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Published: November 21st 2013
We could not stay at Mahamaya forever, and so we spent our next 5 days on Gili Meno on the "busier" side of the island, at Tropical Hideaways, a sweet little cluster of bungalows with a pretty garden and a pool. The only way to get there in one go without sweltering in the heat was to hire a horse buggy (there are no cars or mopeds on the island, and no roads, only narrow dirt trails. We had been looking forward to riding one, but of course, I had managed to forget how allergic Øyvind is to horses, and he had forgotten to remind me, so by the end of the 5-minute ride he was ready to lie down and close his puffy eyes...
This is a perfect chance to put Gili Meno in perspective. For us, Mahamaya was the luxury of dreams, and Tropical Hideaways was the next best thing, on a more wallet-friendly budget. But this is because we are both well-travelled and know what it takes to run a place like one of these on such a remote island. For one, Gili Meno has no fresh water of its own. Everything is shipped over from Lombok.
Pool is closed...
It does look kinda temping, yet the water quality is probably not after some agency standard
This means that only the fancy places have fresh-water showers, and that all water is precious on the island. It also means most places (indeed, Mahamaya was the exception) have smelly sewage, which makes its appearance from a sink drain near you. Also, Meno has no electricity plant. This means also that power comes from Lombok, which is quite a ways away and is not always stable. Also, a lot of food is also shipped over, so things are not always available. We understand these things and appreciate all the hard work that goes into having a cool, dry, clean place to sleep with running water on what is otherwise an atoll. We enjoy the delight of being able to be on a quiet island, where locals and tourists and expats mingle and walk through each other's gardens and there are no big resorts, or loud parties, or any of the things that usually make it impossible for one to meet anyone who is not also a foreigner. So, for us, Gili Meno was paradise. Because if the drain in the bathroom smells, we close the door. And if the aircon cuts out in the middle of the night, then
we throw a sheet off and get up and turn it back on. And if the only way (or indeed the most fun way) to get from A to B is to ride in ahorse-drawn carriage, then we do it, even if it is dusty and it breaks down halfway and Øyvind spends the rest of the day looking like he got punched in the face. And those things have no effect on our appreciation of the place we find ourselves in.
We cannot, however, say the same for many other travelers. This has indeed been a common thread throughout our travels. Walking around Meno at sunset, feeling blissful and blessed to be on this little bit of paradise, we crossed other couples on our way, and smiled and said hello, only to get sour expressions in return. And sadly, throughout our trip, eavesdropping has often ended in listening to people complain. Not everyone, of course, but a surprising amount considering the beautiful places we have visited. And speaking to the locals who run the shops and hotels and restaurants, and thanking them for our wonderful stay, has often yielded comments about previous complaints regarding everything from the presence
of geckos to the fact that there are many mosquitoes at dusk. Really? Who are these people, we wonder, and have they ever left their living room before? We have found ourselves often over-compensating, being overly kind and nice in order to try and level out the playing field. I'm not saying we are saints. I'm just saying you can't expect something for nothing. If you walk around complaining about everything and being rude to people ( who, let's face it, are worse off than you no matter which way you look at it) then you can't expect to be greeted cheerfully and with open arms. It goes both ways.
So our days on the populated side of Meno were filled with meandering, sunbathing, swimming and eating, all in such a seamless succession that we had no idea where the time went. And yes, there was some more running and some photographic experiments with long shutter speeds and waves involved. Mostly we just enjoyed the island and each other, and soaked up as much as possible. We had decided to head back to Bali and do it some justice by renting a car and touring around for a few
days. So there was more exploring ahead of us, and we were once again ready for it.
- best urab-urab on Meno, indeed in the world : The Sunet Gecko
- best iced coffee on Meno : Mahamaya
- best (and only) time to go running: right before sunset
- hidden treasure: on the northeast coast of the island is an abandoned resort. What makes it incredible is its size, it spreads far into the jungle and the rows of bungalows seem endless. It was, except for a few roofs, intact, with furniture and even light bulbs still in place, while the roots slowly engulfed the gigantic swimming pools. It was a huge, luxurious place, and was slowly being reclaimed by the jungle in its entirety...
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