Google PlusFacebookTwitter

A His and Her Review of the Lowepro Passport Sling Bag

By on Sep 27, 2012 in Travel Advice | 6 comments

Recently we purchased the Lowepro Passport Sling Bag to house all our camera gear for our travels around Asia and Europe – an upgrade from our Crumpler Seven Million dollar camera bag. However the decision to purchase the bag, as well as our constant bickering about the pros and cons after using it for the past 12 months has led me to writing a review of the Lowepro Passport Sling  Bag…with a slight difference. I’m going to share my take on it and my wife’s view as well, which will hopefully lead to a balanced review. This review starts late last year when Nic and I invested in a descent camera setup – a sweet canon 60D with lens, filters, tripods and various other bit and pieces. The question that eventually came up was how to house all this stuff. We had previously used the Crumpler Seven Million Dollar bag – great if you’re just shooting locally but bulky, large and cumbersome when travelling away from home. We came across the Lowepro Passport Sling Bag and were immediately at odds over this bag. These differences on opinion is what led us to some serious discussions on a bag, me sleeping on the couch and my wife seriously pissed off with me… so let’s introduce to you the Lowepro Passport Sling Camera bag, the centre of our disagreement.   Overview of Lowepro Passport Sling Camera Bag The Passport Sling is from Lowepro, a reputable camera bag manufacturer and the sling varies in cost from $70AUD anywhere up to $120 depending on colour and the style you go for. I’ve placed a small promo clip from Lowepro to give you an intro to the bag. The Sling is made from a nylon fabric, has a durable zip system and a solid strap. Inside is a solidly built padded camera compartment that is held in with industrial strength Velcro and can be easily removed if leaving you camera gear at home. The bag also has some room for other valuables and can be extended by unzipping along the front to allow for an extra 30%. Unfortunately the Lowepro Passport Sling  Bag is not waterproof as Nic and I discovered when our room was flooded in India and the bag tends to stain and mark easily. The sling can be simply cleaned though and we just place it in the washing machine on a delicate wash (remove the compartment first).   What We Can Fit Into The Lowepro Passport Sling Bag   Niki and I both considered the Lowepro Passport Sling  Bag to be a Mary Poppins bag – you’ll be surprised what you can fit in there. Here is a list of everything we can in store in there before unzipping: Canon 60d Body with 18-55mm lens attached Canon 75-300mm lens Point and Shoot Camera Battery Charger and connection Leads Spare Battery and 3 x SD Cards Cleaning Cloth and Lens Blower 100 Page Guide Book Camera User Guide Water bottle and Purse Travel Wallet and Passport Pens and Paper/Notebook Small Scarf and at a push a small light jumper Mobile, Sunglasses and Keys Extend the Bag and you’ll easily be able to fit a solid jumper, souvenirs from your day’s adventure and lots of other little bit and pieces. Peter’s Review of Lowepro Passport Sling Bag Let me get this out the way, I never wanted the Lowepro Passport Sling Bag! My first thoughts of the bag was that it was a sling bag that would be uncomfortable to travel with and be more suited to a photographer crawling through the inner suburbs of Melbourne than a backpacker trekking through the backwaters of Borneo. I like to choose gear that is practical, sturdy and sensible. Gear that quickly goes in when I have to rush for a flight and gear that has a purpose to warrant its place on my back as it’s hauled around the world.   What I liked about the Lowepro Passport Sling Bag First of all it is a great little unisex bag if you use it for what it is was intended for, and in my opinion, inner city photo shoots or small comfortable travels away for a short period of time. It’s fashionable for any city and doesn’t look out of place if you were in a pub shooting the latest gig or down at the local art gallery. The colour range wasn’t too out there, unlike the bright red Crumpler that says “Hey you, come rob me, I’m housing the latest apple product in here”. I liked that I could hide things in it – great for sneaking that extra long lens into a sporting event (Australia Open). It’s also great if you want to carry other things around with you, such as notepads, bottles of water etc. Security is good on the bag as you can wear it on your front to protect it from wandering fingers and the bag looks like any other bag, which helps mask the fact that you’re carrying expensive equipment with you. And as for the size, it amazing how much you can get in there! Cost wise, we paid about $80AUD which isn’t bad as far as camera bags go.   What I don’t like about the Lowepro Passport Sling Bag My main concern about buying the Lowepro Passport Sling was that it would become my wife’s...

