Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bali - Indonesia

After the volcanoes of Java Island (see blog) I went to Bali and which coincidentally was celebrating the major festival of Nyepi. This is a Hindu tradition near the end of March that celebrates the end of the old year and the start of a new one according to 'saka' (Balinese calendar based on the lunar cycle). I read about this holiday in the guidebook and it said something about the town shutting down so get a good book and catch up on your sleep. Ok literally, the town shuts down and when I tried to leave the hotel to get some water the gate was closed and no one was allowed outside. Crazy huh? The tradition is based on a belief that evil spirits descend on the first day of the year and will think the island of Bali is uninhabited so they leave the local people alone for another year. At this point I was glad that I splurged the extra $3 a night and got a great hotel with pool, restaurant, bar, etc. Also the day before they had a party in the streets with huge impressions of demon spirits being conquered by warriors (see pics) so I'm assuming that this was mocking the sprits and showing the Balinese triumph over evil. Ok I have no idea but it was pretty cool to be a part of.

As far as the rest of Bali I only stayed in the resorty surfer area at the south end and didn't bother to take pics of the crowded beaches, Hard Rock CafĂ©, Circle K, McDonalds, etc. For me this was a place to catch up on email, laundry, book flights, lobster and sushi dinners for less than $6, read a book, and then catch a boat to the Gili Islands – more specifically Gili Trawangan population 800 and known for great diving, local dishes with 'magic mushrooms' and all night parties.

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