If I had to describe my personal packing style I would say that I am generally a minimalist - always choosing the convenience of a small pack or suitcase over preparing for all eventualities. I say 'always', but that's clearly not the case when it comes to fieldwork trips. Although I brought a minimum of clothes and not even a second pair of shoes, I managed to almost exceed the baggage limit again on this trip. Bags full of computers, gadgets, gifts, and of course noteboooks.
However, for the mountains of stuff I brought with me, here is my list of 5 things that I can not live without here:
1. Water purifying UV light: It's like something straight out of Sci-Fi; think sonic screw-driver but with only one of the functions. I spend so much time here being careful about what I eat/drink that if I were anywhere else you'd think it were a phobia - but in Nepal stomach upsets and much worse are a daily reality. Unfortunately, the water in the guesthouse rooms is not physically clean enough to drink (the light is great, but no defense against floaties) - however I'm ready and armed for the countryside!
2. Nail brush: one of the most contented parts of my day is filling a bucket with hot water and scrubbing Kathmandu off my feet.
3. The pink pencil: I'm not normally one for superstition and such - but I have a pink mechanical pencil that I used every day of the previous field trip, and have with me again. It's nice to have something so familiar to write down so much unfamiliar language with.
4. Skype: Ok, so I didn't really bring it with me, but I am officially now a massive fan of Skype. It's so much better than phone calls for the basic fact that silences aren't awkward - you can just wave at each other. And what's the use in having a Handsome Penpal if you can't see his Handsome face from time to time?
5. Laptop: it's a bit of an obvious one, but in many ways my laptop is like an electronic umbilical back to my other life. It's full of movies, songs and photos. Not to mention I can use it to Skype and internet. Oh... and do my work... It lets me be much more on top of data processing than I would be if I left it at home and just came back with a pile of tapes/CDs/SD cards.
Of course, one thing about Nepal is that there are lots of really great books here at really affordable prices - which is going to do nothing for my baggage weight management issues!