Free diving in Amed and chilling in Gili Air
Our Bali trip continued from Ubud to Amed, on the east coast of the island. This was one of the first places where we knew we'd go in Bali, as Peter wanted to take a free diving course - "apnea" - at Apneista (thanks Alessa for the tip!). In the meanwhile, Tommi and Cami hung out by the beach and sipped fresh juices and munched on salads at the Green Leaf Cafe. In the evenings, we all together climbed up to the Jemeluk viewpoint and get to the Blue Earth Village for some nice food and couple of fresh beers, while enjoying the beautiful sunset view with the sea on one side and Mount Agung on the other.
Amed is famous for diving and snorkelling. Apnea, or free-diving, is the art of diving down without the aid of oxygen. As I was told on the first day of a two-day introduction to apnea, it is not about diving deep but more about the entire experience of immersing yourself in the water without any outside help and explore the natural limits of your body. Believe it or not, our bodies are somehow naturally adapted to free-diving and we share something called the "mammalian dive reflex" with whales, dolphins and other water-loving mammals. Surely, we cannot dive as deep as them, but I was surprised how this reflex kicks in the moment you hit the water, and helps the body to relax and consequently use less oxygen. As a result, it is much easier to hold your breath for an extended period of time – a few minutes at most, which certainly seems a lot longer whilst being in the water. All in all, I was extremely satisfied, exhausted but relaxed after the course, and already looking out for another moment to continue my exploration with free diving.
We then embarked on a speedboat directed to Gili Air, one of the small islands northwest of Lombok. We used Freebird to travel from Amed to Gili Air. We read terrible account of the boat trip, and how some companies were more unreliable and the boats really small. The travel was ok for us, also because the sea was quite calm (although Cami still doesn't feel great when on a boat!)
We got hooked to the slow pace of the island, the good food, the peaceful atmosphere and we ended up stretching our stay to 5 nights instead of 3. Moreover, on the queue for the speedboat, we met a lovely little family with whom we connected immediately and ended up spending a lot of time while on the island. Belén, Ruben and Lia are from Barcelona (our special connection with Catalunya seems to never abandon us!) and when we met them they were already travelling the world since 7 months! It was nice to meet such likeminded and interesting people, listen to their travel stories while seeing the little ones play and laugh with each other!
Gili Air is a great place to unwind and relax, do a bit of snorkelling if you feel like (Peter saw a turtle whilst swimming), and cycle around. We rented some rusty and cheap but sturdy bikes that brought us around the island. The beaches are not so big but the sand is soft and full of pieces of corals (also huge!). We enjoyed hanging by the beach and having juices by the beach and pizza at Mama Pizza (Italian approved), delicious food at Pachamama and excellent coffee at B52.
We left with a heavy hart back to Bali, but excited to go and explore the mountains and in search for some cooler weather.