Month: September 2014

In Which Nellie Makes It Half-Way Round the World

SINGAPORE
Nellie’s dates: 18 December 1889
My dates: 11-14 September 2014

Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore

By the time she reached Singapore, Nellie Bly was half-way round the world and at the southernmost tip of her journey. Arriving at dark the night before, it was too risky to dock. The P & O Oriental was forced to anchor in the harbour, much to Nellie’s frustration.

“The sooner we got in, the sooner we could leave, and every hour lost meant so much to me,” she wrote.

When Nellie came on deck the next morning, “the ship lay alongside the wharf and naked coolies were carrying, two by two, baskets of coal suspended between them on a pole, constantly traversing the gangplank between the ship and the shore, while in little boats about were peddlers with silks, photographs, fruits, laces and monkeys to sell.’’

Nellie didn’t buy a monkey from the peddlers in little boats; but from the family of her driver.

“When I saw the monkey my willpower melted and I began straight away to bargain for it. I got it,” she wrote. That monkey travelled around the rest of the world with her. He was called McGinty and became one of the icons of her world voyage. It’s illegal to buy monkeys in Singapore today.

Nellie noted the shophouses  in Singapore “where families seem to occupy the second story, the lower being devoted to business purposes.’’ Today those shophouses are hot properties hosting chic hotels, restaurants and boutiques. I stayed in a renovated shophouse in Chinatown – a former pawn shop – now the Adler Hostel.

The National Museum

The National Museum visited by Nellie and me

In her one day in Singapore, she visited the Raffles Museum, now the recently restored and very impressive National Museum  standing today as it did in Nellie’s time. Nellie described it as “most interesting.” I visited it too and found Yeo Li Li to ask for help in tracing a Hindu temple that refused Nellie’s entry.
Nellie was incensed.
“Why? I demanded, curious to know why my sex in heathen lands should exclude me from a temple, as in America it confines me to the side entrances of hotels and other strange an incommodious things,” she wrote. “My comrades were told that removing their shoes would give them admission but I should be denied that privilege because I was a woman.”

I spent the afternoon temple-hopping in Singapore’s Little India only to discover that this temple that served the dhobies – those who made their living doing laundry in the nearby Stamford Canal — was now the site of Dhoby-Ghaut metro station. No worshipping here – hundreds of thousands of people pour in and out on pilgrimages to the area’s colossal shopping malls. That will teach them for excluding Nellie Bly.

Nellie landed in Singapore 70 years after Sir Thomas Stamford  Raffles, often known as the ‘father of Singapore.’ By the time she got here, he was already a legend. I stood before his statue, as Nellie did, and read the same inscription:

“On this historic site Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles first landed in Singapore on 28th January 1819 and with genius and perception changed the destiny of Singapore from an obscure fishing village to a great seaport and modern metropolis.” The statue was sculpted in bronze by Thomas Woolner in 1887 – two years before Nellie’s arrival.

The Arts House at the Old Parliament Building

The Arts House at the Old Parliament Building

Around him soar some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers in the ultra-contemporary metropolis that is Singapore today. But look below these silver monumental giants and you will find the Singapore of Nellie’s time in graciously restored Victorian government buildings now devoted to art and culture — the Arts House at the Old Parliament Building, Victoria Theatre and Asian Civilisations Museum. Not far away, the Raffles Hotel maintains its original vocation hosting the wealthy and selling over-priced Singapore Slings ($35) to the rest of us. We’re drinking in the Colonial atmosphere as much as the gin-based cocktail invented at Raffles in 1915. The Long Bar retains the original air circulation system – individual palm-leaf fans in a horizontal row moving mechanically back and forth to ease the tropical heat. Nellie was fascinated by these fans.

The harbour at Nellie's time with Johnston Pier (left) illustrated on a postage stamp.

The harbour at Nellie’s time with Johnston Pier (left) illustrated on a postage stamp.

The Fullerton Hotel started life as Singapore’s General Post Office in 1928. It’s size and grandeur – taking up a full city block –are testimony to the major role of the post in Colonial times. Although not exactly the same era as Nellie, I picked up many clues on a guided tour of the hotel by Florence Minjout  arranged by Stephen Wang at the Singapore Visitor’s Centre . Nellie would have disembarked at the former Johnston Pier, long since replaced. She would’ve crossed the Cavenagh Bridge  built in 1870 – the oldest existing bridge in Singapore.

