Archive for January 28th, 2012

January 28, 2012

Indonesian Grand Tour Part 1: Scuba Diving and Fine Dining in Gili Trawangan

by Tabitha Kidwell

I am very lucky to have an extended mid-semester break from January 12, when I finished giving speaking exams, to February 27, when classes start up again. I should be planning classes for the upcoming semester, but I figured I could do that even if I wasn’t in Salatiga, so I’m using the time to see a lot of the Archipeligo! I started with the trip with my mom that I described in the last post, then took a 4-hour “speed boat” to Gili Trawangan, an island off of Lombok, the island just east of Bali. Lombok is often touted as “the next Bali” thanks to it’s comparable beauty and relatively undeveloped status. The Gili Islands, three little specks of land off the northwest corner, are long-established tourist destinations, though the absence of cars and motorbikes makes them seem quiet and peaceful compared to the bustle of Bali.

I met up with my friend Megan Lennon, who is also an English Language Fellow here, and who is an avid scuba diver. As in, she has done, like, 275 dives in the last 16 months. I hadn’t ever really thought about scuba diving before, but she talked it up so much that I thought it was worth a try. I signed up for the open-water class, which takes three full days. The first morning, we suited up and practiced skills like clearing our mask and finding our regulator, and, you know, breathing underwater. That afternoon was our first dive. Trying to stay as a group with 12 inexperienced divers was a little hectic, but otherwise, it was amazing! I was mesmerized by everything there was to see underwater! Fish, coral, plants, rocks, trash, whatever, everything is cooler underwater! I loved it and couldn’t wait to come back for the second day.

We spent the second morning in the pool again getting familiar with the equipment and procedures. That afternoon, we headed out in a much nicer group of 4 to practice in the real ocean. I felt a lot more comfortable this time, and was able to just enjoy being underwater, though I still had some trouble clearing my ears and staying at the right buoyancy. There’s just a lot to get used to. By the third day, I felt pretty confident and really enjoyed our morning and afternoon dives that day. And then I was declared an officially certified open water scuba diver, meaning I can go diving to a depth of 18 meters if accompanied. So, the next day, that is exactly what I did – Megan and I went out in a “buddy” team for my first dives! We had a great time, and I did a fairly good job of avoiding “newbie” mistakes like using up my air too fast, kicking sand up all over the place, or bumping into coral.

So now that I am a “scuba diver,” I’m starting to look at traveling totally differently! There are so many incredible places to dive in indonesia, and I’m starting to make plans to get there. I can’t wait to explore the 71.1% of the earth’s surface that I have been missing!

When above water, Megan and I also had a great time! Of the three Gili Islands, Trawangan is known as the “party island.” While we didn’t exactly relive college spring break, we did have some delicious food and beverages on our evening strolls – there were good restaurants serving every kind of ethnic cuisine!

Megan was happy because there was diet coke:

I was happy because there were tapas:

And we were both happy to see the sunset on our last evening.

All in all, a great 6 days on Gili Trawangan – and in the surrounding ocean! A great kick-off to my mid-semester travels!