Gili T, diving

Gili Trawangan is probably the best known of the 3 largest Gili islands outlying Lombok Island. It takes about 1.5 hrs to get to Gili from Bali, and the islands Trawangan, Meno and Air offer a lot for different interests. I only visited the “party island”, known for it’s party boats, hallucinogen mushrooms and whatnot. To be honest, I was not the only one sceptic about surviving on the island for a week, but here I am, still alive and happy about going there in the first place. Of course traveling with friends made it easy to enjoy.

Huts on the beach. Breakfast spot.
Huts on the beach. Breakfast spot.

 

Now on high season the boat tickets cost 650,000 rupiah (43€), including pickup and transport with open return ticket, perhaps low season would be cheaper. One thing I learned when going to our already paid accommodation on the island: never pay for a week in advance before seeing the place. After changing to a more comfortable and reasonably priced bungalow, we were ready to experience the island with no cars or motorbikes, only horse carriage taxis.

Paradise beach, found?
Paradise beach, found?

 

After a day of wandering and wondering, I decided to face my fears from the past and do scuba diving license Open Water Diver. And so I did, starting on Christmas Eve (First Christmas underwater and having a seafront barbecue feast with few turtles popping to say hello)! My diving instructor was wonderful, encouraging and relaxed. He looked like a Jesus chilling still in 18m underwater. Mind you, it is not a piece of cake to stay still in the water.

Enjoying the ride.
Enjoying the ride.

I think the biggest companies offering OWD and other trainings are PADI and SSI. Mine was SSI (Scuba School International), though apparently there is not much difference between the two. If and when I decide to proceed to Advanced Open Diver, I can choose either PADI or SSI, so I didn’t really mind which one I did (though SSI video 2hrs, sounded way more appealing than 6hrs theory in PADI). On Christmas eve I did my first dive, going to a wreck site. The same afternoon I watched the theory video. Next day was practicing uncomfortable situations in the pool, followed by a dive in the afternoon. The third day consisted of 2 dives, first of which had some practice like sharing air and clearing the mask underwater and other scary stuff. The last one was pure pleasure dip to 19 meters, though the strong current gave it a little extra challenge.

(Insert a nice picture here with a better wifi :P)

The price for OWD is regulated by the mafia in Gili, which makes choosing the school pretty random: there are most likely way more scuba schools than there are ATM machines in Gili. From my experience, I can very warmly recommend Mango Divers. Not just my instructor, but all of them seemed very nice and professional while being laid-back. I had my doubts of passing the final exam, but in the end I did well. If you are thinking of going diving, the cheapest place to do it would probably be Koh Tao in Thailand. In Bali there are several sites, and it is probably cheaper to do the licenses in Bali rather than one of the Gili’s. But if you are staying in Gili and wish to do something other than getting crazy or lying in the white sand beach, go snorkeling or scuba diving! The underwater world is amazing. I can’t wait to go again. And learn how not to move underwater. Perfect buoyancy, here I come!

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Before and after Christmas

Bad internet connection equals no computer time, which is mostly a good thing on paradise island. Little recap on the past few weeks:

I stayed in Canggu for a bit over a month in total, only to find myself in the middle of nowhere (aka Negara, west Bali) one night, looking to the blue sea. No wifi, no book, no nothing. For one night, that was enough. But boy was I glad to get 2 more great surf sessions in Canggu after that, before heading off to new adventures.

This view is not from a brochure or image bank.
This view is not from a brochure or image bank.

We had a nice villa for a weekend in Legian, which was great! The villa had a kitchen, so after a scooter ride to Carrefour in a thunderstorm we were pretty much all set for the weekend in our patio, just eating and enjoying each others’ company. We got two huge blocks of coconut sugar from a local farmer, so we whipped up an upgraded version of toffee caramel – I was supposed to post that for Christmas, but I got occupied and no internet. Maybe in time for New Year’s?

