The Mayhem Called Packing

I love to travel but I hate to pack. Packing gives me anxiety; packing is akin to nightmare for me. For international trips there are visas to worry about. I have got them on the last possible day on so many occasions, which meant last minute packing! That is why I so love visa on arrival destinations. But over the years I have develop a method for the madness called packing. But you follow it at your own risk!

Documents First

Documents
Documents First is my Motto

For any trip documents are important and this is usually my starting point. For me this phase also means making sure I have enough money and a few cards for the trip. If it is a domestic trip life is a little simpler as it usually means having the travel ticket, money/cards and if I have done it in advance, hotel reservation proof. An Id proof is always to be carried.

If it is an international trip life gets a bit more complicated as that means passport, travel insurance and photographs in case of visa on arrival. I do bother about forex too but more often than not, I end up buying it from the airport. For visa on arrival I do thoroughly check all the documents required and make sure that I have it.

As soon as I have crossed this stage I relax a bit. The next bit is easy but very important to me.

Gadgets

Gadgets and Chargers!
Gadgets and Chargers Essential!

I cannot imagine traveling without my SLR, my cell phone- XperiaZ3 and my laptop. That used to be my complete list of gadgets. But now I have switched to an eBook reader so I need to pack that too. The SLR goes with about 3 additional lenses and a tripod. There was a time when I used to carry a point and shoot camera as well. But now with cell phones like XperiaZ3 having amazing feature rich cameras I do not carry a point and shoot any more.

As important as the gadgets are their chargers! I regularly ensure that I have 4 chargers with me. On the international trip the adapter for different type of plug points is a must. Without the chargers and the adapter, my gadgets soon become dead weight!

By the time I cross stage 3 I am certainly euphoric. I feel my packing is done. And you know who is coming down the slide head first, on my phone screen saver. No points for guessing that it is Chhavi!

Clothes and the Like

Clothes
Clothes get packed Somehow!

I approach packing clothes with mixed emotions. If it is hot weather I will ensure that I have my swim suit. After that I wish they could somehow get packed on their own! A few decent clothes which will cover ‘formal’ occasions and ‘smart casuals’ I manage to get ironed and packed. If it is winter I make sure I have woolens so that I would not freeze to death, I do not take cold well!

Footwear means comfort to me. I have never worm high heels in my life and I don’t have any plans to change. This category also means making sure I have a toothbrush and a comb. And I am all sorted. If I fear dry skin I will pack a Vaseline and moisturizer as well.

In the end, I just tell myself, “you have the documents, you have money, anything else that is really important and you forgot, you can buy.” And then I run out yelling, “yippee I am all done” and go out on that trip!

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There is something about watching sunsets, it is an activity of leisure, at least for me. In my daily life I am mostly commuting through the most blazing sunsets! When I am at home over the weekends, I still somehow do not end up watching sunsets. Sunset for me mostly means I am traveling! And I did get to see some gorgeous Krabi skies in Thailand with sunsets and without them as well.

 Pimalai Resort, Koh Lanta
Infinity Pool, Pimalai Resort, Koh Lanta

I stayed at Pimalai Resort and Spa at Koh Lanta an sialnd in Krabi province. Their public spaces were simply stunning. This was the view from the infinity swimming pool of the Hill Villas. It was threatening to rain that day but the threat never materialized. I got a bright day to explore Koh Lanta in the end. And I still remain suntanned. When I came home, I was sun burnt actually! But how I loved my time in the land of sun, sea and sand!

Sea at Old Lanta Town, Thailand
Sea at Old Lanta Town, Thailand

I do not know what to do when I get to see a place in harsh daylight. I was at the beautiful Old Lanta town about noon. And yet the scene in front of me was so serene that I had to give it a try.

Kantiang Bay Beach, Koh Lanta
Kantiang Bay Beach, Koh Lanta

My first evening at Koh Lanta gave me overcast skies. It has been a persistent theme of all my travels since June 2013 so I accepted my fate! I had some time off to myself this evening, so I was out with my tripod. I was also one of the last person to leave the beach!