Etiquette Guide for Visiting Ethnic Villages in South East Asia

By on Sep 18, 2012 in Travel Advice | 0 comments

Visiting indigenous communities is undoubtedly a highlight of anyone’s adventures whilst travelling through the backwaters of South East Asia. The opportunity to experience authentic cultures, traditions and lifestyles of the many first nations of the region is an eye opening and sometimes life changing event. However with the push of tourism into these regions, lack of indigenous control and money hungry governments keen to take control, ethnic communities often become just objects to be photographed rather than be engaged in a sustainable approach to tourism. With help from a guide I read in Vietnam produced by the  local Hmong and information from the Karen in Thailand, here is an etiquette guide  for responsibly visiting an ethnic village on your next adventure. Drug tourism is alive and kicking, especially in northern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Whilst some use by indigenous elders is tied with custom and tradition, the use by tourists encourage younger indigenous members to move away from traditional practices and get involved in the growing and supplying for tourism consumption. Not to mention harsh punishments if caught using, best to avoid this practice. Try to buy indigenous made handicrafts from the source and not fake imports. The money goes a lot further into the community to help develop education and health facilities. Photography. We are all guilty of taking a sneaky snap when we think people aren’t looking. When people put up an argument that “it’s okay and it does no harm”, I ask what would you do if someone came to your door and took a photo of you? Ask permission, offer to pay if need be and show the photo to your subject. Never take a photo of sacred items without permission. I was once in the middle of Borneo at a small primitive village. A western couple sat in the middle on the village and started kissing each others face off. There was an uproar! The village held a meeting and it was decided the guest house owner of where the couple were staying had to reprimand them for disrespect. They promptly left the next day! Public displays of affection are often taboo in many ethnic villages, wait to you get back to your hotel room. This one does my head in. You wouldn’t rock up to someone’s house in your own country in just a bikini or even shirt-less! Why do it when you’re travelling? Dress conservatively, once your there you can sus the situation out and if the situation allows, you can always take a layer off. Don’t encourage prostitution! It’s a massive issue in ethnic communities as devious tourism pushes in. It’s not just the physical act of it; families often sell their children into the industry, the increase of STD’s into the community has many health implications and increase potential for a breakdown in community structure. Begging children are hard to say no to and its hot topic in so many debates. Some people say you shouldn’t give handouts because it encourages begging, other say give something that is constructive whilst other say who cares, its such a small amount of money to give. I’ve tried buying food for the child instead of  giving money, only to find them running off to hand it over to a rather healthy man obviously using the kids to siphon money from tourist. I’ve tried just ignoring people, which I just feel like rubbish for not helping out.  So I’ve ended up either giving money to reputable charities or education institutes in the countries, or I try to buy handicrafts directly from the source which hopefully sees the money go back into the community to encourage good health and education Always offer to pay if you eat or stay in an ethnic village. Indigenous peoples work on a reciprocity system. It is common that if you receive something you need to give something in return. In the past this would have been something like a gift or food, today it is money. Be aware of customs. These vary from indigenous groups and cultures, however things such as not removing your shoes, touching children on the head or showing the bottom of your feet can all be consider taboo in certain areas. If in doubt ask!   I hope these tips are of some help and I’m sure they will help you to experience a more authentic, responsible and engaging adventure when you next travel to South East...

Top 5 South East Asian Budget Airlines

By on Aug 4, 2012 in Travel Advice | 1 comment

With the huge growth of budget airlines over the last 5 years in South East Asia,  air travel has become a whole lot more affordable. It has also opened up a range of destination that use to take days of intense travelling just to visit. Personally I still prefer getting on a bus and hammering out the distances, however in the age of the “Flash Packer” who is limited by time and other constraints, budget airlines can help make the most of your adventures. With budget airlines seemingly popping up every other day in South East Asia, its hard to know which ones to choose. So with that in mind here is my list of top 5 budget airlines in South East Asia that will help you travel to your next destination.   1. Air Asia You really can’t go past them. Apparently owned by Richard Branson’s former accountant, this great airline offers cheap tickets to almost every major city in South East Asia. Based out of Kuala Lumpur, I’ve flown them countless times with no delays and good service.   2. Jetstar Qantas’s budget arm, Jetstar hubs out of Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore. Good prices if you want to fly into Vietnam or get connections onto Qantas to Australia. I’ve flown them a few times and found their aircraft to a be a little older however the service is fine. Being backed by Qantas is always a good thing.   3. Tiger airways Based out of Singapore, Tiger Airways is continuing on the trend of caging tigers by cramming people into small seats. I fly them when I have to, mainly due to their incredible low costs to some destinations. There on time performance can be questionable, however if you’re on a budget and want a safer airline, these guys will do it.   4. Firefly Another new one based out of Kuala Lumpur. Seemingly owned by Malaysian Airlines who wanted to create a “community” airline, this one specialises in cheap destinations within Malaysia and Borneo. Safety records seem to be intact and this one is worth researching.   5.  Lion Air The largest private carrier based in Indonesia and specializes in island hopping the great archipelago. Their website is advising a brand new fleet, however I have always slightly worried about aircraft maintenance done in Indonesia (especially after I worked for one). This is one of the better budget airlines in Indonesia; however try the other airlines mentioned above first.   This list doesn’t include any government carriers, however they’re always worth a look in for budget deals. Personally I find Air Asia generally has the better deal all-round for my travelling adventures. Check here for every budget airline in South East Asia. Happy...

