Category Archives: Recent Posts

We are All Just Humans

I’ve traveled the world for almost 2 years now, spent extended time (1+ month) in 6-7 countries, and “lived” in at least 3 countries (2 if you count living as a minimum of one year).

This blessing has provided me the opportunity to meet people of vastly different backgrounds.

I’ve met people from all 6 human continents, from countless countries, countless races, ethnic backgrounds, etc.

One thing that always stands out to me is this: we are all just humans, fundamentally.

Sure our brains may process information differently. We may speak different languages. We may come from cultures so vastly different we will never be able to fully comprehend the other’s life and upbringing.

But at a deep, fundamental level- we are all just humans. We have feelings, goals, ambitions, hopes, and a wide array of emotions.

Some of those feelings are tribal, such as the “us vs. them” mentality you see in various countries. Other feelings are productive, such as compassion & empathy.

When I see someone, even if they look different than me or speak a language I don’t understand, I just see a human.

A Russian does not look Russian, and an African does not look African. I just see a light that is a human being.

It’s really strange to think that 101 years ago the first great world war ended, and little did the world know that another greater one was right around the corner.

When I see a German I don’t fear for my life or my territory. I don’t see a Russian and think that they might wish to take my secrets. I see just people living their lives.

Most people are just good people. Yeah there’s a shitty German or two but there’s a shitty American or two also.

War just makes no sense- especially now, now that our economies are so dependent on each other.

I think 99% of people, even if slightly misguided at times, just want the best for themselves and everyone. Most people aren’t naturally tribal and aggressive.

In Bali I would often hang out in groups so diverse- people from vastly different backgrounds and cultures. We could have an American, Canadian, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, and more all in one group. And we just had fun, as if the strange past of our nations clashing did not exist.

I think that war is started by a small group of heavily misguided people that somehow inspire fear & hatred in the masses. It is the politicians that send their sons to war.

When America drafted countless young boys to the pointless Vietnam War, did the Senators and House of Representatives and Judges and President go to join them? No. They sat in their comfy little chairs and read war statistics.

It’s SO easy to hate another group of people when you don’t actually know them. When you create misconceptions and a view of them but you’ve never met them, it’s easy to hate.

The politicians and generals sitting in their comfy chairs do not see that the people getting killed are normal humans just like us. When an American life is lost, it sucks. But what they didn’t see is that a German dying in WWII or a Russian or Vietcong was not a win but equally tragic.

A family back in their respective homeland will mourn the loss. A partner will grieve the loss of their lover. The economy will lose what could’ve been a productive member of society.

Travel and world connection is so beautiful because it allows all of humanity to stop putting these ridiculous stereotypes of other groups of people in their mind.

The Russians are not evil. Their language may sound harsh to an English speaker (and all the ridiculous propaganda of us vs. them) but they love, celebrate, party, desire wealth, and prosperity just like the Americans.

They really are no different. They are just humans. Germans are just humans. Africans are.

Everyone everywhere is just human- and I’m grateful that we live in a world so connected than before because it’s becoming near-impossible to hate another group of people because the world is becoming so integrated.

The compounding effect of war is why we must do all that we can to avoid another war of any kind, anywhere. If I lose my brother to enemy gunfire, it would only be natural to hate them- and then I may hurt one of them, but then their brothers will hate me… and thus the cycle continues.

If we remain a globally connected planet, then this hatred will be hard to hold onto. Our societies will be so interconnected that we won’t be able to hate each other.

This doesn’t mean we’ll lose our culture or values as nations. It just means that we will have enough respect, understanding, and love to prevent ridiculous tribal mentality from ever arising again.

In many places in the world being a foreigner or having foreigners is still not common. We don’t get enough exposure to other cultures & people, so it’s too easy to say “we are this and they are that.” That’s not how it really is- we’re all just human.

I have no tolerance now for people that initiate such ridiculous mentality. When people say that “Russians are this” or “Americans are that” or whatever, it just reveals a deep insecurity in the individual. They have no understanding or connection with anyone outside their own tribe.

