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Gili Islands, Indonesia

Relaxing on my Birthday

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It worked out better value to get a combined bus/ferry return ticket to the Gili Islands, thus giving us a stress free travel day. The bus picked us up on time directly from our hotel in Bali, the ferry was efficiently ran, and Gili Air turned out to be a paradise island.

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There are no motorbikes on any of the Gili islands, instead the main mode of transport is by bicycle or horse drawn carts. There's a certain romantic feel about the only way of getting around an island is by your very own horse drawn carriage, usually brightly painted to reflect the ambiance of the tropical island. There's a road/track that runs around the beaches' edge, which you can walk in a slow paced hour. There's a smattering of cute restaurants and bars on the beach and the local village lies in the middle of the island. I thought it had a slight feel of Malapascua, Philippines, about it; the locals living alongside the few sun seeking tourists. As we wandered around trying to find a deal on some accommodation, I knew I was going to feel very relaxed in this place.

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We found a really nice family run resort, Omar Gili. We negotiated a price of £17 a night with breakfast, swimming pool, our own wooden chalet and balcony, air con and hot water... Jason said we could push the boat out a little as we were spending a few days there over my birthday. Bliss!

There are only a few photographs of our time here. Jason said it was up to me how I spent my birthday... all I wanted to do was RELAX! Not that I can complain about our lifestyle at the minute...but sometimes all this travel, moving from place to place and activities everyday gets tiring. All I wanted to do was sunbathe, swim, snorkel, walk along the beach, sunset cocktails and good food... so that's what we did. All Jason asked was that I squeezed in a few games of bat and ball.

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We were only meant to stay 3 nights on Gili Air, but instead we spent 4. We thought we might have time to go over to Lombok island and climb Mount Rinjani, but unfortunately the weather was too bad. On clear days you can see Rinjani's crater from Gili Air, but for the whole time we were there it had been covered in thick cloud and rain. Local tourist operators had said that the treks were only running part way up the volcano because of the weather, so we decided not to do it. We definitely want to come back at some point and travel Lombok, especially to climb Rinjani in the dry season and make it all the way to the top. Jason has continued to say that he wants to experience sunrise above the cloud cover...

Instead of Lombok we caught a short boat ride to the party island, Gili Trawangan. Even though we were there in the quieter season, there were certainly a lot more people than on Gili Air and a party hotspot every night. More to come...

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We found another cute bungalow and agreed we'd stay here for 2 nights (2 nights turned into 3). We headed straight to a dive shop, Manta Divers, and signed up to an afternoon muck dive. I've been a bit dismissive of muck dives so far, but Jason persuaded me that I should give it a go. It was 'OK', as expected really. A dive with a sandy bottom amd a few little species hiding out; we did see a blue spotted ray, cuttle fish and some interesting pipe fish. (I think we've been spoilt diving in Komodo and Malapascua).

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An Australian guy, Warren, was on the dive with us and we joined him for some post-dive drinks. It would seem Jason and Warren got quite a taste for vodka joss shots: consisting of a mouthful of foaming energy powder downed with a shot of vodka (they're disgusting!). We joined a few people from the dive shop for some food a drinks that evening, which then turned into me watching Warren and Jason dance around at the evenings beach party. I have to tell you, it was VERY entertaining! I also revelled in Jason's pain the 'morning after'... those vodka joss' don't make for a good hangover and we missed the first two dives of the day the next morning.

After finally managing to move Jason we went out on an afternoon dive. Again, it was 'OK'...we saw a couple of turtles and a huge cuttle fish (which I found particularly impressive), but there was a lot of bleached coral and evidence of past reef dynamiting from fisherman. The dive had quite a nice drift and gently swept me over the coral bed and through the thermocline. The thermocline is beautiful underwater changes in temperature and depth, creating visual ripples of glistening water; I especially love it because if you're in the hot part of the sea its like diving in a warm bath. Overall diving in Gili was fun and the dive shop were really sociable, but for us the dive sites just weren't a patch on some of the places we've been before.

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We joined Warren and his friends for the evening again, enjoyed some food and had a few drinks. There's a good night market area on Gili Trawangan and we had some bbq'd fish with rice and vegetables. We thought we'd ordered BBQ mahi mahi fish, but weren't convinced that was what we got because when we did some fish ID later it looked nothing like what we ate...whatever it was we ate it served us a good evening feed.

Apart from diving we just spent our time lazing around on the beach...again! It gave us chance to work out what we were going to do next...

Posted by bloorsontour 02:54 Archived in Indonesia

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I felt very relaxed just reading this. What a life you've got!! (Vodka joss???) Xxx

by Ma and Pa

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