Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Starting Down the Lists

No formal lists on paper yet, but I've started to look into what immunizations we might need for the grand adventure as well as the electrical requirements of my good friend, Mr. Mac, who needs to come along so that I can keep up with my work.

According to the Vietnamese government's tourism website, "no vaccinations are officially required to visit Vietnam, but local medical authorities recommend protection against polio, diphtheria, typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, and Japanese encephalitis. For travellers spending much time in the countryside, anti-malaria pills are recommended and you should take precautions not to get bitten. Repellents and mosquito nets are necessary." Hmmm. Just how up-to-date are my vaccinations? I do get a flu shot every year, and I had the hepatitis B sequence of shots when I was working at a school in 1996-97, but I can't recall the last time I had a tetanus shot, and I know I've never had hepatitis A or Japanese encephalitis vaccinations.

I had a physical last week and, obviously, had all this on my list of topics to cover with my doc. Her recommendation was to set up appointments for everyone in the family about six months before the trip. We'll check any new recommendations that may have come out in response to emerging outbreaks, and review everyone's immunization records. Hopefully we'll also have an idea by then of how big an issue malaria might be. Note to self: Remind my dear husband to find out just who in his department has taught at Hue before so that we can go out for lunch or have coffee with them.

According to the same website, electric power in Vietnam is 220V, with a frequency of 50 Hz. Since I am not the physicist in the family, I have no real idea what that means beyond that we will need to take adapter plugs and, something I learned only recently, to check to make sure my computer and any appliances we might take along can handle the different voltage. I learned this little fact on a quilting mailing list from a Brit friend who posted that "the husband works for a US owned company and they regularly have visitors who destroy their electrical equipment by running 240 volts through it." Note to self: Find out just what the capabilities and needs of Mr. Mac might be. I should be able to do that online, or by asking an IT-type around here. If all else fails, there's always the Mac store at the Short Pump mall.

Beyond that, I haven't done much other than print various info from the tourism website and purchase the April issue of National Geographic Adventure. Besides the photo of Harrison Ford on the cover, it had an article on "Traveler, Heal Thyself" that contained a list of supplies for a "portable ER." Since the advice I've read is that the safe plan is to take along any medical supplies we might need, I figured this article couldn't hurt. Since we won't exactly be in the backcountry, I doubt we'll need the multitool that's on the list, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to make sure we have the Ace bandage that's also there. More than anything, it gives me a good starting point from which to work.

Remaining to be thought about are visas, travel arrangements, and where we will live over there, items that I hope the university will be helping with. The awesome younger son also needs to decide if he wants to take spring semester off from school and come for the whole month or just make a short visit on his spring break. Since he started college as a third-year student, taking a semester off wouldn't really slow him down, though there would likely be some finagling to do in terms of his dorm room and the like. Stay tuned for details.