I arrived in Bali in the days prior to a huge holiday I knew nothing about: Nyepi, a day of silence that the entire island of Bali participates in. This year, in 2018, it happened on March 17. It is a Hindu holiday, but everyone present is subject to its traditions: no one is allowed outside of their homestead or hotel, no travel, no internet, no lights on. On Nyepi eve, there is an enormous, musical, mythical celebration, where giant statues called ugoh-ugoh are marched through the streets, sometimes carried by twenty or more men, women, or youths. The ugoh-ugoh are blessed and prayed over before the celebration, and are meant to ward off bad spirits.
I had incredible fun watching the parade unfold and marching alongside the festivities. I knew that silent day was to follow, but if I’m being totally honest, I was skeptical of the extent that the rules would actually be enforced. Not be able to go outside and walk around in the streets? How could the entire island cut out the wifi? Psh, we’ll see about that …
As it turns out, they were being totally serious. I found out later that some people retained wifi usage, but for the most part, they cut it off (I have no idea how). Even the airport shut down, and no one could fly in or out that day (this is why it’s a good idea to research any customs/holidays/special events before arriving somewhere. I usually do, but I guess Nyepi was meant to be a pleasant surprise!).
Thankfully, I was staying at the Sunshine Vintage House in Ubud. I would recommend this hostel on any other day of the year, but especially on Nyepi, there was no other place I would have rather been stuck for the day.
The hostel is family-owned by Toetnick (or Nick for short) and his wife, and they have an amazing operation going. Their service is impeccable. They welcome every newcomer with a blackboard sign, a simple gesture, but it made me feel so welcome and warmed my heart right off the bat.
Finding the hostel is a little bit tricky, as it is on one of those narrow side streets that only allow pedestrians and motor scooters, no cars. Ultimately, that little extra bit of privacy from being away from the main street was much appreciated, and I was able to use the quiet street as a safe place to practice riding the motor scooter since I had never operated one before. I rented the scooter through the hostel for 50,000 rupiah a day (about $3.50 USD).
The common area:
The breakfast/common area is entirely outdoors in the courtyard, with a roof to shield you from the elements. I spent most of silent day out here reading and eating, or napping in my bunk. There is a shelf of available books for guests. If you don’t have enough food stocked up for the day–since you can’t go to the grocery store on Nyepi–the family cooks up lunch and dinner in addition to the usual breakfast, with a vegetarian option. Lunch and dinner are an additional 50,000 rupiah should you choose to opt in.
I’ve stayed at quite a few hostels, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that Sunshine Vintage House has the best bedroom accommodation I’ve ever experienced. They do have a private room available, which I can’t speak to, but the dorm was everything I could ask for. There is only one dorm room, 8 beds total and mixed gender. Normally I prefer female-only with 6 beds or less, but the setup allowed for perfect privacy and it never felt crowded or chaotic at all. Rather than having standard bunk beds that creak and shift when anyone climbs into it, the beds are built into the wall, so I never had to worry about disturbing whoever was below me with my movement. Every bed has 2 wall hooks, a shelf, and a standard American electrical outlet (I did need to purchase an outlet converter after I left, though). Every bed also has a heavy black curtain, which blocks out virtually all light and made me feel like I had my own private little cubicle. Lockers are underneath the beds and you receive a key upon arrival. The bathroom is attached and has two toilets, two showers and two sinks.
Sunshine Vintage House is situated in the heart of Ubud, close to the markets and shopping, restaurants, yoga studios, and is only about a 10 minute walk from the monkey forest. Beyond that, here are a number of attractions accessible by taxi or motor scooter, such as the Tegallalang Rice Terrace or Gunung Kawi, a scenic Hindu temple. Both are only about a half hour away by car or scooter.
Another view of the hostel’s beautiful courtyard
Sunshine Vintage House IS something to write home about! I had a safe, clean, comfortable place to stay after days full of exploration and made friends from all over the world. I am blessed with sharp hostel-intuition when browsing around HostelWorld, because I pretty much picked this place on a whim. Highly recommend! Five stars! 10/10 all around!