So today I have learnt that there is definitely not enough time for everything; to visit everywhere – maybe, but not to experience everywhere. Planning where I will go, an how long I will stay somewhere is a precious balance. I would like to visit many places and see different landscapes and environments, but I would also like to experience cultures, to ‘get-to-know’ villages, towns, cities, and the people within them. There is a fine line between seeing too much but not enough…
My current travel plan in my head consists of a flight to Bangkok, Thailand. Overland travel through Laos, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos again before heading back into Thailand, southern Thailand, Malaysia and finally Singapore. I then want to visit the Philippines, Palau, South Korea and Japan before the painful journey back to reality… in 6 months… will I really get to experience the different cultures? Or will it all whiz past in a blur whilst riding trains and buses? I guess I won’t know until I’m there.
Anyway, this week has been a productive week as I have finally decided on a leaving date and my initial 2 nights’ accommodation.
I am hoping to fly with Swiss airlines from Manchester > Bangkok (via Zurich) leaving on Monday 24th March and arriving on Tuesday 25th at about 3pm local time. The decision to go on this date was based purely on price as this flight costs a mere £274! From Bangkok international airport I will then catch the airport skytrain to my first accommodation at Link Corner Hostel which costs only £9 a night for a private room – which I hope to use to catch-up on sleep for jet-lag and to settle myself in before diving into dorm-style accommodation for the rest of my trip!
So there we have it, my first 2 days are sorted…. and it only took me about 3 months! Now on to the other 185 days… eeek!
So it’s two weeks to go (roughly) til I fly to Bangkok! I decided to try to start getting my bag ready, practice packing, make sure I have anything and/or make sure I don’t take anything that I don’t need. I wanted to make sure everything I want to take fits and that I am actually capable of wearing a fully loaded backpack!
So, what am I taking?
I have a medium sized towel in the bottom of my bag, had a look initially at those microfibre towels, but they’re not cheap…at least the towels I already have are free, and in the local weather I doubt I’ll have a problem with it drying!
1 pair of full length cotton trousers
1 pair of cropped cotton trousers
1 pair of thin full length combats
2 pairs of short shorts
2 bikinis and some surf shorts
10 tops of various styles, some vests, some t-shirts, some 3/4 sleeves,
7 pairs of knickers, 4 pairs of socks, 2 bras
All my clothes match… yep… they’re all browns/neutral/greens/orange etc. So I should be sorted for every occasion!
I also packed about 1 litre of sunscreen (perhaps excessive, I don’t know, maybe I should only take 2 bottles, but having just completed a PhD on the negative effects of sunlight exposure, perhaps not. And from what I’ve read about South East Asia, good sunscreen (5 star UVA, reflective based ingredients) are hard to come by/expensive). I got this from ASDA, factor 30, 5* UVA, £1 per 100ml – best value sunscreen by far. The jungle formula was cheapest at Wilko – only £4.50 a can!
Toiletries, I’m taking soap over liquid body wash (to try to avoid spillages – and smaller/lighter), my face wash, shampoo (again, completely unnecessary, but I love this shampoo and at least I don’t have to worry about buying when I’m there), razors, tooth paste and brush. A rechargable epilator for my legs and mini scissors and clippers.
My first aid kit has plasters, antiseptic cream, anthisan cream, sewing kit, painkillers etc. And hopeful after tomorrow, 180 tablets of doxycycline – anti-malaria tablets.
Also taking my flip flops, sketchers pumps and trainers. My snorkelling face mask. Plug adapters and chargers and instead of a sleeping bag, I just have a sleeping bag liner – polycotton – for quick drying/no ironing. I got some permethrin fabric treatment for it, my clothes and if I buy a mozzy net over there – hopefully I can avoid the dreaded bed bugs! eek!
And there it is, all packed in, even enough room for my hair dryer! And that’s all without the extension, which means I have an option of buying gifts etc whilst out there!
As for my day pack, it will have my kindle, purse, phone, travel documents, a travel pillow, a pair of mini binoculars (99p from eBay!) A wind up touch, my make-up bag and face creams, an extendable cable lock and my new sunglasses!
I love my backpack, in case you haven’t noticed, there is a bit of a pink thing going on in everything I have, topped off with my bag locks! (£8 Inc postage! haha)
My backpack, as you can see from photos, is side opening- like a suitcase, which is a lot more accessible. It has an extendable internal capacity and a few separate compartments. The straps are all adjustable and can easily be covered up. Plus the day bag can be attached to the main bag so you only have one bag to carry but can remove it easily to use as hand luggage or a day bag.
