For those of you that missed it, Nyepi has recently passed in Bali. The period of silence is a unique holy observance for the Hindu Balinese and it is an event, or non-event, that I have experienced on a number of occasions. If you have never heard of Nyepi the following is brief overview of the religious occasion it’s origins and it’s meaning.
Westerners celebrate the New Year with parties and fireworks; however in contrast, the Balinese open their New Year in silence. This is called Nyepi, the Balinese period of Silence which falls on the day following the dark moon of the spring equinox.
The following You-tube Video shows the intensity of Balinese stabbing and trance ceremony Melasti, a seaside purification ceremony that is undertaken to welcome in Nyepi, the Balinese Hindu ‘Day of Silence’ and New Year.
Nyepi Day, as it is commonly referred to, runs for twenty four hours and opens a new year of the Saka Hindu Era. During this period of silence everything on Bali shuts down including the international airport.
Nyepi is celebrated to help keep the balance of good and evil positive and negative in nature. It is based on the religious belief of King Kaniska of India who was inaugurated in 78 A.D.
During his reign he conducted a missionary tour to Java Indonesia to promote and spread Hinduism. But the King was also famous for his wisdom and he was celebrated for his tolerance of both Hinduism and Buddhism.
Balinese Hindus have a number of religious celebrations but Nyepi is perhaps the most important. The guidelines for the twenty four hours of complete silence are taken seriously, particularly in villages outside of Bali’s southern tourist belt.
From the religious and philosophy point of view, Nyepi is meant to be a day of self-introspection to contemplate on the values of humanity, love, patience and kindness.
Hotels are partially exempt from Nyepi’s rigorous practice of silence but streets outside are closed to both pedestrians and vehicles. (Except for emergency vehicles) Temple guardians Pecalang are also posted outside to keep people and their houses safe.
The strict observance of Nyepi demands both silence and darkness for 24-hours during the period sunrise to sunrise the following day.
Summarized, the four tenets for Nyepi are as follows.
* Amati geni – Do not ignite fires or turn on lights.
*Amati Karya – Refrain from all activity and rest.
*Amati lelungan – Stay at home with family and loved ones and do not embark on trips or journeys.
*Amati lelanguan – Do not satisfy any lusts or engage in other pleasurable pursuits.
Nyepi forms a large part of Bali’s mystique and it is just another occasion that helps make Bali unique island. Summarized below are the four tenets for Nyepi.
Note: I would have liked to include a few pictures of the Agoh-Agoh for this article but it is considered bad luck to take or display pictures of the Mystical Creatures.
Recently I have seen a number of these Papier-mâché effigies for sale around Bali. The artistic work is incredible, but it is sad that a part of the tradition is starting to be ignored in the pursuit of money.
Riding a scooter in Bali, and what to do if you are pulled over by a policeman.
This blog is primarily about the Bali Islands, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. But if you are visiting the islands for any length of time chances are you will either ride on the front or the back of a scooter as larger vehicles are scarce. Police are also scarce on the islands but that is not the case in Bali itself.
I would like to point out that I am not suggesting anyone bribe a member of the local constabulary in this article. What I am suggesting is that it’s hot being a policeman in the tropics, and maybe these nice people need a drink or a snack on occasion.
Here are a few tips on what to do if you encounter a policeman in Bali while you’re riding a scooter.
Smile, be polite and address the policeman with respect
It is always wise to be polite to any policeman that stops you in Bali. Indonesians do not like to lose face and policemen in Bali expect to be treated with a certain level of respect. Address a Balinese policeman as Pak or sir and always smile, it will go a long way to reducing your fine.
Have cash in a separate pocket than your wallet or purse
Policemen in Bali have the eyesight of predator birds and they are hungry and thirsty. They are always watching for wallets brimming with tourist dollars so they can buy a drink or a snack. Anyone riding a scooter should always carry a small amount of cash in a separate pocket to help them out.
Only carry small denominations.
Make sure that the lunch money cash you have is in small denominations and be visible handing it over. They won’t want to be seen counting the money and as long as there looks like there is enough for a cold drink they wont be too concerned.
Do not be bullied into paying too much
If you are pulled over you may be threatened with court, a large fine or confiscation of the vehicle. It is important to remember that in Bali most problems can be solved with the offer of a cold drink and a bit of a snack. Remain calm, non-confrontational and remember it’s all about the experience and the holiday.
