World Travel 2.0
The world is getting smaller. No longer do you leave the comfort of home in search of the edge of the Earth, venturing way out of your comfort zone in seek of the road less travelled. In fact no matter where you go, you're always right in the thick of it.
In fact, rumour has it that Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs diagram has been altered to accommodate a new base tier, labelled Wi-fi. The world is turning into one big Hot Spot and our recent trip to the Khumbu Region of Nepal was no exception.
From Dingboche to Tengboche, from Pheriche to Lobuche...in fact any Che you like was equipped with either a 3G signal or wi-fi in the tea houses where we overnighted. So it was not often we were not able to post to Facebook, Tweet or share a selfie with yak.
If I think how it changed since my first trip in 2009 to Everest... I lost my Himalayan virginity back in the day when there was no mobile signal and communication was via a Began Modem, the size of the average laptop nowadays, with a handset plugged in as we cringed to the sound of the dial-up. (Kids, ask your parents what dial up was, and ask them to make the sound too. #hilarious #totesembarassing
This time I left home, get ready for it, with... an iPad mini - loaded with movies for the cold nights with no Apple TV, my iPhone - duh, Bluetooth Wireless Headphones - cables are so 2013, Bluetooth speaker - movie night essential, iPod - to kick it old school and the Suunto Ambit 3 so that I could measure my heart rate, GPS location, average pace and of course when dinner was.
But let's start at the beginning. The only thing in Nepal in shorter supply than toilet seats is electricity, so how do you power all the toys when you out roughing it? The answer is solar power. At the heart of my multi-media connectedness was the Solar Monkey from PowerTraveller, and with this lightweight and compact panel, I was able to keep the essentials runnning and all I had to do was attach to the outside of my bag. Before leaving Joburg, I plugged it in to fully charge the storage battery which is enough to turn a dead iPhone to fully charged and then some.
Where ever possible I did plug in my iPad or iPhone at the wall socket when I found one, but the SolarMonkey is an absolute life-changer for anyone heading out of the office for more than 3 days. Check out www.wintecsolutions.co.za for stockists. @SolarGorillaSA
I won't bore you with the details of what an iPad and iPhone can do, but I will post a blog on essential Apps in the coming days. But what I was able to email, WhatsApp, Facebook, tweet, check weather reports, check if Oscar had a boyfriend yet and even phone home to my loving wife. homesickness - cured.
On movie nights, we perched the iPad on a serviette holder and watched Pitch Perfect and paired the TurtleShell 2.0 and we all huddled round the screen, me, the team members and Fat Amy had a riot that night, several hundred Kilometres from the nearest cinema.
A personal favourite of mine this time round, where the Orca Wireless headphones. No more cords, no more geeky armbands with wires from arm to ear, and don't get me started about how close that thing is to your armpits! These little guys are simple to pair with your phone, slip them in your ears (3 sizes of buds - who know people had different size ear canals?!) and bam! you're jamming up the endless hills leading to Namche bazaar. I had my music on random so it was quite surreal staring out of the thundering Dut Khosi River to Rage Against the Machine and then watching a yak train waddle past to Andrea Boccelli...both highly recommended. @OutdoorTech
For me these trips are not just about going far and high to put my name on the list of conquerers. It's a lot about me time. After all, the last two letters in "TIME" are all about ME. It was great to be far away from it all. No SMSs to offer me life cover at just R129 or that poor person wanting to upgrade my Telkom Mobile Data package. But I was in touch as I wanted to be when I needed to hear a familiar voice, share the Manscaping Session upon our return to Lukla (see my Twitter photos -@EverestRob) or phone home, or post a selfie with Madam Everest.
So maybe the world is getting smaller. There are airplanes and Apps that bring us together, but these toys and tricks, these gadgets, they are all here to make the trip around this big balls live on a little smoother.
So next time that feeling to "Leave it all behind and head for the hills" hits you. Remember, you can choose what you choose to take with, and what you leave behind.
Follow me on Twitter @EvrestRob and Likemy Facebook Page - Robby: That Bucket List Guy and keep an eye out for the next blog post.