We’re a few days away from flying, and much has happened up to now. Some of the highlights are:
- Selling / donating / dumping possessions accumulated over the years (in Daniel’s case over as many as 35 years – a boy scout uniform was discovered in the back of a bottom drawer!). We were assisted in this process by our landlord when he asked us to move out of the apartment by end May which then became the deadline for compacting our life into what we could carry. Day after day we sorted through stuff, constantly whittling down the ‘keep’ pile as we increased the ‘get rid of’ pile. It was emotionally draining and there was only so much we could do in any one day. Some things were very difficult to part with (hundreds of books went into the recycling bins when we couldn’t find a home for them) while others were easy (think of all the unworn or badly fitting clothes in your closet). Overall it felt liberating to clear so much clutter out, while at the same it was a tough reminder of our part in society’s overconsumption.
- Moving in to our short-term serviced apartment for the final 3 months. This is a room in a hotel popular with mainland chinese groups (think loud, rude, pushy, and a minimum group size of 100) and every day we are kindly reminded of how much we want to leave city life behind. While most might find a small hotel room cramped, we are enjoying the comfort of a bed, a hot shower, a flush toilet, not to talk of the luxury of a 2 ring hob for cooking!
- Giving our work the news that we weren’t going to be around. In Daniel’s case the timing was beautiful, being a Monday morning directly after a 3 week holiday his boss wasn’t aware he was taking! There was little surprise at Clara’s announcement given she has been threatening this for years and had twice before resigned (unsuccessfully!). With our calendars cleared as of end August all that remained was to decide where to go…
- Hmmn… Where to go? With our heads full of enough trips to fill a decade, the tricky part was deciding where to start 🙂 We picked New Zealand because… because… well why not? It’s relatively close to HK, kind of at the bottom of the world, the season more or less fits as it is coming into Summer, there are more than enough trails there to keep even crazy hikers like us happy, we hoped the fresh air we’ll gulp as we climb those mountains will make up for many years of ingesting HK’s pollution, and logistically it was easy to organise – we speak the language, well, sort of.
- Once we had settled on NZ, and realised the enormity of the challenge of carrying ourselves and our packs over the rugged mountains there, the next focus was how to minimise the weight of our packs. That involved multiple trips a day up and down to the hotel laundry room to weigh various articles of clothing (usually preceeded by conversations along the lines of ‘do you think these socks weigh 40g or 45g?’). As the list of ‘essential’ things grew, we reassured ourselves that we were packing for ‘a way of life’ as opposed to for a 5 day adventure race and so needed to be comfortable, and anyway as long as the bag weighed less than 1/3rd of our weight, we’d surely be fine!
- Once eveything we ordered had arrived, Daniel prepared his bag to see firstly would everything fit (he had bought a “smallish” 75l pack that had me worried i’d end up having to stuff the extras into my roomy pack!). It proved a tight squeeze getting everything in (alarm bells for me as that was without any food and water!). The effort from that left him winded and sweating (which had me doubly worried) and then i watched him swing the straps over his shoulders and slowly stagger to his feet. After 10 lengths of our 20 sqm hotel room, it was clear this bag was heavy and needed lightening. After half an hour of deliberation, he had cut the pockets off his shorts, cut the labels from his shirts, decided 2 spare pairs of socks was a luxury he couldn’t afford and removed a strap or 2 from his backpack. Maybe 75g shaved? Meanwhile the photo equipment (weighing over 4kgs) wasn’t even glanced at and later that day having seen some great night shots taken in NZ, he ordered a 0.6kg tripod! I’m not complaining though as i hope it means i’ll get plenty of time to enjoy the views from the summits as I wait for him to catch up.
- It’s been easy to comment on Daniel’s preparations, but I have to confess that my bag is not yet packed! My 11 year old pack was stinking after 10 years of neglect and the first step before putting my precious new gear in there was to give it a good scrub! After half an hour of intimacy in the shower (thankfully no photo record of that part of the preparations!) my bag looks good as new!