All long term travellers have stories to tell about misplacing or breaking belongings during their time on the road. The number one item that bites the dust is probably sunglasses due to a variety of mishaps that occur whilst lugging your life around in a backpack. We have gone through our fair share (9 pairs between us and counting!) and aren’t too concerned about something that can be replaced for a couple of dollars. However, we may just be setting a new standard in managing to destroy anything of a technical/electrical nature.

So far our graveyard of tech related kit reads as follows…


Our ebook reader decided it could no longer cope with the ridiculous number of books that Maddie was devouring. It permanently went on strike 5 months into the trip in New Zealand. The replacement cost twice as much as it would have done in the US where we had been 2 weeks before, brilliant timing! We had all of our guidebooks downloaded to it for the trip, not to mention that Maddie breaks out in a sweat if she doesn’t have immediate access to more books than an average library possesses. We decided to suck it up and stump up the money for a new one after much swearing and cursing.

The picture that caused all the excitement and led to the death of a camera

The picture that caused all the excitement and led to the death of a camera

When in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef decided that in exchange for sharing its magnificent underwater world with us it would take our compact camera as payment. Having spent an amazing morning snorkelling and viewing all manner of sea life, getting up close to a sea turtle and taking some photos was the undoubted highlight. Back on the boat for lunch we removed the camera from its underwater casing to view the pictures, unfortunately the casing wasn’t properly secured before we went back in the water in the afternoon. Saltwater + camera = Maddie desperately trying to rescue the memory card with the turtle pictures on before they too were consigned to Davy Jones’ Locker.


Luckily we salvaged the pictures from the morning, but were unable to snap photos of the shark and barracuda that we encountered in the afternoon. On the plus side a high spec replacement compact camera was purchased in Singapore, considerably better value than in the UK, and it is so good that our SLR camera has not left its bag since. This incident is very much a story of every cloud having a silver lining or should that be every waterproof camera case has a watery lining?

If a cassowary is prepared to try and steal a bucket of chicken from this Aussie then surely an iPod isn't out of the question?!

If a cassowary is prepared to try and steal a bucket of chicken from this Aussie then surely an iPod isn’t out of the question?!

Next on the hit list comes our audio equipment. Passing the time on ridiculously long bus and train journeys is something everyone copes with differently, but most use music to help while away the hours. We brought 3 “generic audio players named after a fruit” with us on this trip, yes 3! Maddie’s had a fantastic storage capacity and two ancient models offered far smaller playlists, but at least it meant we both had access to music at any given time. Of course the one that decided to go walkabout in Australia was Maddie’s with her entire music library on it. One minute it was there, then it was gone. Simple as that. We went to explore a land down under and left an mp3 player short. The issue with these devices doesn’t end there though, we have currently gone through two sets of earbuds each. Maddie’s latest pair now only plays music into one ear, somewhat dampening her listening experience.

As least music plays out of one of her earbuds

As least music plays out of one of her earbuds

All of these problems pale into insignificance compared to our final tale of woe (up to the point of writing anyway!) that we faced when in Vang Vieng, Laos. We had heard horror stories about people injuring themselves at this location in various debauched states but we were not warned to keep our eyes peeled for the danger posed by kamikaze geckos!


We love geckos, mainly because they eat mosquitos which in turn stops the mozzies eating us. We have on many occasions during the last 12 months shared our lodgings with these friendly little creatures and happily watched them scuttling all over the place. We have fallen asleep at night listening to their calls which sound ridiculously like they are saying “gecko, gecko, gecko”, as if they don’t want you forget what they are. However, in Vang Vieng we saw a new darker side to this loveable creature.

Maddie and her favourite travelling companion

Maddie and her favourite travelling companion

The kamikaze gecko in question – lets call him Gordon – waited until Maddie had her laptop plugged in and charging and I had my electric razor/hair clippers doing the same. Gordon then proceeded to scuttle behind the air conditioning unit, but rather than just hiding behind the unit as is the norm, this little fellow decided to venture inside to explore! The result was that all of the electrics in our room were fried as in all likelihood was Gordon. RIP little fella. Now nothing worked, the lights, the air conditioning, the TV, my hair clippers. Most importantly Maddie’s laptop would no longer charge, although at least the laptop itself was still working.


