(An update from my South East Asia holiday)
Just over a month ago I left Wellington and moved to Vancouver, sadly leaving Sarah and Inga to run The Big Shwop without me… On the way I made a stop-over in Sth East Asia to soak up some sun before heading into another winter – however not everything went as planned. And so I thought I’d write in with this little update of my adventures there.
When packing for my move to Vancouver with a 5 week stop-over in South East Asia the last thing I had imagined was arriving in 30 degree Laos with only the dress I had on, and my hand luggage… a suitcase full of entirely unsuitable winter city clothes.
But that’s exactly what happened.
Ironically, I’d done the most preparation ever when packing for this trip. In the wake of the 6-items-or less-challenge I thought I had mastered the art of getting by with less. Avoid too many patterns, clothes that crease easily, don’t fit well or are difficult to match. Pack one shorts, 4 tops, 3 dresses and 2 pairs of shoes that go with everything.
My plan was to arrive at my friend’s house in Bangkok, dump all my Vancouver winter gear with him while I travelled around Laos and Thailand with a small backpack. Easy.
Well it should have been except for a teensy weensey oversight. Apparently my Mexican travel companion didn’t realise he needed a visa to enter Thailand. And what a surprise no you cannot get one at the airport. And no you cannot sneak through immigration to collect your luggage. We were taken (very politely) to transit and told not to attempt to pass through immigration again or we would be deported!
Being in transit with no ongoing ticket and all offices closed for the night is somewhat unsettling… but free wifi in airports is a wonderous thing. An hour later we discovered that neighbouring Laos would be the answer to our problems. The only major worry was that all our luggage had to be left, stranded in Bangkok, fate unknown.
I was more than a little concerned considering I had packed my whole life into those bags, but by the time we arrived in Laos I’d decided to forget my un-buddhist-like attachment to my possessions and just enjoy the Now.
Rummaging through my small suitcase of Entirely Unsuitable Winter City Clothes I was stoked to find 2 summery tops and even happier to find my underwear. Whew – bra shopping in Laos is definitely NOT on my to-do list. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite so lucky in the bikini department. Predictably this led to one hour of frustration in fitting rooms, until I finally squeezed myself into an XXL bikini!!!
Over the next few days I picked up a couple of other items for less than 20 bucks and laughed when I realised I was getting along just fine with 6 items. In fact this was a squillion times easier than it was in Wellington.
My 6 items:
- Denim dress
- White singlet
- White long-sleeve T
- Grey thai-style baggy cotton pants
- Blue rip-curl board shorts
- Black & red check dress
Over the next couple of weeks watching other backpackers struggle with their heavy backpacks in the hot sun, I felt that with my light load I must surely be just a little bit closer to enlightenment..?
Best of all -when we finally made it back to Bangkok airport (3 weeks later) we were amazed to find that Thai airlines had all 4 pieces of our luggage stored safe and sound!
Side note: Bizarrely our bags were in room full of hundreds of lost items, half of which were kids’ pushchairs?! What happened to their owners?
Happy holidays – Chrissy