I realize I have been quite MIA since my last post, so I thought I'd get back into things with a story. But not just any story. This is one of my favourite stories from all of my travels (except for the pantsless girl in Bangkok; check out my post May 31, 2016 for the story!). Anyway, let's go back to August 2016 in the Gili Islands. Specifically, Gili Air:

"After securing a spot on a snorkel trip for only 100,000 rupiah ($10CAD), a group of 6 of us made our way down to the beach to get on our boat for our day trip. Right off the bat, things seemed a little off. A boat that was designed to carry 30 people was already carrying 50, and we weren't even on it yet. I remember thinking to myself, "well, this is just Asia", as I had thought to myself so many times before when things seemed a little unconventional.

After a very rocky and unsteady journey, crammed together, holding onto the sides of the boat and each other as an attempt to stay onboard, we finally made it to our first snorkel site. We put on our gear and made our first splash of the day. About 10 minutes into the dive, our guide began to profusely blow into a whistle and yelled "TURTLE!" over and over again. A friend and I swam over and sure enough, there was a turtle gracefully swimming along the ocean floor.

We continued following our guides whistle, tracking the turtle and exploring different parts of the reef. Turns out, it wasn't our guide. We had completely separated from our group and our boat. We began to swim back to what we thought was our boat, but soon realized ours was no where in sight. We looked at each other in a panic, and talked about hopping on a random boat with the hopes they would bring us back. There had to be more than one boat going back to Gili Air, right? And then, a glimmer of hope. We heard our names being called from an approaching boat and we realized our friends had convinced the drivers to circle back for us. But of course they didn't make it easy. Apparently it was too difficult to bring the boat to a complete stop, so we had to move our asses, catch up to the boat, and climb inside all while it was still moving. I'm definitely not the strongest swimmer, and it was completely exhausting. After we got back on the boat we made sure to do another head check of our friend group. Once we knew everyone was accounted for, the laughing fit started. I think the best part about this is the fact that right before we reached the site, my friend and I were discussing "Into the Blue", the movie about the scuba divers that get left behind and attacked by sharks, and how much that would suck. I'll remember to knock on wood next time.

After this adventure, we stopped for lunch on Gili Meno. Of course only the most expensive restaurants on the beach were open for lunch, so we overpaid for less than average fried rice, but again, that's Asia. If overpriced rice helps a local get their commission and make a living, I'm not complaining. We finished our lunch and made our way back to the boat. Now, when we docked at Gili Meno the tide was in. But the sun was beginning to set and the tide had moved out, along with our boat. If you've traveled to the Gili Islands you know that the beaches are more coral than they are sand, so walking back out to our boat was comparable to walking on...well, coral. It was fucking painful. I was one of the few people who ignored island life rules and wore my shoes to lunch, so my trek back to the boat was a little less painful than that of my friends and boat mates. My shoes, along with a few others, were tossed back out to the others in order to ease the pain and speed up the process. All in all, it took about 20 minutes for everyone to finally get back on the boat, feet intact. One of the last people to get on the boat was a friend of mine, and as she approached the back of the boat I noticed she had my shoes along with a look of guilt on her face. She handed them back to me and sure enough the strap had completely snapped off of one of them. My poor, cheap Walmart flip flop couldn't handle the oceans pressure. It was funny until I realized I would have to walk back out on the coral once we returned to Gili Air. Even then, it was still funny. I could paint you a hilarious picture of me trying to hop up to the beach on one foot, swearing every time I lost balance and landed on the sharp coral, but I'll let your mind take that one.

Now, I'd like to say this ridiculous day ended there. A boat mix up, a broken shoe, and a bad sunburn (which was obtained after I opted out of snorkelling because I was exhausted from SWIMMING AFTER A MOVING BOAT), but the story doesn't end there. Upon return from our snorkel trip, we scouted the island for flip flops. I, being a tiny human, have tiny feet and most of the shoes we found were way too big. So we gave up, called it a day, and I partied in bare feet that night.

The next morning I woke up to the consequences of my actions with a nasty hangover and some cut up feet. We finished breakfast and I decided to look in one more shop for a pair of flip flops before we got ready to head over to Gili T (which, by the way, had SO MANY SHOES), because I was fed up with having hot, blistered, torn up feet. We entered the little shop across the dirt road and I immediately saw a pair by the register and tried them on. They fit perfectly. I asked the lady how much the were and she told me that they were her flip flops, but that she would sell them to me for 30,000 rupiah, about $3 CAD. I told her I couldn't buy her shoes, but she insisted that she had many more pairs and proceeded to show me a pair of torn up slippers on her feet. She smiled and continued to insist that it was no problem. I paid her 50,000 rupiah and told her to keep the change. For 5 Canadian dollars, that local woman made a sacrifice and showed the utmost kindness to a whiny tourist, and that moment flipped my entire perspective. It was a complete reality check that I was definitely in need of after the previous days experiences, and for the rest of my time in Indonesia whenever I felt aggravated or irritated with the situation, I thought of that moment and I was instantly brought back to pure gratitude".

This is one of my favourite stories from that trip because it's so much "travel" in such a short amount of time. By that I mean the things that you can only truly experience when you travel: questionable safety standards, confused and ignorant backpackers, a lack of supplies and kind locals. It's one of those things that while it's happening you feel out of sorts, but you know you're going to be laughing about it later, and I'm definitely laughing about it now. It's one of my favourite stories to tell with fellow travellers because almost all of them have gone through something similar. For the love of backpacking.

Caylie Smith

Not Your Average

If you have any suggestions for posts you'd like to see from me, please drop a line below! Happy travels friends!

"Whatever is good for your soul, do that"

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