Gili Trawangan – The pictureless post

Unfortunately, Brittany’s awesome canon powershot took the long sleep while in Candi Dasa, so our normal go to carry around camera was done for. The Gili Islands are a series of three islands off the coast of Bali. It’s a harrowing ferry ride, large waves, water soaking the floor and by extension your bags, windows you can’t open because of the constant water flowing in. It’s a hot and stifling journey, one that makes you all the more appreciative when your boat pulls onto a beautiful white sand beach.

[Picture of white sand beach with lots of people trying to get you to stay at their hostel]

Gili Trawangan is basically a strip of dirt road. On one side, almost exclusively dive shops and hostels. On the other side, almost exclusively restaurants with beachside seating. Motorized transport is forbidden on the island, so the only modes of transport are horse drawn carriage and your own legs. Yeah, life is a bit simpler here. We spent about a week and a half here, Brittany’s objective was to get her Rescue Diver certification, which meant for the first time in 6 months, I was apart from Brittany for longer than a bathroom break. I began to realize what a dog must feel like when it’s human goes away as I contemplated tearing apart the hostel and peeing in her shoes. Luckily for me, I found something else I could do in the meantime. I began a freedive certification.

[Picture of a freediver in the deep blue ocean, no tank, monofin, looking into the infinite abyss]


Freediving or skindiving is the practice of diving on a single breath of air. It fascinated me, the concept of being able to go 20 meters and deeper on a single breath of air, terrifying, exhilarating, amazing. As I learned while we were all in the water on the first day, freediving is essentially the practice of deepwater meditation. Freediver’s hearts can slow to under 20 beats a minute when they dive. It’s a rhythmic slow breathing in and out over the course of three minutes which oxygenates your blood, slows your heartrate, and puts you in a relaxed mindset.

[Picture of freedivers relaxing prior to a dive]

With a slow headdown dive, my first time I hit 15 meters. I surfaced and was exhilarated, but kept my breaths slow and calm. The next round of diving I had trouble equalizing. And then I tried again. I grabbed the rope and started to descend the dark waters, pulling myself hand over hand, clearing my airways with each increasing handhold. I could see the end of the rope, knew it was probably at 18 meters, and was anxious to get to the bottom, to look up, to have an elated smile as I saw my classmates above, and resurface. That plan took a startling detour when suddenly I began to hear a loud hissing sound. A mix between the white noise of a TV without it’s antenna, and the crisp pop of a bottle of soda when you twist the cap off.

Suddenly, the long line that I was following to the bottom of the water looked like a snake. The line twisted and writhed. The ocean and the fish surged one way and then the other. Fuck. My eardrum. And that was the end of my freediving career. First day, burst eardrum. Not to get too deep into the science of it, but this would technically be my 3rd rupture. First rupture when I received tubes (also called grommets) as a child to relieve the pain of frequent ear infections. The second, when my dad took my challenge of “You can’t throw me off of thisĀ inner-tube” behind his speed boat, and ruptured both eardrums, and now this. I learned that with each rupture, scar tissue builds up and prevents pressure from being distributed equally, leading to more easily ruptured eardrums in the future.

[Picture of sad Sean]

The rest of the time in the Gili islands, I couldn’t get my head wet at all, including in the shower. Brittany completed her rescue diver course, culminating in a test where she had to save three distressed divers at once. She’s now one step away from getting her Dive Master certification! Wild right? Well, next stop Australia, and unfortunately I can’t dive on the great barrier reef.

Just a few pictures we did actually manage to take


Beauty is fresh Asian Seafood


Almost as many dive shops as places selling Magic Mushrooms (they’re legal here)


Best meal ever. A fantastic grilled tuna steak.


Brittany was feeling photography withdrawals


Fresh seafood in the market. Pick your fish, it’s thrown on the grill and served with rice and vegetables. Fresh, tasty, and cheap, just like I like my….nevermind.


Beautiful photo of a moonlit beac-NOPE


Live music was almost everywhere


Bad picture of the horse drawn “carriages”


It was halloween, my favorite holiday. This guy dressed up like old Greg and seriously made my trip. If you don’t know who he is, congratulations on having a life outside of the internet.


The halloween party reached a fever pitch when the theme from Titanic came on, a bicycle powered parade float came rolling down the street looking like a ship, with two people wearing Leo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet masks and enacted the famous song. It was beautiful.


Our cheap nightmarket

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  1. Sarah says:

    Oh no! I hope your ear drum feels better soon! BTW…tubing is dangerous! I dislocated my finger and fractured in two places because I was hanging on for dear life! That was at the Hot Side Boogie in June….which…sadly to say…you two missed!!!!!!! And no camera….GRRRRRR!!!!

    • Brittany says:

      Oh no! While dangerous it sure is fun!! Haven’t done it in a while, hopefully at the next hotside boogie I can tube :) And yeah camera is boo but I got a new one in New Zealand so we have one now (just didn’t have one for a month or so :(

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