Posted by: kim | July 25, 2007

Hi-tech travel

In just a few short years, the amount of gadgetry I’ve seen people carry during their travels appears to have increased tenfold. When I did a bit of travelling through Europe seven years ago, I had my CD Walkman, a few novels  and an email address I used when visiting an internet cafe.

Now, we see people with portable DVD players watching films on trains, people with slimline laptops wirelessly accessing the net from the hundreds of wi-fi connected cafes scattered around even the smallest of towns, iPods, digital cameras and mini-camcorders galore, furious texts being sent using cameraphones, language translation gadgets on the go, PDAs, twenty-something travellers accessing their Facebook profiles online and goodness knows what else.

I’ve found the mobile phone expensive but useful at times, particularly if I’m in an area where there’s internet coverage. When we were on the overnight train to Guilin in the south of China, Rob was able to check whether we had to get off at Guilin North or if the train stopped at Guilin proper, as no one on the train could speak English. We even checked the train timetable on the go.

Of course, I’ve been uploading photos to Flickr and updating our journal too (I tried using mobile Flickr but it cost me two pounds to send over a picture of a vegetable stir-fry). I also have my Nintendo DS to pass the time (I didn’t bring the DS browser, Sean!) However, as I mentioned, I’m using a film camera when taking non-spontaneous shots, so the whirr of the film each time I take a shot must seem positively prehistoric to people around me: in the middle of a Chinese village on top of a hill, I had the auto-timer on and an old lady peered behind the camera to see the shot we’d taken, not realising that it was film! We’re also both keeping written journals.

I don’t think all this connectivity necessarily takes away from the travel experience; it helps to pass the long journeys and helps to instantaneously convey your adventure to others. But sometimes I just want everyone (including me) to switch all their electronics off and not have to worry about them! What do other people think….?

PS: On another unrelated note, I detest Harry Potter and it was good to notice they are already peddling photocopied versions of the book on the streets of Saigon two days after its release.




  1. No-ooo! I’m really enjoying Harry Potter! The only thing I’d be glad to see the back of is Martin’s mobile phone when he gets calls from work while we’re on holiday…

  2. John’s still typing his comment… :o)

  3. Wow! Check out that train!

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