Nyepi is a sacred and important day to the Balinese, and this was clearly demonstrated by their thorough preparations for the event. For weeks before there were posters and signs up notifying everyone that shops would be closed on the 31st March. This is because on Nyepi everyone is required to stay inside their houses, and it is illegal to do any activities, or even leave the lights on. The whole idea is that all the demons on the island will be tricked into thinking there is no one left on it, and they will leave, thus purifying the whole island.
On the eve of Nyepi there was a parade of the demon statues down the main street, and we went to watch. People of all ages were joined in the parade, either pushing the statues or as a part of the cacophonous bands. With their black and white checkered robes, all the fire and the noise, the experience was a unique and crazy one.
The hotel we were staying at had made lots of provisions for this sacred day to ensure that their guests were provided with the most comfort possible. No one was allowed to leave the hotel grounds, so we were captives there. They had planned fun activities to entertain everyone like eggplant races and coke drinking competitions (this for for the adults). In addition to this there were elaborate New Year buffets on offer, so basically the guests were forced to have a great time and stuff their faces.
We woke up late on the morning of Nyepi, as usual, and swopped out our planned gym session in exchange for the breakfast buffet. After eating so much that we just about rolled back to our room, we collapsed on our beds, panting for air and letting the sweat we worked up from our vigourous eating evaporate. Once again we gave up the idea of a gym session and chose to rather wallow in our air conditioned room and let our food settle… and perhaps sneak in a little nap. Eating so much really makes one lethargic!
The afternoon came around and we soon felt guilty about just being in the room all day, so we consoled ourselves by lying by the pool instead of on our beds. While tanning the absurd thought of dinner popped into our heads, and soon developed into a discussion. We were torn between still being full of food and guilt from breakfast and the enticing dinner buffet the hotel had planned. A waiter came by and showed us the menu for the evening and my mom was sold as soon as she saw there was duck. Norman and I were still reserved because the idea of spending 375 000 IDR per person on dinner was ludicrous, seeing as though that was more than our previous daily budget! My mom’s mind, however, was not constrained from weeks of backpacking like ours were, so she convinced us. How could we say no?
The meal was early, 5PM, so we didn’t have much time until then and we were still full from breakfast. We decided that we a gym session was in order, and we finally squeezed into our gym clothes and went to work out. We all felt better after that, and after a primping session, we were off to dinner!
There was the constant thought in the back of our minds that we had to get our moneys worth, and boy did we! Norman did the best out of all of us, but my mom and I weren’t too shabby either. One of my helpings had sirloin, lamb, turkey, duck and pork loin all on one plate… and I don’t even eat pork usually. I had at least 5 types of ice cream during the dessert course, and that was in addition to an assortment of puddings.
We concluded our extremely eventful day by checking out what was left of the sunset, and then going back to our room and lying on our beds. A New Year’s well spent!