Gili Billies - Just over one week in and we're still in 'holiday' mode. And what an amazing place to have a holiday.
We'd initially planned to stay on Gili T for three days to do a spot of diving and chill out. But the lure of this beautiful island, absolutely amazing dive sites, the Advanced PADI qualification and general slow pace of life meant we've stayed for five nights. Of course it's a very touristy island, but 19 metres under water, it's just you and the turtles. That is, until the current starts...
Most of the sites around the Gilis are for drift dives. The morning dives are amazing as the current is 'small to medium'. Perfect visibility, hundreds of clownfish, angel fish, moray eels and turtles. The afternoon dives also sweep you off your feet... literally.
We did our first ever afternoon drift dive at Shark Point, and spent about 20 minutes zooming through the very, very strong current. To help her enjoy it, Nicola pretended she was one of the Aussie turtles riding the current in Finding Nemo.
It didn't work.
Unfortunately, the two of us were swimming slightly higher than our group and found ourselves getting swept further away in a completely separate current. By the time, we'd all managed to kick our way back through the current rollercoaster, we'd missed the turning on the reef and were heading into the Big Blue. Gulp. Luckily the Captain was happy to drop us back in the shallows so we could do it all over again...
James also did his Advanced PADI, with deep, Nitrox, peak buoyancy, night and navigation dives. As Nicola struggles to find her way along a straight road in London, we figured it would better for her to sit that one out.
Two awesome (and now very rich) English guys own and run the Blue Marlin dive centre. The owner, Simon, was the first Westerner to have a Gili address back in the '70s and he held the world record for the deepest dive with a Rebreather at a staggering 170 metres! And his lead instructor, Will. owns the record for the longest dive ever, at 30 hours. And yes, Nicola asked how he ate ("liquid food"), went to the loo ("that's what wetsuits are for") and how wrinkly his skin was when he got out ("very").
Now we've done 'River Deep', we're off to 'Mountain High'. Tomorrow we're catching a local boat to Senaru in mainland Lombok, where we begin our volcano-climbing adventure.