Category Archives: On the road

What are your travel essentials?

On the go
As a seasoned traveller, there are some things which I swear has to come with me when I’m on the road. In my recent trips, I’ve even became kinda compelled to document them alongside the sights & sounds of foreign (or familar) land.

So having had a chat with the talented Jon Low about a nightmare he had yesterday prior leaving for his Sabah shoot a while back, one involving him being at the airport, and his gear is not with him *gasps* – I thought I might just share what are some of the stuff that accompanies me when I’m globetrotting.

PS* I have to admit, I’ve had the same nightmare before, cept for mine, I was ALREADY in EUROPE. You can imagine my panic! Not funny. I jumped outta the bed, checking to make sure my gear was still there. Phew.

And my gear NEVER leaves/left me ever since when I’m travelling.

Anyway, enough of dreams scary enough to shatter any travelling photographer…let’s get on to the STUFF.

I’m quite a budget traveller, so that sometimes translate to cheap hostels & long haul flights in cattle economy class, and there are some things that I bring with me to minimize what discomfort I can or to keep me sane when I arrive at destination. Some of these things became essential after some first hand & often painful experiences, so here I am sharing them on with hope you do not have to go through the same agony.

1) Shoes
Or rather the lack of it during flight time. After experiencing more than once bloated feet after the flight, resulting in blisters when wearing shoes after I landed, I have never ever flew without my Birkenstocks anymore. You’d prolly already know they are excellent walking shoes, once broken into they are comfy as hell. And they last for almost a lifetime. Great for walking when you get into the cities, also great for flight time cuz your feet can breath. Trust me, you will thank them when you’re a million miles away & you’ve got painful feet trapped in now-suddenly-tighter shoes, or when the weather is too warm for closed toe shoes. Practical & stylish, me likey!

Also never underestimate what a good pair of flip flops/rubber slippers can do for you. Esp when you’re backpacking & have to live in youth hostels. You’d thank your lucky stars to have em while trotting to the shared bathrooms/walk around on the tattered carpets. Ugh. They’re light as nothing & takes up virtually no space, so pack a pair with you!

dsc_1077-640x480

Now don’t get me wrong, the bit about the pair of comfy shoes still stands here. My recent acquisition of this pair of leather Converse All-Stars (see below)  is so damn comfy & stylo, I love it tons! I’m one vain woman which have always cringed at the idea of wearing sportshoes while sightseeing/travelling. It’s all good if you’re decked out in your workout gear but eeeeks for sportshoes + normal clothes! *shudders*

But that’s just me. Moral of the story is whatever works best for you, but a pair of comfy shoes is as important as say, your passport (or your camera) while travelling! Missing either one is enough to ruin it for you.

Awesome looking comfy travel shoes :)

2) My mobile entertainment system
Which consists of my iPod (previously) & now, iPhone which houses my music & for others, tons of games to keep you amused; a paperback novel + some pullout crosswords. One will argue why would you have all that when you’ve got inflight entertainment system?

Mobile entertainment system of mine

Well, they evidently have not:
1) spent enough time transiting in airports/travel alone much
2) experienced horrible IES programs/lack of IES to begin with (think KLM, AirAsia flights & you’d know what I mean)
3) do much travelling via train/bus/car/getting stuck in impossible traffic (eg. Manila, Bangkok, Cambodia, Africa; or big cities like NYC, London if you’re unfortunate enough to be in a vehicle & not trains!)

I must say I welcome the change of reading/crosswording/Sudoku (if you’re a fan – I’m hopeless :P) from staring at the tiny screen for hours. Of course, the other thing being you don’t always have the telly with you when in places like airports/cab/tube/buses. So, good old pencil & paper works :)

Sure beats Sudoku

3) Light jacket/shawl
I always travel with the former if I’m going to temperate climates, and the latter even if I’m in the tropics. You never know if the airconditioning in the plane/airport/car/bus/train might be a tad chilly, and it’s nice to have a warm wrap while you nap/read/chillax. Of course, if you’re going to an uber wintery place (eg. Europe/US during winter), do yourself a favor & bring along a good coat. Nothing sucks as much as arriving at your dream holiday destination but freezing your bum off, unable to appreciate the atmosphere cuz you’re busy trying not to get hypothermia. Not cool at all (pun intended).

Crumpler, Zara coat, iPod Shuffle & a paperback

4) Gear – for photographers, of course this means our nearest & dearest collection of body and/or glass. Depending on your purpose of travel, be it for assignment or leisure, you would probably have worried more about what lens to bring than what clothes to pack. As a Nikon user, I’m thankful to have my 18-200mm VR as companion. I virtually shoot 99% with it whilst on the road & so far, it’s gone with me to more than 10 countries & counting :) I do have my primes with me but I find the superb flexibility of range of it indispensible.

Of course, it goes without saying you should have charged your batteries, cleared your memory cards & work out storage method (if you’re travelling over prolonged period/on assignment, whether to bring your laptop or not). I also carry my trusty tiny point&shoot Canon Ixus with me as well, for those occasions where a DSLR just would not do (eg. adventure sports like river rafting, bungee jumping, hiking etc; or partying & clubbing – how do you camwhore with a DSLR in a CLUB?) – it’s fabulous & some of my best images have came from it.

Not where you'd want your DSLR to end up in...“Honey, you’ve got the camera, no? It’s not IN the water I hope?”

