NEW YEARS..... BALI STYLE
and Akaisha Kaderli
When someone mentions they are going to Bali, grand visions
appear…. beautiful terraced rice fields, gentle streams, soft spoken
people….well, if it’s there, we didn’t find it. But, if you're looking
for "made to order" antiques, over priced trinkets, and
aggressive hustlers, they are readily available.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
The local tour agent met us at the airport in Bali and
informed us that we would not be able to take the tour of Ubud, the
mountainous cultural center of Bali, that we had planned for the next day.
The 25th of March, he explained, is the Balinese New Year. Perfect, we
thought...so we'll enjoy the New Year's festivities, as we have done in many other countries.
Our guide, though, continued to explain that, not
only could we not travel to Ubud, but we were, in fact, not to leave our
hotel. To do so would risk imprisonment and a $100 fine. Indeed, the
Balinese Hindus (85% of the local population) meditate all New Year's Day.
For these 24 hours, they do not speak, eat, or drink. Checking into our
hotel room, we were greeted by these written instructions:
"Nyepi Day is a very unique holiday in Bali which will
be held on this March 25. Balinese New Year, called Icaka New Year, is the
day of total silence throughout the Bali island. No activity is done, no
traffic at all on the road, no shops or restaurants may open, no fires may
be lit, and no amusement held for the long day. Even lovemaking is
prohibited. Aircraft may not fly over Bali on this day."
The notice continued to tell us to keep light and noise to a minimum, that the hotel restaurant and bar would be closed all
that maid and room service would not be available.
This is why we paid to stay in a Four Star Resort??????
Not entirely by choice, we welcomed the Balinese New Year
in the Hindu tradition.