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Ralphie is back, and thankfully, so is a full brow. This is exactly what he looked like when we left him in Bangkok. He said a couple of red flags went up when he went through security with nothing more than his flip flops and passport.

I should say Ralphie WAS back. He was back long enough to shave, shower, do his laundry, terrify us with tales of his travels throughout Southeast Asia, and tell us he loved us, but he has the rest of his life to spend with us and only two weeks to spend with his friends.

My response, “Just promise me you are going to live a long time.”

“Mom, do you KNOW what I have been through? We practically stayed in a crack house in Kuta (that’s what nine bucks a night will get you in Bali), we were in a riot and tear gassed (tastes like swallowing hot chilies) along with hundreds of people yelling ‘Allah Akbar’ (what they didn’t tell us in the email was that they were chased by police with “huge” machine guns), I road on the back of a motorcycle driven by a kid who was so young I had to put my feet down every time we stopped so we would not fall over (the kid’s high pitched voice, “So where are you from?” was Ralphie’s first clue that he was in for a scary ride – “I’m not in a hurry,” he kept telling the kid), merchants argued over me like I was a piece of meat (which was initially overwhelming, but he ended up working the system and getting giant plates of French fries for .50), I was offered drugs (and other disgusting things that I can’t write here – oddly enough, that never happens to me when I travel) . . . . he went on and on and on . . .  they don’t even have seatbelts in Indonesia, I think I can survive in America!”

This is suppose to make me feel better?

On the upside he did learn a few things:

1. After spending time in the emergency room when Kip was sick and watching a stream of seriously injured tourists come through, he has lost any desire to rent or own a motorcycle.

2. After being in Kuta which is apparently the “hip” party area of Bali, he has lost any desire to get really drunk (he said it was disgusting watching how people act when they are wasted); I hope he remembers this the first Friday night in Isle Vista (or, perhaps, the next time he feels compelled to shave an eyebrow).

3. He’s looking forward to the next time we can travel together as a family. Apparently staying in culturally insensitive resorts where the people are paid to be nice to you is more tolerable than sleeping in a crack house.

Sorry Ralphie, the next vacation we take is a cross country train trip with Kelly to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Theme Park, and even after everything you have been through, I just don’t think you can handle that kind of hardcore American travel.