05 November 2010

China, There and Back Again

We are back from our big adventure, and there are stories to tell. I am simultaneously anxious to organize the 1700+ pictures and videos I took, and exhausted from jet lag. Last night, riding the high of getting home and greeting everyone and answering questions and giving presents, I started an impromptu photo show for my wife and my mother-in-law, Pat, who had been visiting while I was gone, but was leaving for home in the morning. We started at around 10pm, and at 12:40am we had to stop when, about 2/3 through the pictures and my accompanying commentary, my camera batteries died. I have a lot of organizing and winnowing to do before I can give an organized presentation, which I have promised to do in December at the local senior center.

Problem number one in dealing with the pictures is that I forgot to change the date and time on the camera while there. Fortunately, after only a brief investigation, I've found that iPhoto has the ability to make the +12 hour adjustment on all the photos in one batch. The computer is busy changing the files now.

In the meantime, I can tell a bit about the traveling--specifically, what am I glad I brought, and what did I bring that I ended up not needing or not using.

Things I'm Glad I Brought

  • A 16GB SDHC card for the camera. I used over 14GB taking about 1,740 pictures and videos. Glad, too, that I bought a class 6 card which reads and writes faster than lower-numbered classes.
  • Imodium. Never needed it in China, but it saved me at the very end when "the urge" struck just as the plane landed in Newark.
  • Ibuprophen. Helped me deal with a stiff back the first few days of the trip, although doing my back exercises was the real key.
  • A journal. Wrote quite a bit in it. I could have possibly typed it all into my iPod Touch, but it's nice to have the tangible object, which accompanied me to China and back and can serve as the record for the trip. I did fall behind in writing in it, so I have some catching up to do to complete it.
  • 2 pairs of shoes. I don't know. I just liked having sneakers when I needed them, and something lighter to wear on the plane and for bopping around. Crocs. Mortifying, isn't it? Well, I liked having them.
  • Gum. Good to have on the plane and nice thing to share with my traveling companions.
  • iPod Touch. I used it constantly to look up Chinese words (Qingwen Chinese Dictionary), take notes (PlainText), play games (Reiner Knizia's Money, Mü, Galcon Lite, Cut the Rope), and to call home for free when I had Wi-Fi access (Line2 free trial).
  • Cargo pants. Used them on the plane to stuff my extra pockets with things from my backpack so I didn't have to keep it under the seat. The extra leg room was priceless. Don't stuff the pockets until you are through security, though.
  • Gorilla Pod. It's a small flexible tripod you can set up almost anywhere. Used it to take the group shot on the great wall. Also good to have in the camera bag: a good lens brush and lens cleaner, and twice as many batteries as you think you'll need.
  • The book The Building of the Burma Road by Pei-ying Tán. The story of why will have to wait for the appropriate time in the narrative, which will come in another post.
Wish I'd Had (or remembered to bring)
  • Rechargeable battery charger (forgot mine--borrowed one from my Dad), or more batteries
  • One more pair each of socks and underwear (actually, I had them, but I forgot I'd stuffed them in my backpack)
  • Benadryl as a sleep aid and for allergy relief (borrowed from Dad and my cousin)

Things I Brought But Didn't Need or Use

  • Binoculars. I always think I'll use them, and I never do. Never again.
  • Sunglasses. I thought I'd use them. Never pulled them out of my backpack.
  • International adapter kit for the iPod. Every hotel had dual-voltage plugs that took both European- and US-style plugs. $40 down the drain. If you want to buy one, I'll be selling mine on Amazon. I give you good price.
  • ALL the games. Remember all that business about what games to bring? Never had time (or the desire) to play one once. In retrospect, the only thing one has to bring is a deck of cards, just in case.
  • Tripod. Could have used it if I had been determined to do so and took the time. Generally, was too rushed and didn't want to carry the weight around.
  • Swiss Army Knife: Another item that I always think I'll need but, A) Can't carry it on the plane, so I forget to fish it out of my luggage and put it in my pocket , probably because B) I never do end up wanting it. Now, if we were camping? Different story.
  • Earplugs: That's personal preference, though. Some of our group used EarPlanes. I had noise reducing earplugs for my iPod, which I also used with the entertainment system on the plane.
  • Toilet Paper.  Again, never had it with me when I could have used it, although, thankfully, I never wished I'd had it. Probably would still bring, just in case.
  • Book to read.  Alas, I bided my time on the Continental flights with the entertainment system and my iPod. Didn't even crack the book I brought, Neon Rain by James Lee Burke. And me, a librarian. Shame on me. To atone, I bought books in China to bring home.
Well, iPhoto is finished changing the time on my pictures. Time to get cracking at organizing and winnowing. The story of the trip will follow...

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