Exploring Sri Lanka’s Beach Towns: Part Two

Unawatuna

After Hikkaduwa and Galle we went over to Unawatuna, still famed as being one of the more alluring beaches in the Southern Province although it suffered extensive damage in the tsunami of 2004. The town itself is a long stretch of dusty road that follows the shoreline. Dotted with roti stands, restaurants, and clothing shops, it’s touristy but mellow.

We found a gem of a guesthouse there with a great proprietor who served us breakfast on the balcony facing his garden. Our next-door neighbors (aside from the European couple) were giant water monitors and toque macaque monkeys that are endemic to the island.

[ptcPhoto filename=”macaque.jpg” title=”Macaque” position=”center”]

On the western edge of town there’s a small dagoba and Buddha statue, although they were both under construction at the time of writing. The walk up the hill was worth it, though, for the views of the surf crashing against the shoreline. It’s a nice place to wind down the day.

[ptcPhoto filename=”windingdown.jpg” title=”Winding Down” position=”center”]

Habaraduwa Sea Turtles

Our next stop was Mirissa. Along the way we visited the Habaraduwa Sea Turtle Farm, whose mission is to ensure future generations of the endangered sea turtles who call the island home.

[ptcPhoto filename=”turtleeggs.jpg” title=”Turtle Eggs” position=”center”]

Of the seven species of sea turtles on earth, five nest on the beaches of Sri Lanka. We paid Rs.400 each to meet the turtles there and learn about how they’ve released more than 500,000 sea turtles into the ocean since they opened in the 1980’s.

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Mirissa

More low-key than the other places we saw, Mirissa has great seafood options and wild waves. It was our favorite beach town, and we stayed there for the better part of a week watching whales and enjoying the beach. When you visit, make sure to look out for red flags that warn you if there’s a strong undertow. The currents there can be pretty intense and have been known to sweep less cautious swimmers out to sea.

There’s another turtle farm right off Mirissa Beach that doesn’t charge a fee for visitors. We still left a small donation there because it’s such a great cause.

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Each evening, the fishermen bring in their catch and put it on display in front of the restaurants so you can choose what you’d like for dinner.

[ptcPhoto filename=”dinner.jpg” title=”Dinner” position=”center”]

We went with a butterfish one night, which they spiced up and grilled to perfection.

[ptcPhoto filename=”mirissaFriedFish.jpg” title=”MirissaFriedFish” position=”center”]

A torrential downpour hit as soon as it came to our table, but YUM! It was good.

Next up, a very long bus ride to Nuwara Eliya!

Exploring Sri Lanka’s Beach Towns: Part One

The beach towns of Hikkaduwa, Galle, Unawatuna and Mirissa provide a great introduction to the traveler-friendly country of Sri Lanka. Although the accommodation and food in the Southern Province are a bit more pricey than the hill country and Cultural Triangle, the good nature of the people and the laid back atmosphere make up for the higher costs.

Hikkaduwa

After landing in Colombo, our first stop was Hikkaduwa. Previously a hippie haven, it has since been taken over by tourists and offers decent surfing and SCUBA diving (the latter being what drew us there). There are a few dive shops in town, and all of them offer the same fixed rate for single dives – $35USD including gear. Poseidon Diving Station seemed to be the most legitimate so we went with them. We still had to trade out our dive gear a few times before we were satisfied that we’d met all the safety requirements that go with diving sixty feet under water. The staff were responsive and replaced our regulators and tanks promptly, but their equipment might be due for an upgrade. In all honesty, we didn’t really feel safe diving after so many equipment malfunctions.

[ptcPhoto filename=”diveboats.jpg” title=”Dive Boats” position=”center”]

After thirty minutes on the sea we dove down to the remains of the SS Conch. A British oil tanker that sank in the year 1903, the Conch dropped to the sea floor after hitting a reef and breaking into two. Diving near the wreck wasn’t the best, as there were strong currents and the visibility was low. But the massive boilers from the ship are still intact and they’re quite a sight. The dive lasted for only 35 minutes since we used a lot of oxygen fighting the currents, and we both experienced seasickness for the first time once we got back on the boat.

