We are on the beach at Petitengit on the day of cleansing, Milasti or Melati, which proceeds Nyepi, the day of darkness, the first black moon after the equinox. Each village from miles around carry their most holy relics from their temples to cleanse them in the ocean. Then, all of Bali shuts down. No airplanes or boats are allowed in or out of the island. No one is allowed out of their houses or hotels. All lights must be extinguished, no noise can be made for 24 hours. It sounds severe. But we all love it. Of course us shameless heathen non-Hindus cover up our windows so we can have a few lights on, be with friends, and enjoy the silence that falls over the island like a warm blanket. The idea is to cleanse the body and soul through meditation, then houses are cleaned and swept, loud noises including bamboo cannon and fireworks are made to drive the evil spirits away. Large horrific effigies are made and then paraded through the streets with more cacophonous clamor by the 50 or so half naked young men drunk on local rice alcohol who are careening theseup to 1 ton papier-mâché monsters through the streets. The effigies are then burned on the beach. After scaring away these evil spirits, we all retreat to our homes for 24 hours of silence and darkness, so any returning spirits will think no one's home and go somewhere else.
Asia is the biggest continent on Earth, a darling little gem floating around in space.Hm, what is Asia? Who's in on it?China and India are safe bets for Asian nations. Korea, Japan, Thailand, you're fine.Europe? No. Europe would sort of be on the "Asian continent" if not for those pesky Ural mountains dividing things up in the middle, and then also the whole lineage of kings and wealth and nations and the EU and all that "give me my respect" stuff.Russia would probably be happiest as its own continent, so for now we'll leave it in "Eurasia" and just hope the natural gas supplies keep flowing.Pakistan and Afghanistan are dang close to Asia, but politically they show up in "Middle East" news stories an awful lot. Verdict: Eurasia.I guess we'll actually have to consider everything from Turkey on eastward to be "Eurasian", although the moniker seems overlappitory of the territory.The Asian economy is now officially raging like a wild furnace of lava that consumes everything in its path. Japan has had the largest individual economy in Asia for decades, but it is forecast that both India and China will outstrip Japan within twenty years.China is the largest holder of United States debt and is positioned to become the world's next superpower, provided that Godzilla doesn't return and decide to stomp everybody back into the Shang Dynasty.Text by Steve Smith.