Dealing With The Balinese Day Of Silence (The Bali New Year)

Last year we had the fortune - or misfortune – to celebrate the Balinese New Year.

In the western world you open the new year by painfully trying to figure out what the hell happened the night before…

In Bali you open the new year very different- by softly reflecting on your life.

The Balinese New Year is a day of 100% silence – and by the time we had woken up it was already silent, deafeningly silent…

The only thing making any noise were the ocean waves. Even the birds kept quiet!

Sounds like a dream, right? It was HELL.

You know that pleasant soothing sound of waves breaking by the shore?

It’s nice as a background sound, but being the only thing making a noise was slowly driving me crazy – I felt like I couldn’t even hear my own thoughts!

On the Day of Silence everything is closed – even the AIRPORT in Bali is closed down for 24 hours. Nobody is allowed to go outside their houses, and you’re not allowed to play music or watch movies.

We stayed in a pretty little hotel right by the sea with an amazing view over the water and beach (see the picture above) – but we weren’t allowed to go swimming in the ocean – so it was over 30 degrees and this hotel had no pool, no TV, and no internet.

They had hung up big heavy curtains on the hotel to shut off the street, which was empty.

And as if that wasn’t enough, for some reason I still can’t understand, Nathan convinced me to do a food fast for the whole day. Fast! No food?! And I agreed?! When there is nothing to do, you EAT! You really make some strange decisions in strange situations… :p

I had a funny feeling that fate had something to do with it all, and I was certain of it when I soon realized that the only book I had to read in my room was called – ‘The Science of Self- Realization‘ – I felt as if Life was laughing at me playing its little tricks.

But it’s well thought through, this day of silence – it really does the job, and serves its purpose.

Because when there is  nothing to do and it’s completely quiet, there is nothing to distract me, stimulate me and blind me from my ego and my thoughts.

So I found myself for the first time in a long while, sitting silent and alone in my room, hearing my thoughts – and for once, actually listening to them… transformation takes place, leaving you feeling so peaceful and happy…

15 Responses to Dealing With The Balinese Day Of Silence (The Bali New Year)

  1. JR Riel June 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    I laughed when I got to what book you had, the irony of it all. Either way, it sounds like it was a growing experience, which is always good in the long run. Great thoughts!

  2. Jon June 14, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    Sounds like an amazing experience :)

  3. Adam @ Sit Down Disco June 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    I absolutely love Nyepi. The very idea that everyone for one day remains silent is appealing. It just forces you to de-clutter your life for just one day…

  4. Sofia_AsWeTravel June 14, 2010 at 4:06 pm #

    Hey Jon! Yes it was a crazy day, maybe next time I'll be more prepared for what's coming and be able to enjoy it more ;)

  5. Sofia_AsWeTravel June 14, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    Hi Riel!
    haha I know, life was playing a joke on me or something, maybe trying to tell me something :P
    But yeah, It was definitely a learning experience..!
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  6. Sofia_AsWeTravel June 14, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    Hello Adam and thanks for your comment!
    Yeah it literally forces you to de-clutter, and it made me realize how I never just sat down in silence and just 'was'. I always had to do something, I couldn't just sit down without reading or watching tv.

    So I guess it was really good for me to be forced to do it, since then I've been making time for myself every day :)

  7. Jen June 15, 2010 at 2:14 am #

    It's a great concept, really, to start the new year in complete silence. It's like a chance to really think about what you want for the new year and also give you a chance to meditate, which is a beautiful thing. That picture is amazing.

  8. Jenna June 30, 2010 at 12:15 am #

    I have heard plenty about this day because my father lives on Bali and their house and area where they live was completely blacked out. They stayed in a hotel so they could have electricity (maybe some hotels keep it going?). Here is a very brief post I wrote about it: .

  9. Sofia June 30, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    Thanks Jen! The picture was actually taken on that very day as well, so it was a beautiful evening to just sit there, watching the sun go down and think about my life and future.

    I realized how traveling had really pushed away my thoughts because there had been so many other things going on, and how they all came back once I stopped and relaxed – which sort of freaked me out :P

  10. Sofia June 30, 2010 at 10:54 am #

    Hey Jenna! What an amazing place to live, me and Nathan thought about going back there and settling down for a while. Where in Bali does he live?

    Thanks for sharing your post!

  11. Jenna June 30, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    He lives in Sanur. Did you go there? It's a nice, laid-back city near Denpasar. I can imagine why you guys thought about settling there– it's such an appealing place to live–minus the humidity :).

  12. Sofia June 30, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

    Yeah we went there, it's a nice little place to settle :)
    I loved the whole lifestyle and vibe I got from Bali. The people were so friendly, and they had celebrations like everyday!

    When we went there it wasn't actually that humid (compared to where we had just come from), but the weather was awesome!
    Do you go there often to visit?

  13. Mirza Sharz July 24, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    Hi Sofia, I really love your cool travel blog and that's why I put it on my blog roll.

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    [...] Dealing with the Balinese Day of Silence: Sofia at As We Travel wrote about the New Year in Bali — which is like nothing you’d ever imagine.  Who knew that a day of silence could be pure hell? [...]