Planning for Southeast Asiaย 

Hello world,

Guess what! Our next stop? Indonesia!

So, this will be my longest time ever away from home, I mean, more than two whole months! Man, that’s just crazy to think about. We’ll be staying with some friends that are living in Bandung, which is just west of Jakarta, Indonesia’s Capitol. We aren’t just going to stay in Indonesia, we’re going to go to some other countries in Southeast Asia too: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos on a 25 day tour.

We’ve been planning, preparing, and prepping like crazy! Mainly, all the “P’s.” But, the worst part of the “P’s” is IMMUNIZATIONS. Blugh.๐Ÿ’‰ I was worrying and dreading and worrying and dreading and worrying and dreading and worrying and dreading! But, when we got to the doctors office, it turns out that for one of the shots, you could trade out for pills!  And the other shots that aren’t pills, are only for grown ups! Two of the pills that we take now are typhoid and malaria. So much for that worrying and dreading.

 

The other thing is food. I’ve got to get used to Indonesian food! In order to get ready, we’ve been having more Asian, and more spicy foods. For example, the other day we had spicy Asian stir fry, which wasn’t a really big deal because I don’t mind heat, I kinda like things spicy! My mom even made our green beans spicy with Sriracha.

We leave soon (May 11th!), so I’ve got to get to packing, I mean, I just packed for two weeks in Japan, now I gotta pack for two months for Southeast Asia.

I’m soooo NERVOUCITED!!!๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™‰๐Ÿ™Š 

โœŒ๏ธโญ•๏ธโ›Žโž• (AKA peace out),

Kamaile

But we have awesome health care coverage…

Hooray! We have made more plans: We are heading out to Indonesia for a couple of months and will be spending a three and a half week chunk of that time on a tour of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. This is all so exciting!

Warning: the following blog is full of obnoxious and unresolved tedium. I may be ranting rather than blogging. 

In preparation for travels, we are following the CDC recommendations for vaccinations. We are all up to date with regular vaccines and were easily able to acquire the oral Typhoid vaccine as well as the Malaria meds for all of us and the Hep A for those that didn’t have it yet. Yay. 

 

Paul getting his Hepatitis A vaccine
 

We are so blessed to have amazing health care coverage. Wait for the “but”…

But…it was all smooth sailing until we tried to get the vaccine for Japanese Encephalitis. 

This is an illness that is considered endemic in many Asian countries. It is carried by mosquitos and incidences go up when the rains come down and more so away from cities, especially in and near rice patties. As we will specifically be in these areas at the beginning of the rainy season (the beginning of peak season for the disease) we and our doctors thought it would be good to get this vaccination in addition to the others.  No biggie, right? 

OK, seriously, I have spent over twelve hours on the phone over the last three days trying to obtain this vaccine in a way that is covered by insurance. We have been through four different pharmacies, multiple phone calls to our medical practice, and many hours on the phone with insurance. Each time I speak to the insurance company I think I have been helped and guided in the right direction, only to find out that isn’t the correct information once we have contacted the next pharmacy location! Then I get further info, with a more restrictive set of directions to follow and repeat the process again. This pharmacy isn’t covered, that one is. That pharmacy doesn’t carry that vaccine at all, oh, that pharmacy that has the vaccine in stock isn’t actually covered for this item as it has to be billed through medical, not prescription, and they aren’t allowed to do so, oh that pharmacy is covered but not really, now you have to go to a certain kind of clinic, wait, that clinic doesn’t take insurance at all (wait, why are they on my preferred provider list then?), and so on. 

Gah! This is ridiculous, people!

Why don’t we just pay for it out of pocket? Because one shot is almost $300. Ouch! Besides, isn’t that why we pay to have insurance?

And, as I said earlier, this is not a solved issue yet. I will let you know what the end result is later. Sigh.

Rant over for now.

Visiting Japan Was Like a Pre-Season Game for Us

Me using a sports analogy is so predictable, isn’t it?

