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Bali - an Island of Welcome and Hospitality - Meet the Ogoh Ogoh and experience Nyepi, the Traditional Day of Silence

Updated on April 13, 2015
Balinese dancer
Balinese dancer | Source

BALI - A Day of Silence

One place I love to visit as often as possible is Bali, an island and province of Indonesia.

Bali never disappoints me and has much to offer for all ages.

On a recent trip I was there for Nyepi Day – Bali’s Day of Silence.

Bali Beach

Beach time in Bali
Beach time in Bali | Source

Arrival


Once the plane has landed at Bali Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar, customs and visa process cleared, you walk into the arrival lounge and immediately feel it...

That ceaseless rhythm of life.

The general commotion never ceases to amaze me.

Outside, as you locate your transport and head towards your accommodation it’s full on.

The roads teem with motorbikes, taxis, hire cars, bimos, buses. From my perspective all the vehicles appear to have the right of way.

Talk about organised chaos, I don’t really understand it but it works beautifully.

Day or night, pedestrians weave through traffic and streets - shops and restaurants open all hours.

I thought nothing could ever stop this all night, all day constant exhilaration.

And then I heard about Nyepi.



Hari Raya Nyepi – Bali’s Day of Silence


Nyepi is not a tourist attraction although they are welcome to observe the ritual. It is a most serious and important day, in the Hindu calendar and for the Balinese people.

It’s the celebration of the Hindu New Year and also heralds the end of the wet season.

A meaningful and dedicated day of silence for the island.

And here I am about to be a part of it, or, as a visitor to the island I’m more of an observer.

This year, 2015, Nyepi was celebrated on Saturday March 21st.

Nyepi Eve

Purification ceremony on the beach
Purification ceremony on the beach | Source

Before the Silence


I’ll begin in the evening before Nyepi day when each community hold a purification ceremony calming down and driving away any evil.

All communities and villages erect a huge monster – the Ogoh Ogoh – this impressive creature is carried with the help of a bamboo grid through the streets at nightfall.

The statues are large, many around 25 ft tall and difficult to manoeuvre .

The parades start around sunset, the centre of the parade being the main crossroad in the village or town.

Young people accompany the Ogoh Ogoh forming a procession. Gamelan musicians follow the creature and much banging of drums, firecrackers, shouting - as much noise as possible to frighten and chase away any malevolent forces.

I’m staying in Sanur and below is our Ogoh Ogoh – made of papier mache and guaranteed to impress..

Later the demon will be burned taking with him an evil spirits.

Ogoh Ogoh - Sanur Bali

Ogoh Ogoh
Ogoh Ogoh | Source
inside the ogoh ogoh
inside the ogoh ogoh | Source

Nyepi Eve

Source

Shhhhh– Silent Day


After the noise and celebrations of the evening Nyepi day is here.

From 6am until 6am the following day silence ensues.

The airport is closed now for 24 hours. I’m confident this is unlikely to happen in many places.

All shops are closed. No motorbikes, no cars, no traffic on the roads.

No people are allowed on the road or indeed on the streets.

No lights in the homes.

The Nyepi Rituals for the Balinese

  • Amati Geni - No/fire/light including electricity
  • Amati Karya - No working
  • Amati Lelungaan - No travelling
  • Amati Lelanguan - Fasting and no revelry/self-entertainment.

All the noise, hustle and bustle and non-stop traffic has now ceased.

Nyepi has done the impossible. The whole island is steeped in silence.


An empty beach on Nyepi Day

Source

Hotel Protocol Nyepi


Most hotels function for guests but there are limitations.

At the Santrian Beach Hotel, Sanur, where I am staying, the restaurant/bar is open and pool facilities operate during the day.

However, the following are expected to be adhered to.

  • No Check-In or Check Out of the hotel.
  • No Swimming in Sea
  • No Walking on the Beach
  • No activities on the beach deck.
  • No leaving the hotel grounds.
  • No television.
  • Only switch on lamp when required.

The guests at the hotel are primarily from Australia and Europe.

As the hotel grounds sweep down to the beach I did wonder if anyone would be tempted to leave and face the consequences.

Without exception, everyone stayed within the hotel grounds and supported Nyepi and the Balinese people in their important cultural day.

Traditional security men, the Pecalangs make sure the streets and beaches are empty and remain empty.

After dinner, and nightfall the hotel grounds are lit by candles, the gardens look eerie in the candlelight.

