The Chin's Advice & Packing List for Vietnam
Advice on packing for Vietnam travel for your adoption.
We (Jane and Gary Chin) left 3/17/1998 and returned home 4/3/1998 for this final trip. We were in Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang and Bangkok.
You can get formula, cereal, and disposable diapers in Vietnam. You can find them at the markets. We did our supply shopping at Maxi Mark (see list of address & phone numbers are in Note 6). This is a grocery store plus. It is not far from the Epco hotel.
Formula: Many brands available. Our orphanage gave us one can. We could not find that brand (Nidal), so gradually switched to Enfamil. We switched again once home, because Evan developed a rash on his face. (it cleared & has come back, so not sure it was the formula) Buy enough formula to make it home and gradually switch over.
Diapers: We bought Pampers (price was comparable to other brands) in Vietnam. We had brought one package of Huggies with us because I wanted to be sure of quality for the long trip home (our agency said that diapers were of inferior quality in Vietnam) I had no need to worry, they were just as good -- in fact better than the Fitti's at home. My recommendation: only bring enough for a couple days (in case you can't get to the store immediately). If you have room you can bring more (they cost a bit more over there), and use the space for souvenirs when you return.
Cereal: It comes in cans not boxes. We didn't get any. Evan wasn't on cereal at the orphanage, and we didn't want to start something new till we got home.
Bottles & feeding: You can get regular type bottles at MaxiMark too. We brought the kind with disposable liners (Playtex). We did the same with our daughter from China. No bottles to worry about cleaning. Only have to sterilize the nipples (we brought a small hot pot, you can request one at the Norfolk). The orphanage gave us his bottle, but we sent it back with the extra package of diapers (we over bought). The bottle had a nipple similar to a "regular" bottle nipple, but with a round ball at the tip. The hole was fairly large (When I started to feed him at the orphanage, I just tilted the bottle & Evan's face ended up dotted with milk). Evan barely had to suck - a mere closing on the ball guaranteed a flow. I brought 2 of every kind of nipple I could buy. The "self-adjusting" with a triangular type opening were all he could use the first couple days until he built up some sucking strength, then any of the nipples was ok. Evan was fine with room temperature bottles (Yeah!), but did not like cold - (now after being home and getting progressively colder bottles [let's have dinner now], he doesn't mind them out of the fridge)
Making a bottle on the go: For on the go and the long flight home: we carried bottled water, and packets of pre-measured formula. To make a packet: measure desired amount of formula into a 4oz bottle liner, roll liner over, and tape closed. We only made up as many packets as we would need that day. When it was feeding time all we had to do was put water in bottle, empty pre-measured formula packet into bottle, shake & serve.
Snugli: We used one. This worked well for us. It can be warm for both you & the baby, since you're so close. We would take Evan out and hold him periodically. We also avoided being out during the hottest part of the day. Ours only lets the baby face you - it would have been nice to be able to let him face out some & get more air. Tuck a burp cloth between you and the baby to save your cloths from drool & spit up when wearing the carrier. The sidewalks are "brick" and can be uneven, there are lots of driveways & streets to cross -- a stroller would be a pain. I also wouldn't want my baby that close to the dirt & dust. Also when choosing a carrier or stroller consider your child's age & development, can he/she hold up his/her head? Umbrella type strollers don't work for young infants who can't sit up yet.
I did not see any Vietnamese over the age over 12 wearing shorts. I only saw a few teenagers in mini-skirts. Most women wear sleeves (short or long). The Vietnamese try to avoid tanning! (We could learn something!) You will see many women with long gloves and wearing a triangular face covering to protect their skin. You will also see some men with surgeon style masks (mostly because of exhaust fumes I believe). The streets are dusty plus the men and boys do urinate on them (The men are pretty discreet I never saw them, but my husband did)
Women wear a dress/skirt/jumper or lightweight loose pants and short sleeved tops. The Vietnamese have the right idea with loose pants and tunic-type tops. I wore jumpers that my mom made and short sleeve tops. I had a "secret" pocket inside the bib behind the outside pocket It was an easy & safe place to keep my passport and wallet (I safety pinned it shut). Long bermuda type shorts would be ok - but not for G&R, government buildings or temples.
Men: Lightweight slacks & short sleeve lightweight shirts. Long bermuda type shorts would be ok - but not for G&R, government buildings or temples.
Shoes: I wore Birkenstock sandals with light socks. I did wear my tennies to Cu Chi Tunnels, but sandals would have been ok. I wouldn't wear sandals with out socks.
Having a fair complexion, I purchased a Vietnamese cone hat. They are lightweight & one size fits all. Note: these hats are worn by women only! My husband got a ribbing when wearing one.
Baby: Our son lived in onesies and socks. We had a few lightweight sleepers for night & the airplane trip home. We brought a baseball type cap to use when out, though at times we just shaded him with a light blanket. He was wearing a long sleeve onesie and socks when we picked him up at the orphanage and most of the other infants were in onesies. If you don't bring enough -- clothing is cheap in Vietnam. We had to buy more bibs - Evan is the drool king, I expect to see a tooth soon. Bring plenty of burp clothes (cloth diapers are very good for this), your baby might be like Evan & spit up.
Children: If you are going to get an older child, I'd bring only a couple outfits, and then shop in Vietnam. Clothing is cheap and you'll be able to buy the correct size.
We brought one large hard-sided wheeled suitcase, one small "stewardess" suitcase, a backpack, and a diaper bag (originally in big suitcase). On the way to Vietnam, our "carry-ons" were the backpack and the small suitcase. On the way home, our "carry-ons" were the backpack, diaper bag, and a duffel bag we purchased in Vietnam.
