early preparations for SE Asia

Posted from Chula Vista, California, United States.

I haven’t felt this nervous in years. It’s like teenage apprehension, or childish Christmas excitement. I kind of like it. But mixed in with that anticipation is a wariness and exigency to tread very carefully lest some bumble destroy my wanderlust plans. In less than two months I will be flying to the other side of the world to immerse myself in what I think will be a “growing experience” – something I feel I need more than a silly income at this time.

I have been packing up my room. I’ve mailed things home – far home – to my mothers – a place that has not been home-base for my derelict things for nearly ten years. I have even started buying Christmas gifts for my family – another long-neglected tradition I have skirted during my years of gallivanting from place to place at my heart’s content (and sometimes malcontent.) I will be home for Christmas for the first time in six years and I admit I’m looking forward to it. And then one month later I am leaving for SE Asia – a jaunt that is only the starting point of a two-year escapade. But more on that at another time.


What I’m really looking forward to is sorting through my things and figuring out what two pairs of shorts and two tops will be my wardrobe for five months in SE Asia. How does one decide these things?

I don’t plan on bringing very much.
– laptop
– camera
– iPod (for long bus/train rides)
– note book for jotting stuff down
– small unlocked phone (just for texting and some calls)
– small tripod (maybe)

– underwear
– some socks (my feet don’t last long in flipflops)
– a warm thin hoodie
– some underwear
– 2 tanktops
– 1 dress
– 1 skirt
– 2 pairs of shorts
– one pair of pants (mostly for up north and plane trips)
– 1 pair of flip flops

– sleeping bag liner
– micro-towel
– water bladder

– some toiletries
– very little makeup
– tweezers, nail clippers
– first aid kit
– sewing kit
– meds

I’m sure this list will change some, but at the moment that’s all I can think I need.


I have gone back and forth about what backpack to bring. I currently own two. I have a 65L Osprey Aura and a 25L Billabong general purpose backpack. While the Aura has an internal frame, hip belt, water-bladder-ready-system, airstream ventilation and a bunch of panels, I am convinced it’s far too big and bulky. My 25L has no real support and while I could probably get away with using it, I think after 5 months I may get frustrated with it. I started doing some research, keeping in mind the options I like and what my comfort means to me. Five months is a long time – and that time may be extended. So I am on the verge of buying myself a new 36L Osprey Sirrus.


The Sirrus is specially designed for women. It boasts Osprey’s Air-Speed mesh backpad that suspends the pack away from the body. This allows air to pass between the back and the pack – which I’m thinking will be adorably beneficial after two months on the road in +30C heat. The Sirrus also has front panel access, is water-bladder-ready, has an internal frame, two nice top pockets to stash important stuff and a rain cover. My issue is – at $140 USD am I really sure I need to buy another backpack? Is my comfort really worth it? For five to ten months? I have made the wrong choice before, but I have endured. I know I can live with the Billabong bag, but I also know that when I’m uncomfortable I get grumpy. And I don’t want to be grumpy. This time I have the money to buy a new backpack, so I think I’m going to spoil myself this one luxury as I’ll be sleeping in hostels the whole trip – mostly.

vaccinations and medication

I’m just got my second Twinrix® shot for Hepatitis A and B protection. Twinrix® is a combination of three shots. The second is taken one month after the first and the third is taken six months after the first. I will be in Asia and can only hope I can get it done in time. There’s a place in Bangkok that may work . The first two shots alone will protect you for one year. When the third one is taken the vaccine should protect you for 15 years to life. I have an appointment at a travel clinic when I get home. I’ll be getting my tetanus, diphtheria up to date, plus whatever medication the doctor recommends for my journey.

Some people can get traveller’s diarrhea due to the difference in sanitary practices and the lack of good bugs in our digestive systems to protect us. While I’m an avid probiotic taker due to my antibiotic use for my rheumatoid arthritis, I’m not sure how easy it will be to get my daily supply of probiotics while there.

Due to my RA I also have to bring along a good supply of my medication, anti-inflammatories and a small dose of prednisone just in case I have a flare while I’m there. Currently I’m kind of in remission. Yay! But this disease is tricky so I’m not taking any chances.

I also need the first aid kit and some Polysporin. I’ve heard almost any cut can get infected in the tropics, no matter how small, so I plan on avoiding that. I am a clutz and I’m sure I’ll get my fair share of scrapes and bang-ups.

plan of attack

I haven’t one. Not really anyway. But I still have over a month to start taking notes and figuring out where I want to go and what I want to see. I already have a lot of ideas due to so many great travel blogs and websites out there. This plan will likely change – but for now I fly into Bangkok January 12, 2012. I’m staying with a friend for a few days there and then I think I will either head north or head to Myanmar.

Can you tell I’m excited? Is it too early to get this stuff sorted? Well, no, not really. Christmas is right around the corner and many things I may need to bring may sell out. Plus, the vaccinations need to be done ahead of travel. And then there’s ensuring I get things cheaper than I can buy them back home in Thunder Bay. I love my hometown, but I get more selection and better pricing here.

So that’s it for now. I’m continuing to work on my  new website nearlyintrepid.com which will be the focus of my postings from SE Asia. I’ll be writing and posting a lot more than usual, so I hope everyone who follows gets a good kick out of it. I will still continue to post on humanbeen. Until next time.


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