When we were transferred out of the “room of death” to a different room there was still no luck in getting the laptop to charge. My netbook was not plugged into anything at the time of Gordon’s final act so we were able to get online and quickly discovered we could buy a new power pack in Vientiane at their one and only approved reseller store. The thing that made me want to bring Gordon back to life, purely so I could then kill him again, was the fact that the power pack was going to cost $100, bloody gecko! We had no choice, we needed the laptop for photo editing and the blog and my little computer just isn’t powerful enough, we had to begrudgingly cough up the money and move on.

Loaded up like pack ponies trying not break anything else

Loaded up like pack ponies and trying not break anything else

As for me, I bought some new hair clippers in Hanoi, Vietnam. The instructions are in Chinese and I have no idea how long you are supposed to charge them for, but they appear to be working and haven’t blown up or scalped me yet. The whole kamikaze gecko incident cost us $110, it was one scam/incident in Asia we weren’t prepared for!


So the warning from me is to watch out for these little guys and be extra nice when you come across them. You never know what frame of mind they are in and as Gordon proved they can be very temperamental and expensive roommates!


If you liked this article (or just want to pay your respects to Gordon!) click on the heart below or perhaps leave a comment.


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10 Responses

  1. Phil

    Probably listening to you for 30 minutes making crass comments caused Gordon to take his own life. Bless the poor little devil.

    Did you at least eat him afterwards? BBQ gecko is probably quite the delicacy!

    • Paul

      Are you saying I go on a bit little brother? It would explain a lot to be fair. Probably just as well Maddie cannot fit into an air conditioning unit as she has spent over 365 days non stop listening to my chat and the thought must have crossed her mind! I think she deserves a medal or ear plugs at the least 😉
      Anyway we didn’t sample bbq gecko as a sign of respect. I was just glad he wasn’t pureed and deposited all over the room via the vent!

  2. Carmel

    Oh no! Stinkin’ gecko. RIP, little guy. Sorry about all your expensive disasters. I never thought about some of that!
    Carmel recently posted..TO DO LISTMy Profile

    • Paul

      Thanks Carmel. At least we have a couple of memorable anecdotes that we have been able to share to go alongside the scrapheap of gear we have created!.

  3. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    Well, I wish this were a competition and one that you were winning at that, but you know we have had our own fair share (though I would argue, it’s an unfair share at this point!) of electronics disasters on the road: 3 cameras broken (2 of them irrevocably so, and one to the tune of $900…), a laptop’s logic board getting fried, and just last week, our ereader also mysteriously went belly-up and somehow started acting like its screen was cracked. So at this point, our electronics losses have totaled well over $1000, though of course we haven’t bothered to replace a bunch of it. Whenever something like this happens, I just turn to Tony and wail: “This is why we can’t have nice stuff!” And we don’t even have a suicidal gecko to blame all this bad juju on!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Chewing the Fat with Rika at Cubicle Throwdown!My Profile

    • Paul

      Ha ha thanks Steph. I have been waiting for and dreading your comment in equal measures as you blow us out of the water with your misfortune…and probably everyone else in the world who is travelling too! We get a gecko, you get a tractor! I will take the gecko every time. Your luck will change, it has to and in the meantime just try not to touch anything of a technical nature!

  4. tyrhone

    We must just be lucky. 14 months in and the only loss so far is a pair of headphones and my original backpack.

    Maybe Gordon was sent to tell you guys to purchase a surge protector? and lacking a way to say it he heroically gave his life trying to show you what you should do. Poor heroic little gecko 😉
    tyrhone recently posted..3 Weeks of touristy stuff in Playa del CarmenMy Profile

    • Paul

      You guys must wrap everything up in cotton wool, that is some achievement! We spent way too much time weighing up the pros and cons of buying a couple of surge protectors and after much deliberation we decided that it was one of the areas where we would not take the “safe route” and save some money and weight in our packs…if only we had factored in a rogue gecko working as a surge protector sales rep when we were making our choice it may have been oh so different. Everyday is a school day I suppose 😉


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