I'll write soon about the technology seen on the trip but while it's fresh here's some notes on what tech I took and how effective it was.
In general, my bag was too heavy, partially because of the wide range of temperatures (0 degree tent stays to mid 30C humid weather).
Here's the gadget list:
- Tecsun PL-310 short wave radio
- iPhone 4
- iPad 2
- Kindle DX with 3G
- Mophie juice pack power station
- Apple USB charger
- Ricoh Digital III camera
Aside from the camera, the most used gadget was the PL-310 short wave radio which let me stay in touch with world news via the BBC and to some extent VOA. The BBC belted in each early evening on 17790kHz. The radio reports the strength as 53dbuV/m (with a noise floor of 24dbuV/m).
This radio is very compact, has excellent battery life, and I particularly like the automatic tuning mode which takes about two minutes to scan all of it's short wave bands and store the active frequencies. It would often find 60 stations on a scan.
Amazingly, the Kindle's free data service worked in Tibet (part of China) and as well as buying a few books (including a Lonely Planet) it meant that I could get to my email, although it's pretty slow and painful.
The iPad is great on the plane, I read and watched some movies, the flights we took had no personal entertainment system and the "big screen" movies were in Chinese so this was good. During the trip an eInk display, like the Kindle, is more practical for the packing weight.
The Mophie battery pack was good - it's the one with a USB socket, power went out quite frequently in both Tibet and Nepal which have regular "load shedding" power cuts.
Apple's standard iPhone/iPad USB charger is about the most practical USB charger around. I took both Australian and UK mains plugs but even then it was sometimes hard to get a good mains connection to the weird wall sockets available.
The iPhone worked well as a second camera and the HDR feature was very handy trying to get detail in snow capped mountains and bright clouds. Here's a straight shot:
And here's the HDR version:
Oddly the Telstra SIM didn't find coverage in Nepal but aside from that China Mobile's coverage is amazing throughout Tibet and right up to Everest base camp.
Internet access was pretty patchy. Some internet cafes do not offer WiFi so it was their virus ridden pirated Windows computers or nothing. Where we did get wireless internet it was very slow and unreliable but enough to check that no dramas had arisen at home.
So, for general staying in touch in low tech countries you can't beat a short wave radio even today. Rather than carrying heavy books a tablet reader makes sense in terms of weight.