Last night I finally finished reading “Eat, pray, love”, which I had started like three months ago. I really enjoyed that book, even if it had some slow parts where I interrupted my reading for a couple weeks. I always knew that its author Elizabeth Gilbert started a pilgrimage of her readers to Bali (I read it on the Lonely Planet book guide which I bought before going to Bali two years ago), but only last night when I finished the book around midnight I found out that her last journey at the end of her 12 months to discover herself was in Gili Meno, which my boyfriend and I randomly (not randomly, but not because of the book) picked when we went to Indonesia. We chose Gili Meno instead of Gili Air or Gili Trawangan (the three Gilis) because it was the quietest, the most peaceful and the most apt for a romantic getaway for couples.
We arrived in Gili Meno on a late afternoon of June (it was 2018, after my graduation at uni), after two hours on the fast boat. The journey was quite rough, as the sea was rough, but we luckily don’t suffer when we travel by boat and there was a movie on to get distracted. As there was no direct journey from Bali to Gili Meno, we arrived on Gili Trawangan and we found a man who was organising the cross to Gili Meno with smaller, fishermen boats. That’s how us and another couple got to the tiny island, and got off the boat with our own legs, right into the sea, as there was no pier. I had booked a very cheap and dispersed Yoga retreat which had bungalows, too, called MaoMeno (https://www.mao-meno.com) , and of course we had no idea where it was, but we walked toward the centre of the island, leaving the beach behind, and looked for signs: that’s how we found our little oasis. The lady who welcomed us (along with two kittens… what else could we ask for?) was so sweet and kind and she showed us to our small, small, super small bungalow, with an outdoor bathroom. Honestly, there wasn’t any space inside except for the bed and two bedside tables, but it was cosy and we had air conditioning!!! The first thing we did was leaving our clothes to the kind lady, who washed them for us and returned them like-new and so perfumed. We were stressed, tired and dirty after the long travel from Ubud to MaoMeno.
After unpacking we put our swimsuits on and immediately headed to the beach, as in Ubud there is no beach and we couldn’t wait for a nice dip.
After a quick swim and a look at the sunset we were so, so hungry that we walked to the first restaurant (yes, with our swimsuits and t-shirt and shorts, but the look on Gili Meno is casual, no heels for Heaven’s sake!) which happened to be delicious and became our favourite on the island. They had pasta, pizza, burgers and to-die-for desserts (good cheesecake, brownies and so on). We toasted to the five days ahead that we had there, (we were so happy, relaxed and excited, especially for the good food) and then got back to our tiny bungalow in the darkness, as in June it was dark quite early, if I remember well, and there are not many streetlamps (or streets, actually) in Gili Meno. And there are no cars, either.
The following morning we woke up quite early because of the sounds of the animals, and we were not annoyed at all by it (well, at least I wasn’t, I was too excited, I wanted to explore the island!).
Breakfast in MaoMeno was slow, quiet and peaceful, we were actually the only guests there for the first two mornings.
MaoMeno is a proper yoga retreat, with enough space to practice, healthy choices for breakfast and, if you want, they will also cook dinner for you, but there is no restaurant open 24/7 on site and that’s why we would also leave for dinner (with our torch, of course, to cross the dark woods).
On our first day we snorkelled, as that’s the best activity to do there, because we wanted to see turtles so bad…And we were blessed enough to see three or four. It was my first time to see sea turtles in their natural habitat. And Gili Meno is home to a turtle sanctuary, too.
While on the island we were lucky enough to see the rain, which I always love to see when on holiday in a hot place (in Bali we had a lot of that, too much actually!). The scent of the rain in a tropical place is something magic to me. It makes you feel alive.
In Gili Meno I had the first yoga lesson of my life, with my boyfriend, too (who didn’t really enjoyed it…too much sweating and effort, but that’s because it was hot and the class lasted 1 hour and a half and our Brazilian teacher was very demanding).
We spent the following days snorkelling, eating, reading, having a beer at the sunset and walking around the island (it took about one hour to do the whole lap).
During a happy hour I remember a naked little boy (he must have been two years old) who was so happy because his dad (I think it was his dad, or older brother) agreed to brink him on a paddle tour, winning the ride against his 8 year old brother who was of course crying and complaning…But he didn’t care at all and he just so excited. That was funny (you can see them in the photo above).