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.