Monday, September 30, 2013

Gili Air, Indonesia


I arrived at Gili Air with one plan - snorkeling with sea turtles! I checked into Damai Homestay and Rosa took good care of me. I was scheduled for a snorkeling trip the next morning. Rosa offered me breakfast and had her staff make me a delicious citrus sesame pancake with fresh fruit and coffee. Mmmm! It hit the spot!
I spent the next couple hours relaxing in my hammock and then rented a bike to explore the island. It was small and I could not get lost. I stopped for dinner on my way back to Damai and went to bed early.
Snorkeling was fantastic. No photos. My underwater camera leaked and got completely fried. Stupid camera! I was lucky because the boat was small and our guide was fantastic. We saw 8 turtles at our first stop. Such amazing animals to watch. I got stung by more baby jelly fish and really wished I had worn a shirt. But the coolest experience was the next stop when our guide saw a huge turtle. There were only 3 of us swimming with him. He told us to go and swim with it. We floated along for 15 minutes with him 6 feet below water. We all kept our distance to not stress him out. He came up for air twice before diving to the bottom of the floor. The 3 of us floated for a while excited about the experience before we realized how far away the current had taken us. We started to swim back when the guide sent the boat to pick us up. I was relieved since it was difficult swimming against the current. At our last stop of the tour I was floating along and saw something move across the sea floor. Crap! I looked at the others and motioned to a sea snake. I am more calm when others are around. I floated and calmly watched it. I hate snakes but was proud that I did not freak out. When we got back on the boat, our the guide asked how many turtles I saw. I responded 9 and one sea snake! He told me I am very lucky to see that many turtles and a sea snake was extra luck! Really?  It was a good day and I was beat when I returned to the homestay. I went for a short walk at sunset and noticed a storm was rolling in. I sat on the bean bags on the beach and relaxed. Why don't we have bean bags on the beach? It is comfortable!
I fell asleep to the sound of rain on my rooftop.

The next day, I went snorkeling again. I was exhausted but I wanted to see more turtles. I was smart and wore a long sleeve shirt which helped with the jelly fish. This guide was not as good. We swam a long distance before we found our first turtle. Everyone had gotten back on board and the turtle surfaced next to the boat. We wanted to get in but the guide said no. I ended up seeing another 6 turtles and had a great day. 

With limited internet access, I relaxed and enjoyed some down time. I read in a hammock, walked the island and talked with other travelers. Gili Air is a small, quiet and relaxing island. Coconut groves with cows grazing.
Very few parties.  At dinner, I met an interesting young man, Agung. A Swedish woman had taken him into her home and made certain he finished school. He was one of 2 curly haired guys on the island. He told me the Swedish woman became a second mother to him and invited him to travel to Sweden to visit her family. I laughed as this young man that had never traveled further than the island of Lombok, Indonesia described his adventure in the western world. He told me how is hair went straight in the cold weather (September), his impressions of western commercialism and his trip to an amusement park. As I listened to Agung tell his experience, it reminded me of everything we have and take for granted. It must have been amazing for his Swedish family to watch his reactions to the western world. 
On my last morning, I went to the beach for sunrise. I was sitting and enjoying the serenity of the area when young boys brought their horses down for an early morning bath. The horses work hard on the Gili Islands. There is no motorized transportation. Only walking, bicycle or horse cart. The boys walked the horses into the ocean to cool them down. It was beautiful.
I returned to Damai guesthouse and ate breakfast and talked with Rosa while I waited for my horse cart to the ferry. Rosa told me she was trying to sell her lease. She has 6 rooms she rents and one where she lives. She wants to lease it to someone else for 10,000 euros/year. Hmmmm. Sounds great but I know I would get island fever after a month. But it was tempting! 

A quick horse cart ride to the ferry and I was back on my way to Amed. I arrived and saw my friend Made waiting for me. 


  1. Indonesia is amazing beautiful country . i like these pictures .

  2. Hi, i will go in Gili Air this August.
    I read that you saw turtles when you snorkeling. I would to ask you what's the name of the first diving that you used? How much the dive cost?
    Thank you so much!
    Kind Regards