An Introvert’s Guide To A New Year’s In Bali
If you’re an introvert like me who’s averse to interactions with most fellow members of our species, you’ll find that the frightening morning of Halloween dawns upon our unsuspecting heads exactly two months later, on the 31st of December. Assaulted each year with the horrific prospect of being exposed to deafening music and imposed socialization, the year-end is undoubtedly a scary time for our brethren. And if you’re a warrior readying to fight through Bali’s frenzied nightlife in the last week of 2019, take heart, for you’ve arrived at the right place to plan your escape.
With its beaches and towns transforming into a cacophonous zoo filled with inebriated party animals, Bali may well be an extrovert’s daydream around New Year’s – but it is every introvert’s most terrifying nightmare. That said, don’t drain yourself of all hope of spending a peaceful New Year’s Eve in Indonesia just yet, for there do exist some parts of this tropical haven that remain untouched by the hysteria and debauchery of South East Asia’s parties. If the idea of constantly bumping into drunk, sweaty people inside a stuffy nightclub with blaringly loud music sounds disinteresting to you, here’s a list of meaningful ways to usher in 2020 that don’t culminate in a head-splitting hangover. Read on for a list of places you can visit, and things you can do around New Year’s in Bali, that are introvert-friendly and (most importantly, and thank God for it) human-free.
1. Mount Batur Sunrise Trek, Bali, Indonesia
The Mount Batur sunrise trek is quite possibly one of the best-known treks in Bali, and an excellent way to welcome the new year – with the first light of 2020 shining bright upon you, heralding a new beginning. The overnight trek culminates in a breath-taking sunrise from the top of Mount Batur, after which some tour operators organize a free breakfast while others take you to the nearby Balinese coffee plantations. 90 minutes out from Ubud, this moderate-to-difficult trek is highly rewarding – although it’s advisable to do it under the watchful eyes of seasoned guides for a safe yet exciting experience. Bid adieu to 2019 by turning inwards and reflecting upon the joys, sorrows, failures, and accomplishments of the past year as you make your way towards the light of new beginnings at the summit – away from the din of beach parties and loud nightclubs. What better way to ring in a brand new year than by scaling the heights of this Indonesian mountain under a sky bejeweled with stars? Book your sunrise trek at the best rates with Ithaka
2. Wild Card Entry: The Misty And Quiet Dieng Plateau, Central Java, Indonesia
Now before you say anything, I know this place isn’t in Bali – but I couldn’t resist adding it to the list. ‘Dieng’ loosely translates to ‘abode of the gods’, and quite rightly so, given its heavenly and awe-inspiring views. The volcanic plateau houses a small cluster of Hindu temples dedicated to characters from the Mahabharata such as Bhima, Ghtotkacha, Arjuna – transporting visitors back in time to the ancient lands of Java, when Hindu priests inhabited the quarters within these temples. With a perpetual calmness and chill pervading the air, visitors are treated to spectacular views of the ‘mirror’ lake and the surrounding mountains shrouded in mist. Dieng Plateau’s chef-d’oeuvre, however, is not its prosperous natural bounty but its ‘double sunrise’, where the tourists can behold two different versions of our molten star as it casts its gilded light upon us. A ‘golden sunrise’ can be relished from a watchtower while its ‘silver’ counterpart can be enjoyed from one of the plateau’s ancient temples. Isn’t it a great way to welcome 2020, as you witness this unique phenomenon from this volcanic plateau, 2,200 metres above the rest of the world? And won’t you be raving about this experience for decades to come? Hell yes!
P.S: New Year’s at Dieng is a special affair, with jam-sessions and poem recitals conducted by the locals in intimate settings. So are you going or are you going?
3. Go Camping
Pitch a tent in the wilderness of Bali and welcome the new year with naught but nature (and a significant other/friends if they’re tagging along) to keep you company. There’s a bunch of unofficial sites you can camp at: such as the Bukit Asah in Karangasem, a cliffside spot that’s easily accessible by road, or the top of Mount Abang – a volcanic mountain with an easy summit that presents stunning views of Bali’s lush forests.