Dusk at Kantiang Bay Beach, Koh Lanta
Dusk at Kantiang Bay Beach, Koh Lanta

It is because of my tripod I was able to get this half way decent dusk picture! See how unromantic you become when your sole focus is on taking pictures! Here was soft light, lapping waves and sand beneath my feet and all I can talk about is a tripod! I actually classify my sunsets as with a tripod and without a tripod!

Sunset at Krabi on the Beach Right Across Sofitel
Sunset at Krabi on the Klong Muang Beach, Right Across the Road from Sofitel

And then there was sheer magic on Klong Muang Beach which is right across the road from Sofitel Krabi, where I was staying. I will start off next week right from where I am leaving today, the sunset at the Klong Muang Beach. As the evening deepened the magic also increased manifold.

PS. I was invited to Thailand by TAT New Delhi and I had an amazing time.

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Koh Lanta is a beautiful island in Krabi. To reach the island one has to take a boat or ferry from Krabi. My speed boat, was waiting for us at the private Pimalai Resort and Spa jetty. The jetty was about two hours drive from Krabi International Airport. It is not everyday that I take speed boats from a private jetty!

Private Jetty of Pimalai Resort
Private Jetty of Pimalai Resort and Spa, Krabi

The speed boat ride was a lot of fun. When the boat starts moving at full speed the wind becomes a hairstylist! It also tries to snatch away your camera, so be careful!

Pimalai Resort and Spa, Koh Lanta
Pimalai Resort and Spa, Koh Lanta

The public spaces of Pimalai Resort and Spa are stunning! I so wanted to sit down on the wooden bench and read a book but it was part of their spa I believe!

Mu Ko Lanta Park
Mu Ko Lanta Park

One of the major attractions of Koh Lanta is Mu Ko Lanta National Park. You can go on a small hike to the watch tower inside the park. It gives a beautiful vantage point. The beach was truly peaceful and a delight to walk through. There is an entry fee to visit the park.

Old Lanta Town
Old Lanta Town

While walking through the Old Lanta Town I was fascinated by the petrol being sold bottles. You can guess immediately that it is meant for motorbike users. Hiring a motorbike is a popular to explore the island. It reminded me of so much of Goa!

Fisherman at Old Lanta Town
Fisherman at Old Lanta Town

While walking on the pier of the Old Lanta Town I saw this fisherman cast his net. I must have been the only tourist on the pier! He had his catch in the green bucket and he had plentiful!

Mangrove Forest, Koh Lanta
Mangrove Forest, Koh Lanta

We went walking around the mangrove forest area too. If you like seafood the rustic restaurants of the area can cook fresh catch for you. I could not sample it as I am a vegetarian.

Fishermen Village, Koh Lanta
Fishermen Village, Koh Lanta

You can walk around the fisherman village close to the city center. Even though it was right next to the parking lot, it felt so remote from the civilization! No one seemed to be in any hurry in the village!

Tuk Tuks at Koh Lanta
Tuk Tuks at Koh Lanta

The tuk tuks at Koh Lanta were a variation of the ones I see in Bangkok. They were as colorful and had many women drivers.

Swedish Pub and Restaurant, Koh Lanta
Swedish Pub and Restaurant, Koh Lanta

I just loved the colors and the setting of this local restaurant aptly named Swedish Pub and Restaurant! I went there for lunch and a hot sun was blazing on the deck. But I would love to go back and have a dinner there. They did excellent veg pizza too!

Sunset at Kantiang Bay Beach, Koh Lanta
Sunset at Kantiang Bay Beach, Koh Lanta

Sunset dinners are very popular in Thailand. That meant I had my dinner by 6.30 pm or so. At home this is a real early hour for me to even think about dinner! I was initially reluctant but I did enjoy the idea of the sunset dinner in the end. I went to a local restaurant called ‘Same Same but Different’ which was right by the beach. As dinner was over at an early hour, I was forced to retire early too! And it was a blessing, as if left me refreshed when I got up the next morning!

