Blockchain in Paradise: Seeking Bliss with Bali’s Crypto-Nomads
07.16.2018

The Filter

Yoga teachers. Vegans. Meditation gurus. Wearing shorts and sandals and tattoos, they file into a building called “Hubud.” The name is short for the “Hub of Ubud,” and Ubud, in turn, is the spiritual hub of Bali.

Hubud is a coworking space. It’s made of bamboo. Yesterday, a monkey climbed in one of the windows and terrified a guy on his laptop.

It’s a Wednesday night. I had arrived early to get a seat, but not early enough. A crowd of 70 has squeezed its way inside the cramped room, standing shoulder to shoulder. They came despite a thunderstorm. It’s rainy season in Bali, and the rain pounds the ceiling. The crowd is here to see a man named Willy Woo give a speech.

Willy Woo has a ponytail and wears a blue tank-top. The subject of Willy’s speech? If you had to guess from the yoga-heavy crowd, you’d expect something like “The Power of Quiet” or “Embracing Mindfulness” or “Chakras and You.”

Willy Woo is not here to talk about chakras. He looks around the packed room, eyes intense, as a clap of thunder shakes the bamboo walls.

“Who here owns bitcoin?”

Nearly every hand shoots up.

“Who thinks bitcoin is overvalued?”

Most hands stay down. (At the time, the total market cap for cryptocurrencies teetered at $700 billion, with bitcoin trading at $14,000.) Curiously, a few people raised their hands for both owning bitcoin and thinking that it’s overvalued, which raises a different question.

For the next hour, Willy speeds through charts and graphs of things like NVT Ratios (Network Value to Transactions), bitcoin’s ROI, and cryptocurrency assets as a percentage of the world’s money supply. The takeaways: Crypto only represents 0.5 percent of the world’s money supply. The user-base doubles every 12 months. Only 1 percent of the world’s population is using it. The crowd leans forward, hanging on every word. Lightning flashes through the windows.

If you looked only at these charts and had to guess the audience, you’d assume Willy spoke to a group of seasoned Wall Street traders. In fact, he’s done just that. Quantifying the unquantifiable is Willy’s specialty—for this, CryptoWeekly tapped him as the 47th most influential person in crypto—and in December of 2017, he gave a speech to Wall Street traders that walked through his bullish outlook. Days later, the price of bitcoin surged to an all-time high. Coincidence? (Willy later told me that it’s almost certainly a coincidence. But still.)

This is the gist of Willy’s thesis: Crypto is still in its early days, and most “retail investors” have not yet entered the market. The upside is still massive. He reminds the crowd that he is not a financial advisor and that this is not financial advice, even disclaiming the entire speech with a humble slide that says, “I write brain farts.”

“Thank you, Willy,” says the night’s host, Gary Dykstra, who has organized these weekly bitcoin meet-ups, called “The Filter,” since 2014. Woo is tonight’s celebrity guest, but Gary is the anchor of Bali’s bitcoin community, the hub of the hub. Gary knows that tonight’s meet-up comes at an uncertain time for bitcoin in Bali. Days earlier, the Central Bank of Indonesia had issued a gloomy warning that “bitcoin is not recognized as a valid payment instrument, so it is prohibited to be used as a means of payment in Indonesia.” The implications were unclear. Will we get punished? Fined? The government’s broadside also added, almost as an afterthought: “Bank Indonesia warns all parties not to sell, buy or trade virtual currency.” Wait, does that mean we can’t invest in crypto? Gary didn’t know.

“A bunch of us get drinks after,” Gary tells me. “You should come.”

As the meet-up disperses, Gary mingles with Willy Woo and the crowd, and it’s clear that many of these people are friends, or at least crypto-friends, and they slide into an easy banter about their favorite coins, exchanges, and investment strategies.

“You getting drinks tonight?” a woman asks her friend.

“I shouldn’t.” He sighs, checks his watch. “I’ve gotta go home and do some trades.”

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This feels so alien to me. Who are these people? They look like hippies but they talk like I-bankers. What kind of guy has a chance to have a beer with his friends, and then instead he goes home—at 8 pm!—to “do some trades”? Are we in Ubud or Manhattan? Why are they here?

