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Bali: Inital Impressions

    Steve and I are now in Bali. I'd like to experience it a bit more before telling you very much... but here are a few first impressions.

    It's very hot. We've had some trouble adjusting to the heat and humidity. Part of it is mental adjustment: getting used to the idea that you're just going to be sweaty most of the time. Also, we have to adjust physically. It's better than it was, and hopefully we'll continue to adapt.

    So far, we've been in two cities (Kuta and Ubud) that mostly exist for the benefit of tourists. That means that walking down the street is a matter of ignoring all the people who want to sell you transport, or crafts, or clothes, or accomodation. It means we're not seeing how the Balinese live outside of tourism. This is bothering us, but we're trying to take it in stride and wait until we've been here longer to make a judgement.

    We soon realized that our warmer clothes are now completely unnecessary, and so are making plans to send a shipment home containing jeans and some long-sleeved shirts. I also found I needed a new pair of pants: in Indonesia, everyone wears long pants or skirts. (Only tourists wear shorts.) But my coolest pants were my convertible pants, which are made from nylon and don't breathe well. So I shopped around, and for US$4, I found a great pair of off-white linen pants that let lots of air through, yet are sturdy and comfortable.

    Two nights this week, we saw performances of Balinese dance. They were incredible. The music is cool, especially for the Kecak (pronounced "kechack") dance, where the music is sung by a group of 70 males. It's syncopated and rhythmic. On top of that, the dances are beautiful to watch. Each dancer has very precise movements of the whole body, especially the fingers, eyes, and head. The costumes are elaborate. I can't wait to see more dances - there are several different kinds that we have yet to see.

    The Kecak dance

    Close-up of the singers

    Since I'm in Indonesia, I'm trying to eat Indonesian food at every opportunity. (Almost every restaurant has Western food as well, and often Chinese or Mexican too.) And I am finding the food delicious! Every meal, I choose something new from the menu, and have enjoyed just about everything. I am beginning to think the culinary aspect of this trip will be one of the highlights.


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