Unfortunately, none of the places I seem to visit are easily accessible, and Gili Trawangan was no different. After a bus to Padang Bai and an unstable boat ride, I stepped onto the soft sandy beaches of Gili T for the first time. The Gili Islands of Indonesia comprise of three extremely small islands, including Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air, all of which have beautiful, long stretches of beach and a diverse marine system that allows for some excellent diving. Gili Trawangan is the biggest of the three, and even then, it composes of one small strip littered with dive shops, restaurants and bars, and some hotels and other accommodation one road back. It is, by all means, tiny.
Unwilling to carry my 27 kg backpack very far (it had become increasingly heavier as Tommy added numerous possessions to it) we went with the first tout who offered us a bungalow at a good rate and were pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness of the room and the friendliness of the staff. We ended up staying there for our full two weeks on Gili T, enjoying the free breakfast brought to us every morning and the convenient, but quiet, location.
After it was revealed that there would be no freelance dive work for quite some time, we decided to treat our time on the island as a vacation instead of a working holiday, and spent most of the days snorkeling, walking on the beach and going for dives. The diving in Gili Trawangan was some of the best I had come across in my short diving career. The water was a beautiful light blue, the visibility was excellent, and we got to swim alongside my favourite underwater creature: sharks! Not the giant and menacing bull sharks I have seen before, but smaller, friendly black and white tip reef sharks, which came so close we could see their beady but intelligent eyes. There is nothing quite like diving with a shark. They are so graceful, so intelligent and so interesting; they are merely curious about us as divers and do not view us as prey or a threat. They accept our presence and coast along beautifully until they are out of sight.
We were also joined on the dive by a dozen or so turtles, some that were both longer and wider than myself, as they swam slowly and contentedly through the water, munching on coral. Turtles are unbelievably calming to dive with, and being surrounded by them for the majority of the dive was wonderful. There are so many turtles in the Gilis we even saw one a meter away from the shore while we were snorkeling, although it very quickly disappeared into some deeper, more private, waters.
Our time on Gili Trawangan was short but altogether very enjoyable, and soon it was time to head back to the mainland of Bali to meet Tommy’s older brother and his girlfriend for a few days of wine and good food.
We boarded the shaky, slightly unstable boat, and were once again on the road.