Monday, December 11, 2006

Gili Air

Leaving Padang Bai, we got the large ferry over to Lombok, taking around 4 hours. Then a bus up to the North arrived at Bangsal, where we got the public ferry over to Gili Air. The ferry being a long narrow boat capable of carrying about 20 people. No pier in at either end so you have to take off your shoes and clamber through the water onto the boat type while not dropping your bag in the water. Finally arriving at Gili Air we found some nice bungalows which had just been built by the French owner. Very nice and quiet place. Unusually quiet as the only means of transport around the island is horse and cart, no cars, no motorbikes here. The island is small enough to get around, a walk around the perimeter takes little over an hour. There is a small permanent local population of only 700 people living here, so when somebody says then know everybody they are not exaggerating.

Small restaurants dot the Eastern coast of the island. Most are simple places with small platforms with cushion for lounging on. Service is best described as “relaxed”. Most have a selection of fresh fish on display waiting to be grilled for hungry diners. If you look closley you can see that the fish have been caught by traditional spear fishing during the day.

A nice relaxing place for a few days. I often snorkled in the mornings, you could simply wade out to the coral from the beach. After talking to the guy renting the equipment he pointed me to a different site slightly further North up the coast. It was harder to get there as you either have to step on the dead coral shrapnel with your bare feet or stagger around with your flippers on. He saw me flapping around and then came out and showed my it is often easier to walk backwards with the flippers. Once there is enough water you can swim out further. He pointed out some different things, that I had noticed before most notable the clams. Swimming down to their mouths they would quickly closes up. Many different colors also. Another trick is spitting in your mask which makes it much easier to see and visibility is great here. A gentle current pushing you South along the coast so you don’t have to do much swimming. At one stage a huge dropoff occurs into the ocean, seems to me like standing at the edge of a cliff on a windy day! At the edges of the visibility some large fish swim in these deeper waters. During my time here I saw baracuda, angle fish, knife fish, clams, blue starfish, clown fish, mudskippers as well as countless unknown fish. Also got stung by some some small jellyfish, bit like a mosquito bite. Didn’t really notice until out of the water, but there are not posionous here so not a big deal.

In the afternoon, a spot of lunch at one of the beachside cafes and then spread out in the well balanced hamock on the veranda of the cottage and read my book. Maybe stop for a cool mango lassie, or drink a coconut. The days seem to drift by easily in places like this. Aah, life is tough :)

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