When I meet people, I don’t see a label of “American” or “Russian” or “German” or “Spanish” or any other of the great nations. We are all just humans. Everyone looks human, acts human, and is human.

Last month in Bali I got sick for about a week, so I purchased a childhood favorite game to pass the time- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.

While I enjoyed playing it, a part of me felt sickened. I realized that games such as this continued this “America vs. Russia” mentality. It made “us” the good guys and “them” the bad guys.

The game was fun, but sometimes I couldn’t help but wonder about the video game character’s lives. I empathized with “the enemy” because even though they were shooting at us, they had a family back home, and also thought they were on the right side.

In fact, the game was a completely different experience than when I played it growing up- when I grew up I enjoyed the action, shooting, and adventure.

But this time I paid attention to the story, and the story made the game even more painful.

Roughly speaking (and I could be wrong), the Americans were trying to infiltrate a terrorist organization to get rid of their leader, but then the terrorist pulled a trick on the Americans which led the Russians to think that America had attacked them, when really it was the terrorists that attacked Russia.

Naturally Russia attacked USA, and thus began the war. Even though the Russians were still slightly the “bad guys,” it was surprising how hard the developers tried to make a story that made sense in a way.

I wrote this last part of the video game just to say that as fun as they can be, a game such as this also feels wrong in a way because it still makes Americans right and Russians wrong. It humanizes one group of people while isolating another group, and making the other group appear immoral and inhuman.

That’s not the truth. We are all just humans, and the only enemy is the darkness that pulls us back into the tribal mentality of “us vs them.”

The truth that none of us realized was that we were all playing the game of life on the same team all along, but the team had a fight and broke into sub-teams that competed against each other.

The real problems that our one team of humanity had to face such as the environment, creating abundance, prosperity, and happiness fade to the background when we can’t even work as a team.

That’s the big joke of it all: we are all just humans playing on the same team, but we got so trapped in our illusion of “us vs them” that we forgot there were greater things to battle- together.

We are all just humans, and nothing else. Let’s treat everyone like that.

-Michael

Chiang Mai Feelings

I just arrived in Chiang Mai, and it’s exciting- walking around this city I stayed in 6 months ago, it’s all the same yet I’m in such a different state of mind it’s so different.

Before the loud bikes, lack of normal sidewalks, and other differences between Europe/USA & Asia really bothered me. I thought I was above culture shock being a world traveler for so long, but now I am humbled to know that it doesn’t matter how long you travel for- it can get you.

I was heartbroken then, and I also had a huge surgery to take care of in Chiang Mai. It was a dark period of my life, my own personal Winter.

Now I’m in my Spring, or Summer perhaps, things are looking up- business growth, skills, purpose, girls, healing, it’s all coming together.

It feels almost like when I first started traveling. The dark feeling pulling me down is going away.

Now I feel young and free again, like anything is possible. What will happen during the month or two in Chiang Mai before I go to Bulgaria? Who will I meet? What will I see?

I stayed for 3 weeks before, but I feel like I saw nothing. I just stayed for a month and Bali and also felt like I saw nothing there.

I’m quite tired, and a bit irritable. It’s a funny mix of inspiration and irritability, as I hardly slept last night from excitement.

I now am wiser in my self-awareness, knowing that my irritability is not the place or me or my business or life- it’s just a bit of tiredness, and being locked in a plan is not fun either.

I used to think I was so invincible, that I could control my emotions, but now I realize you can’t- emotions do their own thing, and true freedom/meditation is just letting them be, holding in mind a true knowing of what’s true.

I can’t tell whether it’s the irritability or whether I need to go back to Bali, but I really miss Bali- now that I’m gone, I can feel the difference in vibe..

Not that Chiang Mai has bad vibes. Chiang Mai has great vibes, but it’s a different delicious flavor- my body craves for more of Bali, months more of Bali.

There is at least 2 months worth of stuff to do, I have friends to connect with again in Bali, and now I know the way of Bali (and Southeast Asia in general) so in a way I don’t feel ready to go to Bulgaria in June, but at the same time I can’t keep waiting- I miss my friends & life there, also.

