Friday, May 5, 2017

India and Nepal. Packing List

Our suitcases are in those sacks!

On my first adventure trip, which was to Peru in 2006, I was traveling with a backpack. Fully packed, it weighed just under 8 kilos. By the time I went to Mali in Senegal in September 2010, I had decided to switch over to wheeled luggage so I bought an Eagle Creek wheeled duffle that I still use to day. I love that suitcase!  Considering how many countries I have dragged that thing through, it has last incredibly well.

Although I can no longer pack things into a suitcase that only ends up weighing 8 kilos - it's more like 11-13 kilos these days, I still insist that not only I but everyone who travels with me packs everything they need to bring with them in a suitcase that can fit in the overheard compartment of the plane.  Why?  Well because we often have to lug our own suitcases around, very often up and down stairs and if the suitcase is too large, that's just not easily doable.  I don't want to be held back by a suitcase.  Moreover, you never know how someone else needs to carry your luggage around.  The photo that opens up this blog posting is one that I took on our trek in Bhutan.  The man is carrying our three suitcases as well as a couple of hand carry items.  If there was either more luggage or larger sized pieces, they would have to arrange for a car.  Just imagine having to hire a car and driver just to haul suitcases from point A to point B.




We met up with our luggage at our next destination which was where we had our lunch.; From there, we had to travel to our hotel by river boat.  While we walked over to the boat, our luggage got taken by motorbike.   That's my green Eagle Creek suitcase that he man is straddling and Bro's suitcase is on the back.  Ayşe's suitcase is oddly shaped as a square and so they had a bit of difficulty piling it atop Bro's they they wheeled hers over to the boat.
                   




For this upcoming trip, everyone is keeping it small, suitcase wise.  Chantale has been busy buying all sorts of little things that she thinks will be useful for the trip including all sorts of little bags, a clothes line with clips, face masks (to protect from breathing in polluted air) and a portable, USB powered  fan for cooling off in the heat of Jaipur, Delhi, and Agra.  Okay, I have to confess, I planted the fan idea in her mind but she has run with with!  Thoughtfully, she got me some of the masks as well (don't know if I will wear one or not) and one of the fans which I am certain I will use.  She also got some Chinese diarrhea medicine.  I will stick with Immodium.

She will also be lugging along a lot of camera gear.  I don't know how she's going to manage except I think she's going to very quickly realize she will need to pare back.

Clothing wise, we are going to three climate areas.  Weather in our first destinations will be scorching hot and very humid, perhaps unbearable at times.  It will be pretty much like what Bro, Ayşe, and I lived through in Thailand and Myanmar.  Having gone through that experience, both she and I know how to deal with it.

Leh will be comfortable in the day time and it will be chilly at night so I am preparing to dress in layers.  I'm also planning on bringing along my Uniqlo lightweight down jacket.

Kathmandu will be comfortable day and night  - it will be like spring every day which also means rain.  I will have my rain poncho to keep me dry.  My blue one finally died and Chantale thoughtfully got me a replacement so that will be coming with me.

I had also bought a pair of Keen hiking sandals for the South America trip but when my two cousins, from California, were here visiting in January,  I kept griping to them about how uncomfortable the Keens were to wear in part because they were so stiff and heavy.  I just wasn't used to wearing hiking boots.  On a trip to REI, they convinced me to buy a pair of Ahnu hiking boots which were far lighter in weight but still gave me the much needed ankle support.  It took about 2 days of wearing them in Patagonia to break them in but I wore them every day for 10 days and the were  absolutely comfortable.  They already have a spot in my suitcase.

For my ankles' sake, I'm also bringing along the brace that my doctor gave me for my left foot and my walking stick.

I'm bringing my usual camera gear with me but adding a spare lens hood.After falling and breaking my lens hood in Valparaiso and not having a replacement with me, I realized its value - especially the day we went on a boat cruise of the Chilean fjords and it was raining.  Every photo I took has raindrops on it!  I always bring along spare lens filters having learned the value of them as lens protectors a long time ago!   

 For this trip, several new pieces of gear will be coming along.  First thing I got was a shoulder sling for my dSLR camera.  Not only will it take the weight of carrying the heavy camera off of my neck but it will also make it that much more difficult for anyone to try and take the camera off of me i.e., steal it.  In addition to the shoulder strap, the camera itself is also tethered to the strap to prevent it from fall off to the ground.

