What’s In Your Bag, Graham?

I often get asked what's in my bag.  I’ve already done a blog on what (not) to take backpacking, but I didn’t really get into the technical stuff, so here goes: CAMERA: I use an old 2006 Sony HVR-A1(E) HDV camera. It takes mini-DV tapes, which are surprisingly easy to get anywhere on the road. The hand-held successors in this product line were mostly hard-drive cameras, which are fantastic, but in environments where things can go missing, humidity can affect drive heads and stuff is likely to suffer from knocks, tapes are a better idea than hard drives. When I first started I used the top-mounted XLR mic plugged into the hot-shoe on the A1, but after a couple of weeks I ditched it – at arm’s length the A1’s inbuilt mic was just as good and in stereo. I use a cheap Chinese-made 37mm wide-angle lens so…

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Days 494-500: No Dice

09.05.10-15.05.10: Well then, it should all be over, shouldn’t it?  First thing Sunday morning I hurried down to the copy place to pick up my shiny happy visa, only for the guy to pull it out of the drawer with a despondent look on his face. You need to get the visa in London. I took a deep breath, nodded, smiled, exited and screamed an obscenity to the sky that would have woken Rip Van Winkle. No visa.  No dice.  What now? I rang Eric who has become my unofficial Kuwaiti Yoda, he said he could get my passport DHLed back in the UK for just a fiver through his company.  Thus began my week of visa madness. On the Monday morning I was invited back to the British Embassy to see if they could musta some ‘wusta’, the word for influence around these parts (and…

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Days 466-472: A Dead End

11.04.10 - 17.04.10: So there’s always plan B, right? Well, it all seemed simple enough. According to the Lonely Planet I could get a transit visa for Saudi as long as I had a Bahraini visa and a valid ticket from the bus station. So first thing I was up and at ‘em heading over to the Bahrain embassy. The weekend here runs Friday and Saturday, so it was open and pretty soon I had my visa and was heading over to the Saudi visa agents to try and get that transit visa. I was a bit worried it would take a few days, but the awful truth was that it wouldn’t take any time at all – they only give out transit visas for residents. As I’m not a resident, I can’t get one. I had painted myself into a corner. The next day I…

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Day 464: Persepolis

09.04.10: Last night’s taxi took me to the coach station and within minutes, I was hurtling down through the good night towards Shiraz near the Gulf. When I arrived in the morning, I knew that there were defo no boats to Kuwait, but I was having trouble working out from the ferry company website when the boat did actually leave. It took me a couple of hours and a few phone calls to find out that the boat left from a place on the Shat-al-Arab waterway called Khorammshahr tomorrow morning. I booked a ticket for the overnight bus to Khorammshahr and elected to spend my afternoon wisely by visiting the nearby ancient Zoroastrian site of Persepolis. Zoroastrianism was the religion of Persia before the Arabs turned up and ruined everything (much in the way the Italians and spoilt all our Pagan-y fun in Blighty). The Zoroastrian…

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