Arrived on the Gili’s 10 days ago now and have done zero blogging, as you may have noticed? so lazy i know.
On the day we arrived, our luggage was launched onto the beach from the collection boat and we were prompted to jump after it. Luckily we all made it without incident. Apparently, there used to be a jetty that you could step off on to, but more about that later.
The available transport is horse and cart or bike hire. There are no motorised vehicles on the island, although there are a handful of electric motorbikes, if they count? you certainly can’t hear them coming that’s for sure. We piled all our cases and bodies in to the cart and watched this poor horse take us to our accommodation. These horses are not like your normal size horse and are significantly smaller, if you know what they might be please comment. Luckily for the horse the island is flat and not very big so they do not have endure long journeys.
We arrived at Mao Meno, our Yoga Retreat accommodation for the next 10 days. We we greeted by a couple of guys and shown to our (very open to the elements) bamboo shack, complete with, well, not much really. Shortly after settling in the manager (Maria) turned up. A very fit yoga instructor who gracefully approached to greet us with a smile. We we advised that we were the only people staying in the resort. I know this may sound meh, but Gili’s south side has one resort on it, so in a way we had the whole south side of the island to ourselves. Sweet!
That night we ventured out for dinner and got caught in a massive rain storm. We had to take another horse and cart to get home. We were pointlessly trying to stay out of the rain, but all got soaked. During the night the rain storm remained relentless and pounded the island all night. It was a surprise that the flimsy open bamboo hut leaked in quite significantly. Who knew that was going to happen?
The next morning we all came out a little damp and were greeted by a swamp that had been developed in the resort overnight. At breakfast, Maria asked us if we got wet.. “just a bit. ha ha” we replied. She then said that as no one was in, or even booked in. We could leave the cheap seats and upgrade to the posh seats. Were talking, hammock, aircon, butt washing toilet, beanbags, fans! It did continue to rain a bit after that but not as bad. And just to add further value the resort came with its own monkey, the only one of the island. Nyonyon was a rescue monkey who lived in the resort. He was very friendly and took a shine to Tanya. Subsequently chasing the kids away and going in for cuddle’s.
The whole island felt pretty deserted, due to Indonesia suffering some significant disasters recently. Earthquake, tsunami warnings and volcano activity has slowed the tourist industry. The locals were struggling with it a little. However, this did not stop them from being beautiful people, who always had a smile for you.
On the second day, we headed over to the west side of the island to explore the reefs there. The snorkelling is amazing and as tempted as we were to do some Scuba, it really wasn’t necessary as you can walk out to the reef and see everything. Whilst on the beach, we met a family from Perth who have a house on the island and 2 kids similar age to ours. We all got on great and spent quite a bit of time with them. When questioned about his Lancashire accent, It turns out Michael (Grandad) is from Blackburn and emigrated 30 years ago. Anyhoo, the house in the island was designed and built by Michael, and is a lovely little oasis in the middle of quite a few, less developed or earthquake damaged houses. Their house did sustain some damage but was easily repaired.
During conversations Michael mentioned that the island used to look a lot more beautiful as some of the restaurants had cabana’s on the beach and there were proper jettys to get on and off boats. However, the authorities came to the island and removed anything that was on the beach. If it had been made permanent by the business, it was simply ripped down. Now, I still remain undecided about that decision, as on the one hand i kind of agree that such beautiful areas should remain so despite tourism. On the other hand, these people have suffered enough disaster and still have the right to earn a living like the rest of us. The biggest island (Gili T) is where all the music and action takes place, and is contained there, so really no need to Meno to be as big and commercial. Different people have different views on this.
Gili M was subject to frequent power cuts, almost everyday, and with no generators it plunged the resort into darkness. Not all bad, as with a few candles and a beer it really was quite cool, but not aircon cool.
Everyone on the island will hire you a bicycle for about £2:50 a day. We hired the meanest badass machine we could lay our hands on..
Actually, being a complete bike nerd, I went for the only one that looked like it had been oiled and serviced. Can’t have it all eh.
This year, amongst the other issues the islands have faced, there was also an unusually large amount of Mosquito’. I have honestly never seen so many or been subject to frequent attack. I understand we are in their territory, a swamp. It did feel an annoyance at the time, but it hasn’t ruined the memory of what a beautiful island it really is
Favourite restaurant on the island was Mahamaya, Located at the NW side of the island it has amazing food, sand, staff and snorkelling..
Recommend a visit