by Christopher Laursen
With its beautiful turquoise waters, pathways
absent of motor vehicles, and view over the
dry mountains of Lombok, Gili Meno is the
perfect Indonesian island getaway. But by
night, as Christopher Laursen experienced,
you may not feel alone in the dark.
article | extraordinary experiences
The Ghosts of Gili Meno
November 30, 2012
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.
One of my friends with whom I travelled to Gili, 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.
Photo by Christopher Laursen
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EXTRAORDINARIUM’S CHRISTOPHER LAURSEN
& PAUL CROPPER DELVE INTO THE BALDOON
MYSTERY IN FORTEAN TIMES
(FT 315, JUNE 2014).