Mention of our trip to Gili Meno always invokes memories of quiet, clean beaches and a relaxed pace of life that I sometimes miss, living in KL. We were exhausted after a year of work, school, study and the haze; we needed to get away. I’m not sure how I discovered Gili Meno, but I had heard that the Gilis were the place to go.
We flew to Lombok and had a couple of action packed days scouring the island. From Lombok, we decided to take the public ferry from Bangsal Harbour. Stupidly, we assumed the ferry would leave on time – of course it didn’t – it leaves when it’s full, and we missed it, which left us in a precarious position of being stranded on a beach full of fishing boats and locals looking to make some tourist dollars. We were ripe for the picking.
We were taken by surprise by the noise and the commotion as men grabbed at our children and bags. We stood trying to work out which to tackle first, getting the kids back or the bags. Luckily for us our taxi driver stepped in and spirited us all to a private ferry – self appointed porters and bags in tow. Feeling a little outnumbered, we managed to retrieve our bags and our children, and got off the beach looking like we had been caught in a tornado. That was the beginning and the end of the high drama. From then on in, it was plain sailing and fair weather.
Gili Meno is the ideal place to unwind. No jet skis or para sailing, but if that is your thing, look to Gili Trawangan, I hear that’s the party isle. The only modes of transport are horse and cart, bicycle, or as my mother would say, shanks’ pony (walking). This means less noise, less pollution and much less speed. The island is small enough to walk around, and while the landscape may not be lush and the trees small, it seemed to fit the feeling of openness and tranquility on the island. A perfect option for this family.
We spent our time meandering around the island, snorkelling from the beach or taking a local fishing boat to snorkel with turtles. We plonked ourselves down at one of the beach side warungs, which came equipped with deck chairs and cabanas, and would lull the day away. This was also the perfect option for lunch and dinner. The food was super fresh, simple and delicious, and of course, the beer and lime juice always cold. We did venture off on one occasion for a pizza at one of the hotels further down the beach, but generally we stayed clear of the small cluster of stylish beach side hotels and accompanying restaurants. The local food is not to be sniffed at, especially considering you are eating fresh fish for a fraction of the price of here in KL.
The sunsets are breathtaking, the ocean is crystal clear and the white sandy beaches are clean. As for the locals, they are gentle and relaxed. It wasn’t long before we knew everyone on our borrowed strip of paradise, and they knew us. If you are looking for an escape and are happy to watch the men return from fishing with their catch or the local women gathering shellfish in the cool of the evenings, where WiFi is available, but on island time, and life is unhurried, then Gili Meno is the place for you.
Accommodation on Gili Meno
Again, we opted for peace and quiet for our accommodation and chose Adeng-Adeng Bungalows. Adeng- Adeng translates as slowly-slowly. The accommodation is a handful of beautiful Gaudiesque garden bungalows set among a landscaped garden of waterways and native plants.
Our bungalow was very tastefully decorated, and a great deal posher than your usual beach side chalet, but it’s no spa resort. It came without a TV (major bonus) but did have a projector and DVDs if you felt the need to curl up for a movie. It also had books, buckets and spades, and magazines for you to laze the day away with, and was large enough to accommodate a family of 4, very comfortably. We had an outdoor salt water plunge pool and shower, which added to the sense of isolation. Adeng-Adeng is not technically on the beach, but the beach is at the end of a short driveway; a two minutes walk and you are there. Breakfast included fresh juices and a choice of eggs or pancakes. Modest, but again fresh and delicious. As I said earlier, we preferred to eat locally at the beach side warungs, for lunch and dinner; inexpensive, fresh, and well, just yum.
Remember to take cash. There is an ATM on the island, but it really is a ‘hole in the wall’ machine: the wall being a bit of shoddily poured concrete. If you want to snorkel or eat on the beach, cash is the way to go.
Getting to and from Gili Meno
Lombok is not the only way to the Gilis. There are also a couple of options for a ferry from Bali, another fantastic destination (I’ll save that for another time).
The owners of Adeng-Adeng very graciously organised a fast ferry back to Lombok for us and we had contacted our taxi driver to meet us. It saved a lot of hassle, but was double the price. After our initial experience, we were only too happy to pay it.
A note on animal welfare
I have read a few articles on mistreatment of horses on the Gili islands, but I didn’t witness any. In my experience this was not the sense I got from the people of Gili Meno. What I saw were people working with animals to make a living, as people have done for centuries. The horses all appeared well fed and well cared for, but this is only my observation.