Even though it wasn’t our favorite place to dive, it’s not hard to pass a couple of days in Hikkaduwa just watching surfers and swimming off the wide white-sand beach.

[ptcPhoto filename=”surfer.jpg” title=”Surfer” position=”center”]

Galle

A well-preserved piece of colonial and Sri Lankan history, Galle Fort is a picturesque spot at the southwest corner of Sri Lanka.

[ptcPhoto filename=”lighthouse.jpg” title=”Lighthouse” position=”center”]

Originally built by the Portuguese in the 16th century to defend Galle, the fort was ceded to the Dutch in the seventeenth century before control finally went to the British when they fully colonized Sri Lanka in 1796.

[ptcPhoto filename=”wall.jpg” title=”Wall” position=”center”]

It doesn’t take long to familiarize yourself with the streets that crisscross the Fort. It’s a major tourist attraction, as evidenced by the many tour buses that park alongside the walls. But the bulk of the traffic remains outside in the main city of Galle, making it all the more pleasant.

[ptcPhoto filename=”galleHorn.jpg” title=”No Honking” position=”center”]

As far as beaches go, Galle Fort doesn’t have much to offer. There’s a small strip of sand near the lighthouse, but it seems to be used mostly by the local Muslim residents (not the place for sunbathing in a bikini). There must be other swimming holes outside the Fort, but we didn’t venture that far out during our short stay.

[ptcPhoto filename=”gallebeach.jpg” title=”Proper Attire” position=”center”]

In Part Two we’ll take you to Unawatuna and Mirissa, some of our favorite places on the island!

Searching for Whales off Sri Lanka’s Southern Coast

The sea near Mirissa and Dondra Head in Sri Lanka’s Southern Province is known for its population of dolphins, whales, and other creatures of the deep. We headed south to find some adventures in the waters there, hoping to spot the giant, majestic mac daddy of them all – the largest animal ever to have lived on earth: The blue whale. Your trip to Sri Lanka may not be complete without trying to spot one of these colossal cetaceans, as it’s one of the only places you can do so.

We weren’t the only people with this idea, though. When we arrived to Mirissa we found that due to the influx of tourism in the area, the prices for whale watching tours have risen as much as Rs.2,000 (about $16) in recent months. In fact, only three weeks before we arrived the entire community that offers these tours hiked their fees up to Rs.6,000 per person. For some reason every company pledged to charge this fixed fee. Why go to one company over another? Where’s the free market spirit?

Just when we decided that Rs.12,000 (around $95USD) was too much for us, Captain Wimal approached us in a local diner. An enterprising fisherman, Wimal told us that he could take us whale watching for only Rs.4,000 each – a considerable savings. He then resorted to some rather odd marketing techniques, which included showing me (not Eric) dozens of photos of unsuspecting bikini-clad tourists who had taken his “tour”. All the while, he kept saying that these were photos of his boat…but no, just mostly naked sightseers. But we decided to go with him anyways because it was such a deal, and we were sure to have a good story this way.

So the next morning (in modest clothing), we hopped on a tuk-tuk bound for the marina with the goal of catching some whales in our sights. We were pleasantly surprised that another group had signed up for this outing as we joined a nice French family that was waiting on the boat. Also on board was our trusty first mate, who assisted the captain with readying the vessel for our voyage.

[ptcPhoto filename=”ReadytoGo.jpg” title=”Ready to Go” position=”center”]

Once the larger tour companies’ boats weighed anchor we followed suit, heading straight south into the Indian Ocean. Around six kilometers out the sea drops to a depth of one kilometer, which is where our giant friends are supposed to hang out in their migration pattern between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

It wasn’t long before we spotted a pod of very cheerful-looking dolphins sprinting through the water with great speed. In our small fishing boat we were able to ride right alongside them, which was an experience in itself.

