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Exotic Fruit Juices of Southeast Asia

Cold tropical fruit juices practically sell themselves in the hot and humid backstreets of South East Asia. Travel anywhere in the region and you will find simple carts stacked high with fruit sitting next to an old and well used blender. Fresh mango, jackfruit and papaya juices are just a flick of a button away. It is one of the real treats of the region. While everyone knows how great mango juice is, there’s a whole range of great fruit flavours people could be missing out on. So here’s a list of the best of the rest.

Jack Fruit
While I wouldn’t advise you try this fruit when it’s not fresh (it tastes like chicken apparently), when ripe there is nothing I like more in a juice. Jack fruit has a naturally sweet taste that’s almost like a mixture of Banana and pineapple, but with a nicer consistency than either. This is a popular drink in Cambodia, but is completely overlooked in Indonesia.

Tomato and Strawberry
While not a tropical fruit juice, my recent discovery of the unlikely mix of tomato and strawberry has reminded me about the importance of trying everything, even if you think it’s not going to work. The sweetness of the strawberry adds a pleasant sweet edge to the flavours of the tomato.

Soursop Juice
Soursop is a big spiky green fruit with white flesh on the inside and plenty of pips. With its sweet flavour, Soursop is one of my favourite fruits, but I definitely prefer it as a juice. Instead of the fibrous strings and mushy consistency that can get a bit much if you eat it, blend it and you get a thick and smooth fruit juice, simply unbeatable!

Avocado Juice
The idea of avocado and chocolate sounds like another one of those strange and possibly horrible combinations, but hold your judgement until you give this juice a taste. If done well the juice is thick and creamy, with the sweet after taste of the chocolate.

Guava and Strawberry
Guava is another great tropical fruit that can be found all over South East Asia. However most places will add plenty of sugar to Guava juice to sweeten the flavour, which is why the addition of strawberries works so well. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

The Perfect Sunset

Imagine the scene. The sun is slowly setting below the horizon illuminating the sky in shades of red, orange and yellow. Thick clouds are catching the last of the light. You are alone on the beach with only the sound of the ocean and the crashing waves. All that you can see in front of you is a vast and uninterrupted stretch of ocean.

beautiful sunsets

The feeling of being so isolated is a strange one. You get a feeling of quite how small a part of this world you are. In a city you never get this sense. Sure you might realise you’re only one person, but with thousands of people passing by you every day it’s hard to understand what that really means. Alone, surrounded by nature it is different. At least that was my longest lasting memory from Fiji.

beautiful Fiji

This chain of holiday islands in the South Pacific is justifiably famous as a tourism spot. The thousands of tropical islands that make up this island chain are a paradise. With plenty of sun, warm waters, palm trees, unspoilt beaches and nature and most importantly diversity, it has all of the ingredients for the perfect holiday.

Fiji at night

If you are young and want to party then Beachcomber Island or a booze cruise would be perfect for you. For a more relaxed time then try out the vagabondishly (this is not a word yet, but used often enough it will be 😉 ) named Castaway Island, where you can rock up with your guitar and play Bob Marley tunes to your hearts content. My advice though, just once you should try getting away from it all and simply sit on the beach to watch the sun set.

Choosing the Right Luggage

Choosing the right luggage is a very important decision, but its not difficult. Lets start with the size issue. To minimize weight and hassle, bring the smallest bag possible to meet your needs with a little extra room to make packing and unpacking easier (especially with backpacks). This will also leave room for items, gifts or souvenirs you pick up along the way.

The kind of bag you bring depends entirely on your travel plans. Pack a small to medium sized roller luggage if you’ll be traveling mainly in developed cities and won’t be moving around too much. Rollers are easier to pack and unpack than a backpack and effortlessly glide on smooth paved surfaces. If your want more flexibility in your plans, intend on visiting developing countries or plan to explore rural countryside, definitely bring a backpack. Roller bags are a pain on unpaved surfaces and a burden to drag up and down narrow staircases. Backpacks offer unparalleled mobility, so long as you don’t go overboard – avoid backpacks larger than 75 litres; they are unnecessarily large and lead to over-packing.
Day Packs

