems were turtles (lots!) Puffer Fish, Scorpion Fish, Lion Fish, Lobsters, Barracudas......you get the idea. Back to the hotel for some study.....is this what we came away for???

Wednesday 22nd September - Having checked out of the Sheraton we got back over to the Gilis the following day for the next dive at Shark Point....and yes i did sh*t myself at this juncture (my chocolate starfish endured another injury). The Instructors were even going to specifically find one for us to see!! Unfortunately (aww) we didn't manage to tempt a shark to come over but at 12m we saw lots of the usual turtles etc etc....how boring...not! One of the other dives saw a couple of white tip reef sharks. Lunch on Gili T while a couple of the students did their exam and we managed to see our accommodation that had been sorted for us. Shocked by how modern the place was bearing in mind the island has just 800 people living on it and no cars (only horses and carts). Open air bathroom much to Han's amusement. Next dive in the afternoon at the Bounty Wreck which was a US boat sunk by the japs apparently. Han and I are feeling like pro's at this point and loving it!

Ended the dives and headed home for some more study - sheesh. It's unbelieveable how tiring the diving was so we decided it was "Bintang Time" (the local beer), headed for a beachside bar and read whilst we drang and ate Nasi Goreng - i can think of worse schools to be in! Once the sun had said goodnight from it's 33 degree high we headed back to our new gaff and had an early night.

Thursday 23rd September - awoke early (maybe feeling a little guilty at not reading our books properly the night before and were served breakfast on our terrace from the "Pood and Drink" menu. Decided against the pood and had fruit, scrambled eggs and the strongest coffee in the world. Tried to catch up on the missing 4 chapters whilst talking to some Swedes living next to us.

So off to meet the boat in sweltering heat (35 degrees) and our last dive at Shark Point (these boys are trying to kill me). Great dive with Mohni the main man (owns the dive club - Lombok Dive) with loads of the usual fishy type things but thankfully no sharks! Off for a great local lunch ($4 all in) and then the dreaded exam. Would you Adam and Eve it we both passed with flying colours (Dave - 100% and Han 98%....."you just wouldn't listen would you petal") - certified divers at last.

Both high on being almost professional divers (not) we turned down the constant offers of Magic Mushroom Milkshakes, Weed and even Cocaine!!! Great bars and restaurants on Gili T although by the time we'd had a beer with the Aussie boys we'd missed the BBQ fish stuff. Headed back feeling a little old but caught a fantastic Reggae band on the way back.

Friday 24th September - Han and I both absolutely loved the Gili Islands and thoroughly recommend anyone to come here. Totally different to Bali and slightly more hippy and chilled than Lombok - at this point Han and I consider selling up and moving here, either to open a massage school or for me just to grow long hair (we might be here a while). Alas though we have to move on and so at midday ish and again in stupid heat, we caught the fast boat back to Bali so that we could get to the Airport for the flight to Darwin late that night. Horrible journey of about 2 and a half hours in fairly rough seas. Han just about get her pood down and we find the chaotic mess of a minibus service to the airport whilst trying to avoid the Balinese street sellers and beggars. There were 8 people (of 4 different nationalities) crammed into a horrible stinky van that had done 500,000 miles - no mean feat on an island this small! After another 2 hours we eventually arrived at the airport for the long wait for the 11pm flight. Got chatting to a few people including Matthew "the stalker" Pinder - an English guy who was clearly on a tight budget but made it a bit obvious and was pretty much out to get what he could from us. Pretty gutted to find out he was the same flight as us and even staying at the same hotel in Darwin. I wondered whether he was trying to crash our room for free! To be fair to him though he did give us some hints about travelling in SE Asia and recommended Laos so that'll be another change to our itinerary then!

After being charged 150,000 rupiah each (about 12 quid) to get through customs (i'd have paid 1 million) we ate, drank and avoided our buddy Matt until we took off without any delays - cool.

Laters white guys.

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28th September 2010

Dad absolutely green with envy with diving course, can't believe how well you are slotting well with all the locals.

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