[ptcPhoto filename=”HappyDolphins.jpg” title=”Happy Dolphins” position=”center”]

Next we set out in pursuit of the big guys. We searched for a very long time, the first mate keeping a watchful eye on the horizon for any signs of life. Captain Wimal continually called out to the whales, “Oh, whaaales!? I looove you! Come hee-ere!” to no avail. But it reminded us of Dory. Remember Dory?

After an hour or so, the captain received a phone call and we whizzed over to a large cluster of the official tour boats. They all share information, so when a whale does surface it doesn’t take long before everyone knows. Unfortunately this also means that the sound of motors (and hundreds of tourists barreling toward them at once) scares the whales under as quickly as they arrived. And this time, that’s exactly what happened.

[ptcPhoto filename=”Tourists.jpg” title=”Tourists” position=”center”]

But twenty minutes later, a whale did surface on our right side. It was a blue whale. OMGwesawabluewhale.

[ptcPhoto filename=”ASmallSliverofaBlueWhale.jpg” title=”ASmallSliverofaBlueWhale” position=”center”]

Well, at least we’re fairly certain that’s what it was. We were given a chart with all of the species in those waters, and it surely looked like one.

[ptcPhoto filename=”Cetaceans.jpg” title=”Cetaceans” position=”center”]

Wimal was all smiles and insisted that it was, so we’ll go with it.

[ptcPhoto filename=”TheCaptain.jpg” title=”The Captain” position=”center”]

The rest of our journey was largely uneventful except for a tail that peeked up over the water (too quickly for a photo). But our mission was accomplished, so we were ready to head north to hill country!

Day Zero

Finally after months of preparation, numerous goodbye parties and dinners it was time for us to be on our way!

[ptcPhoto filename=”friends.jpg” caption=”We’ll miss you!” title=”Family and Friends” position=”center”]

[ptcPhoto filename=”dayZeroTickets.jpg” title=”Tickets for our first day of flying” caption=”All of our tickets” position=”right”]

But before the adventure could begin we had a very long day of travel ahead of us.
Our first stop is Sri Lanka, which is almost exactly half way around the world from Denver. To get there, we would travel from Denver to Charlotte, to Munich to Frankfurt to Bangkok to Colombo. Altogether this took 53 hours from the time we left our front door to the time we checked into our hotel in Sri Lanka.

Don’t feel too bad for us though, as we didn’t exactly rough it. Instead we splurged and traveled international first class. Had we bought these tickets instead of using miles it would have cost us upwards of $40,000.

[ptcPhoto filename=”LufthansaFirstClass.jpg” title=”Lufthansa First Class” caption=”Lufthansa First Class” position=”center”]

There is a huge difference between domestic first class and international first class. In domestic first class you get slightly more legroom, wider and more comfortable seats, free drinks and a small meal. Above domestic first class is international business class where you get a chair that can fully recline to 180 degrees, multi-course meals, and a nice selection of wine and spirits.

International first class is above international business class, and it’s in a league of it’s own. While business class will get you from A to B very comfortably, first class is a destination unto itself.

Our first long haul flight was, simply put, amazing. Neither of us had ever flown international first class, and Lufthansa is known to be one of the best airlines in the world to do so. Not only that, we were the only people in first class on this flight! This meant we had two (sometimes three) flight attendants to ourselves. Other than a couple people in business class that boarded before we did, we actually never saw another person on the flight other than our flight attendants and the pilots. It was like flying in a private jet.

[ptcPhoto filename=”OurFirstClass.jpg” title=”Our private first class cabin” caption=”First class all to ourselves” position=”center”]

Upon boarding we were offered a glass of champagne, upscale amenity kits tailored to our gender, a pair of high-quality pajamas that we were free to keep (if only we had room!) and a pair of Bose noise canceling headphones (not free to keep, unfortunately).

Our seats were amazing. Every part of the seat, including the ottoman, could be electronically adjusted to achieve ultimate comfort.

