Gili Meno, the tiny little island nestled between Bali and Lombok is one of the places i call home.
It’s the place where i first had the idea of becoming a full time musician and it’s the place where my debut album cover picture was taken. Despite being close to a touristic mammoth like Bali, it belong to the quieter sister island Lombok, and being on the other side of the Wallace’s Line (an imaginary geographic line that divides Asia from Australasia) has its particular climate, flora and fauna.
It’s a great place to relax and for many visitors it’s actually too quite, with the result of being often discarded by the masses who rather indulge in partie on the nearby Gili Trawagan. Some of these tourists just come to Meno for a day trip and enjoy the white beach on the south east tip of the island. Whether one looks left or right, there are mornings (in the low season running between October and March) where there’s nothing in sight on the beach apart from white sand and blue waters.
The sunset is one of the main attraction here: to reach the west coast one just needs to get around the island with a 30 minutes walk.
One of the reasons i keep coming back every year is due to the fact that i really have some good friends here. Ofick is one of them: he’s a guy from Lombok who “settled down” in Meno few years back and makes a living in his little homemade shop, a cross between a beach bar an art gallery and a workshop.
Every year i give him my new releases so he can enjoy new music and it was a pleasure to see that my last two albums were often played on the beach, providing the perfect soundtrack to the chilled atmosphere of his little place.
Then there is Uchi, my super sweet landlord, whose humility, honesty and courtesy really made my stay amazing. He’s just 55 and became grandad the other day. In a world where people call themselves yoga teachers after a month training, it’s heartwarming to see someone so humble saying “Oh..i’d really like to learn yoga!”, and then effortlessly making a perfect lotus position, plus looking like a cross between Mahatma Gandhi and Morgan Freeman!
My friend Jun is a very talented local fisherman/siger/musician and apart from building his own string instruments out of jackfruit wood, in the “spare” time realizes these amazing bycicles. He just sold one to a foreign tourist and i suggested the commercial name of “Lombike”, being quite a long bike built by people from Lombok!
Another little friend of mine is a lovely little girl called Mila. Her mother runs a small warung on the main beach and we often play together and share the delicious pisang goreng (fried bananas). She’s growing so fast, and since i come back every year she now started to remember me. I don’t travel in order to add stamps to my passport. I travel because I like to come back to the places that I love. I like to see how people get old. I love when I gain their trust and they let me babysit they children.
I travel because I love when they know how I like my rice and how I take my coffee. I don’t travel to do extraordinary things, i’m happy doing ordinary things in extraordinary places. I don’t travel to look for differences but I travel to find similarities. I don’t travel in order to feel how big the world is, but to aknowledge how small it is. I don’t travel to change my routine, I travel because travelling has become my routine. I travel because my grandfather did it before me and because some of the first words I can remember are “Java”, “Ceylon”, “Fiji”…I travel because the world is my city and nations are its neighbourhoods.
I don’t travel to go away, but I travel in order to come back. I travel because it makes me feel home.
I travel because each place has its particular smell and the light keeps changing. I travel because the world is so much better when it’s experienced in first person. I travel because the world is my personal TV, newspaper and radiostation: the world always have some news for me. I travel because future doesn’t exist. I travel because travelling allows me to focus on the present, and present is indeed a beautiful present.
And this is a place where, a nomad like me with his life in a suitcase, can come back every year and feel at home.