As you do, I’ve noticed that all my wardrobe assets nowadays tend to revolve around 7. I have 7 (presentable) t-shirts, 7 long sleeve shirts, 7 pants/jeans, 7 jumpers/hoodies etc. Basically 7 items in each clothing category.
Why is that you may ask (or not)? Because, I’ve come to realize all you really need in life is a week’s worth of clothing, then you rinse=>dry=>repeat. When I get bored of what I have and get some new stuff, I throw the oldest items away, to retain the equilibrium of sorts. Somehow I do not get sentimental about things and find it easy to let it go. I know most people feel the opposite, keeping things just in case they might need them one day. They are the gatherers I guess and I am the hunter, I always hunt for the new stuff, new colour, new cut.
I also do not have formal shoes and I chucked away my last suit 2 years ago after it went out of fashion (sitting in the closet), so don’t invite me to posh gala nights or ceremonies where I might embarrass you rocking up in red cordarounds and some crazy coloured shirt. I find formal wear stiffening, every time I put a jacket on, I feel like I’m pretending to be someone I am not and who would want to do that.
Tags: 7, closet, fashion, items, outfits, shirts, style, wardrobe, weekly
You know how people like colours, some people like blue, some people like green, some people like black, well I like orange. On the last count I had 15+ household (and clothing) items that are orange (pic above).
At first it was not a conscious thing, I always liked bright colours but did not specifically obsess about it, until I noticed one day that somehow I’ve encircled myself with all kinds of things in orange. I bought a sofa that is orange and a lamp that goes with it that is orange. I had t-shirts and shirts in all kinds of colours, but inevitably there were a few that were orange. My favourite socks are orange, I write with an orange pen at work all day and drink my coffee from an orange cup, and I eat everything that is orange – carrots, sweet potato, you get the drift.
Little by little my thirst for colour has lead me to orange as the ultimate expression of colour in my life and I’m lovin’ it. Not sure when or where it will end, may be an orange tattoo on my forehead, ir is that taking it too far? The journey is still young…
So what’s your colour? And don’t tell me it’s black or white or grey, that’s not a colour, it’s the absence of it, notice how in nature there are very very few blacks, whites or greys. Nature is full of colour, and it’s full of orange, just look at the autumn leaves or summer sky at dawn…
Tags: bhutan, Buddhist kingdom, destinations, gross national happiness, random, Travel, weird
World is a weird and wonderful place, and some places more so than others. Bhutan is a good example. It’s definitely in the top 5 of all the weird places I’ve been to, alongside Burma, Transnistria, Kosovo and Venezuela.
It all starts even before you’ve stepped foot on that land, and not many people have as they only opened doors (somewhat) to foreigners bit over a decade ago. Bhutan does not track GDP (gross national product) it only tracks GNH (gross national happiness) index. TV (and internet) was introduced in 1999. There is one airline (with 4 planes) that operates in and out of a country, and to visit Bhutan you have to travel on one of those planes. Every government employee is bound by law to wear their traditional dress when in public (gho for men and kira for women). National sport of Bhutan is archery. They drink tea with salt and butter. In 2010 Bhutan became the first country in the world to ban sale of tobacco. I could go on and on, but you get the drift, Bhutan is indeed very different from rest of the world.
It costs at least 250 dollars a day to visit the country and all payment goes into government bank account in New York (released to tour operator after your visit). To be fair, it’s not just the visa, it also covers a car, accommodation, guide and food, a bit like all-in-one package. The only problem is that there are no alternatives, you can not travel on your own, you can not travel by land, you can not stay in hostels (there aren’t any) etc. It’s Bhutan way or the highway.
Bhutan is extreme example where government tries to retain traditional values and way of life, despite influx of modern technology, luxury cars and western entertainment. Some people say Bhutan is one of the last remaining countries in the world where you can experience true immersion in ancient culture without all the distractions of modern society. It’s kind of true, but even monks in Bhutan have mobile phone under their robes.
Full set of pictures from my Bhutan adventures can be found here.
