Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Budget? Or Economy?

Cheap or cheaper or cheapest? 
What is the level of comfort you can accept while on the road?
Continuing my series on bicycle touring, here's a couple of arguments and points about staying on the road - whether on the cheap or lapping on a bit of luxury...

Camping
One of the cheapest way of seeing the world, is saving on accommodation.
You can pack your tent or better still, a tarp shelter and find a suitable camp ground.
All that said, its always better to plan ahead and scout for a suitable campsite.
And as a rule of thumb, you campsite better be ready with a water source as food preparation and your personal hygiene depends on it.


Motels
From my experience, there is no such thing as 'budget' motels here in Malaysia.
Even the 'cheapest' accommodation would set you off at RM50 a night. Forget about those RM15 fleabag motels. You'd most probably wind up with a stinking place with bad ventilation.
If budget is not an issue, there are government rest houses in most of big towns around the Peninsula.


Practical in our weather: A tarp shelter
Cooking
When lugging along so much equipment, you might want to consider a multifule stove.
These are easy to operate, and economical to maintain in long-duration trips.
My personal favourites are the Optimus Svea 123 hiker's stove from Sweden.
This one is capable of boiling a pot of water in less than three minutes.
To keep things light, its best to carry dehydrated food. 
This way, all you need to do, is add water.
For cookware, my preferred solo gear is the Trangia Mini.
This comes with a frying pan and a pot. There's also an alcohol stove in it, so, you can use it to simmer.
Both alcohol and fuel can be carried in seperate cannisters built specifically for carrying volatile fluid.
NEVER carry your fuel in a plastic drinking bottle.


Rugged performer: the Svea 123

Anytime cookware: Trangia Mini
Its also adviseable not to cook in your motel.
Many small towns have cheap eateries and it costs less than RM5 to have a meal in a coffeeshop.
As for water, you can replenish them by boiling tap water (not necessary these days when flourinated water comes of out the pipes).
If you take water from stream, its adviseable to sterlise them in fear of waterborne diseases like Hepatitis A and other bacterial and viral related illnesses.
Best to carry a Steripen UV sterlizer or use a water filter.


MSR Hyperflow water filter

The Steripen, effective and compact
Personal hygiene
Make if a point to pack a set of microfibre towels when you it the road. 
These are lightweight and dries up really fast.
One of the overlooked things in a toiletry bag, is the toilet paper. Pack plenty of you are expected to make some 'unscheduled' stops along the way.
Items like soap and detergent can be carried in liquid and powder form. 
You can save by doing your laundry on the go...
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