For the last couple of months, my girlfriend and I have been planning an epic trip to Southeast Asia. I would like to get an idea on the type of gear that we might need, and maybe some opinions on backpack sizes. We have actually heard quite a few opinions that are in favor of smaller backpacks ~40 litres versus bigger backpacking packs. Also, for those that have traveled through the countries below, is there any specific gear or clothing that came in handy? We are trying to be very minimalist with our approach so if you have any suggestions to further that idea we would love to hear them! We are planning to see:
Manila (and maybe some more islands in the Philippines)
And try to fit in:
Thanks so much!!
I've never been to any of them countries but I know that the climate in each varies massively between seasons. I doubt that you'd be able to be as 'minimalist' as you like since I think you'll need alot of stuff from thermals to mozzy repelant. I suppose it depends whether you'll be camping out or staying in accommodation.
I've never been there, just my opinion - hope it helps
Having been to a few of those countries, I can offer some advice.
First, when are you going? August to October is best, though you will run in to the rainy season.
Next, there are some things to be aware of in SE Asia.
1) Landmines. DO NOT WALK OFF THE PATH! EVER! Landmines and UXO (Unexploded ordinances) left over from wars past are still as lethal today as the day they were set years ago.
2) Malaria. Be sure to talk with your doctor about which anti-Malarial medications are best for where you are traveling.
To keep up with what is going on, go to www.travel.state.gov for the most recent Travel Warnings and Travel Advisories from the US Government. If you are a US citizen, register your trip with the State Department.
That being said, let me answer some questions about gear.
GEAR YOU SHOULD BUY AT HOME:
-Boots/Shoes. Yes, they sell them in those countries, but you'll want to buy your footwear at least a few months before you travel so you can wear them in and get used to the feel, or make a return if you need to.
-Camera gear/Electronics. Same reason. Also, some electronics in SE Asia (aside from the awesome electronics market in Singapore) may be counterfeit. This can lead not only to electronic failure, but to batteries catching fire or other similar problems.
-Binder clips. The kind you get at the office supply store. Clip them to your mosquito netting near your face, then run a string across the room to lift the netting off your face while you are sleeping.
I'm sure there is more, but I can't think of anything else right now.
GEAR YOU COULD BUY THERE:
-Backpack. The weekend market in Bangkok sells great bags. Are they authentic? Who can say? Before you buy, check for double-stitching at weight-bearing places, good, heavy zippers and good, quality workmanship.
-Sarongs. They come in pretty colors, are sold cheap all over the place and have 100 uses. Also great for gifts to send home.
Mosquito netting. If you're someplace with no windows or holes in the screen door, you'll be glad you have this.
-Clothes.The higher quality stuff (good pants, rain gear, fleece, etcetera) you want to buy at home, As far as T-shirts and decently-priced clothes are concerned, you can get a lot for not a lot of money. When you are in Viet Nam, go have a suit made.
That's all I have for now. However, as someone who lived in South Korea for a year, I encourage you to go for a visit. Go to www.AdventureKorea.com; it's travel group that caters mainly to foreigners. Take a look at their schedule and visit when they are doing something you might want to do.
I'll have to post a more detailed itinerary when I get a chance, but for now the first part of our trip will start in India where we'll trek to Sri Lanka and back up. We'll work our way east and up as the weather patterns/travel advisories permit.
Thank you so much for your reply, that was a lot of great information. Do you have any suggestions for clothing brands/shoes? I know ExOfficio comes up a lot for under garments and pants.... Likewise with Patagonia. Have you tried either of those two brands? Also, have you used any of the clothing that has insect repellant in the fabric? Lastly, will price really reflect the quality? We aren't opposed to paying a bit more for the good stuff, but we don't want to be ripped off in the process ;-)
Thanks for the help!
Status as of today: We are currently looking for the best place to get all the vaccines we need!!
[ Edit: Edited on Dec 1, 2008, at 2:45 AM by ray_gomez ]
How do you plan to fund this 2 year long trip?
Edit: I ask because i would love to do the same.
