Archive for the ‘Gear and Gadgets’ Category

silly sporks

They’re spoons and they’re forks. They’re sporks! And they’re broken. These ones are made by a company called Lightmyfire.

TIP: avoid using in jars of crunchy peanut butter.

in action killing bacteria and viruses

The Steripen is a handy little device for sterilizing water. It uses AA batteries to power a UV light bulb which kills 99% of bacteria and viruses. It’s really simple to use and only takes a minute or so to do a litre of water.

We’ve been using our Steripen wherever possible to reduce our consumption of plastic water bottles. Between the two of us, we could easily drink 3L of water a day, or 3 big water bottles. Over a year, that’s an insane amount of water and waste, especially in these parts of the world where waste management and recycling is severely lacking.

It works great providing the water is clear to begin with. Clarity does not always mean clean and tasty, however. To get around foul-tasting water we often mix in some drink crystals. Temperature is also dependent on what comes from the tap. When we’re traveling in scorching heat, sometimes a nice cool beverage is on order so we do still purchase water from time to time.

The upfront cost of the Steripen was about $100. We’re hoping it will have paid for itself by the end. It’s definitely reassuring to have on hand just in case. It’s also something we’ll definitely keep on hand when we go back-country camping. We’ll probably never bother with a filtre pump again.

We’ve finally resolved our computer power cord ordeal. This all started a couple of weeks ago with the complete destruction of our computer’s power cord, which finally broke in two after so much packing and unpacking. It was a lengthy and somewhat expensive process to get a new adapter for our six-year-old laptop. We found a shop owner in town who said he could have a new one shipped from Bangkok in two days. The only catch, he said, was that it would be pricey, because it was impossible to find fake Apple components, and it would have to be the real thing. We thought it was funny that his first instinct was that we wanted fake parts, but we assured him that we were fine with the real thing. Amazingly, two days later, it arrived. But when we opened the package, it was instantly clear that it was a knockoff, and not an Apple part at all. We tried to tell the guy we would happily keep the imitation, but that there was no way we were paying him the full amount he’d quoted for a real one. Eventually, the fake one was sent back to Bangkok, and after another 5 days of waiting, an authentic Apple power cord arrived. He said it was the only one his guy could find in Bangkok. Right. We had another laugh when we noticed that both our original and our new power adapters say “Assembled in Thailand” right on the side. At least we got one in the end. Back to blogging!

Rudy Project Zyons — so cool

One of the most essential pieces of gear that any traveler must carry with them is a decent pair of sunglasses. Having the right pair provides you with much more than simply an elevated “cool” factor — good sunglasses protect your eyes from sun, wind, sand and dust while you explore beaches, mountain tops, glaciers, jungles, and more. The right pair should be comfortable, lightweight and durable. They should be as functional on a mountain bike as they are on a beach. It’s a lot to ask from a single pair.

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Bye-bye tenty

Sending it home :(

The decision was made to send our camping gear home. My eyes were a bit moist as we waved goodbye to the massive box at the post office in Bilbao. It will surely be missed. Mostly I think we will be grateful for not having to carry that extra weight around anymore. So far it has made life much easier in that I’m not straining any muscles trying to get my pack to close.

Fare thee well little tent and sleeping bags. Safe journey back to Canada, slowly on boats. We shall meet again one day.

Our camping conundrum

Camping in Basque country

We’ve been carrying a small tent and our sleeping bags around with is so far on our journey, and actually making quite good use of them. The camping hasn’t always been picturesque (see our post on Paris), but it has definitely been an affordable option for us. The last few days have been spent camping in Biarritz. Our camp ground is called Le Pavillon Royal, and it’s more like a resort than a campground. It’s right on the beach, and has a pool, fantastic hot showers, a small grocery store with fresh croissants and baguettes daily, and a bar/cafe. It’s been like a mini vacation from our bigger journey.

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Me and my iPhone

Now that we’ve put in a few good weeks of travel, we’ve had a chance to evaluate the pros and cons of bringing the iPhone with us on our wanderings. I’ve had a couple of people ask me whether or not I was getting any use from it abroad, so here’s the answer! As I wrote in an earlier post, I’ve removed the sim card from the iPhone to disable its cell phone and 3G data capabilities. You don’t even want to know the rates that Fido would charge to use the iPhone normally over here. We’d be bankrupt already. I’ve also decided against jailbreaking the phone, even though this would allow us to buy a local sim card and drop it in, turning it into a local pay-as-you-go iPhone. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it makes it a real pain any time Apple releases a new iPhone software update, as it usually requires waiting for a new jailbreak to come out as well. It also voids the warranty (a minor inconvenience, really). But finally, there’s actually something nice about not having a phone in my pocket — there’s something romantic about being unreachable when you’re out exploring new places. That being said, we have found many great uses and applications for the iPhone, and here they are.

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Comfy footwear

As we get further along in our travels, we will be posting reviews of some of the gear that we brought with us. Since putting together our packing list was one of my main obsessions before we left, I hope that these reviews will prove interesting and helpful to any future wanderers, or even to any other gear-heads out there like me!

These Holey Soles are one of the two pairs of footwear that I brought with me. They are the Canadian version of the more well-known brand Crocs. The differences between the two brands are very slight. Holey Soles seem to use a very slightly softer and more flexible foam/rubber material than Crocs, and the shoe is slightly narrower. Other than that, they are almost identical in terms of design and look. In fact, I almost always refer to them as Crocs anyways, even though that’s a disservice to the Canadian company. It’s just easier to say, and then people know what you’re talking about.

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Gear and Photos updates

Our gear page has been updated again. We’ve added detailed lists to several items, such as our first aid kit, clothing, and personal documents. Just click on the plus symbol (+) beside an item to expand it and view the contents.

There is also a small album posted on the photos page from my surfing weekend in Polzeath. Enjoy!

the packing process

Our gear page is finally up! We spent a lot of time debating and evaluating what to bring with us. The list we put up is the final tally of everything that ended up in our bags — but I’m sure it will evolve as we go. There will be some things we missed, and we’ve probably brought a few things that we will end up shipping back home at some point. Down the road we will be posting reviews and evaluations of some of the gear we brought with us. Hopefully future wanderers will find this list helpful and interesting!

As a side note, we’ve actually got a third piece of luggage with us for the first leg. The Queen Mary II has a formal dress code for nearly all of its restaurants, and we will be attending Meg’s sister’s wedding in England when we arrive, so we’ve packed a suitcase with strictly formal attire. It’s a bit of a burden to drag around for now, but Meghan’s parents have offered to bring it home from London for us after the wedding. We decided against including its contents on the gear page, but I’m sure you will be able to deduce what was in it from the photos we’ll be posting.

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