After hiking Mt Rinjani I was ready for some serious island time. Andres had spent the last few days on the Gili Islands getting to know the place and we planned on meeting at Gili Meno – a little piece of land that has the reputation of being super quiet and the least inhabited of the three islands.
With no paved roads or cars you need to get around on foot or by horse and cart. You also need to bring your money with you as there are no cash machines and only two places with internet. Shoes are definitely not required.
It all sounded perfect to me.
I arrived stinky and sore from the hike to a very chilled Andres – he’d been paddle boarding, swimming and eating his way through the restaurant options and I knew instantly that we’d want more than the three days we planned on staying.
The water is so incredibly clear so time spent being in it, reading a book by it and watching the sun rise and set pretty much dictates life for most tourists – we were no different.
The bonus being that there was also just enough local places to get really great food – plenty of seafood, lots of fresh fruit and these tasty calorie packed chunks of deep fried banana. I figured after three days of eating noodles and sweating it out on the hike I could eat as much as I liked!
There isn’t any party action or night life going on at Gili Meno and the entire island can be walked around in less than an hour. You’ll see locals going about their daily life, fisherman throwing in lines and the general vibe is very much about taking things slow. Sun shaded restaurant tables line the waterfront where you can sit and read sipping ginger tea, fresh juices or Bingtang beer. There is also a distinct absence of hassling compared to Lombok – people will pass by offering handmade jewellery and local fabrics but it doesn’t feel too much and most of them are just up for a chance to practice their English.
As the sun sets a couple of restaurants put out their daily catch so you can order whatever seafood appeals to you to be freshly barbecued. Working your way through the calamari, prawns and fish options could definitely take some time.
Gili Meno also has a good range of places to stay – a couple of more upmarket places and a lot of budget options, including home stays. For $15 AUSD per night we had a great bungalow with a fan, cold water and a comfy bed. You don’t need much when the whole environment is beautiful.
We spent three nights on the island before we felt like we were ready to shift somewhere with a few more people around. In that time I’d managed to chill down to a whole new level, relishing the lazy walks through the village and back and forth to the few restaurants serving up tasty traditional food.
I didn’t imagine that the other two Gili islands could compare, but I was definitely wrong…
next stop Gili Trawangan!