Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

May your year be filled with excitement and adventure, joy and wonderment, peace and contentment.

I think we might have a bit of a headstart on the first two of those, as our flight to INDIA where we will be for THREE WEEKS leaves in less than an hour.

Given it's the start of a brand new year, and a time for resolving to improve oneself, I have boldly recorded my New Year Resolutions. If you choose to continue reading, I challenge you to add your own in the comments!

Out, damn'd Thane! Out I say!

Cyclone Thane has killed 33 people in Tamil Nadu, having made landfall yesterday just south of Pondicherry. It was downgraded to a low-pressure system soon after landfall. Flooding and storm damage is affecting low-lying areas of Chennai, among others.

We are scheduled to land in Chennai in less than 24 hours. And then travel to Pondicherry by car.

The adventure may start a little earlier than expected. Hmmmm.

Ok, so I tried, but failed to find an original quote using "Thane". Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, and later of Cawdor didn't really help - there weren't any suitable quotes using the word "Thane". (Wikipedia indicates that it's a Shakespearean spelling of "thegn", so I won't find much else.)

Friday, 30 December 2011

India - time to pack!

Mum and Dad have already determined that they will be stowing a bag (Mum can't quite get under 5kg). Therefore, we will probably do the same, which relieves a lot of pressure to pare back everything.  Nevertheless we will be packing fairly minimally.

The trick to packing light is to wear your heaviest clothes on the plane, without sacrificing comfort. It is possible to change out of heavier, less comfortable clothes once on the plane if absolutely critical. Your PITA factor may vary.

On the plane To pack
1 pr long pants (heaviest, eg jeans?)2 pr long pants
1 pr shorts
1 long sleeve shirt 1-2 long sleeve shirt
1-2 short sleeve shirt (total 3)
Shoes Sandals
Socks 3 pr socks, incl one pr Heater 
Undies/jocks; (bra) 3 pr undies/jocks; (1 bra)
Soft shell jacket or
Microfleece jumper
Thermal underwear (optional)


Swimwear, possibly goggles

Sun hat

Electronica and Entertainment
Because it's a damn long flight, and because you want to document it.
  • Aus/India adaptor, Aus double adaptor (decided we won't need a powerboard)
  • DSLR camera, standard lens, charger, spare memory card(s)
  • Compact digital camera, spare memory cards, spare batteries, case
  • Video camera, charger, case
  • Netbook, charger, ethernet cable, mouse
  • iPad, iPhone, iPod, charger, earbuds for same (& double adaptor jack)
  • Kindle & connector cord (Jos), novel/crossword book (the rest)
  • Notebook, couple pens/pencils
  • Normally, I'd consider taking a travel guide, but (a) my parents are taking one, and (b) we might put one on Jos's kindle.
These will be packed into a selection of handbag equivalents - the camera bag, a new messenger-style laptop bag (pictured), and a backpack or similar for each of the boys.

Toiletries, medicines and miscellanea
Those in the first section should come into the cabin with you, not least to cope with the possibility of the airline, ah, delaying the arrival of your luggage. The latter are more easily replaced, or coped without for a period, if necessary.
  • Passports (with visas), eTickets, boarding passes
  • Currency, in the form of a travel card, plus some cash (all in USD - widely convertible in India)
  • Sunglasses, mints, lip balm
  • Daily medicines (Singulair, BCP, A/D, and anti-malaria pills)
  • Toothbrushes & toothpaste, floss
  • Emergency medicines (Ventolin, Symbicort, analgesics, Imodium, antihistamines, bandaids, tweezers)
  • Essential toiletries not provided by hotels (cleanser, face moisturiser, soap-free soap, anti-dandruff shampoo)
  • Spectacles, spare pair of contacts, single use solution 5mlx5, lens case

  • Hand moisturiser, emery board, nail clippers, 
  • Travel washing lines, pack towel (for squeezing out moisture from sink-washed clothes)
  • Cream-based insect repellant, sunscreens
  • Additional capacity - light fold-up bag to accommodate purchases (optional)
I'm sure there are a few other things that will occur to me tomorrow when we actually pack, and I may get around to updating this list.

