Photo: All you need is a backpack.

Gear and equipment forum

Footwear, Swimwear, and other stuff

Posted by eb on 20/7/2009 at 10:42

Trying to figure out what I should be bringing (and if there is stuff I need to buy) for my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia next month.

Footwear - I have a great pair of leather sandals that I wear all the time that I'll definitely bringing, though since I wear them all the time, the traction isn't quite what it used to be, and I haven't worn them in the rain much. I'm also thinking I should be bringing my hiking boots for Sapa b/c I tend to twist my ankles if I do any real hiking without hiking boots. I'm also thinking a pair of dressier sandals for going out in the evenings. Should I bring sneakers and/or any other closed toed shoes, cheap flip-flops for gross showers, and/or anything else?

Swimwear - I know other places people have mentioned that clothing is more conservative there. Will a bikini be inappropriate (esp. if I'm snorkeling during a homestay on Cham Island)?

Helmet - I don't plan to rent a motorbike, but I might want to get rides on them. Possibly would want to rent a bike in Hoi An as well. I have a basic bicycle helmet. Should I bring that?

Mosquito net - the hotels will have them, right?

#1 eb has been a member since 5/7/2009. Posts: 21

Posted by MADMAC on 20/7/2009 at 18:33

Bikinis are great - the skimpier the better. Screw what the locals think in this department. What do they know anyhow? If you get some good photos of you in the bikini enjoying the beauty of southeast Asia, be sure to post them somewhere and the link with it.

A bicycle helmut will probably offer you more real protection than the motorcycle helmuts most of us (me included) wear here. Not sure about legal coverage though.

My own personal experience is that hotels that don't have mosquito nets also don't have mosquitos. However, I don't stay (for the most part) in very cheap places.

As for footwear - it if were me the sneakers and boots would work. But obviosuly you like the sandals, so I'd dump the sneakers.

#2 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 


Posted by BruceMoon on 20/7/2009 at 19:36

eb

How many semi-trailer loads are you bringing with you?

Go look at #4 here.

You are travelling for just 24 days... In the post (ie #4) I take that for 30 - 70 days!

If you really want to enjoy yourself, take as little as possible, otherwise you'll be forever beholden to the touts wanting to 'guide' you to their GH/hotel/etc/.

I use carry on because it means last on / first off, I don't lose bags, and I can carry my backpack and walk with speed instead of lugging a ton weight around. I suppose that because I broke my back some years ago, I'm averse to heavy loads. But, notwithstanding that, take as little as you can. If you need something (like sneakers) just go buy. Prices for use once - throw away stuff is really cheap.

As for hiking boots at SaPa, hahahahaha (sorry). Anyway, I was 'hiking' in that area a couple of months ago in leather sandals. And, I was riding a motorbike like motorcross up and down narrow paths in sandals.

As for motorbike helmet, its law that a rider uses them. So, if you are going to get a ride, the driver will get fined for allowing you on the bike without a helmet. So, 2nd helmets are the norm.

Mossie nets... Few have them. Where you are going, Malaria isn't a problem. And, if you are worried go read this or this.

Cheers

#3 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by MADMAC on 20/7/2009 at 20:27

"As for motorbike helmet, its law that a rider uses them. So, if you are going to get a ride, the driver will get fined for allowing you on the bike without a helmet. So, 2nd helmets are the norm."

But not in provincial Thailand at night. I am pretty sure the law requires them, but I am absolutely positive the local police totally ignore the ordnance. I can't get my son to wear one at night for all the tea in China. He says it ruins his hair styling. Seriously, WTF? He's a guy.

And riding a chopper in sandals... man, you must have tough upper feet, because I find changing gears without a shoe on most uncomfortable.

As for a bag - I don't know. I have no problem carrying 15 kg around and moving quickly with it. My wife thinks I am a pack mule. Last time we flew she had two suitcases - each at 20 kg and I had my own back at 18 (OK, we were moving to Thailand for the rest of our lives).

#4 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 

Posted by eb on 20/7/2009 at 21:26

Are you saying that the hiking in Sapa isn't very serious, or just commenting about your prowess at hiking in sandals? If it isn't very serious, I could probably do sneakers, which would be less to carry and I might want to use them on other occasions.

