An Ode to my MacPac…

As I was recently rooting around in my loft for something, I found my big macpac, and realised I’ve had it for 10 years this year. It’s the best rucksack I’ve ever bought, it has a lifetime guarantee, and it’s EXTREMELY well-made, so I thought it was worthy of a little shout-out.

I bought my matching big and little macpacs in 2007, before going to Nepal for a year.

My big macpac has gone with me to Nepal, India, Malaysia, Singapore, France, Liverpool, South Sudan, India again, Nepal again, Kashmir, Oxford, the USA, The Philippines, Thailand, Australia, Iraq, Jordan, Canada, USA again, Australia again, Senegal, Kenya, Iraq again, and Senegal again.

Other than an unfortunate incident once where my Big Mac got ripped in an airport and needed to be patched (I sent it off to macpac and they fixed it up and shipped it back to me), it has held up remarkably well! In Nepal I used to keep it empty under my bed, but padlocked as my passport was in there, and when I lost the key, I had to beg the locksmith to cut through the padlock carefully not to damage the zip!

It’s incredibly comfortable, exactly the right size, and I love that it unzips like a proper suitcase instead of rooting around in a normal rucksack. I also love that you can fold in and zip up the straps when checking it in at airports so they don’t get damaged en-route.

My little macpac has gone with me EVERYWHERE in the last 10 years. It’s literally my everyday bag, it carries my laptop into work everyday, it goes with me on mini-breaks and weekends, and in addition to all of the countries my big mac has been to it has ALSO been with me to Qatar, Madrid, Italy and Switzerland!

Obviously daily use for 10 years has left my little mac a bit grubby, but considering what it’s been through, it’s holding up INCREDIBLY well! It’s even still mostly waterproof, as I learned after a can of tonic water exploded inside it once in the Philippines…

This little bag goes with me pretty much everywhere, is still sturdy and comfy after 10 years, and it zips onto the front of Big Mac (although I hardly ever do that).

So, all in all, as a fairly frequent traveller, I give these bags 10 out of 10 and highly recommend them for your travelling adventures.


All the places I’ve been

In a recent conversation with my dad, I realised that in his 70+ years, he has travelled to a huge number of countries, (34 and counting!) so I thought it was worth listing all of mine out too to see how we compare!

My dad also pointed out that the majority of his travelling happened in his 20’s and 30’s, as like most people, once you settle down and have kids you tend to travel less often, so here is our combined list:  Continue reading

Coffeeshops and Landslides

Wednesday 28th July 2010

I know I just wrote a few days ago, but honestly there is so much to tell you I felt a need to write some more down!

I left Leh at 4.30am on Monday morning, and began a gruelling 2-day bus journey down to Manali, in Himachal Pradesh. The bus was comfortable enough, although the woman behind me refused to let me put my seat back, and the views as we crossed the Himalayas were breathtaking. On the first day we crossed several passes, including Taglung La, the highest point on the road at 5350 metres. It was cold and snowy, and very stunning. I used up most of my camera battery on that first day, as well as all of my ipod battery, and the journey finished for the day in a small town called Keylong, about 16 hours later. We had travelled 230 miles, and were put up for the night in “tented accommodation”, which sounds like a very posh way to say that you’re sleeping in a tent!
However, the tents were surprisingly comfortable – they were big while canvas tents, tall enough to stand up in, with 4 camp-beds per tent and nice clean sheets and blankets, even an electric light! I slept surprisingly well, and the next morning we set off at 7am for the last leg. Continue reading

The world’s best kept secret…

Friday 23rd July 2010

Hello all,
After my rather rushed email last time I thought I would try for something slightly more interesting!

My trip to Srinagar in north-western Kashmir got cancelled. Two days before I was due to leave I met a friend at a party who had just come back from there and said things were heating up again. Lots of fighting in the streets, military everywhere, a couple of civilians had been shot last week and an almost 24-7 curfew, meaning you can’t really leave your hotel room anyway.
Not exactly my idea of a holiday! Continue reading

Travelling Maya

Thursday 15th July 2010

Hello everyone,
Sorry it’s been so long since my last email, but so much has happened once again that I don’t really know where to start!

Let’s see, in shorthand: during my 1 month’s notice period I was allowed to take my 2 week’s compensatory leave, so I went to Nepal for a break and well-earned holiday.

Unfortunately my holiday was utterly exhausting and ended up being really quite stressful. It was GREAT to see all the kids again and being back was lovely. However I’d forgotten that staying at the orphanage meant getting up at 5am, which is not my idea of relaxing! Also there were 3 other volunteers there, so we were all sharing a cramped room. I won’t go into the details right now, but basically there was a lot of drama involving the other volunteers, me, Priya, and Aama, a lot of misunderstanding and a fair amount of upset all round. I also came down with a hideously nasty cold and have been ill pretty much ever since, so my holiday was mostly an exhausting and stressful disaster. Continue reading