Wednesday, March 29, 2006


For those of you not living in Indonesia, we have a long weekend coming up. Tomorrow and the day after are both public holidays so that makes this a 4 day weekend!!! Nothing beats that. But what sucks is that because of a lack of planning on my part, I will be spending the entire vacation here in Jakarta rather than at Pelabuhan Ratu like I had hoped.

The reason for this holiday is Nyepi. That is the Balinese day of silence, where following rituals and prayers; the local Hindu’s carry effigies of demon gods down to the ocean and submerge them. During this 24 hour ceremony, all island dwellers are urged to stay in doors and remain quite with their lights turned off so as not to attract the demons from the sea. Before western influence, the Balinese people used to dwell inland and avoid the ocean at all costs. It is only after tourists starting coming to the islands that they actually started surfing and living near the coast. I don’t claim to know the ins and outs of this ritual or the history but this is what I have gathered through conversation. In Jakarta its just another excuse for a holiday.

This is the first Nyepi in 2 years that I will not be on Bali. Most tourists hate being on Bali this time of year and numerous wealthy residents even check in to resorts to avoid the boredom of being stuck at home. All the bars and clubs are closed for 2-3 days. Personally I enjoy the peace and quite. There is not a horn being blown or people walking around the streets. At night many of the large hotels with bright lights are forced to turn them down or cover up the large glass windows. I remember last year the only thing I could see from my place was the runway lights. This year they are even closing down the airport for a day.

Have you ever looked at the sky on a really dark night, far away from the city? There seem to be so many more stars and they shine 10 times more brightly. I can totally loose myself in that space. It is in moments like that where I can truly feel the motion or life in the universe. I feel small and my problems seem minute. Yet looking out over the ocean on a dark night at the stars I feel like I am part of some planetary opus. I was really hoping to get out to the beach this weekend find some peace of mind. But who knows, maybe on Friday I can find an accomplice who will keep me company on a road trip.

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