nyepi: a quiet new year


while i was at iceland airwaves, i managed to catch ólafur arnalds’ much-buzzed-about set on the first day at kex hostel in reykjavik, and he played a beautiful song called nyepi. while i enjoyed the song, the message behind it made much more of an impression on me: nyepi is the balinese new year’s “day of silence”. (have you heard of it?) arnalds explained that he lives there much of the year and had recently participated in this day of silence in which the city actually turns off the internet, no electricity is used, no travelling is permitted, no work, nor music or loud noises, and people generally just sit inside – pray, reflect and any other quiet activity you might manage to fill your time with.

i was so inspired by this explanation that alex and i immediately agreed that we would try a day of silence on our new year’s day in a couple months.

nyepi wasn’t so hard in the beginning – the light of the afternoon on that grey new year’s day was rather nice and i enjoyed a bit of reading and napping. (above – does it not look like both of us want to go back to bed? ferdie’s eyes are even closed!) but later, as the darkness set in after 4:00pm, things got a bit tricky. i studied a bit of german language by candle light and had to use an actual book dictionary to look-up vocabulary which felt entirely inconvenient. however, it was kind of fun having a reason to use this tiny german-english dictionary my mother-in-law had given me!


we ate kitchadi (simple, restorative and detoxifying indian dish made of brown rice, mung beans and vegetables) but later it got a bit rough. in the end, i didn’t break, and i ended up reading some more and talking with alex.

no electricity in the winter is no joke. honestly, i’m not sure if i would necessarily reattempt that portion of it, but alex really liked the way that it forced him out of his comfort zone and now, i swear to you, he prefers to read by candlelight!
i did like the unplugged nature of it, eating of simple foods and no disturbances – that i can imagine repeating and enjoying it.

it would be a whole lot easier in bali, i imagine, so much closer to the equator at this darkest time of the year!

the next day felt like such a breath of fresh air in comparison – and so thankful to return to my usual routine. we hopped a train bound for austria for the afternoon to visit my favorite local spa and sauna. it was one of my favorite days in awhile. i think any day that i “pop over to austria for the afternoon” is bound to be a really good one. as the train left budejovice and made for higher ground, the amount of snow on the ground increased tremendously – in fact, it snowed the whole day!


there is nothing better i like doing on a cold snowy winter’s day than spending a few hours soaking in salty, restorative water, chatting whlie snowflakes fall all around you, then sweating it all out in the sauna! so amazingly relaxing – it’s got to happen at least once a winter season, i think. i’ve been meaning to get to my local sauna and give ‘er a try.

 the light was so beautiful as we were walking home from the train station, then not five minutes later after we got in the door did it start completely “blizzarding” – high winds, fluffy snow, no visibility. talk about good timing!

above, these colorful new blocks showing the czech and german names of the main shopping street in budejovice – lannova třída – over the years. although now czech, the city, surrounded by the former sudetenland, has a past undeniably intertwined with both czech and german language and people.

so! that’s what our first days of the year looked like. today, we all go back to work but it was such a restful holiday that i feel ready, honestly. i hope you all had a restful and wonderful new year’s and feel ready to take on 2019!