In the meantime, I need to make sure all electronic items are fully charged and loaded (eg movies on iPad, podcasts on iPhone, books onto kindle)

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

What to wear in India

We've been visiting my parents over the past few days, and are starting to get a sense of what kind of clothing we need to take with us to India. Of course, there is a serious potential downside of taking fashion advice from one's parents, but better to be dressed too old than too immodest.

Firstly, only the pre-pubescent get to wear shorts (oblivious Westerners excepted) - everyone else wears at least mid-calf or longer. For women, this is generally either a sari (especially in the south), or salwar kameez (loose pants and a long loose tunic top), or increasingly for the younger set, jeans. Men generally wear trousers, or occasionally dhotis.

Secondly, while long skirts and long pants are both acceptable wear for women, pants are better, as they stop one's thighs chafing (the oh-so-delightful 'chub rub'). And long pants, like long sleeved shirts are also better at keeping out the mozzies.

Thirdly, laundry facilities are extremely limited, which means everything must be quick-drying. Clothes will be washed in hotel sinks and bathtubs, dried by hand-wringing then rolling up in a microfibre pack towel, and then hung up on elastic travel washing line.

Finally, while us womenfolk will probably be able to find and buy clothes over there, big burly blokes like Dad and JD will really struggle to find anything to fit. Therefore, they really need to take appropriate clothing with them.

Completely lacking in suitable clothing, JD and I left the boys with their cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents and drove down to Melbourne. There's a section of Little Bourke St, between Elizabeth St and Hardware Lane with a fair range of specialist adventure wear shops - Paddy Pallin, Snowgum, Bogong, Columbia, Mountain Designs and others, and there's a Kathmandu store around the corner.

The much-advertised 'Boxing Day Sales' actually means 'very limited sizes, styles and colours available'. Nevertheless, we managed to spend a largish amount of money on clothes that actually fit, are comfortable, and which meet the requirements stated above. I got a pair of grey 'hiking' pants (Mountain HardWear, v comfortable), a lovely fitted fuscia long-sleeve shirt (Columbia, with pockets!), and later, in Woodend, a pair of loose cotton elastic-waisted pants. JD got two pair of hiking pants and a pair of below-knee shorts, and two short-sleeved and one long-sleeved quick-dry shirts. And we also each picked up a couple of pairs of quick-dry undies each.

We'll get the kids kitted out on Friday when we get home - thankfully, they can both wear shorts. Finally, the upshot of taking a small number of very lightweight garments means we might yet meet the 5kg Malaysia Airlines cabin baggage weight restriction.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Can't do carry on only?

As you may know by now, I strongly prefer carry-on luggage only. Seven kg (including bag weight) plus a handbag is usually plenty, even for three weeks in a variety of climates. However, we're flying Malaysia Airlines on the way over, and their cabin baggage limit is five (5!) kg. Given most bags weigh nearly 2kg, that doesn't leave much for clothes, toiletries, cameras, essential electronica and other stuff.

We'll do an experimental pack, but we might have to have a stowed bag going over. (I always expected to stow luggage on the way back, even if my purchases are fairly modest.) My parents, who are flying with us, will have stowed luggage, partly due to the Malaysia Airlines unreasonable weight limits, but also because they'll be going onto much colder altitudes (7000ft, in winter, in the Himalayas). So they need tropical south, desert northwest and mountainous northeast. And if they have stowed luggage, there's less disadvantage if we do too (lost luggage notwithstanding).

So Lucy L, you might win that bet - we may have checked luggage. But our collective luggage weight would likely be fine on most other airlines.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Brilliantly simple, simply brilliant

A couple of Facebook friends posted a link to an article called "25 clever ideas to make life easier". Usually the ideas in these kinds of things are pretty inane, but the friends whose intellect I trust were delighted with it.

As a soon-to-be-traveller, I was particularly tickled by this idea: Store shoes inside shower caps to stop dirty soles rubbing on your clothes.
Like most simple, elegant solutions, it is obvious once you've seen it and you wonder why you never thought of it before. (JD's sandals will still have to go in a sealed bag - for whatever reason, they're remarkably whiffy.)

The other idea that I really like is the gutter garden. Again, brilliantly simple once you've seen it.