Bali locals sick of tourists seeking enlightenment—and money

Bali has become the land of sand, sun — and schemes.

Charmed by Instagram accounts and episodes of “House Hunters International,” soul-seeking Americans are flocking to the Indonesian island to reinvent themselves as travel influencers, yoga instructors, life coaches and sex gurus.

And they’re ripe for get-rich-quick hustles.

In the town of Canggu — nicknamed Mosgu for the huge influx of Russians dodging being drafted into the war on Ukraine — cafes are full of fliers for sessions in animal flow movement, primal rewiring and biohacking.

But there’s also an exhausting array of seminars dedicated to pulling down a six-figure income.

You can learn how to harness NFTs and blockchain technology for brand management, or break past the personal boundaries stifling your financial gain.

Woman practicing yoga by water in Bali
Locals say they are fed up with tourists turning up to “suck money out of the next lot of arrivals who also want to become coaches and influencers by photographing themselves in our sacred places.”

Bali is so rife with American life coaches that a parody Instagram page, Canggu On Acid, spoofs the “six-figure-income” squad.

The classes, which target 20-something digital nomads from the US, Russia and the UK, often have shades of numerology — with early-bird discounts of $222 or a final price of $888. (Prices rapidly head north from there.)

But locals like Niluh Djelantik are fed up with it.

Exterior of Café Coach
Café Coach in the area of Canggu has become the unofficial headquarters for Bali’s get-rich-quick tourism.
Andrea Dixon

People working at tables inside Café Coach
Naturally, Café Coach is full of foreigners working away on their screens.
Andrea Dixon

The business leader and social activist actively campaigns against foreigners exploiting the island and its traditions.

“These people turn up in Bali telling themselves they are seeking spiritual enlightenment — and the next minute they are attending classes about how to get rich and live in luxury here,” she told The Post. “They want to train quickly to suck money out of the next lot of arrivals who also want to become coaches and influencers by photographing themselves in our sacred places.”

Indeed, the gurus are almost always one group of wannabes teaching the next how to to chase their dreams in paradise.

Celinne Da Costa
Celinne Da Costa, from Connecticut, charges up to $45,000 for six months of mentorship.
Celinne Da Costa/ Instagram

Café Coach in Canggu has weekly lineups of coaches ready to share their knowledge on how anyone can take a slice of the unregulated $20 billion wellness industry.

Celinne Da Costa, 32, is the poster girl for the Café Coach website and a local heavy hitter when it comes to life coaching with a dash of capitalist spirituality.

A University of Pennsylvania grad and former brand strategist from Connecticut, Da Costa landed in Bali in 2020 and now charges, according to her website, between $7,000 for a “4-hour virtual deep dive” and $45,000 for a six-month “Story Alchemy mentorship.”

The courses are a mélange of money, love and spirituality, with session titles including “Love Money Again,” “How to Call in Six Figure Months” and “Sales Funnels and Shamanism.”

Da Costa, who did not respond to interview requests, has also co-created a Money Tantra workshop, weaving financial acquisition with an ancient yogic tradition of spiritual and sexual enlightenment.

Cafe Coach is co-owned by Lewis Taylor, a Brit who promotes his own online coaching business — which he says is valued at $25 million — and trains people to be online influencers and coaches.

Flier for a course at Café Coach
Courses through Café Coach tend to combing wellness buzzwords and financial language.
Cafe Coach

Café Coach flier
Café Coach hosts new lineup of classes each week.
Cafe Coach

Taylor, who speaks only about having done jail time for drugs and violence, claims that, within six months of becoming a coach himself, he was earning “six figures” and living the good life in Bali.

But sometimes the good life turns bad.

In March, sex guru Brian Ronald Galban, 46 and originally from California, fled the village of Ubud (famous as the place Elizabeth Gilbert visited for her transformational “Eat, Pray, Love” journey) after a video of him arguing with police went viral.

Shirtless and heavily tattooed, Galban was caught accusing the police of trying to extort money from him after he was pulled over for breaking traffic rules by riding his motor scooter without a helmet.

Instagram showing Brian Galban being pulled over by Bali police for not wearing a helmet while riding his scooter.
Brian “Lion” Galban infuriated Bali locals after video circulated of him disrespectfully riding his scooter without a shirt or helmet and arguing with police
cangguonacid/ Instagram

Brian Galban in water
Galban, who works as a holistic lifestyle and embodiment coach, claims to be gifted with “clairsentience.”
Lion Galban/ Instagram

Thousands of Balinese vented their outrage — over Galban’s lack of respect for the Balinese by being half naked in public and his ill treatment of police — on social media.

Galban, who calls himself “Lion,” set up in Bali about five years ago as a holistic lifestyle and embodiment coach.

He claims to have more than 20 years of coaching experience, and his online rate card offers sessions starting at $1,000 for 55 minutes of “experiential therapy” and going up up to $10,000 for 24 sessions spread over six months.

