Honeymooning At Last

Trip Start May 23, 2011
Trip End Aug 17, 2011

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Kontiki Meno

Flag of Indonesia  , West Nusa Tenggara,
Sunday, August 14, 2011

For just a moment, as we waded onto the shores of Gili Meno, I questioned why we hadn't spent the entire three months at the beach. Gili Meno is the quintessential tropical island, with groves of palm trees surrounded by white sand and crystal clear water. I know that I would have died of boredom lying on a beach for three months, but stepping into that postcard-perfect scene, I had my doubts. 

Gili Meno is one of three islands off of Lombok termed "the Gilis," the others being Gili Trawangan and Gili Air. Gili T. has a reputation as the party island. It's full of clubs and restaurants, and the drug scene is so brazen that you can buy magic mushrooms in milkshake form. Gili Air is a step down, more rural but still developed. Gili Meno is the sleepiest of the three. If you want to do anything other than swim, lay on the beach, and eat fruit, you're in the wrong place. The great thing about the Gilis is that people self-select, since there's an island for everyone. You'll never be woken up at 2am by drunk Australians on Gili Meno, because they're guaranteed to have chosen Gili T.

So it's a mellow island, and we had a mellow three days. The island is small enough that you can walk around it in an hour or so, so that's one exciting activity. The best part about small islands is that you can watch the sun rise over the ocean, then in the evening you can walk around to the other side to watch it set. (I recognize this only as a theoretical possibility, since I did not get up for the sunrise. But the sunsets were beautiful). During the day, we plunked ourselves down on the sand and enjoyed a vacation-like end to our Indonesian adventure. We bought fresh fruit from the women patrolling the beach and topped it off with fruit smoothies at lunch. We also read a lot and swam a lot. The color of the water was so rich, and so clear, that it felt like we were swimming in the color blue itself. In the evenings, we had dinner on the other side, then walked home in the moonlight through the coconut groves. We played cards (until Shen cheated), talked about the trip, and talked about what we would do once we got home. We wanted to end in a place that felt like a honeymoon, and we succeeded.

We left the Gilis at 9am on our fourth day there and began our 40-hour journey to the U.S. The flight was only 25, but when you start out on a remote island, you tack on some time. We got to Denpasar about 10 hours before our flight, so we went back to Seminyak, where we had spent two weeks taking language classes. It felt really weird, like we had traveled back in time. We walked the gangs again, and I had the strange sense that any minute we might run into ourselves on our way to class. My grad school friend Kelly has  been working in Bali this summer, so we met up with her and a friend at Zula Vegetarian Paradise. I can't believe that we overlapped in Indonesia for 6 weeks, and we finally saw her just hours before getting on our plane!

Our first flight was overnight to South Korea, and neither of us slept much. So we arrived in Seoul totally exhausted, and I was ready to curl up in the airport for a long nap. Unfortunately, I did not marry the sort of man who is willing to waste a seven-hour layover in a new city. Over my protestations, he forced caffeinated beverages on me and bought us subway tickets.

Neither of us realized that the metro ride from the airport to downtown was nearly two hours. It took us an hour or so to get out of the airport, and we had to be back an hour before the flight - you can do the math. We basically had time to eat lunch then metro back. We found a little hole-in-the-wall cafe, and though we didn't particularly like the food (a person can only eat so much seaweed), the atmosphere was perfect. We walked around Insadong a little, and although it was a lot of subway time to get there, I had to admit that it was more interesting than sleeping in the departure lounge. 

So that's it...the Megamoon comes to a close. Some of it we loved, some of it we didn't, but it was exactly what we wanted: An epic adventure. For me, the best part of the whole thing - sorry to be corny - was just being with Shenandoah. in our most frustrating moments we still managed to make each other laugh. If we had any problem, it was that neither of us wanted to be The Decider; We spent a fair bit of time staring at each other and hoping the decisions would make themselves. But the benefit was that anyone with a strong opinion usually got their way. I thought that after being together 24/7 for three months straight, we would be ready for a break, but instead I just never want to be without him.

Our shared love of travel means that we hopefully have many more adventures to come. Sometimes we talk about going to the same places and spending more time, but in the end, the lure of the new is too strong. As long as there is dirt on Earth that we haven't walked on, we'll be driven by that very simple, yet totally alluring question: What's it like over there???

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mlloyd on

You and Shen seem like a perfect couple. I'm so happy for you and I look forward to reading about your next great adventure!
-Love, your ESS

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