Austrian army backpack system

During the 80’s the Austrian army had a load carrying system that consisted of a large backpack that looked like a US army Alice Pack and a smaller bag that could be carried as a front pack or as a butt pack. Alternately the small bag could also be worn as a shoulder bag or a small backpack on it’s own. The bags are made from Nylon (Polyamide) and usually carried in combination with a pistol belt.

The idea from a front pack was copied in later years by the Dutch army. They had a small duffel generally known as the Rotota bag or soldiers handbag. This was also attached to the shoulder straps of a backpack. However the Dutch used plastic fast release buckles while the Austrian pack system uses metal hooks. Another difference is that the Dutch front-pack is carried on the chest while the Austrian front-pack is carried a little lower, on your belly. Perhaps this was done so the soldier has more space to handle a rifle.

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The Austrian backpack and front-pack. Source: www.swisslink.com

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Quechua Arpenaz backpack series

Travel equipment doesn’t have to be expensive and complex. Quechua, the home brand of Decathlon sports and outdoor shop, makes very simple and therefore lightweight and cheap backpacks. The Arpenaz backpacks don’t have side pockets. They consist of just one large main compartment with a additional 2nd compartment. The bags are padded with a small layer of foam on the back and made out of water repelling fabrics. On top is a small loop for hanging your bag on a hook in a public toilet or so. Unfortunately there is no large grip handle on top to pick up your bag easily. The Arpenaz backpack series has a 10, 20, 30 and 40 liter variants and is available in all kind of colors.

Arpenaz series

For the 10 and 20 liter the 2nd compartment is a front pocket. For the 30 and 40 liter variants the 2nd compartment is located in the cover lid. Al the variants except the 10 liter have mesh pockets on both sides. All backpacks except the 10 liter variant have a minimalistic hip belt. Since the volume of all these backpacks are not that big and there is no option for adjusting the shoulder straps at a different hight you might not using it at all.

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US Army style duffel bag for traveling

Soldiers in the army have usually something like a kit-bag, see sack, weekend bag or duffel bag. This not to use in the combat field but to take all their clothing and gear from army base to army base or from their barracks to home during weekends. These bags are usually very simple. In case of a duffel bag it is usually a one compartment bag with rings and a clip to close it instead of zippers. Most duffel bags have just one strap to throw over your shoulders. The US army duffel bag however is one of the few designs with two straps so that it can be worn as a (improvised) backpack. To improve the possibility of carrying the duffel bag as a backpack the bag has a rectangular shape instead of a cylindrical shape. A round shape will flip sidewards all the time when you have it on your back. A flat shape will be much more stable.

US army (style) duffle bag

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The floating raft resorts of Kanchanaburi

Staying in a hotel that floats on the water can be done at several places in Thailand. The two most popular places to go are Khao Sok National Park and Kanchanaburi Province. Kanchanaburi province is only a few hours from Bangkok and therefore very popular. The floating hotels at the banks of the river Kwai are very well known among tourists. Most likely due to the 1957’s classic war movie ”Bridge over the river Kwai”. In Bangkok you can find many companies offering short trips to Kanchanaburi that include one ore more nights at a floating hotel. Far lesser known is the Srinakarin Lake. This lake was formed after the building Thailands third largest dam;  the Srinagarind Dam (also known as the Srinakarin Dam) on the Kwai Yai River. The dam was built in order to avoid floods and to ensure water and electricity supply to the area’s residents. On this lake you”ll also find a lot of floating hotels. These are mostly visited by Thai people. Some even have only a name in Thai alphabet. Probably due to the larger distance to Bangkok and usually the need of private transport this lake is often overlooked by foreign tourists.

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One of the floating hotels (Saiyok View Resort) at the river Kwai in Kanchanaburi. Source: Facebook

The following list contains only the hotels, guesthouses and resorts that have a website, Facebook page or other online presence. Many resorts are 100% floating accommodations and hotel facilities. Others have both floating raft houses and bungalows on the river banks. The websites, YouTube movies and Facebook pages behind the links in this article are very often in Thai language only.

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Electrical plugs and sockets in Thailand.

What kind of electricity sockets do they use in Thailand ? Answer: A hybrid system of European standard and American standard. That means that a plug from continental Europe (2 pins without grounding) and a standard American plug (2 pins without grounding) will work fine.

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Due to the combination of the American standard and the European standard the holes have one flat side and one round side. This makes both types of plugs fit in the socket. This same system is used in other Asian countries like Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines.

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Both European standard plugs (left) and American standard plugs (right) will work fine in Thailand and many other countries in South East Asia.

In most western countries sockets with a ground connection are required by law for safety reasons. In Thailand however the ideas about safety are different. Also for electronic installations. Therefore it is completely normal to have ungrounded sockets (2 holes only). Sometimes you’ll find grounded sockets (3 holes) and ungrounded (2 holes) in one hotel room. Since chargers for mobile phones, tablets and photo cameras usually don’t use grounding (2 pins) it will always fit in Thai sockets.