This is the way of the traveler: to miss many places. To miss Montreal, Phoenix, Sofia, Bali, and Thailand and even more places and people all at the same time.

Bali really taught me how to enjoy the present moment- enjoy whatever dance you’re in. Goals are great, and everyone needs them, but the strange nuance of life is that you need to be present while you have goals.

So I focus on this moment, while also keeping in my peripheral where I’d like my business to go, and where I’d like to go to live.

Following your heart can feel scary because it takes you to the unknown. It shows you things, and demands growth. But it’s totally worth it.

My heart is scared for Chiang Mai. In a way the familiarity is nice, and there is a nostalgia from all the memories that I created here before.

At the same time, I feel sad because those times are gone- and I still have contacts in Bali. Who knows though, maybe some old acquaintances are here- now is the time to reach out.

I promised my heart that if after a week or a few days we aren’t feeling it, we’ll go back to Bali, even if it costs some money to do. Bali was SO amazing, I loved it so much!

And I didn’t even realize how amazing Bali was because I was coming out of my own personal darkness… now that I’m here, I realize how great there was- it’s not one big epic event or thing, it’s just the day to day that made it so amazing.

But I’m going to give Chiang Mai a 100% try. I owe that to myself. I first came here heartbroken, sad, in a shell, depressed, obsessed with money, going through a surgery, and so much more- now I’m young and free, healing, happier, and now I know the way of Southeast Asia.

For example, I knew where I might want to put my apartment in Chiang Mai- but I didn’t buy anything online because the Way in Southeast Asia is to look at things when here, and only book your first accommodation for a few days.

I do miss Bali. I also miss Bulgaria. I’m also excited to be here, and also a bit irritable from the flying and sleep deprivation.

But through it all, I’m feeling more and more relaxed and peaceful. Travel is teaching me to be here and now, nowhere else. Of course I keep in mind where I’m going, as should you (unless you need to wander a bit), but you only have THIS moment to choose where you’re going.

So here I am sitting in an old favorite restaurant, so excited to eat one of my favorite Thai dishes that I just couldn’t seem to find in USA- or it just wasn’t the same as eating it in Chiang Mai.

I love Thai food, and now I shall eat, so that’s all I should focused on- relaxed, one thing at a time, grateful for the food, grateful for the experience, grateful for everything, grateful for you.

Who knows what may happen. My heart may beg me to go back to Bali after a week. It may fall in love here. It may demand Bulgaria. One step at a time, enjoying the dance, that’s the beauty of life- you don’t know where it’s going, but it’s fun (if you let it be so).

-Michael

All In or All Out

When I took magic mushrooms for the first time over a year ago, I knew it would be deeply spiritual, but I never could’ve guessed just how important the messages would be to me.

I learned several key lessons in that first trip, which I wrote down, saved, and some of which I remind myself of to this today.

One of those lessons is this: all in, or all out.

All In or All Out

Life is full of decisions. You could eat at a million different restaurants, live in countless countries and countless cities, date countless people, and work too many jobs to fulfill a dozen lifetimes.

We each feel particularly called to something, which is our “heart” or “intuition.” It’s very important that we listen to it.

The whole Universe works to help you follow your own path, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

Events which we consider “bad luck” could actually be events which are designed to change our course and bring us unknowingly to riches we deserve.

How many stories are there of someone getting fired, then finding what they are truly passionate in? Suddenly they feel so grateful for getting fired, otherwise they may be dying slowly on the 9-5 grind they never really wanted.

Sometimes though you face a crossroad where there isn’t a clear path. The choice is up to you.

You should always consult your heart, and if your intuition doesn’t say “no” to any of them, then try listen closely to see what feels better. Sometimes it doesn’t matter- but you still have to make a choice.

You can’t live with regrets though. Sometimes you follow your heart and not everything goes to plan, or something unexpected which we call “bad” happens.

Should you have not followed your heart? No because in following your heart, you often learn to listen deeper, and your heart becomes wiser in its decisions.

Sometimes your heart knows that it must go through some pain and growth or loss in order to get something which it wants. The heart wants what it wants, but it also wants you to feel good, creating conflict.

