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 toΒ 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.


Malaysia, the rest

Saturday 7th June 2008

Well, I’m leaving this peaceful island tomorrow to head back down to Singapore and make my way back to India for the next installment.
Pulao Tioman has been very nice. It’s quiet, and the sea is an AMAZING shade of turquoise, and incredibly warm.
I know this, because I even went swimming in it!

Yes, that’s right, I, Maya, braved the risk of seaweed and other scary sea-dwelling things, I avoided thinking about sharks and refused to look at any fish, and swam away happily in the South China Sea.
It was sooo warm and lovely, and extremely peaceful.

There were, however, jellyfish, which were small and see-through except for the bright orange spots, and suddenly surrounded me when I was least expecting it.

Sadly, it turns out screaming hysterically and thrashing around does not, in fact, scare away jellyfish, and they instead floated around in an extremely innocent way pretending to be inconspicuous, except when they were viciously stinging me.
I discovered later that the sting didn’t really hurt much, and stopped by itself after about 30 seconds, but still.

The beach was lovely, and I’m turning a nice crispy shade of brown. I also met a lovely older couple (around late forties I’d guess – notice my use of oldER in that sentence!) one day in the bar who were so interesting to talk to (possibly because I’ve barely spoken to anyone for days) that instead of going to get my dinner as planned, I stayed in the bar and carried on drinking.

This, I found out later, was a mistake. It’s been a long long time since I’ve been that pissed on an empty stomach, and now I remember why I have a strict eating-before-drinking-cocktails policy.
There was a lot of spinning and I ended up draped over a toilet in an extremely un-cool way.

I also woke up at 4am feeling perfectly fine and RAVENOUS, which serves me right for skipping dinner!

Anyhoo, I’m still beaching and sunbathing and risking sharks for the sake of a swim, and feeling very relaxed. Today I even got to make my own batiks, which was fun (and an incredibly cheap way to get souvenirs, so you all know what you’re getting!).

Just kidding, I can’t afford to buy you lot presents, as I’m far too busy buying myself pretty things and also spending all my money on rum.
However if any of you really seriously want me to bring you back something, I still have a few days on the beach in Goa to look forward to, and I’d be happy to spend a few hours glueing broken seashells onto bits of driftwood if there are any takers.
(I LOVE homemade presents, because unlike the usual crappy holiday souvenirs, these ones are generally even more crappy, but because someone spent time actually MAKING it, it cannot be derided or thrown away. Plus they’re really cheap.)

Also, a weird thing happened to me a couple of days ago. (Isn’t that always how my bizarre anecdotes tend to begin?). I woke up after my night of unadvisable “island strength” cocktails, and after discovering to my delight that I had no hangover, I then discovered that my left hand was all numb and tingly.
Not all of it, just one side and two of my fingers.
I thought I’d slept on it funny at first, but it stayed that way all day, and all night, and all the next day.
I started to get seriously worried (while simultaneously sunbathing, as I’m really good at multi-tasking). I ran a mental checklist of numb tingly hand symptoms.

My first conclusion was fairly obvious. Clearly I was having a heart attack.
I did wonder slightly if there shouldn’t be some kind of chest-pains to go with it, but rationalised that I was merely experiencing the ‘early warning’ signs.

Then I moved on from the heart attack theory and wondered if I had actually managed to drink so much rum that I had developed a weird kind of semi-paralysis in one arm.
I quickly moved on from that theory, as I’ve never heard of localised alcohol-poisoning, and it might stop me from drinking in future, so CLEARLY that diagnosis couldn’t be correct.

Then it hit me – the evil jellyfish! I must be suffering a weird reaction to the evil stinging orange-spotty blobs that looked so damn innocent!
However, I realised that I’d been stung just about everywhere, and wasn’t going numb all over my body. Would have been nice to blame those smug little bastards though.

So, what’s next? Was I suffering from a completely new disease? Would my two fingers eventually go black and fall off?
I tried to ignore it for a while, but then yesterday when I was swimming I bent my elbow and something went “twang”.
It was exactly the spot where your funny bone is, and you know when you hit it, and it’s horrible and tingly all the way down to your hand? Well, eureka.
I’m about 98% sure that I somehow trapped a nerve in my elbow, leaving my hand all weird for several days (it’s still all pins and needles, but better than it was).

Next question: How the hell did I do it? I certainly don’t remember bashing it, but then, my recollection of that particular evening is rather hazy!

Bet you’re all thanking God I’m not a doctor now aren’t you?
Ha ha ha! πŸ™‚

That aside I fly back to India tomorrow, but have discovered it’s also the last day of school holidays here tomorrow, so all the buses are packed and the only one I could get a seat on leaves at 8am. Unfortunately I don’t have an alarm clock and if I miss it, there’s no way I’ll make it to Singapore to get my flight.
I may have to actually go out and buy an alarm clock just for this one bus – how utterly silly!

So, that’s it for Malaysia – unless something REALLY interesting happens to me on the way back (you never know) then my next update will probably come from somewhere in Kerala, where I’ll be industriously busy making crap souvenirs.

Until then,

love Malaise-sia Maya
(Queen of bad puns! Oh I’m so sharp I may cut myself! Mwah ha ha!)

No? Not coming with me on that one?
Oh alright, it was a fairly poor effort, how about:

love jellyfish-slaying Maya!


love Rum-drinking Maya!


love “Can’t-wait-to-see-your-face-when-I-hand-you-a-pile-of-broken-seashells-glued-to-a-piece-of-MDF-for-Christmas” Maya!