Gili Meno is the middle of the 3 Gili Islands, and is the quietest Island. Most people go to Gili Trawangan for partying, and people, and then the remaining go to Gili Air for a little more relaxing time, but with some nightlight. Gili Meno, no nightlife, just relaxing. I knew this was the place for me, as I did not want to spent a lot of money partying, and really wanted to meet more locals and see how they lived their lives.
Gili Meno ended up being a great choice!
When I arrived at my bungalow, I met with the young 19 year old guy who is running the show. I asked him if I could see the bungalow before paying. He agrees with no arguments and shows me it. It looks great, and is exactly what I am looking for. I had only booked it for 2 nights but asked if I could extend it for a full week. He says no problem and gives me a little better deal per night, which comes out to 150,000 IDR ($15 CAD) per night.
Over the next week I had a pretty common routine. I would wake up around 7 am, check emails, roll around in bed and then finally get out and walk two bungalows over for breakfast around 8 am. Between 9 and 10 am, I would take the long 3 minute hike to the beach, and do some snorkeling. Lunch during these days consisted of local bananas and some kind of fruit / ice drink. The afternoon were either some work on the PC or a short nap, and walking around the Island. Evenings I would find a place to eat, and then some more walking, with the evenings wrapping up by watching a movie on my PC.
You can’t get much better of a life than that!
During the week I met some really cool people and will talk about them now.
Earlier in the week during breakfast I met a young couple from the UK. John and his girlfriend, Cynthia. They have been traveling around Asia for about 5 months now, searching for amazing dive locations. John is a certified diver and Cynthia is on her way to becoming fully certified here on Gili Meno. We enjoyed a few pizzas together during the week and they had some really awesome stories to tell me about their travels.
During the middle of the week, I don’t recall which day, I was walking to the North side of the Island going past the salt water pond, when another guy was passing me going in the opposite direction, and he stopped me to ask, “How do I get to the beach!” My first thought was, what beach because it is an Island, and all directions lead to a beach. He just arrived and said he wanted to do some snorkeling, but the road is flooded the direction I am going. I told him I am on my way to a nice beach and he can come with if he wants. He said Yes with a big smile! So, this is how I met Edwardo, from Spain.
Edwardo and I hung out several times over the next few days, snorkeling, eating dinner together and just walking around having some great conversations. He gave me some great tips on where to go and what to see in Spain. I know someday these will come in handy.
Three young guys worked at the hotel doing maintenance, cooking, cleaning, organizing, basically anything you can think of, they did it. These 3 guys are some of the nicest people I have met. The youngest guy is 19 and his family own the hotel and the local store beside it. The other two guys are both 29, but look 16, and have been working here for about 5 months each.
The one guy, who I call Smiley, was the funniest guy. Every time I saw him, he would have the biggest, whitest smile and say HI! and wave. Even if I just saw him 2 minutes ago. Unfortunately I do not have a picture of him.
The other worker was just as nice, and a little more quiet. However, he loved to ask questions about Australia, and Canada. He told me he has no wife or kids, and really enjoys working here. All 3 guys get 4 consecutive days off a month to be with family, the rest of the time they work from 7 am until 8 pm everyday. His family lives in Lombok, about a 1 hour boat ride away.
The 19 year owner was a very hospitable guy. He ensured everything was perfect for your stay, including carrying my bags to the boat on the last day. On the last evening he asked me if he could take me for a tour around the Island, and he would show me the good and the bad of Gili Meno.
Well this is where our story takes a little bit of a turn.
We start off with a walk around the pond, where his family owns some property. He shows me the land and tells me it is for sale, for about $10,000 CAD, and he tells me all details about how to buy land here and how much it cost to build. The bungalow I live in, cost about $8,000 CAD to build on the mainland, and then shipped to here. Not a bad price for us, but damn expensive for them considering I am paying $15 per night, with breakfast.
Our walk continues around to the south side of the Island where he starts to tell me about the bombing in Bali in 2005, which killed the tourist industry on the Islands for 4 years. A lot of owners went bankrupt a lost everything. He then takes me into an area of the Island no one goes and shows me exactly what he met.
To get a better idea, watch my video by clicking here!
If I saw this as a tourist, I would just think someone ran out of money, etc. However, I got the real story about the bombing, and all that followed after. It is good, to see the last few years the tourism is picking back up, but this brings other issues.
The next big thing we talk about was the trash on the Islands, which I also saw in Bali.
When more people come to these small islands, we bring money, and jobs, which is great. There is another side to this though. We also bring more trash. The people and government in my opinion don’t know how to handle it. The locals only charge us enough extra on each item we buy to pay for the item plus shipping plus living cost. There isn’t capital set aside to pay for removing the items from the island. So what happens! Well, all of the garbage is just tossed on the side of the road, or behind the huts or into the water, hoping it will float away, but it doesn’t.
One of the biggest culprits is water bottles. I do not understand why we promote these so much. Like even on TV, when I watch a show, I always see the person going to the fridge and grabbing a water bottle. Why in a developed country are we promoting such waste. Turn on a tap, and drink the fucking water, it is CLEAN! and if you don’t like the taste, get a water tank.
I asked why there is a stack of water bottles behind our bungalows and he gave me a straight answer. “We have no where to put them and we have so many of them.”
We need to ban all water bottles, and start forcing people to use reusable bottles. What is earth going to look like in another 50 years when it looks like this now!
After seeing this side of the Islands, I am changing how I think and hope to help others change as well.
The walk around the entire Island didn’t take long and I loved the conversations I had with the two locals. They really helped put somethings into perspective for me.
Until we meet again, thanks Gili Islands for some amazing experiences, from swimming with turtles, to meeting locals, I had a blast and will never forget my time here.