This is where success barriers come in- we avoid doing what we know we really must do.

With anything, you need to be “all in” or “all out.” If you make a decision, go all in with it in that moment- if you can’t, then maybe you should be all in for the other decision.

The problem with many, including sometimes myself, is that they make a decision but think of the other, or hold regrets, or always wonder “what if…”

One great way to make decisions is ask whether you’d regret something because you know that if you would not be all in for the other decision and regret not taking the other path then it is a path you truly must take.

I’m speaking even of the small things here- if you can’t be all in for eating Mexican food tonight, then why should you go eat Mexican sitting there wondering what Italian food might taste like on your tongue?

Sometimes we make a decision and there’s no clear path. There is no good answer. In these cases it still makes the best sense to go all in for one decision.

If you make a decision but don’t take responsibility for it, then you can only be bitter at the world for that it didn’t work out exactly as you desired.

If you make an uncertain decision certain, then you can be “all in” and fully responsible for the outcomes, even if you can’t control it completely.

In this way you become the captain of your life, guiding yourself through life. You listen to your heart, and you follow it, knowing that things may not always go as planned but that it’s your true path.

There may be nothing worse on this Earth than not following your true path.

To fail in the face of authenticity is to have earned yourself a wonderful experience of following your heart, an experience which may just lead to your treasure.

To fail in the face of inauthenticity is to have cut yourself twice- once for denying your heart, and once for failing also.

The pain of not following your heart is greater than any pain you could experience by following your heart.

The nagging feeling of your heart whispering “I want to do this” is enough to drive man mad.

For long I’ve ignored the next big step in my path, and now that I’m taking it, it feels scary, but I know that I am living true and that whatever fault may come it is for better.

There is risk, of course. I don’t say anything of the future, either- I will not say where my path will go, just that I think I know where it goes, and I believe that I’ll arrive where I desire to arrive.

Of course, the path may change to get there, but I have faith as long as I follow my heart everything will turn out- it always does.

Try to follow your heart, be all in for it. We both know you can’t be “all out,” for that is to not be alive, and you are here now for a reason. You know it intuitively.

Promise your heart you will listen to it, that you will do what it asks of you.

And when you need to make any decision, be all in or all out. Not fully down for it? Don’t do it.

If you are uncertain, choose to be all in because there is no other choice. It is pointless to take one weak step in either direction, when you could choose to take a step with power, even if you don’t know what the right decision is.

Fortune favors the bold, which requires you to be all in.

All in, or all out. Choose. Now.

Done.

-Michael

Bali: 1 Month Report + I Already Miss It

I can’t believe it’s been about 1 month in Bali. It feels like I’ve experienced so much, yet so little at the same time.

I’ve had so much fun with friends, going to parties, scuba diving WWII shipwreck, motorbiking across the island, seeing magical temples, and so much more.

At the same time, I feel like I’ve hardly done anything. With every adventure I’ve had, 3 more adventure ideas/possibilities came up. It feels as though I’ve hardly done anything!

I estimate that I’ll need at least 2 months to do everything I’d like to here in Bali- I haven’t even left yet, but I’m certain that I will return.

It’s a bit sad actually. While I don’t have too deep of social bonds to anyone here, I feel sad to be leaving new friends & the place of Bali.

It feels as though I’ve just gotten settled in- I know where my favorite restaurants are, as well as morning cafes. Just yesterday I discovered an amazing breakfast/brunch place with one of the best salads and coffee I’ve ever had in my life.

In fact, the coffee is literally SHIT coffee! It’s called “Luwak” coffee, and it’s the best I’ve had in my life- but it’s still SHIT coffee.

No, literally. The coffee beans are fed to the civet cat (a special animal in Indonesia), and then we take the coffee beans after they shit it out to make coffee. Sounds disgusting, and I hesitant on my first drink, but I also became hooked immediately.

It’s so amazing that today I had three Luwak coffees! A huge benefit of the coffee is that it’s low in caffeine, so three coffees doesn’t send you to mars.

