French army F1 backpack

The French army F1 backpack was in use till the mid 90s. Nowadays you can still find them in many (online) army surplus shops. Main reason for that is because they are extremely durable and made out of tough heavy duty materials. This backpack is super strong and won’t disappoint you.

f1-backpack-2-modified
The French Army F1 backpack can be extended with a chimney. That’s why the closing straps are extra long. Source: www.global.rakuten.com

The French army F1 backpack is compared to a modern lightweight backpack a bit heavy (2,2 Kg) and a bit uncomfortable. Actually it is more a very luxury duffel bag. For example; it doesn’t have side pockets and it has grip handles on both sides. Besides that you can also wear it on your back. Fully expanded it has a huge storage volume. Some sources claim it is 65 litre while other mention even 80 litres. There are two different closing cords. This allows you to use the backpack in normal mode or in fully expanded mode. Where the Polish (puma camouflage) backpack is equipped with two sets of closure buckles to assure closing at different heights, the French F1 backpack uses extra ordinary long closure straps to close the pack at all possible heights. The shoulder straps are padded but not with the softness of a modern backpack or rucksack. There is a hip belt but this is a very minimalistic belt. Most people will attach both sides of the hip belt to another point of the bag and not use it. The bottom of the pack is covered with a thick rubber that comes 20 cm of the ground. This will prevent your stuff from getting wet when you place the pack in a damp underground or a small puddle of water. Behind the rubber is a small pocket that is sealed with Velcro. This can be used to store a padlock and the ends of the very long closing straps. The covering lid with a top pocket also has a rubber lining to protect your stuff from the rain.

 

Closable with a padlock.
Another great feature of this backpack is that you can close the top with a pad lock. To do this you have to remove the upper binding cord and replace it with a extra high padlock. This will make it a lot harder for thieves to steal from your bag. Especially in buses between the city centre and the ferry pier to the harbour and on long distance buses to the southern islands theft is very common. Usually the luggage handling personnel works together and hide one small guy in the luggage compartment under the bus.

 

Modifications
Just like most military surplus backpacks it is possible to upgrade them with parts from other backpacks. One of the possible upgrades is to attach the shoulder straps of a modern backpack to the D ring on top of the backside of this backpack. Since the original straps are very small it is possible to wind them through most buckles that will come with a the well padded shoulder straps of an old backpack. The original shoulder padding can be attached with duct tape over the extra soft and longer backpack straps.

 

 

Available at:
www.keepshooting.com
www.armynavystores.co.uk
www.galaxyarmynavy.com
www.global.rakuten.com
www.lefortinligerien.kingeshop.com
www.soframa.net
www.militaria4you.com (Dutch military surplus website)

The (British army) Rucksack Other Arms vs The Osprey Porter

The Rucksack Other Arms from the British army and the Osprey Porter are both “single” compartment backpacks where you can hide the shoulder straps. This allows you to use it as a hand carrying bag. Both the backpacks are not very high compared to their width.

If you spend most of your time carrying your luggage at your back when hiking or going to the woods and mountains, then a real backpack is most suitable. If your backpack spends most of its time in a luggage compartment of a bus, train, airplane, mini van, taxi etc. then a single compartment bag with no extra straps or side pockets is more suitable. This setup comes close to a suitcase that you carry on your back. Hiding the shoulder straps prevents your bag from being strangled with other parts of a vehicle or other luggage. Side pockets are normally for direct access to small frequently used items. When your main luggage stays in a luggage compartment you can’t reach it. So extra side pockets are not useful. The absence of these extra pockets makes the bag lighter and prevents stuff from falling out or get stolen. You always keep in you hand carrying bag or day pack. The extra straps and belts on a typical backpack are for attaching other items like a sleeping bag or a bedroll. Extra items attached on the outside of a backpack might come of, get stolen or get strangled with other parts of a vehicle. So therefore it is wise to keep all your luggage in one big solid compartment. Both the Other Arms bergen and the Osprey Porter have a single big solid compartment and don’t have extra straps that you might not use. Normal suitcases have a hard shell and always keep the same size and shape. This makes it very often difficult to impossible to fit them in the trunk of a car or mini-van. While travelling in Thailand you will see people struggling with this. There these backpacks have a soft shell you won’t have this problem.

