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Pause and Consider in Bali on March 7, 2008

'Nyepi' - An Official Day of Silence Transforms Bali into a "Ghost Island" for 24 Hours.

(2/23/2008) Here's an invitation to come to Bali for a visit on Friday, March 7, 2008 and then do absolutely nothing.

On that day the Balinese celebrate New Year or Nyepi - the Balinese equivalent of the word for silence. This is a day the Balinese Hindus dedicate to quiet introspection and spiritual cleansing.

Starting from approximately 6 a.m. on Friday, March 7, 2008 and continuing until 6 a.m. the following morning, Nyepi is observed by the devout through abstinence from food and drink, human speech, movement outside the family compound, and even the lighting of fires or lamps. As a result, the island of Bali will resemble a ghost town with businesses and thoroughfares closed and silent. Traditional village security forces - pecalang, will patrol the island allowing only emergency vehicles passage through the otherwise deserted streets. Compounds discovered to have lights shining from their windows or emitting noise may receive the "quiet" rebuke of small pebbles tossed against their window sills by local security teams, reminding all to adopt a more contemplative mood.

Nyepi is the first day of the Balinese Saka calendar (1930) and is strictly observed island-wide as a day of absolute silence and meditation, which includes the shut down for a 24 hour period of the island's airport.

Hotel Gates Shut and Airport to Close

There are, however, compensations for those who visit Bali during the Nyepi period. A Mardi Gras-like celebrations featuring street parades and drinks mark the night before Nyepi. Before sunrise on March 7, 2008 a curtain of silence will descend across the Island as everyone takes refuge in their hotels or homes, there to remain until the following morning. Most major hotels permit guests full use of hotel grounds and outlets with a tacit understanding that guests should not venture outside the property's bounds. Special arrangements are made for the hotel's staff to stay overnight at their place of employment as normal traffic between homes and place of employment is impossible on Nyepi day.

As in the past, Bali's only airport will also shut down during the entire Nyepi period. All flights that would normally embark or disembark passengers in Bali have been cancelled for the 24 hour Nyepi interlude. Technical or emergency stopovers are permitted at the airport, but no passengers or crew are permitted to travel to or from the airport terminal and other locations in Bali for the entire 24 hour Nyepi period. Bali's seaport will also be closed throughout this period.

Special accommodations and travel permits are issued for medical evacuations, ambulance and emergency vehicles, and for women in labor who need to travel to a local medical facility.