Bunkered down in Bali for the annual day of silence
Nyepi has just been and gone in Bali. I’ve always had a difficult relationship with the Day of Silence. A few years back I missed pumping waves because I was forced to stay indoors. I asked one of the older locals if I could have a quick early surf. He just looked at me, then stated earnestly that anyone caught on the streets would be beaten with sticks.
The religious authorities have also started restricting the island’s internet in recent years. Stuck in my hotel room and denied the ability to waste hours watching pointless videos on Youtube, it wasn’t long before boredom set in. I was soon pacing the tiles and wondering what the hell to do with myself. But eventually, a calmness descended over me. My mind settled into the solitude and began to appreciate the peace and quiet. As evening fell, I had reached a state of relaxed contemplation. In a fleeting moment of clarity, I realised that switching off is actually a good thing and I should do it more often.
Unfortunately, Nyepi this year was overshadowed by Covid-19. Ominous global news headlines continually mentioned the increasing spread of the virus. Whatsapp msg groups were being flooded with local reports of extended shutdowns and beach closures. Not only were we all facing a global pandemic, but it was also looking like there would be no surfing to ease the tension. Official word eventually filtered through requesting that everyone remain at home until the end of March.
The shutdown continued over the next few days but was enforced in a typically relaxed Balinese fashion. We were asked to leave the water the next morning by an enthusiastic official on a megaphone…”Everyone please return home…you are not allowed for surping”. I snuck back down to check the waves later that afternoon. When I noticed a small crew out in the water I asked another nearby official…”Ya ya its ok, can go surping”.
Aside from ducking out for a quick wave, I tried to confine myself to my usual homestay. I was the only resident left, so I was a bit shocked when two attractive Russian girls checked in. Apparently, all the flights back to Russia had been cancelled and they were waiting on word from their government. The situation immediately took me back to my primary school days. We used to go to my friend’s house after school; his dad had a special videotape that was hidden in the back shed. There is probably no need for me to go into further details, but there was a scene where some lucky guy gets stuck in a hotel with two attractive blonde women for company. I could only hope. But after years of waiting, one of my most inappropriate boyhood fantasies could finally be about to come true.
Later that evening, I hung around the courtyard and made stilted conversation with the Russian ladies, while I waited patiently for them to start slowly undressing one another. Instead, they took tense sips of Smirnoff, and argued about the latest vague email from their embassy.
Read More by Ben
Eyes To The Horizon
One man’s psychedelic journey into dating apps and perfect waves on foreign shores
Written by Ben Simon Smith
Available on Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play and with other good eBook retailers
Read the first few chapters are here - www.facebook.com/BenSimonSmith.1/posts/140161820875962