In checking the family passports, I discovered that younger son's will expire in July 2009, less than six months past when we'll be in Vietnam. I'm not sure what they require in terms of passport expiration dates (some countries require passports to be valid for at least six months after the end of your stay), but I think he should get a new one now just to be safe. Of course, since his last one was issued before he turned 16, and he's now 18, he has to do the full application and appear in person to submit it. He can't renew his youth passport for an adult one by mail. More things for the list ... passport photos, hit the passport office at the main post office.
On the weekly Friday night trip to the local Barnes and Noble, I picked up a copy of the book Customs & Etiquette of Vietnam, by Geoffrey Murray. According to the "About the Author" section, he
spent a quarter of a century in the Far East as a business journalist/analyst, including 16 years in Japan, five in Singapore and four in China. He has been decorated by the Australian Government for his work as a war correspondent in Vietnam, and has recently returned there to complete his book. His other publications include Vietnam: Dawn of a New Market (1997) and Singapore: The Global City State (1996).
The editing in the book is less than adequate, with typos on almost every page. Still, I figured it can't hurt to know a bit about how not to be unintentionally offensive.
I also ordered a used copy of an out-of-print book called Sparring with Charlie by Christopher Hunt. It's the story of his motorcycle trip down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. My stepmother's niece recommended it, citing it as one of the reasons she's more than a little jealous of our upcoming month. Never mind that as a journalist in South Africa, she's done her own fair share of international travel and had her own fair share of adventures. I took it as a good sign that Vietnam was on the list of places she'd like to get to.
Other things still on the lists: visit the travel agent for literature on Angkor Wat, get dear husband to try to set up lunch or the equivalent with one of the professors who's done the Hue gig in the past so I don't have to rely on him to relay information or even to think of what questions to ask, and, surprisingly, see if dear husband has the exact dates for this great adventure yet.