The Other Arms Rucksack was issued to non infantry units like engineers or armoured vehicle crews of the British army. They do have to carry their clothes and equipment with them when moving from their barracks to field bases etc. But unlike their infantry counterparts they usually don’t have to carry it for long distances on their back over muddy trails in the woods. This backpack is also known as: The Turtle backpack, The engineer’s backpack, Other arms bergen and some other nicknames. The main construction material of the pack is heavy duty 1000 Denier Cordura. Most of them were produced with the woodland DPM camouflage pattern. But versions in black and olive green are also know. Just like the other Bergen types, the pack can be extended with two side pouches from 10 litle each. These are also known as the rocket pouches. Where most urban backpacks attach side pouches with two small straps, the side pouches on the Bergen type backpacks are attached with 4 fast release buckles and two realy heavy duty zippers. This setup makes that they won’t bounce back and forward all the time as they do on most commercial backpacks. The two side pouches can be zipped into a daypack with the use of a so called yoke (shoulder straps). Most backpacks and rucksacks have a covering flap over the full top of the bag for closure and protection. The All Arms rucksack however has a double ended zip at the top of the bag. This zip is protected with a small covering flap.

P1050852
Heavy duty zipper with protection flaps on top of the backpack. Source: www.goldingsurplus.co.uk

The Nato Stock Number of this backpack is NSN: 8465-99-978-5364

Other Arms Bergen available at:
www.keepshooting.com
www.goarmy.co.uk
www.surplusandoutdoors.com
www.militarymart.co.uk
www.premiersurplus.co.uk
www.goldingsurplus.co.uk
www.firestormkit.co.uk
www.armynnavy.com
www.nicks-kit.co.uk
www.armyworld.pl (Poland)
www.desertrat.se (Sweden)
www.raeer.com (Germany)

More info:
www.woodlife.co.uk
www.campingsurvivalgearreviews.com
www.survivingmothernaturebritishstyle.blogspot.nl

Osprey Porter 46
The Osprey Porter 46. Source: www.OspreyEurope.com

The Osprey Porter comes in two sizes: The Osprey Porter 46 and the Osprey Porter 65. They are made of 420 Denier Nylon Hex Diamond Ripstop fabric. While normal duffel bags or suitcases have little to no options for compressing the luggage into a smaller size, the Osprey Porter has two compression straps. These will bend the semi rigid side walls down to the middle of the bag. This will also protect the zippers. In the unlikely event of of a broken zipper you still have these straps covering the contents of your bag. The zippers can be opened over the full length of the pack. This makes it a top loader just like a suitcase. Where the shoulder straps of the Other Arms bergen can be tucked away behind a covering flap that is sealed with velcro, the Osprey Porter does this with a zipper. This seems to be a more rigid and strong solution. The 46 litre pack does match the requirements of most airlines to take the pack as hand carry luggage. The two grap handles on the pack are very strong and padded. This makes very easy to carry it with your bare hands instead of with the shoulder straps. The All arms bergen has only one hand carry handle which is not padded. Especially with a fully loaded pack this might be not very uncomfortable. Where most backpacks have a inner pocket to store magazines, or a laptop on the side close to your ruck, the Osprey Porter has a pocket to store a laptop and other office items on the front side of the bag. This pocket is accessible from the outside.

Osprey Porter 46 Review at www.outdoorgearlab.com.

Other so called “Travelpacks” with a similar design are the Osprey Farpoint and the Lowe Alpine Voyager. The Osprey Farpoint is almost identical with the Osprey Porter but it has two sleeves on the front where you hand put a bottle or a folded map inside. The Lowe Alpine Voyager comes with an extra strong anti-theft zipper. Not a bad idea since zippers on suitcases and backpacks are very easily to break open with a sharp tool or a simple ballpoint. After stealing your luggage (usually by luggage handling personnel) the thief will close the zipper as if nothing ever happened.

