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By Rachel

From Ubud, we went to Gili Trawangen, one of the three famous “Gili Islands” off the Northeast coast of Lombok. We opted for the “slow boat” instead of the fast boat to get there as it was half the price ($16 vs. $33 each). The journey ended up being about twelve hours. It started out fine – our minibus picked us up from our hostel and drove us to Padang Bai where all the boats leave from (about 2 hours?). We then board the public ferry (be careful of helpful people grabbing your bags – they are porters and will expect money afterward). The ferry was actually pretty nice – there were nice seats and benches and it was air conditioned. And they played the movie Shark Attack (terrible). The ride was about 4 hours. From there, it was just annoying. Another minibus to a different harbor on Lombok where we waited and had lunch at some guys cafe that the bus dropped us off at. We then walked to the harbor, waited there for a while and then finally boarded a motorized long boat. There is no proper dock or anything there so we walked into the water to board (annoying when you have stuff with you!). And then about an hour to Gili T (they stopped at Gili Air on the way I believe). The fast boat would have gotten us to Gili T in 2 hours. In retrospect, maybe we should have done that instead, but $34 in savings seemed worth it at the time!

Gili T is the most developed of the three Gili Islands. Our sole reason for coming was to do some diving. The beach in the main strip was ok – you had to walk further away from the main strip for the nicer parts of the beach. One of the cool things about the island is that there are no motorized vehicles allowed – the “cars” were horse (they looked more like ponies or dwarf horses) drawn carriages!

We dove with Manta Divers and did two dives on our second day there. Our first day, we just kind of bummed around – we were actually pretty beached out already – but we enjoyed a nice tea and ice cream beachside in the evening as the sun went down (we weren’t on the right side of the island to see a proper sunset though).

We liked our dives with Manta – they were very well organized and gave a 10% discount if we booked ahead of time. The site that we wanted was already full for the day that we booked so they let us move it to the next day without any problems. Our divemaster was nice enough – he was Indonesian and from Lombok. The only thing I didn’t like about him was that before our dives, he would hang out with the other local staff and brief us on the boat on the way to the dive whereas the other expat divemasters were hanging out with their divers the whole time. We chose two sites: Manta Point (where you can see tons of Mantas in season – February unfortunately) and Shark Point. On our first dive, there were 3 of us and our second dive, it was just Samir and I which was great because it was easy to follow our divemaster around and also gave us more comfort since this was our first “non-class” dive!

Both dives were drift dives (where the boat drops you off and the current takes you along and the boat picks you up further downstream). It was our first time diving in a current which was really different! If you saw something cool, it was hard to stay stationary or swim back to look at it properly. Of course, had we been briefed a bit better, we would have known that diving lower, closer to the coral would have less of a current. But we got that on our second dive. We saw tons of turtles and even a black-tipped reef shark on our second dive at Shark Point! Plus tons of other pretty fish – bat fish, scorpion fish, sweet lips, eels, angel fish, clownfish and others that I can’t remember. I LOVED the turtles – they were huge! And so beautiful when they swam. Most of them were chowing down on plants on the floor – I like imitating the sound I think they would make – Samir just rolls his eyes at me when I do this 🙂  The shark we saw from a little further away so I couldn’t get a good picture of it, but was about 3-4 feet long – just a little one!  I still really want to see Manta Rays or a Sting Ray – next time!

Our last day, we had arranged to go back to Lombok via the dive company that operated out of the Sheraton Senggigi (where we would be staying) and the boat wasn’t set to leave until 4. So we decided to explore the island outside of the main strip and take pretty pictures 🙂 We noticed that people had strung together corals and hung them off trees. So we found a remote spot on the beach and I made my own! Definitely enjoyed our walk past all strip of restaurants and bars – since it was low season, many of the remote resorts were also closed so we just crashed on their outdoor benches and relaxed.

After Gili T, we headed back to Lombok to Senggigi. We took advantage of my hotel points again and stayed at the Sheraton and bummed around again for another three days… getting massages, swimming in their fun pool (with a little slide!) and laying in bed watching TV. A break from our break 🙂