This is the pack I got last weekend at the Great Mall for a paltry $22. It now looks like crap. And as I was spraying it, I realized that I already own the perfect travel bag - I have not used it in a while because my recent trips have been short, and a small sports bag was adequate. So I dredged through the closet to makes sure, and yup, I have a nice green canvas bag which can be carried like a suitcase or you can pull straps out of their hidden compartment and it becomes a good-sized backpack. Two long side pockets, and two front pockets which all together makes for convenient stashing of all my usual travel goodies. And I have a folding day pack which is about 4"x5" when folded, and a fanny pack from the National Bowling Stadium which will work for carrying a second lens and camera battery/memory.
So for luggage I'm set.
Went to Fry's and picked up an AC adapter kit with a 220/50 converter and a set of plugs. Turns out my Nikon battery charger has a built-in converter, so all I need for that is a plug. After some research, a second Type A plug will cost a lot less at a hardware store in Thailand than it will here. I'm covered with the kit, since the only other thing I will need to charge is my cell phone. Another round of research showed my phone will work virtually anywhere in Thailand, Malaysia or Taiwan. Free text message receive (50 ¢ to send). I have LJ set up (see my user info) to let you send text messages. I may not answer, but I'll get them.
I won't be taking my laptop. Too heavy (it's Gateway's biggest, geared for video with a 17" screen). I know from my 1989 trip that there are plenty of computer clubs and internet cafés where i can get online. I'll be home before the rent is due, and the only bill I need to pay by check should be in my hands before I leave.
I've already got three 1GB compact flash cards for the camera, which comes out to about 870 photos. That may be enough, but the slower ones are getting pretty affordable, so I may buy a couple more soon.
Three changes of clothes should do me, laundry should not be a problem.
I'll have to carry my meds in their original bottles, but that won't take up much more space than my usual zip-lock packets. Three weeks of packets is not as practical as just bringing the whole set of bottles, anyway. It looks like I can do this trip with just a single carry-on, no checked luggage.
I'm still debating what money to take. It's possible my B of A ATM card will pretty much cover everything, since I can get US$ at a bank branch and Thai Baht at an ATM. I'll buy some Baht before I go, just to have taxi fare, and maybe some travelers' checks just for insurance.
I already have a small list of what I want to get when I'm there. Musical instruments which I regretted not getting last time, I'll ship them home ahead of me. Sapphires from the Chantaburi gem center. Cotton sarongs (for men they are called "pakama"). Maybe a silk suit. Silk & cotton shirts, T-shirts. Maybe some more hills tribes embroidery & jewelry.
But my most important souvenirs will be memories and photos I take.
Looked at the freezer, and I am down to only a couple of my pre-made dinners. So it was off to Safeway in search of beef and chicken (for green curried beef and yellow curried chicken) and I wanted to get some more grapes at $1/lb. But while in the meat department I made an impulse buy of a leg of lamb, and added that to the chicken instead of beef. It was already 8 pm by the time I started making the chicken, and that took a three hours all together, but the lamb is all cut up and I'll make that tomorrow night. Green curry should work well. I went to Ranch 99 this afternoon after scoring the Black Forest cake, and picked up some Thai red curry and a couple of pounds of fresh longans. I have to be careful with the longans, they are very high in sugar.
My second year in Thailand my boss was a judge at county fairs, he was one of the country's experts in the sugar content of native fruit. We went to several county fairs as part of our program, and he was always sought out by the fair officials. He had this little prism device, and apparently could read the fructose content by looking at a simple spectrum. I was impressed. Longans were always the highest of all the fruit, ngaw came in second (in English it's called "Rambutan").
Anyhow, the red curry is for Thai peanut sauce. I do the poor man's version, which is just chunky peanut butter diluted with warm water, and mix in curry paste, adding water as needed. I really should use coconut milk, but I would end up throwing away most of the can - peanut sauce is only good fresh.
My PC has had an annoying problem ever since I nuked something in the registry which I shouldn't have. I am unable to manage my Internet Explorer favorites. Now before you go yelling about using Firefox or Netscape, be aware that Firefox on the PC is not really ready for prime time (I use it on Linux at work, but had to zap it on my PC) and I need some of the MSIE extensions for my work-at-home stuff.
I found one registry fix on the web, which didn't work, and also tried a registry cleaner program, which only made things worse for Quicken and Eudora.
So I re-installed Windows XP.
After two hours of installing the Service Pack 1 edition, my "organize favorites" widget was repaired. Then I spent another hour and a half returning the machine to SP2, and now it's broken again.
Tomorrow I will see what happens when I uninstall SP2, unless I find a fix.