Pilan-Adeng (Don’t Mess With My Slow)

No villa villain was gonna mess with my pilan-adeng.

A friend is visiting from the States for a few weeks, so we booked into a lovely Airbnb bungalow called Meno Madia on Gili Meno. We were only going for three nights, so didn’t need much. It’s all the other stuff you have to deal with:

• Finding ziploc bags big enough to protect laptops from all the giant swells sure to break over the boat during our journey. The internet said.

• Fighting our way through the regular port hawkers of sunglasses, water, Bintang, fruit, sarongs, eggs, and various beasts to get to our boat. It seems like you have 17 hawkers following you, practically tugging at your shirt sleeve. Except for the very small old women who actually do tug on your baggy shorts while trying to force feed you coconut in exchange for rupiah.

• Making sure you get a seat outside on the boat because sometimes the boats explode in those giant swells and the people inside die. But if you are outside and have a large enough ziploc bag, both you and your laptop might survive. The internet said.

But then, you pull away from the dock and… here’s bliss. Hot sun that feels just-right warm because of the breeze from the boat’s speed. Seeing Bali from the sea for the first time. An ice cold Coke for the high-seas robbery price of $2.50 (I should have bought one from a dock hawker.) No mean swells, no explosions, all lives and laptops safe.

Finally, Gili Meno, which is so small you can walk around the entire island in less than two hours. So small there is no harbor or dock so a very sketchy “transport boat” fetches you from the Big Boat and drops you into shallow water so you can wade your way onto dry white sand.

Our bungalow was only a 15 minute walk, but those ziploc bags made our bags too heavy to haul through the heat, so we took a cidomo, or small, horse-drawn cart. No motorized vehicles allowed on Gili Meno. (About a half dozen exceptions have been made for electric scooters that are actually quieter than push bikes, but still feel like cheating. Says the Westerner who relies on cars, subways, planes, motorbikes and boats. And now cloppity horses pulling dodgy carts.)

And I love it. In Indonesian, pilan-pilan means “slow, slow”. It’s often screamed by white-knuckled passengers at drivers on dangerous Bali roads, but on Gili Meno and within the gates of Meno Madia, all my hurry-hurry goes pilan-pilan.

We spent the next few days wandering Meno, indulging in a few Bintang on the beach, eating the best food I’ve had in Indonesia – cheffed by Made, co-host of Meno Madia with the brilliant Claudia. They are the best hosts I’ve had through any Airbnb. And I’ve had quite a few.

The day before we left, after meandering along random paths, through quiet villages, past mother hens shooing chicks into the trees and cows munching grass in the midday sun, I stumbled onto a place called Adeng-adeng.

On the beach, at peace, and drinking fresh squeezed lime juice over crushed ice – I took my digestive life in my hands and had a salad. With watermelon slices on the side. And sat there for the rest of the day watching the sea.

Did I mention adeng-adeng means “slow-slow” in Sasak, the island language?

After too few days on this little piece of real paradise, we did the reverse wade onto the little boat to the Big Boat and returned to Bali, where I did a slow-slow walk through the port hawkers. And even bought fresh coconut and pineapple slices from one of the baggy shorts-tugging old women. Her smile and blessing made me understand there really is something to the slow-slow mindset. It allows you to see a grandmother instead of an annoying hawker, interact with her, see things more vividly.

Back at my villa I had a tomato sandwich (toasted white bread, Hellman’s mayo, coarse salt – eaten standing over the sink) and called an early night. My friend, Diana, happily retired to her room and I to mine. Everything was very pilan-adeng.

Until it wasn’t. Via our home intercom (aka: Facebook Messenger) Diana let me know someone had entered our villa gate (which I had, in my slow state, forgotten to padlock) and was walking around the garden. And then the house. The kitchen. Trying Diana’s (locked) bedroom door. All while we texted each other, cowering in our respective bathrooms.

Finally, wrapped in sarongs and armed with brooms, we searched the premises but the culprit had fled, leaving a tell-tale opening in the gate (promptly padlocked).

Diana blocked her door with a bureau, I blocked mine with a chair. With a broom by my bed and the pestle from my stone mortar and pestle under the pillow, I went to sleep. No villa villain was gonna mess with my pilan-adeng.

Lock the gate!

Recent Posts
Showing 5 comments
  • Claudia

    Love this Ginny, especially how even in just three days you slowed down enough to be able to see and have a brief connection with the little grandmother hawker at the harbour back in Bali. See her as a person, with her own story too.
    You have a way of saying so much with so few words… I admire that!
    That’s awful about the villa villain though :(((.
    Thanks for the lovely compliments x

  • Rich Galen

    GREAT travelogue! Glad all are safe and sound.

  • kathy randall

    Yikes….lock that gate!!!! But love hearing about your gorgeous trip. What fun and so glad you are sharing it with us.

  • Jane Morris

    Yikes stripes!

  • Anne

    Love this story – Peaceful Gili Meno island is the perfect cure for our Western tension. I hope it never changes.

Leave a Comment