Our first night in Bali was a total sensory overload!
If you like this Bali piece, check out our others.
Getting to Denpasar was very easy.
A cheap cab ride to the airport, easy check-in (thanks to Raffles Class on Singapore Airlines), and some quick duty-free shopping for Absolut and Clinique, and we are happy to begin our Bali adventure. I haven’t even mentioned the great lunch and drinks they provide in the Raffles lounge.
Our flight is a mere 2.5 hours from Singapore to Denpasar, and other than facing the unexpected $25.00 US each for visas (only required as of Feb. 1) coming into Denpasar, we are home free. We even have the luxury of having a driver meet us at the airport (as part of our hotel package) to drive us to the hotel. We clear customs and walk out into the arrivals hall to a sea of signs welcoming Mr. This or Ms. That and Family So and So until, scanning the crowd, I see “Welcome, Mr. George” emblazoned on a sign. We are whisked away by our escort, “Madé” and his trusty driver and told that we have a 30-minute drive to our Bali accommodation, “depending on traffic”. Our Bali adventure has begun!
It’s Nyepi Eve in Bali
We have landed on the eve of a major Balinese holiday weekend called Nyepi, the Balinese Hindu New Year. This occurs on the darkest night of the new moon and is a time of balancing good and evil. From dawn on Sunday to sunrise the following morning, the entire island will “play dead” in observance of the holiday. All harbours will close, as will the airport, vehicular traffic will cease, and everyone will remain in the confines of their homes/hotels.
The festival actually goes for 3 days – the day of silence is only 1 of those days – and many ritual purifications take place even before it starts. As we drive from the airport, we see sarung-clad “percalang”, Bali’s religious police, redirecting traffic away from temples where celebrations occur.
We arrive fairly on time after detours around celebrants of Melasti, who have been performing ritual purification of religious paraphernalia such as Balinese cloth umbrellas, statues (and there are a lot!), spears and other sacred objects kept in homes or temples. We are a little overwhelmed and unsure of our direction, watching and hearing the cacophony around us. We check into our Bali oasis, the Bali Agung Village, strangely cut into the back alleys and roads of Seminyak and settle into our simple room. The grounds appear beautiful, and a shimmering pool beckons us to swim. We grab a beer, and I dangle my feet while John jumps in. The staff is quietly gracious and always there, beaming smiles and all. We appear to be the only ones here this evening. It is gloriously quiet except for tree frogs and some other undecipherable small animal noise.