The Cavenagh Bridge crossed by Nellie Bly

The Cavenagh Bridge crossed by Nellie Bly

It’s easy to get lost in Victorian times via time-honoured places like Raffles, The Fullerton Hotel and the Arts House. Not so at the former Governor’s House which is totally off limits except for a few times a year when the public is allowed in. Now called Istana, the current home of Singapore’s President Tony Tan Keng Yam is heavily gated and guarded. You can’t even see it. Nellie was entertained there by the Governor of Singapore. It was built by convict labourers on the site of a nutmeg farm.

Heavily-guarded former Governor's Residence.

Heavily-guarded former Governor’s Residence.

The original Governor’s Residence sat atop the highest hill in Singapore until the 1850s, a welcome refuge from the heat below. Now called Fort Canning Park, it is also the site of Singapore’s first botanical garden and features a replica of the mast that would’ve guided Nellie’s ship into the harbour.

Nellie sailed into a colonial Singapore.  I flew into a ‘Disneyfied’ Singapore with its Westernised veneer, harbour light shows bouncing off of soaring steel and glass;  and street vendors now corralled into area hawkers centres. All with a slight nod to the past. Fascinating!

In which Nellie travels to the Temple of the Tooth

KANDY, SRI LANKA

I imagine that the Fort Railway Station hasn’t changed much since Nellie Bly climbed aboard the train to Kandy in December 1889. Even the railway carriage harkens back to the Victorian era except perhaps for the screaming blue velour reclining seats replete with comets and stars. Seat numbers are neatly stencilled above the windows in white paint.

Scenic train to Kandy

Scenic train to Kandy

Navigating through the teeming masses that define many Asian stations, I locate platform 2 where the Kandy train is waiting. Less crowded here – good thing because precisely at that moment the early morning monsoon broke through the Colombo skies at full force. Raindrops ricochet off the platform as sheets of rain sweep the station.

Nellie took the 7 am train out of Colombo and so did I. She opted for a day trip. I’m spending the night. But half the fun is getting to Kandy. I have been lucky enough to get a ticket in the observation car which offers the best views.

It is well worth the extra 200 rupees ($1.40) to travel first class in a spacious carriage with this much glass. Views of the hill country surpass expectations with explosions of palms, banana trees, vines and flowers carpeting the red earth, hillsides and cascades. A real jungle.

And it’s a real train trip too as we sway with the train to the thunder of the wheels traversing the tracks carved though rock in the 19th century.

DSC02913

Geragama Tea Plantation near Kandy

Confusion with seat numbers brings the Stapels family into my life. This petty annoyance leads to an invitation for me to join Bernie, Redda and Julia and their guide on a day’s sightseeing trip in Kandy.

First stop is the Geragama tea plantation where we are treated to a lesson in the intricate steps required to process tea leaves into tea. It’s sad, but I don’t have enough room in my Nellie Bly case to squeeze in a box of this high quality Broken Orange Pekoe tea (BOP).

Next stop is the very same botanical garden that Nellie Bly visited on her day trip to Kandy. Opened in 1821, the Royal Botanic Gardens hosts over 4,000 species and features a lake in the shape of Sri Lanka, as well as fragrant spice gardens. In the ultra-lush orchid house, a worker balances a gigantic scorpion on his arm hoping for a tip from us.

DSC02917

Julia enjoying the Botanic Garden near Kandy.

Beauty spots throughout the garden are occupied by courting couples adding to the splendour of the scenery. I bet it was the same when Nellie came. “It repaid us well for the visit,” she wrote of the ‘great’ botanical garden.

I’m staying at the Queen’s Hotel not far from Kandy’s main attraction – the Temple of the Tooth.  The hotel takes you right back to colonial times. Perhaps Nellie took luncheon at Queen’s. It just her kind of place.

The Temple of the Tooth was not. “In one old temple, surrounded by a moat, we saw several altars of little consequence, and a piece of ivory that they told us was the tooth of Buddha.”  Tell that to the multitudes of visitors and devotees thronging the temple each year. I joined the legions at 6 p.m. and paid my $10 entry fee to visit the temple and file past the tooth relic encased in a silver vessel.

Temple of the Toot

Temple of the Tooth

It’s one of those ‘hurry up and wait’ situations which involved passing through an inspection line where an attendant whipped a shawl out of my bag and turned it into a maxi-skirt so as not to offend the Buddha. All this to an ear-bashing beat of a drum and crushing crowds. Devotees came laden with exotic flowers and baskets of fruit as gifts for the Buddha. Not my scene – so I had no hesitation in recycling the souvenir DVD that came with the entry fee.

