We were warned via email from Steve
(a friend of Eric’s, who recommended the hotel that we are staying at) who lives in Jakarta, that we would be here for Nyepi. So we sort of knew what we were in for. But we don’t really know what to expect – we have been told that the hotel will offer minimal services today, but as we go up for breakfast, it seems fully staffed. As we look around, though, we realize that many familiar faces are not here. We learn that everyone who is working at the hotel today is either Javanese or Sumatran, and so not celebrating Nyepi – Bali is predominantly Hindu, while the rest of Indonesia is predominantly Muslim.
NoWhere to Go
In our room is a notice from the hotel management advising us that we will not be allowed to leave the hotel premises today, and that if we do, we will be escorted back to the hotel by the percalang. And so the restaurant is full – people have nowhere to go even though they have finished eating.
We grab chaises by the pool – there are not enough to go around. The day is hot and humid, and we are in the pool more than we are out of it. The bar is open – the only noticeable difference is that there is no music coming from the speakers. There is a brief, but heavy, downpour, early in the afternoon, and musical chaises ensue. We guard ours closely, and spend the afternoon as we spent the morning.
No Fire, No Electricity Today
Dinner tonight is a special buffet, and is served only until 6. We retire to our room for a nap, and make our way to the restaurant about 4:45, which still feels too early, despite having skipped lunch. We start talking to the 2 women at the next table, Bev and Janet, who are Aussies from Adelaide and Melbourne. We compare notes on Australia, and then they start downloading advice on Bali – Bev has been here many, many times. After dinner we hit the pool, and as the sun goes down we realize that the hotel will not be turning on any lights this evening. We knew that the Balinese are not to use electricity or fire today, but we had understood that hotels and hospitals were exempted. Apparently, the exemption is only for interior lights. So the evening darkens into total darkness. We feel alone until 2 people join us, and we realize that they are Bev and Janet.
At about 9 we are asked to leave the pool so that everyone can go home, and so we head to Bev and Janet’s room, to continue our Nyepi celebrations. We are very conscious that behind the bar by the pool is a big open hole that would not be fun to fall into, but the rest of the going proves tougher than expected – the steps and the paths that are easy to negotiate with light are treacherous in pitch black. We had thought everyone had left, but as we try to get from here to there without killing ourselves, flashlights suddenly blind us and it turns out that there are a number of security people around, presumably to prevent people like us from breaking our necks.
While we are welcoming the New Year and Nyepi, it starts to pour. About 11 we head for home, and again the flashlights magically appear to help us. In the very short distance we have to travel, we get completely soaked.
We drift off to sleep, unconsciously noting that the storm’s intensity has increased.