[ Edit: Edited on Dec 2, 2008, at 12:32 PM by ANS7812 ]
For the malaria meds, I don't think you can take them for two years. There's a pretty strict limit on how much you can take and for how long. Your travel clinic will be able to help you out there, though. Remember bug spray, long pants and shirts in high-risk zones, and maybe invest in a repellant-treated mosquito net that you can carry with you.
Oh--and enjoy! Sounds like a great trip.
Macpac have a reputation for really long lasting and hard wearing packs. They have all different ones, look on their website, it's macpac.co.nz I haven't used one yet, I had a 'black wolf' for my last pack but I'm planning on purchasing a Torlesse very soon
Funding is always a good question (one that I have been asked a lot recently), and the best answer (that we have found) is to start saving like a maniac. I have to admit that it hasn't been easy, but we've been saving for almost a year now and we still have 7 months left to go. We've read so many books and websites that have repeatedly said the Dollar/Euro/Pound can go a long way in Asia, so we are banking on living off of minimum wage, more or less. In that sense it boils down to the luxuries we are willing to live without. Knowing that has caused us to look at every triple shot Latte a little differently. So, to answer your question, our savings will be a big majority of the funding. We have no solid number we are trying to reach, but we do have a goal.
Of course, on the road will be a little different... We are both writers in our spare time, and we can usually earn money in a pinch by submitting a couple articles every month. It may not be a whole lot, but apparently 10 dollars can go a long way if you are frugal. Other than that we have planned to teach English for a period of time for money or room and board.
tway - Thanks for your input on the anti-malarial, I was not aware of this. We have constantly been gathering information about diseases, infections, and the vaccines we need (Hep A, Hep B, laundry list of others, etc). We have kept an open channel with one of our doctors since the get go, and now are trying to locate a clinic that specializes in foreign travel in the states (Arizona specifically). As far as being able to find those clinics elsewhere, we haven't sat down and looked. A couple of Lonely Planets/Rough Guides have mentioned that if you are in a specific country, say Cambodia, you are better off high tailing it to Bangkok to find treatment for more severe ailments. Do you have any experience with the travel clinics around that area in Asia?
karlyfu - Thank you for the link, I haven't heard of either of them before. I really like the Black Wolf bags as they seem to have something similar to the Eagle Creek bag I was looking at . One of the big complaints about all of the packs we have found is that they look very touristy. We would like to keep a low profile, and we want to try to test the feasibility of a pack that looks and functions more like a daypack (big enough to store the bare essentials with some leftover room preferably no bigger than 40L-45L). The idea is to have it on us at all times so we don't need to check our bags in. Currently, the backpack I have been testing out is the Kelty Redwing 2650 (next maybe the 3100). On that note, has anybody seen a pack similar to the Kelty Redwing 2650?
I guess it would probably help if I actually have a running list of what we plan on taking. Here is the list of gear we plan to have in our packs at any given time:
- pair exofficio undies
- t-shirt/long sleeve (preferably reversible, any suggestions?)
- pair extremely durable convertible pants (thinking mountain hardware brand, any suggestions?)
-2 pairs of NON-cotton socks
- refillable container of laundry soap
- pair of Teva's or flip flops
- compressible rain coat/poncho
- UMPC (cheap eeePC or similar for writing, skyping, emailing)
- portable digi cam + extra flash cards and batteries
- small med kit/sew kit
- small multi tool
-water filter (thinking MIOX) or purification drops (thinking Aquamira). Suggestions??
-bottle of deet
-mosquito netting pretreated or self treated with mosquito repellent
-silk sleeping bag liner
Suggestions on adding/subtracting gear is definitely welcomed. We are trying to be minimalists with our approach, so if there is anything that can be used for multiple purposes we'd love to hear about it!
tway Do you have any experience with the travel clinics around that area in Asia?
No, sorry--we travelled to southern Africa, and even then we went to a travel clinic here in Canada before we left. Take a look at the TP Wiki here; you'll probably find some useful info on what drugs you may need. But trust your travel doctor first and foremost! They're the experts and they see people who travel everywhere, every day.