A pleasant young man with a torch helpfully escorts us back to our room and silence endures until 6am the following day.

If you were staying in Bali during Nyepi day how would you feel about the restrictions?

See results

Relax in Bali

Santrian Beach Hotel Gardens -
Santrian Beach Hotel Gardens - | Source

New Year

At exactly six am the following morning, along with bird song, I hear the first motor bike spring into action. It’s not long before the buzz of traffic is back to normal.

On the beach the Balinese residents are out in force, walking, picnicking, bathing in the sea, and generally rejoicing. It’s a most happy atmosphere.


New Years Day
New Years Day | Source

Staying in Bali


There are many places to stay in Bali.

Despite my initial introduction to traffic and noise Bali has another side, the most calm and comforting demeanour.

While my preference is Sanur, laid back and daydreamy, others choose resorts and hotels at Nusa Dua, Seminyak, Legian, Jimbaran and so many more

Massages on the beach, relaxing spa amenities in hotels, picture perfect beaches to stroll along. Sunshine and sea, fishing and swimming, bicycle riding, mess around in boats or sit at your favourite restaurant, eat, sip wine, and watch the waves wash onto the shore

Catering for a younger age group, Kuta is well known and always on a roll.

Inland, Ubud is recognised as the art and craft centre. The wood carvings here are magnificent.

Ubud also hosts the well established annual Writers' Festival. This year, 2015, the dates are October 28th - November 1. The theme is 17,000 islands of Imagination.

http://www.ubudwritersfestival.com/


Bali Bird Park
Bali Bird Park | Source

Bird Park


The Bali Bird Park is always worth a visit. The variety and beauty of the Indonesian parrots and over 200 species of birds is captivating.

All this in a setting of tropical gardens.

The Kecak Dance - Monkey Dance.

Chak-achak-achak – chak-achak-achak - no music accompaniment, just this hypnotic chant from 150 male voices, over and over, it is mesmerising. Fire, dancing and story telling all add to the experience.


Temples

All over the coast and highland of Bali you’ll find temples to visit. Every temple is unique. When you visit it is essential to abide by the rules of dress and conduct. Mostly a sarong and sash are required and are available for rent at the temple site.


Plenty to see in Bali

Bali teems with interesting places to see – the Monkey Forest, Kintamani volcano, Tanah Lot Temple, (one of many, all worth visiting) Agung Rai Museum of Art.

Rice terraces, coffee plantations, markets, cookery classes, take a tour of the island.

Want to get away from it all?– Treat yourself to a Bali retreat be it spiritual, health or cosmetic,

And shop till you drop.

It’s easy to sit back and simply relax.

It’s more fascinating to explore this island, meet the people and learn more of the culture.

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    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 22 months ago from australia

      truthfornow - thank you for you interesting look at Nyepi. It would be something if we could have a Silent Day here in Australia but I don't think it would ever happen...guess the same for the States. Ah well, nice to imagine...

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 22 months ago from New Orleans, LA

      I like the idea of a silent day. Maybe we can us that in the states just as a time to reflex and not be in such a crazy rush every day.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi peach purple - yes, to the locals it's a family day to be spent quietly with their families.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      Add Your Comment.what do they do on silent day?since they can't doany activities, they sleep whole day?..

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Thanks Larry, Bali does have much to offer, I always love visiting.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      What a beautiful and interesting place. I sure hope I get the opportunity to go someday.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hello Nadine, this is the first time I've been to Bali at Nyepi - the silent day really appealed to me too. Thank you for being here, much appreciate your visit.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi poetryman - love the silence and it is golden.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Thank you Audrey - Bali can be chaotic but also heavenly.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      I so loved reading about your trip to Bali. Bali has always been the one place I dreamed to visit, but so far I've not managed that. I have traveled a lot but rarely just for a holiday. Thank you for your inspiring description and the silence ritual truly attracts me now even more to visit Bali one day.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      Probably one of the more interesting things I have read about silence. I don't think I like their beaches because I don't see any bikinis there.

      Voted up!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      Fascinating--this is one of those places that seems like a slice of heaven to me--great hub!

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi Nadine - Bali is one of my favourite places to visit - I hope you make it there one day. Best wishes - Maj

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Loved reading your hub on Bali. I so wish that one day we could travel again, and Bali would be on my visiting list.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Thanks Nell - yes I am lucky and glad you enjoyed this tour of Bali. Good to see you - Maj

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Beautiful travel hub travmaj, you are so lucky to be able to visit these amazing places, I wish I could get on that plane and go visit it, loved it!