In terms of mosquitoes, I'm not planning on taking malaria meds, though it looks like there is some malaria risk in Sapa. Dengue fever seems to be more of an issue though. I guess nets are less useful for it since it is transferred during the day, but esp. for an afternoon nap or whatever it seems like they might be a good idea in some places.

I am trying to pack light - that's why I'm trying to figure out what is and isn't worth bringing. The only stuff I said I was planning to bring was a pair of hiking boots (which I often tie to the outside of my carry-on if I need space), two pairs of sandals which fill different niches and don't take up much space, and a bathing suit. The rest I was asking about. I do plan to check a backpacking pack, but I don't expect it to be full.

#5 eb has been a member since 5/7/2009. Posts: 21

Posted by SBE on 20/7/2009 at 23:27

Neither bikinis nor one-piece swimsuits are appropriate!

When you're in the water you can get really badly sunburned without noticing it ... always wear a T shirt when snorkeling.

#6 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,037
 Send SBE a private message   Where has SBE been? 

Posted by MADMAC on 20/7/2009 at 23:31

Bruce hikes everywhere in sandals - I think it's a fashion statement, but he swears it's related to podiatry. I wouldn't wear sandals hiking anywhere outside a city - and not even then. They do nothing to protect your feet and I have this thing about scorpion sting, whacking my toe on rocks and exposure to other nasty elements.

So I would bring the boots even if it's a nice, gentle, countryside trail.

Unless you plan on carrying the backpack along the Ho Chi Minh trail with you, I don't see where a few pounds one way or another make much of a difference. Get off the plane, walk to bus or taxi. Not very stressful even with a 20 kilo ruck. Go to hotel, carry pack to room. Again, not much of a haul. Check out of hotel, get in taxi or take skytrain to bus station, go to next destination with pack sleeping in the hold. Get off bus, load pack into a tuk tuk. Go to hotel. Unlaod pack, carry to room. Check out of hotel... you get the idea.

How far to you plan to hump this pack? If the answer is, from hotel to hotel, and not moving through jungle trails with it like Charlie Cong, then I think it's not that big of a deal.

#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 

Posted by smash on 21/7/2009 at 03:40

Re footwear, for light trekking (around Sapa/Luang Namtha/Gibbon Exp) and just general city walking, a paid of good trainers will suffice yes? We'll be 'keeping fit' while we're on our trip (i.e. running and perhaps odd stop at the gym) so will need a pair of runners/trainers anyway. I refuse to wear those horrible hi-there-i'm-a-tourist sandles so don't even go there. :oP

#8 smash has been a member since 21/6/2009. Posts: 162

Posted by BruceMoon on 21/7/2009 at 07:37

eb

No, its not serious trekking - as in mountainous national park. All the routes taken are made roads: some with bitumen, some with graded gravel, some are narrow and are just worn clay. Sneakers will be fine.

As for motorbike helmet, if you choose to go on a bike, it will be a case of:

(1) you joining a friend who has (or has rented) a bike and the friend WILL have gotten more than one helmet. If not, take the riders helment!!! or

(2) you will be a paying passenger. In such cases YOU dictate that a helmet WILL be provided.

As for insect related issues, go here .

SBE is correct about sunburn. If you are thinking that a suntan would be great to take back, it aint gonna happen. First, tropical sun burns the skin sub-layers within 15 minutes FULL STOP. Second, the alteration of pigmentation from the tropical sun is relatively quick to occur, and very quick to disappear. Where a temperate climate suntan may last for many many weeks, a tropical tan lasts about 10 days.

So, as they say in Australia slip, slop, slap - slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, and slap on a hat.

Cheers

#9 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by MADMAC on 21/7/2009 at 09:13

"So, as they say in Australia slip, slop, slap - slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, and slap on a hat."

I don't wear a hat or sun screen. I'm probably a candidate for melanoma.

#10 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 

Posted by eb on 21/7/2009 at 09:26

I've always just used waterproof sunscreen which I definitely prefer over wearing a T-shirt. I also generally try to avoid being out right in the middle of the day when you're most likely to get burnt.

Sounds like I won't bother with the helmet.

One other question about hiking boots vs. sneakers - my hiking boots are fully waterproof, whereas sneakers generally aren't. Since I'll be there in the rainy season, will that be an issue?