[ptcPhoto filename=”LufthansaChair.jpg” title=”Lufthansa First Class Seat” caption=”First class seat” position=”center”]

There are a total of 8 seats in first class, but as ours were the only ones occupied we could sit where we liked. We chose row 2 to eat our meals and watch movies and row 1 to be turned into beds (complete with mattress pad, down pillow, down duvet, and 7 feet of length) for when we decided to get a few hours of sleep.

[ptcPhoto filename=”LufthansaBed.jpg” title=”Lufthansa First Class Bed” caption=”Our beds on board in row 1″ position=”center”]

The entertainment system included a few recent movies and some classics as well as games, instructional language programs (even Tamil, one of the languages of Sri Lanka!) and videos of our progress across the ocean.

Our multi-course meal started with an amuse bouche, followed by a generous helping of white sturgeon caviar, then a second generous helping of caviar, then some other appetizers, followed by a salad, our selected main course, and finally cheese and desert. Throughout the dinner we sampled a number of their available wines, each bottle of which they gladly uncorked in front of us. It was a shame we didn’t even come close to finishing all those bottles!

[ptcPhoto filename=”amuseBouche.jpg” title=”Amuse Bouche” caption=”The amuse bouche” position=”left”]
[ptcPhoto filename=”caviar.jpg” title=”white sturgeon caviar” caption=”First round of caviar” position=”right”]
[ptcPhoto filename=”caviar2.jpg” title=”more white sturgeon caviar” caption=”Second round of caviar” position=”left”]
[ptcPhoto filename=”appetizer1.jpg” title=”First Appetizer” caption=”The first appetizer” position=”right”]
[ptcPhoto filename=”appetizer2.jpg” title=”Second Appetizer” caption=”The second appetizer” position=”left”]
[ptcPhoto filename=”lufthansaSalad.jpg” title=”Salad Course” caption=”Salad” position=”right”]
[ptcPhoto filename=”lufthansaMain1.jpg” title=”Sam’s Main Course” caption=”Sam’s Main Course” position=”left”]
[ptcPhoto filename=”lufthansaMain2.jpg” title=”Eric’s Main Course” caption=”Eric’s Main Course” position=”right”]
[ptcPhoto filename=”lufthansaCheese.jpg” title=”Cheese Course” caption=”Cheese Course” position=”left”]
[ptcPhoto filename=”lufthansaIceCream.jpg” title=”Dessert” caption=”Dessert” position=”right”]

We were woken for breakfast an hour before landing, hardly hungry after the previous feast but happy to gorge ourselves once again.

[ptcPhoto filename=”breakfast1.jpg” title=”Breakfast” caption=”Breakfast” position=”left”]
[ptcPhoto filename=”breakfast2.jpg” title=”Breakfast” caption=”Breakfast” position=”right”]

When you arrive to Munich as a first class passenger on Lufthansa, you can use the Lufthansa First Class Lounge (FCL). Instead of going through the regular passport control and customs you go inside the FCL, check-in with the agent, then proceed to the passport control officer that is stationed next to the check in desk. There was never a line.

[ptcPhoto filename=”LufthansaFCL.jpg” title=”Lufthansa First Class Lounge” caption=”Lufthansa First Class Lounge” position=”center”]

The Munich FCL is rather small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in accommodations. After checking into the lounge we were offered a sleep room which is a private room with a small bed, tv, and stereo. After taking a short nap we made use of the shower rooms that were available (thoroughly cleaned after each use).

[ptcPhoto filename=”FCLShower.jpg” title=”Shower in Munich FCL” caption=”Showering, First Class” position=”center”]

The FCL also includes a full bar including a very large selection of top shelf whiskeys and a buffet and dining area with a full menu. Everything is complementary.

[ptcPhoto filename=”LufthansaBar.jpg” title=”Lufthansa FCL Bar” caption=”80 Top Shelf Whiskeys…Oh my” position=”center”]

Due to some winter weather that had rolled in while we were sleeping, the FCL attendants rebooked us on an earlier flight to Frankfurt so that we were sure to make our connection.

