With its beautiful turquoise waters, pathways absent of motor vehicles, and view over the dry mountains of Lombok, Gili Meno is the perfect island getaway. But by night, as Christopher Laursen experienced, you may not feel alone in the dark.
In July 2012, I visited the island Gili Meno off the northwest coast of Indonesia’s Lombok, home to the mostly Muslim Sasak people. Renowned for its pristine turquoise waters and beach – the best in Indonesia according to Lonely Planet - this small island of 300 people is the quietest of three Gilis.
Despite its relaxing beauty, there was something particularly uncanny about being on Gili Meno. I am not prone to feeling this way, but two nights in a row walking from one island to the other along the coast under the starlit sky, I felt like there was someone following my friends and me. But when I turned to look, there was no one there. It was a fascinating experience, but it did not make me feel ill at ease.
There is spirit lore on the island and I’m interested in learning more the next time I visit it. Going for a walk in the interior of the island, I came across Jalan Pocong (Pocong Street). This small street, according to the owners of the homestay where I was staying, gives people an eerie feeling if they walk on it at night. The pocong is a significant part of Muslim spirit lore in Indonesia and Malaysia. They are souls of the deceased dressed in the white shroud in which they are buried which is tied over the top of their head and around their neck.
Above: Jalan Pocong [photo by Christopher Laursen].
Below: To exemplify, some pictures of people dressed as pocong [credits: Right photo; left photo].
One of my friends who I travelled to Gili with, Florencia from Buenos Aires, Argentina, had a strange experience in the early morning hours in her bungalow at our homestay. She was sleeping on her side facing the sliding glass door of the bathroom, and suddenly she woke up. Standing about one and a half metres from her in front of the glass door was the silhouette of a woman. The room was lit slightly by the light from outside, but Florencia could not make out any distinguishing features, however she could tell it was a woman by long hair that fell over her shoulders. She couldn’t see the woman’s face, but she felt that the woman was staring at her. At first she thought it was our other friend, Monica, who was sharing the room with her. She looked to see Monica sleeping beside her and she looked back at the woman who stood there for a further few seconds before backing away to blend into the shadow of the wall. Florencia woke Monica up, and by then, the woman had vanished. She checked the time at it was precisely 4 a.m. This experience unsettled Florencia, who was alone in the bungalow the next night as Monica returned to Bali. She slept with the lights on for part of the night. She never had any such experience before, and never thought it would happen to her.
(Interestingly, on the other side of the world, another person who is close to me also experienced something ghostly and hard to explain last week. That story will have to wait until a later time.)
The bungalows where we were staying were quite new, and I didn’t ask the family that owned it about any related experiences. I may do so the next time I visit.
The last story to tell from Gili Meno comes with some great photographs. I came across an abandoned resort complex called the Bounty Beach Club Bungalows. According to the people who ran my homestay, this was owned by a Balinese gentleman who suddenly died three years ago, and when he did the resort shut down and was abandoned. It operated for around seven years and was quite an amazing complex as the below photographs show, and included many Balinese touches, including a temple and places to make Hindu offerings with each building on the resort. The abandoned resort consists of very beautiful double bungalows on stilts in a forest, with pools, statues, bars, and a long dock that has since disappeared. Online, I found out that “The Bounty Beach Club Bungalows consists of 26 air conditioned rooms. The Bounty Cruise takes you direct to the hotel from Bali.” It is named after a shipwreck off the coast of Meno.
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