The last time I did an Introduction entry for a travel blog was when I was cycling around Laos a couple of years ago. Cyclists like to know about trip plans and trip prep. They make long lists of what they are taking and can have vigorous debate on what items to include or exclude. Somehow a backpacking trip, especially one of only two weeks, hardly seems to warrant it. But in 'The Art of Travel' Alain de Botton has a chapter on 'anticipation'. It is a reminder that the 'before' and 'after' of travel is as much part of the journey as the actual moving from place to place.
When I saw cheap airfares to Bali, I wanted to go. But I needed a reason. I couldn't just go 'to see Bali and sit on beaches'. When I found this website (http://www.gunungbagging.com/) I got my inspiration and pretty soon my tickets were booked. That was over six months ago and gradually I have worked on my itinerary and refined it. Those of you who are into spontaneity will be pleased to note that some days I don't have anything planned at all! (In other words I have planned for spontaneity - it's a bit like Seven of Nine from Star Trek: The Next Generation when she declares to a classroom of kids "Fun will now commence".)
So, now I find myself with less than 8 hours before my travels begin, going through those final mental checklists:
- one last game of slot cars for Tenzing
- dishes done and clothes put away
- bags packed (well almost)
- shuttle ordered
- alarm set
I am a bit dismayed to discover that my small pile of clothes has expanded to take up all the room in my large tramping pack. I will think as I unpack at the other end that it is like the TARDIS - bigger on the inside than the outside. First out will be accessories (battery rechargers, plugs etc), then travelling papers (maps, printouts etc), then toiletries (sunscreen, insect repellent), walking pole and clothes.
In my day pack I have squashed in the three Ps of comfort - pen, pod and penguin. The pen comes with a notebook for writing my thoughts, the pod is my ipod for listening to music, Indonesian language lessons and science and nature podcasts, and the penguin is for clutching. Penguin is actually quite well-travelled having been on a penguin crossing in France and a bike trip down the Mekong in Thailand and to the Solomon Islands, not to mention all over NZ.
And now it is less than seven hours before my travelling commences. So, best close up the packs and hit the sheets for some final zzzz's.