With less than four weeks to go visas and vaccinations, two items that have required some advanced planning, are underway. Visas for China and Vietnam have been secured. Other visas, for example for Laos, Cambodia, Nepal and Thailand, are available at the border or upon arrival at the airport. This is one of those items for which we did not budget and have been a bit surprised by the costs (over $1700 for four Chinese and four Vietnamese visas). When researching visa requirements we found the US State Department website a useful place to start (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_1168.html). From country-specific pages you can get to the consular websites of each country for forms and specific instructions. Unless you live in a city with a Chinese embassy or consulate, you’ll need to use a visa service. The folks at mychinavisa.com (http://www.mychinavisa.com/index.php_) did a great job.
We’re undergoing a barrage of vaccinations to prepare ourselves against Japanese encephalitis, typhoid, rabies, tetanus, and the various meningitis(es) and hepatitis(es). Admittedly, we may have gone over the top with the rabies vaccinations. Malaria prophylaxis is on order too. These precautions, of course, don’t cover the most likely health issues we’ll face (traveler’s diarrhea, skin irritation, dehydration etc.) or the statistically most likely sources of danger (e.g., traffic accidents) but they seem to give us a much needed false sense of security leading up to the trip. Like the visas, this part of the prep is also not cheap. We’ll top $5000 with these items before we depart.