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.

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Looking back, and looking forward…

As many of you will know, I spent a year working in an orphanage in Nepal back in 2007-2008, as part of a volunteer exchange with ICYE-UK.¬†For those of you that don’t know, have a look at my Nepal posts (of which there are MANY) for a flavour of my life in Nepal.

It was an incredible, and quite frankly life-defining experience for me, as it was the most rewarding thing I have ever done, and it changed my perspective on the world quite substantially. It was also what led me to re-define my life goals and change careers, so I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for ICYE and Aishworya. It’s also where I got my Nepali name, and pseudonym, Maya.

I wanted to write a post about it for two reasons. Firstly, because I have just spent a bank holiday weekend at the ICYE-UK On-arrival camp, and secondly because the busy bees over at Aishworya have been doing some amazing work at improving the website and it looks amazing, and brought back a lot of memories. Continue reading

Guest Blog post….

So I wrote a guest blog post for¬†ICYE-UK, the fabulous organisation I went to Nepal with, all about my thoughts on volunteering and how to get into International Development, which has been posted on the¬†“Getting into International Development”¬†blog.

Feel free to go forth and read (though I’m not convinced it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever written….)

India, full of surprises…

Thursday 29th May 2008

Wow, ok, it’s been a crazy few days/nights, and I’m struggling to keep track of the dates already!

In brief (who am I kidding?) – I travelled by night bus from Pokhara to Sunauli on Sunday, arriving at the Indian border on Monday morning. Crossing over was a bit bizarre, it was just a dusty road, rammed with traffic, and as I walked I kept passing signs that said “Welcome to India”. I tentatively asked several guards along the way if I shouldn’t get my passport stamped somewhere, but they just kept on waving me through!
I eventually found the immigration office off to one side of the road, but no one was paying them any attention, and hundreds of people were just walking past, so they clearly aren’t too fussed (and after all that drama getting a bloody visa too!).

However I decided I really should try to enter the country legally, to avoid any further hassles encroaching on my beach-time. I asked them to stamp me in, but the guard informed me I had to first go back and get stamped out of Nepal!
It turns out the Nepali immigration office is even harder to find, tucked in a tiny building off the main road, it was quite a search to find it!
But eventually, I did find it, and a rather put-out looking guard grudgingly stamped my passport, and back I went again, All highly amusing! Continue reading

Bandipur and beyond…

Saturday 24th May 2008

Ok, so after my sad and tearful goodbyes to my lovely gorgeous children, and my wonderful Nepali family (who will stay in my heart forever, obviously), Karla, Amy and I headed west on a bus to Bandipur, early Tuesday morning.
I was really glad they both came with me for a few day’s break, as it meant I had some people to hang out with and didn’t get too sad and lonely after leaving everyone.

Bandipur is a gorgeous Newari village/town tucked up in the hills off the main road between Kathmandu and Pokhara. It is literally balanced along the top of a ridge, a main street with houses on both sides, and then off each side is a drop straight down over the terraced rice paddies. Continue reading