His website is packed with soft-core videos of him being intimate with a woman as well as footage of male-bonding groups, complete with men pounding drums and roaring at each other.

Before his Bali reinvention, Galban was a masseuse and fitness trainer in San Francisco. claims that he is a gifted with “clairsentience” — able to perceive emotional and psychic energy that is imperceptible to less gifted people. Apparently, his skin prickles when certain words are uttered.

Galban did not respond to interview requests.

Julia Roberts in "Eat, Pray, Love"
“Eat, Pray, Love” — both Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir and the movie starring Julia Roberts (above) — put the village of Ubud on the map for a certain brand of spiritual seekers.

Like Da Costa, Californian Aaron Kleinerman, a former merchant seaman, is also a Tantra practitioner and facilitator in Bali — albeit of the sexual, rather than financial variety.

He is the author of “The Embodied Man — Mastering Masculinity in the Head, Heart and Balls.”

The groups of men that attend Kleinerman’s Initiation Journey retreat are bare-chested dudes who dance, scream, wrestle and wear man-buns to help release the old paradigm of masculine power and make way for a more enlightened way of being.

Aaron Kleinerman driving a boat
Aaron Kleinerman is a Tantric practitioner and facilitator in Bali.
Aaron Kleinerman/ Instagram

Aaron Kleinerman on Instagram
Kleinerman’s self-help seminars tend to be steeped in sexual behaviors.
Aaron Kleinerman/ Instagram

According to Kleinerman, he was on a ship delivering supplies for the Iraq war in 2003 when he had an epiphany.

“I started to communicate with my higher self and knew that my journeys as a mariner was not for life,” Kleinerman told The Post. He took a master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology at the unaccredited University of Santa Monica but, after exploring different alternative therapies, felt “disillusioned with the self-development world.”

In 2010, he moved to Bali to became a Transformational Tantric Coach.

He aims to rid men of self-sabotaging patterns and help his clients master their power from from the “bedroom to the boardroom.”

@CangguOnAcid Instagram account
The spoof account Canggu On Acid mocks local influencers and tourists on Instagram.
cangguonacid/ Instagram

The programs are steeped in sexual behaviors, including promising to help students to “be the
man she craves you to be. F–k her to God.”

Kleinerman has an Indonesian registered business and visas to support his ventures, which are notoriously difficult to obtain in Bali. At one point not long ago, the government planned to exploit the remote worker market and develop a Digital Nomad Visa — allowing visitors to work online without paying local taxes for five years.

However, by January of 2023, the idea was the shelved.

The government reportedly has come to the conclusion that influencers and life coaches might be more problematic than valuable.

The five-year visa proposal was replaced with a Second Homeowners visa, which requires proof of $130,000 in funds.

Laptop showing life-coaching web site
The life-coaching gurus in Bali are almost always one group of wannabes teaching the next how to to chase their dreams in paradise.
cafe_coach_bali/ Instagram

Working as a financial planner in Westchester, New York, Harrison Fischer, now 49, wanted nothing more than to make a billion dollars.

So he left the finance industry to create a snack startup.

“My goal was to make a billion-dollar company. So when the snack food company failed, I got super depressed. Then I found tantra at the beginning of 2021,” Fischer told The Post.

Within nine months of that first course, he had met his partner Alisa, and they started the Yum School of Tantra.

They arrived in Bali in 2020 and created a life that certainly looks beautiful on social media.

Lewis Taylor sitting at a microphone and wearing headphones
Lewis Taylor, who co-owns Café Coach, says that within six months of becoming a coach himself, he was earning “six figures” and living the good life in Bali.
Selling with Love/ YouTube

“It was the first business that I started where the concept was not driven by making money,” Fischer added.

“Bali is interesting. The local population is very religious, then there are the expats and nomads — and they are into the freedom. It’s interesting to see that mix. Locals are accepting and want people to thrive. Even if the Balinese people don’t practice tantra, they practice the values. Bali is a special place to receive that energy for the work that we do,” Fischer said.

Many locals are devoted to Balinese Hinduism — known as Agama, it is a highly disciplined religious practice where every member of the temple has an important role to play.

As a result, the Balinese people tend to be accepting of outsiders, which is why the island has reigned as a place of soul rediscovery since the 1970s.

Harrison Fischer and partner Alisa
Harrison Fischer and his partner Alisa started the Yum School of Tantra after arriving in Bali in 2020.
Yum Tantra/ Instagram

Still, many natives have had enough of the spiritual monetizers clogging local beauty spots in search of the perfect selfie.

Canggu’s village council leader Wayan Sudiarsa shrugged his shoulders and laughed when asked about the latest batch of wanna-be life coaches.

These tourists should explore Balinese religious practices that are based on good and evil. Our beliefs are black and white — and karma rules everything,” he told The Post. “If the tourists give their savings to a foreign guru in Bali, maybe that is karma giving them a lesson in life they do not want.”