I spent the first two weeks of this adventure with an old high school friend who hosted me in Singapore and then joined me for diving adventures in Gili Trawangan. When she departed to go back home to Singapore, I felt like I was starting this adventure all over again, sailing off into the horizon solo from this point onwards, as I set my sights for Gili Meno, the next island over.
I caught the fast boat from Gili Trawangan to Gili Meno for the ten minute ride, and then jumped onto a small transfer barge in the bay, which took longer to collect us and take us to shore than the actual boat ride itself. Having read a lot of blogs about what it’s like to travel in Southeast Asia, I was expecting more chaos than I’d experienced up until this point, which honestly has been none at all (yet). It’s been super tame and chilled in comparison to some of the stories I’ve read, and what happened next was hardly chaos, but it was mildly amusing.
Disembark barge in knee-deep water. Carry luggage overhead. Thank self for packing super light. Almost lose slop in water. Almost lose bag while saving slop. Recover gracefully. Walk to hotel. Regret walking to hotel and not catching a horse cart because it’s the middle of the day (ie. hot as all hell), the hotel is a lot further away than I thought, and the soft sand that covers most of the “road” isn’t making this little walk any easier. Check in. Get escorted to “tent” at Desa Seri.
Desa Seri is managed by Seri Resort (pictured above), which is a luxurious beach side resort that you should absolutely stay at if you can afford it. I couldn’t, so I obviously can’t speak to the quality of those rooms personally, but their villas overlook the pristine waters and unspoiled beach of Gili Meno’s northeast coast with a gorgeous oceanside pool. If you’re going to Gili Meno to get yourself a massive dose of sunshine laze (refer to first pic) and do very very little else, and you have the budget for it, then this is a great choice. (Note: there’s not much else close by, so if you’re looking for more of a vibe or something that’s close to other restaurants and bars, it’s probably best to aim south, to the west of the harbour rather.)
I opted for their budget option, which still includes use of the resort facilities (some at an additional fee) and is set a few steps behind the resort, surrounded by lush gardens and a whole lot of nature. There’s also a vegetarian restaurant and beautiful open-air Yoga studio if you need to get some zen flowing.
Ok, so let’s be clear, it wasn’t like a camping tent, the hotel just calls it a tent. I’m calling it a shelter. It’s a thatched roof with a raised bed, a mosquito net and bamboo blinds and partitions when you need a little extra privacy. I’m going to refer to it as being in the jungle, but it wasn’t really, it just felt like it was. I’m planning to do a few things on this trip that will subject me to the elements, and the idea of staying in a pretty little jungle-looking spot seemed like a good test run. Cue laughter.
I start unpacking and putting things into an orderly arrangement for my stay, when I see something out the corner of my eye move from under the bed into the dark red moat that surrounds my little jungle abode. What the…? As my eyes catch up to it, I realise I’m looking at a giant water monitor – there is an Indonesian name for it but I couldn’t pronounce it, let alone remember it. He was at least a meter long from head to tail, and basically looked like a miniature komodo dragon, with his tongue slithering out like he was scolding me for interrupting his afternoon nap. I’d been standing at the edge of that raised bed for quite a while before he made his presence known, and the idea that he was secretly contemplating my bare toes for that long is mildly disturbing.
While ordering myself a Bintang to go with my first sunset on Gili Meno (complete with rainbow), I very quickly sourced some info from the locals about my new found friend and was told that they are harmless. I’m not entirely convinced by the reassurance, primarily because said reassurance came with a look of shock that it had ventured that close to me. I wish I’d got a pic or video of him, but he was too quick for me.
In spite of my new roomie and imagining every possible encounter during the night, I did manage to get some sleep, woken periodically by the splashes of various large-sounding creatures in the water that surrounded my bed and loud music coming from somewhere close by (I’m guessing the hippie spot next door).
The next morning I gave in relatively early to the sounds of the prayer call and roosters, and gathered my snorkeling gear for a sunrise mission to the other side of the island. On my return, I recharged all my gear to head out for some island exploring, and then turned towards to the door to leave, only to be confronted by a long green snake suspended across the entrance to my humble abode. There are no doors to these “tents”, just open entrances between bamboo partitions. And I’m trapped.
I can handle a lot of things. I can rough it when I need to. I don’t mind the standard creepy crawlies and bugs, and there’s spray to keep most of them at bay anyway. I can even make friends with miniature komodo dragons despite not being entirely convinced that they’re not going to munch down on my extremities in the middle of the night. But I don’t do snakes. Harmless or not, they’re one of my hard limits.
Did I mentioned I was staying in this accommodation on my own? It’s low season, so I was literally the only person in the whole place. I attempted some hushed calls for assistance from passers by, to no avail. Eventually my long green visitor slithered his way across the open entrance and onto one of the bamboo partitions, giving me enough of a gap to very calmly (on the outside) edge my way out of the jungle, before putting foot down the path to reception to upgrade to four walls.
After much deliberation, I was moved to Kampung Seri (another budget option also managed by Seri Resort), which seemed like it hadn’t officially opened yet as there was still building renovation going on at what I imagine is going to be a reception area and restaurant.
Regardless, it was a lovely, quiet little spot set in the middle of the island next door to local homes, surrounded by fields of coconut trees, with aircon, a clean bathroom, and four much-appreciated walls. Needless to say, the rest of my stay on Gili Meno was super comfortable and visitor-free.
So my new criteria for lodging over the next while will simply be: four walls and a door. I have plans for a few open air adventures in a few places during my trip, but they generally involve boats, and boats are, very thankfully, snake-free.