Chillax Neighbourhood

This is the neighbourhood in front of the Chillax Resort

http://www.chillaxresort.com

The area is very close to the Khaosan Road but much more quite.

chillax-1

Other hotels in this neighbourhood are:
Nouvo City Hotel
The Glory Hostel
Back home backpackers
Cow Hostel
Love hostel and cafe
At Phranakorn Inn
Full Hostel
The Rajata
Samsen Sky Hostel
Samsen 360 Hostel
The glory of Samsen

As you can see from the names of the hotels, this area is on the Samsen Road. More precisely; the southeast side roads (soi) 2, 4, and 6.

Cillax neigbourhood 2
Source: www.nouvocityhotel.com

https://facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=584901045040623&id=117658675098198

Coffee culture in Thailand

Royal Projects
The relatively cool mountains in the north of Thailand (close to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai) are very suitable for coffee and tea production. The royal family launched several projects to support the hill tribes who lived in these mountains. One of the things was the introduction of coffee growing as a replacement for the opium growing. The small coffee farms try to focus on the production of high quality (single estate) coffees rather than big volumes of cheaper blend coffees. Some brands are Doi Tung, Phu kha, Doi Chaang, Nacha Coffee and Akha Ama.

More info about Thai Royal Projects
Travel review by Mark Wiens: Doi Chaang – How To Visit Thailand’s Coffee Paradise.
Travel report: Coffee Journey: A tour to a remote coffee village in Thailand.

Coffee shops
Coffee shops in Thailand can be found in all sizes and shapes. From simple street vendors to luxury bakeries with a shady garden. One of the biggest Thai coffee shop chains is Black Canyon Coffee. Besides coffee you can also buy food here. When you are exhausted from the heat, look around for a shop with a glass front window and door. This is very often a coffee shop with air conditioning inside ! Sometimes you can also recognize coffee shops by the drying of used coffee powder outside the shop. This is used as a natural skin scrubbing agent. Especially in the smaller streets (sois) this can be seen.

Top 5 Specialty Coffee Shops to Visit in Thailand.
Best little coffee shops in thailand.
The 8 best coffee shops in Bangkok

Picture source: GRAPH CAFÉ in Chiang Mai.

Iced coffee
Iced coffees in Thailand are usually prepared with condensed milk and a lot of sugar. It is so popular that there is even a page about it on Wikipedia. Pailin “Pai” Chongchitnant from www.hot-thai-kitchen.com shows how you can prepare these coffees by yourself.

Canned and instant coffee from the 7-Eleven supermarket
In every supermarket from 7-Eleven you can buy instant coffee and canned ice coffee. Usually it comes with milk and lots of sugar.

thailand_7eleven_coffee1
Canned ice coffee. Source: Tripque

Multi Functional scarf, Head Wrap, Wrist band

In Thailand it can be hot and sweaty. A light weight thin piece of fabric can absorb that sweat around your head of wrist. On a motorbike you can use it as a scarf to protect your mouth from flies and dirt. In busses it can be chilling cold because of the airconditioning. Then you can use it as a scarf to give you some extra warmth. When sleeping in a bus or hostel you can use it as a blind coffer for your eyes. Also suitable for naughty sex games.

http://thailandoutdoorshop.com/catalog/product/view/id/7015/s/buff-thailand-outdoor-club-limited/

https://www.varusteleka.com/en/product/multi-function-head-wrap-solid-colour/10561?ref=proper-military-gear

(Dutch) foldable wash bucket

When you are traveling you need to wash your clothes sooner or later. Luckily you can find many laundry services in Thailand. They will wash and dry your dirty clothes for 40 to 200 Thai Bath. But sometimes you just want to wash one or two items or you just stay one night in a place. Then it is an option to do a quick hand wash in a bucket or in the bathroom sink. For these situations it is super handy to have your own small rubber bucket with you. It is light and it doesn’t take much space in your suitcase or backpack. In case you don’t have soap with you you can always buy some in a small package at the 7-Eleven. Or you can off course use some shampoo or shower gel.

The Dutch / Belgian military rubber bowl will stand right up by the pressure of the water what is inside. The bowl isn’t that big (approx 4 litre) but it is large enough for a T-shirt, a pair of socks, some underwear and a short. Just let your laundry soak in the water with soap for a few hours and then wash the soap out of the laundry under running water from the tap.

