What’s in My Bag: The Southeast Asia Edition V.2

What’s in My Bag: The Southeast Asia Edition V.2

Prior to leaving for my trip, I wrote a post outlining what was in my bag. A month in, I’ve reconfigured and reorganized what I have for a few different reasons: 1) I was tired of feeling like hot garbage; 2) While it’s somewhat expected for westerners to romp around in shorts and tank tops in Malaysia, being of ambiguous Asian descent ends up drawing a lot of stares; 3) I learned rather quickly what I actually use and don’t use.

How to travel and not look like hot garbage

Back in the U.S., I was thinking more about utility and less about appearance, so most of the crap I packed happened to be workout clothes. The two “nice” outfits I had weren’t pieces I particularly loved; I was more or less bringing things that I wouldn’t be disappointed to lose or ruin.

Well, vanity got the best of me! Asian women are fashionable, the guys are pretty cute, and I’m newly single, so sue me. Plus, it’s just nice to feel good in the clothes you wear. So I swapped out a dress for one I actually liked and bought a pair of pants and a shirt I felt good in. Less tanks, more cute tops, still practical.

Blending in

I stepped off the bus in Melaka, Malaysia coming from Singapore and immediately noticed that most of the women around me were fully covered and wearing hijabs. I had fully anticipated Malaysia having a large Islam population (it’s the official religion of the country, after all), but I was thinking of myself in the context of being a western foreigner and not a person who would constantly be mistaken for being Malaysian at first glance. Not that my backpack, tattoos and short hair wasn’t already a dead giveaway, but the shorts and wrinkled shirt didn’t help either. And as someone who usually hates receiving lots of attention, I was getting more than I was comfortable with.

So I headed for the market and bought a scarf and long skirt. Now I feel much more at ease with my wardrobe.

Locals in Kuala Lumpur


Despite the importance of appearances, utility is still very important to me. I realized I would be doing a lot more water sports than initially planned, so I ended up buying a dry bag. A few of the clothing articles I bought were also way too warm to wear in this humidity, so I packed up whatever I wasn’t using and shipped them back home.

While shipping things home or ditching things you don’t use are options, I wouldn’t really recommend it. Shipping 3 kilos worth of clothes and extra stuff from the Philippines to the US ended up costing around PHP2000 (around $40 USD), which was painful considering that was a few days of my budget and it would take 3-4 months to arrive back home by freight. But keeping my bag light was a priority, so I was ultimately okay with paying the shipping fee.

My Updated Packing List


  • Osprey Aura 65L + Rainfly
  • Mountainsmith Day Lumbar Pack + Rainfly
  • Kipling Fanny Pack
  • Combination Lock
  • Passport + Immunization docs
  • Wallet/Coinpurse
  • NEW! 10L Waterproof Dry Bag


  • 4 Tank tops
  • 1 T-shirt (NEW! 2 T-shirts)
  • 1 Sheer long sleeved breathable shirt
  • 3 Shorts (khaki, denim, and gym) (Note: I could probably get away with only having 2 pairs of shorts, but I’m keeping the third just in case)
  • 1 Jeggings (Note: Replaced with breathable loose fitting pants)
  • 1 Yoga capris
  • 2 Dresses (Note: Swapped one dress out for one I liked better)
  • Under Armour longsleeved active top
  • Denim jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • 3 Sports bras 2 Sports bras (I shipped one home because the bathing suit tops could also double as bras)
  • 8 Underwear
  • 4 Socks (3 ankle-length, 1 hiking) 2 Socks (I shipped the hiking socks and one of the ankle length socks home)
  • Sarong
  • Bandana
  • Sunglasses
  • 2 Buffs
  • 3 Shoes (running, sandals, flip flops) (Note: I lost the flip flops on a boat trip. Will eventually need to pick up a new pair for shower shoes)
  • Hat
  • NEW! 1 Long flowy skirt
  • NEW! 2 Bathing Suits
  • NEW! 1 Scarf


  • Makeup (eyeliner, eyeshadow, loose powder, chapstick)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush + Toothpaste
  • Lotion (I brought 3 different kinds because my skin sucks)
  • Shampoo + Conditioner
  • Comb
  • Bar of soap
  • Razor
  • First Aid Kit (with ibuprofen, malaria pills, and diarrhea pills)
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect Repellent
  • Steripen
  • Water filter
  • Quick dry towel
  • NEW! Hydrocortizone because my skin sucks!


  •  13″ Macbook Pro + Western Digital Portable Harddrive
  • Travel Adapter
  • Petzl Headlamp
  • Nikon Df + 35mm lens + 80-200mm lens
  • Joby Tripod
  • AT2020 USB mic + desk stand
  • AKASO EK7000 4K Sports Action Camera
  • EMNT Portable Charger
  • Ditty bag + all the cords
  • Pixel 2 (not pictured)

I’d like to purchase a red filter for the AKASO and an extra battery, but I’m waiting until the next time I dive to do that. Also, my Pixel 2’s dongle busted so I’m currently unable to listen to music or podcasts on my phone (the most first world problem of first world problems, right?).

The biggest lesson learned is that it’s just as important to bring clothes you like and feel good in as it is to bring clothes that fit with your activities and the weather. I’m pretty happy what I have moving forward, and even though it seems like I added more to my pack than what I got rid of, the things I added are actually much smaller in weight and volume, while what I shipped home happened to take up the most room. So it all worked out!

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