Nyepi is Balinese Hindus' festival of silence when it's the time for Balinese to do meditation, fasting and having a day of silence. Started from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, the whole island is very quiet. Airport is closed for the entire day, no one is allowed to travel and work, no one can lighting fires (can turn on low lights), and no entertainment or pleasure. Everyone has to stay home, only Pecalang can be seen outdoors to patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed. Non-Hindu Balinese and tourists who stay in the island are free to do some activities inside their homes or hotels, but they are not allowed to be at the beaches or streets.
This year was my second time celebrated Nyepi in Bali. Last time i spent it staying in Uluwatu Surf Villas, and this year in Hotel Indigo Bali. What i love about being in Bali for Nyepi because i could clearly watch the stars and milkyway during the night of Nyepi, because there's no pollution and less lights.
I arrived quite late in the evening last year so i didn't have any time to watch Ogoh-ogoh at Ngrupuk Parade. And this year I didn't miss it and it was fun to experience it. Ogoh-ogoh are giant dolls usually made from bamboo frames which are intricately weaved and tied and covered with papier mache. They are made form of creatures based on characters taken from traditional myths. That night i got stuck by traffic around batubelig, so i watched the festival in Kerobokan. A lot of fun to watch, and a bit challenging to see the dancers clearly because it was too crowded. But I could see the Ogoh-ogoh from far because mostly they are in a giant size. Spent 4 hours watching the festival and when it finished, all people headed home, and all the stores (also the 24 hours convenient store) were getting ready to closed for a day. Never experience empty Bali like that.
On the day, i spent the morning doing yoga and just relaxing in the pool. I could hear the waves breaking the shores and the birds singing very loud. The sunset was very beautiful. From the hotel I could see an empty beach with few dogs walking around. Soon after the sun set down, the sky is getting darker, and in the hotel, only some few lights in bar area lighten up the whole hotel. During midnight, i prepared my camera with tripod and sarong to put it on the grass to lay down. and i was so ready watching the stars and taking picture with low exposure. It was very beautiful view. Too bad, some guests from this hotel were talking and laughing quite loud, even guests from hotel next door were having party so it's kinda disturbing.
The next morning, everything was going back to normal. I woke up a bit too late and didn't have a chance to go to the beach at 6 am to see the sunrise. Well, i guess i should back next year again, because i missed the Melasti ceremony which is held 3 days before Nyepi. The day after Nyepi, is celebrated as Balinese New Year, also there is Omed-omedan festival held in Denpasar. It's a kissing festival between some young men and girls to find their soulmate with kissing while villagers pour buckets of water to them.
For you who wants to experience Nyepi and the whole ceremonies or festivals, make sure arrived few days before Nyepi, so you can see the Melasti ceremony, Ngrupuk Parade (Ogoh-ogoh and if you are lucky you could see when they burn the ogoh-ogoh after the parade finished), and Omed-omedan. Don't forget to book nice hotel so you won't get bored. Also they will cut the internet connection for a day from any phone provider, so if you need internet, find the hotel who can provide the good wifi. If you booked the villa/house, make sure you buy some groceries a day before and you won't get hungry, and stack yourself with good books and movies to kill the day. And please respect the ceremony, follow the rules and please don't make any loud noises or voices during the day or night until the ceremony finished the next day. If you are arriving late in the evening just a day before Nyepi (like i did last year), try to arrange your transportation few hours or days before your flight because it would be very difficult to find taxi or cars and the price would be very expensive. and besides all of that, take out the cash that you need, because all the atms won't be used after certain hour the day before Nyepi to prevent some thieves stealing the money.