Here’s why I am here. I had recently rejiggered my life—I sold everything I owned, ditched my apartment, left New York, and decided to travel the world, indefinitely, while writing. I came to Bali for reasons that were embarrassingly mundane: It’s beautiful, interesting, has a strong “nomad” community, and it’s cheap. Yet there was one ulterior motive. I also came to kick off this travel column for BREAKER, in which I will cover the crypto scene as I zig-zag from destination to destination. Now I wanted to know, Why is crypto such a thing here in Bali? I would spend the next month finding out.

Cryptopia

It’s still pouring rain. Gary and I walk together to the post meet-up drinks, pulling our rain slickers close. The sidewalks in Ubud are cracked and crumbling, so we’re forced to walk in the road. Gary turns to look at me. “This is really the story of the rise and fall of bitcoin in Bali.”

In 2011, Gary, who has a software background, worked for a payment processing company in San Francisco. “I entered the world of banking and international payments, and I saw firsthand how poor those systems are,” he explains. “It’s totally opaque.” Then he learned about bitcoin. Like so many, he was enthralled by crypto, “fell down the rabbit hole” (a common crypto expression, almost a cliché), and told his bosses at the payment company, “Hey, isn’t this cool?” The bosses shrugged. Gary quit his job in 2012 and spent “all day, every day” learning about bitcoin.

The rain picks up. Scooters zip by, spraying us with water. “I had this concept that I could build a community where bitcoin would actually work, really work, as money,” he says. There’s one place where he knew such a community could not be built: the United States. “The story of bitcoin isn’t as compelling in the U.S. Everyone has their credit card. Things work fine.”

Outside the first-world bubble, however, Gary envisioned a different scenario. “I had big ideas that bitcoin would help the third world and emerging markets.” He toyed with the idea of starting in Costa Rica, but then, in February 2014, he came to Bali on a retreat. Immediately he loved the coworking community at Hubud. This place is perfect. The demographics of Indonesia make it crypto-appealing: of its 250 million residents, a staggering 190 million don’t have checking accounts—creating a legitimate use-case for bitcoin. (This is one of crypto’s oldest selling points: If you have a phone, bitcoin is your bank.)

In March 2014, Gary hung flyers around Ubud and posted on Facebook. He hosted his first meet-up at Starbucks, ready to change the world.

No one came.

“It was a big goose-egg,” he says, acknowledging that, in hindsight, perhaps Starbucks was not the best choice for a renegade gathering. The following week, he switched venues to Hubud, the bamboo coworking space, and this time two or three people trickled in. Then a few more the next week. Then more. In those early days the crowd was a mix of coders, developers, and other digital nomads who were curious about the technology.

Inspired by Gary’s vision, the group fanned into Ubud to try and convince local businesses to accept bitcoin. It could be a tough sell. “We signed up a jewelry store, but nobody was prepared to buy jewelry with bitcoin,” Gary remembers. They had more luck with restaurants, and specifically, restaurants owned by expats. (Ubud is an expat-heavy town, and Gary found it easier to convince fellow expats. They would be the first wave, he imagined; the “unbanked” locals would come later.) A taxi driver signed up, then a mountain bike rental company. They installed a bitcoin ATM in Hubud, and members could pay in cryptocurrency. He launched the website bitcoinsinbali.org, later tweeting, “We are building a bitcoin economy in Bali…Get involved!”

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Slowly they found momentum. The owner of one of these restaurants (who asked for anonymity, given the crackdown from Indonesia’s government) told me that at one point, he booked $1,000 a month in bitcoin. It would be an overstatement to say that they had formed a cryptopia or reached mass adoption—at peak, they had fewer than 10 venues—but in July 2015, Gary lived an entire month only on bitcoin. He paid for his lodging, rented a scooter, ate every meal, and drank every beer purely using cryptocurrency. (“The hardest part was buying gas,” he says. “That was tough.”)

Things changed toward the end of 2016. The transaction fees spiked, the price soared, and vendors feared punishment from the Indonesian government. The bitcoin ATM that had been installed in Hubud was quietly removed. Bitcoinsinbali.org now only shows a page that says “The site is currently being updated.”

Meanwhile, a new breed of crypto-enthusiasts began attending the weekly meet-ups—the bit-curious investors who, as Gary puts it, “heard that their cousin got rich.” He even had a forecasting tool for how many people would show up each week: You just lop a zero off the price of bitcoin, and that’s how many people would show. So at $120 he’d draw a crowd of 12, at $1,000 a packed house of 100.