Anyways, coffee aside, Bali has been amazing. Let’s talk about some of my experiences so far.

Bali: Mini 1-Month Report

I’m calling this a mini report because there’s so much to experience in a place like Bali you can’t really explain it all in words. It’s amazing!

Traffic & Motorbikes

The traffic is crazy, but you get used to it. I would not recommend riding a motorbike unless you have a license though, as the please sometimes make stops. The fine isn’t that much if you don’t have a license though.

However I recommend the motorcycle license because I learned things in training that you never could learn just riding on the road, such as how to make emergency turns, understand car’s and other people’s visibility of you, etc.

For example, even in USA you’ll see experienced motorcycle riders riding basically in between two lanes. Why do they do that? Is it to be dangerous and stupid?

Actually, not quite. Positioning yourself between two lanes is great because you aren’t in the car’s blind spots, and should the cars suddenly stop (or you notice someone isn’t stopping behind you) you have an escape point between the cars to accelerate to.

Riding a motorbike is fun, but so many clueless Westerners hop on a bike that don’t have a clue how to ride it. One thing that regularly frustrated me was all the people that left their turn signal on.

What’s insane is that people would leave a fucking turn signal on in night. Are they really so clueless they can’t see a giant flashing orange light on the motorbike IN THE NIGHT? What the fuck?

Most motorbikes also have a flashing green light on their dashboard, so some of these people riding motorbikes are so clueless that they’ll have a fucking flashing green light in front of them and flashing orange light to their right yet they don’t even notice it!

Either that, or they don’t know how to turn a turn signal off on a motorcycle (which is done by pressing the button down, compared to left/right).

Motorbike rant aside, it’s a lot of fun, and not as dangerous as you think- assuming you know how to ride a motorbike. The traffic appears crazy but there’s a method to the madness that I quickly figured out. I love motorbikes though, so you may not have the same fun experience.

As long as you’re calm riding, you should be fine. The problem comes when you get over-stimulated or over-excited. Everyone that I met that crashed created chaos instead of relaxing into the chaos. What I mean is that they felt the traffic was crazy, and so drove crazy, when in reality it appears crazy but you should actually be relaxed.

Generally speaking I would avoid white people on motorbikes, I felt safe riding around Indonesians and other people that clearly knew what they were doing. To someone watching me on a camera, you would think that some of my moves are “dangerous” (such as passing cars & motorbikes), but the reason I was doing it was to get away from other people that I felt weren’t certain.

In Bali, the safest thing you can do is keep it moving. Don’t ride too slow (but if you do hang to the right, and never drive slower than the cars). If you know how to pass cars, pass cars and get away from everyone else. But don’t do anything you aren’t calm/comfortable with, because it is fear that makes you crash.

Wow, that was a lot on motorbikes. I love it, it’s fun, and it really makes me present to the moment, but I am a bit frustrated by all the people who have literally no idea how to ride a motorbike and think that it’s easy- real training will teach you a lot.

Food/Dining

Food here is amazing, and primarily Western. Prices are cheaper than in USA, albeit not as cheap as I would’ve thought it to be.

Some places are super cheap, like I found one Indian restaurant which was exceptional- the setting appeared to be a shit-hole in the middle of nowhere, but actually it was amazing.

Some of the actual sit-down restaurants are amazing also, but those are going to have more Western prices.

Local Indonesian food doesn’t suit my fancy, but it is the cheapest food- I did have it a few times, and compared to Thailand it really isn’t good.

Thai food has so much diversity, so much flavor & spice, etc. and I’m really excited for this aspect of Thailand (I leave tomorrow to Chiang Mai).

The local food is always the cheapest food, and because Indonesian food isn’t too good (most would agree also, this isn’t just my preference- sorry Indonesians!) I can’t wait for Thailand for that reason. My monthly food costs will reduce drastically, while the quality will increase.

However the diversity of Western food here is exceptional- I ate at amazing steak restaurants, Italian restaurants, a Balkan (Bulgarian/Serbian/Romanian) restaurant. and even Greek restaurants.

I had 2 Danish friends that even found a Danish restaurant and they said it was 100% authentic.

