What I packed – Backpacking Photographer – Southeast Asia – 2015

Check out my Amazon page for gear that I personally use and products similar to those I pack on my travels (many of which are listed below).

Backpacking is the way to go especially when travelling Southeast Asia. To make it a quick and easier way of getting in and out of airports, backpacking without checking in any bags is the most ideal. For my 25 day adventure this is what I packed.

Mind you, I am a photographer and my priorities for travelling always have the photography aspect ahead of everything else which meant sacrificing clothing and other material goods for all my computer and camera gear. All in all, I did a good job if I say so myself for packing and still have space to to return home with tons of goodies.

I have also included some comments beside items that I brought which in the end, were not needed or they were a MUST.

This is a good list to read through if you are also curious to see what gear I use to shoot during my travels.

THIS IS WHAT I PACKED:

 

Wearing on plane

1 pair of tights

1 t-shirt (you need at least one top that is “modest” to wear at temples to cover up.

1 hoodie

1 pair of sneakers

1 bra

1 pair of underwear

1 pair of socks

 

In Camera rucksack backpack (personal bag):

1 set of headphones

1-2 pens/pencil

Travel documents

Passport – extra passport photos – money (CAD/USD)

Memory cards (6-8 – 64GB SD cards)

USB Cables – USB 3.0 / USB 2.0 / Micro / Card reader

4 nikon DSLR batteries

3 GoPro batteries

Nikon D610

28mm 1.8

50mm 1.8

Outex waterproof system

TLR – Walzflex

6 rolls of 120mm film

Bag rain cover

Chargers – USB / Nikon / GoPro / Macbook

Macbook Air

Selfie stick

My travel buddy – Astrolapin

Glasses case/contact case

2TB external (WD Passport)

umbrella –  Didn’t really need except for Hanoi & Koh Samui when it rained (but I didn’t even use it)

 

In Duffel bag – 42L North Face Basecamp Duffel (my carry-on bag):

Power bar & Plug convertor – Amazing to bring a power bar to charge everything at once

Combination lock – For hostel locker use

Drugs/Pills – malaria / diarrhea / cough / electrolyte

Baby powder – helps with being less sticky in humid areas and great for shoes after the jungle to remove odors

Tiger balm / topical antibiotic – Best thing to bring! Best for bug bites

Shampoo / body wash / contact solution /contact lenses – sterilizing solution like Clear Care solution doesn’t exist in SEA – bring more!

Feminine hygiene products – tampons / pads – Depending on where you are, it might be hard to find tampons

Razor – It might also be hard to find razors in some areas

Roll of toilet paper – LIFESAVER in Cambodia & Lao!

Powerbars (emergency food)

Mosquito bracelet / DEET – DEET IS A NECESSITY!

Water shoes – DIDN’T NEED

Flip flops – Everyone wears flip flops / crocs or croc like material footwear

Flats – DIDN’T NEED

3 pairs of socks

7 pairs of underwear

2 sports bra

3 bikini tops – 2/3 reversible – DIDN’T NEED ALL 3 – BUT threw out 1 pair

3 bikini bottoms – Threw out 1 pair

2 pairs of jean shorts

1 pair of volleyball shorts

2 pairs of shorts

1 PJ shirt

6 tops – 5 tanks / 1 dressy

1 long sleeve – only needed longsleeve for jungle

Foldable towel

Foldable blanket – didn’t use but should’ve used in jungle

Foldable backpack – GREAT FOR DAY USE!

Drybag – great for island hopping and jungle

GoPro accessories

 

Overview – Southeast Asia – 2015

Overview of my trip:

25 days of non-stop travelling is great when things are planned out. I find that the stuff that are booked and planned go by fine but when I give options on what to do but nothing confirmed we end up wasting more time than anything trying to figure out what to do. I think whoever Im travelling with should have a clear picture of things to do per city besides the main things we book beforehand. Everyone needs their own space. I don’t know why I have to lead everywhere we go especially when they know I will be shooting over anything else. Crocs are the preferred footwear or similar sandal/croc imitations. Deet and tiger balm will be your best friends. Toilet paper roll will save you in Lao & Cambodia. Recycling isn’t something they really do out there unless its a person going through the trash and removing the bottles themselves. Garbage cans don’t really exist either (Vietnam had some though) but you kind of just make a pile when you see an open garbage/plastic bag as you walk around. They also have a large assortment of plastic bags and plastic is plentiful here. Plastic chairs/stool/tables are prime tools of people’s trades as they can set up and clean up pretty easy anywhere. Vietnam, Lao, Cambodia are more reserved – women stay covered in long sleeve and pants. Thailand – more likely to see tatted people, tank tops on local women but also the whole long sleeve cover up but booty shorts. Also tons of pretty ladyboys everywhere. Get use to smog and smell of diesel as well as dirt/dust. Ive heard stories of people on motorbikes snatching phones and purses by the side of the road but never saw it happen – just be vigilant and keep your purse on the opposite side away from the road. Otherwise, I felt safe everywhere I went. I had my camera attached to my hand but otherwise everything was out of sight. HCMC is very populated so just be cautious when it big crowds or when people are too close. The men there will just keep looking at you though. Siem Reap – same thing, big crowds especially in the night market just be cautious. Bangkok – the only real place we really saw any homeless people – they will leave you alone for the most part… ladyboys will be more aggressive than them.