Bukit Asah: Roughly 4 kms from Candidasa, this camping spot in the small town of Bugbug is easily accessible by bike or car. The locals can arrange for meals upon request, and at an affordable price too. Bukit Asah has mesmerizing sunrises and captivating views of the sea. And if you’re lucky, you can also spot the Milky Way on a clear night! Long-exposure photography friendly and insta-worthy.
Mount Abang: About 60 kms from the city of Denpasar, this mountain is the second tallest in Bali, rising 2152 metres above sea level. I would recommend that only seasoned hikers consider camping here – the hike can be strenuous and challenging. The site sees very few campers given the difficulty level, but the view is well worth all the hard work – offering frames of Bali that only a fortunate, and very fit, few get to behold.
Alternatively, you could visit one of the official campsites that have tents, showers, and torchlights. Like Camp Sing Sing, which gets its name from the beautiful waterfall nearby. The campsite is located in Banjar Labuhan Aji – a small district in northern Bali three kilometers to the west of Lovina. It’s vehicle-friendly too, as the nearby village is home to villas, small shops, restaurants, and any provisions that you may require.
4. Watch Fireworks At The Beach
Grab a couple of mats, a few beers, maybe a book, and sit by the beach until midnight to usher in a new year illuminated by beaming moonlight, a sky full of stars, and crackling fireworks. With the sea breeze caressing your face, and the silent song of the ocean pervading the salty air, a celebratory evening awaits. Don’t worry, you’ll still be maintaining a safe distance from all the drunken revelry. Head to the Double Six beach in Seminyak, Thomas beach in Uluwatu, or the Berawa beach in Canggu for a memorable NYE experience by the beach.
5. Take A Walk By The Bioluminescent Beach of Padang Bai, Bali
As the sky dons its nocturnal veil, the shores of Padang Bai come alive with the light of a thousand bioluminescent plankton emanating an otherworldly, soft blue glow. Walk by the seashore, hand-in-hand with your significant other (or alone, if you’re riding solo) as the midnight countdown ends and 2020 begins, awash in the ethereal glow of Padang Bai’s magical night. Padang Bai is roughly 90 minutes from the airport by taxi, so you can rent a villa or book a hotel nearby and explore the beach come evening.
PS: This is an unpredictable phenomenon. You’re at the mercy of nature’s whims when you visit this beach, and, ergo, can’t be guaranteed a chance of witnessing this breathtaking event when you choose to drop by. The best we can do is hope! But that just makes it all the more special, doesn’t it? Also, you’d be nuts not to Instagram the hell out of this, should you be lucky enough to experience it.
6. Celebrate New Year’s at a Meditation Retreat in Ubud, Bali
Bring 2020 in at a meditation retreat, in peaceful and heavily forested Ubud. Spanning anywhere between 2-3 days to a week, these New Year’s special retreats train you to channel your inner zen, and help you transition to new beginnings in peace and health. The stays are mostly inclusive of all meals, accommodation, and yoga classes. They promise to leave you refreshed and well-equipped to take on the world, and all that a new year has to offer. Check out websites such as maduretreats.com or bookyogaretreats.com for more.
7. …Or, you know, rent a nice and quiet Villa and stay indoors
Let’s be honest here – this is probably what you were waiting to read, weren’t you? Rent a nice AirBnb close to the beach with a private pool villa where you can spend New Year’s Eve – with maximal comfort and minimal to no human-contact. Add Netflix to the mix, perhaps a candle lit dinner or two with your partner, accompanied by some good wine, and you’re good to go.
Seminyak has some excellent, affordable options for private pool villas that are not just stunning, but also close to the nearby beaches. Get the best hotel/villa recommendations
Now that you’ve got a slew of options laid out before you, take a pick and spend your delightfully reclusive NYE exactly the way you want it. And if you need a more personal kind of assistance to plan a Bali trip tailor-made JUST for you, that’s easy too – get on the Ithaka app and let a community of experienced travellers do all the work. Download the app
May you #findyourIthaka this NYE and have an experience full of purpose and reflections – whether it is indoors, within the cozy confines of a hotel or villa, or out in the midst of nature. Happy travels!