We're into the home stretch here. A week from now, we'll be on a plane leaving Frankfurt, Germany for Doha, Qatar. There, we'll change planes and head to Ho Chi Minh City. Each karate or kendo class comes now with a "this is my last (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday) class for two months!" The head karate instructor has set Don the challenge of bringing back video of his doing his latest form in a jungle, on a beach, in a Viet Cong tunnel, or on a rock (the name of the form translates as "crane on a rock"). I don't know about the tunnel, but we should be able to score the other three locales.
Last week, we trekked to Washington, DC through the sleet and got our visas glued and stamped into our passports. We'll also need visas for Cambodia should we end up able to visit Angkor Wat, but all the guide books and websites say that we can get these at the airport when we land as long as we have passport photos and US dollars with us. We all have hostel cards now, and the sons have their International Student ID cards. I think the husband still needs to get the sons their adult scuba diver cards in the event we decide to try to go diving in Vietnam. It's supposed to be easy to exchange their youth cards for adult ones, but we'll see.
This morning, I sprayed two pairs of my pants, one hat, and four pairs of socks with Permethrin, an insect repellent for use on clothing. Tomorrow, I'll do another pair of pants, another hat, another few pairs of socks, and two shirts. With the exception of some time in Cambodia, we won't be in areas that offer an extremely high risk of malaria, but since mosquitos have always seemed to love me, I figured some extra protection couldn't hurt. On the recommendation of the Travel Clinic docs, we're each taking multiple tubes of 33 percent DEET and will be re-applying it often. I may actually get used to the smell by the time we're leaving in April.
A family meeting is on tap for tonight. We need to map out a general itinerary for the Norway leg of the trip so that I can visit our friendly neighborhood travel agent tomorrow and get some Eurail passes. We will definitely spend some days in Oslo, probably at the end of our time there since the husband and I will be flying back from there. We'll definitely spend some time in Trondheim where the husband has multiple cousins who also own a mountain cottage we might be able to visit, weather permitting. There are a few more days to fill up, though, so it's been suggested (yeah, by yours truly) that we take a why-the-hell-not side trip similar to the one that took us to Hyder, Alaska some years ago. Eight or nine hours by train north of Trondheim is Bodo, Norway, which offers among other things the chance to be able to say we've been north of the Arctic Circle. It's not clear that we could take advantage of some of the outdoor activities Bodo offers - glacier hiking, dog sledding, etc. - since April is a very iffy month in terms of it might be like winter or it might be like spring so who knows what we can do when then. But there's a certain attraction to being able to say that we went from the tropics of Southeast Asia to north of the Arctic Circle and, hopefully, didn't suffer too much in the process.
On the home front, we have hired neighborhood kids to walk the family dog, the job I most worried about filling. The dog is almost 13 years old and still loves a good walk almost every day, so making him sit at home for two months would not be a good thing. Some other neighborhood kids will be looking after the lawn and the garbage can that has to be rolled up a hill to the road once a week. I'm working on a list of details for my mother, who will be taking care of the animals, plants, and everything else we hold dear here. I had a friend say that when she and her husband retired and started traveling, she'd be coming to me for advice on what to do to prepare for an extended absence. Right now, my goal is to make the last couple of days here next week as calm and relaxing as possible. Stay tuned to this blog to see if I succeed.