The ride from Ekas to the little boat launch was dotted with Monkeys, framed with sweeping jungle views and broken up with a quick stop for what turned out to be some delicious sate. We left the kite bags at our drivers house so we were left with a classy rag tag assortment of shopping bags overflowing with snorkels and sand toys. A stunning winding ride through lush jungle with steep sides overlooking the sparkling blue waters. We arrived at the harbour – which was just a little jetty shooting out beside a pearl farm. It’s a fifteen minute speed boat ride from Lombok to Gili Trawangan and three minutes into our ride just past the pearl farm and into the open water the boat stopped to refuel. The “second mate” opened the gas cover and pulled it out unscrewed the top grabbed an other huge plastic Jerry can and proceeded to siphon the gas from one to the other. Chris had to politely ask the “captain” to cut the engine while this was going on. Nothing blew up and we went on our way.
We pulled right up onto the beach on Gili Trawangan eschewing the jetty. The captain and the first mate carried our bags to the top of the beach. There are no motorized vehicles on the island only bicycles and horse drawn carriages called cidomos. The carriages bump over the cracked cobblestone roads using small clown horns to warn pedestrians and bikes. Many also have small bells on their harnesses giving an incongruous Christmasy sound making me think, “Santa?!!” Every time one rumbles past.
Our little Christmas carriage is jammed to the rafters with our bags and our bodies. It’s drops us at The Trawangan Resort where we find we have rented a villa! It’s a little closed in compound with three rooms opening on to a private pool and terrace with loungers, a large covered pagoda with pillows and padded floor and a small bistro table. There are outdoor bathrooms off of the bedrooms. Yes two bedrooms! It all seems very posh and the kids are bouncing around and super excited. We order dinner to our room since we have a nice table and our own pool. Unfortunately the food is not that yummy but that will get us out and about for dinners.
The next morning Anderson starts his padi certification and we have a lazy breakfast at the vegan cafe next to the dive school.
Gili T is known as the party island and there are all the trappings. Bars with beer pong tables set and ready to go at 8am. Many happy hours everywhere. It’s strange to see everyone walking around in bare feet and bathing suits not covered up while the call to prayer rings out – it seems Gili T is it’s own little place. We sped our days cycling around and meeting Anderson for lunch and then dropping him back off for his afternoon dives. There are day trips that can be booked to snorkel or dive but we are helmed in with Sabine and Anderson’s schedule so we tour about, looking for snorkelling spots off the beaches. Interestingly enough we meet Edmontonians twice both times at dinner. Strange having almost no Canadians around and the two we meet are from my home town.
Chris and I each get to take a dive with Anderson on the final two days. It’s pretty crazy seeing him all geared up and so cute watching him do his safety check with his instructor. Of course with the new certification he has become a stickler of all the rules and regulations surrounding diving and PADI. He is convinced that Chris and I are not still certified because PADI requires recertification every six months. He behaves with the zealot of the newly converted.
The day we dive is very windy with crashing waves on the beach in front of our hotel. The boat ride to the dive site is quick but very wavy – in channel between Gili T and Gili Air and the swell is pretty big. The dive is beautiful – lots of fish to see and some lovely coral, mostly I watch Anderson and repeatedly check in to see if he is okay. We also circle a small wreck – usually not my preference but this was a platform and was covered with coral and holes you could see fish darting in and out of. The ride back was equally waving and it took the captain a few tries to get us to the beach successfully and then it was a mad scramble to leap from the boat before the next wave slammed in. This started a little niggle of worry in my stomach thinking about our small boat crossing the next day. Especially after a local waiter exclaimed wow it’s really windy today. After all the reading about fast boats between Bali and Lombok sinking our little motor boat seemed like it would be a bath tub toy. Chris down played it and I thought if it’s not safe the boat won’t go right?
For our last night we decided to ride across the island to the sunset side for dinner on the beach. It was a beautiful, bumpy and mostly peaceful ride through the centre of the island. Passing hostels, cell service kiosks, waryngs and corner stores. Anderson taking little jumps and all of us occasionally moving over for the cidomos. The ride turned out to be a little longer than I had remembered. No doubt this was due to the intensely uncomfortable bike seat. Apparently Anderson lost his desire to bike as well beginning to question repeatedly.” Can we go home now can we go home now?”. And so began another in our series of tense dinners while we try to placate and disarm Anderson and he tries his best to make us want to toss him into the ocean or bury him in the sand. Chris is unerringly patient while I stay quiet and calm myself with meditations in how angry children are hurt children and how he must really be frustrated, sad, lonely and bored to be behaving this way. Sometimes these meditations boomerang around to angry admonishments ringing in my head – we are trying to give you so much you ungrateful ingrate. Tonight he is particularly mad because we brought him out for dinner with nothing to entertain him – Chris’s knee was bothering him so he didn’t want to wrestle. I mean there is a whole beach and ocean….. at least the sunset was stunning. After we get back to the villa and settle the kids into bed we sit by the pool to try and strategize and understand why and what else we can do.
The next morning I am extra tense about the boat trip – the wind is still up and the waves are still crashing. My tension is driving Chris and Anderson crazy. I mean I really wish I could relax but 1. I am a crazy person/perpetual over worrier.
2. I do not really understand the waves and the danger – they look big – our much bigger boat was getting tossed around yesterday and couldn’t land.
3. I spent from 3am onwards googling safety issues crossing between Lombok and Gili T so I have read many many accounts – mainly about unseaworthy vessels, over crowding and not enough life jackets.
4 We are in Indonesia where safety standards are visibly lower.
The funny thing is that I thought I was hiding it well. We set off – with our luggage on the cidomo and us on bikes. We get back to our beach launch and the little boat is there bobbing happily away. The captain and crew of two bring it to shore and hurl our luggage inside and we scramble in well to be fair I scramble and lose my flip flop in the waves which further annoys Anderson – Chris at this point has just settled into “let’s get through it and if I don’t acknowledge it or give credence to it it will pass”. Finally we are off – I ask about life jackets and they smile and nod. I ask if we can have a life jacket at least for the kids they say they do not have kid sizes. At this point we are well on our way speeding along and skipping over the waves that in fact are not big. It turns out to be smoother than our ride over – all that worry for nothing which seems to be the general case.