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Why I hate Bali

We’ve been in Bali for two months – I begged my wife to come back so I could speak at a conference even though we were here last year and she didn’t have a good time. I loved it, the first time: it’s basically paradise. It’s an exotic adventure. Bali is very spiritual and artistic; there’s tons of temples, beaches, waterfalls and art.

I never did go swimming in the sea or learn surfing, but I did get to spend time with my digital nomad friends (building a community when you travel full-time is difficult, so when you actually have friends to hang out with, it’s a big deal). This trip, however, has been more challenging. It’s been a shitshow since we got here, with a string of crazy AirBNBs, bug bites, ATMs eating credit cards, and also days and days of rain. I wrote up a full article on my other blog called “Bali: paradise or purgatory.”

Most of that was written BEFORE we crashed our scooter and my wife had to get stitches on her knee; also before she got sick and had a really bad cold (she’s still coughing now). Me personally, despite all the bad luck and some scrapes and bruises, and despite itching from bites all the time and even rubbing myself off with a towel that was covered in red ants and getting bit all over, I STILL like it here. The sunrises and sunsets are amazing, they do a mean brunch, there are lots of fresh juice places and beachside resorts.

Here’s the email I sent out when we got here:

We arrived just in time for Nyepi, Bali’s “day of silence” – a 24 hour total shut down. We’re not supposed to turn any lights on or even use the stove. It’s kind of like a purge: Around sunset the “Pengrupukan” ceremony begins in the house compounds with the noisy banging of pots and pans and bamboo tubes along with burning of dried coconut leaf torches to drive out the demons.

Most Hindu Balinese villages make ogoh-ogoh, demonic statues made of richly painted bamboo, cloth, tinsel, and styrofoam symbolizing negative elements or malevolent spirits or even characters from Hindu mythology. After the ogoh-ogoh have been paraded around the village, they are burned in the cemeteries.

We are surviving on toast and instant noodles, watching the rain fall, and hanging out with the beagle and obnoxious cross-eyed black cat that came with the AirBnB. It’s a day of quiet and self-reflection. I’m contemplating the final scene of my novel “Selfie” so I can share it with you, then I’ll work on finishing book 2 of the Taste series.

I did manage to finish The Emerald Tablet and also Selfie, and made some progress on the sequel to Taste, but for weeks I’ve been feeling strung out, anxious and completely overwhelmed… I am making progress on my website and mid-edit with 5 new cowritten novels. I need to make covers for them and I’m the bottleneck before we can launch; and I have a novel up on preorder that needs to get written.

So it’s possible I just have too much going on, but it’s also probable Bali, while seeming like paradise on earth, is actually anxiety-inducing. (Hard to believe, looking at the pictures, right?) We loved Gili island, where some of these were taken, but between terrible traffic, unreliable and slow internet, and a compromised immune system (it’s dirty here…) it’s no longer one of our favorite places.

Mantra: “Everything is working out perfectly.”

I’m overwhelmed because I’m doing new things and stepping into my discomfort zone; starting to figure out retargeting FB ads, still need to finish several site redesigns and autoresponder sequences I know aren’t working… started all this over a year ago, but feel like I’m growing forward.


In a few days we’ll move to JAPAN – somewhere I’ve dreamed about living since I was young and for some reason never made it. I’m excited to be in Osaka, near several cat cafes, for a month or two before heading to Europe.