Tuesday, 17 December 2013

4th - 7th Dec - Gili Meno

Arriving at the hotel's own beach by private boat - what bloody great cliché to live up to. That's how we rolled into the MahaMaya hotel on Gili Meno. As well as being pretty flash, it was also the most practical solution, being almost opposite Trawangan's jetty, unlike the public port which is on the Lombok side, but lets not dwell on practicality.
Gili Meno is the smallest of the trio, it's the one in the middle and is by far the least developed. We had thought that Trawangan was pretty quiet, but in comparison to Meno, it's Piccadilly. There's no paved roads, running water is scarce and mains electricity didn't arrive until 2003. We walked around the circumference in less than two hours, the beach is beautifully sandy for almost the entire perimeter.

The interior of the island is completely flat, there's a small village, with its mosque, a salt water lake, an abandoned hotel (more of which later) and that's about it. With absolutely no motor traffic, you can hear other things, mainly cockerels crowing at all times of day. It seems compulsory to keep animals here, most families seems to keep chickens, there's also goats, cows, dogs and quite a few cats.

Buildings on the beach are mainly makeshift wooden shacks, there's a few timber builds in the two storey rice-barn style. Houses in the village tend to be of concrete. Our hotel, MahaMaya, is the only modern building on the island. By the jetty on the east side, there's a general store, a couple of dive shops, two or three bars and a couple of hotels including the Nautilus Villas, about the only other high-end accommodation option. 

The Sasak Café was a great place to chill, meet some of the locals and watch the sunset while listening to the ubiquitous Bob Marley - surely the most international of musicians.

Chickens, and satellite tv dish.
A typical fishing boat getting a renovation.
Village life, cattle, coconut palms. 
Tourist information services in the village. I hadn't even noticed the skin drying on the tree.
New hotel chalets north of the jetty in the style of rice barns.

A visit to the Bird 'sanctuary' on the island left us a little bit concerned about the welfare of the captives. The Australian founder surely had good intentions when he built the place ten years ago, but they, like the birds themselves, may fallen into a bit of neglect. Plumage was patchy on some poor parrots, but at least I got the pirate shot. 

Maha Maya, our hotel is owned and run by British siblings David and Ali, her Indonesian husband, a chef, runs the restaurant. They've had a long association with the island and their strong eco-policy is winning the support of not just their guests, but also the Indonesian government. In fact, David proudly told us their building is now being used as an official standard for future developments.

Here's the view from our beach room. Snorkelling was excellent right there, we saw two large turtles just off the shore. The hawksbill and green turtles tend to end up on dinner plates for Hindu ceremonies in Bali, but measures to protect them, including hatcheries, seem to be working.
In the background, the shoreline of Gili Trawangan, and behind that, Bali's holy volcano Agong.

They really pushed the boat out for the 'romantic dinner' - several proposals have been accepted in such circumstances. Meno is known as the honeymoon island, and it is very coupley.
In the absence of any television (hooray), fire poi performances were high on the entertainment agenda at Maha Maya.
The staff at Maha Maya are fantastic, here's Ricky getting ready for a tropical Christmas.

Gili Meno is a magical island. Calm, secluded and very beautiful.. We had such a good time, and fell in love with the place over our four day stay. We shall return.

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