Now he gets questions like Which coins should I buy? and How high will bitcoin go? That’s not his jam. Gary’s not particularly interested in trading, charting, or speculating on ICOs (or Initial Coin Offerings, those high risk/reward fundraisers that are exasperating the SEC.) He’s still in it for the philosophy. “The cost of inflation is borne by the poor,” he says, his voice rising. “If you’re digging a ditch and spending the money you earn, then you pay for all the inflation that happens in society. If you’re rich then you have a house, and probably a stock portfolio,” and you’re comfortably hedged against inflation.

So was Gary’s vision a success? Failure? He concedes that his plan stalled, but then adds, “We really did prove that it could function as money. It was a proof of concept.” He’s adamant that bitcoin, eventually, needs to be more than a store of value or abstract concept. “At some point, you have to turn it into something. You can’t eat a bitcoin.”

Cherry-picking

Gary and I arrive at Kismet, a vegetarian hotspot, where the crypto-crowd has politely taken over the restaurant. I order beer and a jackfruit salad. The conversation hums with energy—like football fans after a playoff game.

Are you more into Fundamentals or Technicals?

Ripple is a shitcoin—

Yeah yeah yeah, but that’s just FUD—

It’s a guaranteed 2X, and likely a 3X or 4X, but I won’t hold it for long—

The “guaranteed 2X” proclamation is made by a guy who goes by the name of Jonny Freesh, who wears a sleeveless T-shirt and a light beard. Between forkfuls of salad, he pulls out his laptop to check on an ICO he’s investing in. “It’s only a so-so project, but it has a good advisor, so it’s a guaranteed 2X,” Jonny tells me.

Jonny is a former rapper and raw food chef. In 2014 he rapped the pro-crypto song “Fuck Your Bank.” At one point he was broke, living in Australia as a blue-skin-painted Avatar busker, literally begging for cash. He moved to Bali to become a chef, but then he rediscovered bitcoin, scraped together some capital, took an online class on crypto swing-trading, and hunkered down for weeks to play the market. Now he has a portfolio that is “comfortable,” and manages assets for his friends and family. While the headlines of the crypto-bubble have focused on the gaudy, Lambo-flouting billionaires, Jonny represents a more common phenomenon—the mid-tier investor who has made sudden money but is not filthy rich.

“How much time each day do you think about crypto?” I ask him.

He gives it some thought, then asks himself, “How many hours am I awake each day?”

Jonny made enough money that he abandoned his work as a raw food chef. Others in Ubud have done the same thing. Linda, who came here to focus on yoga, now spends most of her energy studying charts and trading cryptocurrencies. Same with Sarah, a fruit-picker from Australia who has no background in finance. (Sarah is not her real name. Like many, she was unwilling to go on-record for this article, as the Indonesian government’s intention is still unclear. Will crypto-trading get you in trouble? In June, the government signaled it would regulate cryptocurrencies as a commodity, but what that means, exactly, is still an open question.) Once Sarah learned about crypto, she sensed the lucrative opportunity and devoted herself to mastering trading; she says she spent “12 to 16 hours a day” staring at the charts and learning the patterns.

“What advice would you give someone starting out?” I ask her, partly out of journalistic curiosity and partly because I, too, am beginning to hear the siren song of crypto.

“Give up your life.”

I think she’s joking. She’s not.

“You need to put everything on hold,” she says, sipping a glass of red wine. “If you have a wife and kids, tell them you need to go away for a while. You need to spend all your time learning the patterns.” This former fruit-picker gives me an analogy. “It’s like picking cherries. You think it sounds easy, or random, but it’s not.” After many hours and days and weeks picking cherries, she says, you subtly begin to understand the patterns of the fruit, and how to angle your fingers to pick cherries more efficiently. You get better. First Sarah lost money, and then she studied the patterns longer, closer, and she began to tease out the cherries. Then she made enough money to change her life. She says that she now has an intuitive grasp of price fluctuations (“women traders are more intuitive”), and she plans to leverage this knowledge to make more money, and then invest it in philanthropic causes.

Who knows if this cherry-picker-turned-crypto-ninja will make a fortune, but the energy is inspiring. As I look around the vegetarian restaurant, it dawns on me that all of them believe. The vibe is upbeat, friendly, even joyous. They believe that crypto will change the world, and they believe that they can be a part of it, and they believe that they can make some money—maybe a ton of money—along the way. I pull Jonny aside, maybe a bit impulsively. “Hey, man. Do you mind showing me a thing or two?”