In complete contrast, the performance of Kandy’s famous dancing in the local Red Cross Hall exceeded expectations. This talented troupe thrilled us music, moves, grace and colour. In a mind over matter feat, two men walked bare-footed across burning coals. I could feel the heat from my seat. Nellie missed this, and I’m glad I didn’t. Indeed, I think she should’ve spent more time in Kandy.

In which Nellie Visits the Mount Lavinia Hotel

Binara Full Moon Day at Garangaramaya Temple

Binara Full Moon Day at Garangaramaya Temple

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA

It’s a holiday!
Today is Binara Full Moon Day across Sri Lanka. It’s a public holiday where businesses close, no alcohol is served, and women in white flock to Buddhist Temples. A monthly occurrence, this particular Full Moon Day commemorates the value placed on women in Buddhism. How appropriate for my quest ‘to commemorate the value’ of Nellie Bly and her achievements in the Victorian age.

I discover this while reading the local paper at breakfast at 9 am in the Grand Oriental Hotel’s Harbour Restaurant overlooking the port where Nellie arrived at precisely the same time on December 8, 1889.

Inside the Garangaramaya Temple

Inside the Garangaramaya Temple.

Colombo reminded Nellie of Newport, Rhode Island. “Possibly—in my eyes at least—Colombo is more beautiful. Their homes may not be as expensive, but they are more artistic and picturesque,’’ she wrote. I can’t see the connection between Newport and Colombo; but it’s nice to think that Nellie did.

Not sure exactly which temples she visited in Colombo, I hop a tuk-tuk and and head for one of the most famous, Garangaramaya  situated around a lake. It’s brimming with women of all ages, shapes and sizes adorned in white to celebrate their day. Processions wind around the giant Buddha, the famous Buddha tree and throughout the park. The heady profusion of gold, gods, incense and icons is so intense it makes me wish I’d worn white.

The Mount Lavinia Hotel

The Mount Lavinia Hotel

The Mount Lavinia Hotel

The ‘smoothest, most perfectly made roads’ Nellie ever saw led to the Mount Lavinia Hotel. “Many of these roads were picturesque bowers, the over-reaching branches of the trees giving us telescopic views of people and conveyances along the road,’ she wrote.

The thatched huts lining the road in Nellie’s day have given way to rows of businesses – local and international like Pizza Hut, Mango and Burger King – on both sides of a congested road. But every trace of this disappears as the 19th-century splendour of the Mount Lavinia Hotel comes into view.

Nellie described the Mount Lavinia as “castle-like building glistening in the sunlight … on a green eminence overlooking the sea.” With is grace, gardens, history and fountains, the Mount Lavinia transports one back to the most lavish of Victorian times. I absolutely love it.

I am here courtesy of new friends and newlyweds Steffi and Moahan Balendra, again connected by my friend in London, who have more than kindly allocated their day off to tackle traffic on a public holiday to take me to the Mount Lavinia Hotel, 15 kms outside of Colombo. They have inadvertently, but with enthusiasm, joined the Nellie Bly trail. We explore the elegant hotel and wander down to the beach for a seafood lunch overlooking an ancient outrigger (called a catamaran locally as Moahan confirms on his i-phone) like the one Nellie rode to shore when she arrived in Ceylon.

Ocean view at the Mount Lavinia.

Ocean view at the Mount Lavinia.

The romance of the Mount Lavinia is flamed by the story of Ceylon’s second Governor Sir Thomas Maitland and his lover Lavinia, a dancer. Sir Thomas built the current hotel in the early 19th century as his residence including a tunnel where he could secretly meet Lavinia. Upon returning to England for his health, he purportedly named the residence for her. Steffi and Moahan tell me that many weddings take place at the Mount Lavinia.

Nellie found the Galle Face Hotel equally romantic. “Where the ocean kisses the sandy beach and while listening to the music of the wave, the deep , mellow, roar, (one) can drift – drift out on dreams that bring what life has failed to give; soothing pictures of the imagination that blot out for a moment the stern disappointment of reality.”

My only ‘disappointment of reality’ at the Galle Face tonight is the fact that it is being renovated so much of it is inaccessible — and cloudy weather has obscured what could have been a spectacular sunset. But just being here, enjoying the grandeur on a sultry evening after a day with friends at the Mount Lavinia, is just fine by me.

