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The magic of Nyepi: Bali’s unique Day of Silence

in Culture by
Villa Zelie - Staff praying

While most cultures celebrate the new year with rowdy celebrations, revelry and fireworks, in Bali the dawning of a new year is ushered in with a unique day of silence, known as Nyepi.

This year Nyepi falls on 7 March and for 24 hours shops and restaurants will stay closed, the streets and markets will remain empty, the beaches will be deserted and the waves un-surfed. Even the airport is shut down as Bali falls under a magnificent cloak of silence.

Ocean Temple - Tanah Lot

In order to understand Nyepi, is it necessary to briefly dip into the dualistic world of Balinese Hinduism which is woven into the very fabric of life on the island. Imagine a cosmic dance in which the forces of good and evil are in constant play. Order is represented by the gods, known as dewa and dewi, while disorder is represented by the earth demons known as bhutas and kalas.

Balance must be maintained so that evil doesn’t get the upper hand. Through a myriad of religious offerings and rituals, the gods are thanked and asked for blessings, while the forces of darkness who seek to upset the equilibrium are appeased. Of all the ceremonial days on the island, Nyepi is one of the most important.

Des Indes I

Why the silence?

Theological explanations vary. Some say that by staying hidden the evil spirits will think the island has been abandoned and will pass by, thus bringing an auspicious start to the new year. But Hindu scholars say that the noise and revelry of the preceding evening, Nyepi Eve, wakes up the demons so that they will see the offerings, including blood sacrifice that have been laid out for them. In this view, the silence is a symbol of contentment and gratitude that the demons have been appeased for another year. Regardless of theological explanations, Nyepi is a day reserved for quiet contemplation and self-reflection and Balinese Hindus are prohibited from work, entertainment, travel and lighting fires. Priests and those with a higher spiritual calling will also fast, observe total silence and pass the day in prayer.

nyepi ogoh ogoh bali art

How does Nyepi effect visitors to the island?

Even tourists must respect Nyepi and stay within the grounds of their accommodation and keep noise and lights to a minimum.

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Bento, yakitori and sushi in Bali

in Destinations/Dining by

You have to love a cuisine that managed to invent another flavor. Umami refers to that extra layer of deliciousness that defies description.

Japanese food has infiltrated the far corners of the world, satiating our interest as well as our appetites. Read on to discover Japanese restaurants and places to order sushi in Bali, Indonesia.

Sake no Hana

contemporary Japanese

Sake no Hana may be new in Bali but they come with a serious reputation in other parts of the world, most notably in London’s fashionable Mayfair. Described as contemporary Japanese, Sake no Hana’s Executive Chef travelled from London to create this menu and it is filled with temptation and flavor. From their signature menus, which offer exotic imports like Kobe beef, Hamachi sashimi and Alaskan king crab, to bento boxes to a scale of signature menus, this is worth the splurge.

Overlooking the sparkling new daytime destination, Omnia, on the Uluwatu coast, Sake no Hana is filled with light by day. At night, as the club closes, it becomes a sophisticated destination restaurant. With a refreshingly different menu of bespoke cocktails alongside some wonderful wine and sake selections, Sake no Hana adds sophisticated new flavours to Uluwatu. 

Top tip: leave room for desserts, which are beautiful, creative and delicious.
Cover image credit: Sake no Hana. 

Ryoshi

sushi, yakitori and jazz

Ryoshi’s owner, Sagon Togasa, opened his first Ryoshi in Seminyak to house his two great loves; sushi and jazz. It still does that and more. With Ryoshi now in Sanur, Ubud and offering welcome respite to shoppers in Galleria, the menu has expanded alongside the empire.

At heart is the sushi window, with chefs slicing sushi and sashimi to order, fresh seafood is also part of the philosophy. There are grills, braises and rice bowls. A range of delicious kushiyaki, grilled food on sticks, and some delicious vegetarian options.

Agadashi tofu is a hit here as is the Japanese steak, the traditional fried chicken and steaming bowls of udon with your choice of toppings. Best of all it’s ultimately affordable.

Top tip: Monday night is the most popular night as the jazz is always world class, head upstairs and take a seat in the restaurant or hang out at the bar.

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East Bali: Top things to do and best beachfront villas

in Destinations by
Villa Pushpapuri Bali Beachfront Villa

Its easy to be seduced by the glamour of southern Bali with its trendy restaurants and uber-cool beach clubs, but if you have something a little quieter in mind for your Bali holiday, the pristine Sunrise Coast on the island’s eastern shores has a charm all its own.

Saba beach in East Bali

Peaceful coastal villages nestle amidst banana plantations, lush green rice fields and exotic palm-fringed black sand beaches. A trio of volcanos looming in the distance make the most stunning of backdrops, especially when bathed in the pearly pink light of a Bali sunrise.

TOP THINGS TO DO

The atmospheric seaside town of Candidasa is situated mid-way up the east coast just 60km from the airport. Local art shops sell paintings, handicrafts and wood carvings, while casual open-air restaurants are strung along the shore, some with candle-lit tables right on the beach. Make sure to check out the main temple with a dreamy location on the edge of a lotus-filled lagoon.

Adventure-seekers can trek to the top of Mount Agung – the island’s highest peak, while water enthusiasts can explore Bali’s best dive sites, such as the HMS Liberty Wreck. Adrenalin junkies can get their kicks on a shark dive, or glide through the water with manta rays. The cool waters of Tirta Gangga, an elaborate water palace tucked into the nearby hills, makes a gentler respite with its spring fed pools and water fountains carved from stone.

