The Post-Nyepi Breakfast Debacle

March 6, 2011

It’s the morning after Nyepi, Bali’s annual Day of Silence. A quiet, introspective day was followed by an uncharacteristically early night. After all, there is only so much you can do by yourself in the dark. Finally, at six thirty (barely light here), I give up on my natural inclination to snooze until mid-morning and heave myself out into the still-quiet Legian morning to track down some breakfast.

The trouble is, all of my regular breakfast haunts are closed until mid-day because of the post-Nyepi Ngembak Geni custom of visiting family to ask for forgiveness for past transgressions. As I have no family in Bali, nor will I readily admit to any transgressions, this means I have to find a new purveyor of fine breakfasts which is open early.

So I find an establishment (the identity of which will remain undivulged to protect the guilty) which is open at 8am , park myself in the suspiciously empty dining area and peruse the very limited breakfast menu. Yikes! Fifty-five thousand for an ‘American Breakfast’! The alternative seems to be something consisting of something normally found in a horse’s nosebag, together with ‘milk’ that has never seen the inside of a cow.  I opt for the eggs, tea, fruit juice and toast combo. Big mistake.

The tea tastes as it has been stewing since the day before Nyepi. Even my usual three big spoons of sugar don’t help, particularly as I am unable to get all of the ants out. Never mind, I’m told that tea with formic acid is the new health kick. The ‘orange juice’ is actually cordial – and I don’t mean in the friendly sense either. It is so watered down that it is practically a homeopathic remedy. The toast is stale and dry, and its accompanying butter pat is best described as borderline rancid. At least the omelette can’t be as bad – I mean, how can you screw up an omelette?

Trust me, this place can. This creation was perfectly round, perhaps 3 millimetres thick and of a consistency most reminiscent of hard rubber. If I hadn’t already taken a bite out of it, I could have taken it home, dried it out for two more days and kept is as a spare front brake disk for my motorbike.  And of course,this being such a high-end establishment, the bill for this morning’s indulgence came complete with hotel-style taxes and surcharges, inflating the price to 68,000 rupiah. Hell, I could have got a massage for that. I wish I had.

I shouldn’t have been so damned lazy. The next time my usual places are closed after Nyepi, I will cook for myself. Or maybe I’ll just find an unsuspecting family here and ask for forgiveness for imaginary transgressions. They might take pity on me and feed me.



  1. No one will take pity on you– you don’t look & sound in remorse. hahahaha But i think you really should have cooked for yourself..

  2. I asked my Balinese partner about Ngembak Geni. He says it literally translates, “to open fires” meaning fires can again be lit, lights turned on, etc. I also asked if it was traditional to ask forgiveness from family members on this day. He said he had never heard of this, so I asked another couple of Balinese friends. They also denied this day was for seeking forgiveness and said that “mohon maaf” is only a Muslim custom.

    • Now that is really interesting. Many, many different on-line sources refer to the “forgiveness” custom. Even Wikipedia says: “On the day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni, social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious rituals together.”

      Maybe this is a custom practised only in some regional areas of Bali – like the practice of a father-to-be not cutting his hair while his wife is pregnant. Some of my friends do it; others have never heard of it. Maybe it is a misinterpretation of Balinese customs by bule cultural anthropologists.

      And maybe the real lesson here is not to believe everything you read on the internet – including the contents of this blog. 😉

      • All of my balinese friends also participate in this day after tradition.

        PS. You were very brave to stay in Bali for this day.. I find it torture…

  3. Maybe you’re right… on all counts ;o)

    Your last comment made me laugh, though. It made my day, so thank you.

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