Each bite of the Balkan restaurant felt like I was back in Bulgaria, and the smells took me back to living in Sofia. The food I had in the Greek restaurant took me back to Greece.

The owners are also from their restaurant’s location. The Balkan restaurant owner was Romanian. The Greek restaurant was owned by a Greek man with such a thick accent it was damn obvious where he was from. The same for my favorite Italian restaurant.

They were all so kind also. The Romanian promised me a special Balkan drink when I return to Bali, and the Italian man gave me and a friend free dessert and a free shot of something amazing. The Greek, like a true man from Greece, was always there to greet you with a big smile and shake your hand as you left.

Health Food

There is a huge healthy/vegan scene here, if you’re into that. I eat healthy (but with meat/dairy) and the food is exceptional. I even eat at Vegan restaurants, which says a lot about someone who loves his Balkan meat.

While the local food is lackluster, the overall food scene is exceptional. Because it is not local food the prices are slightly higher than the local food prices in a place like Chiang Mai, but the prices are still very affordable.

For the value you’re getting, it’s insane. You can eat magical smoothie bowls filled with all kinds of incredible food. Even more Western dishes are stylish & colorful, from local restaurants to high-end restaurants. Foodies will love it here!

Note: there are some great local restaurants which I ate at, one of which was in the Northeast of Bali, and I stayed in Canggu where many travelers/expats hang out, so this is probably why my experience of the local food was different.

Cafe Scene

There are exceptional cafes as well- the smoothies & health scene here is exceptional! You can find delicious, cheap smoothies filled with whatever you’d like and no added sugar everywhere at a very affordable price.

The local coffee scene is amazing- the best in the whole world, based on what I’ve experienced.

The coffee shops are not designed for work, like some are in Poland, Bulgaria, and Chiang Mai.

They are more designed to be social, so you can’t get work done. This is the one downside to Bali, that you must find a co-working space (more on that later) if you work remotely.

Even then, there are some places you can get a little work done… it’s just not so normal here, so keep that in mind, remote workers!

One of my favorite cafes serves something called a “Chicory,” which is kind of like Decaf coffee. It tastes so good and I often drank there.

Just yesterday I discovered Luwak coffee, and I wish I had found it earlier because I’d love to have this exceptional drink every single day.

These cafes often serve breakfast/brunch as well. For example, the place I get my Luwak coffee also serves one of the best Caesar salads I’ve had in my whole life.

So the cafe/food scene here is exceptional. You can expect amazing food at an affordable price.

Fun & Adventure

Besides riding the motorbike, there’s tons of adventure to be had here.

You can see beautiful rice fields, climb or ride up mountains, see magical temples, go to the beach, surf, practice yoga, meet friends, go to bars, and so much more. You name it, it’s probably here somewhere in Bali.

I mean if I can find a Balkan restaurant here, you can find pretty much anything here.

There are amazing gyms, and even some rock-climbing ones. Yesterday I went to a trampoline place where you could jump on several trampolines indoors.

There are also ultimate Frisbee tournaments I’ve gone to, cool bars, Tennis, bowling, again- you name it you’ll probably find it somewhere here.

Culture

Balinese people are very kind, though one frustrating thing is that because so much of the economy is dependent on tourism, a lot of locals probably see you as a walking ATM.

That’s not true everywhere though- in the Northeast I met some compassionate, hilarious locals that wanted to tell jokes with me and just have a good time.

Canggu is a very popular Western / expat place, so my experience is a lot different than someone staying in Ubud or Amed. I also made Western friends, which made the whole experience a lot different than if I had a set of local friends.

I did make some local acquaintances through ultimate frisbee, but we didn’t hangout so much- we did in a group (with foreigners) so I haven’t got a complete local hangout just yet.

In a place like Bulgaria or Poland, you immerse yourself in the local culture. You are joining Poland or Bulgaria, but in Bali the experience is truly amazing but you don’t really feel like you’re joining some local culture because of the amount of tourism / expats here.

Again, I only stayed a month, and it would be totally different if you were staying elsewhere!

