What do we need to survive in another country?

Winston Churchill wrote with astonishing detail about his experiences in the Sudan. I’ve just been reading his book The River War (2 vols., 1899).  He describes the daily scene in a vast empty desert - “surpassing desolation”, in his words - at Dakhesh, then known to British forces as Railhead:

         Churchill as a lieutenant in Sudan

        Churchill as a lieutenant in Sudan

“Every morning in the remote nothingness there appeared a black speck growing larger and clearer, until with a whistle and a welcome clatter, amid the aching silence of ages, the 'material' train arrived, carrying its own water and 2,500 yards of rails, sleepers, and accessories. At noon came another speck, developing in a similar manner into a supply train, also carrying its own water, food and water for the half-battalion of the escort and the 2,000 artificers and platelayers, and the letters, newspapers, sausages, jam, whisky, soda-water, and cigarettes which enable the Briton to conquer the world without discomfort.”

Cigarettes are now largely a no-no, but most of the others are still staples of life abroad and assist in the avoidance of discomfort.

Elsewhere in the book he provides a vivid example of the logistics involved (long before software and air freight simplified matters):

"… the reader may gain some idea of their magnitude [ie. logistics problems] by following the progress of a box of biscuits from Cairo to Berber in the month of December 1897. The route was as follows: From Cairo to Nagh Hamadi (340 miles) by rail; from Nagh Hamadi to Assuan (205 miles) by boat; from Assuan to Shellal (6 miles) by rail; from Shellal to Halfa (226 miles) by boat; from Halfa to Dakhesh (Railhead) - 248 miles - by military railway; from Dakhesh to Shereik (45 miles) by boat; from Shereik by camel (13 miles) round a cataract to Bashtinab; from Bashtinab by boat (25 miles) to Omsheyo; from Omsheyo round another impracticable reach (11 miles) by camel to Geneinetti, and thence (22 miles) to Berber by boat. The road taken by this box of biscuits was followed by every ton of supplies required by 10,000 men in the field."

Boxes of English biscuits and now even Marmite are available online in China with Taobao, including next-day delivery.