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Overcoming my Biggest Fear and Snorkelling with Sea Turtles on Gili Trawangan

July 17, 2018

Overcoming my Biggest Fear and Snorkelling with Sea Turtles on Gili Trawangan

July 17, 2018

I’ve mentioned it several times on my blog now, but when I was much younger, I was scared of everything. From driving through the countryside to thunderstorms, I pretty much lived in a little bubble where I didn’t do anything I thought was too dangerous.

Fast forward to now and I’m slowly starting to face each and everyone one of my fears, with a few of them conquered for sure (I now love driving through the country and thunderstorms fascinate me, especially lightening!) and plenty I need to conquer still.

One I’ve really struggled with, other than heights, is open sea water and going on a boat. In fact, until my recent trip to Bali I don’t think I’d every managed to go on a boat on open sea. I’d had plenty of opportunity to (like the speed boats in Llandudno or the boat tour in the Algarve), but always chose to stay on dry land where I was safe. To me, going on a boat was one of the scariest things I could do.

Now, when we booked our Gili T hotel I knew for a fact I wouldn’t be able to get there without going on a boat, as it was on an island nearby. I frantically researched everything I could about journey, so I didn’t come across any surprises along the way. Obviously that didn’t work and the whole experience was the complete opposite of what I read, but once my nerves had calmed down I felt quite relaxed being at sea with my headphones in.

Because we were on a big boat.

I was expecting something much smaller, however the size of the boat meant we couldn’t really feel how rocky the waters were and the whole journey was pretty smooth. I’m not going to go into too much detail about our time at Gili T as I’ve written that in another post, but the main purpose of this post was to talk about snorkeling.

We only stayed on the island one night, so just before we went for dinner we made sure we left ourselves time to go snorkeling.

Swimming with sea turtles has been on my bucket list since I knew what one was, but due to my fear I’d written it off as something that was never going to happen.

I knew that there were a few different options to snorkel in Bali, including going on a guided tour and hiring the equipment yourself and heading out into the water. Short on both time and money, we decided to hire our own equipment and head into the sea.

I’d been preparing for the moment for weeks so when I walked into the sea I wasn’t really that scared. I love swimming, so I just pretended it was like going in a pool, just much shallower.

Fighting against the flippers I was wearing I started to walk further and further out, but the water wasn’t getting any deeper. I could see where the ‘deep’ water was but it was so far away I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get back if my knee was to lock up, so I copied the girls who were sitting in the water with their heads under.

Next came the scary part – using the snorkeling mask. As soon as I put it on I started to panic and because I couldn’t breathe through my nose it meant I struggled to breathe at all. As I was sitting down in the water to be able to go under the waves were pulling me an I was knocking my legs on the rocks, cutting them every time. I kept opening my mouth to breathe which obviously meant that I was swallowing sea water, which made me choke. Basically, I was a mess.

I felt ridiculous for panicking over something so small, especially when the water was only waist high, but in the end I gave up and went back to the shore without seeing any turtles.

When the girls came back they mentioned that they hadn’t seen any turtles either, so they tour company suggested we book a boat tour for tomorrow. We mentioned that we had to be at the harbour for 9.30, so he said if we went on a private tour at 7am, we’d make it to the harbour for 9. As it was only going to cost us £10 each and meant we would stop off at three snorkeling locations, we decided to go for it. Obviously I was panicking as I could see the size of the boat behind us, but I didn’t want to stop the others doing something so incredible.

That night I spent his entire night panicking. I messaged my boyfriend, family, friends and asked Instagram for advice on how to calm my nerves but none of it was making me feel like I could get on the boat that morning, let alone jump in the open sea water. In my head, I knew the way back to the harbour so worst case scenario I could have walked there alone.

The next morning we got up VERY early and headed straight out the door, knowing we were going to jump into water meant getting ready was much quicker than I would have liked, as I wasn’t feeling mentally prepared. We made the short walk to the boat and before I knew it, it was now or never.

Due to our time constraints I didn’t have much time to think so I got on the boat and sat down hoping for the best. On such a tiny boat you could feel EVERYTHING and to begin with I was so so scared. Once the engine was on it was a little bit smoother, which made me feel better for all of three minutes because it was time to jump in the water.

The guides stopped the engine and we put on our snorkeling gear, ready to jump in. I opted to have a life jacket as I knew that I’d panic and go under if I didn’t have one, and at least this way I could keep my head above water if I was panicking. Ashton and Tamzin jumped in first, but I couldn’t even get on the edge.

The fear was far too much that I sat back down, telling myself I’d wait on the boat until we got to the harbour.

A few minutes later I decided to try again, and so I pushed myself off the boat and into the water. I could hear Ashton screaming that she’d found some turtles so I swam over to her, put my mask on and stuck my head under water to see two turtles happily swimming around us.

I couldn’t believe it – I WAS SWIMMING WITH TURTLES. ACTUAL TURTLES. In all the excitement I lost them, so swam back to the boat for a bit of peace of mind. I stayed in the water so I could keep going under whenever I felt comfortable, but being by the boat was reassuring.

