Friends escaped to a villa in Bali right before lockdown

 Friends escaped to a villa in Bali right before lockdown

friends escaped to a villa in bali right before lockdown 5ec4fe81590d2

  • A group of five friends spent Bali’s Day of Silence at one of the world’s most famous Airbnbs. 
  • What was supposed to be a one-night trip turned into a four-day visit when Bali’s local government extended the holiday and enforced stricter lockdown rules. 
  • While the villas are always peaceful and calm, the experience took it to a new level. One friend said he felt a new sense of freedom and peace during the stay. 
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Tucked inside the lush forests of Bali is the Hideout. 

It’s a remote resort filled with five bamboo villas nestled in the Mount Agung volcano. It’s a place people dream of visiting. On Airbnb, the villa has been added to a wish list by nearly 80,000 people

Few are lucky enough to visit the village. But a group of friends was given the chance to experience the villas completely deserted. 

Insider spoke to two of the friends, Cam and Kels Vaughne, who have spent the last three years living in Bali. Originally from the United States, specifically Virginia, the couple packed their bags four years ago and traveled the world. They searched for a new place to call home and settled in Bali.

Over the last few years, the couple has formed a friendship with the owners of the Hideout. They’ve stayed at the villas a handful of times and are one of the first to visit when the Hideout opens a new unit. 

Bali’s Day of Silence, called Nyepi, was quickly approaching. So, in an effort to avoid crowds, Cam and Kels called the owners, who agreed to let them and their friends stay in the closed villas for a night. 

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The couple and three of their friends visited the resort.

Cam and Kels

Balinese Hindus celebrate Nyepi every year. The single day is sandwiched between large celebrations. Villages spend months creating ogoh-ogohs, which are paper-mache giants meant to represent evil spirits. On the eve of Nyepi, residents parade and torch the giants, which symbolizes banishing any evil spirits.

On the day of Nyepi, the island closes. Cell service and Wi-Fi shut off, traffic comes to a halt, and everyone is asked to stay inside. 

The Vaughnes were excited for their first Nyepi. 

But the coronavirus was quickly spreading, and it was unclear whether the celebrations would be canceled or go on as planned

At the same time, Cam and Kels said it felt like Bali was experiencing an influx of travelers wanting to escape to the country to quarantine. The couple was unsure how seriously locals and tourists were responding to the virus.

The couple adjusted their plans and asked if they could stay at the Hideout. The owners agreed, and Cam, Kels, and three of their friends packed their bags and traveled two hours on motorbikes to the Hideout on March 24. Kels said they had all been self-isolating since mid-March, and they knew it was a safe group to travel with.

Though Cam and Kels have been to the Hideout a handful of times, this was different than any of their past trips

The Hideout is traditionally peaceful and quiet, but visiting the place deserted gave the couple a new sense of freedom, Cam said. 

“We were just free to roam this entire jungle playground at our whim,” Cam told Insider. “That was the most incredible feeling.”

There was no one there to greet them. No chefs or staff that typically fill the villas. No other visitors to interact with. 

“You’re completely immersed in nature,” Kels told Insider. 

What was supposed to be a night visit quickly turned into a longer stay. The local governments decided to extend Nyepi, and afterward, the island would enter into full lockdown. 

The group had only brought enough food for one night, so they resorted to rationing. 

They ended up spending three nights at the Hideout. Local officials had visited them on Nyepi to make sure they were abiding by the rules and to make sure they were safe. The officials gave them permission to head back to their apartment outside of the city of Canggu after Nyepi was over. 

Cam and Kels explained that they were never worried, and knew that the surrounding communities would support them if they needed help. 

“That’s just a testament to Bali in general,” Cam said. “Even through all of this, you just feel safe, you feel protected,” Kels added.


The group spent their time at the Hideout working on films, photography, yoga, and other creative projects.

Cam and Kels

Cam described his friends as a group of creatives. Everyone spent their days working on projects, photography, videos, yoga, and art. They’d come together for meals and deep conversations. 

The Hideout has five villas, so “we would each kind of pick our own little world to be in and just kind of have that to ourselves,” he said.

The couple described the trip as a crazy coincidence. They had no plans to quarantine at the Hideout, and they planned the trip for one night.

“That is an experience that most likely nobody will ever have again and has never ever had before,” Cam said. 

When they made it back to their apartment in Bali, the couple continued to isolate as the island enforced stricter lockdown guidelines.

Cam and Kels said they never wanted their trip to come off ‘as a flex,’ or like they were bragging about the experience

Instead, they wanted to celebrate Nyepi for what it offers: peace and silence. And there’s no better place to experience that than at the Hideout. 


Kels spent her time at the Hideout practicing yoga.

Cam and Kels

Throughout all of this, they made sure to quarantine, wear masks, and protect the surrounding communities. 

“It’s the fear of spreading it to the local people. If a virus of any kind spreads in the local villages and the local communities, it can be detrimental because of their ceremonies and everything they do is in close contact,” Cam said. “And at the end of the day, this isn’t our island. They allow us to be here, so we want to do everything we can to keep them safe,” Kels added. 

Now, they spend their days at “the office,” which is really just a one-bedroom apartment outside of Canggu, Bali, working on projects. 

“This is definitely a side of Bali that not many people have ever been able to see. This is Bali during its peak tourism season and there’s nobody here,” Cam said. 

The couple described how Bali’s typical packed streets are now vacant, and how a trip that typically takes an hour and a half weaving in and out of traffic now takes just 25 minutes. 

When Insider spoke to the couple at the beginning of May, Bali had begun to ease restrictions. Cafes and restaurants were reopening, but beaches remained closed.

The couple said they plan to stay in quarantine. However, once the beaches open, Cam plans to go out and surf, Kels will go for a swim, and the couple will continue to socially distance themselves from others. 

While the couple said they made the right choice in staying in Bali, they emphasized that it wasn’t easy being so far from family during a pandemic

The couple had plans to visit family in Virginia this Thanksgiving, but that’s unlikely to happen now. 

They considered flying home, but ultimately they didn’t want to risk being in an airport and bringing the virus to friends and family back in the US. 

“Indonesia was taking all the necessary precautions to shut down borders, and they were talking about lockdown,” Cam said. “We figured, OK, let’s just ride this out here. That way we don’t risk anything.”

Cam and Kels said they’re thankful they had the trip to the Hideout to cushion the challenges of the lockdown. And once it’s safe, they plan to visit family and explore new destinations. 


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