Bowls like this are sometimes sold as fishing equipment or as drinking bowls for dogs. The fishing gear manufacturer Trakker makes a almost similar army green rubber bowl. In high end camping and outdoor shops these are also sold. In these shops you have to pay a serious amount of money for it. The cheapest is to buy them in a military surplus shop. Prices there may vary between 2,50 Euro and 10 Euro.

Military Surplus Shops:
www.varusteleka.com
www.surplusandoutdoors.com
www.sofmilitary.co.uk
www.hessenantique.com
www.armyworld.pl
www.raeer.com  (in German)
www.militaria.it (in Italian)

 

Big Brother
The German military gear producer and military surplus trader Mil-Tec makes a 10 litre foldable washing bucket. This bucket has roughly the same diameter and is twice as high.

Available at
www.milworld.pl
www.greekairsoft.gr
www.koszary.pl (Polish)
www.militaria4you.com (Dutch)
www.raeer.com (German)

Polish army backpack

The Polish WZ89 army backpack (aka Frog or Puma camouflage) is a cheap and simple backpack. Just a big sack with two straps on it. It was in use in the Polish army from 1989 and until 1993. The typical camouflage pattern is called the Zába Pattern, which in polish for Frog. On military surplus store websites it is also called the Polish Puma camouflage pattern.

The bottom is protected with a rubber (PVC) coating. So when you place your bag in a small puddle of water or in some wet grass not all your stuff is totally soaked. For a better protection it is wise to use a big plastic bag inside the backpack itself since the fabric is very thin and not very water resistant. In military surplus stores you can also buy special water resistant laundry bags.

The top side of the pack has two drawstrings, one on the very top and one a bit lower down the body. The lower drawstring allows for loading to regular capacity, similar to a normal rucksack. The top drawstring allows you to expand (overload) the pack to the size of a big backpack. Keep in mind that there is no padding on the shoulder straps. So if you you load up on weight it’s going to cut into your shoulders and may hurt. The big top flap can be closed in two different heights; two triglides on the bottom or two triglides half way the pack.

9209b
Source: www.varusteleka.com

The rucksack is constructed of very flexible material and doesn’t have a rigid frame. This simple construction gives very little wearing comfort. However this also makes it ideal for packing and compressing your luggage down to a small package and in the same time it also allows you to expand the bag to carry a much larger load. It is also possible to fold the bag down and take it with you as an extra bag in your main luggage. Since the weight of the pack is only 0,75 Kg it is not that much extra.

Other comparable designs.
There is also an improved version of this backpack with a different camouflage pattern (WZ93 Pantera) and stronger materials. The M93 Pantera camouflage backpack. The fabric of the M93 backpack is waterproof and the name tag is stronger and equipped with a better plastic window. The much bigger and heavier French F1 65 liter military backpack might have been the inspiration for this design. That bag is also more like a duffel bag, comes also with a rubberised bottom, and is also closable at two different heights. But that bag is made of much heavier canvas and the rubber is thicker and comes higher from the ground. This makes the weight of this pack going up to 2,15 Kg. The backside of the pack has a padded back support in a triangle form, the shoulder straps are padded and the pack has a simple belt to let the weight rest at your hips. These features makes this backpack / duffel bag quite comfortable to wear. More info in this special blog about the French army F1 backpack.

f1-backpack-2-modified

Background information:
www.webbingbabel.blogspot.nl
www.outdoorin.blogspot.nl
www.surplusmania.weebly.com
www.tacticalgunreview.com: 3 Surplus European Backpacks You’ve Probably Never Used – But Should

WZ89 Polish army backpack frog (Puma) camouflage in military surplus store:
www.swisslink.com
www.varusteleka.com
www.anchorsupplies.com British army surplus shop
www.armyworld.pl Polish military shop

M93 woodland camo in military surplus store:
www.keepshooting.com
www.militaria4you.com
www.sportsmansguide.com American outdoor shop
www.armyworld.pl Polish military shop

Bicycling in Thailand

Bicycling‬ is a very good and comfortable way to go around. You’ll see more than by walking and it doesn’t go that fast that you’ll miss everything around you. The movement on the bicycle will cause a slight breeze and will keep you cooler than you might think. You can stop everywhere for a drink or to make some beautiful pictures.

