Although June is still a ways away, I am slowly assembling what I plan to take with me on my around-the-world trip. This evening, sitting by a roaring fire as the temperature outdoors drops, I have been looking at hand-held phrase translators. Should I acquire myself one? Do any of you have experience with them? Simple handheld phrase translators for a dozen languages cost as little as $20. Unfortunately, most are for European markets with Mandarin Chinese as the only Asian-language option. Franklin makes a number of models that have 16-20 languages that include Thai and Vietnamese. The 16 language/$49 version looks tempting.
A low tech option is to buy a folding laminated card with stock phrases on it (there are a few phrases one needs to know such as: “Quick, where is the bathroom;” “What is this?” “Is this eatable?” and that all important phrase, “Beer, please.” These cost less than $10 a piece and are available in Chinese, Russian, Thai and Vietnamese. They also look like they’d make nice placemats.
Another thing I have pondered is an electronic reader. I haven’t yet gone the Kindle or Nook route, but knowing that I will have many days (actually weeks) on ships where I won’t have access to Amazon.com or to a library, I’m tempted. Furthermore, there will be lots of time on a train in which I will want to read. One option is to take a handful of books with me and drop them when finished and try to find used books to pick up along the way. But, I like to make notes in the books that I read which gives me another reason to acquire an electronic reader. I know you can take notes on e-readers, but has anyone actually done this? I’d love to hear your takes on the various options on e-readers? What brands should I consider or avoid? What features are most desirable?
In many ways, I don’t plan on buying a lot for this trip. I’m taking an old backpacking—an internal frame Kelty that has served me well on short backpacking and as ski trips (it has slits to hold skis when you don’t need them, a feature I don’t think I’ll need in Southeast Asia.) The pack has approximately 3000 cubic inches of space (compared to my regular backpacking pack that has over double that amount). The lack of space means less weight and more flexibility. Besides, I’ll be traveling in the summer and won’t need a lot of bulky clothes. And since the pack is scuffed up, I hope it will be less temptation for thieves.
I have a number of pairs of light-weight, quick drying pants for fishing that I plan to pack. I don’t think I’ll need to purchase any new clothing. I also have a lightweight silk sleeping bag liner that I’ll use in hostels and hotels where the beds look suspicious. I have a jungle hat and mosquito netting and got a small waterproof camera for Christmas.
Somewhere along the way, I will have to acquire some dress clothes for the Holland American cruise home. I don’t think my jungle attire will be well received in the formal dining room and I don’t plan to take such a ship without enjoying good food, so I’ll have to either ship such clothes to Europe or find a place to pick up a dark suit or tux along the way (I know, it’s hard to image Sage in a tux). Decisions, decisions. What items would you pack for such a trip?