We both quit our jobs and decided to take a sabbatical to follow our dream of traveling around Asia. Our hope was to better our lifestyles and open our own business.
After a long flight from Dubai, (a place we called “home” for the past 5 years), we landed in Bali in the early morning. We were welcomed by hot and humid weather, making us instantly sweat. The weather conditions were however soon forgotten as we reached town and started discovering the beautiful island that is Bali. We arrived just a few days after one of the biggest festivals called Nyepi (“day of silence” in Bahasa, the local language) during which everything has to be silent! During this festival (lasting a full day), no cars, no motorbikes, no TV and no radio can be switched on. The airport even closes for the occasion! The only exception is for emergency cars (police/ambulance) and women about to give birth.
As we crossed the city to reach our B&B, we noticed that the streets were decorated with bamboo arches. We could spot the remnants of the festival with idols made out of card board laying on the side of the street.
Bali has a very strong Hindu influence and we saw shrines and temples everywhere, in front of buildings, shops but also individual houses. The day starts here with offerings to the gods made of fruits, flowers, cigarettes (!!), and incense in banana leaves. Bali is well known for being the home of numerous Hindu festivals & celebrations throughout the year.
Having being told that there was yet another festival being celebrated here in Bali – the Kuningan Festival that celebrates the return of the ancestors, gods and goddesses to heaven – we were keen to discover more. A bit of research lead us to the discovery of a small village that performs a unique ritual – The Mekotekan Ritual. On the way to Tanah Lot, in the small village of Munggu, villagers gather to perform a ritual that had once been outlawed by the Dutch colonialists. The ritual is said to have been revived after hard times and a series of illnesses befell on the village in the years in which the ritual had stopped. Although the actual origin of the ritual is not really known, now revived, the ritual consists of young village men jousting together with long bamboo poles that form a pyramid on top of which men clamber to the top. The procession leads them throughout the village streets and is said to ward off evil spirits.
It was a great experience and very eye opening! Bali should be on everyone’s bucket list! Bali is truly a magical place indeed!