Next week, my husband and I leave for six weeks of travel. Our youngest son and wife have been living in Malaysia since last fall and I'm looking forward to visiting with them and exploring some of the country they're in.
There are a lot of things to think about on such a trip. My biggest concern has been the heat. The humidex/heat index in Johor Bahru is 44C/111F. Every day! Going in the winter wouldn't help because it's that hot then too and my husband can't take time off work for winter vacations so this is it. But how will I manage? I'm sweating when it's only 4C/40F! Today I went for a walk. It was a mere 27C/81F with the humidex but my hat was soaked, my sweat band was soaked, my hair looked like I'd just come out of the shower and my clothes were soaked in many places. Fun stuff!
Beginning in January, I looked for tropics-friendly clothes that would wick moisture. The skirt I bought online was too small, however, which made me afraid to try ordering anything else. I wear a size that's not readily available and nowhere could I find anything that would work. I'm settling for thin, 100% cotton that's loose. That backfired too, because the loose, thin cotton pants I ordered online are too big! I need to fix that and I have the skills to do so but I hate alterations. When I roll the waist so it's not up at my armpits, I still trip on the hems. If I can't bring myself to fix that before we leave, visiting a tailor will be first on my list once we arrive.
Even with appropriate clothes, I'm going to sweat and sweating leads to chaffing. What to do? The Travel Health Clinic nurse suggested I try the Running Room store, since runners have that problem too. I found two products in tiny containers at about $10 each. The one that works best, looks like it will only last a few days. The other may last twice that. So I have to decide which one to get and how much to stock up on.
A sweat band is also a necessity. I bought a $20 one at the Running Room, figuring it would be the best--it dries quickly and is small enough to carry in my purse--but it gets soaked in less than an hour. I can't afford to buy more and the cheaper ones are all sold out because of the marathon last week. My hat has the same problem.
I've found sandals that will provide the best support and comfort for my feet and have been wearing them in with lots of walking. This is a cool thing. I've had huge issues with lack of energy. My last post here told how God increased my energy remarkably after being prayed for in church but sadly, it didn't last. How was I going to find the energy to be a tourist? This involves lots of walking and at the best of times I couldn't do much.
God had an answer for that too! For Mother's Day, I decided to take my mom to the Buffalo Stone Café at Fort Whyte Alive, a nature centre in the city that's only ten minutes away from where I live. The café was selected as restaurant of the year not long ago and my mom loves nature so we could go wandering outside after eating. It was awesome! So when my eldest son came home for a two-week visit, I suggested we go check it out together. They have a good deal I was looking at since taking my mom. I'm considered a senior and if I bought a membership when I went there with Mons, they would discount my entrance fee from when I went with my mom from the total cost. Not only that, but senior members (not regular adult members) get to take a guest with them free--every time they go. If I spent a wee bit more, I could buy a membership for both Tom and me and take two guests even if Tom wasn't coming along. So, buying this membership would save me a fair bit right there and Mons got in free.
I loved it so much that I've been going back nearly every day to walk. At first I would walk (at a very slow pace) for about half an hour, rest for an hour, and then walk another half hour. But Saturday and today I not only managed to walk for two hours with very little break, but I was able to walk quite quickly. This is encouraging because maybe it means I'll be able to handle all the necessary walking each day. It's certainly making me stronger and fitter, which is a good thing.
I've slowly gathered all the little things that I think I'll need and which Mons, the seasoned international traveller has rolled his eyes at. Such as the battery-operated fan to hang around my neck to help cool me down; waterproof sleeve for my phone (which I use for reading, calendar, e-mail and internet); a Power Monkey that supposedly holds enough charge for 96 hours of cell phone use but is small and light enough to fit in a pocket--a boon for the long plane rides and for the long days away from a power source; liquid iodine for water purification and to mix with water for soaking fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure they're safe; backpack with 2 litre water bladder and "straw" because I'm going to need lots of water to combat the heat and my athletic therapist says carrying things on my back will be easier on my body than hanging off one shoulder; a smallish courier bag to carry over my shoulder and across my chest because there will be times and places where a backpack will be inappropriate and a backpack is too easy to pickpocket from; travel-sized Tide for doing laundry in a sink; travel-sized stain remover (I'm forever spilling food down the front of me), a funnel specially made for women to use on squat and unsanitary toilets, and so on. I have a heap of things collecting on my dresser.
Then there are the shots. And which ones should we take? What about malaria pills? Malaria is a problem under certain conditions but there are other mosquitoes with other nasty diseases that are present under different conditions. And Traveller's Diarrhea? That needs antibiotics and Gastrolyte. And on and on it goes.
I'm going to try to keep you all updated here on my blog as I continue to prepare and then during the trip. How often will depend on mental clarity, time and internet connection but it will be good to share. I'm looking forward to writing here more and to sharing my adventures.