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

Carbon Footprints…

One thing you learn to accept as an aid worker is that you are never going to have a small, or especially environmentally-friendly carbon footprint. There are just too many flights involved! Not only do I travel to far-flung and exotic places for work, and then generally want to take holidays around the general area of wherever you happen to be, but I also have family in the UK and Australia that I try to visit once in a while, and a lot of friends having fabulous destination weddings at the moment in places like Canada and France! I think 2015 might turn out to be a record-breaking year for me in terms of flights and travel, as I look back at everywhere I have been this year, and am simultaneously busy planning both work trips and holidays for the coming months. I’ve decided to map it out compared to last year, which was also quite travel-heavy….

2014: I can’t remember how many internal flights I did in the Philippines, but if I had to guess I’d say

  • Tacloban – Cebu – Tacloban x 3?
  • Tacloban – Manila – Tacloban x 3?
  • February/March: Tacloban – Cebu – Sydney – Perth – Cebu – Tacloban
  • May: Tacloban – Manila – London – Manila – Tacloban
  • July: Manila – Phuket – Manila
  • November: Tacloban – Manila – London
  • December: London – Sulaymaniyah (Iraq)

Total countries visited in 2014: 5 (Philippines, UK, Australia, Thailand, Iraq)


  • February: Erbil – Amman – Erbil
  • May: Erbil – London – Vancouver – London – Erbil,
  • July: Sulaymaniyah – London
  • August: London – Geneva – London
  • September: London – Madrid – London
  • December: London – Bangkok – Phuket – Chiang Mai – Bangkok – Sydney – Melbourne – Sydney – Bangkok – London

Total countries visited in 2015: 8 (Iraq, Jordan, UK, Canada, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, Thailand)

Phew! What a lot of travelling!

It’s annoying me that I’ve only just thought of signing up for some frequent flyer air miles! Ah well, better late than never…

Back to the grindstone

Friday 13th April 2007

Hey guys,

Well, I’m back in Kuwait again, but had a fantastic holiday!! The last two days on Phi Phi were great (although that bad prawn returned to haunt me after all – not so much a bad prawn as downright evil, frankly!!).
I was a bit ill for a couple of days, and shan’t be eating seafood for a while (if ever), but it was still lovely!!

Betty and Bryn really enjoyed their romantic night alone, and the last two days were really great.
Then we went up to Bangkok for a night and a day, which was nowhere near long enough, but we only had a week off school, so what can you do?
We went to an amazing bar called Vertigo, which was on the roof of a hotel on the 60th floor. It was completely open air with no roof at all and had AMAZING views of the city, as well as Appletinis (my new favourite drink by the way!!). We managed to get to the Grand Palace before heading to the airport, which was pretty special too.

It was a very long and tiring journey back, and I arrived at my flat at 3.30am to discover the power was out and my living room was flooded. It turns out Kuwait has had freak storms all week, torrential rain, hail and sandstorms, most of which ended up in a muddy puddle under my sofa! Apparently there’s a gap at the bottom of the door to the balcony from the living room, and while it usually lets in a bit of dust now and then, this time the balcony filled up with water and it just poured into my front room!!
The water heater shorted out rather spectacularly after that with a flash and a bang, and the water on the kitchen floor apparently wasn’t from another flood, but my defrosted freezer, becasue the power had been out!!

So, I’m very tired, and sooooo don’t want to go to work tomorrow, but I’ve mopped, shopped and re-frosted my freezer, and am about to hit the hay. I don’t think I’ve ever come back down to earth from a holiday with such a decisive bump – reality really hit me in the face!!

lots of love,
Sleepy Maya

(I can hear thunder outside again, better start blocking up the door!)

The Kuwaiti towers at night

Kuwait at night

Mais al Ghanim – our favourite Lebanese restaurant

Dust storm