Gathering all the chunks

It’s been a busy fortnight. From the grim, humourless world of consulates and embassies via the dull but wholly necessary task of buying a new travel pack, to the massive foolishness of vaccinations whilst ill, it’s all been educational.

“11/10/2011 Note: Jeez, looking back I’m not quite sure how I ended up with a 55+15 litre pack, I don’t really travel with that much less now. Glory to my recently acquired Eagle Creek Pack-It Compressors I guess!”

Some tips:

1) a) As soon as you have a plan of where you’re going, do not delay – sort out the visas! We paid £95 for the Russian visa on same day service (£50 extra) because we were worried about running out of time. This means I have paid £95 for a tourist visa in Russia, £35 transit visa for Mongolia, and a month in China for £30. Plus the £78 Australian working holiday visa.

1) b) Even when the grumpy Russian consulate official asks seemingly witty questions about the size of the printout you just handed him, always answer promptly and with a straight face – they NEVER joke. I swear I saw his hand inching towards the obligatory big red button under his desk. A laugh too far and swarms of black-clad FSB agents would have poured through every window and air vent, pinning me to the marble floor and tearing my passport into confetti-sized pieces in front of my tear-blurred eyes.


2) When buying your pack visit high street shops to try them on, look at features, variety etc. Then go online and buy it for MUCH less. Mine cost £50 less online than it did in some shops I visited. Common sense.

3) Vaccinations are both wonderful and terrible things. I thought I had a minor bout of hay-fever, a few sniffles etc. a few days before the doc’s appointment. I went to my GP to get the Hep A/Typhoid and Tetanus/Polio/Diphtheria jabs feeling fine, only a very gentle blockage in the nose area. The next morning I woke up and my throat felt about the width of a pea. Obviously it wasn’t hay-fever, it was a cold virus. My body neglected the cold to fight the five new diseases. So in summary I’ve felt like dung for the past week. The moral? Don’t get the jabs if you’re feeling at all ill and also get them done far in advance! The nurse recommended I get a rabies course but as I don’t have time before departure I’ll have to take my chances. If I get bitten then I find a hospital within 24 hours or risk death… As for malaria I’m advised the areas I’m visiting in China are very low risk, I’ll pick up appropriate pills from a travel clinic in Australia for the S.E. Asia leg.

What I’m taking with me:

-daysack (zip attaches to the main rucksack)
-5 pairs of socks
-5 pairs of undies
-3 t-shirts (including the one I’ll be wearing when I leave)
-1 change of trousers/jeans
-travel towel
-Swiss army knife
-camera w/charger/USB cable and extra memory cards
-toiletries/medical stuff – toothbrush/ibuprofen/DEET spray etc.
-sleeping bag liner
-jumper or fleece
-China guide book
-cable lock
-reading book
-plug adaptor
-playing cards
-drawing book (very small)
-mechanical pencil
-money belt
-flip flops (to avoid the many strange and disturbing things that live in showers abroad)
-anything else vital that I’ve forgotten.

Things yet to finally claim their place in my bag:

-Game Boy Advance Micro as it’s very small/light and I didn’t pay for it so it’s no biggy if it goes missing or gets nicked. Means bringing its charger too though.
-clothes line for cheap, on the road clothes washes

Anything else should be easily obtained in Australia or large Chinese cities. Travel light, that’s the key. My pack is 50l but can be expanded quickly to 70l should I buy lots of rubbish.

Well that’s it for now I think. The next blog will actually be a travel one as I will probably be in Moscow by then. I depart next week…

Good riddance London!

(just kidding, you know I love ya)



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