Outrigger on the beach at the Mount Lavinia

Outrigger on the beach at the Mount Lavinia

In Which Nellie Is Delayed in Ceylon

An outrigger like Nellie rode to shore

An outrigger like the one Nellie rode to shore

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (FORMER CEYLON)

Nellie’s  dates: December 8-14, 1889
My dates: September 7-11, 2014

Nellie was the first to step ashore in Colombo. Leaving the other passengers boarding a steam launch, she balanced on an outrigger that sped towards the small island once known as Ceylon.

“The island, with its abundance of green trees, was very restful and pleasing to our eyes after the spell of heat we had passed through on the ocean coming from Aden (Yemen), ” Nellie wrote. “We all stood impatiently on the deck waiting for the first opportunity to desert the ship.  With all our impatience we could not fail to be impressed with the beauties of Colombo … we could see the green island dotted with low-arcaded buildings, which looked, in the glare of the sun, like marble palaces.”

The Grand Oriental Hotel

Grand Oriental Hotel Museum with (l to r) Mr. Chandika, Mr. Nandana and Mr. Dushaatha.

Grand Oriental Hotel Museum with (l to r) Mr. Chandika, Mr. Nandana and Mr. Dushaatha.

One of them was the Grand Oriental Hotel. Nellie had already engaged her accommodations there when the steam launch arrived with the others. My own accommodations at the Grand Oriental Hotel were ‘engaged’ on the internet a month in advance. I’d hoped to stay in the same room as Nellie; but records of her stay no longer exist.

“It was a fine, large hotel,” wrote Nellie, “with tiled arcades, corridors airy and comfortably furnished… (where one could) sip the cooling lime squashes or the exquisite native tea or eat of the delicious fruit while resting in an attitude of ease and laziness.”

I was also greeted with a cooling fruit juice when I arrived at the Grand Oriental for the Asian start of my Nellie Bly 125th anniversary world trip.

With an exasperating five-day delay between ships, Nellie became well acquainted with the hotel. In her day, the corridors were ‘colonised’ by snake charmers, magicians and jewellers. They have long since disappeared — and so has much of the charm that once characterised the Grand Oriental.

GOH2

The Grand Oriental Hotel in its prime

Only 80 of the original 300 rooms remain – the rest were sold for police headquarters. Even so, the management is fiercely proud of the hotel’s legacy – it’s a listed site. The multitude of plaques in the lobby attest to the glorious heritage of the Grand Oriental Hotel, including a visit by Anton Chekov in 1890, a year after Nellie’s.

What’s missing is a tribute to Nellie. Perhaps I should arrange a plaque commemorating her stopover. I think they would make space in the lobby; or perhaps in the hotel’s little museum on the fourth floor where it could take its place among the time-honoured photos, ledgers, crockery and silver from the Grand Oriental’s past.

With a little help from my friends

Sri Lanka is known for its hospitality and I experienced it big-time. A simple introduction by email from a mutual friend in London was all it took for Lakmini Raymond and her two sons Jévon and Devin to share their local knowledge, their home and their friendship.

We started with a cup of famous Ceylon tea in the former Dutch Hospital — there even before the British arrived – now a dynamic mix of trendy shops and eateries. From there we relaxed in Lakmini’s home near that of the Sri Lankan Prime Minister; before dinner at the Hilton which was also hosting the Japanese Premier in the country to inaugurate a second terminal at the Bandaranaike International Airport as I discovered upon landing there that morning.

The Nellie Bly Research Team in Colombo — Lakmini, Jevon and Devin Raymond and Jagdesh Mirchandani.

Some of the sites Nellie visited in Colombo were evident, but Lakmini, her sons and friend Jagdesh Mirchandani formed the ‘Nellie Bly journey research team’ and managed to connect the current-day Ananda College with the Buddhist College Nellie visited 125 years ago. The big challenge was the Parsee Theatre where Nellie attended a theatrical performance so memorable that she spent two pages of her short book describing it. Even Jagdesh, whom Lakmini calls the Wikipedia of Sri Lanka, didn’t know. “Let’s ask a Parsee he said as he dialled a Parsee friend. We’re still not sure but Jagdesh’s friend thought it could have been at the Parsee Club under the pergola.

And that was day one in Sri Lanka.

