Replacing Things on the Road

Every so often as I travel, things break. The little flimsy things often like lightning connectors which are used heavily often seem the most quick to snap or break at the lightning connector end. I bought the pair I had in Vietnam last year for cheap and they lasted about 9 months maybe. Not good or bad. Its hard to rate something like lightning connectors that I use every day with my portable charger and in the hotel room. My MacBook charger also broke but because perhaps I had bought a cheaper one. I bought a new Apple charger in Hanoi and its lasted me pretty well. So perhaps electronics stuff like cables are particularly susceptible to failure.

The second item, not really expected, were the walking sandals I bought in Phnom Penh. I had believed I would get about six months of wear out of them. The plan had been to wear them every other day walking and try to give the Merrill Moab shoes a break. The sandals only lasted about two months with heavy use. I was looking at them the other day and noticed that the uppers and velcro fasteners were simply falling apart and the upper sole under my foot was cracking already. Perhaps I mentioned but this brought to mind the missing Chaco sandals that I ordered awhile ago. Had I received these, I would not have bought more sandals in Cambodia. So, I decided that I would not buy another cheap pair of sandals and only get a few months out of them. I went with Birkenstock Arizonas from a Birkenstock store here. I wanted something that is there for the long haul and can handle both the daily walking and the evenings out to eat or stroll the city. Since I purchased from a Birkenstock store here, I have less doubts that they are a fake shoe and I have more confidence that they will last. I would like to get a year out of them and not think about shoes again for awhile.

I’ve replaced clothing on the road and got rid of Jeans. Do not take jeans to Southeast Asia folks. They are too hot and will be very uncomfortable. I bought some fake North Face shorts in Hanoi for about $7 a pair and got three pair and they work well and dry fast. A second thing is do not pack heavy duty T shirts from the states. They are too heavy! Replace them with cheap shirts in Vietnam or Cambodia or Malaysia. You can score shirts for about $3 each in Cambodia and if you get six months out of them great! Final few things are underwear and socks. Do not buy expensive stuff! You can find cheap replacements for both. I bought cheap socks in Singapore at a small clothing stand which work fine. Same with underwear. In the markets like the Central Market in Phnom Penh or Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City, you can find packets of cheap underwear. 

I guess what I am advocating or suggesting is that half the clothing you bring with you is simply not a good choice for hot and humid places in Southeast Asia. I am also suggesting to not carry heavier sweaters and jackets. When I went to Da Lat Vietnam, I found a cheap jacket thing for $30 which I gave to the hotel manager when I left because he mentioned needing one. You should plan on flimsy things like connectors for phones and laptops giving out when you least want them to. Shopping for these in places like Vietnam and Cambodia is not difficult. Heck, even if your phone gives out you can find new phones pretty easily here. Lots more choices than in the states with different manufacturers. 

I think you will dump most of your stuff that you so carefully planned for in the first months in Southeast Asia. They simply don’t work well. Shoes, socks, underwear, pants. All of the things you carefully pack probably will not last here or you will tire of. Forget the fashion statements. Remember some things are easier to get here but if you want quality shoes you may have to wait or buy the cheaper shoes or sandals to get you to a place like Malaysia or Singapore if you want the quality replacements or ship them from the states to a long stay place. If you do that, heed this! Do not ship with the USPS if you are from the states. Go with DHL, UPS, or FEDex for this. You stand a much better chance in Cambodia or Vietnam to get the items. You will pay more but the items may actually arrive.

How do you plan for this? Simple. You don’t. You move with the flow and do what you need. Buy from the markets and have no real quality expectations. Negotiate with the market stall owners a bit. They will start at some place like $5 for a T shirt. I have bargained stall owners down for clothing pretty successfully. Same with things like backpacks and traveling bags. You will find fake North Face Surge bags all over but I have one that has lasted almost a year with no problems and I bargained the owner down from $35 to $25. It’s fake. So what. It holds my stuff and the zippers and materials are very sturdy.

So replacing things on the road need not be a thing of worry. Just accept that most of the things you so carefully pack you will probably hate six months on the road and wish you had re-thought it all. Being forever in Southeast Asia is no different. 

I still wish I had those Chaco Sandals.

Author: Michael Perry

I've been blogging for over 20 years and now am living in Southeast Asia. The blog is about my slow vagabonding wherever I want to go. My home base is in Cambodia but I'm rarely there.