Gili Meno, Indonesia

Hello Friends and Family,

Greetings from Gili Meno, a beautiful little island about two hours away from Bali. Gili Meno has amazing white sand beaches and clear blue/turquoise water. I can walk around the entire island on the beach in about an hour. No cars or generators or dogs or motorcycles, so it’s very quiet and peaceful. Maybe forty other tourists on the island. Definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Here are two pictures of Gili Meno to give you an idea of how beautiful it is (you can click on them to see the larger size.) These are actual photos with actual colors – they are not enhanced. I’ve been here almost ten days.

Well today is officially the four-month mark for my adventures. For those of you playing along at home, here are some quick tidbits:

I left Kentucky on August 1st. I gladly surrendered my wallet, cell phone, and all my keys to my sister. I put a yellow sticky note on my door that said, “Gone traveling. Back in a little while.” And I gave my mom and dad specific instructions: “Don’t die wile I’m gone.” Then I hit the road.

My favorite experience so far has been hiking around the Himalayas in Ladakh and Northern India. While I have had other amazing experiences and seen many beautiful places along the way, the sheer scale and raw beauty of the Himalayas deeply resonated with my soul, and six to eight hours of walking and climbing (many days completely on my own) made my body sing and my mind quite quiet.

I recently completed a four-day Scuba diving course at the Happy Dive Center (near Maumere in Flores, Indonesia.) I initially had serious reservations and fears about being 20 meters (65 feet) below the water’s surface. My fears faded quickly and I happily eased into the experience of beautiful tropical corals and amazing underwater critters (reef sharks, sea turtles, octopus, eels, stingrays, and infinite numbers and colors of tropical fish all around me.) Many people have told me that I will forever be spoiled because of my initiation into the Scuba world in Flores, considered to be one of the best Scuba sites in the world. But I like being spoiled.

After Flores I took a three-day boat ride from Labuanbajo to Lombok. I was on a boat with only five other passengers and eight crew members. The boat stopped three times to visit certain little villages and islands along the way, including a long hike on an island called Rinca, which is right next to the famous island of Komodo. While walking around on Rinca we saw eleven Komodo dragons, with a few of the males measuring about 10 feet (3 meters) in length. Komodo dragons are only found on Komodo and Rinca islands, so it was a real treat to be able to see them in their natural setting. Fortunately the dragons did not kill and eat me.

I took many great photos of the villagers and Komodo dragons and these beautiful islands, but somehow my digital camera’s memory card picked up a virus from a PC somewhere recently, and all my recent images and videos are currently trashed. I’m trying to resuscitate them, but it doesn’t look good. If I can bring them back to life I’ll include them in a future “Lexpediton”.

Here are a few photos I took prior to my camera’s demise (click to see the larger versions):

Up in Ladakh in a town called Diskit

Playing golf with my brother Dominic at the Bali Golf & Country Club.  It's considered to be "One of Asia's Five Best Golf Courses."  Coincidentally, I played one of my five worst golf games ever.

Playing golf with my brother Dominic at the Bali Golf & Country Club. It's considered to be "One of Asia's Five Best Golf Courses." Coincidentally, I played one of my five worst golf games ever.

At the Taj Mahal in Agra, India

At the Taj Mahal in Agra, India

At the roof-top restaurant at my hotel in Agra, which I lovingly called "The Garage Mahal."

At the roof-top restaurant at my hotel in Agra, which I lovingly called "The Garage Mahal."

Enjoying a brilliant sunrise above the lakes of Kelimutu, near Moni on Flores, Indonesia.  There are three lakes that were formed after a volcanic eruption a long time ago.  One of the lakes (this one) is brilliant turquoise green.  The other two are a light coffee color and a dark brown.  (That's me on the left, the lake on the right.)

Enjoying a brilliant sunrise above the lakes of Kelimutu, near Moni on Flores, Indonesia. There are three lakes that were formed after a volcanic eruption a long time ago. One of the lakes (this one) is brilliant turquoise green. The other two are a light coffee color and a dark brown. (That's me on the left, the lake on the right.)

So far I have spent about 10 weeks in India, a few days in Singapore and Malaysia, and almost seven weeks in beautiful Indonesia. I will be going to Australia for about one week in early December, then on to New Zealand for a month or so. I am seriously considering trying to hop aboard a yacht in New Zealand to sail around the South Pacific for a while. From what I’ve heard, many yachts leave from New Zealand and are always looking for crew members who are willing to work and cook on the crew in exchange for their passage. We’ll see how it all pans out, but it sounds like a great adventure for a few months.

Several people have asked me to tell them what a normal day looks like for me on the road, and how much it costs to do what I’m doing. It’s hard to make any real generalizations, but on average I am spending about US$35 a day for room, food, transportation, Internet connections, and entertaining myself. Singapore was the most expensive place I have visited so far, and Ladakh and Northern India were probably the cheapest. Some days I spend five to eight hours on a crowded bus or train or jeep, and other days I don’t do much more than hang out with my short-term transient friends and enjoy the flavors and sights of wherever I am. And drink coffee and eat pancakes.

And just for the sake of example, here is my schedule for the past four days on Gili Meno:

Wake up at 7:30 AM. Breakfast (banana pancake and fresh mangoes, pineapple and papya) and coffee. Scuba diving at 9 AM for one hour around the islands. 10:30 AM – Swimming or walking around the island. Noonish – Light lunch (usually fresh fish – $3. I may in fact be eating something I saw in the water just a few minutes ago). Nap (free). Scuba again at 2:30 PM. Fresh mango (US$1) from the mango girl (she’s waiting for me when the boat pulls back into he harbor). 4 PM massage for 90 minutes for US$5. Then go for a sunset walk on the beach to a spot with my friends for a few cold ones and a fresh fish or seafood dinner (US$8). My bungalow is right on the beach, and the views are amazing. My daily rate for the bungalow is US$15, which includes tax and breakfast. So maybe I’m spending $35 a day here on Gili Meno, plus the Scuba costs. And it’s been worth every penny.

And on a less serious note:

Even with really bad sub-titles and the volume turned all the way down, Nicholas Cage is still the worst actor on the planet (how does he keep getting work???)

No matter where you go, there is always some overweight unattractive man wearing a muscle shirt.

While traveling around on the Island of Flores, I found myself in a small and simple village. I don’t know the actual name of the town, but it was hot and dirty. Somehow, I’m not sure if any of the people in the village actually did anything for a living. All they did was sit round all day smoking cigarettes and looking at stuff. As far as I could tell, the only things the villagers produced were babies and drunk people. I only stayed there five nights.

And I was never a guidance counselor, but I know this much… Let’s say you’re working as a greeter outside a sidewalk cafe in Bali, and it’s your job to lure people in to drum up additional business. And let’s say that two angry overweight German lesbians walk by holding hands, and you say to them, “Hello Mister, please come inside.” My guess is that you’re going to be looking for a new job pretty soon.

OK, back to the beach. Don’t wait to enjoy your selves. And remember, no matter where you go, no matter how disgustingly dirty the place is, there is always at least one person willing to climb into a dumpster to look for stuff.

Thank you all for your support and friendship. And thank you for all your emails.

Peace & Love,

Lex Latkovski

One Response

  1. Amiruddin

    Really beautiful picture. This is one country I will try to visit. Amir in Indonesia.