So much planning has gone into this trip, mainly I suppose because it has been about 18 months since I first thought of it. Yes, I had originally planned to leave February 1st 2011 but the stars were not aligned right (or something) so February 1st 2012 it will be.
I hit the end of year sales to buy clothes, most especially the Ex Officio line, and bought shirts and pants. They are both ultra violet and bug proof, extremely light weight and dry overnight after a hand wash. A nice lady at REI advised me on socks etc. I bought a Packsafe duffel bag to keep all my stuff in, it is quite small but converts from shoulder bag to back pack, has a grab handle and most importantly is slash proof. It has steel mesh built into the bag and straps and has a steel cable with padlock to attach to immovable objects in hotel rooms, trains, buses or wherever.
Being me I have mastered what to do with the gadgets ! I bought a ScottEVest. It has some 24 pockets for all manner of things. Camera, iPod, phone, tickets, money, headphones, water bottle, keys and an iPad. (http://bit.ly/zCrruL) . I have taken it on a few trips and it works wonderfully well, especially at security gates. Older child remarked that he was dreading seeing me in it but was relieved that it actually looked “quite good”. Oh, and the sleeves are detachable. To go with it I have acquired a Grid-It which keeps all the cables, chargers, adapters and the like securely fastened with elastic to a small panel. I bought this after going on a trip to Mexico over the Christmas Holiday for a sort of test of all the above and determined that whenever I needed something I had to empty the cable bag out all over the floor. Not a good idea on a crowded train/bus/boat.
I have, inevitably, had some hilarious suggestions from friends and relations on where to go, where not to go, what to do and what not to do, many of which I have taken with a pinch of salt. My Mother seems quite unfazed by the whole trip and her only concern was that I should not ride on the roof of trains ! I must tell you though that my sister suggested I call a friend in the Orkneys who did a similar trip a couple of years ago. He was most surprised when I called as we have not seen him in twenty odd years. We used to play together when I was five and he was ten ! He and his wife Steph’ sent a long letter with helpful hints, here follows an extract: ” You should go to the War Remnants Museum, it is horrific, but they are very proud of having beaten the Americans.
The Ben Thanh Market is worth a look, full of fake everything and we had the best fish meal ever at the street market next door.
We did our Mekon trips with Tropic tours, nothing fancy, but they looked after us very well. Mostly young backpackers, so we were the old cronies. Go by boat to the tunnels, much better than the bus. An option we missed out there was to spend a night with a local family, it was recommended by one of the guys we met. They also arranged our tickets and dropped us off for the local bus to go down to Rach Gia, from where we caught the ferry to Phu Quoc . That was some bus trip even on African standards. Do have some of their Weasel coffee, partly digested by a weasel, but unless you like it very sweet, ask them to leave out the condensed milk! We have found it on the internet and use it all the time. ” Thanks George and Steph’
Of course there are guide books and I am a big fan of Lonely Planet, though have spent many hours in their Forum called Thorn Tree. I have used an App called Instapaper quite considerably. On finding a useful article on the Internet you simply click save to Instapaper and you can reread it later. Create folders for whatever Country or subject and remarkably it syncs to Ipod, phone or Ipad. A most useful information collector .
Is this sufficient ? Time will tell.