Hanging in Gili Air

13 September 2010

We last wrote from Labuan Bajo, just prior to heading into Komodo on our hunt for dragons. We went to the island of Rincha, and spotted a dragon before we'd even anchored the boat! They are funny creatures, as you'll see from the highly professional photo – they walk slowly and flip their feet out sideways and don't look as if they could break into a sprint. They are, however, capable of running at speed for a short period and their bite is deadly. With our friends from Suspence and Red Boomer II we spent two afternoons sitting very quietly (not easy with 7 children) waiting for the dragons to appear. There were also monkeys and deer. The anchorage was beautiful and quiet, being one of the few spots where there is no village. We all did plenty of hill walking and kayaking – perfect. From then we went to a fantastic spot called Gili Lawa ('gili' means 'island') where we anchored in the clearest water I have ever seen. The snorkelling was fantastic, walking excellent and we had several fires on the beach, including a late Fathers' Day party for the 7 fathers in the anchorage at that time. It was very hard to drag ourselves away.

After Gili Lawa, at the top of Komodo, we had four days of heading West along the top of Sumbawa before getting to our present stop at Gili Aer, just off Lombok. Sumbawa is an unknown territory, being not on the cruising or tourist schedule. It is a large, somewhat bleak island, and we only stopped for overnight stays. There has been hardly any wind and we've had to motor for most of the time – not our favourite means of travel. It will be the same throughout much of Malaysia and Thailand, so we'd better get used to it. Buying diesel over here is an interesting exercise. The guys who arrive on local boats in every anchorage fetch diesel, water, beer, eggs – anything you need, really. Since the start of the Komodo region they also sell wooden carvings, pearls and sarongs and are fierce businessmen.

We arrived in Gili Air yesterday and are having a lovely time. It is a perfect holiday island, with little restaurants on the beach, dive boats and a laid-back feel. In every other place there have been motor bikes and small trucks but here there are bicycles and horses and carts. There are lots of Western tourists so nobody takes any notice of our entourage, much to the kids' relief. On our first day here yesterday we went in for lunch with our friends and were gone all day. The island has many people offering pearls and jewellery for sale at ridiculous prices. Scott bought me a lovely necklace of offset pearls and we worked out later that it had cost $16 !! Every time we've eaten out up to now we've had nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) and fish or chicken, but here there are many Western-style foods too and all very affordable. Great pineapples and watermelons too, so both the boys are happy. Today we sat on cushions under a bamboo hut drinking passable coffee whilst the kids swam in front of us. Not too hard to take.


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