Wear a motorcycle helmet
You will see a number of locals riding without helmets, if you are a tourist in Bali the same rules do not apply. Policemen in Bali love nothing more than pulling over tourists without helmets.
The surfers are great at getting caught with this one. Do they really think the police won’t notice that big bushy blonde hairdo in a sea of dark haired Indonesians?
Recognize where the policemen are stationed
Policemen in Bali do not move around a lot and Bali is a rabbit warren of small roads that lead to the place you are heading. Make a mental note of where the police are stationed and then use the back roads and alleys to get to your destination.
Obtain an international drivers license
Solve all problems by purchasing an international driver’s license in your home country. They are not expensive, they are recognized and they will save you a great deal of hassle and cash.
Travelling around Bali by motorbike and where rice paddies meet the ocean
Bali isn’t all about nightlife, shopping and its white sandy beaches. One of my greatest joys while I lived on the island was touring by motorbike. For the more adventurous person seeking to get away from it all Bali does offer up some spectacular scenery. And just getting to these locations by motorbike can be as exciting as it is dangerous.
I’m not suggesting riding scooters for the following trips. I would recommend renting a proper motorbike with a small amount of grunt and a great deal of breaking power. And believe me if you do decide to make one of these journeys, you will need it. I used to ride a Honda Tiger 200 with a bored out engine, which is by no means a big bike. But it did have the get up and go to get me out of trouble and the double disk brakes did a good job of stopping me when I needed it.
Riding on Bali’s streets can be perilous at the best of times. The roads in the tourist areas are generally swarming with horn hooting maniacs who possess no real driving etiquette. But when you ride around the out-flung rural areas of Bali the traffic flow becomes faster and accordingly the risk intensifies. If you are going to undertake one of these excursions, you will also need a great deal of courage and a healthy appetite for self-endangerment.
The roads outside of the tourist areas can be treacherous and it is not just because a number of them are in disrepair. You will need to be prepared for irresponsible truck drivers with dangerously overloaded vehicles. And sleep deprived tour bus drivers with a need to navigate hairpin bends at breakneck speed. You will also encounter collections of suicidal maniacs driving dilapidated automobiles who have a desperate urge to overtake. And you will find yourself dodging thousands kamikaze scooter riders with a propensity towards playing road warrior.
You may be asking right now why in bloody hell would anyone want to do that, and I wouldn’t blame you. Riding a motorbike to Bali’s outlying areas is not for the fainthearted.
But, for people with an adventurous soul the rewards can be truly wondrous. When you are not watching and avoiding the oncoming and overtaking traffic. You will be treated with amazing scenery and glimpses into Bali life before tourism.
You will also feel the sense of freedom and anticipation that only touring to picturesque places unknown can provide. You will ride through tropical jungles and alongside deserted beaches. You will coast up and down mountains buried in thick steaming rain forests and you will pass ancient temples and locals tending thick green rice paddies. And the best part is that you can manage to do all of these things with just one days ridding.
The very best thing about touring Bali is its size and the close proximity of its attractions to the main tourist hubs of Kuta or Seminyak. For those people that have a longer journey in mind it is possible to ride around, or through the middle, of the island in around two to three days. But for those with time restrictions it is quite possible to leave Kuta or Seminyak early in the morning and arrive back at the hotel for a bit of pool sitting and cocktail sipping by late afternoon.
You will also find that most locals will be friendly enough to give directions and that there are plenty of places along the way where you can buy food and refreshments.
This is one of my favourite trips and the route is packed with scenery. Medewi is remote village in one of the least visited areas of Bali. And it is well known for its surfing beaches, Balian’s and Medewi Beach.
Medewi surf spot is located about 75 kilometres west of Denpasar. The time it takes to reach Medewi by motorbike is approximately two hours. At journeys end you will find a good restaurant at the entrance to the surf beach, top of the hill left hand side. Accommodation is also available if you want to spend the night and ride back the next day.
Kuta-Candi Dasa- Kuta
Due to the newly opened east coast road this is one of the easiest rides. Candi Dasa is approximately a one and half-hour ride from Kuta passing through the Sanur area.
Candi Dasa is a sleepy tourist town but there are plenty of hotels, bars and restaurants if you wish to spend the evening and ride back the next day. Small tip, for a nice view of Bali’s islands ride though the town and up the mountain at its end.
