March 28, 2017
Nyepi, the Day of Silence, is literally a silent day. It’s a day for self-reflection and internal purification that is actually mandated by government authorities. The entire country is required to shut down for 24 hours starting at 6am. Any outdoor activity is illegal. You must observe this Hindu holiday. There are no flights on this day. No cars (unless there is an emergency). No lights. No work. Some people fast for 24 hours. Of course this tradition is a little hard for tourists and hotels to observe so the rules are a little bendable for us. Tourists are typically allowed to do what they want as long as they stay within the confines of the hotel.
Before our arrival, the hotel asked us to confirm if we were okay with it being Nyepi during our stay. I don’t know what they expect people to do when they send this message 3 days before your actual stay. It’s not like people can change their flights.
I had intentionally decided to stay in Bali during Nyepi though. I was curious to see the Ogoh-ogoh festivities and I thought it’d be good to be forced to relax. Every time I travel, I always feel the need to be on the go all the time. Mandatory relaxation in Bali was exactly what I needed. I made sure to pick a hotel that offered everything. I selected the Trans Resort Bali in Seminyak which had a beautiful pool, nice gym facility, a rooftop, a restaurant, and a spa of course. The room also included a private balcony with a jacuzzi and day bed, a bath tub, and a separate shower. The full Nyepi day itinerary included free yoga, buffets, and a bunch of children’s activities. It was pretty luxurious. My mom kept joking about it being a six star hotel, but that’s actually how the hotel advertises itself. The service was impeccable. Everyone was insanely friendly and nice.
I tried the free yoga class in the morning which started with an interesting breathing exercise. You hold one nostril down, breathe in, close it, hold, release the other nostril, breathe out, and then again a few times. It was weird. Then we did some random poses like tree pose to warrior three to the half moon thing where you reach your ankle. There was no flow. The instructor was also difficult to fully understand. The hardest part is that he used different names for the poses and not what I’m familiar with in my typical classes. It was more like a beginner’s class where I just had to watch him to figure out what pose we were doing.
Since yoga was so unfulfilling, I took my own audio-only phone app class at the hotel’s gym. I’m totally obsessed with the app right now. They have awesome workouts, fun instructors, great instructions, and available anywhere as long as you have Internet. It’s the first work out app I’ve used and I only pay $7.99/month. After I moved to Seattle, I found one of my favorite NYC trainers (from Exceed Fitness studio) on it one day and it made my day! It also assured me that they probably find great instructors from all over the country for this. So I took my 30 minutes strength training class at the beautiful gym facilities at the Trans Resort. The sauna, cold bath, hot spa and steam room at the gym were really appealing but why waste your time inside when the beautiful pool is right outside!
Buffet Lunch and Dinner
The food was probably the most disappointing thing on the Nyepi Day itinerary. I suppose they had to cater to everyone so a lot of the food was westernized Chinese food and pasta. Sorry, I did not come all the way to Bali for pasta. There with maybe one Indonesian dish and dessert. But hey, you can’t go wrong with their tropical fruits! There was plenty of that. Soo not worth $25 per person. Dinner was pretty much the same except $40 per person. These prices are really ridiculous! We paid $2 the night before at the hole in the wall across the street and the food was authentic. Oh well, we didn’t have many options.
Since we were here to do absolutely nothing, that’s exactly what we did. We spent some time at the pool and on the balcony.
We checked out the nice rooftop (which was closed) where we could see the quiet streets of Bali. I still can’t believe that all of Bali shuts down for a full day and there wasn’t a single soul in site outside. It was purely silent.
Traditional Balinese Massage
The highlight of Nyepi was the spa treatment. We got a 60 minute traditional massage. I was so impressed by the perfect amount of pressure from my masseuse’s tiny little hands! Balinese Massages include a combination of gentle stretches, reflexology, and acupressure in your palm, thumbs, and toes. We were so relaxed after this.
At night, we were not allowed to be seen using light. This meant we had to shut our black out curtains so none of the light could be seen outside. It’s said that light brings in the demons. I actually got in trouble because our lights weren’t turned off. We had come back from dinner and the curtains were drawn open. When we put our key in the light switch slot, the lights in the room automatically turned on and since it was pitch black outside, the lights could be seen shining brightly from our balcony outside. Luckily I was on the balcony grabbing our drying clothes and saw someone flashing a bright light at our window to ask us to close our curtains. I got a little nervous, as I do whenever I get in trouble. Anyway, it’s pretty incredible to have an entire country observe such a tradition.
I’m not sure if I would recommend Nyepi day but I really enjoyed the experience. It’s definitely great for someone like me who doesn’t know how to not be go-go-go so if I ever need to relax on a vacation again, I probably would do it again.