In which Nellie Meets Jules Verne

AMIENS, FRANCE – 23 November 1889

Nellie risked a time-guzzling deviation only 8 days into the race, sacrificing two nights of sleep, to accept an invitation to the home of Jules Verne –  the author who inspired her own voyage. It meant going to Amiens, France.

“Oh how I should love to see them,” she said upon learning of the invitation when she arrived in London. “Isn’t it hard to be forced to decline such a treat?”

Jules and Honouring Verne at home with their dog Folette. Amiens 1894

Jules and Honorine Verne at home with their dog Folette. 1894

Two days later she received a memorable welcome from Jules and Honorine Verne. “Jules Verne’s bright eyes beamed on me with interest and kindliness, and Mme. Verne greeted me with the cordiality of a cherished friend,” Nellie recalls. “Before I had been many minutes in their company, they had won my everlasting respect and devotion.”

Nellie’s visit with the Vernes lives on today at the Maison Jules Verne, a living tribute to the French author attracting visitors from around the world. Many rooms reflect the descriptions in Nellie’s own book Around the World in 72 Days.

Nellie’s description of the Verne’s salon is framed and hung there for all to read:

“The room was large and the hangings and paintings and soft velvet rug, which left visible but a border of polished wood, were richly dark. All the chairs artistically upholstered in brocaded silks, were luxuriously easy…”

Here at the  Maison Jules Verne, for the first time, I was quite literally following in Nellie’s footsteps. Nellie Bly and I were in the same room …separated by 125 years.  I guess I might have asked Mr Verne the same questions:

Have you ever been to America? Answer: Once to Niagara Falls. I know of nothing I long to do more than to see your land from New York to San Francisco.

How did you get the idea for your novel? Answer: “I got it from a newspaper.”

It was an article in Le Siècle newspaper showing calculations on travelling around the world in 80 days that Jules Verne discovered the basis of his novel. They had not taken into account the difference in the meridians which gained a day for Phileas Fogg and meant he won his bet. Had it not been for what he called ‘this denouement’, Jules Verne told Nellie he would never have written Around the World in 80 Days.

By candlelight they visited the author’s study which remains just as Nellie saw it. She was surprised by its modesty. So was I. “One bottle of ink and one penholder was all that shared the desk with the manuscript.” The tidiness of his manuscript impressed Nellie giving her the idea that “Mr Verne always improved his work by taking out superfluous things and never by adding.” Great advice for all writers and something I must keep in mind as I write this blog.

Jules Verne's home today

Jules Verne’s home today

Before she knew it, it was time to leave her new friends the Vernes. They shared a glass of wine in front of a roaring fire before bidding each other farewell.

The race was on.

Jules and Honorine Verne diligently followed Nellie’s progress around the globe and sent her a congratulatory telegram when she reached America. That fleeting visit made a lasting impression.

Amiens railway station where Nellie was met by the Vernes.

Amiens railway station where Nellie was met by the Vernes.

In which Nellie Encounters London

Waterloo Station, London

Waterloo Station, London

After crossing the Atlantic and disembarking in Southampton, Nellie’s next stop was London. She had just four hours to obtain an official passport from the American Legation, visit The World newspaper’s London office to pick up her cables; and get herself to the Pacific and Orient ticket office to buy tickets covering half of her world journey.

She did it — just. After arriving by train at Waterloo station, she travelled by a four-wheeled horse and cart in the early morning fog.

Second secretary of the American Legation (now Embassy) Robert S McCormick had risen early to await Nellie’s arrival and complete the passport that would open doors around the world. Along with US Minister to the Court of St James Robert Todd Lincoln (son of the President), McCormick was based at 123 Victoria Street in headquarters described as ““small dingy offices.” 

123 Victoria Street, 2014

123 Victoria Street, 2014

Lincoln would be relieved to know that swanky glass-fronted offices hosting no less than the corporate headquarters of Jimmy Choo shoes now stand at 123.

To make her passport official, Nellie had to swear to her date of birth before McCormick. It later came to light that she took the opportunity to trim three years from her age. A very Victorian thing to do; a very Nellie thing to do.

Evidence of the former P&O Lines office.

Navigation – evidence of the former P&O Lines office.