Next time I’m here I might stay in Ubud, or if I stay in Canggu again I’ll venture more far out to less-traveled areas. For example, going north from Canggu just 3-5 miles and you’re away from all of the western / expat stuff.

I went up there to explore a couple times, and saw so many beautiful temples, amazing locals, and talked to some groups of people to see what they were doing.

Away from the expat areas is a completely new Bali. If you’re white, it’ll be quite apparent that you are truly in Asia because in these villages where no one else goes only the locals are there.

One strange thing that happened was me and a friend were exploring a beach north of Canggu away from the tourists (where we were the only white people we saw, except for one other couple we saw later) was a group of kids maybe aged 10-15 came up to us and wanted photos with us.

They spoke hardly any English, but intuitively I could feel that it had to do something with the color of our skin. My friend, a Danish girl, said that in Lombok (a neighboring, less touristy island) she had several people come up to her asking for a photo or guys giving her free stuff (ie. hitting on her).

Maybe they wanted to show to their friends they had foreigner friends? Or that they had met foreigners who had actually dared to venture out of the Western hub of Kuta, Seminyak, and Canggu? Or they thought it was weird we were on this beach?

Who knows. We can’t judge, and we shouldn’t say bad things about it. Maybe they just thought it was interesting we were there. I now try to take photos with as many people I meet wherever I am in the world, and true Bali culture must be so different from our own that I can’t understand it.

For example, I’ve observed a lot of Asians like taking lots of photos. There’s a joke that you can spot the Chinese by how they take lots of photos in groups.

While this is vastly different from us Americans (we may take photos, but not so many, and not of random things) we must remember that our cultures are different- we must respect that.

It has been scientifically shown that an Asian’s brain processes information different than an American’s for example. This isn’t good or bad. It just means that our culture shapes the way we act and see the world.

From what little I do know of Balinese culture, it is deeply spiritual. All over the roads even in Canggu you will see special little offerings and incense. It is beautiful to see! There are temples everywhere where they pray and make fascinating noises.

While some in the local areas see you as walking ATM’s, and if you walk around you’ll sure to be badgered by several taxis, the vast majority of people are highly compassionate. Indonesia is about smiling and putting your best food forward.

All of the locals speak some English as well, albeit many with a strong accent that can lead to minor difficulty here or there. You must not speak too fast or complicated, or with too strong an accent, to make sure you’re properly understood.

Some things are simplified. For example, if someone orders something and you want it, you don’t say “hey I’d like one of those also” you say “same same.” Actually, that’s more of a Thai thing, but I am fairly certain it applies here also.

Honestly, now that I’ve wrote this, I feel that it kind of does a disservice to Indonesia. I honestly have no right to talk about local culture because I’ve only been here a month, and I didn’t make several local friends or experience local festivals.

I am a foreigner who often enjoyed things with other foreigners. There are some very obvious differences, such as that smiling & service is super valued, and that people are extremely kind.

But a true Balinese culture? Impossible for me to write about. What I’ve wrote here is probably 1% of local culture, if even that. I’ve only scratched the service, and I’ll never understand it completely.

For example, my ex was Bulgarian and I’ve lived in Bulgaria for roughly a year. Many of my friends there are locals. I experienced several local holidays, learned some Bulgarian, and even after almost a year with my ex we were still discovering fascinating differences between us.

The way we were raised, American vs. Bulgarian, was so vastly different, our lives so different, and culture so different that it would be impossible for one to fully comprehend the life of the other- though we can certainly try!

I intend to go back to Bulgaria for 2-3 months starting June, and even then I know that if I were to live in Bulgaria for years I would still discover things about the culture.

It’s not that people are exotically different- we are all fundamentally humans. It’s just the million subtleties that create a culture or experience. It’s the unspoken differences. It’s the vibe that you can just feel is different- not better or worse, but much 2 different great songs, equally beautiful, but beautifully different.

So, I just want to say here that experiencing what little bits of the local culture was amazing, but I’ve hardly tapped the service. They are humans like us, but with a vastly different world view.

I’m just grateful to have been in Bali and experienced this amazing place!

