FIrst of all, how can you not love Bali? Beautiful beaches, beautiful Hindu temples, beautiful people. What’s not to love? But for the sake of this post, let’s break it down. From the minute we landed in Bali, we were awestruck. We arrived in Denpasar quite late at night and were driven to our rental (VRBO
) in Ubud by the home’s caretakers. The sights and sounds took away any sense of being travel-weary. Once we arrived at the house, it was about 3 am. Although sleep did not come easily, we were finally able to get a few hours only to be woken by the beautiful Bali sun. And if we were awestruck the night before, there are no words to describe how we felt seeing Bali in the daylight. When I say that up to that point I have never seen anything so beautiful, that is a 100% accurate statement. The colors, the smells….all of it was beyond words. We were fortunate enough to arrive the day before the start of the Hindu New Year, Nyepi. The first day of Nyepi, the whole city shuts down. No stores or restaurants are open and all the residents stay in their homes and meditate in silence. Since we arrived at night, our first day was spent provisioning and preparing for our day of relaxation and meditation. We stocked up on supplies and then headed to the town square for the start of the Nyepi celebrations, which consisted of a giant parade and festival that lasted well into the night. The following day was a stark contrast to the celebrations of the night before. We respected the Hindu culture and stayed in our villa swimming and relaxing all day, and man was it quiet. I don’t think I have ever experienced silence like that before It was exactly what we needed. Sometimes it takes being forced to slow down and take it all in to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings.
The minute you land in Bali, it becomes abundantly clear why this is destination is at the top of many bucket lists. But the beauty of Bali doesn’t just lie in the beautiful rice fields or beaches, the beauty of Bali also lies in the people that call it their home. As travelers, sometimes one of the most dreaded feelings is being treated like a “tourist”. No, being a tourist is not a bad thing. But what we strive for in our travels is feeling the sense of belonging and acceptance. We don’t just want to visit your home and observe, we want to immerse ourselves in the culture and learn about it. Visiting Bali during Nyepi gave us the perfect opportunity to do just that. We did not know the first thing about Hinduism when we booked this trip. But what we did know is that it was a sacred holiday and we needed to be respectful and observe it as the locals do. We placed offerings on the altar in our villa, taking note of how we had seen the women preparing them in the streets. (There was no need to place them on our doorstep as the locals took care of that each morning.) We always strive to fit in and not stand out as much as we possibly can, and we would never dream of offending anyone, it’s actually our nightmare. The Balinese people acknowledged our efforts and desire to learn about their culture and they could not have been more amazing. There is no feeling quite like visiting one of the most beautiful places on this earth and realizing that the people are just as beautiful as the land they inhabit.