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 so far…

Sunday 1st June 2008

Ok, so, after my mammoth journey south, I collapsed into bed in Malacca and slept for about 13 hours straight!
After which I took to the streets and wandered about happily. Malacca is a very nice, peaceful sort of town, with a bizarre Dutch/Chinese heritage, giving the buildings quite a unique style.
There’s not much to do, and I cancelled my planned excursion out to Pulao Besar Island after being informed by several locals that the Malacca straits is one of the busiest straits in the world, and you DO NOT want to swim in it! They all agreed that for beaches and swimming you need to head east, and as I’m doing that anyway in a couple of days I decided to skip that.

Aside from meeting a couple of extremely weird older men, I didn’t see many other travellers – most of the tourists were Chinese couples I think. As for my weird old men, one was called Joe, an ex-crane operator from Jersey, who kindly bought me a gin and tonic while explaining that he had to leave the US and was forced to retire because the federal government are out to get him. He also incidentally has a Malay-Chinese wife who’s apparently about to divorce him.

The other weirdo was an Englishman called Howard (I’d guess late forties), who lives in Thailand (he didn’t say what he did there) and was EXTREMELY seedy and creepy. I excused myself as fast as possible and went shopping!
I then took a bus up to Kuala Lumpur, where I’ve spent a pleasant couple of days sightseeing and shopping before heading east to Pulao Tioman (where they filmed the movie “South Pacific”) for some hard-core beach action.

So far I really like Malaysia – it’s extremely clean and efficient, people are very friendly and helpful, and it seems so calm and quiet after India – I was amazed when I discovered there were so many cars, and yet no one was honking their horns! Bit of a culture shock after Nepal and India, but very relaxing too.

One problem I’m having here though is remaining vegetarian. In India and Nepal it’s easy, as most restaurants are veggie anyway. Over here, EVERYTHING has chicken, fish or seafood in it, and it’s quite a challenge to find yummy food that I can eat! It’s doubly infuriating, because everything smells so good, but I can’t have it!

I ended up yesterday eating a rather dubious seaweed curry, which was alright, and later on had an elongated argument with a waiter about whether or not hot dog counted as meat (he’d chopped some up and put it in my rice after my strict instructions to the contrary!), but today at the bus station I was really stuck.
There are rows of restaurants, all with buffet-style food laid out to help yourself. Loads of yummy looking noodles and rice and curries, but when I asked if they had anything vegetarian, they just shook their heads at me. I couldn’t believe that NOTHING on the buffet was veggie, but 6 restaurants later I was ready to admit defeat. One kind lady took pity on my desperation for some food, and patted me on the back, saying “This is brek-fas, you come bac’ lunch-time, I make you nice veggie ok?”.
Looking at my watch I realised I only had 10 minutes left before my bus, and I was ravenous, so I had to eat something before we left. I glanced around and realised I was completely out of options. I was going to have to suck it up and stop being picky.
I did something I have managed to avoid for over ten months, but had no other available choices.

I slouched defeatedly over to the red and yellow counter and in a small, sad little voice, asked for an egg McMuffin.

And it was horrible. I don’t even like eggs that much.

Anyhoo, food problems aside, I’ve been up the famous Petronas twin towers (and also watched a complimentary 3D instructional video about the Malaysian Oil and Gas industry courtesy of Petronas), visited an art gallery, been to a few markets, done some seriously HARDCORE shopping, and I’m now contemplating how I managed to blow 5 days’ budget in an afternoon.

I’ve never really done the whole ‘budget backpacking’ thing, and as it turns out, I’m not doing it now either. I’ve gotten so used to going on nice holidays, and having things like wine, and this whole concept of living on 10 pounds a day just doesn’t work for me!


However, I’m hoping that once I’m on a tropical island I’ll have little to spend my money on (famous last words!) – plus I’ve been going through books at a silly rate, seeing as I’m travelling alone, and that’s costing me a fair bit too! (although today I conceded that instead of buying another book, I could go for a far cheaper option of the cheesy gossip magazine, which I’m looking forward to on the bus ride eastwards tomorrow!).

So, onwards tomorrow to beaches and palm trees….

tons of love

P.s. – I’ve been missing all my lovely kiddies a lot this week – it’s strange to suddenly be by myself after having 35 brothers and sisters to play with!
Also Karla emailed me today to tell me that Grace, one of the babies (she’s 3) missed me so much that she got a bit sick, and keeps walking around asking where I am, and talking to me, even though I’m not there!
It literally makes my heart hurt, as cheesy as that sounds, and I want to run back into the house one more time so I can cuddle her and kiss her and love her some more. It’s extremely lucky I’m not legally able to adopt in the Nepali legal system, or else I’d be coming home with about 20 babies in my suitcase!
Sigh. (Guess who’s broody?)

p.p.s. – Those of you who mock my anti-magnetic techno-fears will be amused to know that just now I crossed my legs under the table.

And the computer died (apparently I knocked a button on the hard drive with my foot).
Then it came back on, and told me that I had irretrievably altered the systems configuration that it needs to open Windows.

Would I like to save the new configurations, or not?
I’m now going to send this email, log out of my account very slowly (without moving at all) and then carefully stand up and walk away before anyone in this internet cafe realises that I’ve killed yet another innocent computer by accident.