Sebis photo blog

Sebis photo blog

Bali & Gili Trawangan

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Boarding the JetStar flight JQ81 from Darwin to Denpasar made us feel like boarding a tourist charter plane from Germany to Mallorca – or UK to Cyprus. Many of the passengers were noisy, drunk and not familiar with most of the inflight protocol/behavior.

Good that we wouldn’t stay on Kuta, but were heading on to Gili T straight next morning.

The 2.5h flight was calm otherwise except a few strong bumps during our decent into Bali. The captain promised “clear skies” which was true for the time of landing, but everything was flooded when we left the terminal building about half an hour or so later. Immigrations and customs was easy to pass but Indonesia charges a USD25 fee for getting a 30 day visa – probably a left over of bribery which was made official law.

We found our transfer to the hotel after a few minutes of getting orientated and trying to find our name on one of the roughly 2 billion signs with names on it. The ride to our hotel took about 10-15 minutes and we quickly realized why we would not want to rent ANY vehicle on Bali: traffic rules seem to be more of a guideline than actual rules. Generally speaking they drive on the left side of the road, but mostly in the middle and sometimes on the right towards oncoming traffic. The first one to use his horn gets the right of way – or something.
At first I thought it was because the roads turned into a 20cm deep river but that behavior didn’t change next morning when it was dry.

The hotel was like a small oasis in the middle of chaotic Tuban. Unfortunately we only spend a short night there and I didn’t take any photos.
Money exchange turned out to be a bit of a problem in the middle of the night and we had to stick to the hotels reception. They couldn’t change more than USD150 though. So, how much would we get for it? Well…. If you think that money is money and that you will get the same exchange rate for $100, $100, $50 and $20 bills- think again. First of all the bills must be printed later than 2006. Larger bills have a stronger exchange rate than smaller bills. As for $100s: depending on the serial number, you would get different rates. A weird world….

We were ready early next morning, just having breakfast and waiting for our pick-up to the boat which would bring us to Gili Trawangan.
The ride to the harbor took about an hour, the traffic was still chaotic and 90% of all vehicles seem to be scooters. Sometimes we would see scooters with up to 4 people riding it: the driver would put a small child (barley able to stand) between his legs, another child behind him and another person behind that. Of course the driver would be the only one to wear a helmet – but only on faster roads. One don’t seem to need a helmet when going under a certain speed (on Cook Islands that speed was 40kph, not sure if it’s the same in Indonesia).

The speedboat to Lombok and the Gilis didn’t seem very speedy to me, but it was fast enough. The trip took about 1.5 hours. Other than a few dolphins on the way nothing much was happening.

The main street of Gili T is about a km in length – and that’s about one fourth or one fifth of the whole island – all around and along the beach!
And back in 2009 I thought Rarotonga was small… ;)
Our hotel was about 400m from the jetty, but the boats are hardly using it and instead just land directly on the shallow beach.

We spent the first day walking up and down the main strip of Gili T and checking out restaurants, bars, diving schools and shops. That means pretty much everything because there is nothing else. Inparticulary there are no motor vehicles. All transport is done by “Cidomo” – or horse/pony cart.
Most restaurants seem to a have a similar menu – and that means an international menu. You can get pizza and pasta, burger, schnitzel, mexican, salads and usually there is a small, cheaper section with local, indonesian food. Prices are between 30.000 Rp and 70.000 Rp (50.000 Rp is about 4,10€ or NZ$ 7,55). Interestingly enough quite a few of those restaurants offer WiFi Internet access. It’s not fast, but it’s usable. I won’t try to upload any pictures though. ;)

Over the next days I was diving, while Babs enjoyed herself getting massages, reading at the pool, sunbathing and snorkeling at the beach.

Diving was really interesting: first of all most dive sites have a strong current so that you are usually drifting and the boat will pick you up wherever you surface at the end of the dive. The underwater world is (very) slowly recovering, but decades of dynamite-fishing destroyed most of the coral and you are basically diving a massive graveyard/junkyard of dead coral and blown-to-pieces rock. The variety of fish and other marine life is still (or again?) astonishing. Many turtles, a few white and black tip reef sharks, rays….. I won’t start on the smaller ones. ;)
My new camera case is working great underwater. Unfortunately my flash (mount) is broken. I’ll need to have it repaired when I’m in Germany. I might be able to use it but it’s not sitting tight on the camera anymore.

2 comments for 'Bali & Gili Trawangan'

    March 3, 2011 | 10:26

    Hi Sebi,
    u have to have a meal at the place – damnt it, can’t remember the name. Take the road, which basically ends at the Jetty pier. Walk inland for about 30m. It’s on the right side, very small. They sell “wraps”, where you can choose different ingredients. Made to order for a buck or so.

    btw. Welcome to Asia! You really wonder about the traffic? Rent a scooter, it’s a hell of fun!


    Andrew Chisholm
    March 7, 2011 | 20:22

    I am sitting and having a quiet laugh about your description of the traffic, it seems so chaotic at first but you become used to it very quickly.

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