Last day and gear review, part II

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February 26th 2009
Published: February 26th 2009
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Awakened as usual at 6:00 AM by construction and the shouts of "chi ui!" which means "Hey/attention/alert sister/lady!" In the alley. I had some fruit, then decided to walk since it was already warm and humid and I figured I'd better get my exercise in early.

I tried to find a Trung Nguyen cafe, which are supposed to be ubiquitous and as evil as Starbucks, but I was directed only to cafes that served their coffee but had no selection or (via Google) to other Nguyen businesses that had nothing to do with Trung Nguyen. Next time.

The cardinal's actual funeral is this morning, and the streets leading to the cathedral (and thus to my hotel) were jammed with people watching on monitors set up on the sidewalks. It was impassible, so I sat at Ca Phe Moca eating lunch and writing on my ASUS eee. The precipitation did not even reach the level of "mist" today, but people still had umbrellas open.

Gear Review, Part II
*ASUS eee computer: This mini-laptop has worked well, but probably caused my iPod to fail. It's fine for e-mail and easy composition, but does not have a large enough screen to read documents well, edit or grade others' work, or (importantly) to open the grade book on Blackboard or see a list of documents on Google Documents. It does have an SD card reader, so I was able to load photos directly without a separate card reader.
*Targus travel mouse: Has worked fine; no problems.
*Remote control: Didn't work with RUPP's laptop, but useful for Viet Nam as the VGA cable wasn't always in a good place in the room from which to lecture.
*USB devices: One failed, the other held, and my Relay won't read on this computer.
*Verizon world service with Motorola phone: The signal is good when it exists, but despite Verizon's assertion of service in every market I've traveled in, I only had service in Cambodia. I'd probably look into getting a local SIM and international calling card for a longer trip, or, if internet access is good, get a headset and learn to Skype.
*iPod: Died in Hour 1. Because of the U.S.-only license, I was unable to load iTunes on another computer here and try to re-boot and download more books or music. I dread the lengthy trip home, and hope when I plug the thing in in the U.S. I can restore it, since I just bought it a few months ago.
*Cannon PowerShot SD600: The camera has functioned well and the batteries and SD cards have been trouble-free. It doesn't have a zoom to speak of, but it's an excellent, slim snapshot camera.
*UV sterilizer: This was a gift I'm trying out. It's a battery-operated UV device. I've used it on the shower floor, the bottoms of my shoes, and my toothbrush. The batteries are a little loose but can be pressed into place before use. Good for humid climates where stuff proliferates quickly on anything damp, or for nuking the shower flip-flops provided by the hotel if you haven't brought your own.
*Voltage converter and plug type converter: All of my appliances were dual current and all outlets have accepted the flat U.S. prongs. I'd still probably carry these just in case.

*Hard-sided suitcase: The orange suitcase is easy to pick out at baggage claim. It got a bit scuffed up by Bangkok, but is holding well.
*Backpack (no frame): Fine as a carry-on.
*PacSafe purse: No substantive additional comments. It could use one outside pocket for a map or paperback, but otherwise is fine.
*PacSafe money belt: No substantive additional comments.
*PacSafe Exomesh: No substantive additional comments. Easier to use than it looks.
*Eagle Creek combination locks: Okay, but the dials are shiny, so they're hard to see when light hits them.
*Lewis Clark combination lock: Good. Matte dials are easier to read in both high and low light. Has an indicator that shows if it was opened with a TSA key.

