12.07.2009 - 12.07.2010 13 °C
So, I have been meaning to leave some advice for ages. But, since coming back from Bangkok to home in the UK, things have been non-stop. I immediately had to get ready for going to the University of Liverpool to read Economics and then since I got there, this blog has taken a back seat (or bed) on this coach(or sleeper bus) of priorities.
Anyways, here is a list of things that I found most useful during our travels:
1. iPod Touch (or any music playing device)- I took my iPod touch mainly for the music element as we were having very long trips. However, I have to admit the other features on it were very useful. I had pre loaded some films and games meaning at certain points of a long bus through dark/same-y scenery Rob and I played a few games of monopoly. Now, I'm not saying play all the times as most of the time there is something to look at outside. Other features that were useful were the Wi-Fi feature meaning free access to email/Twitter/Blog at certain points and also I could download some more music if my current playlist got boring. Also, my iPod was useful as I had a good collection to sorta DJ at certain points earning many free drinks. Also, I had some phrasebook apps which were fairly useful.
However if you take an iPod I would suggest bringing a multi-adaptor charger and a protective case. I brought an OtterBox Defender (they have them for all iPods), which protected the iPod from monsoonal rain whilst cycling, occasional drops and falling into the mud. They do cost more than normal cases but check eBay for a good deal and it was definitely working seeing as my iPod is still going strong today.
2. Decent walking shoes/boots- This should be obvious if you are doing the Tiger Leaping Gorge trip, however, even for other bits like Sapa walking it is useful. If you are doing something similar to us the amount of walking through the town or whatever is not suitable for converse/flipflops. However, I must say I regret bringing boots as opposed to shoes as they are a bit bulky.
3. ATM card -this should be obvious but nowadays you don't need to carry all the cash for the trip on you especially if you have regular stops in towns. I brought a Nationwide card with me as they have the lowest rate. One thing that is advisable is to activate online banking as it helps in making it easier to manage transfers (I did not keep all my savings into my account and got my dad to transfer money into my Nationwide gradually). Also, if you lose your card think twice before cancelling it as you may do what I did and cancel it and then get it back with no ways of re-instating it. (this is why it is useful to have online banking to check for any activity). For this reason maybe have another bank card stored somewhere secret in a different place to your main card.
4. Cheap Nokia Mobile- I only mention Nokia as they have some really cheap durable phones that hold their battery well. I would not take a phone costing more that £25 as there is a chance you'll lose it (like I did). The phone is obviously a useful tool for emergencies but also it means you can keep in touch with the outside world as it is ridiculous where you can get good signal (especially in China). It also means you can update your Twitter/Tumblr/blog by text(if available). You may notice my Twitter kept updating in China even though Twitter is explicitly forbidden.
5. Digital Camera- very obvious one but yeah a fairly decent digital camera. You don't need to have a DSLR to get great pictures you just need to know how to change settings precisely on your digital. Some of my shots from my normal digital camera I displayed at a Photo Society Exhibition in Liverpool. A really cool camera I saw whilst travelling are these new waterproof ones which aren't even very bulky. I would also suggest bringing a spare battery and a spare memory card. Make sure you guard your camera containing your photos as you can now lose hundreds of photos in one mistake. Also, bring your cable with you and upload pictures to your blog/Flikr in case you lose them.
6. [/b]Guide book[b] - I used the Lonely Planet- South-East Asia on a shoestring which was pretty handy. However, don't rely solely on it. When you get confidence try and create a new experience. Also, be aware people make similar named places near the one mentioned in the book to try and steal customers with inferior services (e.g. there are millions of Sinh Cafe fakes in Vietnam). Also, places seem to change names regularly.
Can't think of many more apart from the obvious repellents, clothes, first aid.
Finally here's a random list of things I think you should do
Take pictures of things that catch your eye
Take pictures of a busy scene
Take pictures of scenery
Take pictures of funny signs (e.g Chinglish)
Take pictures of people
Take pictures of yourself (or get someone else to help)
Talk to fellow travellers
Talk to locals
Carry Sweets at all time incase of children coming begging/trying to forse sell.
Haggle and be prepared to say no.
Cycle in Asia
Motorcycle in Vietnam
Try the local beer
Avoid being lead into a business and being forced to buy/stay in that hotel
Don't take taxis too much, walk more
If you do take taxis, make sure you agree a price/ask for the meter (also check guidebook for recommended ones)
Tip for good service
Try and be environmentally friendly
Don't lose your temper (unless necessary)
Blog regularly and tell everyone you know!
Meet new people
See new things
The 2 months I spent travelling went too quickly, and were some of the best times I've ever had. I already want to go back and am jealous of anyone who is going.
If you have any questions please contact me on Twitter @yeebles
OR message me on Travellerspoint
OR email me at: alex. jay. yee @ gmail .com (remove the spaces between the words)