As seen in the previous pictures; European plugs with a ground connection will fit in a Thai socket. However there is no way that the ground pin is connected. Your electronic devices will work fine but off course it is less safe.

Stealing from your luggage and what you can do about it.

Theft from your luggage is unfortunately a thing that can happen. Just like in daily life there are criminals that want to steal what belongs to you. This can surely happen by fellow travelers but also by people who work as luggage handlers in airports, buses or ferry boats. Thailand has seen both arrests of foreign travelers being caught for stealing as well as local employees who work as a luggage handler.

Coconuts Bangkok writes often about this problem. Its like fighting rats; no matter how much you catch of them they will come back.
Phuket airport employee caught stealing Adidas shoes from luggage.
Busted! Baggage handlers at Suvarnabhumi Airport caught stealing from passengers.
Phuket airport staff arrested for stealing from passengers’ luggage.

 

How people steal from your luggage and how to ovoid theft.

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Dutch army daypack

The Dutch army daypack aka KL daypack or KLu daypack is a small backpack but equipped with foam-padded shoulder straps like it is a full size backpack. The bag has a main compartment with an internal divider and two side pockets. The weigh is about 1,35 kg and measurements are 45 x 28 x 18cm for the main compartment and 7 x 15 x 25 cm for each of the side pockets. This gives the backpack a total volume of 28 liters. However, on online army shops and second hand trading websites the volume is very often stated as 35 liters. The outside contains two attaching belts for extra equipment like a water bottle or first aid pouch. These items can be attached with alice-clips, but also the old Dutch/British webbing system hooks.  This backpack was made during the 90’s in 3 colours; Woodland (Dutch DPM), Dessert (Dutch CDU) and olive green. The olive green one was only issued to the Dutch Airforce (KLu) and therefore harder to find nowadays. Big advantage of this last one is that the camouflage pattern will not fade out after years of usage. Also the color is more neutral and suitable for urban traveling. An even rarer version is the black one issued to members of the Dutch military police (Marechaussee). This one was however made of a much softer normal fabric.

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The 3 different camouflage versions of the Dutch army daypack

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List with floating raft house resorts in Khao Sok National Park (Cheow Lan Lake).

There are 15 or 16 different floating house parks on the Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park. They function as remote islands on the fresh waters between the lime stone cliffs. Electricity is usually generated by diesel engines and solar panels. Supplies need to be transported by boat. Wi-Fi and mobile phone network are often not available. Many resorts offer their guests only a mattress on the floor instead of a real bed. So don’t expect too much luxury and relative high prices here. But its all worth it.

Phutawan Raft House 2(www.tripadvisor.com)
Capsule shaped floating houses at Phutawan Rafthouse resort. Source: www.tripadvisor.com

The list with floating bungalows aka raft houses are clockwise from the Ratchaprapa dam. Here is a parking area, a souvenir shop, tourist information point and a pier from where most resorts pick up their guests by long tail boat.

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Map with the different area’s and all the floating raft house resorts from the Cheow Lan Lake in the Khao Sok National Park. Source: www.khaosoklake.com

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Travel coffee makers

If you like to drink a nice fresh cup of coffee you probably also would like to do this when you are travelling. Many hotels will equip the room with a water cooker and some instant coffee. But if you want a more advanced cup of coffee you need to take a look at other devices: Travel Coffee Makers.

This movie about some different portable coffee making devices by Donny Outdoors catches the essence of travel coffee making systems perfect. Make nice coffee wherever you go, relax and enjoy the moment ….. ..  

There is a huge variety in water boiling and coffee brewing equipment. Al trying to let you enjoy your coffee just like it is at home.  Continue reading

Great travel item: US army patients effects bag

Some military surplus items are perfect for travellers; light weight, not to expensive, still available from unused stock and many different ways to use them. The US army patients effects bag is such an item.

When wounded soldiers were taken to a (field) hospital, staff placed an injured soldier’s personal belongings such as wedding rings, watches, glasses or letters in these bags. Each bag has two drawstrings on top and a gusseted bottom to stand upright when full. Inside the bag is a rubberised pocket to separate items. On the outside of the US GI personal effects bags is a small white square where the soldier’s name would be written. Another version which is not so common is meant for dead soldiers and has a label which much more details to be filled in. Among the details; Killed in action. Measuring 12 inches tall and 15 inches wide, these cloth bags make perfect toiletry bags, laundry bags, or other small item bags for campers, Scouts or travellers.

 

Available at:
www.global.rakuten.com
www.hobbyswoodmilitaria.co.uk
www.colemans.com
www.go-armynavy.com
www.mooremilitaria.com
www.sportsmansguide.com This is the not so often seen bag for deceased military personal instead of the wounded one.