One is a new toy - a 360fly 4K video camera that I had originally bought for my Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay trip but which, in the end, never made it on that trip.  It's coming this time around and I've been busy practicing how to use it.  Chantale already outfitted it with its own storage bag AND a small tripod.  I'm also borrowing a camcorder from Chantale to capture videos of the Hemis festival performances.  And....I will be carrying Chantale's monopod instead of mine.  Her's has feet which could prove to be very useful if I use to monopod to prop up my camera when I'm taking photos during the Hemis festival.

As always, I will be bringing a set of plastic cutlery with me (I am not skilled at doing the "eat-from hand" method that is commonplace in India) as well as my travel kettle.  I'm also packing in some food items - instant mashed potatoes for when the belly doesn't feel up to having another spicy Indian meal,  Norwegian crisp bread which is full of fiber (in case the Tibetan food in Leh is low on fiber), and mixed nuts.  I'm also hoping to make and bring along my own version of Kind bars.  I found some recipes on line and managed to get all the ingredients at my local organic supermarket.  It looks simple enough to make them so I'm going to give it a shot.

I also debated a long time about whether not to do this but in the end, I decided to do it and that is to buy a Travelon anti-theft travel crossbody purse.  The purse had pockets and straps that cannot be cut with a standard knife.  It's really for peace of mind, especially when walking through the crowded markets in India.

I'm also bringing along 5 t-shirts that I got for a very good deal in NYC Chinatown. They will be used for tips for drivers - especially those who only have to take us around for a few hours.

We also have to bring along some gifts as we're being hosted in Jaipur where acquaintances of Chantale have offered to not only pick us up from the airport but also take us around town.  We'll also be spending three nights at the home of one of her friends in Kathmandu.  We'll need to find small gifts, but nice gifts, to bring with us.

Last but not least, there will be one very important item on this packing list - Diamox aka medicine for altitude sickness.  Unfortunately, I do suffer symptoms - a mild headache and a slight bit of nausea.  Nothing bad enough to stop me from enjoying myself but who wants to be in a state of discomfort for hours?  I fell victim to altitude sickness on our first full day in the Atacama Desert - when we went around to see the altiplanic lagoons.  It hit me right as we arrive at Lagunas Miscanti and Miñiques which thankfully, was towards the end of our day.  The moment we descended to a lower elevation, the headache and nausea went away.  Obviously, I had not had enough time to acclimate before going to the high elevations.  Bro also suffers from the same symptoms as I do but he had Diamox and was fine.  I will not take any chances this time so I have already scheduled an appointment with the local travel medicine clinic that I go to to get a prescription.

The List
Passport
Detailed trip itinerary, including all vouchers, and contact information for Airbnb hosts.
$US cash, Indian rupees, credit cards, debit card
4 short sleeve, light cotton shirts      
5 cotton t -shirts (picked up from Chinatown)
2 long sleeve shirts
3 pair of hiking pants
1 pair of lightweight cotton pants
Underwear and three pairs of socks
Rain poncho
Uniqlo down jacket
Head scarf 
Sunhat and sunglasses
1 pair hiking boots & 2 pair hiking socks
1 pair hiking sandals
1 pair walking sandals
Ankle brace and walking stick
Toiletries and first aid kit (including Diamox, Tylenol, Band Aids, Neosporin, lip balm, Immodium AD, Pepto Bismol, Zithromax, Cipro)
Sunblock and lotion
Toilet paper,  Handiwipes
Flashlight
Spare pair of reading glasses
Nikon DSLR camera and accessories
360fly camera and accessories
JVC camcorder and accessories
Anker external battery
iPad with SD card reader
MHL to HDMI adapter and HDMI cable
Monopod
Handheld fan
Pens
iPod
Key lock
Plastic cutlery
Travel kettle
Water bottle
Drain plug, clothes line, and plastic clothes pins for drying clothes
Travelon bag

And last but not least, I used to only bring along my favorite collapsible tote bag but with recent trips, that number has gone to two. The gals are keen on shopping and even though I always say I'm not going buy anything, I always do! :-)

It's a lot of stuff to pack in and I hope I have the space in my suitcase and backpack.  If not, I will have to figure what I can leave behind!

Let the packing begin!