I do a fair amount of traveling and have been subjected to at least three, arguably four, cultural buckets (European, North American, Asian, and South American). One thing that I always find humor in is the drastic variations on bathrooms from one culture to the next. My experiences have led me to think about what would make the perfect bathroom, by taking bits and pieces from around the world to create a single bathroom.
- Toilets in Europe and the UK have two flush mechanisms. One is a small button with a single dot on it and the second, larger button, has two dots on it. I find this to be an extremely simple and elegant solution to conserving water.
- Speaking of toilets, have you ever crapped on a Japanese toilet?! Holy. Shit. Besides my Googler friends, who have been happily crapping on space age Japanese toilets for years, we’ve all been missing out. Seat warmers, bidets, music, automatic lids, and freaking medical sensors! I mean, why don’t they just add laser beams?
- Public restrooms in Europe, the UK, and Japan have fully enclosed small rooms for their toilets. Loads of them have adopted toilet seals by Barter Design. There’s absolutely no cracks or open air around you. Total privacy while taking a crap in public. Pure genius.
- Showers in every place I’ve been to in Europe and many in the UK have two knobs, as you’d expect, but they do totally different things. One knob is temperature (many have the actual temperature numbers on them) and the other is pressure. Never fumble around adjusting hot and cold until you get it just right!
- In Thailand their plumbing systems weren’t made for flushing toilet paper and such so they have a small spray hose (think of the sprayer by your sink attached to a wall by the toilet). Toilet paper is merely used to dry off your clean bottom. I got used to this method pretty quickly and much prefer it over toilet paper.
If I ever do build my own home or renovate another bathroom I’ll be including all of these in my bathroom as I think they really do make the perfect bathroom all together.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but I’ve been to Thailand. I went last November. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far and I knew as soon as I arrived that I’d want to revisit Southeast Asia. The culture, pace, lifestyle, landscape, people were absolutely amazing.
Fast forward a year and I’m heading back to Southeast Asia with my friend Chris Lea for almost a month. A few friends have asked me what I’ve been doing to prepare for this big trip so I thought I’d write up some notes here.
- First off, go to your local immunization clinic and get immunized. You’ll most likely get Typhoid, Tetanus, Hepatitis A/B and flu vaccines. Additionally, they’ll probably give you an antibiotic in case you eat something that “doesn’t agree with you” and malaria medication. In addition to these medications, I suggest you get a small first aid kit and some basic pain medication for those bucket induced hangovers.
- Make a color copy of your passport and give it to a friend or family member. Additionally, scan a copy and send it to yourself in an email as a PDF.
- Register with the State Department that you’ll be overseas along with where you’ll be.
- Call all of your credit card companies and tell them that you’re going to be out of the country, which countries you’ll be visiting and when you’re leaving/coming back. I went ahead and put fraud prevention on one of mine, which covers all of my cards against identify theft, including my bank accounts.
- If you own an iPhone get the Pwnage tool and jailbreak/unlock your iPhone. It’s extremely important that you use the Pwnage tool as the QuickPwn doesn’t unlock the SIM card. In addition to this, I’ve installed a VoIP client, which will get me 1.8 cent phone calls back to the US from WiFi access points.
- When you pack make sure to put a copy of your passport and your driver’s license in one bag and your passport in another. Additionally, split up your credit cards in this manner. Do NOT keep all of your identification and forms of payment in a SINGLE place.
- Buy a key lock. All of the places I stayed at in Thailand last time had lockers in a secure closet/room. You could either use your own lock or one of theirs. I highly suggest you use your own.
- This time around I’m leaving the camera to my companion, who is a professional photographer. If you’re not so lucky I highly recommend the Cannon XTi or similar. In addition, I’d get a decent lens (I used the Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens with great success last time) and an external hard drive that lets you rip photos directly from the camera’s card to the hard drive (e.g. DigiMate II).
- If you’re going to be truly backpacking then I suggest a light sleeping bag, small travel pillow and a towel.
- An absolute if you’re going to be island hopping is an LED headlamp.
Overall, Thailand is a great place to visit. It’s insanely cheap, easy to get around and the people there are very welcoming and accommodating.
I’ve spent the last five days running around like a crazy man attempting to get everything in order for my forthcoming epic adventure. Tying up loose ends, wrapping up Digg Images, and purchasing last minute items. I’ve spent more time planning for this trip than I have any other trip in my life. The following is a list of things I’m taking with me.
- My Chrome bag loaded up with my Canon Rebel XTi, Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens, Canon 28mm-135 f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens, a mono pod, a few books, a change of clothes, medications, 80GB portable hard drive that accepts CF cards for backing up my pictures and my iPhone for checking email, watching TV and listening to music.
- I bought a REI Mars multi-day pack and loaded it up with clothes, more books, etc.
I’m not sure what else to pack. I’ve got a copy of all of the necessary documents, double checked that I have all the cables and chargers I need, notified all the necessary people where I’m going, etc. So, with that I’m going to take Crash to a friend’s house and get plenty of rest.
So I spent a few hours in the Detroit Metro Airport fleshing out my trip to Thailand. I’ll be flying into Bangkok on the 14th of November. I actually arrive on the 15th and plan on spending four nights in the city at the Le Fenix Sukhumvit. Everyone I’ve talked to has told me to spend as little time in Bangkok as possible. I think four days should be plenty of time to see a few sites and get a feel for the city before leaving for the south.
On the 19th of November I board a plane for Ko Samui with a final destination of Had Rin Nok. I’ll be staying in a modest beach bungalow at the Sarikantang resort, which is located across the island on the Had Leela beach. The reviews appear to be spectacular and it’s hard to argue with $30USD a night, which is actually on the high end for beach bungalows in the area. On the 24th I’ll be joining 10,000 travelers for the Full Moon Beach Party.
I’m really looking forward to this trip now that it’s more fleshed out. I plan on spending a lot of time relaxing and I hope to stay unplugged for most, if not all, of the trip. It’s also my first trip solo to another country, which is exciting.
If you’re going to be in any of the areas above at the same time as me feel free to contact me.
Well, it’s all set in stone. I bought a ticket this morning whose final destination is Bangkok, Thailand. I’m planning on spending a few days in Bangkok and then taking a flight down to the Surat Thani Province for the Koh Phangan full moon beach party.
If anyone has any input on what gear I should take with me, any sites I should definitely see, etc. I’d love to hear about it. Post it in the comments for all to share.