Have you ever wanted to get out of LA, leaving La Cienega Boulevard far behind? Have you ever wanted to disappear onto a tiny sun-drenched island in the tropics, a sleepy refuge from urban despair, a secret place where you don’t have to see anyone unless you want to and everyone already knows to leave you alone, where a breezy bungalow doesn’t cost a bloody fortune and you can eat well for less than twenty dollars a day, a quiet spot under shady palm trees where you can meditate, or write, or loaf, hide from the world, or create strange art works along the beach?
Gili Meno is the paradise for you.
The day before we planned to depart Gili Trawangan and return to Bali, we decided to explore the tiny neighboring island of Gili Meno, the smallest of the three Gili islands. I had already poked around on the middle island, Gili Air, for a few hours and don’t recommend it. Gili Air is not as pretty and laid back as Gili Meno or as fun and silly as Gili Trawangan.
Twice a day a boat leaves Gili Tee and makes the circuit of the three islands. You can take the morning boat outbound and come back on the afternoon boat. Trip time, about half an hour, trip cost about four bucks. These water taxis can be crowded with tourists, but most of them are going to get off at the first stop, Gili Air. These tourists, by the way, are from Australia, Scandinavia, the British Isles, France, Germany, Holland, Canada and just about everywhere else in the western world—except the United States. The entire time we spent in the Gilis, we did not meet one other American—not one.
Be sure to wear sandals or flip flops. The boat gets near the shore and then you wade in. But, after you get ashore, change your footwear to walking or running shoes, as I did, and CJ did not, to her regret. These islands are sandy, quite unpleasant to get sand between your sandal straps and the top of your tender feet. Blisters.
We decided to begin our day on Gili Meno by walking around the island. In fact, the major activities on Meno are eating, drinking, sleeping, swimming, and getting a sun tan. Walking is considered an extreme sport. We picked a likely little road that promised to cut across the island’s interior.
The first thing we noticed was how the road and everything along it was well-kept, pristine in fact.
Even the hand-made fences were lovely.
By and by we came upon a few bungalows that were almost ready for guests.
We were surprised by this beautiful, and atypical, home. Perhaps it belonged to the island big shot, as each of the Gilis was reputed to have it’s own “Don.”
Right in the middle of the island we came upon this attractive mosque. Like Trawangan, Gili Meno is Muslim.
My most pleasant encounter was with a beautiful Gili girl I met walking down the road.
After a delightful twenty minute stroll, we emerged on the other side of the island to see our Gili Trawangan home across the channel.
The road turned north and we followed it around the circumference of the island.
Along the northern coast we discovered a series of serene little resorts, each one accommodating perhaps a dozen guests. These happy establishments are the place to go. There are no pretentious hotels on Gili Meno. Oh there was one attempt to build one. It’s now an eerie, haunted shell. Kinda creepy in fact. CJ did not like it at all!
We walked around the island in about and hour. What to do now? “Let’s walk around it again,” said CJ after rinsing the grit from her sandals. We picked different roads and headed out again. Maybe this excursion doesn’t sound very exciting, but I will tell you this, we were in an ecstatic state on Meno, a heightened, alert, giddy consciousness. Our day on Meno was one of the best, most fun times we had on our vacation.
After our second circuit of the tiny island, we changed into our swimming suits, snorkeled along the reef right off shore, had lunch in a open air restaurant, shady and cooled by the trade winds. We relaxed with our tea and coffee and waited for the boat to ferry us back to Gili Tee.
Los Angeles? Never heard of it.
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