Nyepi - Bali's "Day of Silence"
Now flying into Bali on Nyepi Day is not up there with one of the smartest things I have done in my time.
After spending time with a group of friends visiting the beautiful ginger organutans, in Borneo we flew into Denpassar, arriving at 7pm on the evening before shut down for Nyepi Day.
Now, if you are not aware of what goes on in Nyepi Day I will just give you a wee insight:
- This day commemorates Saka New Year
- It is a Hindu celebration mainly celebrated in Bali, Indonesia.
- Nyepi, a public holiday in Indonesia, is a day of silence, fasting and meditation for the Balinese.
- The day following Nyepi is also celebrated as New Year's Day.
- On this day, the youth of Bali practice the ceremony of Omed-omedan or 'The Kissing Ritual' to celebrate the new year.
- Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection, and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted.
- Restrictions - no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no travelling; and, for some, no talking or eating at all.
For holiday makers this affects us at the core - Bali's bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen on the streets are the tourist police and security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed. Although holiday makers they are free to do as they wish inside their hotels, no one is allowed onto the beaches or streets, and the only airport in Bali remains closed for the entire day.
So - there we were with all our luggage after being in the jungle for a week, arriving at the Denpassar airport to a queue around 30 metres long waiting for taxis. We wait around half an hour for a taxi and cram ourselves, and all our bags into and head away with the thought we are not far from arriving at our hotel to enjoy a shower, swim, and a cocktail, or two (now remember, we have been in Borneo for a week where alcohol is not permitted)
Within minutes of leaving the airport we head into the depth of the festivities, life size paper mache monsters being carted through the streets, people singing, dancing, chanting...no matter where you look there is something to be wide eyed over and point out to the others.
Within 15 minutes the traffic is so congested we are travelling at snails pace, and a lot of tooting is going on. Our taxi driver stops and tells us he is not able to travel any further - 'what the...'. I know where we are, and I am inclined to hold back on letting the others know that we are over 2km from our hotel. I smile, tell the girls we can do this and empty the taxi of our luggage.
Now remember, we have been travelling since 10am that morning, and the temperatures have been consistently in the late 30's in Borneo, and now at 8pm still in the early 30's. Two of us have 90 litre back packs, as well as our hand luggage, the other have suitcases on wheels (haha- I’m laughing right now at how hilarious they looked). We started our walk through the Bali streets and within minutes I have sweat patches forming, to tell you the truth I think I had those before I even hopped out of the taxi!
We are so tired now that we are all hilariously joking about the situation we find ourselves in. The sweat is dripping off us, our jandals are not coping with the road conditions, and we question whether we will bother keeping the clothing we are currently wearing, or just tossing them in the bin as soon as we can take them off.
We are aware that all shops that are not already closed will close at 10pm and it is now 15 minutes before. I can see our hotel in sight, and the local shop opposite with dim lights still glowing...yes! We have arrived.
We head straight to the shop and all squeeze in there like a sardines…ahhhh...... the air con....the air con....bliss! The first thing I get is a cold beer from the fridge, and pass one round to the other 3 girls...we grab snacks for the following day, have a laugh at the sight of each other - I didn’t know that we had signed up for wet t-shirt competition as all of us are dripping with walking with 20kg for the last hour.
With our hotel a mere 50 metres away we make our way over the road, snacks on board and within half an hour we are checked in, flagged the shower and headed straight to the pool for after dark cocktails.
The following day we reflect on our hilarious escapade, having slept extremely well that night. With not being able to leave the hotel, we settled beside the pool for the day. Manicures, pedicures, lunchtime cocktails, book reading, quality time with friends...really - I think being in Bali for Nyepi Day was just perfect!
Moral of the story - If you are going to be in Bali on Nyepi Day be at your hotel, relaxed, and all shopped out - THE DAY BEFORE :)