It was raining cats and dogs yesterday. Good choice not doing the Batur Hiking Tour – it certainly would not have been fun climbing up on slippery ground without having the view on a beautiful sunrise as reward afterwards.
After a small breakfast, we get some more fruit at the local market for the ride and arrive just in time to get picked up by a tiny Subaru, our shuttlebus to Padang Bai. We choose to sit on the 2nd row of seats, so we can at least stretch our legs to the front – those things aren’t really made for tall people.
Padang Bai –
After quite some bumpy ride we arrive at the habour of Padang Bai and enter the speedboat-bureau to catch the ride to Gili Trawangan. Our backpacks get quickly loaded into the boat and we climb to the upper deck to a group of other travellers also looking really exited about the islands. All this here has some partyboat vibe: Beer from the freezer, partymusic and people wearing barely any clothes. The sun is shining and waves splashing on the deck are great for cooling off.
Gili Trawangan –
We are greeted by a “Welcome to Gili Trawangan”-Coca-Cola-sign, right after we jumped off the ship’s bow on the sandy beach. Next we get our stuff thrown to – and we are all set and on our own. Some horse-drawn carriage taxis are waiting, there is nothing motorized here – neither cars nor scooters. So first, we are looking for the place to stay… Right opposite the “street” is a diving base, with bar and restaurant and… they also offer rooms. We pack our things under a table outside and sit down. Perhaps we should first eat something and check for a place to stay in the Internet. There are some dive students at the tables nearby filling out questionnaires – theroy questions… it’s been a long time i had to do this too.
Hmm. If I want to dive here, I should perhaps take a refresher course. It’s been quite a while since my last scuba dive. One of the dive instructors from the nearby table comes over to us, welcomes us to the island and answers with his first sentence almost all the questions I had before I could say something at all. Ben is so extremely relaxed guy – If I was looking for a room, I could just log into their Wifi and check online, “Manta Dive” is unfortunately fully booked at the moment. And if we were hungry, he could just tell one of the girls inside to take our order. Nice ! We browse through the available hostels and bungalows in the Agoda-App, while I munch on a delicious sandwich stuffed with bacon, cheddar, salad and avocado slices. “Coconut Dream” is the clear winner. The bungalows are also just around the corner, on the parallel road to the “beach road” / Jl. Pantai. But before we go on, I use the opportunity to ask Ben about a refresher course. Unfortunately, the are fully booked for tomorrow, but I can simply look for another scuba dive base if i wanted to dive tomorrow – I just have to check the equipment condition and if I like the diving team – the prices are everywhere the same. But I’m free to dive with them on the next few days. Nice ! I already like this “carefree” attitude of the folks on the island.
We pack our things and head to “Coconut Dream” – All bungalows here are named after Disney animal names. The bungalow “Baloo” is still free. You can feel the “Caribbean” vibes everywhere. I’m not sure if we should not throw our plans out the window, just stay a little longer here and shorten the Java trip…
We throw our stuff on the bed and get out to have a first look at our fist location: Most of the people seem to stroll around on the beach road, and you can find almost everything here: Divebases, standup paddling rentals, restaurants and bars are lined next to another. Yet, compared to Bali, noone seems to ask you to buy stuff here or enter a souvenir shop. As for the divebases, Ben is absolutely right – you can simply choose a divebase you like and ignore the prices as you will have to pay 35 USD / dive everywhere (maybe the prices were agreed with each other?). I decide to scuba dive with “Trawangan Dive”, so I’ll have a refresher course in the morning with Fiona, my guide. The team here not only supports the Aware Project, but also collaborates with Sea Shepherd. Many scuba dive bases here help to keep the local reef clean – overfishing and usage of gillnets, which can destroy the corals, are prohibited here. I’m really looking forward to dive here tomorrow.
On the way to the restaurant “Ocean 2”, which Fiona recommended, I get chatted up by a guy who wants to sell me some weed – “Smoking? Smoking? “ – Yes, since there is no police on the Gilis, various drugs kinda seem to be tolerated… *
After dinner, we enjoy the music of “Sama-Sama”, the reggae bar (must-visit!) next to Manta Dive and go to bed early.
* Ps: Generally speaking about Indonesia and Bali: “Magic Mushrooms” were “kinda legal” till 2014 and were even sold in Kuta “in the open”. Meanwhile they have the same status of “soft drugs” like marijuana for example and the possesion is punished with 4-12 years imprisonment. Yet, “Magic Shrooms” are offered on the Gilis almost everywhere. And in any way. As Shakes (ice cream / melon / pineapple / Coca-Cola / …), pancakes, cocktails, pizzas… Supposedly those things should grow here even on the island…