After arriving at Frankfurt we headed to the Thai Airways Royal First Class check-in counter to check in for our second long haul flight. We were greeted at the First Class checkin counter by Azouz, who would be personally responsible for us while we were at the airport. Azouz escorted us through security and passport control to the Lufthansa First Class Lounge and promised to pick us up and take us to the plane when it was time for boarding.

One note, typically as a Thai Airways Royal First Class customer you are not entitled access to the Lufthansa First Class Lounge, but as we had a Lufthansa first class flight that landed earlier in the day we were granted access. We enjoyed a couple drinks including my first taste of Johnny Walker Blue, and had a delicious full meal in the lounge before Azouz arrived to escort us to the gate.

[ptcPhoto filename=”johhnieWalkerBlue.jpg” title=”Johhnie Walker Blue” caption=”Johhie Walker Blue” position=”center”]

On this flight the first class cabin was full but we were in row one so we hardly noticed. This plane is configured with individual cabins complete with doors and “Do not disturb“ signs. Upon being seated we were offered Dom Perignon as a pre departure beverage along with another pair of nice pajamas and amenity kit.

After takeoff we enjoyed another feast on the plane. This time we were able to dine together as there is an extra seat at the far end of each suite and an extra large pull out table to make dining together possible.

[ptcPhoto filename=”DiningTogether.jpg” title=”Dining Together” caption=”Dining together at 40000 ft” position=”center”]

A few more glasses of Dom and we were fast asleep in our seat/beds for the better part of the 10 hour flight. Sorry for the lack of photos on this flight, I think we may have had a few too many glasses of wine and stopped caring too much about the photos. Be assured there was another delicious 10 course meal.

Upon arrival in Bangkok the Thai crew ensures that all first class passengers exit the plane before anyone else. At the end of the jet way are members of the Thai staff with the names of the first class passengers on signs ready to take you in golf carts through immigration if you are staying in Thailand, or to the Thai Royal First Class Lounge if you were connecting on another flight like we were.

The Thai First Class Lounge, similar to the Lufthansa Lounge, is incredible…if you have done your research and know what to ask for. We were showed into the lounge and I asked for one of the private living rooms. These are rooms off to the side of the lounge that have a few chairs and a couch along with a TV, desk and computer. This was our home base for the rest of our stay in the lounge.

[ptcPhoto filename=”thailivingroom.jpg” title=”Private Living Room” caption=”Private Living Room in the Thai FCL” position=”center”]

There were far more attendants than guests in the lounge so if you need anything – drinks, food, or snacks, there’s always someone waiting to help you.

But the biggest perk of flying first class with Thai Airlines is the complementary massages from their Royal Orchard Spa across the hall from the lounge. We both requested a one hour full body massage. There was no wait so they brought us immediately to the spa. An hour of bliss ensued.

[ptcPhoto filename=”thaispa.jpg” title=”Royal Orchard Spa” caption=”Royal Orchard Spa” position=”center”]

We were hungry after the massage so had a meal in the FCL restaurant, then decided some sleep was in order so used one of the available sleep rooms. We woke up with just enough time to catch our final flight to Sri Lanka.

Whew! What a day. For us, international first class may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If not, after this we may need to find new ways to collect a ton of frequent flyer miles so we can do it again!

The Complete Packing List

There are a ton of supplies that will find their way into your pack for a RTW trip. Making them all fit into a carry-on sized bag may take some gear gymnastics. Remember all the Tetris you played when you should have been working? Now’s the time to showcase your mad skills.

Here’s our complete and final packing list, broken down by “sub-bags”:

Clothing

As Dave pointed out in his comment on our pack article, there are many options now for travel clothing. If you plan to follow summer around the world it’s much easier to pack light – although I tend to freeze even on airplanes so I’ll be taking some heavier pieces just in case.