    • profile image

      Jude 2 years ago

      Thanks travmaj for very colourful and interesting armchair (for me) tour of beautiful Bali. Might get there someday myself. Cheers JJ

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      ChitrangadaSharan - Thank you so much for your comments and vote - good to have you along on a tour of Bali. I certainly hope you have a visit at some time - best wishes...

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This place seems amazingly beautiful and you presented this hub so beautifully. The pictures are so nice depicting natural beauty of the place.

      Would love to visit Bali sometime in future.

      Thanks for the tour, voted up!

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hello Catherine, - there is no check in or out of hotels on Nyepi day. However, most tourists are there for a week or more. I guess most people would be aware of the upcoming day. Glad you enjoyed a visit to Bali. Thank you for commenting and votes.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      This is all so fascinating. I think it would be better if hotels would not accept any bookings on the day of silence. I haven't been to Bali so I enjoyed your escorted tour via your words and photos. voted up ++

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hello Kay - I certainly appreciate your visit and thank you for your comments. I hope you visit Bali one day. It is interesting and relaxing. It can also be chaotic and then peaceful. Thanks again.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi Suzette - happy to know you enjoyed a visit to Bali via this article. I've been going to Bali for many years and seen the changes that tourists make! (that's another story) I wasn't aware of Nyepi though and once we heard just had to experience it. I'm so happy we did and it was an experience. I hope you see Bali one day, the silence and chaos. Thank you Suzzette

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi Flourish - thank you for your comments, most appreciated. I didn't expect to see many people honouring the silent day either but all the guests in out hotel were very courteous.

      I was aware of the restrictions before I left, I wanted to be there and experience it. As the airport closes for the day probably many people were aware. I can't speak for the whole island as we were in our hotel but from reports all went well. . My daughter was in a Home -Stay nearby and spent the day with the Balinese family. Thank you Flourish, I'm glad you enjoyed a visit to Bali.

    • profile image

      Kay Readdy 2 years ago

      Wonderful virtual tour of Bali. It looks to be both interesting and relaxing. Would love to visit. Thanks for that!

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      kinja18891 - Hello and thank you for commenting. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Bali - it does have so much to offer.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hello Mary, Bali can be incredibly hectic traffic wise - tourists on tour! There are busy noisy places and quieter ones, so much to choose from. I choose the quieter.I don't know of any other places that have a silent day though, it was so interesting and the only place I know that closes the major airport for 24 hours. That's silence! Thank you Mary for commenting and votes.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      Beautiful hub! I would love to visit Bali some day. I would love to experience the day of silence. I think that is remarkable that the entire island shuts down and is completely silent. As they say, "Silence is golden." They know how to respect silence and the peace it can bring. I love how you describe it on the other days of the year - organized chaos. LOL! I'd fit right in there on those days too. Thanks for sharing your Bali experience with us and telling us what to see and do on the island.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      I have only recently heard of this and was so glad to have heard more details. I cannot imagine people honoring it (unfortunately) in the US. I'm glad that tourists respected the cultural tradition. Bali looks like a terrific place to visit.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Glad you enjoyed the tour Bill and I'm confident you'll be on tour soon - although you may be writing the sequel to that bestseller. Thanks for commenting, much appreciated.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Thank you so much Sheila, glad it fuelled your imagination - it was quite an experience to be in Bali on Nyepi day of silence. Luckily the hotel, like many in Bali, had spacious grounds and we could walk there but not out of the hotel grounds or onto the beach.

    • kinjal8891 profile image

      Kinjal 2 years ago from Mumbai

      Bali is amazingly beautiful place. I had visited 2 years back and the sceneray there and water and evrything is soo mesmerizing and their culture is also very rich. Happy travelling.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      I would love to visit Bali. I'm all for quiet. We Americans are too busy running here and there, and driving our cars far too much! The people who live on Bali must not have smart phones; I'm so tired of hearing people talk on their phones all the time!

      Voted this UP, etc.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You make a wonderful tour guide, Maj, and I thank you. Your love for these places shines through in your writing voice. I wish I could visit there one day, but I need a bestseller to happen first. :)

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      This is a wonderful hub! I want to board a plane for Bali right now! I would respect their day of quiet, but it would be difficult to not go outside and walk around to see all the beauty of this place. Your pictures are beautiful!