Brisbane, Australia

The last 4 days here have been very relaxing, quite like a vacation from travelling. And there was no particular reason why they should have been so. We stayed in a very small and cramped hotel room in this clean, laid-back (slightly uninteresting) city. We never even ventured more than 5 blocks outside of our “comfort zone” (the area around the hotel). For some unexplained reason it felt very much like home. In a strange way I will be slightly sad about leaving Brisbane and Australia, even after the bitching I did about it.

Tomorrow we leave for Bali (one day) and Malaysia (one week). We have spent the past few days getting ready (a visit to the extremely disorganized traveller’s Medical Clinic) who gave us a different malaria prescription (apparently the one that Kaiser gives is not particularly effective, but cheaper). We also saw some movies: Lord of the Rings II (OK, a little long though and that Gollum was a little Ewokish), Bowling for Columbine (very good, very powerful and especially interesting to see outside the U.S.), and Catch Me if You Can (excellent, very tight movie). Bowling for Columbine made me especially think about what makes America a great and also a not-so great place: it seems that the military, economic and media power that keeps so many potentially disparate people together over such a great land mass also has a powerful influence on the rest of the world. Countries that are equally large and populous (Russia, Indonesia, China) are either not strong enough to keep regions of their landmass from breaking away (Russia and Indonesia) or must rule their people with an iron fist (China). The movie makes the point that the U.S. seems to have a unique way of keeping its people cooperative with military, economic, and media power that work somewhat together, unintentionally. Whether you agree or not, it is a powerful movie and it is funny to see Michael Moore on a big screen, the unlikeliest movie star in the world.

Anyway we are leaving the fat belly of the developed world to experience the leaner luxuries of Southeast Asia. By the way I have lost 12 lbs.! We’ll see what happens in the next few months.