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Packing up: 1 week to go…

December 3, 2008
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In one week’s time the adventure begins: we leave London for Kathmandu next Wednesday! Meantime, there is all the packing to do…

Nick’s superbly organized backpack has been zipped and bulging with individually bagged and cased items for the past 3 months now. Every so often he opens the whole and goes through each intriguing package before repacking it all and replacing it against the wardrobe, where it leans looking impossibly clean and tidy. I’ve always been more of a pocketed passport and hastily grabbed spare pair of knickers type of traveller, but this kind of expedition needs a little more preparation, I’ve decided.

Clothing-wise it’s all a bit grim: zip-off action slacks in quick-dry nylon, eezy-wash nosquito tops in bright blue or baby pink, supportive velcro sandals… Yup, my clothes can handle tougher terrain than I can – perfect for every situation except the real world, of course, where people wear clothes made from proper fabrics and patterns. Still, I can while away the dull hours spent waiting for buses to depart by seeking out hidden pockets in my clothes secreted by the factory’s strangely creative pocket assigner.

Most of my enthusiasm has been reserved for gadgetry: Heath Robinson has nothing on these wizards of invention, and I love it. I started with my Eee PC – a fantastic £200 ($400) marvel that is the size of a small notebook (the paper sort!) and is solid-state so fires up in a flash; has rapid internet and Skype connection and is lovely and light. I got a spare battery for it, and then I experimented with folding keyboards to check my RSI – this was tricky because the computer version I have doesn’t have bluetooth, and most folding keyboards need bluetooth or else come with software on a cd. I first tried a fab rubber keyboard that rolls up and is waterproof, so handy for spills. But I found that I needed to apply too much pressure on the keys to type, so ended up writing more nonsense than usual. I now have a folding keyboard that isn’t ideally sized – the number pad makes it too big – but is the best USB connected option I could find.

Bored yet? There’s plenty more! But my main gripe at the moment is that I have been unable to find a solar charger for the computer, which needs 9.5 volts – I have a couple of solar chargers, one of which attaches to the backpack for nifty power-walking, but none of which have high enough voltage. Stumped, and grateful for suggestions.

We have found great, although heavy, hammocks that have built-in mossie nets – I only hope they’re not too hot to sleep in. And we have all manner of other ‘survival’ equipment, from fire-steels that can produce a spark in driving rain, to folding cups-cum-plates. And I’ve found some handy equipment for women travellers too, including a SheWee and Mooncup, while Nick’s got some great travel underpants, which were expensive so he only bought 3, scarily…

Problem is that all this lightweight equipment adds up and we may have to leave some of the fun stuff behind in order to bring boring essentials like mosquito repellent and malaria tablets. Really, I need a porter.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 5, 2008 2:38 pm

    After reading the brilliant ‘ How to unplug from the grid ‘ my curiosity about your trip to Katmandu has been whetted. Where can I access more details about your latest venture – how long the trip, where all you plan to go, what all you are focussing on etc ?

    It must be extremely interesting to know the complete list of items carried in the backpack, down to the tooth brush.

  2. gaiavince permalink*
    December 5, 2008 3:22 pm

    Hello S, I will be starting my trip in Kathmandu and from there travelling through South and Southeast Asia, then onto South and Central America and then Africa. As you can see, it’s quite a long trip!

    But it will be a fascinating one and I will be documenting the trip right here on this website, so check back regularly for the latest. And if you have any suggestions of places to visit, let me know!

  3. December 8, 2008 12:29 am

    Well, I’ve just spent a week way off grid in a remote part of the southern Cape in South Africa — and my computing solution was the Alphasmart DANA, a resurrection of 10-year-old Palm Pilot technology with a beautifully comfortable keyboard and a ten-line gray-scale LCD display (and a whopping 8MB of memory). You create RTFs on the Alphasmart, and sync to your PC via a USB cable or infrared connection.

    The beauty of the Alphasmart is that it’s pretty light (though probably bigger than your EEE PC), can be used in full sunlight, and reduces the distractions of web, etc. Most importantly, it runs for 30 hours on a rechargable battery (via plug-in adapter or USB) which can be swapped out for 3 AA batteries (for which solar chargers are available, I see, in the UK). I was going to say the extra space needed might be another downside for you, but see you’ve budgeted space for a nother keyboard (oh yes, it does function as a plugin external keyboard as well). Backs up internally to SD card as well (good idea to use this, as Palm OS does crash sometimes.)

    Downsides: it’s quite hard to read the screen at night, I resorted to using my headlamp. And I’ve found the syncing process a little fussy at times. But generally, it does the job brilliantly.

    Bought mine second-hand off eBay; there’s a wireless version as well, but can’t tell you about those.

  4. gaiavince permalink*
    December 8, 2008 11:33 am

    That sounds really quite natty, David, was it expensive? And does it connect to the internet for email and so on?

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