If you’ve been dreaming of disconnecting and ridding your day of digital distractions, there’s an island destination that would love to have you this weekend, but there is a catch.
Each year the largely Hindu island of Bali in Indonesia celebrates its New Year’s Day with a holiday known as Nyepi, or Silent Day. The idea is that everything on the island shuts down, even ATMs, and everyone is to spend 24 hours inside meditating, fasting and reflecting upon the past year.
And don’t think that just because tourism drives Bali’s economy that visitors will be able to get away with gallivanting around while the locals observe their sacred day at home. Even the beaches are closed during Nyepi and a sort of tradition police known as “pecalang” are on patrol chastising anyone who dares to step outside or make noise.
The Balinese day of silence and inward contemplation is so revered that even glancing at a notification on your mobile device risks causing offense.
This year the authorities on Bali are going to make it easier to avoid those digital distractions by taking almost the entire island offline during Nyepi, which begins this year at 6 a.m. Saturday, March 17 and ends 24 hours later.
During that time, and for the first time ever, all phone companies on Bali have agreed to shut off the mobile internet during Nyepi.
“Let’s rest a day, free from the internet to feel the calm of the mind,” Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, head of the Indonesian Hinduism Society, told the AP. “Many Hindu people are addicted to gadgets… I hope during Nyepi they can be introspective.”
Technically, vital services like hospitals will still have WiFi, as will many hotels. But access to much more than just email may be blocked. And visitors should also be prepared to deal with plenty of side-eye from the locals if you do opt to answer that email you went to Bali to try and escape from in the first place.