After we had swam around for a little while longer, we got back onto the boat to go to our next location. I actually didn’t expect getting on the boat to be so hard, but after doing it three times I had so many bruises from pushing myself up. Not to mention I can’t lift my own weight, so I needed a bit of help from the guys on the boat.

The second spot on our tour was the under water statues. I’d seen these on Instagram a million times, so to see them was so so exciting. As soon as I was brave enough to jump in again, I put my head under and the view was like nothing I’ve seen before. Not only were there fish swimming all around us, but the statues were breathtaking – I could have stayed there for hours.

This spot gave me a bit more time to work out to use my mask properly, and by the time we got back on the boat I was comfortable putting my head underwater for minutes at a time, as well as feeling more confident away from the boat. 

The third and final location was the blue coral reef, where the water was much choppier. The girls suggested I jump in first and I am so glad I did because by the time Tamzin went to jump of the boat it was rocking so much I thought she was going to go flying while sitting on the edge!

When we were all in the water we had about ten minutes to swim around and see all the stunning blue coral. Lots of it was losing its colour which was really sad to see, but to watch the marine life swimming around us was absolutely fascinating.

Before I knew it we were being called back to the boat to make it to the harbour in time.

On the short journey to the harbour I was feeling incredibly high on the fact I’d just started to conquer a fear, crossed something off my bucket list and had one of the most amazing experiences ever.

It’s definitely shown me that sometimes I just need to breathe, take it one step at a time and try to conquer my fears. If I hadn’t have got on that boat when I was too scared, I’d never have been able to experience one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I don’t want to miss out anymore… 

Kirsty Leanne

xoxo

I'M KIRSTY LEANNE

My mission is simple. I want to help change the way travel looks, showing both brands and society that plus size people really do travel too. In a community where plus size travellers are made to feel unwelcome, I want to inspire and advise people like me on how they can make the most out of their own incredible travel experiences.Join me as I share my own personal experiences, my best tips and tricks and all of the challenges I face along the way. It won’t always be an easy ride, but it sure as hell will be a fun one.

