Bali is a gorgeous place by day with a hundred shades of green in the rice paddy fields and stunning vistas due to the low-rise architecture. Yet, in the daylight, Bali’s real world imperfections – from mangy dogs to plastic bottles polluting streams – are much more noticeable than at night. Somehow the “flaws” of Bali disappear at night and one is left with magic, color, and mood.
This was particularly pronounced on one of my last nights in Bali when we happened upon dozens of elaborately dressed women—with food and flower offerings piled a yard tall on their heads—walking single-file on a country road in the dark. This is a telltale sign that a temple festival is near. We followed the women to Kedewatan, a prosperous little village just north of the Amandari resort on the Ayung River Gorge near Ubud, to experience their odalan. It helps to have a local guide with you as they can “sniff-out” the signs of festival or celebration.
I’d seen this temple during the daytime, empty of people. Nice, but nothing to write home about. But, at night it glowed and had an ethereal essence as if some Hindu god would appear at any moment. It helps that everyone seems dressed as an extra for an epic Merchant-Ivory film.
I have to say that it’s easy to be distracted from stray dogs and litter when in the midst of the hospitable Balinese spirit. Better than any lighting, the Balinese soul is a lighthouse.