Our travel lust list for 2010
We know that traveling on a budget can be a pain in the ass, especially if you have to put up with shitty budget flights, long transit times, and crowded local transportations.
Most of the time, no frill flights can be seemingly boring and at times make you feel like banging your head on the tray, especially when you are stuck on a 6 hour flight from Brisbane with a non recline-able 75 degree angle seat. I tell you from experience, this gets worse if you are 6 feet tall or if you are a little on the chubby side. Cramped legs, sore neck and a headache is bound to ensue.
Long transit times often suck the life out of me, especially if the airport/bus terminal doesn’t have any restaurants or comfortable seats to at least rest on. Nodding off in exhaustion is suffering if you are doing it on a plastic stool. Washing your face in the toilet to keep awake can only do so much. I would have slept on the floor, if the Asian floors were better well-kept.
Delayed flights which seem to be a normal routine here in Asia can be most troubling. Public busses and trains normally take 20% longer than usual to reach a destination, often because the drivers want to fill the carriage/ bus full, to maximize on profit.
Crowded busses and trains are the result of this.
Sharing all these anguishes with you, our lust list revolves around how to get comfy, kill boredom and keeping entertained on those agonizing transit trips.
It is always frustrating trying to get comfortable when the seats on the plane, train or bus is already extremely uncomfortable. The blow up neck rests that cost USD 3 doesn’t seem to do the job, because they don’t seem to lock the head in one position. I don’t know about you but my head keeps falling to the sides when I sleep, due to lack of grip between the blow up pillow and my head. I end up getting a neck sprain instead. The better head rests would be the ones made from ultra soft micro beads. But then again, you only will get comfortable either on the sides or if your head is vertically up. Once you lose that position then your head will still fall either on the left or the right, which will cause your neck muscles to be strained. Check the cute looking Yondi Trunki out!
What we like about this head rest is that there is a circular pillow near the head that stops your head from rolling about if you want to sleep upright and it is also good if you like to sleep on your sides. It is made of very soft fabric and can be machine washed – unlike the micro beads head rest. We love the vibrant colors that come with it. The L sized head rest even comes with a MP3 pocket in it! The magnetic chin function that acts to lock the head rest around your chin is just something additional, but we don’t really need it.
THE IPOD TOUCH
Imagine being able to watch movies on a 3.5 inch crystal clear screen, or hum to your entire life time collection of tunes with one touch of a finger.
This trendy gadget does just that. The 8 GB model lets you load up to 1750 of your favorite songs (not that you listen to them all), 10 hour videos and 10000 pictures of your entire backpacking trip – which incidentally is a great way to impress new-found friends without having to rummage your bag looking for your camera. Most airports and cafes nowadays have free wi-fi which is excellent if you have an iPod Touch with you. Your “Touch” lets you surf internet, send emails, chat and get in touch with friends on face book! *A tip is when you are intending to use the Google map on your touch, in an area where there isn’t any wi-fi, it is advisable to open up the map you want to view later on, with your touch, then use your index finger and open up as much of the map as you can. Later on when you are walking the streets without wi-fi, switching on your touch will enable you to view the exact replay of the map. Any uncharted parts of the map that wasn’t open prior to disconnecting from the wi-fi will not be displayed.
*Using free wi-fi is a cheaper way to go online, rather than using international roaming.
Pros: Stylishly suitable for a flash-packer. All these fancy technology fits into an unbelievably thin shell; it slips in to your pocket with ease. The third generation iPod Touch has an 800 MHz processor which means you don’t waste time waiting for applications to open. Keeps you entertained with music, photos, movies and the internet when traveling.
Cons: The ear phones that come with the original set aren’t that great. It is of poor quality and spoils easily. (The part where the speaker is stuck to the plastic holder covering the wires comes off easily)
So after we get the player, we need some “A++ grade” awesome speakers to not only cancels out the noise for when you are sharing a mini van with 30 other strangers, some chickens and a goat in Hanoi but also provide you studio grade music quality.
BEATS HEADPHONES BY DR DRE
Check out the stylish – Beats headphones by Dr Dre – the man himself.
Here is what he has to say “Artists and producers spend countless hours fine-tuning and mixing music to get it exactly how they want their fans to hear it. But the vast majority of headphones can’t accurately reproduce the intricacies produced in the studio. Simply put, Studios can. With precision-engineered, advanced speaker design, powered amplification, and powered noise cancellation, you hear music the way today’s top artists and producers want you to hear.”
When we tested it, even at half the volume up on the iPod Touch/music player, the tunes were so clear and precise, with just the right bass and treble settings. (For the normal earphones that are out in the market, to listen at optimum levels, the level of volume on your Touch or music player would be already at maximum level – which means you really can’t go any louder). The bass on these headphones were simply amazing; no matter what you are playing. Jazz, Hip hop, RnB you name it. Bulky as it looks, the best thing is, you can fold away your headphones into a neat touring case that comes with it. Going at £350, to buy this baby, we got some serious saving up to do. Starting with banana pancakes and THB20 phad thai’s for meals on our next trip.
