Below are some photos, descriptions, and in some case justifications of the gear I am taking with me.
In red are comments I made at the end of he trip about their value and usefulness.
- Asus EeePC with two 6600mAh batteries – total weight about 1.5kgs, with 14 hours run time. I LOVE this thing. Much better than carrying a paper guidebooks, great for writing, doing work as I travelled, great for planning and calculating currency exchange rates. Oh, and it saves you loads of hassle with getting online. Many, many travellers seem to have them now. Battery life is a key factor, and this is a super-tough little unit. New models come as a tablet PC with GPS!!
- FreeLoader solar/USB charger for battery, plus ‘supercharger’ solar panel (*note: there may be better options out there see here, or at Nigel’s Eco Store). This was useful for the solar aspects on a couple of occassions. The main benefit was not needing to take three chargers because I could use it to charge phone, camera, PDA. Of course, you could also just not take so much electronic crap!
- 60GB WD Passport external hard drive. I felt much better about photos, info knowing that it was backed up and separate to my laptop.
- Dell PDA (it’s my MP3 player). Actually very, very useful for navigating with maps from Lonely Planet pdfs. Much better than the option of wandering around lost in the markets trying to read a map displayed on an expensive laptop.
- FreeLoader USB AA battery charger. As per other USB charger – I chose a digital camera that took AA batteries so I could charge them without a need for a whole other charger.
- Nikon FM2 manual SLR with fixed 50mm lens (beautiful, needs no batteries, great in extreme temps.). Love it, glad I took it, takes absolutely beautiful photos, tough.
- Nokia mobile phone with global SIM card. Was useful on ocassions, and probably better than the alternatives given how fast I was moving (so not really worthwhile buying local phone). The global sim card worked, but often didn’t work just when I really needed it so I got a bit annoyed with it. But next time I just wouldn’t take a phone. Web is everywhere, as is skype, and you can always just ask a local on the bus to use their phone if you want – which I did.
- Canon PowerShot A1000 Digital camera (runs on rechargeable AA batteries). Lovely, definitely worth investing in a tough case – I had a Berghaus hard case that was perfect and saved it from getting smashed on several occassions.
- Pocketknife. Important if you want to eat cheaply, and keep your nails short.
- Pacsafe mesh cover/lock. A MUST HAVE – just felt safe nearly anywhere with this, especially to sleep at train stations, on trains, on buses etc and not be freaked about getting stripped of all your belongings.
- Wind-up headtorch. Brilliant. Cheaper than a Petzl and better for the earth.
* the only charger I have is for the notebook – everything else charges off the computer (USB) or from the solar panels
Material, for the body
- Underwear (Pants to Poverty rubbish actually, unfortunately), socks bamboo socks are great, waterproof socks only used in southern China, but was probalby lucky with it only raining a couple of days my whole trip though may have just been , thermal gloves didn’t use
- Three long-sleeve tops: SkinFit, thermal and Patagonia shirt. Used in China where it was pretty chilly, but I could have just bought something locally rather than lug around for the other 2 months and 20 days.
- 2 ‘Buffs’ (these are great, but expensive for what they are – mine free from RatRace). Yep, v. useful.
- 4 trousers Sombrio with nice zips in the legs to keep cool, Mountain Designs ‘Ironbark’ water resistant trousers, Craft thermal tights, and some very thin, white, pakistan-style baggy pants. Sombrios great, other trousers didn’t really use. thermals I didn’t use except in China again, very thin pants I used all the time as bed-time / hostel wear.
- 2 t-shirts (one columbia, one ‘I love nature’), 1 Patagonia windproof vest. Didn’t really use vest – amazing cause I actually love this thing.
- Gore cycling jacket (I love this). Useful.
- Cheap waterproof trousers. Didn’t touch them, but perhaps lucky with weather.
- Shorts, bathers. Didn’t use bathers.
- Alastair’s newly acquired, then burnt and subsequently exchanged (with me), silk/wool jumper. Didn’t use except in China.
- Mountain Designs Gore-tex covered sleeping bag. Waste of space – Do not take one! I am so used to taking these things because 95% of my holidays involve cycling or camping, but I used this maybe twice. Even on those occassions I could have borrowed more blankets from somewhere.
