Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lessons learned

What to bring, what not to bring, and words of wisdom. Here is a list of lessons learned from our trip.

What to bring

1. Good shoes. Very important. You spend most of your time walking and a comfortable pair of good quality shoes will take you far. GoreTex as an added bonus as well for those wet days.

2. Good backpack. Another very important item. You'll be lugging this thing around for a long time so make sure it's comfortable. I have a bad lower back and the back support on my bag is amazing. It actually takes away my back pain when I put it on.

3. Silk sleep sac. This was one thing I am so glad we brought. It's lightweight, easy to clean, and so very comfortable. It gives you peace of mind when you sleep in some dingy bed potentially filled with bed bugs. Highly recommended.

4. Daypack. A good sturdy daypack is useful. You'll need one everyday for the most part to bring your daily essentials (water, snacks, camera, first aid, etc.)

5. Flip flops. You'll need a pair of sandals/flip flops that can double as shower slippers. Almost 99% of the time, you do not want to walk into that bathroom with your bare feet. These are usually provided in the rooms in China but not anywhere else.

6. Sink stopper. Important if you plan on doing your own laundry. A universal sink stopper allows you to make any sink your laundry tub.

7. Lock. Useful for locking up your backpack on train rides and in hostels.

8. Unlocked cell. You can buy a SIM card anywhere you go and this gives both you and your family/friends piece of mind.

What not to bring
1. Whistle. I have no idea why I brought a whistle in the first place. It stayed in my backpack the entire time.

2. Mirror. I brought a little mirror which again, I never used. Sometimes, you don't see yourself for a long time, but you know, you really don't miss it.

3. Pacsafe. I had bought this on sale and brought it along. I did use it for flights and on overnight trains as well but it'd be easier to bring the lighter versions which pretty much just consist of a wire and lock.

4. Ear plugs. Thought we might use these on noisy train rides, etc. but to me, they were highly uncomfortable and I never used them.

Words of wisdom
1. Never let your guard down. You're always a target anywhere you go because you are a tourist. Be aware of your surroundings and be wary of anyone who may come across as extra friendly.

2. Try as much as you can. You're away in a different place. Experience as much as you can out there. It'll be worth it.

3. Be flexible. The rest of the world is not the same as Canada. Things happen at a different pace and in different ways. Take it as it is and enjoy the experience.

4. Be patient. You'll be surrounded by touts who want to make some money of you. It's easy to get frustrated since you're always bombarded but be patient and politely tell them no.

5. Learn to bargain. We really hated the concept of bargaining for everything before we left. Soon after though, we got used to it and in fact, even started enjoying it! It's a game and just take it all in stride and have fun. Never let it get too serious.

6. Enjoy! Really, if this is your dream, go out there and take it all in. Appreciate the fact that you are out there and getting this wonderful opportunity. Relish in it!


At 9:21 PM, Blogger TheGossip said...

I would never leave my Pacsafe security net behind after it saved my stuff from thieves. Whilst on a train in India a member of my party (who laughed at my Pacsafe incidentally) had his camera taken from inside his pack whilst we slept, but mine was too secure for the thief to get their hands on. If you found the Pacsafe Net too cumbersome then at least consider one of the many other excellent Pacsafe Anti-theft products such as the StashSafe 200 secure hip pack for protecting your valuables.

At 9:32 AM, Blogger Jenni said...

It looks like the need for a pacsafe probably depends on how you pack when traveling. My backpack never had anything important in it when I was on an overnight train or bus or plane so if they decided to open it up, I wouldn't loose much. Everything important stayed with me in one way or another. I would recommend locking it to something so they can't swipe the entire bag though, hence the wire and lock recommendation. The only time I used the net as it should be used was on airplanes and that was really more to keep others from putting things in than from taking them out.


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