In and around many tourist destinations in Thailand it is possible to rent a ‪‎bicycle‬ or to book a guided tour. For example in ‪cities of Bangkok, Pattaya‬, and Hua Hin. In the beautiful landscapes around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai or between the beautiful ancient temples in the historical city of ‪‎Ayuttaya‬ and ‎Sukhothai .

Bangkok
Family travel Thailand: Of the beaten path, Bangkok Bicycle Tour

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Recreational-Bangkok-Biking-Ltd/217132794465

http://www.covankessel.com/

https://wwhttps://www.facebook.com/covankesselw.facebook.com/SukhothaiBicycleTour/?fref=ts

Sukhothai

The team from Sukhothai Bicycle Tour organize and guide tours through the Sukhothai Historical Park and through the quite and peaceful countryside around Sukhothai. The provided mountain-bikes are in excellent condition and suitable for tall western people. For small kids they have small children bikes or special extensions to the bike of one of the adults.

http://www.sukhothaibicycletour.com/

Chiang Rai

http://www.chiangraibicycletour.com/index.html

https://www.facebook.com/ChiangraBicycleTour

Water fun parks in Thailand

The weather in Thailand can be very hot. A little cooling is a welcome relief from time to time. Beside the islands and beaches Thailand has several water fun parks; swimming pools with artificial waves and huge water slides. These parks are sometimes combined with a normal theme park. Ideal to spend the day with children.

Santorini Water Fantasy is located North of Hua Hin.

Siam Park City in Bangkok is one of the older parks in Thailand. It is located in Mini Buri, eastern Bangkok. The park is combined with a normal theme park.

If you like to try surf boarding on artificial waves instead of the sea you can practice your surfing techniques at the Flow House in Bangkok.

Cartoon Network Amazone Pattaya is located in Bang Saray, south of Pattaya.

Vana Nava Hua Hin Water Jungle in Hua Hin

Black Mountain Water Park is also located in Hua Hin.

Scenical World Khao Yai is the newest water fun park in Thailand. The water park called Splash World is just a part of a bigger fun theme park. It is located in the beautiful Khao Yai National Park, only 2 hours driving north of Bangkok.

 

Splash Jungle Water Park on Phuket island. Luckily their Facebook page is mostly in English.

 

Not only the tourist hotspots are filled with swimming pools and water fun parks but also the provincial cities have their water parks. One of them is the Dino Waterpark in the north east city Khon Kaen. But for most people this part of Thailand is of the tourist track.

 

Also in the countries around Thailand are water fun parks. Especially in the more developed counties Malaysia and Singapore. Here are some parks listed:

Sunway Lagoon a little south of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This water park is also part of a bigger adventure theme park. Luckily their Facebook page is mostly in English. Desa Water Park is also in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They also have a Facebook page in English.

Adventure Cove Waterpark in Singapore. Another water theme park in Singapore is Wild Wild Wet. Also here is a English Facebook page available.

 

Last but not least (according to their own website is) is going to be Ramayama Water park south of Pattaya, Thailand. They will open the park in March 2016. They promise to open more than 50 different slides and attractions. This would be the biggest water park in Thailand according to their web page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talad Rot Fai Market

Thai people and tourists both like shopping and eating. That’s why you can find markets all around Thailand. Like every other world metropolis city Bangkok has many different markets. Especially in the weekends and during the evening. The Talad Rot Fai market in Bangkok is a outdoor night market held on weekend days. The market area is behind the huge Seacon Square Shopping Mall (Srinagarindra Rd – Soi Srinagarindra 51). Vintage, classic second hand items and retro style items are just like in most western countries very popular. The Rot Fai market is specialized in these items. The items are sold in the open air and also in real antique boutiques and walk in shops. Besides these top quality 2nd hand stuff you can also buy new stuff. Food is served as streetfood or in restaurants. Some of these restaurants have live music bands. The market area is very specious and feels not busy or overcrowded.

 

Pictures of the market by Sam Sherratt on www.flickr.com.