The Sockeyed Blog

Ben Johnson's Blog

Classic Rock and Cuttlefish

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The advantage of sitting and typing inside our bungalow is that avoids having to hear Hotel California one more time. Gili Trawangan’s musical catalogue must consist of a single CD of 70s and 80s classics that washed up on the beach some years ago and was copied and shared among every bar. It’s tragic and aurally numbing.

Thank god you can’t hear music underwater as that’s where we’ve been for much of the last two days. Yesterday was two boat dives with Manta Dive. After a terrible night’s sleep in our very hot bungalow (the fan didn’t seem to penetrate the mosquito net and there was no breeze through the place) but a decent breakfast of banana pancakes and Lombok coffee (sweet and served in a teapot), we walked the ten minutes to the dive place. A wait while they located all the tanks they needed, and we were off in our outrigger boat to Manta Point. It was a great dive among excellent fan, staghorn and brain coral. Fish highlights were two cuttlefish, titan triggers, moorish idols, shaded batfish and many angels. Our dive master was Hermann, an Indonesian guy, very relaxed.

Back on the island we had lunch at Coco – baguette sandwiches and excellent iced cappuccino.

The afternoon’s dive was even better – to Hann’s Reef off the east coast of Gili Air, about a 20 minute boat ride away. It was a sandy dive teeming with life: cuttlefish, numberous lionfish, turtles, damsel fish, mantis shrimp, frogfish, a purple swirly juvenile emperor angel fish, a sea cucumber and a blue spotted stingray, hiding in the sand until he was coaxed to swim away – beautiful! A large pinnacle half-way through provided a great vista upward to hundreds of fish, the first sight here that’s really reminded me of Sipadan. A excellent dive.

After a shower and some relaxing at Tanah Qita, we went for dinner at the farther south part of the ‘strip’, to an Indian restaurant called Pesona. We sat right by the water in a small pondok-like structure. The food was very nice: potato cumin curry, tandoori vegetables and paneer, creamy raita and lemon rice.

After leaving the front and back doors of our bunglow open and catching some of the cross breeze, and putting in ear plugs (mostly because of the cockerels and the mosque), we slept much better last night although I still felt a bit groggy today.

By 8am we were snorkelling on the beach right across from the bungalows. The snorkelling was not far off of the dives in quality. The water was crystal clear and the coral in great condition and dramatic. The fish were much of what we’d seen, but also included needlefish and a very large solitary pufferfish just relaxing in a sandy area. All of this just meters off of the shore and continuing great distances north and south.

The middle of the day was devoted to checking out of Tanah Qita and moving down the road to the Manta Bungalows which, bless them, have air con. Yes, we are wimpy, pampered folks and are luxuriating in our mid-20s cool air. The layout is much the same, with a peaked roof and curving walls, a front porch leading out to a garden and a back door leading to an enclosed open-air private shower and bathroom area.

(As I write this there is a strange discordant cacophony between the mosque’s call to prayer and the bass lines from classic rock along the beach).

Mid-day was characterized by reading (both of us working our way through Neal Stephenson novels), another iced cappuccino at Coco, then a later lunch of quite tasty mee goreng at another beachside place, made a bit less pleasant by a small but obnoxious swarm of flies.

We snorkelled again in the later afternoon, a bit further south on the beach. Visibility was not quite as good, my mask leaked, there were gaggles of small jellyfish, and Kristi lost her snorkel (getting out of the water somehow), but we saw some good stuff including a black and white-striped sea snake, a turtle snacking on coral, a picasso fish and an enormous titan triggerfish tearing chunks out of the coral while a group of smaller reef fish looked on, probably waiting for tasty morsels.

The sunset from the top of the island’s single hill was a non-event, unfortunately. I imagine that it can be spectacular as it sets right over Bali’s volcanoes, but as usual, they were socked in. Ah well, it was an interesting walk through the local village and up the dry dusty hill among numerous goats, some chickens and a cow or two. Views down on the developed part of town were good, as were those on the large breakers rolling in from the west.

Time to think about dinner.

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Written by sockeyed

November 9, 2008 at 01:10

Posted in Travel

Tagged with , , , ,

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