after spending 2 days in labuanbajo, it was finally time for us to leave flores. our plan was to fly to Lombok, which is the island next to Bali.. it’s known for being similar to bali in natural beauty etc but less touristy. we got to the airport to wait for our 12 pm flight. the airport was *tiny*. after waiting for a while, we started wondering why the plane that was supposed to fly in and then take us to Lombok had still not arrived. 12pm rolls around, still no plane. then 12:30, and then 1pm. caryn went to go investigate. she ran into a group of nuns who told her that they had just received a text message from another nun who was supposed to fly in on the plane we were waiting for, and the message had said that her flight was cancelled. if that flight was cancelled, then obviously we would not have a plane here to take us anywhere. caryn went to go ask the desk and they had no clue why the plane hadn’t yet arrived and didnt even know that the flight might have been cancelled. apparently, when looking for info on flights, the airline workers are not as well informed as the nuns… go figure. eventually, half an hour later the news was confirmed. our flight was cancelled. we were given little packages of rice and curry (that we had to eat w/ our hands) and told to come back the next day. grrrrrr. we caught a taxi back into town and spent the rest of the day drinking beers w/ josh and keith in a bar with a beautiful view of the coast. not a bad way to send the rest of the day.
the following day we were back at the airport waiting for our flight. the nuns were back as well, and we kept a close eye on them to see if they might get any news that we werent aware of. this time the flight actually came in. an hour later we landed in denpasar (for a stopover) and then ended up having to wait for 5 hours since our connecting flight was delayed. always the same old story in this country… hurry, hurry, hurry, wait, wait, wait.
in lombok, we spent one night in sengigi and the following morning were off to the Gili islands. the gili islands are three tiny little islands off the coast of lombok. we initally planned to split our time betwen two islands, but in the end, we just spent all 5 days on just one of them: Gili Trawangan.
being on gili trawangan was like being on a little island paradise. first off, this island is small.. really small! it’s only about half a kilometer wide and maybe 3/4 a kilometer long. even though this was “the party island” of the 3 gilis, since it was the low season, there was actually very few people there and the beaches were fairly empty. the water there was the most incredible light blue color. actually, the slow contrast from white sand, to light blue water, to dark blue water where it gets deeper was incredible. just across the way you could see the beautiful greenery of Gili Air, the next island. the sand here was really unique. it was white sand, but just below the surface, there was black sand so when you walked across the beach or when you pulled your hand through the sand it would make patterns of black and white. most of the time that we spent on the island was spent just hanging out, sitting around on the beach, snorkelling, and chilling in the wide assortment of cafes. being able to sit around and do pretty much nothing except for relaxing for 5 straight days was absolutely perfect. we loved it!
some other things about Gili trawangan:
there are no cars or motorbikes on the island anywhere which makes the island even more peaceful.
unfortunately, the way some tourists get around the island is by horsecart, and all the horses on the island looked really sad and abused.
most of the people who lived here on the island were extremely laid back and friendly. their time was mostly spent sitting around in paradise and once in a while trying to get tourists to come into their shops. i wondered what these people would think if they were taken to NYC or some other crazy fast-paced bustling city. how would these mellow people interact w/ the manic super aggro people of the big cities?
hallucinogenic mushrooms are legal on the island and they are sold *everywhere*.
there was a huge mosque right behind our bungalow and it was LOUD. at one point it was so loud that i actually wondered if the speaker was right there inside our room.
the call to prayer from the mosque could be heard quite loudly on the beach as well. it was really a bizzare surreal thing to see lazy tourist chilling on the beach, bikini clad and sometimes topless women sunbathing, and snorkellers… all w/ the muslim call to prayer as the sountrack. such an odd contrast.
it was also somewhat odd to see muslim women who were covered head to toe and wearing headcoverings running around on the beach giggling and chasing each other.
there were tons of cats on the island. i started wondering what would happen if you put one of these mellow island cats in the same place as a city cat. would they be able to relate? are city cats different than island cats?
a local we were talking to was telling us that he was spending time hanging out w/ an italian who didnt speak very much english. he was talking about how difficult it was to communicate and was saying that they had to “talk like tarzan” to understand each other. i thought that was kind of a perfect way to describe the way we often have to communicate w/ people around here. i constantly find myself simplifying my sentences to the bare minimum so as to get my point across… heh, soon i wont know how to speak normal english anymore!
our favorite restaurant there was called the Living Room. like all the other restaurants on the island, it had little raised platforms that you could sit on w/ cushions. it’s so perfect to just sit there, lean back on your cushion and feel the breeze flow by as you sip your drinks. ahhhhh. the thing that separated this place from the other restaurants was that the food was so damn good, and the waiter was ridiculously friendly. it’s sad though. the poor guy is from lombok. he had to leave there cause there are no jobs. he came here and is working at this restaurant, *7* days a week from morning to 11pm. he never gets a day off even when he is sick. he has no free time. he has no life other than the restaurant. yet that is what he has to do to earn a living. *sigh*.
we went on two dives on the island. caryn was a bit nervous since she hadn’t been diving since she got certified in egypt, but she got the hang of it fairly quick. the dives were really mellow, but we still saw a ton of stuff. we saw an eel, a bunch of lionfish, several cuttlefish (one of which was changing colors), a large sea snake and several sea turtles.
the view of a volcano on Bali at sunset
caryn and i diving