I start my three week break from Travelfish HQ today, spending first a few days in Bangkok to reaquaint myself with really good Thai food (oh plus a bunch of meetings and attend the TEDxBKK event on Saturday) then I’ve got one night in Chiang Mai to catch up with friends and then on to Laos. The bulk of my time in Laos I’m spending in Phongsali and Hua Phan provinces before hop skipping and jumping back to Bangkok and onwards to Bali. It’s primarily a play trip rather than work (one of the reasons I’m so excited to be going) and so, as just for a change my pack won’t be full of notebooks, and I’ll have no kids in tow, here’s what I’m packing.
Let’s get the gizmos out of the way first. My new MacBook, with which, having just switched from PC a month ago, I’m still enjoying a forceful love/hate relationship with. My iPod Touch (8g) which I absolutely love, and the cables for both of them. Camera wise I’m taking two — my Nikon D70 and a pocket sized Canon Ixus 860 — with related chargers and a USB cable to hook them up to the MacBook. My trusty Nokia 3-sumthin collector’s item and a charger. I’ll get a spare flashcard for photo backups when in Bangkok.
Books, I’m rereading “A History of Laos” by Martin Stewart Fox alongwith the rather inscrutable “If on a winter’s night a traveller” by Italo Calvino that I’ve found difficult to get into and think I’ll need a few slow days in Sam Neua to really get the gist of. My red moleskin appointment book and, dare I say diary (something I’ve eschewed since 1992 when my last diary was stolen on a French train by some scumbag lowlife who is hopefully dead in a ditch somewhere). One general notepad for mapping and further notetaking should I succumb to researching madness.
Clothes, as anyone who has met me knows, I’m no fashion horse. One pair of Levis jeans, one pair of Camel cargo pants one pair of long shorts with around 362 pockets. I wouldn’t normally mention that the cargo pants are Camel brand (Camel as in the cigarette company) but their cargo pants are excellent, with lots of pockets and very hard wearing — so I just swallow their sneaky branding exercise, foreswear the ciggies and just wear the pants. Other clothes, four tshirts, four sets of underwear, handkerchiefs, no socks (see below). I’ll also be packing a bunch of Travelfish Tshirts to give to a few bods along the way. One baseball cap (Billabong branded in case that matters).
For shoes I’m taking my new lace up canvassy Crocs they wear soooo well, are very comfortable — and cool because of airholes and the light fabric. I have slip-on ones as well but when they get wet they tend to slip off far more often than slip on, so the lace-up ones work better — you just tie the laces real tight! Best thing, no socks required.
I’n not packing any guidebooks, though I do have some printouts from the TF Laos forum that answered some specific Laos questions I had, plus prints of some helpful emails I received. Will pick up a phrasebook while in Bangkok as my Lao is pretty patchy nowadays.
Other minor stuff, a small towel and standard toiletries. My miniscule medical kit includes bandaids and plaster (for blisters) and nurofen (for Beerlao and ricewine excess — especially for the Hercules Wine in Udomxai). Mosquito repellant but no malarials.
Random stuff; a ball of string (helpful for fixing mosquito nets, and, according to a travel partner, tying up annoying children). A spare pair of glasses (if I can find them) but no sunglasses (I don’t have any). A cigarette lighter (for leeches). A dog-eared Australian passport — as a complete aside, the printer the Oz govt uses for their passports needs to be drawn and quartered — they’re a complete joke.
Then the stuff you can’t see: One Bali – Bangkok – Bali eticket, one Bangkok – Chiang Mai eticket — they’re the only flights; and one World Nomads travel insurance policy. Insurance — don’t leave home without it!
Lastly, and probably more important than any of the stuff above, an open mind and as few preconceived notions as I can manage.
Oh, and what am I stuffing all this in? My very nice 40 litre Victorinox pack. Easily fits within the requirements for carry on and is about two-thirds full with all the above (assumming Nikon is on my shoulder)
So there you go.