You can buy cheap luggage at the markets & many stores. We ended up buying an "Addidas" duffel bag for less than $10. It had two end compartments as well as a large center compartment.
Laundry was not cheap at our HCMC hotel. The hotel guidelines discouraged doing laundry in your room. We did wash out bibs and burp cloths every day (bring plastic clothes pins!) and hung them on the line in the bathroom and on the plastic hotel hangers over the light bank near the ceiling (to take advantage of the air conditioner). You can find liquid dish soap and even Tide at the markets. I did my one jumper that I wanted to make sure got washed in cool water by hand. Everything dried over night. We felt better not having laundry hanging around when the maid arrived.
We did find a laundry! The one we used was at the Peace Guest House. They charged $1/kilo, no ironing. (address & phone in Note 6). Dropped it off one afternoon and picked it up the next. Gary did pass a regular laundry (after depositing our clothes at Peace Guest House). Laundry "CAPITAL" Top Laundry Service & Dry Cleaning 1000dong/underwear 4000dong/shirt. (That's roughly $0.10 & $0.40).
Laundry "CAPITAL" address:
Top Laundering Service Dry Cleaner
107/1 Bui Vien Street
District #1 HCMC
It is on the south side of the street and west of the intersection with De Tham Street
^ indicates we took and thankfully did not need
___ Passports ___ Visas ___ Van Heuits's email id *1 ___ Agency Add./Phone #
___ Passport copies ^ ___ Airline tickets ___ Work's fax #^ ___ Passport photos
___ Evan's orig. docs ___ Jodie's ph/fax # ^*2 ___ Itinerary/Instructions ___ Diana ph/fax # ^*1
___ Orig. I-171H & I-171 ___ Dr's phone #/fax# ^ ___ 3 yrs. Tax returns ___ Diana's email id *1
*1 communication with home -- used email phone & fax where for emergency *2 travel agent
___ Pants (3) *1 ___ Money belt *1 *3 ___ Watch *1 __ Boxers for PJ's(1)
___ Shirts (6) *1 2 ___ Shaving kit ___ Glasses & spare*1 __ T-shirt for PJ(1)
___ Underwear (8) *1 ___ Shoes *1 ___ Sandals __ Tie for G&R
___ Socks (8) *1 ___ Jacket *1 ___ Fanny Pack *1 __ Watch *1
*1 including worn on plane *2 took lightweight short sleeve button down shirts
*3 We found around neck more comfy and convenient than around waist Gary also had one around calf
___ Slacks (1) *1 ___ Bra (4) *1 ___ Tennis Shoes ___ Money belt *1 3
___ Jumper (3) ___ skort set ___ Socks (10) *1 ___ Fanny pack *1
___ Shirts (7) *1 ___ Watch *1 ___ Jacket *1 ___ Pajamas (2) *1
___ Underwear (10) ___ No jewelry *2 ___ Glasses *1 ___ split slips (5)
___ Birkenstocks *1 ___ barrettes (2 sets) *1 ___ ___
*1 including worn on plane *2 only wore wedding band *3 found neck type more comfy & convenient than waist type
___ Liquid soap *1 ___ Deodorant ___ Toothpaste (1) ___ Toothbrushes (2)
___ "Tylenol" ^ ___ Pwdr. Gatorade ^ ___ Sun screen ___ Comb
___ Saline spray(2) *2 ___ Powder (cornstarch) ___ Mosquito repellent ^ ___ charcoal pills ^
___ chapstick ___ Decongestant ^ ___ Nail clippers ___ Kleenex (6 pocket packs)
___ ear plugs *3 ___eye shades *3 ___ Hay-fever pills ^ ___
*1 used hotel shampoo, would have used this for shampoo if non in hotel *3 nice for plane trip
*2 used for plane trip - really helps keep nose from drying out. Improves comfort level
___ infant suppositories ^ ___ Neosporin ^ ___Bottles (3) (2 8oz, 1 4oz) ___Dove Sensitive Soap
___ Diaper rash cream ___ Medicine dropper ^ ___Bottle liners (175 8oz 50 4oz) ___Diapers (1 package)
___ Infant Tylenol ^ ___ Thermometer ^ ___Baby wipes (240)*2 ___infant Nail clippers
___ Infant decongest ^. ___ Vaseline ^ ___Nipples (4 kinds) ___Diaper bag *1
___ Pacifiers ^ ___ Toy duck ___ Rattle/teether ___
*1 packed it in suitcase on the way over *2 used about 160 put them in ziploc bags
___ Onsies (12) ___ Hat ___ Cloth diapers (8)*1 ___ Bibs (8)*2
___ Sleepers (4) ___ Blankets (3) ___ Changing plastic (4) *3 ___ Snuggli
___ Outfits (3) ___ Socks (6) ___ ___
*1 used as burp cloths -really needed them *2 this includes the three we bought while there
*3 cut up cheap vinyl table cloth to use as changing surface took 4 two foot squares
___ Darning Needle *1 ___ Travel guide/Vietnam ___ Videotapes ___ Alarm clock
___ Flashlight ___ Travel guide/Bangkok ___ Batteries ___ Cash (125/day)
___ Notepad/pens ___ First Aid kit (mini) ___ 35mm camera ___ Credit cards (1 for each of us)
___ Converter ___ Phrase book ___ Film (7) ___ Small calculator
___ Reading material ___ Video camera ___ Camera batteries ___ Sewing kit
___ Scotch tape *2 ___ Ziplocs (2 sizes) ___ Small scissors ___ Hot Pot *3
___ Evan's blank book ___ liter of water (2) *4 ____ ___
*1 in case needed to enlarge nipple holes *2 used to tape formula packets closed
*3 used to sterilize nipples *4 to drink on airplane flight
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