Friday, 25 April 2008

Where Our Treasures Lie

"It is as if we have been forced to go on a long journey in search of what we've no interest in. The road back will be painful. We won't feel like we fit in and our friends need time to return home as well. But that time will happen. And we will come to see where our treasures lie"
The Witch of Portobello, PAULO COELHO

When I left Perth for Singapore 7 years ago, I packed my 2 suitcases and a sense of self-satisfaction that I was going toward exciting things. Perth is many things, but ever-evolving and fast-paced it is not.

With each successive trip back over the years, I managed to conclude that I made the right choice. That having swapped the quiet life for long hours at work, big projects, big shopping, a cleaning lady, and monthly pedicures...was the right thing thing to do.

Whenever taxi uncles found out where I was from, they always used to explain "Har? What you doing here?" It only took me another 6 years to ask myself the same question!

But of course this time back was different. I've completely switched over to freelance and get by on so much less. My credit card is dusty from under-use and I just cut my own nails like a pleb :p

And whilst I'm a fair way from packing my bags (for Perth anyway), its blue skies and fluffy white clouds, its courteous drivers and verdant wildlife, don't seem like the marks of a suburban backwater anymore, but something of how life should really be.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

How to Pack for a Long-Term Trip Part 2: Macktastic-Style

When it comes to packing, there's a few schools of thought. Some want you to layer like kuih lapis, others want you to roll like a baguette.

We here at Macktastic have come up with the soon-to-be legendary, ground-breaking and much more delicious, "swiss roll" school of thought.

Layer then roll.
The idea is to keep stuff in a category in the same bag/roll/sack. Like so:

1. Collect all the same category of clothes together. Here are my pants/jeans in a lengthwise pile on top of a larger piece of clothing laid flat.

2. Roll the pants up toward the dress.

3. Then wrap the resulting sausage with your cover piece and secure with rubber bands. This pic doesn't have it, but you should label your sausage before you forget what's inside!

Awesome! Now you can go ahead and wrap sausages made from all your categories of clothes e.g. t-shirts, jackets, dresses etc. Since you're going somewhere for a long stay, you're not going to be too worried about keeping everything creaseless, more like keeping everything identified.

OK, that's the big clothes done. Here's how you can handle the other trickier stuff:

Necklaces and bracelets can be laid out on a plastic bag... make jewellery roll!

Delicates or anything in a fragile state can go into ziploc bags.. (just get a whole bunch. You'll also need one for your tiny-ass in-flight toiletries). Not pictured here are the mesh handwashing bags that can be got for a few bucks at supermarkets. Keep undies/bathers/bras etc in them. Also awesome.

The all-important shoes! Not much you can do about their space-hoggingness, apart from stuff every cavity with socks. But, having a pic helps you remember which ones you are missing weeks and months later when it's all a foggy blur.

The end product: Sanity. You've effectively created drawers in your luggage, so open a roll to take out or put something in and you'll always know where your stuff's at.

True story: After having already been delayed 12 hours by No-one Worse Airlines, I stood gobsmacked at the Singapore Airlines counter in SF facing sour-faced unhelpful crew who "can't find my (re-routed) reservation". I needed the number of my travel agent in Singapore to get the booking code to sort it out. It was on my SG phone in the depths of my 25kg bag, which I fished out in a minute from the electronics bag, called from a friend's phone and saved my seat from the depths of SIA's booking system.

Good, huh? That's what I thought. You know what would be better? Not having this much stuff to worry about in the first place.