A great place to have dinner before you step out to watch hellish visions would be Zanzibar on Jalan Double Six(Double Six Street), Bali . Great food, great service, at great prices. Just imagine, or better yet, don’t. Just go and visit; Yellow Fin Tuna, 3 big prawns, and grilled calamari, Grilled Vegetables, a Salad with Vinaigrette is around RM26. Please ask for the Tuna Medium Rare. Moist succulent and still a coral pink in the centre. Amazing.
The night before their biggest festival sees the beginning of the Pengurupukan Parade featuring Ogoh-Ogoh each more frightening than the last. Before we stepped out we fortified ourselves with great thin crust pizza from Café Marzano on Jalan Double 6 in Seminyak. Made out of Papier Mache, they line the streets on the days before being carefully constructed by teams of devotees. They represent the evil of the past year and are paraded to show them being discarded. Some can represent the evil of corruption, bribery, family abuse, sexual abuse, and is ecumenical to the extent that even the Muslim community in Bali takes part. They participated as a doormat; it was to represent the fact that many people did not take a stand in democracy and that we had to stand up and be counted.
As we made our way to the Kerobokan junction, it occurred to me that in many cultures cross junctions are places of power. And then when the parade starts they come in from each cardinal point. The Eastern Ogoh Ogoh are greeted raucously by the crowd and the Emcee over the loud hailer. And they vilify and yell at the particular Ogoh-Ogohs then after they complete their parade they turn around and go back from whence they came. Some are burnt but the competition that is also held determines a winner which is kept and put on display in front of the Banjar offices.
Huge hanging breasts dripping blood, fangs, kung fu kicks, bulging eyes, and great blades dripping blood feature popularly in the creation of these Ogoh-ogohs. After the carthatic parade, we each make our way back to our respective residences in preparation for Nyepi.
The next day dawns quiet. Everything seems to be more still. On Nyepi, the traditional Day of Silence, nothing stirs. No cars on the road, no motorbikes buzzing around and you’re not allowed out of the hotel compound. Traditionally you spend the day in the company of family and friends in meditation and solitude.
However, being the consummate respectful tourists we compromise by staying by the pool, as quiet as our noisy lot possibly can, sipping beers and reading. However, even with however little we kept to the letter of the law, it was a most centering experience culminating in the lightless dark of the evening. No bright lights are allowed on your room porch or anywhere else for that matter. I couldn’t help wondering what airplanes actually saw as they flew in to an aiport that only allowed transit flights as well as fly-throughs. The belief in Balinese Hinduism is that the quietude is to prepare you for the coming year. Part of that belief also entails avoiding demons and anytime you go out onto the street the demons find you and attach themselves to Bali. Usually some hapless tourist gets the blame for all the bad luck that befalls Bali that year.
Light pollution was at a minimum and the sky reminded me of an old Isaac Asimov book, “The Stars Like Dust.” Arms of the Milky Way dotted the sky like a massive Seurat painting. With Lychee Martinis in our hands and cheese & crackers, and a Hummingbird Cake from Ruth’s Cakes picked up from the Carrefour in Kuta, we relaxed, chit chatted until 10pm when everyone declared that they were fading and called it an early night.
From the sunsets which are different every single time, let alone every single minute as you gaze upon them, to the people, Bali is a state of mind as much as it is a place. Bali is easily accessible from Kuala Lumpur via Air Asia. We find Air Asia efficient, quick and does the job! Keep an eye out for cheap rates.
Useful links:Putu Bali Villas, Seminyak Pura Petitenget Pura Tanah Lot La Lucciola Pengerupukan Day and Parade and Ogoh-Ogoh Chandi – Haute Cuisine, Indonesian Restaurant, Seminyak Café Marzano, Legian Ruth’s Cakes Biku Bali Zanzibar Bali Air Asia
Pak Putu for Car rental and Scooter rental Tel: +628123904268
Books you might like:
Nigel’s a dark, haunted soul (NOT!) who wakes up in the middle of the night to soften his butter to research cake making techniques and concoct alchemic flavours to put into their take away counters, A Slice of Heaven, found in Bukit Damansara, Jaya One, and Bangsar Shopping Centre at O Gourmet. Yes, he is one half of the dynamic duo baker boys.. Just Heavenly.
Follow Nigel on twitter.
Website: Just Heavenly
*all photos above are credited to the guest writer, Nigel