Hordin’ Cheese

For the next few days, and then the next few weeks, I, too, tumble down the “crypto rabbit hole.” What’s my end-game? I don’t have any fantasies of getting crypto-rich and quitting my day job, as: 1) I know that 90 percent of traders fail to beat the market; 2) I like writing (at least when I don’t hate writing); 3) I lack the required capital; and 4) I don’t have a day job.

That said, even if I can’t invest serious money, I feel the itch to dabble, at least, and now I want—need—to learn more about this world. I become an official member of the Hubud coworking space, where I sit outside with my laptop, watching crypto videos, as a monkey swings from a tree. Hubud has a “New Member Orientation” breakfast, and of the dozen new members, six say they’re crypto-curious—three developers, three investors.

In addition to Gary’s weekly Filter meet-up, Ubud also has a smaller, more private “trading group” that communicates via Telegram, and they invite me into the fold. (Prior to arriving in Bali I had never even heard of Telegram, but I soon discovered that it’s the communication platform of choice in the crypto circles, thanks to its focus on privacy.)

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My typical weekend in Ubud: I have breakfast at the Yoga Barn, the epicenter of bliss. Yoga Barn is to Ubud what Studio 54 was to disco. It’s home to something called “Ecstatic Dance,” a rave without the booze or sex or drugs, where you dance and dance and dance in broad daylight. People pay money for this. In the spirit of “saying yes” I try to buy a ticket but, alas, it’s sold out. Shame. As the rest of Yoga Barn gets ready for their Ecstatic Dance or Vinyasa session, I study crypto on my iPad. I watch videos, study primers, devour Twitter, read books. I had planned on sinking into Ron Chernow’s biography of Grant, but now I find myself glued to beach-reads like Chris Burniske’s Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond. What’s happening to me?

I visit the Pyramids of Chi for a “sound healing,” where, in a darkened room, you lie silent for an hour as a man bangs cymbals and gongs that will align your chakras. “Pyramids contain energy,” the sound-healer says. “The energy is so powerful, western science is not even able to detect it.” (Convenient.) That same day, I drive my scooter—I’ve now rented a scooter, feeling more like a local—to a smaller meet-up with Jonny Freesh and the Trading Group, where one of the members gives a charting and technical analysis lesson on Fibonacci Retracements. The group freely swaps ideas, tools, knowledge. It’s a warm vibe. I’m cynical about the Pyramids, but here, with the charts and the Trading Group, my chakras feel aligned.

Later that week, Jonny Freesh and I meet up for more beers and jackfruit salads, and for hours we talk crypto, ICOs, and trading. He shows me some basics. The former rapper pulls out his laptop—he seems to always carry a laptop—to prep for yet another ICO, this time for a token called Dadi, which describes itself as a “global, decentralized cloud platform, focused on the provision of web services to help you build, scale and grow your digital products.” Jonny thinks it’s an easy 2X, and he wants to plunk down $5k, the maximum you’re allowed to invest.

“I’m almost all ICOs these days,” he says. “That’s where the action is.” He cracks open a spreadsheet that tracks a dizzying amount of trades, investments, and balances. The accounting is meticulous and thoughtful and would earn grudging respect from any corporate manager. (This is the guy who once rapped, “The corporate life’s a race where sheep are forced to greed/You turn ‘em into rats and of course they’re hordin’ cheese.”)

Jonny refreshes Dadi’s website. “C’mon, where’s the address?” He’s anxious. Investing in an ICO isn’t like buying 10 shares of Tesla on your Fidelity account. Even if the ICO is legit (many are not) and even if everything goes according to plan (it often doesn’t) it’s easy to flub the transaction by sending your ether to a counterfeit wallet—scammers are everywhere. Tonight, the ICO goes sideways as the Dadi site crashes before they reveal the address of their Ethereum wallet (this is where you send your capital, in exchange for future tokens), and on Dadi’s Telegram channel, the thousands of would-be investors begin to panic. Where’s the wallet? WTF? All of them want their easy 2X.

“Look, here come the trolls,” Jonny says, and sure enough, on Telegram, the trolls post things like “Eat a Dick, Dadi!!” and a stream of naked breasts. “How do you make money at crypto?” he asks, laughing. “Because these are the idiots you’re trading against.”

