I arrived Friday afternoon in Bali, anxious to get in and explore. I had a great plan to get a Grab Car to Ubud, find my place and do an evening yoga class, but….I arrived just in time for Nyepi and could not get a Grab or a number of other rides. Drivers kept telling me of all the road closures and how long it would take 4 – 6 hours instead of 1 – 2 hours. Finally I found someone crazy enough to take me on the journey for about 3x the normal price. His name was Anton, he spoke great English and loved to sing and entertain! He was happy to let me take some pictures during the dozens of times we were rerouted around festival happenings (laughing the whole time!) and told me about Nyepi, Bali’s major Hindu festival celebrating a new year on the religious calendar.
The night before communities celebrate with ogoh-ogoh, huge paper mache monsters that go up in flames at the end of the night. The next day, the new year is marked by inactivity to convince the evil spirits that Bali is uninhabited. This means no lights visible from outside, no internet (the government shuts it down!), no work, and no going out in public.
When we got into Ubud, there was no way to get to my guest house, so he parked the car a km or so away and put on my backpack for the walk. We finally found my place and it was amazing!!! It sits back off the main roads near the art shops and is nestled in a jungle garden! So beautiful and relaxing!
Since Anton was now trapped in the town for several more hours until the festival wound down, he offered to take me out and enjoy the party. He knew right where to go and got us up in the front row to watch the ogoh-ogoh displays where groups from the community carry them out and run wildly through the crowds. I was knocked down a couple of times, but it was so exciting to be right in the center of the action! The monsters were so big, they actually had guys with poles to lift the power lines up to get them through the streets….this was where I stepped away a bit..😬!
In the morning my host brought me a delicious breakfast to enjoy on my balcony. It was much needed since I hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast the day before. They are also brought me dinner since there was no other way to get food on Nyepi. I settled in and took the day to relax, unwind, do some meditation, sketch and plan my next adventures through Bali! Although it was unplanned, it was a treat to have a say in silence to reflect on all I have learned on my journey so far!
This morning I got out and started the day with a run to get my bearings. More fun coming soon!!!