On time and money and other things after Bali

Coconuts, toasted, grated, milked, creamed, oiled, or in other form, are best not bottled in plastic. The younger ones have delicious juice but not much flesh, the older ones are very fleshy but the juice is thrown away.

Quality in Ubud is measured in terms of purity, simplicity of process, and closeness to the natural form. This is true for food and also all other products. Pricing reflects this quality. Scarcity holds less market power because things that are not readily available in their natural form are not sought.

The Balinese respect Bali and they are proud of Bali. Individual Balinese will look you in the eye and tell you so.

The town of Ubud, Bali’s center of crafts and dance, embraces tourists. They will stand up for a foreigner if something happens. That was a decision by royal leadership. I don’t know if Los Angeles feels that way about tourists.

It’s difficult being an Asian American man from the U.S. traveling in a third-world Asian country. Imagine the implications of someone who looks like you but is not held to the same cultural mores, norms, obligations, and economic limitations. Some men just simply weren’t happy with the contrast. I’m very sensitive to this. By meditating on it, I’m learning to get past the dog stares on the street. And to concentrate on the friendly faces. And to be a friendly face. Traveling is like visiting a home of a friend’s parents. Be your best, roll with it, have a good sense of humor. It is not easy for me.

The closer one gets to poverty, the more explicit the exchange of time for money becomes. You can use a food processor to get spices ground down into paste within ten seconds. The Balinese use knives, mortar and pestle to do it. It takes over an hour. A food processor doesn’t cost much. But the Balinese choose to spend their time to make food in a way that is right. Think of how much we spend on kitchen appliances and tools but how little time we spend cooking. It is possible to have too much money, if it doesn’t complement how you spend your time.

Time is not money. They come from different dimensions. Just like currencies of two different nations, you can exchange one for the other. But sometimes the rate changes. Depending on the wisdom with which you spend either, the rate could be in your favor, or against. Figure it out and you hold the keys to a rich life. I’ve got a lot to learn, join me!

Live powerfully,


The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily


Being in a foreign country makes words special. I’m limited in Bahasa Indonesia, so I have a lot less to say. Since I’m so much more frugal with words, I can’t help but to be more mindful of what I do say. A simple yes, or no, or an effective adjective or noun, suffices most of the time as communication.

In contrast, I realize how much I say in my native tongue that is useless or superfluous. Colloquial expressions, repetitive additions of adjectives or phrases to emphasize a point, nonsense interjections and sounds make me feel comfortable with what I’m saying.

I notice this overexpressiveness with the people around me here, too. It’s not that we are wrong in verbalizing outside of the point; it’s just that we are unaware of it. As I (very) slowly pick up on words, I hear them being used outside of their direct meaning. Sort of how Americans say, “like” and “honestly” beyond their effectiveness. Guilty as charged.

Of course, language involves not just words but how we say them, the expressions of our face and body, and the all the extras we throw into the mix. It helps us to connect and relate with each other on a deep level, one that is hardly noticeable. And unfortunately, we hardly take notice of it.

Being mindful of how we express ourselves and what we verbalize is respectful of those with whom we commune. It gives them a thoughtful message, easier to digest and respond to, or at least more carefully packaged with meaning. It’s when we say what we mean.

Walking through the streets of Bali, where we’ve come to settle into a lower frequency for a bit, I come across nonverbal expression every day:

NL84 Bali Canang Sari Porch The Brilliant Beast BlogNL84 Bali Canang Sari The Brilliant Beast Blog

These canang sari offerings are made morning and afternoon, set out in doorsteps, sidewalks, and on statues representing gods and demons.

NL84 Bali Wall Offering The Brilliant Beast BlogNL84 Bali Canang Sari Offering Motorcycles The Brilliant Beast BlogNL84 Bali Statue Offering The Brilliant Beast Blog

They are a perpetual, powerful, precious acknowledgment of the Balinese deities. They are set out in silence, and require no words. The offerings carry the message, cut, folded, woven and packaged with utmost care. There is absolute awareness and intention of every flower placed, every leaf positioned, and each color chosen. No mistake can be made about their meaning.

Such is the potential we have with words as well.

Live powerfully,