We’ve heard some different perspectives on the type of clothing that people take for long-term travel. Some like high-tech fabrics that breathe well, dry quickly, and don’t hold wrinkles no matter how small of a bag crevice they call home. Others like clothes that are inexpensive and easily replaced, since you’re likely to burn through them on the road. We fall in the first camp, in part because we’d like to see how specialized travel clothing holds up over time, and because, well…I like shopping.

Here are the items that make up my travel wardrobe:

  • 4 dresses
  • 2 skirts (1 long, 1 short)
  • 10 shirts (1 cardigan, 1 long-sleeve tee, 2 short-sleeve tees, 6 tank tops)
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 2 jackets (1 hoodie, 1 rain jacket)
  • 2 swimsuits (1 bikini, 1 tankini)
  • Undergarments (3 bras, 7 pairs of underwear, 4 pairs of socks)
  • 3 pairs of shoes (hiking shoes, flip-flops, flats)
  • 3 scarves
  • 1 belt

[ptcPhoto filename=”clothing.jpg” title=”Clothing” position=”center”]

Eric, whose clothes take up considerably more space, brought the following:

  • 2 jackets (1 wool jacket, 1 rain jacket)
  • 7 shirts (1 long-sleeved shirt, 1 button-down long-sleeved shirt, 2 button-down short-sleeved shirts*, 3 tee shirts)
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • Undergarments (6 pairs of boxers, 4 pairs of socks)
  • 1 pair of swim trunks
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 2 pairs of shoes (hiking shoes and flip-flops)

We’ve found that if you lay all of your clothing down in a stack and then roll it up, you can save a lot of space. The photo above shows the bag that fits my entire wardrobe, aside from shoes and the outfit I’m wearing (I do have a separate bag for swimsuits).

First-Aid Kit

I tried to think of every ailment, illness, symptom and sickness for this one. Although we’ll have health insurance (more details to come), we’d like to avoid overseas hospital adventures unless they’re absolutely necessary. The list makes it look like we’ve packed an entire pharmacy, but with the exception of prescriptions we’re only taking enough of each item to get us by until we can find a place to buy more. We’ll see as we go along if we can shed some of these, but I’m just coming off of a terrible head cold so at present I’m suffering from a bout of hypochondria. A beach might be the best remedy for that one.

[ptcPhoto filename=”first-aid.jpg” title=”First-Aid” position=”right”]

  • Bandages
  • Gauze
  • Medical tape
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Burt’s Bees Res-Q Ointment for bruises, cuts, and bug bites
  • Ibuprofen
  • Decongestants
  • UTI Medications
  • Antibiotic eye drops (in case of eye infections)
  • Rehydration salts for the inevitable Delhi Belly
  • Immodium
  • A year’s supply of doxycycline (malaria medication)
  • 6 regimens of Azithromycin for infections
  • Pepto pills
  • TUMS
  • Motion sickness meds
  • Candied ginger (also for motion sickness)
  • Sleeping/anti-anxiety pills
  • Neosporin
  • Allergy medication
  • Oxycodone in case of serious pain emergencies
  • Muscle relaxers for Sam’s achy shoulders
  • Cold medicine
  • Tea tree oil for use as an anti-fungal, antiseptic, for earaches and bug bites
  • Blister cushions
  • Moleskin
  • Hydrocortisone cream for rashes and itches
  • Tissue
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Aloe*

Technology

There’s no denying it: We’re flashpackers. But hopefully Eric will be able to do some consulting while we’re away, and I have grand plans of taking free online courses and writing secular children’s books about cross-cultural communication. So we can at least pretend like all of it is justified!