#11 eb has been a member since 5/7/2009. Posts: 21


Posted by BruceMoon on 21/7/2009 at 10:05

eb

On sun protection, it's not really about whether you wear a sunscreen, its more about what parts of your body are exposed. Most people wear sunscreen, yet its now recognised that they alone aren't enough. The reflected UV rays are now attributed as the killer. The t-shirt has a very low 'sun protection factor' (I think about 3 or 4). You need to wear sunscreen with a t-shirt. And, wear a hat as well. The point about wearing a t-shirt is that its a help, not THE answer.

Anecdotally, I was using a 30+ sunscreen when recently in tropical SE Asia. I was exposed for about the same time as I'd be exposed in Sub-Tropical Australia. In Australia, I'd be OK for that length of time. In SE Asia, I was burnt like a crisp.

I have a strong suspicion that you may not be fully aware of how much the sun can burn when you are in the tropics. But, I'll leave it at that.

As for boots, when it rains in the tropics, nothing is waterproof FULL STOP. The rain intensity is such that the water intrudes into everything. Having spent time with heavy leather boots up past my ankles - with gators - in the wet season, I can assure you a wet boot full of water is incredibly heavy.

Take the kitchen sink if you like, but I suggest sneakers will suffice.

Cheers

#12 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by SBE on 21/7/2009 at 17:06

The UV protection of a T shirt depends on how much light gets through the Tshirt. It can be as high as 25.

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1916.pdf

I've seem people get terrible sunburn on their backs while snorkeling in SE Asia even when wearing waterproof sunscreen.

Morning sun is ferocious too. If you really don't want to wear a T-shirt then wait till after 4pm ...but the underwater colours won't look so good. I don't wear a hat or sunglasses when snorkelling mind you ... you can't dive down when wearing them. Make sure there's lots of sunscreen on the backs of your legs and neck. I use a very high protection sunscreen (50) but even after 4 months with zero sun exposure exposure my legs are still browner than the rest of me. (Not sure what that "tropical tan only lasts 10 days" is all about Bruce!)

I'm not sure why you don't want to wear a T shirt...Asians often swim fully dressed. To them you'll look more odd in a skimpy bikini ... not because they're particularly shocked, but because they'll think you are crazy to expose your skin to the sun like that. They really don't like having "black skin" and think it's ugly. There are skin whiteners in every cosmetic product imaginable, even underarm deodorants! I once had to wait in the sun for a taxi for 5 minutes with a Thai girl in BKK and she was freaking out because she'd forgotten to put sunscreen on her arms!

Asian women may protect themselves from getting a tan for the wrong reasons, but it's a fact that they often look 20 years younger than their Western counterparts. Then there's the skin cancer risk of course.


As for footwear... getting wet is no big deal in the tropics because it's so hot. If you're going to buy hiking boots get light ones with a mesh to allow for air (and water) circulation. Personally I wouldn't bother getting dedicated boots at all for trekking. Even trainers are too hot to wear most of the time. I prefer sturdy teva-like sandals. Socks are a dreadful fashion faux pas in the cities but you could wear them to help keep out the leeches if necessary. ;-)

#13 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,037
 Send SBE a private message   Where has SBE been? 

Posted by MADMAC on 21/7/2009 at 19:17

The sun here is hot and can cause burns. I found East Africa much worse though. I have yet to get a sunburn here and I don't wear a hat or sunscreen. HOWEVER, I don't lie out in the sun either. My exposure is limited to when I go from point A to point B.

#14 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 

Posted by eb on 22/7/2009 at 01:41

I snorkeled in the Galapagos Islands which are right on the equator. I wore waterproof sunscreen and wasn't out there between 11am and 1pm, and I didn't have a problem. Is the sun in Vietnam particularly worse than on the equator? I find swimming in a t-shirt to be kind of cumbersome, so I'd rather not do it if it isn't necessary.

#15 eb has been a member since 5/7/2009. Posts: 21

Posted by BruceMoon on 22/7/2009 at 05:23

eb

I'm thinking you might now have worry as a millstone.

Simple solution, take those precautions you think you need (after considering the advice here), relaaaax, and go to SE Asia with the purpose of having fun.

Cheers

#16 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by MADMAC on 22/7/2009 at 11:05

Brcue is spot on here. Relax, go have fun, throw on some quality sun screen. This place is cool - not a litany of hazards.

#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 


Please login to add a reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a reply to this post. Please use the button below to log in. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.