Ecotourism and Nature Based Tourism – Do you know the difference?

By on Sep 29, 2011 in Travel Advice | 0 comments

Did you know that just because you’re participating in an activity set in the natural environment it doesn’t mean you actually participating in ecotourism? In fact, most people (including myself at one stage) who think they are participating in an authentic ecotourism experience are not and this all done by some clever marketing and misleading labeling. So let’s clear up all the confusion! There are four broad nature categories that travellers fit into: Nature Based Tourism, Wildlife Tourism, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism. Nature Based Tourism is any travelling experience in the environment: the good, the bad and the ugly. Wildlife Tourism is obviously as it suggests, is any travelling experience where you get to interact with or observe animals and wait for this, it includes hunting (which is an important tourism activity for many destinations). Adventure Travel is what New Zealand and Canada do best, and usually includes activities where your life is put on the line but you get the best outdoor view in the house! Finally we come to Ecotourism which is a nature based experience and here is the difference, which provides an educational and interpretive benefit to the traveller using sustainable measures to prevent degradation to the site, prevent loss of ownership by community and maintains it for future use. Hmmm that ‘eco’ 4wd trip doesn’t sound so ecotourism any more does it? The hard part is, it can be measured in whole lot of ways. Some die hard environmental travellers believe merely being in the environment is unsustainable, whilst others believe a tour group of 100 people is perfectly sustainable. So, it really comes down to the operator and community to manage it all. Ecotourism has developed as the answer to many of the negatives of tourism and has been readily adapted by operators who are keen to cash in on travellers needs for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly travelling experience. Whilst it’s not always the business operators fault, especially considering if you look up the United Nations  detailed description of ecotourism, often business simply “greenwash” us as they don’t fully understand what’s required. So if you’re after an ecotourism experience, make sure you check for accreditations, past customer experiences as well as recommendations from trusted organisations. For example in Australia, ecotourism operators can complete an Eco Certification program by Ecotourism Australia which means they tick all the boxes! Often ecotourism can provide a unique and authentic experience in the destination you visit and more times than not, allows you to get closer to the culture and people of the places you visit. The aim of my rambles isn’t to change your nature travel preferences, its more to provide travellers with a clearer knowledge of what we’re purchasing, the experiences available and to make sure we’re all getting what we paid for. If the brochure says ecotourism then make sure the provider is supplying a sustainable experience, not just a well marketed tour to rob you of your hard earned travelling dollars as well as hurting the pockets of companies doing the right...

