Now that I've told you all about how great my travel backpack is, wanna hear about the time I almost lost it in Thailand?
Just reflecting on this experience makes me sweat.
Once I arrived in Chumphon, I booked a 7 a.m. boat to Koh Tao, which included a shuttle that picked me up at 6 a.m. I was the last person of about 20 to be hustled onto the massive shuttle once it arrived, and the driver hurriedly plopped my backpack on a stack that was precariously secured at the back of the vehicle by a single bungee cord.
The bungee cord didn't quite make it up to my pack. My stomach churned.
As the shuttle began moving, I watch my pack jiggle this way and that. One small bump seemed like it would be enough to jostle it out of place and send it flying onto the busy road behind us. The driver was up in his enclosed cab, so if I did lose my bag, chances were that I wouldn't be able to alert him before the truck behind us smashed it into oblivion. And in his hurry, the guy just didn't seem like the type who would turn the shuttle around.
I began to think of what I had in that pack that I couldn't live without.
Laptop? Camera? Kindle? No, I had all those in my daypack, which was on my lap.
I leapt up and reached toward my pack, which was across the luggage-filled center aisle and, well, quite unreachable. An older Thai woman sitting right next to my pack must have noticed the frantic look in my eyes as I desperately communicated, through gestures, just how screwed I would be if it went flying.
Wordlessly, she placed her hand on the pack and nodded at me. Homegirl had my back.
Whew! That was a close one.
And then... I noticed her eyelids drooping.
For a good half hour, I watched this woman fall asleep, loosen her already-tenuous grip on the laces that connected my running shoes to my pack, then jolt awake and reassert her grasp... over and over again.
The shuttle hit pothole after pothole, causing everything on board to bump and jiggle every 10 seconds.
Meanwhile, I watched that Thai woman like a hawk, feeling helpless and shitting bricks.
My backpack did not go flying, of course, and I profusely thanked the woman once we got off the shuttle. She simply gave me a withering stare that said, "You are such an idiot." Or maybe that's just what I was mentally yelling at myself.
This is one of those travel situations that never occurred to me before I found myself knee-deep in it. I find it kind of hilarious now, but, fellow travelers, please learn from my mistakes: Be ye not so stupid!