Again this is an easy ride but beware Ubud is very popular amongst tourists so there will be plenty of traffic to contend with. Ubud is located in central Bali and it is considered Bali’s cultural heart. It is famous as an arts and crafts hub, and much of the town and nearby villages seems to consist of artists’ workshops and galleries.
There is also an abundance of accommodation and restaurants and plenty to see and do. Rather than a day trip it is perhaps worth spending at least a couple of days in the small town.
Uluwatu is Bali’s surfing mecca so it is well worth a visit, also some of Bali’s most stunning beaches are located in this area. And then of course there is Uluwatu Temple itself so this makes the perfect day trip. Unfortunately due to large amounts of traffic in the Bukit area this is a dangerous ride. Be very careful of the yellow trucks overloaded with limestone. And do not get caught to close behind going up the Bukit hill or too close in front coming down. Due to their massive workload the brakes in these vehicles have been known to fail.
Once you are through this dangerous area the roads will open up and they will become less congested. The trip from Kuta to Uluwatu will take an hour and half and there is plenty of accommodation and restaurants along the way or at journeys end.
The above places and how to get there can be found on google maps or in G.P.S. systems. It is always wise when ridding long distance to have the correct equipment. A western standard motorbike helmet, and some form of protective clothing, not singlet shorts and flip flops. It would also be recommended to take a small back pack with a change of clothes just in case you want to spend the night.
A number of western men travel to Bali with the sole intention of meeting a Balinese lady and falling in love. This is understandable. Balinese women can be extremely attractive and some would consider them to be the most beautiful in Indonesia. But Indonesia consists of 17,508 islands 33 provinces and a population of over 238 million people.
So why do western men find Balinese Women so attractive?
Balinese Women and Beauty
Balinese Women tend to have a rounder, softer face than their Javanese counterparts. They are also inclined to have a more voluptuous figure. Perhaps it is due to their deep spirituality but Balinese Women also seem to radiate a peaceful and content quality. A Balinese Lady in full ceremonial dress can be a vision to behold.
Balinese Women and Attentiveness
Many Balinese Women seek the more traditional female role of carer in a relationship. And they are extremely thoughtful and attentive to any man that they love. But a Balinese Woman who adopts this role will also expect her partner to assume the same traditional male role of provider and protector.
Balinese Women and Education
Although poor in some areas Bali is one of the richest provinces of Indonesia. This wealth ensures that younger Balinese Women receive an adequate education and that many experience a contemporary lifestyle. Although Balinese Women are deeply rooted in their traditions and spirituality they manage to balance this with the modernity of most western women.
Balinese Women and Friendliness
The Balinese are considered by most people as an extremely friendly race of people. They are in fact renowned worldwide for their approach ability and kind nature. Most Balinese Women are very affable, carefree and welcoming of friendship, these personality traits could almost be considered an integral part of a Balinese Woman’s DNA.
Balinese women and marriage
Balinese Women have a high regard for the values of traditional marriage. They are taught that they should follow their man. This does mean that they should follow his rules blindly. It means that they should allow for their husband’s opinions and then act according to their merit.
The majority of these observations could be considered generalizations and perhaps it is wrong to group people into simple explanations. Please understand that these thoughts are little more than an attempt to explain the attractiveness of Balinese Women.
Bali Islands, Nusa Lembongan, nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida
Bali’s island’s are located in the south east of Bali in the Bandung Strait, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida are 16 miles from Bali and a short boat ride from Sanur. The passage to the small island chain from Bali is the traveling distance is 12 miles or approximately 35 min.
Nusa Lembongan is a small island off the southeast coast of the main island of Bali that is fast becoming one of Bali’s most popular attractions.
With plenty of bars, restaurants and accommodation and with stunning beaches, surf spots, snorkeling and other activities it has all the beauty of Bali without the hassle.
Bali’s best kept secret Ceningan Island is like the Bali of old yet it still boasts hotels, bar/restaurants, and a secret beach. There is also a zip line attraction and a renowned surf break known as Ceningan Point.
Situated in close proximity to Ceningan are many world-class dive areas which include Coral Manta, Sunfish, and the well known Ceningan Wall dive.
Nusa Penida is the largest, mysterious and perhaps the most spectacular of the three islands. Largely untouched by tourism Penida holds a special place in the spiritual heart of most Balinese as one of it’s most spectacular and important temples, Giri Putri is located on the island.