Old Man Wednesdays

Before leaving Ubud, I’m told that I should pay a visit to a new company called the Blockchain Zoo, which is yet another sign of crypto’s curious presence here in Bali. I ride there on my scooter, zig-zagging past locals who carry baskets of food on their heads. The Zoo is surrounded by trees and bits of jungle, but the massive building, which is just finished, is sleek, airy, modern, and would look right at home in Silicon Valley.

I’m here to meet with Roberto Capodieci, the owner of the Zoo, and also the co-owner of Ubud’s Bitcoin Exchange Office, where you can convert cash to cryptocurrency. He’s a big man with a bigger smile, clad in T-shirt and sandals—the Ubud uniform. Roberto is an old-school developer who says that, back in the dawn of crypto, he received a test copy of the bitcoin node software before it was widely known. He emailed a journalist telling him to check out “this new thing,” but never drummed up any interest. Later he mined six blocks, but then, he says, in a thick Italian accent, “I threw it all away.” Perhaps that was foreshadowing. “I have the power to control the price of bitcoin,” he tells me, deadpan. “If I buy bitcoin, the price goes down, and if I sell, the price will go up. I am the worst trader on the planet.”

As with Gary Dykstra (Bali’s original bitcoin evangelist), Roberto is more interested in the blockchain technology than the day-to-day fluctuations of the market. He teaches crypto courses at the University of Singapore (“I tell my students how to make a blockchain play chess”), advises Thailand’s stock exchange (“They wanted to do a stock exchange for startups on the blockchain”), and consults with Indonesia’s Minister of Finance, trying to nudge him into a more crypto-friendly policy (“I’m trying to speak to his brain.”)

Roberto gives me a tour of the Zoo. It’s a startup wonderland: bean-bag chairs, a snazzy bar, auditorium, glass conference rooms, and a balcony that overlooks the jungle. It’s part co-working space (but only if you’re working in crypto) and part company headquarters.

“What do people, ah, do here?” I ask.

The Zoo’s mission, I learn, is to help other companies understand blockchain, and, specifically, guide them through the ICO process. “Blockchain is a jungle, and when companies want to do a blockchain, they’re ignorant,” Roberto says. “They might be a farmer, or a shoemaker, and they’ll think they need a blockchain. They’re being scammed.” So his company, a boutique consulting group, hosts two-day seminars to help educate companies on blockchain, from brainstorming to white paper. (The starting price is $25,000.)

I soon say goodbye to the Zoo, and to Jonny Freesh, and to the Trading Group, and to Ubud—but not yet to Bali. I head to the southern coast of the island, at Canggu, which is something of a surfer town. The vibe is less about spirituality, and more about sipping cheap beers at sunset. (I’m not opposed.) I immediately join a coworking space called Dojo, which has an outdoor pool, frisky social scene, cafe that sells raw coconuts, and surfer-bod dudes who work on their laptops while shirtless and then crank out some pull-ups between conference calls. Women wear bikinis. I’ve had worse offices.

Dojo has something else: crypto. In my first day, while gazing at the pool’s blue water and trying to write, I overhear a guy talking about his favorite coins.

“Crypto?” I ask.

His eyes light up. These are eyes that say, Fuck yeah, crypto.

This is Todd Brown, a filmmaker and photographer living in Cambodia, here in Bali for a month. (From my non-scientific polling, 40 percent of the expats in Bali are here for “one to two months.”) Like so many, Todd got into crypto in the fall of 2017, and he briefly tried day-trading and “lost a shitload of money.” So now he buys and hodls alt-coins.

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At sunset, while drinking Bintangs at Old Man’s beach bar, Todd and I talk ICOs and coins for two hours, likely disgusting everyone in earshot. That’s not accurate—we certainly disgusted everyone in earshot. Todd has a loud voice, as do I. One couple sits next to us, hears Todd predict that an alt will “3X or 4X, for sure,” and then immediately leaves. Two young women sit down, then hear “market cap of $7 billion,” and leave. “Should I have showered?” Todd asks me. “Bitcoin maximalist”—two guys leave. By now Todd and I are cracking up, fast friends. Talking crypto is like talking Game of Thrones. If you’re in the loop, it’s infectious; if not, insufferable.

Todd is not the only crypto-addict I meet at Dojo. They’re everywhere. You know how at every office building, as you stroll past the cubicles, you can’t help but notice what’s on your coworker’s screens? The same thing is true at a place like Dojo, but here everyone works on their own gigs—coding, blogging, SEO consulting, life coaching (a lot of that), and so on. Even when you try to mind your own business, you notice. Many of these laptops flash crypto, crypto, crypto. The guy next to me stares at a chart on TradingView. The shirtless dude by the pool is on Binance.com. Another guy—and it’s almost always a guy—uploads a bitcoin logo to a WordPress site.

