New Year # 3: Nyepi

First, I celebrated international New year in Sydney…Second, Chinese New year (I was in NZ…but being half Chinese I always celebrate this bad boy)…Third, Nyepi (aka: Balinese New Year).  I was reading blogs/internet advice and read that this year the 12 would be the Bali New Year and thought that I would HAVE to be here for it….’it would be such an amazing party’…then you get here and find out that the day before Nyepi is a celebration…Nyepi is a day where you can’t use electricity, talk to people, or leave your room.  Literally the whole island shuts down and the only people in the streets are the Nyepi police ensuring that locals and foreigners are both observing the holiday. 


It’s not Indonesian…..but Balinese…and I don’t think it actually has much to do with religion either otherwise it wouldn’t only be here…  The Balinese calendar is 60 weeks long, so today (I’m cheating…a bit) is the mark of 1930-something.  Yesterday was the Ogoh-Ogoh parade which is supposed to be best in Ubud…basically a dozen-ish massive monsters built by locals from surrounding districts out of organic materials (like 20 ft high) and paraded through the streets before dusk to scare away and slay any bad spirits….then after the sun sets they burn them and subsequently all the bad spirits they would have caught.  Then while all of the residue escapes the streets the Balinese must stay inside and reflect on their year, the following day is a celebration once again filled with apologies and forgiveness as the happiest people on earth (arguably) embark on another year.


In an effort to be so ridiculously tired on Nyepi that we could sleep all day to avoid the confinement and boredom of the day two friends and I decided to do a sunrise volcano trek.  We started at 2am Monday (Sunday night)…and decided not to sleep first…turns out everyone else got the memo that you would be helllllllla tired if you stayed up all night.  More importantly stayed up after waking for early yoga Sunday morning….Anyway, at 2am we drove out to Mt Batik (I think….the smaller one…not Arung) for a 2 hour trek to the top to see the sunrise.  It was way more challenging than any of us anticipated, but the view from the top was more than worth it!  We got up in time to take cliché yoga pose photos, and soak in the impressive view.  The climb down was actually way worse…if anything I was just more impressed at what we had climbed in the dark as we all slipped and tripped down the unstable lava-rock.


After we decided once again not to sleep hoping our deprivation would be satisfied the next day, so we stocked up on wholesome baked goods (veggie samosas, banana breads, rye pretzels) fruit, and nuts for the next day as we clued in that we would have no access to food for the holiday.  Most homestays provide guests with food…but apparently our budget choices had left us to fend for ourselves.  By the time we’d bartered down prices in the spirit of ‘nyepi’ it was time to head out to the ogoh ogh parade…


I would have been okay walking 20 meters, letting the people carrying the ogoh ogoh stop for water for 10 minutes then walking 20 meters if I hadn’t been up since 7 the day before and done 2 yoga classes and hiked a volcano in that time…so we decided to skip the burning which seemed to be hours away and catch a couple Bintang’s as a toast to the new year. …On the walk home the power surged on Ubud’s main streets and the silence of Nyepi had blanketed even our excited recollections of the day as we tiptoed to our rooms for what would be 36 powerless hours.


I definitely pre-charged every electronic item I had…Then realized I wouldn’t have access to wifi anyway…but my computer screen is currently a great light to brush my teeth…and I did actually meditate for an hour, did 8 minute abs…twice…and (although it is easy for my rest-less mind) did a boatload of introspection. 


I was up from sunrise, to sunset, to sunrise, to sunset and still only slept 8 hours…I wasn’t tired this morning at all.  I thought about how amazing I feel….how many times I’ve stopped in the last (almost 5) months to think “this is my life”.  I’ve said it in gratitude, amazement, almost humor at times…but today I looked at it so much more literally.  This is my life…not just my trip but my life. 


I was contemplating earlier in the week whether or not to go to the full moon party in Thailand.  I know in my gut that I can’t be fussed…but everyone says I have to go, and everyone will ask if I go…finally thanks to the wise words of a fellow traveller I decided I’m not going.  I’ve been preaching that it’s my trip, nobody elses…and I know in theory that what other people think shouldn’t matter…which is mostly why I didn’t end up doing half of the adventure things in NZ, and scrapped the Gili’s to stay in Ubud… and I don’t regret it at all… but she said, not only can you not travel to impress people…but you must also consider that you for this time in your life can chose exactly where you want to be…and by chosing to be in once place, you are also choosing not to be in another.  So not only is it the money, the fact that I don’t care to go, or that I may not enjoy it….it’s the fact that I’m giving up the opportunity to be somewhere I’d rather be and I won’t get that time back later.  For whatever reason that really stuck out to me.  Reminding me that when we make choices we are not only choosing one thing, we are also often giving up another.  And so, once again I find myself acknowledging my battle of caring what other people think.  For some reason this particular example of me giving up precious time somewhere I want to be travelling to go somewhere I know people think I should go is glaringly obvious that it’s not just choosing for others, it’s also sacrificing something for myself. 



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