Vietnam:

Ho Chi Minh

Hot and humid – Its grungy, tons of motorbikes, don’t trust taxi cabs and stick to Mai Vinh and Vinasun cabs. Its rather easy to cross the street if you have no fear and stare them down. Its humid and full of people everywhere. People watching is great and the french influence in architecture make it beautiful. People stare. PJ and rice hats everywhere. Crocs rule this place as well as sandals and croc imitations. If they need to move anything around the city, it can fit on a motorbike including 2 old people with 2 ladders or bags of rice and other things. There are road rules and lights but not everyone abides by the rules. Its built with french influence – everyone eats on the sidewalks and people watch but on plastic stools and tables rather than wicker sets. Each restaurant specializes in one or two particular dishes so you eat at one place and move on. Sidewalks also become roads and parking lots. No age limit for drinking – babies drink beer.

Hanoi

Humid but rains and cools down a tad bit – Taxi’s are better than in HCMC – more regulations. Love the history of the old city where the streets were named after the product they specialized. I love that its such a mix of nature and city. There are so many random alleys that you can just turn your head and look at and its a small vignette into a smaller world; a smaller moment that I absolutely love and look for on all my trips. The people are different here form HCMC… a little more refined. From the looks of things, Hanoi looks more educated. Reminds me of Hong Kong – Humid as hell. Slightly calmer traffic but still amazing little streets to walk through. If it wasn’t for our food tour there would be so many foods we tasted that we would’ve missed out on.

Ha Long Bay

Hot – Beautiful pinnacle of islands to sail through and live aboard a boat was a great experience. Sunrise was so serene. I hear good things about Ha Long Bay but I hear Sapa is a dream… next time.

Lao:

Luang Prabang

It’s a dream world. A little village like city. Weather reminds me of Hawaii – hot but not humid. Mix of old and new but now with a huge mix of expats. Buffet street, morning market street and alms giving were great. Wish I had more time there. Kuangsi falls – spectacular!

Pakse:

Hot with normal humidity compared to Vietnam. Tuktuk will be cheaper options and can grab one outside the entrance of airport – Haggle down the price but check inside first what a taxi costs. A look into normal life – a small city that has great land nearby that produces one of the worlds best coffee. The people are lovely. Made new friends playing volleyball.

Paksong

Small little village but even on the van ride over, the people were just so kind hearted waving and smiling. The jungle was awesome. Wet but it only rains for a short time then it can be nice. I love being outdoors and this was definitely a workout and a half. Zipllining was awesome too but wished it was a little safer like Whistler nonetheless still a great experience

Cambodia:

Siem Reap

Hot and humid. Not all roads are built of concrete so they will be bumpy. Tuktuks will be your main choice in transportation. Full day tuktuk will be roughly $25USD + feeding your driver. Tickets for temples can be purchase morning of first day of temple running – $20USD for single day up to $40 for 3 day. Angkor Wat at sunrise is nice but everyone goes so its crowded and gotta be patient to not get another tourists camera in your shot. Bayon even though we didn’t go inside because it was so hot of a day and we had already visited at least 4-5 was by far the prettiest. Its hot… drink water – heat stroke is real. Dress modestly for temples – t-shirt and cover them knees. Phare Circus is awesome and is a great asset to the community helping low income individual strive for better. The show is awesome too! The kids are so adorable here but when you’re closer to temples – tons of poor families and kids will approach you to purchase things – don’t buy from kids! If you want to purchase prescription glasses – this is the place to do it and haggle down price! I got mine for $38USD with lenses.

Thailand:

Koh Samui

Hot but not too humid. Hawaii like weather. Best time to go is April-March. #1 source of income – tourism. Very commercialized. Central Festival mall is pretty nice and has night market stalls outside overnight with cheap food and other. The night market by the water sells all souvenirs you want. There is also a volleyball / basketball court at the very end past the chewang food court market. Recommend staying in a resort beachfront near Chaweng. Sandalwood was great but hassle to be on top of a hill and needing to be driven down and then work within schedule for drop off and pick up if you don’t want to pay for your own taxi.

Chiang Mai

Taxi from airport is relatively cheap. Tuktuk as well. Hot with little humidity. More cultured – I see more style and edge to the people here. Laid back but very safe and nice. Sunday walking market is long and huge in a t format. Tons of temples to goto. The old city holds a lot of the culture and things you want to see. Top of the north wall – stalls – street food for locals – thai cowgirl – 30baht – best khao kha moo. Good Khao soi nearby stall. The Central Plaza – Chiang Mai Airport mall is nice too. Goto north village and all the way to the bottom to their foodcourt for cheap meals indoors in AC. Coffee trending here – Ahka Ama, Ponganes, Clay Studio Coffee, Graph Cafe, Natwat Home Cafe, Mao Coffee etc. Elephant, karen long neck tribe, tigers etc tours all can be done here.

Bangkok

HUMID. disregard the taxi stand right outside the arrival gate. head to gate 8 at Don Meuang airport and line up for a cab there. metered taxi. If you take the highway – tolls that need money up front at each toll. Don’t take an unmetered taxi unless you negotiate price first. Ride into downtown is about 35-40 minutes. HUMID. tuktuks are little pricer here but can negotiate price. Grand Palace is 500baht to enter. Was Pho is 100baht plus free water. Dress modestly for temples – t-shirt & cover knees. Visit Chinatown to see what the city use to look like years past. Khaosan Road – touristy but cool to see/experience once. Buy all your souvenirs here. Get a thai massage in an AC place – 250baht for an hour is standard.