A Beginner's Guide To Bali: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

This post originally appeared on  TravelingSztyk.com.Bali is a special place.

The land of bright colors and deep light.

Arriving there I was finally in a place truly different from anything I’ve seen before. I got there the night of March 21st, and opted to stay in Seminyak, thinking it was the best place to ease in--since it was close to the airport and one of the larger tourist areas.I stayed for three days, longer than I would have liked, but my arrival coincided with a major Balinese new year holiday called “Nypei” meaning “Day of Silence.” Although this is traditionally a Hindu holiday, all of Bali observes this day, even tourists.

Spring Equinox

On the spring equinox, they cease all activity throughout the country. This excludes working, traveling, entertainment, speaking, using electricity, going outside the home, and for some, eating. At the hotel we were asked to not leave the hotel grounds, keep talking to a minimum, and only use the lights when necessary.The night before Nypei involves a special ritual that most of Bali participates in called the Bhuta Yajna. It is such an interesting and spiritual way to celebrate New Year’s Eve.Each village has a parade of “ogoh-ogoh," which are huge demonic statues made of bamboo and paper, created by hand, that symbolize the evil spirits.They perform this ritual to get rid of the negative elements and create a balance with God, Mankind, and Nature. It is all very dramatic, loud, crowded, and hectic. Here is a picture of some villagers in Seminyak preparing for the Bhuta Yajna.This gives you a sense for how large these statues are:20120415-165158.jpg

A Little Beach Inn

I spent Nypei in Seminyak at a little beach inn, it was a great place, although pretty expensive for Indonesia. If anyone is considering going to Bali, I would skip Seminyak, Kuta, and Legian all together. Although these villages are right on the beach and have a wealth of places to go out and eat, they lack significant Balinese cultural experiences and the beaches are not good, unless your aim is surfing in gross ocean water.I was rather surprised when I walked over to the beach for the first time the morning after I arrived in Bali. I pictured bright blue water and white sand beaches that I had seen in pictures, but those beaches are not located near the hotel I was at. I stepped onto the beach and looked out to huge, muddy, brown waves.

More Rustic Than Expected

A border of seaweed and garbage sat baking on the sand between me and the khaki colored water. I stood there, confused, and started walking up the beach looking for the little beach cafes and beautiful ocean water.I only found stray dogs sniffing around the garbage, some dilapidated buildings, and mostly empty lounge chairs every few hundred feet. It was slightly depressing so I went back and walked around town for the rest of the day. At night I went back to the beach to watch the sunset and the light completely transformed the beach I was looking at earlier.

I am consistently amazed at how light can shift a scene and create an entirely new picture.

20120415-235826.jpg20120415-235919.jpg20120416-000006.jpg Stay tuned for part two of Kristin's trip to Bali and see the beauty she discovers in her exploration of the largest tourist destination in Indonesia!Image source: Shutterstock.com Bali ocean bar

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