Sunday, October 25, 2009

Getting ready to go

A journey of 1000 miles is said to begin with a single step; in my case this used to be so, but no more. This anticipated bicycle trip of several thousand kilometers began with the concept to ride for a month in India after my wife Alison finishes a brief gig leading a trade mission in India, then on to Australia to visit family and then to Laos, Cambodia and Thailand to see ancient civilizations and to experience how people still live off the land, and to return early March to Toronto, by which time spring should have at least started to sprung.

The usual challenges of picking a route, where to go, what to see and the like fell into place quite quickly. Having travelled extensively in South East Asia before, what to take in terms of clothes, necessary gear to support the bikes and our bodies was also pretty routine. But then somehow the list of electronic gadgets, which I have never taken before, exploded.

How I became an electronic gadget warrior is through a chain of complex causation or was it a not so sudden lost of good judgment? First was the idea to buy a new digital camera, which of course being the latest DSLR(the Lumix GH1 with the 14-140mm lens), although light by DSLR standards, still weighs as much as a months' equivalent of clothing, the unit of measurement that I use when traveling by bicycle. Worse, it comes with a manual, the size of a small book, which not only is as obscure as discerning the true meaning of the Bible, transliterated from Chinese, but adds not inconsiderable weight to the load; ditto for Alison’s new pocket size camera with the "heart" of a small packetbook and the "brains" of the mini computer (the Fuji F70EXR with 10 times zoom and the ability to take two contrasting photos and superimpose one on the other to get high contrast, to name but one of its features). Both of course also chew up gigabites of memory hence the need for more memory cards.

Second, contemplating the absence of four months also led to the consideration of a new gizmo called the MagicJack, a VOIP gadget that is the size of a large matchbox, which when plugged into the UBS port of a computer and into which one plugs in an ordinary telephone, allows unlimited, free calls to any telephone in North America.

As well, since Alison is leading a group of businesspeople married to their Blackberries it became imperative that she also have a cell phone of sufficient sophistication to keep in touch. The Nokia E61 is a Blackberry lookalike with a full querty keyboard.

As illustrated on the attached photo, this is how, in addition to the mandatory guidebooks on traveling on a shoe string, we will now also be carrying the single indispensable piece of technology known as the netbook. Weighing but 2.7 lbs with a full sized keyboard, hopefully will not only live up to its title as “Toughbook” but will also allow us to make telephone calls using the MagicJack and the tiny blue telephone, weighing but an ounze, which amazingly is fully functioning, as well as to download some of the photos we will take enroute and to share them with you and various bits of research stored in its memory.

Then again, since our travels often take us off the beaten path, where internet services may be rare, and even the availability of electricity intermittent or non-existent, the computer and attachments will still serve as useful dead weights, not quite as ergonomic as the ones I am used to in my gym, but still adding measurably to the effort and hence the exercise value of our journey. No doubt I will become as tough as the name of the netbook implies, and should the battery power outlast my late night desires to read camera manuals which I conveniently download on the computer, then I will no doubt produce photos worthy of National Geographic. Then again, there is on both sophisticated, state-of-the-art cameras, a setting call iA, which for the uninformed means Intelligent Automatic: a modern day oxymoron, that allows any ordinary moron, to take photos not unlike any previous century pinhole camera.


Julia said...

This is my first experience commenting on a blog so I hope it works. We are looking forward to keeping up with you on your long journey - it will help reduce the pain of your absence. See you tomorrow for our farewell lunch!

rollingbicycletours said...

Congratulations Julia,

you are will always be the first.

see you soon,


Laura said...

Eloquent as always, looking forward to photos

Paul said...

Laura says you're in Hyderabad, so presumably lots to comment on already??