28 days prior to departure – February 20
With just one month to go by the time I finally made the cut and booked, I got the heebie-jeebies last night, trying to figure out which visa and vaccination I’ll have to get and whether I’ll make it all in time. Kilroy Travels doesn’t cover that sort of information and just gave me a flyer with links to check out.
One of those sites, visum.nl, has a visa-service, but it takes about a week sending my passport to the embassy, 4 in my case, and charges about €100 each.
Now I encountered another problem: my current passport expires on June 28th. I will be home by then, but to apply for a visa it needs to be valid another half year after entering a country. So I will have to get a new one, which will take an extra week.
I never was too big a fan of Lonely Planet before, but I bought myself one anyway, right after I booked and walked out of the Kilroy office. The American Bookcentre (one of the few international bookstores in The Netherlands) is conviniently housed across the street from it. And I was really glad finding the following information in there:
It’s very possible to get the Laos-visa at the Huay Xai-border, for a mere $40, just stand your ground and make sure they don’t overcharge.
I do have to get my Vietnam-visa in advance, but on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum I found a link to this site where you can get a letter of approval for just $15. Show that at the airport and you get your stamps for an additional $20, no problem.
I can get an e-visa for Cambodia that costs $25, but it’s not valid at every border post. Bavet -where I most likely will cross- however is fine, and should even issue visa at arrival.
Indonesian visa should be issued at each airport for no more than $25.
Checking the Thorn Tree forum for updates and recent experiences really helped there!
Next up: some nice little shots to ensure my wellbeing under tropical circumstances. I’m still counting on some food poisoning, it’s just bound to happen. But that should only keep me down a few days.
After a call this morning with the local Travel Clinic I got an appointment this afternoon where we discussed the necessities for the areas I’ll be visiting. We’ll be able to fit it all in prior to departure.
I got a full cover for hepatitis A today, in just one shot that should hold up to 3 years, and the first of 3 shots for hepatitis B. I decided to get the voluntary rabies shots since I often can’t help myself when it comes to petting fluffy things. This also comes in 3 rounds, of which I had the first today.*
Next week I come back for typhoid of which 1 shot covers 3 years, and a second round of hepatitis B and rabies.
The week after that I come back for the last of those and one to cover general stuff like tetanus etc.
I got this pretty little yellow booklet, you know, the ones pets get for going to the vet, with all these stamps in it. And a slightly blue feeling in my upper arms.
All through my stay in Laos and while volunteering in Cambodia’s remote area I’ll have to take a pill named Malarone to keep clear from malaria.**
The travel clinic told me also to be careful, mostly in public transport, for tuberculosis. And a fever virus named dengue, for which there is no cure, just precautions like wearing Deet(40%min) and covering clothing.
A well-traveled friend also told me to bring ORS (oral rehydration salts) to keep from dehydrating and Imodium against diarrhea (very sexy) so I started gathering my travelkit together today.
So much on diseases for today.
I’m feeling a lot more relaxed now then I did last night when suddenly it looked like things wouldn’t be settled in time.
My budget is still extremely tight and I will have to keep a close eye on it to make sure I won’t end up having to spend nights on the streets or get in trouble with transportation. All these vaccinations and things left on my to-do and to-buy lists turn out to be much more expensive than I calculated. But I’ve invested way too much now to back out. So even if in flashes of fear I might want to, I won’t. I’m going.
-gloves (gibbon experience)
-raincover/flight bag for backpack
-ziplock bags for clothes etc
-a wooden wig to use as a doorstop
-Deet 40%, ORS, Imodium
* In hindsight this was a complete waste of a whole lot of money; they’re €75 each. I never even encountered a case of rabies. And should one get bit; you’ll have to be rushed to a hospital whether you’ve had those 3 first shots or not, to be completed with another 2. Or just have all 5 when needed. The clinic made it sounds scary with the whole story where you die in a few days. But it really doesn’t matter if you’ve had them in advance or not. So really, don’t bother getting shot for nothing.
** Many people I met in those high danger areas weren’t taking anything, and they were just fine. In Cambodia, not far from where we stayed, cases of malaria still occurred under the poorest, but not everyone in my group took pills and no one fell ill.
In hindsight I wouldn’t have spend the €157. In Asia you could buy those same pills for a 10th of the price, so should you want to, get them there.