The #seattlebundas just returned yesterday from 9 exhilarating, yet exhausting days in Japan. We brought back to Seattle lifetime memories, as many pics as the total number taken when I spent nearly 2 years living in England in the mid-1990’s, and some important lessons which will serve us well when we embark on longer-term travel later this Spring.

Like coaches that prepared all off-season with new plays, systems, and game plans, Laura and I hoped to use the trip to help us gauge how ready we are for our future adventures (aka “Regular Season”). Mission accomplished.

Key Learnings:

  1. Trey and Kamaile really are very good travelers. The flight to Narita was 10+ hours; the flight back was 8.5 hours. Adding in Customs and Immigration, airport transfers (cars/trains/subways), etc., on both ends meant very LONG days. No complaints, or at least no more than their big baby of a Dad. I’m especially proud of how Kamaile handled herself throughout: she has to physically carry more (pound-for-pound), exert more energy (2 steps for every 1 that I take), walk at a faster pace (just to keep up), and do it all without the benefit of being able to see well where she’s going.
  2. We can actually travel with just carry-on bags, after all. Laura mentioned in an earlier post the many hours we spent researching bags. It appears that we’ve found the right bags for the kids and a sweet bag for Laura. Meanwhile, I’m still deciding whether to keep my bag. We packed minimally (e.g. 4 T-shirts, not 7) and efficiently (packing cubes are your friend). Being able to carry our bags allowed us to transition quickly and easily between cars, vans, airplanes, trains, and subways. Not having roller bags meant that we could better traverse even the worst walkways and paths, when needed.
  3. We found a “system” that works for us when navigating new places on foot. This typically involves me leading, followed in order by Kamaile, Trey, and Laura in single file (especially in busier, more crowded areas). Laura and I also realized after about 5 days that at least 2 of us needed to know where we were headed to help ensure that we didn’t veer too far off course. Sharing the burden of figuring out where you are at any given time is HUGE.
  4. We are improving at our decision-making while in the moment. Often, it’s about me needing to be a better, more patient listener. Sometimes, it’s about Kamaile being more bold about saying what she wants. At other times, it’s about Trey being better at articulating what he wants, as opposed to moping or grunting disapproval.
  5. Trey is growing up FAST. We have him a number of small opportunities to exert some independence or leadership. He purchased items on his own without us to help guide him–figuring out on the fly how to work through language and cultural barriers. He went for a walk in the neighborhood where we stayed to a store that was nearby, but definitely out of eyesight. Trey even led us through the maze of rush-hour subway traffic a couple times, which is no easy task when you can’t read most of the signs. So proud of that kid.
  6. Sticking to a semblance of a budget is generally difficult to when traveling, let alone when visiting another country. Math, conversions, relative value, need vs. want, long-term usefulness, blah, blah, blah. The better I get at this, the longer we’ll be able to travel.
  7. Free Walking Tours are legit. See this earlier post for the one we took in Tokyo. I understand that most major cities have something similar. My intention is to do one of these as early as possible whenever we visit a new city.
  8. Bike Tours are legit. See this earlier post for the one we took in Tokyo.
  9. We can live for a short while in a studio-sized apartment, if necessary. Whether we can do that for more than a couple weeks at a time remains to be seen.
  10. I can still be challenged in areas that I believe are my strengths. I like to think of myself as one who is calm under pressure, embraces change, leans into ambiguity, and can adapt very quickly to new surroundings or situations. Being in another country, not really knowing anyone there, not being able to communicate well (Sorry, Mom and Dad, my 6 years of Japanese language studies as a kid were only marginally helpful), and still being responsible for my family’s day-to-day well-being felt overwhelming at times.

There were many other lessons learned (or still outstanding) that I may try to capture in future posts.

Moving forward, as we prepare for the next part of our journey, I’m excited to know that we have a great shot at being ready for our regular season.