A Guide to Preparing a Basic Travel First Aid Kit

By on Sep 4, 2011 in Travel Advice | 1 comment

A First Aid Kit is one of the most important items to pack when heading off on your travels, especially if you’re like us and your destinations often involve remote locations in developing countries where local health services may not be first rate. What you pack into your First Aid Kit will depend on the destination, length of trip and type of intended activities. Below is a quick checklist to be used as a guide to packing a Basic Travel First Aid Kit that should suffice for the initial treatment of minor injuries and ailments travellers may encounter on the road. If you would prefer a printable checklist, please click here to download a PDF version. Basic First Aid Kit Checklist  Medical Supplies Tweezers Scissors Safety pins Disposable gloves Bandaids / Plasters Gauze pads Cotton buds 10ml syringe 23 gauge needle Adhesive wound pads Crepe bandage Triangular bandage Steri-strips Alcohol swabs Zip lock bags Medical Tape Sanitising Hand Gel   Medications / Creams etc Canasten (for fungal infections such as Thrush or Athletes Foot) Betadine Ointment  / Savlon / Dettol (Disinfectants) Normal Saline (for washing wounds and eye’s) Imodium (for relief of Diarrhea) Laxatives (for relief of Constipation) Iodine tablets (for disinfecting water) Paracetamol (for relief of mild Pain and Fever) Antacid Lozenge’s (for relief of Indigestion) Sunscreen Insect Repellent Oral Rehydration Solution (for rehydration after bouts of Diarrhea or Dehydration)  Also consider Hydrocortisone cream (for Skin Itch) Antihistamines (for Allergies) Epi pen (for known severe Allergies) Anti-inflammatory (for relief of Inflammation) Digital thermometer (to monitor Body Temperature) Multivitamins (for prevention of Illness) Motion Sickness Tablets (for relief of Motion Sickness) Altitude Sickness Medications (for relief of Altitude Sickness) Antibiotics (for relief of Bacterial Infections) Antiemetic (for relief of Nausea and Vomiting) Sewing Needle (for removal of Splinters)   Disclaimer: Niki is a Registered Nurse in current practice in Australia. The advice provided is given as general guidance only. It is recommended to consult your Doctor prior to your departure regarding your personal...

A Guide to Comfortable Air Travel

By on Jul 2, 2011 in Travel Advice | 0 comments

There is a certain knack to travelling comfortably when flying. Air travel (especially in cattle class) can be a long, uncomfortable, claustrophobic, dehydrating and sometimes a socially awkward ordeal, however follow these simple  travel mantras and your flight may actually be an enjoyable part of your trip.   What to wear? Between over-heated airport terminals and ice cold air-conditioners on board your aircraft, it’s often difficult to plan what to wear as it needs to survive changes in temperature, the dreaded metal detectors and avoid that crumpled look whilst sleeping on the plane. I always find that layering is the way to go for dressing for air travel. Include something light for the warmer terminals and a warmer layer to keep you warm and comfortable on the plane. Avoid wearing metal e.g. clasps  as it can set off the metal detectors on check in. Also avoid wearing belts or lace up boots as you may be asked to remove them before approaching the detectors (just ask Peter who was almost had his pants around his ankles after being asked to remove his belt and shoes at Gatwick airport in London!). I swear by either wearing or packing a Pashmina scarf or a jumper into my hand luggage to use as an extra layer, a blanket or rolled up as a pillow. Also slip on shoes are handy to slide on and off during the flight – especially when your feet begin to swell! Being prepared Think ahead and pack entertainment into your hand luggage. Pack music (e.g. an iPod and a god pair of headphones), a magazine, a good book and/or a pen and note book. Choosing your seat in advance can help to ensure you end up getting your aisle/window seat at the back or front of the plane. Have your documentation on hand in your travel wallet, complete with boarding pass, passport and ID to ensure a fast and easy check in. Be early when checking in to avoid missing your flight (why does Peter spring to mind again?) and keep an eye on the time when wandering around the airport waiting to board your flight. There’s nothing quite as embarrassing as being personally called over the loud speaker to hurry to the departure gate and having to board an already seated aircraft.   What to pack in your carry on luggage Sunglasses – to hide dark circles as well as  puffy and blood shot eyes from lack of sleep. Water – Buy the biggest bottle you can find in the departure gate (after you’ve been through security) to take on board and remember to drink lots. The cabin of an aircraft is very dehydrating! Warm Jumper or Pashmina/large scarf. Mints or sweets to chew during take-off and landing. The chewing and swallowing action helps to unblock your ears. Otherwise yawning can help too. My flying ritual in London always had to include a tin of Harrods mints. Lip balm and a small moisturiser for dry lips and skin. Your entertainment (book, mp3 player, etc) Final tips Limit alcohol consumption on board and pre-flight as it will only dehydrate you further. Please practice patience on landing and wait until the announcement before standing up and collecting your luggage from the over head compartment, otherwise it’s just rude and dangerous! Now this may be the Nurse in me talking but don’t forget about DVT prevention (preventing blood clots forming your leg or lungs while you are immobile). Exercise your legs and ankles at least every hour and take some deep breaths. It’s too easy to forget and sit stationary for 14 hours. Get up and walk to the toilet every couple of hours. Or do a bit of flying yoga (I do this on long haul flights to Peter’s embarrassment). I wait until most the plane is asleep or resting, then I head to the back of the plane or somewhere a bit out of the way (like near the exits) and do a bit of yoga and stretching. I swear by...