upper left: spare pair of glasses for e blind cat + dark-coloured sarong (kooning on lower bunk - hang as curtain to shut out light; thousands of bloodthirsty buzzing insects - shawl to cover head, neck & arms; bunch of loose items to carry - wrap them up Japanese 'furoshiki'-style; questionable pillows - use as pillowcase; waiting for unpredictable transport in hot sun along rural road - tie to branches above & hide underneath for shade; village with open bathing area around standpipe/river - berkemban; rural highways/forest with no toilet - for privacy; 1001 other uses)
upper right: slippers (dunno why but cats trek & climb best in slippers & TEVA sandals, not shoes nor boots - methinks Puss in Boots is fake one)
bottom left: S-shaped hook (hang things from bamboo poles, traditional Akha house roof, fences, doors etc), double clip (seal open packets of food, money clip, clothes peg), rubberband (seal plastic bags, compress/bundle up clothes/towels for packing, tie around pen/pencil/torch/etc - help frozen/wet fingers maintain grip, tie ponytail, tie up large teak/banana leaf containing food to stop it from unfolding, etc), Shokobutsu (can foam in hard water - tested in California & rural Thailand), swiss knife (have always been carrying it, even in my JC uniform skirt pocket =P over e years e tweezers & e maroon plastic parts have fallen off from wear & tear, that's why it is now 100% silver), ballpoint pen (let kids have fun drawing pictures for you), toothpaste, eyedrops & maglite, all on top of a Nunclon 92X17mm tissue culture dish ziploc (rescued from being discarded in e lab, not easily ripped & perfect size for organising loose items in bags).
bottom right (top half): Olympus mju300 spare battery, set of 3 padlocks (all can be opened with e same key), Cuticura hand sanitiser (repels certain bugs & some leeches) & cable ties (secure backpack especially for US-bound flights that do not permit cargo baggage to be locked - security can just cut it open if they want, hang things), all on top of sleeping sack (kooning on airport floors, questionable hostel beds, bamboo platforms etc).
bottom right (bottom half): Lisu applique pouch (for foreign currency, bought from Don Muang 8 years ago, can hang around neck & hide beneath sweater), hansaplast, watch (free gift that came with my camera, still set to Thailand time =P with backlight for places with no electricity + alarm) & safety pins (pick simple padlocks, secure sarongs, alternative to clothes peg, etc), all on top of backpack raincover.
other important items (depending on destination) include maggi mee chicken flavour soup packets (make soup when in e land of zero chilli-free food, sprinkle on leeches, primitive oral rehydration for bad diarrhoea, add flavour to rice for a whole bunch of Akha villagers & Singaporeans), rough paper, masking tape, permanent marker, lighter, Nalgene bottle (from Angeline & her other half, one of e best & most useful bday gifts ever!), parafilm, plastic bag (for collecting own trash, catching lizards/insects to release away from terrified people who would otherwise *piak*/*stomp* them), foldable umbrella (for rain, sun & incontinent bats), wire clothes hanger,etc....
why so many strings attached - to e money pouch, watch, maglite (keys & camera too)....so that they can be hung around e neck (free e hands, & won't *weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee* fall thousands of feet down into e valley of irretrievable items-that-once-belonged-to-careless-people below while climbing or taking photos at e edge of cliffs, drop off into e world of cannot-be-seen when in e dark, fall through e gaps in e floorboards of a traditional Akha or Lahu house to be pecked at by chickens, or *splash* become fish food when climbing in/out of boats), secured to shoulder bag (foil less skillful pickpockets) or backpack (no prob if everything falls out when a pocket is unzipped), so that this scattered-brain cat won't lose them so easily, & so that they won't fall off to e ground & kena roti prata-ed by big fat stomping feet while riding big fat elephants or land on fresh elephant pie!
seriously, elephant-back multitusking (pardon e pun; simultaneously taking notes + trying to translate + taking photos + dodging thorns & tree branches + riding elephant) has driven home e importance of securing everything, & made this cat glad for using notebooks with plastic covers - can write notes in between using it to push aside thorny plants that can tear e paper. elephants forget that their passengers are not as thick-skinned as they are & tend to barge their way through ANYTHING =P