I always find that no matter how beautiful an island is: at the end of the day, the best memories always come from its people. The people of Gili Meno are special because they live in a special place: originally from Sulawesi, these fishermen came to the island to barter fish with the rice from the bigger and greener island of Lombok. When they decided to settle down, the island became a mix of Bugis, Sasak and other people coming from Nusa Tenggara. Even though Gili Meno is far from being an unknown secret paradise, this place managed to keep a very laid back way of life despite its rising popularity in the tourism industry.
The first person i met was Ofick, a guy from lombok, who found a job on the island running the bungalows where i stayed. He loves the peaceful and simple life of Meno, and here he has found his dimension.
Everybody seems to love the music in the island, especially Jun, a young fishermen, descending from the original Bugis people who came to the island decades ago bringing their traditional sounds. Nowadays he’s trying to conserve the heritage of this music: he leads a group of local musiciand including his grandfather and his uncle, and he managed to build his own instrument using jackfruit wood and fishing strings. They own a PA system and from time to time they perform during functions of in some touristic resort.
The children of the island learn to fish very early: this young boy spends few hours on the beach every morning, patiently fishing from the seashore. At the end of the day he’s so young but it provides the food for his family.
Everywhere i went there was always some cute little baby to play with: my youngest best friend of Gili Meno was definitely this little girl: her name is Mila, she’s 2 and an half years old and she’s incredibly smart for her age.
Her mother runs a little food stall on the beach. She cooks nasi campur (the daily local meal), plus fried bananas and one of the best coffees of the island. No surprise this place became my favourite spot.
Beside the food stall, some locals spend their days preparing the glass bottom boats. Once the big season will start, they will make a living taking the tourists for a ride on the clear waters, enjoying the coral reef from the boat.
A classic local spot, where you can sit down, grab a drink and wait for Ibu (the indonesian equivalent of Mama) to serve you some great local delicacies. probably this is the place where i had the best nasi campur ever.
There are only few boats a day, therefore the guys of the harbour spend longtime chatting, smoking and playing backgammon on the seaside. These are the first and the last people you will see during your visit in Gili Meno, and their relaxed lifestyle and friendly vibe are the perfect example of what you’re gonna experience in this beautiful little island.