Dashing from London’s West End to the heart of the City, she arrived at 122 Leadenhall Street buying her passage from Folkestone to  Boulogne, France and beyond. Now a state of the art architectural marvel designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership, the sleek and erogenous Leadenhall Building of international renown has recently risen 225 metres high where the P & O Steam Navigation Company once stood. Londoners fondly call it ‘the cheese grater’ based on its shape. Amidst the soaring steel and glass, the architects have retained a poignant reminder of the golden era of steam travel in the form of a stone-carved relief entitled ‘Navigation’ featuring Neptune cradling an ocean liner.

Charing Cross Station, London

Charing Cross Station, London

Nellie got to her final London destination, Charing Cross Railway Station, just in time to gulp down a few bites of ham and eggs and grab a quick cup of coffee at the Charing Cross Hotel before the Folkestone train was called. I treated myself to an over-priced cappuccino in the hotel bar with Nellie in mind.

Opened in 1865 and extended in 1878, the station and hotel stand in their Victorian glory pretty much as they did in Nellie’s day. Trains still run to Folkestone from Charing Cross delivering passengers to ferries for Boulogne, France where Nellie was headed.

The Leadenhall Building Londoners call the cheese grater

The Leadenhall Building Londoners call the cheese grater

Acadia’s Farewell

My 19-year-old daughter Acadia, a student at the University of Winchester, is not thoroughly convinced by my expedition; but none-the-less wrote me a sweet farewell letter. She said I could share it with you. 

Acadia

Acadia

Dear Mummy

Thank you for coming to see me in Winchester.  You’re leaving in 5 days!  Although I’m a little apprehensive about the trip and wish you were travelling first class, I am very proud that you are going round the world when most mummies are grey and boring and watching The Morning Show. So I guess you do classify as a ‘cool mummy.’

I am so jealous, please can we go travelling – my style — 5* hotels, spas, first class—when I’ve finished university?

On your travels, remember be interested, not interesting. Unless it’s in a sealed bottle, don’t drink it and if it’s not from a pack, don’t smoke it.

You don’t really tell me off unless it’s about the important things. You’ve always supported me, no matter how many silly and occasionally slightly immoral things I’ve done and you always seem to be right in the end!

I’ll try not to stress Daddy out too much and manage my money a bit better while you are away. Also I’m being taught to cook by my roommates so you might have competition when you get back – how I’ll survive without your shrimp risotto for a month I have no idea.

I love you lots and lots.

Wormie (my nickname for her because she wiggles a lot and loves to read books.)  

In which Nellie Bly Packs Her Bag

“If one is travelling simply for the sake of travelling, and not for the purpose of impressing one’s fellow passengers, the problem of baggage becomes a simple one.”    Nellie Bly, 1889

OK Nellie, you’re on.  My rolling rucksack is slightly larger (21 by 10 inches) than your gripsack (16 by 7 inches). Even so it’ll be a squeeze to get everything in. But like you, I am determined that my baggage will not slow me down so a single piece of cabin baggage it is.

My expedition cabin bag

My expedition cabin bag

Unlike you, I will not be travelling in the same outfit. Indeed today’s technology means I can pack lots more in a much smaller space. So I’ve treated myself to a mosquito-repellent quick-dry skirt, a whisper-light, sun-resistant travel dress and heat-wicking t-shirts. Like your over-sized jar of cold cream, it will be my electronic equipment that takes up the most space — tablet, mobile phone, chargers, adapters — and I won’t forget my camera as you did. The tablet is my equivalent of your ink stand, pens and pencils.

I’m swapping three bandanas for the three veils you took. Not too worried about a tennis blazer or dressing gown, and my flip-flops can substitute as slippers. I’ll leave the hankies and ruchings (lace, muslin and other materials for trimming dresses) this time.

Nellie's global gripsack

Nellie’s global gripsack

Once I have ‘crushed’ everything in as you did, my reaction will likely be the same as yours:

“Packing that bag was the most difficult undertaking of my life; there was so much to go into such a little space.”

Nellie Bly’s packing list:
three veils,silk bodice,two travel caps,slippers, toiletries*,inkstand, pens*, pencils and paper*, sewing kit*, dressing gown, tennis blazer, flask and drinking cup, hankies and fresh ruchings, cold cream

My packing list:
two skirts, travel dress*, rain jacket, shorts, 4 t-shirts,khaki trousers, sewing kit*, toiletries*, swimsuit, first aid kit, glasses and sunglasses, research material, tablet, mobile phone, camera, chargers and adapter; notebook* and pens*; running shoes,sandals, flats,flip flops,torch,scarf and bandanas, microfiber towel, undergarments*

*the same