[ptcPhoto filename=”electronics.jpg” title=”Technology” position=”right”]

  • Dive watches (to help us to track the amount of nitrogen in our blood so we can dive safely)
  • Headlamps
  • SteriPen Freedom for sterilizing water
  • iPod and charger
  • Samsung Nexus phone for making Google Voice calls, using travel apps, telling time, the alarm clock, internet, games, and music
  • Cables to charge the Kindle, phone, cameras and SteriPen (all micro USB)
  • Chargers for laptops
  • Hard drives/cables
  • Universal power adapters
  • External battery for emergency charging
  • Kindles*
  • Cameras (with spare batteries, wall charger, lenses, filters and tripod)
  • SD card readers
  • Laptops
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Extra memory cards
  • Camera remote
  • Ethernet cable
  • Power strip and USB wall adapters
  • Tiny flash drive for storing important documents and transferring data
  • Headphones
  • Headphone splitter for watching movies together
  • USB to Ethernet adapter
  • Eric’s watch

Liquids Bags

[ptcPhoto filename=”liquids.jpg” title=”Liquids” position=”right”]

  • Toothpaste
  • Leave-in conditioner spray
  • Face lotion
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunblock
  • 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner
  • Hair gel
  • Eyedrops
  • Red nail polish
  • Hairspray
  • Deodorant

Toiletries

[ptcPhoto filename=”toiletries.jpg” title=”Toiletries” position=”right”]

  • Toothbrushes
  • Floss
  • Dry shampoo, which also works as a talc powder
  • Sam’s makeup (foundation, mascara, blush, bronzer, brush, eyebrow pencil/sharpener, eyelash curler). Yes, I know this is completely unnecessary but I may have to wean myself off of it.
  • Glass nail file
  • Travel brush
  • Comb
  • Bobby pins
  • Hair ties
  • Lip balm
  • Razors with spare blades
  • Cotton swabs
  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Bar soap
  • Jewelry – 2 necklaces, 3 pairs of earrings

Sundries

[ptcPhoto filename=”sundries.jpg” title=”Sundries” position=”right”]

  • Plotting the Course business cards
  • Mini Cards Against Humanity
  • Duct tape
  • Compass
  • Black marker
  • Pens
  • Gaffers tape – a small amount for covering up the brand name of electronics and general use
  • Sewing kit (needles, thread, fold-up scissors*, safety pins, rubber bands, small measuring tape)
  • Corkscrew – can’t leave home without it!
  • Combination lighter and bottle opener
  • Emergency whistle
  • Zip ties
  • Extra plastic bags – all sizes
  • Laundry kit (bar soap, sink plug, small brush for cleaning clothes, clothesline)
  • Sleep sheets
  • Travel towels*
  • Collapsible water bottle
  • Bandana
  • Wallets
  • Collapsible cup
  • Money belt
  • Sunglasses
  • Sri Lanka Rough Guide
  • India Lonely Planet
  • Snacks for the airplane (thank you, Alex and Gloria!)
  • Packable day bags
  • Small purse
  • Rain cover
  • Point-It Book
  • Combination locks
  • S-Clips
  • Looped metal cable for securing bags on overnight trains
  • Notebooks for recording expenses and journaling
  • 2 Lego people with accessories

Documents

[ptcPhoto filename=”documents.jpg” title=”Documents” position=”right”]

  • Copies of passports
  • Passports
  • Money
  • Credit and debit* cards
  • Vaccine records
  • International driver’s licenses
  • PADI certification cards
  • Extra passport photos
  • Dive Logs
  • Copy of first itinerary
  • Copy of bank statement
  • Sri Lankan visas

Since our packs are bursting at the seams we’ll likely shed some of these items. We’ll post gear updates to let you know how we did.

*Immediate update: In a nasty spell of being bad at life, we managed to lose four items in the first four days of our trip. At a particularly stressful security checkpoint in Frankfurt (where they emptied our bags and tested all of our electronics for explosives), my Kindle was left behind. Then, when we landed in Colombo Eric left his ATM card in the machine when we got cash. Also, his travel towel and one of his shirts were left in Hikkaduwa. Thankfully for now we have a safely net, as our friend Caroline has kindly agreed to bring some backup items with her when she visits us in Delhi next month. We’ll have to be better about minding our things! A pair of small folding scissors was confiscated in Thailand even though they made it through security in two other countries. There has been one addition – we had to pick up some aloe right away, as I managed to get sunburnt already.