EAR PLUGS – GIVING YOU SOME PEACE AND QUIET
These should be in your bag at all times when traveling in Asia. This is our cheap version of the expensive “noise canceling” headphones that everybody is raving about. Ours only cost USD 0.70 for a pair. You can basically get them at any hard ware store or travel shop. Good to use when:
- In a long haul – on any mode of transportation. Asians are well-known for talking a lot, and talking loudly. You might be sitting next to animals too on a train or a van.
- In a small cheap hostel which fronts any of the main streets. Khao San Road in Bangkok is a good example of a place where you will need earplugs, unless you are planning to get drunk on the streets first. Then you won’t need these life savers.
- When sleeping in a guesthouse in Asia, if you are in a dorm, the ear plugs will shield you from room mates who snore. Most of the time, the walls of the guesthouses are made of cheap thin ply wood. It is impossible not to hear what your neighbors are up to.
Making Dirty water clean for only USD 2 (Don’t know why it costs about RM 100 in Malaysia – best to buy it online)
Facts: Finding clean, potable drinking water is getting harder and harder to find, especially if you are stuck in an equatorial jungle or suspect that the drinking water source is contaminated.
What is LifeStraw?
LifeStraw is a portable water purification tool that cleanses surface water and makes it safe for human consumption. It is just 25 cm long and 29 mm in diameter and can be hung around the neck. LifeStraw requires no electrical power or spare parts.
What does LifeStraw do?
LifeStraw filters up to 700 litres of water and effectively removes most of the micro organisms responsible for causing waterborne diseases.
Which diseases will LifeStraw prevent?
LifeStraw kills disease-causing micro organisms which spread diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid, and Cholera.
Which disease-causing micro organisms are filtered by LifeStraw?
LifeStraw filters bacteria such as Shigella, Salmonella, Enterrococus, Staphylococcus Aureus and E.Coli
What is the life expectancy of the LifeStraw?
One year from the start of usage (calculation based on consumption of 2 litre water per day) or 700 liters. Use beyond expiry will not deteriorate existing water quality.
We found it especially useful when traveling in areas that have more contaminated water than clean water. In both cases when we were in Burma and India, where it is well-known for unsafe drinking water. Diarrhea cases are very rampant here. LifeStraw is a great tool to use. It saves the trouble of having to buy and use sterilizing pills. We had to buy drinking water and suck out of it our life straw. No diarrhea in India or Burma!
But let’s face it; come to think about it, it’s a great tool to have in your back pack, especially if you love outdoor activities. Finding fresh clean water up in the mountains or jungle is as hard as finding a cold coca cola dispenser in Cambodia. This is something we are going to pack with us!
THE EOS 550D – CAPTURING YOUR TRAVELS ON FULL HD
The Canon 550D boasts a 18 MP sensor and the ability to record videos on Full HD. The 550 is smaller, lighter and the body is made of hard plastic compared to the 500 model. This makes it less noticeable when taking photos in temples and places where an awkward 50D would cause strange stares.
The viewfinder features speedy autofocus via nine AF points. The 550D comes with a standard 18-55mm kit lens. The 550D supports HDMI, Stereo Mics, SD, SDHC and SDXC cards. Noise reduction technology on the 550D cleans up the pictures even if you shoot with a maximum ISO 6400. This is great especially in low light conditions.
The 550D’s movie mode rivals most mid range camcorders you can find. There is manual control that lets you control the exposure compensation, ISO and aperture, as well as the ability to record stereo using an external microphone. The movie quality is sharp even in low light conditions. You can record at full 1920×1080 at 24, 25 or 30fps, or 1280×720 at 50 or 60fps.
LETTING YOU SLEEP ON DIRTY BEDS
Get a bed liner! It’s all about being soft, comfortable and being able to fold it into a small bundle.
What terrifies us most is when we book ourselves into a room, which looks pleasant on the outside but holds hell within its four walls. We are talking about bed bugs and notorious other creepy crawlies! Usually they can be found on unclean beds and pillows. If you manage to find this out early, then you can request a room change. But what if the other rooms are full and the next guesthouse is like 5 km’s away. Getting a sleeping bag avoids these problems.
Sleeping liners nowadays only weight about 15 oz (423 g). They can be strapped easily to the outside of your back pack. Mostly foldable to about 10cm x 20 cm it hardly takes any space. Most of it can fit 2 persons in snugly, depending on what size you buy. They act as a protective shield against bed bugs and also restrict mosquito attacks to the head area alone (which you can easily protect, with some mozzie spray). It’s best to get a sleeping bed with a built-in pillow pocket. You can just stuff some clothes in and voila! You have your own pillow and ready for a good nights rest. Most of them are machine wash friendly.
The mercurial liner from North Face comes with a thermal regulator. This technology allows you to flip and choose which side of the sleeping bag you want to use to fit the climate you are in. One side lets you retain heat if its cold and another dissipates your heat if it is too hot. If you unzip it, it becomes a full-sized blanket! Definitely another handy tool to have on your travels.
Check out http://eu.thenorthface.com for more information.