Working together, we can change the way that travel looks today

WHAT TO EXPECT

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  • AD | GIFTED 💙 It’s not very often I post a photo of myself looking so serious, but apparently my new hair gives me all kind of sass I didn’t know I had 😂🙌🏻
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Today has consisted of lots of content writing work, recording interviews for the Plus Size Travel Too podcast and packing most of my things ready for America. Just a couple of bits to buy tomorrow and I SHOULD be ready to go next week ✈️🇺🇸
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If there is anything that should on my America packing list (either Trek America or Walt Disney World), let me know now so I don’t forget it. And yes, before anyone says, I do have my passport 😂😇
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❤️ Smock dress gifted from @boohoo
📸 @unwrittenchloee #plussizefashion #psootd #plussizeootd #plussize #psbloggers #ootd
  • AD | GIFTED ✨ So, I did a thing 💇🏼‍♀️ After leaving my hair 14 MONTHS without a cut, I finally got to the point where it was in such bad condition, it needed a major revamp to look healthy again 😭
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I haven’t had short hair since I was in secondary school, so naturally I was scared to have to have so much off - especially as I would use my hair as a bit of a security blanket when taking photos. I’m still not *100%* in love with, but my hair feels much healthier and I’m definitely feeling a little more confident 👏🏻🙌🏻
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❤️ Jumpsuit gifted from @dorothyperkins
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  • AD | PRESS TRIP ✨ It feels like forever since I was wandering around Palma, when I reality it’s only been six weeks. Although I love travelling, it has definitely been nice to have some time at home to work on some of the amazing things that are coming you way (or that have already launched since the time of this trip) 👏🏻
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I have so many plans for both kirstyleanne.com and Plus Size Travel Too But I know if I do too much at once I’ll probably burn out. I think sometimes I forget that I have a full time freelance content writing position alongside my blog, as I seem to think I can do everything all at once. As amazing as I’d like to think I am, am definitely not super woman 🤦🏼‍♀️
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I don’t actually know what the point of this caption is anymore so I guess what you can take from this is that more exciting things are coming, but I don’t know when 😂 #plussizetraveltoo #plussizetravel #plussize #plussizetraveller #travel #presstrip
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📸: @brogantatexo
  • Counting down the days until I’m at the beach again (It’s 21, in case you were wondering) ✈️🇺🇸☀️
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I hope you’re all excited because although things are a little quiet around here lately, I’m off on my next adventure in 10 DAYS. On the 22nd of May, me and my brother are flying to New York for 2 days before we start the Trek America Atlantic Dream tour. ❤️
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The tour will take us to some incredible places, including Washington, Philadelphia, Shenandoah, Ocoee, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Destin Beach and Orlando. Once we reach Orlando, we’ll be staying for 8 whole days where we’ll be going to Disney, Universal and the Kennedy Space Centre. .
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This is my biggest trip yet and to say I’m incredibly excited is an understatement. SOMEONE PLEASE GET ME ON THAT PLANE NOW ✈️💙 #Travel #travelbloggers #tbloggers #travelblogging #tblogger #travelphotography #travelgram
  • Without realising, it’s been two weeks since I posted to my Instagram feed. Whilst I had VERY good intentions to post every day like usual, work definitely got in the way. 😭🤦🏼‍♀️
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Whilst I love working for myself, preparing for three weeks ‘out of office’ has meant I’m working double time every day in order to fund my huge trip AND the bills I usually have to cover with my day day to earnings. If there was one thing I would say I miss about employment, it’s holiday pay. 😂
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Since I disappeared a few weeks ago, I guess a FEW exciting things have happened. So, here’s a little catch up: ✈️ I booked flights to California with @fordtography in January 2020. I haven’t been back since I lived there in 2012, so I’ll am SO SO excited. 📸 I bought a new camera and I can’t wait to get some shots with it soon! 🇺🇸 It’s now only 18 days until America and I honestly can’t believe it’s nearly here. Can it be 22nd May already? 🙌🏻 I’ve pitched some AMAZING collaborations with brands for my trip and managed to tick FOUR of my dream brands to work off my list in the space of a few days. Oh my god.
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Okay, I think that’s all for now. What have you all been up to the last few weeks? Tell me everything! 👀 #plussizetravel #plussizetraveltoo #plussizetravelling #fatgirlstravelling #travelinclusivity #fatgirlstraveltoo
  • AD | GIFTED 💙 So far today I have managed to try baking a cake without turning the oven on, put beef in the slow cooker without plugging it in (at least five hours ago) and have rubbed my eyes after cutting hot chilli peppers. At least bad things only come in threes right? I think it might be time to give up and relax with all of my Easter chocolate 😂🍫
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On a completely different note, how gorgeous is the dress from @joanieclothing? It’s perfect for this incredible heatwave we’re having - especially with a pair of chub rub shorts underneath. The plus size holy grail 🙌🏻 #joaniegal #joaniegals #psfashion #psblogger #psbloggers
  • Bosnia is one of those countries that really surprised me when I visited. I knew Mostar would be beautiful, but as were driven from Croatia and through Bosnia, I couldn’t take my eyes off the road the entire time. From the stunning mountains to fascinating fruit farms, it definitely made the long drive (and multiple border control stops) worth it ❤️🇧🇦
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Although I only spent a couple of hours in Bosnia and Mostar, I definitely want to go back to explore more of this beautiful country. ✈️
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What country surprised you the most?
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#bosnia #visitbosnia #mostar #bosniaandherzegovina #visitmostar
  • After a very late night waiting to watch Game of Thrones, I’ve definitely had a slow start this morning - I can’tbelieve there are only five episodes left! I’m really not ready for some of my favourites to die🐺⚔️❄️
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If you watch, who do you think will end up the Iron Throne? 👑 #got #gameofthrones #winteriscoming #forthewatch #allmenmustdie
  • AD | GIFTED 🌼 Don’t mind me, just pretending I’m at Coachella this weekend instead of working ✌🏻
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Festival season is well and truly underway and I’m loving all of the out there outfits already. In the past I’ve always been put off dressing up for festivals as I thought I wouldn’t find anything that’s both comfortable and fashionable in my size, but this year I’m spoilt for choice (especially on the @prettylittlething @prettylittlethingplus website 👏🏻)
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P.S. I think this is my *favourite* photo of me ever 🙌🏻
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❤️ Dress gifted from Pretty Little Thing
❤️ Shoes gifted from Pretty Little Thing ❤️ Headband bought from @primark #plussizefashion #psbloggers #plussizebloggers #plussizefestivalfashion #festivalfashion #festivallook

FOLLOW MY ADVENTURE

PLUS SIZE TRAVEL TOO COMMUNITY

  • ✈ PLUS SIZE TRAVEL PROBLEMS PT 1 ✈
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Although I talk a lot about the problems plus size people face when they travel, I wanted to go that one step further and show it in a way that would make EVERYONE want to listen. With such a long list of images I wanted to create, a couple of months ago I hired an incredible designer (@creatiffy_) to help create them for me. She has done an INCREDIBLE job, as I feel they really get across how we may feel when we're travelling  even if we don't say it outloud. Whether it's being worried you won't fit on a ride or awkwardly laughing off that a tray table doesn't fit, deep down we're thinking something completely different to what we may be saying or doing.
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So, whether you're plus size and you can relate to these images or you're straight size and you want to help bring attention to the #plussizetraveltoo campaign, I would LOVE it if you could share this post far and wide. Tag your friends, post on your stories or even send them over direct message. Thank you so so much ❤
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PT 2 COMING NEXT WEEK 🙌🏻
  • @glamazondiaries looks AMAZING on her recent trip to Hawaii. PS. We’re just 50 away from 1k - can we get there this week? 💙✈️
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Changing the way Travel looks ❤️✈️
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