A few kilometers inland from Candidasa, the 700-year-old walled village of Tenganan is home to the Bali Aga, the island’s first inhabitants. It is quite a cultural attraction these days, but still provides a fascinating glimpse into a traditional way of life and is justly famed for its beautiful ikat weavings.

The small coastal village of Jasri is home to Charly’s chocolate factory. You won’t find Willy Wonka, but you will find delicious chocolate (try the Narkabo dark chocolate nibbles) and great photo opportunities thanks to a quirky assortment of cone-shaped bamboo houses clustered in a grove of coconut palms right on the beach. Nearby, a bumpy dirt road winds through verdant forest to emerge at Pasir Putih (white sand) rightly crowned as Bali’s most beautiful beach. Bathe in the turquoise sea, soak up the rays from a deckchair and indulge in fresh fish for lunch, barbecued right in front of you. 

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East Coast Elegance: Nail Salons in Sanur

in Wellness by
Aroma Nail Spa in Sanur Bali

THREE OF THE BEST NAIL PARLOURS IN SANUR, BALI

#1 The Nest Beachside Spa

This cute little salon overlooks the beach in Sanur. Step into this air-conditioned delight straight off the sand of Hyatt Beach. Two therapists descend to bestow the suitably named ‘pretty hands’ and ‘happy feet’ – 70 minutes of mani-pedi joy. Expect a thorough cleansing – sand and all – plus cuticle therapy for hands and a soothing exfoliation of the feet. This is followed by deep stimulating massages and a warm and silky paraffin wax treatment for the hands while feet undergo a reviving cool mint mask.

Your therapist delivers a rather lush head and shoulder massage while the paraffin works its magic. Post-rub, the wax is peeled back to reveal baby soft hands, while the mint foot mask is washed away leaving the toes fresh and clean.

The Nest Nails Sanur

IMAGE: THENESTBEACHSIDESPA.COM 

Nails are painted with faultless precision and a homemade sweet and delicious lime sorbet is brought to your chair while the drying machines are doing their thing. What a way to end a blissful day at the beach.

www.thenestbeachsidespa.com

 

Aroma Spa Sanur

#2 Aroma Spa Retreat

Just metres off Sanur beach are the open pavilions of this popular but tranquil spa. Feel the mellow sea breeze and listen to the gentle waves rolling in as you relax into a lazy chair for a classic mani-pedi. Fancy a glass of chilled white wine? Nothing is too much trouble for the staff of Aroma.

The spa is the brainchild of sisters Delma and Sonya Davies who – as businesswomen and mothers – both know a thing or two about the importance of achieving work-life balance. As a result Aroma Spa Retreat has been created as a haven where every client is mothered and therapists care for every need. The only difficult decision to be made is what colour nail polish.

This sweet experience is my favourite mani-pedi in the area. If you want total peace and privacy during your treatment, a gossamer blue curtain will be drawn around your pavilion for added seclusion.

This business is also a well-respected spa training school, and every therapist has completed a six-day, 42-hour training course for both the manicure and pedicure treatments.

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Balinese Massage: Timeless Therapy in Sumptuous Luxury

in Wellness by
Puri Bawana Bali massage bale

From its thriving yoga scene to its serene spa retreats, Bali is synonymous with wellness. The island’s postcard-perfect scenery of lush green mountain sides and spectacular beaches make it the perfect setting to zone out while enjoying its blissful traditions of holistic healing.

To come to Bali and not have a massage would border on an insult to the island’s age-old therapies. There’s a reason why Balinese massage has made its way into top spas all over the world: it fuses together deep-tissue massage with aromatherapy, gentle stretching and light acupressure for a beautifully relaxing, holistic healing treatment.

 

Villa Lilibel Massage room

MASSAGE ROOM, VILLA LILIBEL – SEMINYAK, BALI

But while you might be able to have one anywhere in the world, nothing comes close to a massage at the skilled hands of expert Balinese masseurs. Therapists use a firm, kneading massage style to stimulate blood flow, along with pressure point techniques and reflexology to help soothe muscle tension, and the aromatherapy of essential oils to ease you into blissful relaxation.

Beyond the traditional massage techniques, spas in Bali offer a host of traditional beauty therapies that use the healing properties of natural ingredients to scruff, buff, and revive skin, and leave you perfectly preened.

 

Balinese massage at Villa Semarapura

BALINESE MASSAGE AT VILLA SEMARAPURA – CEMAGI, BALI

Balinese massage

Balinese massage starts at the bottom and works up, so as you lie face down, the first port of call for a Balinese massage is your feet. Your therapist will use elements of foot reflexology to stimulate pressure points on your soles, and gently stretch out the lower legs.

The deep tissue work begins on your lower legs and works up to the backs of your thighs – perfect for soothing aches and pains after a run or a hike up one of Bali’s spectacular peaks. Then your therapist moves to your back, targeting pressure points along the spine and combining kneading and stroking massage styles to boost blood circulation and gently remove knots in your shoulders.

After you turn over, your therapist works bottom to top again, beginning with the feet and moving up your legs. Balinese massage includes work on the stomach, believed to benefit digestive and reproductive health. The treatment finishes with a gentle massage of your scalp and forehead.

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