Now that we have been traveling for over four months, we'd like to take a minute to tell you about what is inside our bags. What we still have, what we picked up and what we have lost along they way.
Best Thing I Bought:
Juliah: Dominoes! We bought them at a small country store in Sulawesi, Indonesia for 20 cents a set. They're made of cardboard and each set is the size of a roll of film. The dominoes totally save the day. There is often a lot of down time on a trip like this. Having some cheap games makes you a more patient traveler.
Other games we have are Othello, which I bought in Japan, and Connect Four, which we picked up in Thailand. These are good because the rules are easy to communicate and easy to follow. This means you can usually pick up a new player or a spectator at least anywhere you go.
Mark: A new tattoo! Thais are very into spiritual tattoos (though their designs actually come from Cambodia), and there are hundreds of images for a variety of purposes. The one I picked out is a 9 Spire Sak Yant Gao Yord that protects and brings good luck. I don't know why I spent all that money on travel insurance.
Since we arrived in Bhutan, I've also been very grateful for the thin, warm layer I picked up in Phnom Penh's Russian Market. I've worn it almost 10 consecutive days without washing, have slept in it, and spilled yak butter tea on the sleeves. It smells like travel, but it keeps me from freezing.
JL: Mark's only other long shirt of Mark's has affectionately been dubbed "Stinky Blue."
Most Recent Purchase:
Juliah: A clothes line and clothes pins. $1.50. Laundry has become a very satisfying activity for me. I'm getting much better at washing clothes in hotel sinks.
Mark: Prayer flags. These cost something like $10 in the tourist markets, but we picked ours up for $3 at a temple in Thimpu. And they've already been blessed by monks.
Thing We Lost That We Really Miss:
Juliah: Our camp light! We used it for everything: reading late at night, reassuring ourselves after malarone-induced nightmares, bathing with a bucket when the power was out, escorting our British friends back to their hotel late at night past barking dogs. I left it at a home stay on an island in the middle of the Mekong River in Cambodia. Hours later on the bus to Eastern Cambodia, I had a dream that our homestay host asked me "Juliah, why did you leave your camp light here?". The odd thing is that the woman spoke 7 words of English in real life, but in my dream we could really converse. That night we went through our bags and confirmed that yes, we had indeed left our camp light there.
Mark: My lightweight, warm, black shirt from REI camping store, forgotten on an overnight bus from Laos to Bangkok. There's such a crush of tuk-tuks and touts whenever a bus disembarks, that Julie and I had a strategy to get off quickly, grab our bags, and run two blocks away from the bus. Unfortunately, I was groggy and disoriented, and left behind the warmest thing I owned.
Favorite Thing I Brought:
Juliah: Contact lenses and hiking boots. Everything else I think I can find here.
Mark: Journal: perfect for scrapbooking beer labels from across Asia.
Last Thing I Left Behind:
Juliah: A snorkel. I left it in Bangkok. It served its purpose and probably won't get much use in India and the middle east. Thanks for the snorkel,dad.
Mark: Purple, short-sleeved button-down shirt. I have almost none of the original clothing I brought from the States.
Things I Don't Need Anymore
Juliah: Toilet paper. I'm almost over it altogether. Pretty cool, right?
Mark: Asthma Medicine. Amazing how 4 months in Asia can clear up a chronic respiratory problem.
Thing I Would Like to Ditch Next:
Juliah: Mosquito Net. Its pretty light weight and useful but we haven't used it at all! So far we've been lucky with the bugs. It was dry in south east asia or else too cold for mosquitoes.
Mark: Malaria pills. It's horrible medicine that needs to be taken daily, induces stomach cramps and sunburn.
Thing I Covet the Most:
Juliah: more clothes. I just wish I had more choices, but I guess that's a sacrifice you make when you travel light.
Mark: Right now, I covet gloves.
Juliah: Mom and Dad, there is a box of stinky old clothing headed to the house right now, but don't worry, the thai post office said it would take two or three months to arrive.
Mark and Juliah