Nusa Dua, Bali: After being exposed to hectic and laborious discussions on carbon dioxide emissions, reduction targets and increase in global temperatures, this reporter came across the perfect solution to climate change at, of all places, the bar in the hotel where she was staying. According to Arya, the bartender at the hotel, “The Balinese have a new year of their own, called the Nyepi day, which is also known as the silent day.”
What happens on that day?
Basically, nothing. People can’t drive cars, light a fire, cook, or use electricity on that day. “No fire, no sounds, no light,” he says, “The day after Nyepi, you can actually feel the freshness in the air.”
“If all the world can make one Nyepi day, I think we have the solution,” Arya adds.
The Balinese don’t have surnames. The islanders are surprised by the surname phenomenon. In place of surnames, they have numbers. Thus, Balinese kids are not named, they are numbered. The first child is called first (Wayan), the second is called second (Nyoman) and so on.
The past six years have been bad for Bali. “First, we had the bombings, then the tsunami and then bird flu. Hotels were shut for month after month,” says Dodik, a hotel worker in Bali. The majority of Bali’s youth is engaged in tourism-related services—as waiters, cooks, guides, lifeguards, cab drivers and so on. “The string of disasters has been relentless. But it has been getting better since last year,” adds Dodik. He has therefore one request: “When you go back, can you please tell your country that it is safe to come here now?”
The conference centre has free wireless connection, which has provided delegates and journalists with much more than just access to email and conference documents. As this reporter sits in the hall, a bored embassy delegate sitting next to her wants to know if she would be interested in a video game. “The wireless is great. I am just waiting for someone to log on to this game. Also, saw someone downloading music the other day,” he says with a wink.
Meanwhile, a fellow journalist is appropriating more than his share of bandwidth by ‘skype-ing’ someone.
“Indonesia awards a death penalty for drug trafficking and possession,” says a sign at the Bali airport. That doesn’t mean the island is drug-free.
This journalist and a couple of others out in search of a watering hole are approached by five hustlers who whisper: “Marijuana, marijuana, hashish?”