Spas & Massages!

Southeast Asia is AMAZING for massages! This is true of Thailand also!

Here in Bali you can get exceptional massages for super cheap. I think I enjoyed one epic massage for not even $5- traditional 1 hour (or 1.5 hour?) Balinese massage. It was amazing.

There’s also a great spa called Amo Spa which has more expensive massages, but then a spa with sauna & cold plunge which is cheap for the add-on price. I met lots of cool people there.

Internet & Censorship

Internet is cheap (in terms of getting a SIM card for your phone), but it can be spotty at times, depending on where you are.

Sometimes it’ll randomly go out. WiFi can also be very spotty. Video calling with friends was often difficult, and sometimes impossible.

The government also censors several websites, mainly porn websites, but then random websites get caught in the filter like Reddit. Sometimes Reddit works, such as if you Google “Reddit [topic to research,” but if you were to try go to the main page it wouldn’t.

At some co-working spaces & cafes, you can access blocked websites. For example, where I’m at now I could visit Reddit if I wanted to.

Generally WiFi is good, but you can’t work outside of a co-working or coffee shop with great internet, unless your villa has great internet.

Accommodation

Accommodation is cheap and readily abundant! My “home-stay” (which is like a hotel room but with a family in a villa) is just $425 for the month. No deposit required. It’s also directly in the center of Canggu (but this I regret due to noise). It also is cleaned 3-4x per week.

If you can ride a motorbike, I recommend getting a place farther away from the center of Canggu or wherever you’re staying. It’s much more quiet, and a bit cheaper.

The extra 3 minutes will mean you save an extra $100-$200 on a month’s rent, it’ll be super quiet at night, and you may have a bigger place also. Next time, that’s what I will do!

Where I’m at now I need ear plugs to sleep at night. It’s not the worse thing because the location is amazing, but the extra 2-3 minutes of riding is totally worth the much-needed silence I’d like at night.

You can also get private villas, private chefs, private drivers for fairly cheap also, depending on your budget. Like I said next time I’ll look into a better home-stay, apartment, or even villa but farther out from the center for that much-needed silence. Maybe the WiFi would work, also.

Sometimes the electricity goes out too but that’s not really a problem. I think every place I saw had AC as well, which is obviously much needed.

One frustrating thing was that lack of silence in many of the accommodations I visited. I am fairly certain on one of my first few nights in Bali (in a different accommodation) I woke up to a couple having sex in the bungalow next to me.

I didn’t get any special action in Bali, which probably is okay because to be quite honest I’d rather have the freedom to make some noise than have to worry about waking up all the neighbors.

All kinds of wild animals, farm animals, ceremonies, and motorbikes make noise as well, which is why I’d recommend making sure your accommodation is quiet.

Digital Nomads

SO MANY people here make money online while working remotely! It’s a great community to plug into over here.

In Bulgaria I think I could count all of the digital nomads I met on one hand just because of how few there were- but all digital nomads seem to make their rounds here in Bali.

One thing that sucks is the visa situation though- there isn’t a super clear path to residency, as far as I know. However, that could just be the talk from a ton of complaining digital nomads.

Many digital nomads are living perpetually on a tourist visa, which makes me uneasy, especially after Bulgaria rejected one of my visa extensions. While I love it and will return, I feel uneasy about getting attached to a place that doesn’t have a clear path to residency and then citizenship.

Overall

All in all I loved my stay here in Bali. I feel like there are so many more adventures to be had. For every adventure I had, 2-3 more ideas popped in mind or were introduced to me by others!

I feel sad to be leaving- I will certainly return for a total of several months more stay.

I’m excited to return to Bali, experience more of the local culture, have great adventures, and make it even better than this time now that I have so much knowledge of how things work here!

There’s so much more to write about, I feel like I hardly tapped into the experience here in Bali, which is probably why I typically avoid writing posts about places.

And really, there’s so much more to write about. But I’m ending it here. So just keep in mind that there’s a ton more to Bali, you’d probably have to call me/Email me to get more info if you wanted to ask. 

Done!

-Michael