So, the finished article…
It. Is. Heavy. Wow.
I tried walking up and down the stairs and after about 5 minutes of wearing I was hot, sweaty and close to out off breath!! Haha! I guess I’ll get used to it after a few days, and hopefully I won’t have to carry it too far with all the public transport options available.
Looks like I’m almost ready to go…
Bangkok on the 26th, here I come!
So I’ve ditched my shampoo and am only taking 2 bottles of sun cream! Instead I’ve got a Lush shampoo bar. I don’t know what I was thinking when I packed a litre bottle of Tresemme shampoo! lol Essentially, taking these 2 items out lost me close to 1.5kg off the weight. I think that’s all I’ll be doing over the next few days – taking things out! I also caved in a bought a microfibre towel (don’t laugh…) – it’s massive! As tall as me and twice as wide and weighs nothing, so perhaps it will be a good investment in the end….
I also added some heavy duty duct tape, a bungee rope (for washing line, hanging mosquito net, locking doors etc) and Maria got me a travel ‘Scrubber’ for washing clothes!
I have also weighed my bag…….. only 14 kgs and 4 kg hand luggage! I’m proud of myself! 4 DAYS! AAAAAHHHHHHH
FOLLOW UP 18-03-2015
Sadly, I returned from my 8 months trip in November last year. I’m currently still trying to catch up with my blog writing from some notes that I took and photos. I have had a lot of people contact me about whether I was correct in what I chose to take with me, and I have also took the time to reflect what I used/threw out/needed to buy. Here are my conclusions….
- I have a medium sized towel in the bottom of my bag and then I also caved in a bought a microfibre towel (don’t laugh…) – it’s massive!
Actually possibly the best investment of my trip. I bought my towel from a UK store called decathlon and it was only £12 for the biggest size. I was so light and packed small and due to the fabric it was able to dry almost instantly. Using it every day to dry after a shower with only a weekly wash (or often less…) meant my towel took a hammering, but it did not smell musty or damp like a normal towel would, plus it was always dry when it came to packing my bag up so it didn’t transfer water to my clothes/bag contents. The best thing about it was on the beach, since the fabric was smooth not like a normal towel, it did not collect sand, and you could just shake it out, hang it on the outside of my bag when walking back, and it was dry by the time I got home! Plus, I loved the colour the size was big enough to let my friends share it sitting on a beach!
- 1 pair of full length cotton trousers, 1 pair of cropped cotton trouser, 1 pair of thin full length combats, 2 pairs of short shorts, 2 bikinis and some surf shorts, 10 tops of various styles, some vests, some t-shirts, some 3/4 sleeves, 7 pairs of knickers, 4 pairs of socks, 2 bras
I think I got my clothes about right… apart from I chucked the combats to leave just one pair of full length trousers. The only problem I faced was that I lost quite a bit of weight during my trip and about half-way through a belt just wasn’t cutting it. Luckily I was in Vietnam at the time, the home of cheap tailoring, so I threw pretty much 80% of my clothes and had some new ones made cheap (shorts, bikini, dresses). I also jumped up to having 5 dresses in my collection as that was one thing I really loved wearing in the evenings.
- I packed about 1 litre of sunscreen
This was not excessive by any means… I was a bit of a suncream geek I must admit… I wore it religiously. And I did get it down to 1 bottle of cream in the end, which was the perfect amount for the trip. I was wrong in assuming high quality suncream would be hard to find, but it was also relatively expensive. The weight was ok as it obviously got far less over the duration of my trip. One of my top tips would be to purchase on of the 100ml plunge dispensers to top up with the cream, so you don’t have to carry around the massive bottle all the time!
- The jungle formula was cheapest at Wilko – only £4.50 a can! I took 2 cans
This was pointless as I found it had little to no effect in repelling mosquitoes! Instead I chucked it and started using a local brand which was very cheap, available everywhere, and came in small bottles for easy carrying.