Tags: adventure, base camp trek, everest, nepal, Travel
It’s a funny thing about travel. The same multiplier effect (life cycle) applies to cool travel destinations as to trendy restaurants or bars. At first it’s all new and only few people know about it, then it becomes officially ‘cool’ and more people flock. Third stage is the tipping point where it’s just too popular, when too many people are trying to go to the same place, do the same thing. It’s when restaurants have waiting line of 4 weeks (Quay), or when 50 people queue around the corner to get in a trendy breakfast place (TT’s Café) that does not take bookings, although there are another 5 brekkie places in close proximity. Fourth and last stage is that obvious over-demand leads to people finally deciding to do something else that requires less effort and discomfort, by abandoning the place entirely or for a certain cool-off period.
Unfortunately, Everest base camp trek is dangerously close to the stage three, where the cool Himalayas trek transitions from being cool and awesome adventure, to something of a Disneyland on steroids, with too many people slogging the same trek, often in big and disruptive ‘organized’ groups. E.g. 10 person group of Americans (sorry for stereotyping, but based on observations) with more gear and money that willingness to respect the nature and actually put in the hard work only trekked one way (without carrying their own bags) and then ordered a chopper back as they were not bothered to do the ‘boring’ trek back.
To me mountains are all about tranquillity and connecting to nature, individual challenge where it is you and the mountain, 101, only one of you will prevail. Don’t get me wrong, base camp trek is still doable, go early or late in the season and it should do the trick, but at the end of my trek in early April I could see the negative effects of being popular, and it’s not pretty. Plus you can always choose a different trek in Himalayas to avoid the crowds, there’s always a choice…
OK, now that my rant is over, here are my actual highlights from the trip to Everest base camp adventure:
1. Local serpas living there (like the kid above), they are just so fascinating, their lifestyle so different from ours.
2. You’re in constant presence of the big boys, there is literally no other place in the world where you can trek whilst being surrounded by peaks that go well above 6 or 7 thousand meters (Everest is 8848m) The highest spot in Europe is not even 5000m (Mont Blanc 4810m), we slept for several nights at a higher altitude than that.
3. Experience itself is quite refreshing (not literally). Base camp trek takes at least 12 days for return journey, you’ll walk over 100 km by foot and ascend/descend more than 3000 m in altitude. You will have no shower, no alcohol, no meat, no coffee, no internet. You’ll sleep at -10C in the sleeping bag with no heating and you’ll have to walk at least 5h a day to get to the next spot. It is a very different daily routine from our regular office jobs indeed.
So that’s it, it’s really hard to describe the experience, all I can say that it is one of my Top 3 highlights even after visiting over 100 countries. It’s not fun or nice, but it is definitely bloody interesting!
Here is the full deck of pictures from the trip.
Tags: backpack, easy, hand luggage only, no check in, packing tips, Travel, travel hacking, travel light
Back in 2010, before I headed off to my big RTW trip I did this gear, backpack update. 2.5 years and 50 countries later, I’ve stayed true to the spirit of traveling with carry on bag only, whilst upgrading some things along the way.
Above is the latest packing list that I will take on my next 3 week trip to Nepal and Bhutan. If you click through on the picture or this link, you’ll be able to see all the notes/tags of the image. What you see is everything I’d take on a typical trip, including what I’m wearing. Once packed, the bag looks like this.
Here are my top 5 tips I’ve learned along the way, that help me pack light and enjoy my trip:
1. Time it – Pack so you can last for one week, after that it’s laundry day and repeat the cycle.
2. Weigh it – Don’t pack more that you can carry, I’ve now gone down to 8kg for my bag, when I started it was more like 12 kg, but most people would still routinely lomber around with 30kg suitcases or backpacks. I once saw a backpacker carrying around 2 kg ‘pestle & mortar’ as a souvenir.
3. Use it – Everything you have in your bag should have a use on any given week. If you have stuff that you include ‘just in case’, leave it, it’s more likely that case will never come. E.g. typical failure is dragging massive towels or sleeping bags around. Nowadays even the most basic hostels would have towels available and sleeping bags can be easily rented on the spot if you’re going for camping or adventure trip.
