Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Last update before trip

2 Days before our hoped for departure day.

"Hoped for" as we hope it will all go well at the airport on Friday. We are flying standby with Linda's brother Joe as he works for Air Canada and will be flying with us to Hong Kong. That's how standby works with A/C these days, in that the employee must go with you but we have flown with him before and it has worked out ok so far.

The scary part is that we may not find room on the flight. It looks fine right now and we are prepared to walk over to Oasis and buy last minute tickets from them if not. They are as low as $299 one way last we checked, and fly from Vancouver about 3 hours or so after the A/C flight.

Of course we did set out for Hong Kong once before and ended up in New York, but that's another story. A couple of years ago it was Sydney Australia for 4 days, but we aimed for there and again its another story.

The China Visa pickup went well and Linda did not need reinforcements. In fact we parked at a meter with 14 minutes on it and were back to the car with one minute remaining. Not bad.

The camera batteries are charged, the memory cards are ready, the clothing and other stuff laid out. Still too much to do, but it will happen.

A 45 litre pack seems more than enough for each of us. I have almost never had to travel with checked luggage and that is especially good for standby flights and easy on-off airplane transitions. Since we are going to hot countries and are not tenting it should work out fine. We each have our sandals, a few shirts, shorts, a silk sheet liner, hats and a light jacket and not much else....well ok, there is the:
  • MIOX
  • the 2 digicams
  • 8 gigs of memory for the above
  • 6 sets of batteries for above
  • charger for above
  • Asia plug adapter for the above (x 2)
  • water bottles (x2)
  • a disposable novel for the flight & sleepless nights (x2)
  • headlamps (x 2, for above when suffering from jet lag and other sleep issues, and hopefully some caves!)
  • MP3 players (x2)...not so much that we want the music, it's to block out other noises on planes trains & noisy hotels
  • bug juice (mosquito bed nets we should find where we are going, cheap)
  • sunscreen
  • shaving, tooth & medicinal products
  • Lonely Planet Guide Book *South East Asia On A Showstring*
  • South East Asia Phrase Book
  • Passports, Visas, Cash ($Can, $US SHK, $China) Visa Cards and Debit cards
  • blah blah blaaaagh
Exchanging money should not be too big a deal. Bank machines are really common these days, will give a fair rate, and don't take your passport from you into some back room behind a guard with an automatic rifle as I have had them do in China and Central America. Changing money from a pocket, on a barrel head, outside the same rifle equipped bank was usually less stressful and often at a better rate but you could get busted that way.

Actually the leap in technology in Asia I have found quite fascinating. Cell phone technology is a good example, in that the infrastructure is much cheaper to install than poles and wires to every house. People there are much more likely to have a mobile phone than a land line as a result, and if you don't have a phone you walk out to the street and someone will often have a phone there that you pay a few pennies to use. They will also probably sell you some Lychee nuts or some kind of critter-on-a-stick, or Tommy HillFinger clothes.

As an aside, one of my favourite billboards in China was that of Arnie the Guvernator, before he was ordained, advertising cell phones on the road in from the airport at Beijing. Nothing like hero worship (who needs to understand the lingo in an Arnie movie?) to sell product!

I have heard there is only one bank machine in all of Laos and they charge a hefty user fee. We may get to Laos but it is not a certainty. US dollars go far over there, and with current rates, Canadian do also (further!). Canadian is not RECOGNIZED everywhere however so we will carry a number of small denomination US bills. However $1 US might equal about 30,ooo of some local currency, so you don't hand over $20 and expect the street vendor to have exact change.

Actually at today's rates it is about $1 Canadian to 8 Hong Kong dollars (7.7 Chinese RMB), 40 Thai Baht, 4000 Vietnam Dong, 16,500 Cambodian Khmer, or 10,000 Laos Kips.

Sheesh...I think I might need an extra 40 litres of pack to hold all the different bills!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dude keep this updated during the trip when it's allowed. I know there are lots of restrictions in Vietnam, hopefully you'll get a chance. You guys have a great trip!