South East Asia: To Tent or Not to Ten?
I know I said earlier that I was headed for India but after a lot of hard thinking I decided on SE Asia. That, and I found tickets for about $250 Anyways, now I gotta redesign my gear list.
I am debating on weather or not to take camping gear. Since my last tour across China, Tibet, and Nepal, my total kit has gottan seriously lighter and I have decided to ditch front panniers all together. My new tent is a Mont Bell Crescent 1 that weighs under 2 pounds. :http://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?p_id=2322296
Add to that the weight of a foam pad (8oz?) and thats just about all I would need for camping. I am going to bring my Trangia Mini stove regardless because I like self catering, even when the street food is cheap.
So, for the added weight of about 2.5 pounds and a little bulk, of which I have plenty of room for, should I take the tent? I figured it might be nice to have for some of the national parks or if I just get caught out away from a town. Or maybe I ened up someplace where all the hotels are trying to rip me off and I just want to stick it to the tourists indusrty there?
I will also likely bring a Polyester sleeping bag liner to help keep bed bugs off of me. Do you think this would warm enough for camping or should I also bring my summer down bag? Its light and small but that adds to the overall camping kit.
I am planning to leave in mid January and will end around June. I will be visiting, I hope, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Its also possible I might ride northern Vietnam.
I've toured in Thailand, Laos, & Malaysia. There is no point in bringing camping gear or a stove.
Most of SE Asia is hot and sticky year-round, and I can't imagine camping in those conditions. Accommodations are extremely cheap and usually plentiful. I've met only 2 people who camped while touring there, and even they were touring in the winter in northern Laos & northern Thailand, which for 3 months of the year (Dec. - Feb.) has pleasant temperatures. I met far more cyclists who were carrying camping gear but who wished they hadn't brought it. Thailand is fairly densely populated and even in rural parts, stealth camping would be difficult. Laos is sparsely populated with lots of forest. In rural parts of the country, you'll feel sometimes like you're camping given some of the rustic guesthouses. As for Malaysia, I have a vivid recollection of 2 things which would make me want to avoid camping there: The incredible noises (shreiks, screams, etc.) emanating from the jungle adjacent to the road the one time we had to ride after dark. It was freaky and I wish I had had a tape recorder. The other memory was when we were staying in a place near an estuary on the east coast, we saw many banded kraits (a deadly snake related to cobras) coiled up in trees a short walk from our room--not that they couldn't have gotten inside our room. Anyway, the jungle was so dense I don't know how you could have set up a tent. On my last trip, I did bring an extremely lightweight freestanding mosquito netting tent. I only needed to use it a couple of times, but I was glad I had it. I put it on top of a bed. Normally, ceiling fans do the trick.
As for food, it's one of the joys of traveling in SE Asia. It's delicious, varied, and cheap. Also, unlike India, few travelers in SE Asia seem to get sick from the food. I never have. And in the hot and humid climate in most of the region most of the year, anything perishable will rot or mold incredibly quickly. I honestly don't think you'd save any money by cooking for yourself there, and you would be depriving yourself of one of the biggest delights there.
I wouldn't bother bringing a tent for the most part, but having a sleep sack of some sort and bug net is pretty useful. Stove/cooking stuff is useless, food is EVERYWHERE in SEA.
Wander the markets in the morning for food. Personally lived off a diet of fruit, bread and rice, as they are really cheap.
Some advice in Laos: Some parts of the country are very sparsely populated. Bring plenty of extra water and Kip. There are no ATM's and internet in a lot of the country, even in some of the bigger towns/cities. We went a few weeks without seeing either of them.
Thanks for the info. I'll leave the tent at home.
I'm still going to bring the stove because, if you have ever seen a Trangia Mini, it really is tiny. I have been to SE Asia before but not by bike and even then I wished I had had my stove to make my morning coffee. I'll bring my sleeping bag liner and possibly a bug net. Thanks again!
zepp, the two canadian cyclists "the travelling two" biked through parts of SE Asia also, and Im sure would be glad to answer any questions.
Basic bike parts are pretty easy to find in SEA overall if your creative too. Fancy stuff is very difficult outside of the major cities.
Feel free to message me as well.
Last edited by SparkyGA; 12-09-11 at 08:13 PM.
I do this in SEA too mainly for coffee and tea. For basic cooking the trangia mini is just fine, but in SEA, as has been mentioned, hot food is cheap and easy to find.
Originally Posted by zeppinger
Denatured alcohol in Thai (Chinese below?)
I need more than an inner bag (mine is a cotton sheet sewn into a bag) for sleeping on windy beaches in S.Thailand. I buy a thin blanket and sew that into a sleeping bag.
Last edited by imi; 12-10-11 at 01:37 AM.
Bring a mosquito net and sunscreen. An mp3 player is nice and you'll need a recharger and perhaps an adapter...
The following site shows a list of countries and the type of plug they use. The European 2-pin seems common, BUT YMMV. In any case, buying an adapter locally will be cheapest..
For more info and perhaps to check the info on this site do a Google search. Happy travels. Tell us of your experiences here or on CGOAB
I agree with the above. I did a 5 month trip in SEA and carried a Hennesey Hammock, and used it one night in Indonesia, between Palembang and Jambi, on Sumatra. I really could have just asked at any house or mosque and would have quickly found somewhere to stay, but just did not feel like dealing with people. It turned out to be the most uncomfortable night of the trip. I like the idea of having something in case of emergency, but still one night out of 150 doesn't warrant carrying the extra .75 kilo around.