The Art of Doing Nothing

We are in paradise, and I’m convinced paradise is trying to kill me. A slow death of boredom. We have spent the last two days in Amed, a small strip of land nestled in between the volcanic mountains of central Bali and the Bali Sea. Amed essentially is one road, lined with restaurants, hotels, and dive shops. That’s it. The narrow road winds up and down, to the left, then to the right. It’s not a walkable road; one needs a scooter to travel around. The beach, while very beautiful with its idyllic water, has rocks and boulders instead of sand, making it difficult to walk along.

Getting here from Seminyak required a three hour car ride. We spent the first hour leaving the more populated towns, while the last two hours of the drive passed through some of the most beautiful scenery I think I’ve ever seen. Lush green mountains and hills on one side, rice terraces sprinkled throughout, bordered by the sea on the other. Temples and ceremony processions. So beautiful.

When we pulled into Amed, I was excited to see it was slower, less touristy than the other regions we had been. I had this vision of me walking around, interacting with the locals. I only see what I want to see in a place – I’m totally impractical that way. I saw houses and people, and that excited me. John saw a road that was by no means safe to walk along.

When we checked in, we learned that we could rent a scooter for what amounts to $5.00 a day, so we did this the first night. We took a ride, looking for stuff to do, but we soon realized that there wasn’t anything to do. Lonely Planet was right when it said that Amed specializes in doing nothing. NOTHING!

Our hotel in Amed is – as you can imagine – sleepy. Quiet. When we checked in, the most notable sound was from the roosters next door. As I write this, I’m listening to them cock-a-doodle-do. So loud. So early. The grounds of the hotel are beautifully manicured, and the hotel sits directly on a beach. It’s beautiful. Looking out and seeing the volcano in the distance adds to the beauty, but there is nothing to do. Some people find this sort of vacation enjoyable, I find it mind-numbing. I appreciate the beauty and how isolated we are but after about a day, I’m ready to move on. I get antsy when doing nothing and start thinking about all the things I need to do at home, which is obviously not how I want to spend my time in Bali.

At any rate, we came here so John could dive. Amed and neighboring Tulamben are two of the best dive locations in all of Bali, and everyone who is here is here to dive. The USS Liberty sunk just off the coast of Tulamben, making it especially popular with divers (and snorkelers).

Before we came on our trip, John wanted to know if I’d dive with him. I gave it serious consideration and then realized that it probably wasn’t for me. I appreciate animals from afar – I don’t need to swim alongside fish or sting rays. Honestly, if I were to see a sting ray in the open waters (you know – outside of their tank at the zoo), it would scare me out of the waters. I would swim as fast as I could to shore, and I probably would t go back into the water. Dramatic, yes. But honest. For me, snorkeling proves to be the perfect activity. So, John dove, and I snorkeled. I like being on top the water, far from the action. So the eel I saw didn’t send me to shore, it just made me a little nervous. Seriously, though, I really enjoyed snorkeling. I saw huge blue starfish, all sorts of tropical fish – blue, yellow, black, green – and lots of corals. John saw a sea turtle, which I would have loved to have seen. Seeing the divers swim in the dark crevices of the sunken ship made me certain of my choice; I was content where I was.

After we finished, we practiced nothingness. We had lunch, napped, sat by the pool, walked across the street to a market, and later had dinner at a nice restaurant with a wonderful view (and wonderful music – they were playing Lana del Ray. Love her). We found the restaurant on trip advisor – wouldn’t have found it otherwise because of its obscure location. When we asked our hotel staff where the restaurant was, they told us that the restaurant would pick us up. Okay!? Really? Really. About ten minutes later, a restaurant employee picked us up and drove us to dinner. I can honestly say that’s a first!

When we got back to our room, we sat on our balcony – I continued this wonderful book I started earlier in the day, and John spent his time between watching the lizards and reading a magazine. It’s so quiet that you can almost hear the lizards scuttle across the wall.

We are waiting for our driver, who will be here in 30 minutes, to take us to our final stop on our trip: Ubud. Or, as we have been calling it, Jen’s Bali. Ubud is know for its art and culture. It’s situated in the middle of Bali’s forests and rice fields, the things I’m most excited to see. We’re also staying in the nicest hotel of the vacation. Honestly not sure how it will beat our first villa, but it’s said to be one of the best, so we’ll see…

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