Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A note on malaria

Many moons ago, for better or for worse, engineering won out in the battle for my affections, leaving medicine unloved and ignored. Because of this I ended up just before Christmas discussing malaria with my GP and after running through the various options available for 3 months in and around the jungle asked which of the four or so tablets on offer he would recommend. After a noncommittal scratch of the chin he said "well most people tend to go for Malarone, it's a bit more expensive, but it's the newest and with the least side effects". "Hmm", thinks I "a bit more expensive. This means there must be a cheaper option" and after a little bit of sweet talking left his office with 2 prescriptions, one for malarone and one for doxycyline and some advice to shop around a bit as prices vary.

As with 80% of my life I ended up in the arse end of Tesco's:

Malarone: £272.80

Doxycyline: £26.36

Needless to say that I went for the latter of the two options; a factor of ten is a lot when you are on a budget. This has two minor downsides.
  1. Some bright spark decided the best, most convenient way for these to be packed for going away travelling would be in 19 containers with 8 tablets in each.

  2. The warning one the side that says"avoid the sun"

However, having spoken to my girlfriend who had malaria three times while she was growing up in India and who has come through it relatively unscathed, my enthusiasm for the subject has taken a bit of a beating anyway.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Equipment Trials

As with all good tales this one is going to start at a point that most definitely isn't the beginning. Over Christmas my rather lovely parents bought me a new rucksack to take away with me over my forthcoming travels. Last weekend I got to test it out for the first time along with one or two of the other items I've been gathering in the Breacon Beacons, South Wales, and wanted to write it up before my memory degraded completely. This is us in the Brecons:

And this is Rio:

With such striking similarities it would have been rude not to saddle up and head in to the wild.

After a thorough test that ended in an unceremonious retreat to somewhere warmer to drink whiskey I reached the following conclusions:

  • Despite being "ladies" fit rucksack as a whole it was generally very comfy
  • The clam shell opening made it really easy to get to things in the bag when it was on the ground. Not so great when on your back but I guess that is what the day sack is for.
  • The gortex jacket I have is great - completely dry despite being blown sideways by the rain.
  • Headtorches. Brilliant.


  • A gortex bivvy bag is only waterproof for so long.
  • Fleece gloves are not waterproof
  • If you are going to create a shelter with a mate out of ponchos to try and weather a bitch of a storm check first to make sure they actually fit together properly and don't leave a gaping hole directly above where you are planning to sleep.
  • Whiskey is important for any activity involving the outdoors
  • If you're planning on sleeping out allow at least a couple of hours to set up camp before dark. Although this is unlikely to be the case while I'm away it's a useful lesson to have anyway.

All in all a successful, if not entirely focused on the job at hand, test, however next time I must remember to bring the hammock.