Well, we just got into town (Kuta,Bali) and thought we’d drop a line to let everyone know that we made it all right. We did, and the plane ride(s) weren’t nearly as painful as I expected. And Laynni just paid about 10 cents for a croissant (with chocolate!).

Yeah, whatever it is, I have no complaints, although I have transformed into one massive sweat gland. Hmmm, I suppose that could be construed as a complaint. For Laynni there was no real transformation, it just got a touch worse. Either way, you start to get used to it, although we did some of our own laundry this morning and it seems to have actually have gotten wetter over the course of the day. Could make the backpacks a little heavier when we move on to Amed tomorrow.

Amed is a small village on the east coast where we are going to be taking a scuba-diving course. I didn’t think twice about it before leaving home, but now I’ve really come to realize that this course (about $US300 each) will cost about the same as it will cost us to live here (comfortably) for about a month. This whole underwater thing better be damned good, that’s all I can say. Or all that I’ll say for the moment, anyway. I make no promises beyond that. I think that the last you heard from us, Laynni was gloating about me lying around, sick and moaning, in our room in Kuta. Thanks to a wonderful environment for sweating and the wonders of Tylenol my fever only lasted about 6 hours. Sorry, no life-threatening illness stories to report………yet. As for surfing, I don’t really want to talk about it.

The last couple days have been spent in Ubud, the “cultural” center of Bali. It really is a nice place but a lot more like Kuta than it would care to admit. The main difference is that instead of bars and surf shops and bemo drivers (You need transport? Maybe tomorrow?) it is full of restaurants and craft shops and bemo drivers (You need transport? Maybe tomorrow?). Yesterday we decided to hike a route of sites and temples (you know, trails, elephant caves, the usual) that is normally done by van. It wasn’t too far……..in theory. When looking at the map, one fails to assume that they will A) get lost repeatedly, or B) find 35 in the shade uncomfortable when stuck walking in the sun for 6 hours. We cleverly discovered numerous dead ends along the way, and at one of them an Indonesian woman was simultaneously bathing and doing her laundry in the river/sewer. Was that supposed to be a right or left back there? We eventually made it back relatively unaided (“Ubud?”-laughter-then some pointing in the only direction that no path leads-walking away amid more chuckling) but the whole hike took about 6 hours over the hottest part of the day. One of those, “It was great, now that it’s over”-type of experiences. A lot like watching a Roughrider game.

Today we went (by van) to check out a few more sights with a couple of girls we met on the way from Kuta (Luisa-Denmark, and Meho-Japan). Luisa is apparently one of those compulsive shoppers (look at Andie’s ears perk up at the mere mention of the word!) who can’t walk by a sarong or craft or painting (you get the idea) stand without stopping. Of course, as soon as you do that they get their claws into you and then, well, best of luck. I practically ended up carrying her out of this temple area (Gunung Kawi, for those of you that have been here). She was still bartering out the window as we drove away. And, as a result of her less than frugal ways to this point, she needs to spend an average of less than $10/day for the next two months. Difficult, but not impossible, for some, but she’ll be lucky to make it through the weekend.

We saw a Kecak fire dance last night. Pretty cool, with wild costumes, exotic chanting and exuberant play-acting. I’m pretty sure the novelty would wear off for me after once or twice, though. The big finale has this guy putting out a huge fire by kicking it around with his bare feet and dancing on it and stuff. Pretty shocking at first, but after 10 straight minutes of this, why were all the retarded tourists in the crowd still gasping every time his foot came near a faintly glowing ember?

Well, I’ve gone way over my e-mail quota so I’d better go. Hopefully, most of you will find this interesting and not just clutter in your in-box. If you’d like to be removed from this list, please e-mail youarescrewedbecausespamisforever@infowhetheryouwantitornot.com