- Cotton sleeping bag liner. Not useful. But, I did acquire an Indian/Pakistani universal-do-everything thin cotton blanket that I used a lot.
- Thermalite 3/4 very light sleeping mat. NUMBER ONE thing to take. I used it to meditate, exercise, sit/sleep in train stations, on trains to spread out my belongings in the dirt, and as a pillow on buses.
- Lonsdale exercise band (I’m trying to stay fit). Actually used this quite a lot and feel a lot better than if I hadn’t have exercised at all. Sure, I got strange looks when using it, but I am beyond caring.
To carry my burden
- Northface Terra 35L Pack
- LowePro TLZ AW camera bag. Forget it.
- Berghaus hard case for digital camera. great.
- Wallet and body wallet. Body wallet is essential and I know I would have lost money and other things to nimble fingered people if I didn’t have it.
- Merrell Gore-tex leather shoes. Wonderful, especially because they look quite neat in nations where everyone is quite formal most of the time.
- Recycled car-tyre thongs (flip flops for the English readers). good.
- MEC Drybag. Worth having.
To read and listen
- Brief History of Almost Anything by New Internationalist (I know v. little about history, and just happened across this book that seemed to cover most of it ; ) )
- Paul Theroux’s ‘The Great Railway Bazaar’ (thanks to Rhys!)
- Ryszard Kapuscinski’s ‘Travels with Herodotus’ (thanks to Thomas!)
- Chogyam Trungpa’s ‘Shambhala – The Sacred Path of the Warrior’
- A Mandarin dictionary to accompany podcasts and language lesson sheets
- EnlightenNext guide to meditation, contemplation
- [various lonely planet guides purchased as pdf downloads]
- [very, very many things to read, and podcasts to listen to on the computer]
- see reviews of books elsewhere in the blog.
- Rainbow butterfly mask (um, it seemed novel, is sure to ward off bad spirits, and is symbolic of transformation). Very worth taking : ) , though someone took it from me while on a bus in Kolkata.
- Special Mexican ground up chicken bone powder, guaranteed to ward off evil spirits, or at least blind them when blown in their face (thanks Maria!). Well, I made it safely didn’t I? This stuff must have worked!
- Japanese good luck charm. Again – I made it and that is proof of effectiveness.
- Deck of Unfolding cards (thanks to Carsten!). Not actually as useful as I had hoped on this trip, but I do still use them in my work.
- Wooden Book on Euphonics “A poet’s dictionary of enchantments”. Useless.
- A german-made thumb piano (needs tuning). Too fragile – the keys get knocked out of tune in my bag and I can’t tune them. Otherwise it would have been lovely.
- (Moral) Compass (actually a great global compass, but got re-named the ‘moral’ compass after variously leading Rhys, Thommo and I astray, then home again through the dangers of Amsterdam). On a par with thermarest – abolutely ESEENTIAL. I have no idea how some other travellers navigate new cities, countryside, mountains or even large parks without one or these.
- Large ‘Platypus’ water bladder (some multi-day trains have no food or water on board). Didn’t use it, just filled bottles.
- £150 worth of Malaria tablets for 60 days (did I get ripped off by the NHS / Pharmacy / GSK here??). I am sure you can buy stuff cheaper / locally.
- Echinacea tablets, Multivitamins. I stayed healthy the whole time, so…?
- Alcohol handwash gel. Essential, there are a lot of dirty, dirty places along the way.
- All sorts of painkillers, rehydration salts, imodium blah blah blah. Band-Aids and a large triangular bandage covered in post-modern art (thanks Rachael!). Didn’t use any of it – lucky me!
- Iodine for purifying water and cleaning wounds. ESSENTIAL. forget any other way of purifying water -this rules. And saved lots of money and plastic bottles of water. Or maybe I am just lucky that I quite like the taste of Iodine.
- The usual toiletries minus shaving cream (soap works fine).
- Toilet paper. Important, though once you get used to using your left hand it becomes less important!!!
What do you think, have I missed anything essential? Or perhaps not essential, but that you would strongly recommend?