4. Abuse it – forget cotton, wool is the biz. Merino wool clothing (from Kathmandu, Ice Breaker, North Face etc) is becoming more and more affordable. Nowadays you can pretty much get everything made from merino wool, T-shirts, socks, jumpers, pants etc. Wool keeps you warm even when it’s wet, it does not smell even when it’s dirty, it still looks great after 20 washes, does not lose shape or colour. Couple of wool items will replace 10 cotton items in your pack. As they say ‘once you try merino, you never go pellegrino’. Ok, they don’t say that, I just made it up, but it rimes.
5. Enjoy it – less stuff means less worries that you’ll lose something, break something or otherwise misbehave. Instead you’ll have more time to enjoy your new surroundings, be flexible where and how you travel (public transport is a bliss with small backpacks). Plus you’re more likely to fit in with the locals (unless you’re are 6”5’ gringo in Asia, of course).
Tags: adventure, bhutan, everest, nepal, solo, Travel, trip
OK, so in couple of weeks I’m heading off to Nepal and Bhutan and it should look something like this, just with the Everest in the background:)
This will be my first bigger trip for almost a year and two new countries (not that I’m counting), I’ve done several smaller ones in between, but my last solo adventure trip was back in March 2012, so I feel a bit rusty.
As always, it will only be a small carry on 35l bag, which I’ve finally upgraded after 5 years. Here’s my new shiny one, it is Australian made, water and everything proof with a lifetime warranty, supposed to work as hand me downs, will see. I’ve also bought new trekking shoes given I will get some snow at the peaks and lightweight merino wool top. Plus I’m optimising my tech, to keep it light and simple, so i will only take by nikon d800 with single 50mm prime lens, and a gopro, plus iphone. No laptops, extra cords, ipad or anything. The way I tested I should even have some space in my 35l bag and weigh in at 7-8kg max.
For the actual trip, main thing is the Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal which should take 12 days and is pretty straight forward, have organized a local guide in advance so if weather permits, it should go well, only reaching 5500m altitude, with some great views, but without totally killing myself. I’ll have couple of days in Kathmandu as well to do some extra exploring.
After Nepal, I’m heading to Bhutan for 5 days, which should be interesting. Quite a few people have been to Nepal, but none of the people I know have been to Bhutan yet. Given that tourism there is strictly controlled by government and it costs min 250-300d a day (covers guide, visa, food, hotel, but needs to be bought as a single package) to visit it, no surprise really. Only a few thousand tourists visit Bhutan every year (last few years the number is climbing though), so it is still little explored and known by foreigners. I expect it to be like Nepal, just even more authentic if there is such a thing.
All in all very excited, will keep you updated how it goes and hopefully will be able to bring back some amazing photos and experiences to share.
Tags: agency, colours, fashion, model, photo shoot, signed, sydney
People around me know that I love colours, especially block colours, not stripes or circles, pure blocks of colours. My typical outfit is red or blue pants combined with T-shirts from salad green, to mustard yellow. But my favourite of all, the king of all colours, is orange. I could talk about orange all day long (I have orange sofa, lamps, Tees, cups etc.), but let’s leave that for another time.
I think we have enough gray and black suits in the world to last a lifetime, so I choose something else, I choose colour. It makes me smile and sometimes it makes other people smile too, like, look at that buffoon in the red pants, who does he think he is, it’s not a circus it’s a Monday morning.
I digress, reason for this colour themed intro is my latest photo shoot with Jenny from Mannequin Model Management (thanks Naomi). We worked together a few weeks back and it was a blast so we arranged a follow up shoot, just before she heads off to conquer US. I was determined to find a location that has cool colourful backgrounds as we were looking to shoot urban fashion (if there is such a thing). We set our sites to Marrickville and on my scouting trip to the area, I discovered these wonderful coloured walls/pillars, belonging to one design firm, ranging from red, to yellow, to green etc. Location could not be better, literally 5 minute walk from the station with easy parking, shade etc. I’m pretty sure it will be my next favourite spot to shoot anything with coloured backdrops. Look and you shall find my friends:)
And finally the most important bit, the actual photos from the shoot. Jenny was fantastic as always, fitter and more tanned than ever, and Lauren was doing some amazing hair and makeup, thank you girls! Full set of pictures from the shoot can be found here.