My neighbor warned me to beware of Nyepi while I was planning my visit to Komodo since there is no transportation or even flights on that day! I had never even heard of this before. A few internet searches later and I'm super excited. 1) Nyepi is a day of silence and seclusion - like the entire island of Bali. 2) The night before is an amazing parade of demon statues.
Best place for this? Denpasar. It turns out I had just enough time for a few days in the city before I flew over to Komodo. I'd just have to cut that down to the wire and not explore the island of Flores. On a recommendation from my previous driver (that sounds snooty, doesn't it? LOL), I booked the Inna Bali Heritage Hotel which is RIGHT where the hot spot of the parade is. (see Ogoh Ogoh in Bali and the Single Best Place to Watch the Parade)
Each village builds a demon effigy which you see all over Bali being built along the roads.
By 7pm the crowds filled the sidewalks and were also in the middle of the roundabout in front of the statue. Aside from the glaring light shining right at me (which will be terrible for photos) and a bit of discomfort (I kind of feel like I was on a Survivor challenge), this spot is great! The couple next to me managed to stand up. Oh good, i was hoping we'd be able to stand. I figured I might fall, but I managed to get upright. Not even enough room for me entire foot. LOL
Then larger Ogoh-Ogoh started coming up the road from the West. Oh cool, now it's a parade! Then a super large one came into view. A 3-headed turtle - it's huge! This is so awesome. It managed to run around the circle 3 times and was quite a site. The crowd was really into it, too. More and more came and you could see them lit from below on their was down the road toward this main arena.
As the night went on, the crowd got thicker and ticker. It looked like a mosh pit and there was barely room for the ogoh-ogoh to get through! There was gridlock with the officials trying their hardest to direct which street got to enter the circle. A fight broke out at one point. No doubt someone got nailed by a thick bamboo pole.
Bands playing, running around the circle (ideally 3 times) but then it got too crowded. Long sticks to raise up the electrical lines. Great energy! They run through the circle, they shake their demon, they spin him in circles (yeah, don't hit anyone in the head w/ the scaffolding!).
Some are animated and have colored smoke. Some are as small as a couple of feet high where a single person carries the mini scaffold raft, shaking and turning their demon. The bigger ones all have their own band - drums, gong, symbols. Some shout and sing.
Everyone w/ their phones out taking photos and video. My phone w/ the shattered lens didn't fare well especially w/ the bright light to contend with and my camera needed a frickin tripod to take a clear shot.
Even our ledge was crowded. People would put their kids up there, forcing everyone to lean on each other. I was literally dripping in sweat and my glasses were fogging up it was that hot. At one point someone was actually sitting on my feet! I had no water. After 3 1/2 hours I was feeling a bit weak. It was too crowded at this point for the drink vendors to wander through. Time to go. No elephant fish for me.
My knees were so stiff and I was sore from standing and being squished on that ledge for so many hours. I thought I might turf it getting down. LOL I couldn't see the ground and I knew the sidewalks were not exactly level but I made it through, across the street, and to my hotel. Wow, this is cool!
People were all sitting on the ground of my hotel parking lot and there were food stands all over grilling corn on the cob or satay skewers and selling by candlelight. I like the vibe here too but the real excitement is around the corner. ;)
After a quick video WhatsApp with my boyfriend to show him the festivities in front of the hotel, it was almost midnight and I was exhausted. I would love to stay up until it's over but I just don't think I can do it. I heard the fireworks go off just after 2am and then it got quiet. Next stop, Nyepi.
Not all Spirits in Bali are Benevolent
My First Foray into China - Getting to the Transit Hotel
Nyepi Day - The Do Nothing Day in Bali
The Hindu Near Year in Bali is marked with a day of silence and let me tell you, they take it seriously!
Ogoh Ogoh in Bali and the Single Best Place to Watch the Parade
Ogoh what? Spinning demons, loud drumming, and everyone in town cheering them on. Here's the best place to experience this Balinese celebration for the New Year holiday of Nyepi.
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Haven't had enough of Bali's Hindu New Year celebrations? Go see the ogoh-ogoh on the beach at Kuta. Enjoy some food on the beach and get some good photos.
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