One must always travel prepared, especially if heading into Thailand’s more remote regions, such as Chiang Dao and Doi Angkhang. Aside from the obvious, a good guide book, sun cream and a tooth brush, herein follows what over 13 years of travelling has taught me to be rudimentary accesories.
Some vaccinations such as Rabies are quite costly and can be ignored if one is not going to susceptible areas. However vaccination courses, such as those for Malaria, Hepatitus and Cholera, are a must for the beach-comber and intrepid explorer alike. Vaccinations should also be supported by responsible behaviour – watch what you wear, do, drink and eat – try avoiding unwashed vegetables, unboiled water and salivating, wild dogs!
2) Mosquito Repellent:
Nothing beats a good mosquito repellent. Personally, I don’t think any percentage of deet can succesfully deter these overly friendly insects. Mosquito’s can carry a multitude of tropical diseases such as the well known Malaria, Dengue Fever, Encephalitus and Yellow Fever. Thirty years ago, in the Philiphines, my father foolishly threw off his bedsheet and to this day suffers reoccurances of Malaria. There is a huge variety of repellents – sprays, roll ons, stickers, plug tablets and incense spirals to name a few. Try them all and if sitting outside sit by incense coils.
To deal with the post-bite itch, use Tiger Balm (or similar – its name varies) or an anti-pruritic. Thailand has many chemists which will sell all kinds of ointments, if its orange and gooey, it will work!
3) Plastic and Bin Bags:
Bags have become an essential part of my packing. I just cannot get enough of them. Bags for clothes, washing, washing items, bags for everything and then a bin bag to put it all in. Not because I dislike the environment – it’s reusing!- but because of broken day-bags, dirty washing, mud covered shoes. The bin bag goes inside the backpack as extra protection in case it rains. And it will rain.
4) A Good Book:
You will have a lot of spare time, be it on a beach, in the evening, on a bus or train and so a good book is essential. It needs to be good enough to read more than once, to be a conversation starter but not so good that you cannot bear to pass it on!
5) A Notepad:
Diary entries, letters, drawing, new vocabulary and plans. Without my notebook I would never have remembered a Vietnamese mountain border crossing that two Somersetian’s told me two months previous in Phonsovan, Laos. Nor would I have made it to San He, a small town outside of Hefei, China. After enjoying some fine street food I asked the chef where he recommended I visit. He wrote the name down in Chinese and the next day, after a few hours searching for the correct bus, I ended up wandering through rice terraces and bee hives alongside a meandering river. Talk to people and write their suggestions down. You never know when they might come in handy.
6) Memory Stick:
In this modern day of high technology (hmm), digital camera’s, drop boxes, social networking sites, a memory stick/usb is very valuable, storing not only your pictures but also other useful information: flight details, travel insurance, UK bank account…
7) Stout Footwear:
I bought mine in Bangkok in 2004 and despite resenting this extra expenditure, I now adore them and take them on every trip, in return they have done me proud. Even the most non-athletic of us end up climbing a mountain.
8) Medicine Kit:
Bring anti-diarrhea and anti-constipation tablets, as at some point nearly everyone comes down with the runs. As Thailand has everything, this kit can be made up on route, as you come across whatever ailments you do.
9) String/Tape and Sewing Kit
In case you break something or fancy making something.
10) Thai Time/Open Mind:
Not so much an accesory as a concept! Thailand works in it’s own timescale with none of the Western 9-5 urgency. Thai time can be vexing especially if one is in a rush, but try not to get annoyed, afterall it gives you more time to take in the surroundings – who wants to sit on a crowded bus anyway?! If a bus is scheduled for 4pm do not expect it to be there or to leave on time, but be punctual yourself just in case and bring that book!
Your travelling, you do not want to be dragging around your entire life. Although the same two Somersetians were adament they had to take proper rolls of carpet with them – comfort over burden. I guess the floor can get a little hard.
Inside my bag:
- ‘The Harmony Silk Factory’ and ‘The Black Book’ > ‘Travels with Herodotus’ > ‘Life of Pi’
- An outdated guide book on China (it has served me so well)
- 2 changes of clothes, a ‘nice dress’, stout footwear
- A rainbow made of string for a lesson demo
- A memory stick and broken camera
- An Important Folder: tefl certificates, references, photocopies of passport, insurance and emergency contact detail
- Tiger balm, incense, anti-itch creams and a JD tin full of random medicines
- 3 note books
This blog was written by Sasha HY, who is currently working in China for ’First Leap’ as a foreign language instructor and freelance researcher into Chinese culture. She has travelled extensively throughout the Asian region and has a wealth of knowledge for independent and intrepid travel…