- Toiletries, I’m taking soap over liquid body wash (to try to avoid spillages – and smaller/lighter), my face wash, shampoo, razors, tooth paste and brush. A rechargable epilator for my legs and mini scissors and clippers. and then So I’ve ditched my shampoo…Instead I’ve got a Lush shampoo bar
Lush shampoo bars seemed like a great idea, but in reality they melted in the heat and only lasted a month or so. Instead I changed to just buying liquid shampoo every few weeks, and the same with the body wash… the soap was a bit of a hassle. It was actually nice too to be able to try out different products for hair/body that are not available in the UK. In the end I fell in love with a Pantene shampoo that they don’t sell in the UK, so I’m sad now that I’m back and can’t have it! One of the main things I realised when travelling, was actually how easy it was. I thought there would be some places that would be so remote I may not be able to get shampoo…. seems silly to think that now. Maybe if I ventured out of Asia… but here even in the remote places, there was always a tiny corner shop selling a multitude of personal products.
- My first aid kit has plasters, antiseptic cream, anthisan cream, sewing kit, painkillers etc. And hopeful after tomorrow, 180 tablets of doxycycline – anti-malaria tablets
I don’t know what I thought was going to happen to me, but I don’t need all this stuff in the UK… so why would I need it there?! I found most things in my ‘first-aid kit’ to be unnecessary. There are pharmacists everywhere, so whenever I needed something I was able to pick it up really easily. The anthisan got ditched and replaced by the much more effective Tiger Balm, which is available everywhere in Asia.
I also ditched my anti-malarials… I based this decision on weighing up the side-effects, which I heard could be pretty draining, and the fact that there are so many other mosquito-born diseases you can’t protect against (dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis etc). So, in reality, if I am going to be covering myself in mosquito-repellent to protect against those… why would I need to take anti-malarials too? Actually, throughout my whole trip, I got very few mosquito bites thanks to the amazing orange-scented mozzy spray available everywhere (see pic above)
- Also taking my flip flops, sketchers pumps and trainers. My snorkelling face mask. Plug adapters and chargers and instead of a sleeping bag, I just have a sleeping bag liner – polycotton – for quick drying/no ironing. I got some permethrin fabric treatment for it, my clothes and if I buy a mozzy net over there – hopefully I can avoid the dreaded bed bugs! eek!
Flip flops and trainers was all I needed, I never wore my pumps, and the one day I did they gave me huge blisters (I think the heat made my feet swell), so they got ditched straight away. I also ditched my sleeping bag liner. Every hostel I stayed in always provided fresh bed sheets, and I only encountered bed bugs once (I guess reading hostel reviews first helps you to avoid this). I never got round to using the fabric treatment, so that got dropped as well. And again, most hostels which were in heavy-mosquito areas provided nets, so I didn’t end up buying one.
Having a good fitting snorkel mask was also fantastic, until I lost it after a boating trip…
- And there it is, all packed in, even enough room for my hair dryer!
And no, I don’t regret taking my hairdryer at all! It was my luxury item and I felt so much better for it!
- As for my day pack…
My only regret was not taking a normal bag with me! I felt like a bit of a saddo wearing my geeky backpack all the time, and it made me stick out like a sore thumb as a tourist. This was almost immediately replaced by a small handbag satchel, and updated regularly since they got so battered by excessive use!
- My backpack, as you can see from photos, is side opening- like a suitcase, which is a lot more accessible. It has an extendable internal capacity and a few separate compartments. The straps are all adjustable and can easily be covered up. Plus the day bag can be attached to the main bag so you only have one bag to carry but can remove it easily to use as hand luggage or a day bag.
My bag actually wasn’t that great. It’s main fault was that with all the adjustable parts and metal it was heavy without anything in it! And I eventually found it too big with too much empty space that I couldn’t get rid of. I will definitely buy a new backpack before going travelling again. One which is as light as possible and has a smaller capacity, maybe 40-50L. And not once did I attach the smaller bag to the large one, it just made it too back-heavy. I found it much easier to carry the smaller bag on my front as a counter-weight.
I guess one of the things I learned whilst travelling, was that it was nowhere near as difficult or as scary as I had imagined. I didn’t need to take all my bag with me. Essentially most things in my bag were a safety net that I just didn’t need… At no point in my trip did I worry that I would lose my bag, as long as I had my handbag (passport, money, phone, (and my make-up bag!!)) the whole contents could’ve been replaced for a fraction of the cost to buy in the UK. And in my opinion, that’s all you want. No valuables, and simple contents that is easy and light to carry, which would not be a big deal if you lost. I was fortunate enough in my trip never to have anything stolen or lost, but I had no stress or worries about leaving my bag in storage or on a roof rack out of sight, I could just enjoy my trip to the fullest. And I did! 😀
Post originally published on https://libbytesasia.travellerspoint.com/
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