The other area where it comes in handy is also if you’re travelling to unsafe countries. I’ve a really good friend that left his precious D700 behind & brought his fantastic Panasonic LX3 with him instead – great shots & without the worry of being possibly robbed in foreign land. Smart choice & you can sleep easy :)

5) Meds (and my Swiss Army knife)

Stuff that could save your trip

One of the worst things that can happen to you whilst travelling is if you’re struck down by (often common) sickness like fever, cold, food poisoning & not have the easy meds with you. The other case is if you’re on prescription meds, that’s even worse as some countries might not have stock of it, or you just haven’t got the perscription to buy it. And I’ve not even got into the language & communication barrier hazards that comes along with meds buying. It’s one thing to be ill, it’s another to be ill because you got the wrong meds!

Absolute disaster. Even worse if you haven’t got travel/medical insurance…

6) Now, as much as the world being damn well travelled these days, people still scoff at travel insurance. It’s unbelievable, especially when as photographers we travel with expensive gears for one, and being struck down with no medical coverage is surely a killjoy in the quest of image harvesting, no? So yes, before you leave the country, be sure to have gotten your gear (and yourself!) insured.

Oops, I left my camera behind...

Oopsies….

The easiest way to do this is to get a All-Risk protection. It often comes with your Personal Accident coverage, so ask your agent for that. Of course, besides insuring your gear you’ve to insure yourself too. This is where medical insurance with worldwide coverage comes in handy. Trust me, having seen how effing much medical care costs in France, you WILL wanna be insured… if only just so you don’t get a heart attack when you see the bill for the treatment of say, your fever. Worse, if you’re trekking/skiing at some remote location & break a leg, requiring medical transportation. If you’re not covered, I reckon you might actually opt to just die there & then when you see the bill…

For less than RM100 (for us Malaysians), why the heck NOT? Get everything covered, these days it even includes flight delay/cancellation/lost or delayed luggage. What’s your excuse of not being covered?

Happy travelling!

Anyway, that’s in a nutshell some of the essentials I’ve got with me in the years of globetrotting. Of course, what I’ve listed is by no means exhaustive but if I list down my packing list, be assured it’d send you straight to sleep :P And everyone has different stuff they’d need to have whilst on the road.

Just remember to travel safe, to ensure a happy camper that gets to shoot in the best possible well-being :) Happy flying & shooting!

Let your footsteps travel the world...

Let the journey begin! :)

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Back from Taiwan!

Have been away at the little Formosan island that is Taiwan last week. To sum up our adventure, it’s save to say that we hit the city, hiked up mountains to catch sunrises in freezing temperatures, chilled on a cruise around the beautiful lakes, soaked in hot springs, marveled at crystal blue waters at majestic gorges AND ate our way through while being pampered by the amazing hospitality of the Taiwanese people.

Oh, and survived 2 earthquakes while we are at it :D

Watch out for the full set of images.. but here are some teasers for now :)

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Melbourne, oh dear Melbourne

There is an inexplicable charm about Melbourne. It’s a city where you can’t just pigeon-hole it into the cities categories of ‘party place’, ‘historically regal’, ‘laidback & easy going’, ‘outdoor country’, ‘cultural & chic’.

Because, in so many sense, it is a wonderful melange of all that.

I first stepped foot in this city during Feb 2002, where I arrived to pursue my undergraduate studies in the infamous University of Melbourne. Despite being a complete paradox of excited with the new life ahead, missing home & the then-bf; it was a welcoming place which I took no time in settling in & grew to love so much over the span of 3 years.

In 3 years, I have gone through so much with all of its wonderful citizens & transient passerbys (like myself) & begun to love all its nooks & crannies and even the fickleness of its weather (Melburnians will so totally know what I mean!)

I never realised how much it was home to me, until I arrived back in Melb after 3 weeks in NZ. In my convo with the cab driver, I found myself saying ‘it’s good to be home’.

So yes, the 3 years came and gone, and when it was time for me to go home, I found myself feeling exactly the same way, at the same crossroads of when I first arrived.

Excited with the new life ahead back home in KL, and knowing I will miss Melbourne with all of my heart.

Fast forward 1.5 years later – my return to Melb in Jul 2006 was like going home after a long day of work. The familiarness of Tullamarine airport, the skyline, the suburbs, the city… virtually nothing has changed at all. Of course, the people have grown somewhat with jobs & all, but in essence, Melbourne was still the city that I have known & loved still.

That 10 days of seeing my mates, walking through the city, having my fave coffee & sushi (now ain’t that great no more, unfortunately) at my fave cafe in Uni, the SHOPPING, strolling by Yarra river at night with the babes… was just what I needed after venturing into the corporate world for a bit.

So, come this Oct, I will be returning to my loving second home after a hiatus of 3 years. In this 3 years, I have globetrotted to numerous countries on multiple continents, and when people ask me ‘when are you going back to Melb?’ – my answer will be ‘nah, not so soon. I’ve got so many other new places I want to see!’

Never say never.

It took one night of reminiscing with my Melb buddies, and one late spring wedding to host… and my flight was booked in the next 2 days. Last weekend, my bestie even managed to convince me to extend my stay so we can have more smashing time to relive our good ol’ days!

I love that woman to bits :D

Also this time around, I will return with my beloved camera, as well as a heart that yearned to consummate the love that I have always had for this lovely place. The funny thing is, my heart knew I needed to go back to a place where I knew as well as the back of my hand after all the round-the-world-travel I’ve been doing.

A place where I don’t need to research where to go, what to see, check maps & directions, prepare for freezing cold/tropical summers.

Just a place where I can return to its welcoming arms (and some of the most important people in my life)

Life has a funny way of telling you things, no?

I can’t wait.

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