While on a break to grab some fresh coconut juice, I see two dudes huddle over a pricing chart. “Right,” a bearded guy says, “but should we look at this at a monthly, daily, or hourly level?” This is Mike van Rossum, who created an open-sourced tool called Gekko (a nod to the movie Wall Street) that lets users create a bot, essentially, that conducts your trades when you’re away from your laptop. You set some parameters—Sell Monero if the price hits X and the RSI is at Y—and the bot will do its thing. Mike is developing “Gekko pro,” which has a more user-friendly interface for novice traders. He gives me a demo, and I soon forget about whatever else I was supposed to be doing. (Oh right, writing.)

Todd and I attend a bitcoin meet-up held at Dojo, which feels like a mirror image of the first one I attended, weeks ago, with that thunderstorm speech by Willy Woo. Fifty crypto folk jam into a tiny conference room. Two longtime developers lead an AMA-style Q&A. The developers try and steer the conversation away from trading and investing—this seems to be a natural tension—but the questions persist. When will bitcoin stop going down? What’s the best way to avoid taxes—I’m asking for a friend? One woman is here because she’s curious if her business should start accepting cryptocurrency, and if so, which coins.

“I’ve found that bitcoin works great when I need to sell coke and heroin online,” Todd quips.

We didn’t know it at the time, but that would be the final bitcoin meet-up at Dojo. The Indonesian government loomed. Even weeks after the stern warning, no one seems to really know exactly what it means… except that it could mean trouble. “We’re canceling these,” the owner of Dojo tells all of us at a late-night barbecue, just before karaoke. (There are rumors of an underground Dojo bitcoin meet-up group that goes by a secret name, but I can neither confirm nor deny. I later learned that Gary Dykstra, too, would have to move his weekly meet-ups at Hubud to an undisclosed location.)

After nearly two months here in Bali, it has become clearer why the crypto presence is so strong. Since the place has an influx of digital nomads, developers, and entrepreneurs, bitcoin is a natural fit. Many of them, frankly, have loads of free time. Some digital nomads work nine hours a day, but plenty work four hours and then go surfing or attend a workshop on happiness; why not add crypto to the mix?

Yet there’s something deeper. This could be the Pyramids or my “sound healing” talking, but maybe, beneath the labels and appearances, there are deeper similarities between those who come to Bali to seek inner-truth, and those who have swallowed the red pill of bitcoin. Counterculturalism comes in more than one flavor. If you are open-minded enough to seek your chi (or go to an “ecstatic dance”), then you are, perhaps, more likely to believe that the financial system is outmoded, the coders can trump the bankers, and that power can return to the people. The people who come to Bali tend to be curious, open-minded, and willing—even eager—to accept risk. No one moves to Bali to live an ordinary life.

Gary Dykstra did not move to Bali to live an ordinary life. Jonny Freesh, the rapper and Avatar busker, has found his new calling. And I suppose that I, too, did not come to Bali for a 9-to-5. Some people “find themselves” in Bali or seek spiritual enlightenment—this is, after all, the setting for Eat, Pray, Love. I didn’t find zen in Bali, but I did find crypto.

And Bali, in its own way, has found crypto. Maybe not in the way that Gary had envisioned it, as you can’t use bitcoin to buy a beer or rent a scooter or pay for your sound-healing sessions at the Pyramids. Yet his “rise and fall of bitcoin in Bali” talk feels premature. The island is packed with people who believe in crypto, and as Willy Woo demonstrates with all of his charts and graphs, the game is still in the early innings. I’m not betting against bitcoin’s rise and fall… and rise again.

In one of our final nights in Bali, Todd, who has become a real friend—I would soon visit him in Cambodia—says we should go to Old Man’s for $2 beers and the sunset.

“It’s Wednesday!” Todd says, getting that look in his eye. “Old Man’s is insane on Wednesday!”

“I’ll catch up with you in a bit.” I look at my watch. “But I’ve got some trades to make.”

Jeff Wilser is the author of The Book of Joe: The Life, Wit, and (Sometimes Accidental) Wisdom of Joe Biden. All photos by Jeff Wilser. Follow him on Twitter.