If you wish to explore a quiet place in Krabi, go to Koh Lanta!

I was invited by TAT New Delhi on this trip and I really had a blast.

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I recently did a week long trip in Thailand and my cell phone was XperiaZ3. It was my first real trip out with Z3 even though I had it in my clutches for about 2 weeks now. And the real test of a cell phone is when you travel with it. I have to say I am pretty happy with the results I got. I am also extremely happy with the battery life it provides. It never even once threatened to die on me mid way through the day.

The Speed Boat Rides

Speed Boat
Dropping Anchor at Hong Island, Krabi, Thailand

I did 4 speed boat rides on this vacation. Right at the trip number one I realized that sitting on the open deck was a good idea for seeing with your own eyes, but not so much for seeing through the camera! There would be a tearing wind on the deck as soon as the boat started gathering speed. A good cell phone camera like XperiaZ3 is more manageable in such conditions.

Sofitel Speedboat Clicked from a Kayak, Hong Island
Sofitel Speedboat Clicked from a Kayak, Hong Island

I also went kayaking at Hong Island. Now I would not even dream of taking my SLR on a kayak. As XperaZ3 is waterproof (under certain conditions, do check it out) I easily took it on a kayak. The gentle splashing it got, the camera took it quite easily in its stride.

Night Markets

Flowers
Beautiful Flowers

XperiaZ3 gave me decent results in low light conditions. I took this photo at the Pak Khlong Talat, the Bangkok’s biggest flower market. I was delighted with the results I got.

Clicking People

I have said this often on my blog, I am quite timid when it comes to clicking pictures of strangers. I have realized that people care less if you point a cell phone at them rather than a SLR. This is just a personal observation but that is how it works with me.

Kids at Koh Lanta Beach, Thailand
Kids at Koh Lanta Beach, Thailand

I was going closer and closer armed with my XperiaZ3 to where the kids playing but they didn’t pay me any attention.

Getting Your Picture Clicked

Koh Lanta National Park, Krabi, Thailand
Koh Lanta National Park, Krabi, Thailand

Just hand over your cell phone and get the picture clicked, it is that easy. Now hand over your SLR to a stranger and a complicated discussion can follow.

Not will cell phones, not when I gave people my XperiaZ3. You may ask, why give your phone and not take a selfie? Well if I took a selfie how would I show the beautiful beach behind me?

Clicking Food
Most of the times the kind of people I travel with, there will be 5 SLRs pointed at the food as soon as it makes a contact with the table. But there are times when people give you secret (at least they think it is secret) nasty looks while you fuss about clicking the best possible food picture, you see there are others who just want to eat their food even in this day and age!

 

Veggie Salad at Bangkok, Thailand
Veggie Salad at Bangkok, Thailand

A camera like XperiaZ3 comes in handy at such occasions, you still get a great food picture and other get to eat their food before they start shooting secretive nasty glances at you!

When you are Tired
There are days when you know you are staring at a great photo opportunity and yet your feet and mind refuse to cooperate with each-other. I do get truly tired on some days.

The Pretty Swedish Restaurant at Koh Lanta
The Pretty Swedish Restaurant at Koh Lanta

A good cell phone camera saves the situation. You need not change the lens, lug around the SLR which mysteriously starts weighing more right at that moment! Just pick your phone and shoot.

When you want a Low Angle Shot
While I was looking at this blazing sunset, I was challenged for a foreground element. There was a boat but then I had clicked a gazillion pictures of it already. I do not mind getting dirty, getting on my knees to get a good picture.

Sunset at Krabi, Thailand
Sunset at Krabi, Thailand

But I was wearing a dress that I didn’t wish to spoil. So I decided to take the shot by putting my cell phone closer to the ground. It is easier to manipulate and with new improved cameras like Z3 you are assured of a good shot too!

A while ago if someone would have asked me about cell phone cameras I would have been quite dismissive about it as the quality of the pictures used to be not good. That is changing for sure. With my XperiaZ3, I have taken a wide variety of cell phone shots which I would not have even considered clicking with a cell phone earlier!

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