Flashpack

A good daypack is an essential item for any traveller. Travel backpacks with removable daypacks built-in are available on the market, but can be expensive and generally add unnecessary weight to your pack. I suggest a lightweight nylon daypack or canvas messenger bag. These pack down to almost nothing. I’ve had great luck with REI Flash 18 Pack. You can easily stuff the Flash into your luggage; it takes up almost no space and only weighs 11oz. At 18 litres its large enough to accommodate a DSLR camera, passport, wallet, maps, water, food etc. – everything you need for the day. For $35 it’s a cheap and durable solution. Mine’s over a year old still in great condition.
Maximizing Space: The Essential Compression Sack

Compression sacks are an absolute must for any traveller trying to make the most out of the space in their luggage. Stuff cloths or a sleeping bag into a compression sack, and they’ll take up less than ¼ the volume they would if folded or rolled. Using compression sacks doubles or triples the amount of stuff you can fit into your bag, which allows you to bring smaller and lighter luggage.

The best compression sacks are made by Sea to Summit. The Vent Compression Dry Sacks are waterproof, which is crucial if you’re planning on any trekking, and have an air permeable membrane that makes stuffing them particularly easy. Most importantly, they are super durable. By the nature of their task, compression sacks take a lot of stress and abuse. If you cheap out you’ll just end up rebuying within a year when the sacks start tearing. I suggest 10 or 15 litre sacks if you’re bringing a backpack; they fit more easily into a backpack than the larger sacks.

Essential Packing List

My mantra for packing is simple: maximize space, minimize weight. Below I will explain how to get the most out of your bag and avoid classic over-packing mistakes by bringing just the essentials. Remember, a light traveller is a happy traveller.

As a general rule, don’t pack more than you can comfortably carry while traversing a new city in search of a hostel or on a day hike through the countryside. There is nothing worse than lugging a cumbersome, heavy bag around the world while you’re supposed to be on holiday. With a hefty bag you will be reluctant to take side trips and pursue unexpected adventures, putting a major damper on your fun.

I learned this lesson first hand, carrying a huge 90-litter backpack and massive duffle bag around Europe for two months in 2007. I remember trying to make my way up a circular staircase at the Archway tube stop in London during rush hour, as the masses headed down in the opposite direction. I felt like a salmon swimming upstream with a hundred pound dumbbell attached to my tail. If you follow my advice, you can avoid this mistake, saving yourself a lot of pain and frustration.

Understanding Your Needs

The first step to efficiently packing your bag is considering your itinerary and needs. Ask yourself these questions:

How long is my holiday? (Never pack more than 7-10 days worth of cloths)
Where will I travel? (In paved cities, rough trodden rural areas, developing countries?)
Will the weather be warm or cold, or both?
How adventurous will I be? (All day walks through the city? Hiking, biking, climbing or swimming? Adventure activities may require special gear.)
Will I go clubbing or fine dining? (Anything that requires nice cloths?)
What electronics are essential to my trip? (Cameras, Smart phone, Laptop, eReader?)
What luxuries can I live without? (1000 page Game of Thrones novel? Stiletto tipped thigh-high riding boots?)

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can begin packing a bag – yes just one bag – to meet all of your needs, including a little space leftover for gifts and souvenirs. Lets start with a suggested packing lists, which I will then break down and explain.
Suggested Packing List (multi-week holidays)

The Basics:

65 -75 Liter Backpack
REI Flash 18 Liter Daypack
3 Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sacks (10 liter size) – two for clothing, one for dirty laundry
7 pairs of underwear and 7 pairs of socks
5 T-shirts, 2 long-sleeve shirts
2 pairs of pants
1 pair of shorts
1 swimming suit
1 pair of urban trainers, 1 pair of flip-flops, 1 pair of low-cut light hiking boots (if active)
Travel umbrella or rain jacket/pants (a must for hiking)
Medical and laundry kits
Nylon Rope

Cold Weather Gear:

Down puff coat (800 fill)
2 pairs of long thermal underwear, 2 long-sleeve thermal shirts
Hat, scarf and gloves
2-3 Pairs of Smartwool Socks

Electronics:

Smart phone and headphones
Camera
eReader
Power Converter Kit
Optional: mP3 player (if needed in addition to your phone)
Optional: tablet, ultrabook or MacBook Air (if you must work while travelling)