We jointly (and severally) made some rookie mistakes when packing what we now deem to be useless items or simply too much. We also harboured what we now realise to be pretty unrealistic ambitions as to what our current capabilities are. Not to put too fine a point on it we have had a reality check.
One item in particular which caused me to utter this phrase was my mini travel curling tongs. Although tiny and taking up little more room than a small pencil case, I realised pretty quickly that as a backpacking accessory curling tongs are totally impractical and superfluous to requirements. For some reason I’d forgotten how hot it was in the tropics and we are currently spending almost every day in the sea (or out walking in the blistering heat). We never seem to dry off and are either constantly drenched in seawater, dripping wet after cool showers, or covered in a film of sweat as a result of the intense heat and humidity. Seriously, my hair is never dry so when exactly was I thinking I was going to style it? I haven’t used them once in over a month. I barely comb my hair never mind think about “styling” it. I simply don’t care what my hair looks like. What was I thinking? [The curling tongs are history.]
I also spent some time carefully selecting a few small items of make-up to bring along. I don’t wear much make-up at home but I wear a little every day. Since we left I haven’t worn a scrap of make-up. Not once. Not a hint of mascara or even lip balm. Nothing. It’s just too hot to care. What was I thinking? [The make-up has survived so far – you never know…]
The binoculars have been mentioned. We simply agreed they would probably remain in the bag until we reach London. We didn’t miss binoculars last time and I use the camera zoom to look at faraway objects (usually birds or animals) and snap a picture. Why did we think we would need them this time? What were we thinking? [The binoculars were a bit more expensive and may yet come in useful and so, to date, have survived.]
Then there are the clothes – so many clothes. We’ve only been away for 3 weeks and already I’m just wearing the same clothes. A cull was undergone in Donggala and I have to admit that I’ve thrown out at least 4 dresses, two pairs of trousers, along with about 4 of t-shirts and a few other items deemed superfluous to requirements. My bag is lighter for it and I am unlikely to miss my discarded clothes. What was I thinking? [Disclaimer: the Wooky has also had a clothing cull so I’m not alone in this overpacking tendency although he is still angling for me to lose more clothes.]
In a slightly different vein, there is the delicate matter of our general health and fitness, our steely determination to continue with our new fitness regime while on the road, and our dream of trekking across Borneo one day (not on this trip but sometime in the next couple of years). This is incongruous with the age of our poor beaten up and creaking joints..
It is fair to say that before we left we had given up smoking and done very well with our vaporisers (e-cigarettes). We had also spent the weeks before our trip hitting the gym 5 or 6 times a week and both lost a bit of weight. We even had our personal trainer, Roderick, devise an exercise plan we could follow while on the road. We were full of enthusiasm for keeping this up until we arrived in Donggala and realised that Indonesian beaches don’t have air conditioning. [That we even had a personal trainer is evidence that we were clearly losing our minds in Australia.]
In Donggala, the 5 walk back and forth from our bungalow to the beach was about as exhausting as a session at the gym and the mere thought of walking/jogging/running anywhere unnecessarily, followed by a few sit ups and planks just has us breaking out in a sweat from the comfort of our matching hammocks (currently getting the vote for the best purchase so far) or has us spluttering the now immortal words “What were we thinking?” to each other through tears of hysterical laughter. It’s just too bloody hot and humid to do any of that rubbish.
And then there was the boat incident (more on that another time) where I was dragged back onto the boat from the water after diving like a harpooned seal and left with a self-diagnosed cracked rib and a dodgy knee. That put me out of action for a bit and made sleeping and travelling on Indonesian roads very uncomfortable.
After the boat incident we spent following day relaxing and me nursing my injuries, but a couple of days later we went ahead with our plan to visit the waterfall which involved clambering up a steep rocky path in the intense heat (it was practically mountaineering). This turned out to be too much for my rib which sent stabbing pains through me when I bent over double to grasp hold of something, and my injured knee ended up swollen and painful.
Paul on the other hand has always struggled with his knees and we both found the heat debilitating. While we managed to complete the climb up to the waterfall and back our respective bodies protested in the extreme. As Paul said when we reached the bottom again “That trek across Borneo isn’t looking too clever”. One of us (I believe it was the taller and the hairier of the two of us) uttered the immortal words “You can stick your trek across Borneo up your….”.
We have to face up to the fact that we are 50 years old. We are currently back on the fags (we will give up again or carting around e-cigarettes and nicotine juice will join the growing What were we thinking? list), we now have 3 dodgy knees between us, two dodgy backs and, weeks after the boat trip incident I am still nursing my poor rib which has continues to object painfully to the long car journeys we have endured over Indonesian roads.
We are disappointed as we had planned to do a bit of walking while in Tentena in the Lore Lindu National Park, and then again in Tana Toraja as both places offer many trekking opportunities but we are going to have to be realistic and take into account our physical limitations. For the time being at least we will only be able to do a bit of easy walking but nothing too treacherous.
But trekking across Borneo?
Really, what were we thinking?