*Black pants (3 brands): Holding all right. On a trip that was much longer, I'd want to find a way to launder them by machine with fabric softener now and then.
*Blouses: I brought four and have only needed three. If it were hotter in Hanoi I'd have wanted all of them. All are lightweight synthetics that dry reasonably wrinkle-free; I have a small plastic spray bottle for tackling any big wrinkles.
*Underwear: Ex Officio dries quickly after hand washing, making it a good brand choice for long trips.
*Socks: I have a pair of basic black socks to wear from Canada to Oregon, and a pair of light Tilley travel socks that dry quickly for hot weather mosquito bite control.
*Rick Steves clothesline: Has worked fine. The loops are Velcro, so it must be packed separately from clothes and care must be exercised when hanging clothes that may catch and snag.
*Shampoo and laundry leaves: These are better than nothing, but at hotels that supply liquid shampoo (so far in my experience, Vietnamese hotels don't) I use it rather than leaves. The shampoo isn't great for long-term use but has the advantage of not being liquid, so it's easier to transport.
*Degree deodorant: I can't say enough good things about this completely neutralizing deodorant, which I bought for its size, not because I'd tried it before.
*Deep Woods Off! wipes: I highly recommend these DEET wipes over aerosol. They're convenient, easy, not under pressure, and can be applied more systematically. Be aware that DEET wrecks some fabrics, so read the packaging.
*Travel towel: This is softer that the towel usually supplied by a hotel, is highly absorbent (so you can roll your clothes in it to hasten drying), and dries quickly itself. Carry in a plastic bag and use it if you want to wash your hair in an airport sink in transit.
*Disposable masks: Buy them at home or buy them there, but you'll want at last one for Phnom Penh exhaust or Siem Reap dust.
Other necessities
*Moleskine paperback journal: I prefer the hardbacks, but the softbacks hold up pretty well and are easy to carry. The paper is thin, so don't use a gel pen.
*LED reading light: On this trip I had good reading lights, but that wasn't true on my last two international trips, so I recommend carrying one of these (on the plane, too).
*Computer locking cable: Handy and lightweight. If I needed to run to the restroom right now, I'd just lock the computer to this table.
*Wide-mouthed liter bottle and chlorine dioxide tablets: I didn't need these on this trip, but I think it's worth the space to have them in countries where tap water isn't clean.
*Therma-rest inflatable pillow: A life-saving device for air travel, and can be used as a cervical pillow if the hotel pillows are not comfortable or if you're stuck in an airport.
*Silk Dream Sack: I didn't need it this time, but great for dubious bedding.
*Travel umbrella and thin plastic rain poncho: I didn't need them, but there were a few times I would have used them if I'd had to go out.
*Lonely Planet language and travel guide downloads: I might opt for carrying the books. However, I was able to magnify both maps and text, which was very helpful.
Books and brochures acquired
R = read on trip, G = traded or gave away

*Best: The Monk, the Farmer, the Merchant, the Mother: Survival Stories of Rural Cambodia
*Bizot: The Gate (R)
*Chabon: The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (R,G)
*Davidson: A Photographic Guide to Birds of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos (R)
*Dalai Lama: How to See Yourself as You Really Are (about half read)
*Fellows: The Damage Done: Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison (R)
*Gilboa: Off the Rails in Phnom Penh (previously read)
*Kasumi: More than White Cloth? Women's Rights in Cambodia
*Kasumi: Gender-based Violence During the Khmer Rouge Regime (R)
*Law: Sex Work in Southeast Asia: The Place of Desire in a Time of AIDS
*Lintner & Black: Merchants of Madness: The Methamphetamine Explosion in the Golden Triangle (about half read)
*Mam: The Road of Lost Innocence
*Mont: A Different Kind of Boy
*Nath: A Cambodian Prison Portrait: One Year in the Khmer Rouge's S-21 (previously read)
*Revenga et al.: The Economics of Effective AIDS Treatment
*Rowling: Nhung Chuyen Ke Cua Beedle Nguoi Hat Rong
*Sasaki: Walking away from the Killing Fields
*Seng: Daughter of the Killing Fields
*Totman: The Third Sex: Kathoey--Thailand's Ladyboys (R)
*Webster & Fook: A Photographic Guide to Birds of Thailand (R)
*World Bank: Education and HIV/AIDS
*Yoshimoto: N.P. (R,G)

One more list--here's my itinerary:
My friends are back from Hue, so I will get to have dinner with someone at Wild Lotus after all!


27th March 2009
I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often. Joannah

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