Insert a picture of paradise and munchies here, but this connection would take 30 extra mins to upload it.

After Legian, there was 6 warm days in the infamous party island of Gili Trawangan. I was wondering what the fuss was about, until I realized that I am probably missing on all the crazy action by going to bed at 10pm every night. I had my reasons for not partying hard: I decided to overcome yet another fear of mine, and to do Open Water Diver course. It was such an experience that it is definitely worth of a post of its’ own. Long story short: back in Bali, back in Ubud. Same bungalow where I started my trip, now starting to plan the next steps.

Canggu sunsets.
Canggu sunsets. #neverforget

 

Friendship

Are best friends those with whom we share everything starting from kindergarten trough high school to getting married and having kids at the same time, or can they be found later on in any part of life? Even though apparently I have several hundred friends on Facebook, I feel like in reality I only have a few; this is not a bad thing, I prefer quality over quantity. Being in a foreign continent has brought up quite a few thoughts about friendship, specially when meeting new ‘friends’ every day – and losing them maybe as soon as the next day.

How are these friendships different? I celebrated my birthday with new friends feeling very content and not homesick at all (day included surfing, massage, cake, and drinking local booze with locals until 3am in a temple festival listening of shitty dance pop). Being in touch with friends back home is so easy, and though all the messages don’t make up for physical presence, it’s better than nothing. On the road, people may skip some parts of the normal interaction of long-term friendships, and go to the “important” personal stuff faster. I have had few excellent conversations with some interesting people here, and it makes me sad to most likely not have these people in my life for good. Some may say I’m negative or sceptic and it is possible to make life-long friends abroad. I do believe is possible. However when meeting dozens and dozens of new people each week and going from one place to another, it is challenging to keep contact. Bless you, Facebook?

I don’t think short-term friendships are any less important than long ones, but it does get tiring at times. Same questions and beginnings each time, and for what? I do prefer going to a restaurant with other people rather than alone, so living in a hostel environment is perfect in that sense.

A friend took this picture. And drove me to Uluwatu.
A friend took this picture. And drove me to Uluwatu.

 

Brain vomit here, thank you for bearing with me. Other news: my computer broke down but has now managed to have power for 10 minutes. Score! Last weekend was good partying and the sun is bright and nice. I have heard bunch of good music, and I am also developing a love relationship. To the sea.

Courage

This morning, as I was driving trough the rice paddies that has only have one lane made of bricks, I started thinking about courage. It took me a lot of courage to get on the scooter and start driving, and even more to start driving after sunset and to the next town. When I didn’t dare to drive myself, going on a scooter with a drunk driver was not a problem, since I didn’t really have other choice and everyone was doing it. Now I am responsible for my own life (and fellow drivers’), and it’s scary!

Besides driving a scooter (sometimes without a helmet), it took me courage to go in the water, against the waves and get rumbled upside down and around time after time. But I did that, too, and it doesn’t feel so scary anymore. Maybe it could be considered courageous to eat salad and fresh vegetables in a place where the water is not drinkable, but I haven’t seen that as a big deal. (Knock on wood, food poisoning.) To others, living in the same building with somewhat 20 other people would be beyond possible. We all have different challenges.

 

One damn brave and brazen monkey.
One damn brave and brazen monkey.

 

Different things require different amounts of courage for different people. Some might say I was brave to leave my job and home and to go to Asia without a ticket back, but for me that was just a way of going forward. Because if you only stay in your comfort zone and never do anything that scares the shit out of you, you’ll never grow, or experience the feeling of insane pride of what you’ve just done, even if it’s just making it home alive after dinner or being able to stand up on a board in the sea.

 

Both of my fears, conquered.
Both of my fears, conquered.

 

I am trying to learn how to give credit for myself even for the smaller things, not just life-changing decisions. Even the smallest choices lead to forming the big picture, though it is sometimes hard to see the effect of some tiny things. Balance between conquering and facing fears and being able to step back into comfort is the key, most likely.