Solo Traveling: Experiencing Vietnam During The Coronavirus Outbreak

My 2020 goals were to hop around several Asian countries for six months before heading off to South America. I departed from Bangkok to go to Chang Mai during the last week of January. It was a great time to be there with regards to temperature but not as far as air quality was concerned. People both in Bangkok and Chiang Mai had to wear masks because it was the burning season.

From there I managed to go to Japan and Taiwan before the pandemic. On the spur of the moment, I deciding to fly to Da Nang, Vietnam, for three weeks. Although I am very healthy, the coronavirus risk for several of my family members is relatively high, and their health is my number one priority. After doing research, I had decided that Vietnam was the best option for me to get some rest.

I landed at Da Nang International Airport on February 28 and went straight to Hoi An my dream city.

The lanterns at the night market walking street, Hoi An

Hoi An is situated approximately 20km from Da Nang. There, I stayed at Tribee Bana Hostel. It is in a great location, only 500 meters away from the ancient city and within walking distance to plant-based foods and vegan cafes, boasts loads of daily activities to participate in, has fast internet WIFI if you still need to work, and very helpful staff. Staying there is worth every penny.

I’m not really into human-made travel attractions. Rather, I enjoy experiencing real nature, not only the river or ocean, but also taking a peek into other people’s lives, culture, and history – those intangible things you can see and touch.&

My morning routine always started off with some Vietnamese coffee. I would recommend Mia Coffee, Cocobox, and Wake-Up coffee for Coconut coffee. Amongst these three, my favorite is Cocobox for that overall experience.

Bosgarus Coffee Roasters provides a divine specialty coffee although it is the most expensive place with regards to coffee that I visited in Hoi An. But, if you need to get some work done, they have fast WIFI outlets at almost every table. They also serve you a complimentary bottle of water and free use of their bathroom facilities at no extra charge. They are located in the ancient town down by the river where you experience a cool breeze and wonderful sunshine.

After getting some work done in the morning, I would search for some vegan foods near me on Google Maps to check out the various options. Here are the plant-based cafes I visited several times during my Hoi An trip:

Avos and Mango was my first cafe. I went there just to get the Green Avocado Smoothie. The menu provides options for plant-based and meat eater. Upstairs is a co-working space.

Green Avocado Smoothie
Green Avocado Smoothie

Nourish Eatery was the co-working cafe that I visited almost every other day and is my best choice for healthy food in Hoi An. The place has a great vibe going that includes the design, general atmosphere, menu, and service. It is also a great place to go if you want to read, work, or just relax. They also sport a yoga studio.

Falafel Hummus Tahini
Falafel Hummus Tahini

Vegan Zone is another place where you can experience the local style.

Mustard leaves rolls
Mustard leaves rolls

Around day 10, the news about the coronavirus became widespread. Even although only a few infections were known about, all of them in the country had recovered. People took the necessary precautions seriously. At the same time, the number of tourists in the country decreased.

With ten days left of my visit, I decided to travel back to Da Nang and stay near the beach. It was during this time that I experienced a bit of an emotional downside.

Phuoc My looked like a ghost town and most tourists still there were from the west. I was the only solo traveling Thai woman. Please note, this was not my first solo trip, so feel free to check out my other solo traveling blog stories.

Although I still had to work, it was a lot less than usual due to the impact of the economy. I still planned on going to Malaysia and Bali after Vietnam but decided to play it by ear before making any concrete plans in this regard.

Morning beach walk in Da Nang, Vietnam
Morning beach walk in Da Nang, Vietnam

I started experiencing loneliness and a fear of the unknown. I still had seven days left before the plane would take me either to another country, or home. Not long after, Malaysia announced their lockdown. My decision was made for me, and I booked a flight back home to Thailand for my departure date.

Exposure to an overwhelming wealth of information regarding the coronavirus made me feel worse. I was suffering from fear and anxiety about possibly getting infected. But my main feeling was one of loneliness – something that is relatively unheard of as far as I am concerned as a person.

Taking online courses kept my brain busy for several hours a day, but I could not sit in a virtual class all day long. I would go back to my room and try to watch a movie (although I had seldom watched television before this), read a book, or listen to an audiobook. But none of this worked. I would also go to the beach, find a spot far from other people, and sit down.

And this is what I learned while watching the ocean for several hours a day during this time while away from my home country.

Nature therapy

Nature is the best therapy. While watching the horizon, I felt the wind blow and the warm sun. I would take a deep breath and exhale. It calmed me down.

The blue color of healing

The color blue is for healing. It brings you peace, soothes, and calms you.

The infectious joy of children

Young children were playing on the beach, building the sandcastle, filled with pure joy. They were 100% innocent and at that moment, experiencing no fear and anxiety. Instead, living in that moment, they were filled with pure happiness and joy.

The older couples holding hands

There were a few elderly couples who would spend some time walking along the beach. More often than not, they would hold hands and just mile. These smiles spoke to me of relaxation and letting things go.

The adults in search of the meaning of life

Some individuals, just like me, walked or sat alone. Some of them were sitting quietly and thinking, while others were perhaps just trying to relax. They reminded me of myself.

The chaos in our mind

We were bombarded with so much information every day. Most of it was not positive news. The number of cases accelerated as did the number of deaths. We were told how to protect ourselves, what to eat, and how the corona outbreak impacted business owners and day-to-day workers.

It is easy to say ‘calm down’. But we, as human beings, tend to stop thinking rationally when our emotions increase. Although we as humans have fragile bodies, the universe has created for us a very potent weapon – our brain.

We all tend to fear the unknown; things we cannot control because we do not know how or what they may be. But these fears are nothing new, are they?

Let’s step aside for a moment. We are not talking about covid-19 here. Have you ever had a fear of the unknown and been in a situation where you could not control the circumstances? What did you do then?

Let us calm our minds so that we can use our brains to plan and manage our lives from this step forward. I believe that together yet apart, this soon shall pass. That collectively, we shall take this as a great lesson to learn. Not just as individuals, or as a particular country, but all beings on this planet.

The day before my departure date, I woke up to find an email telling me my flight was canceled. The airline had canceled all return flights to Thailand. Holy Cow! I freaked out, of course, but kept telling myself to ‘calm down, Jess! It is going to be alright! Go search for another airline!’

I was successful in booking a new flight but was still nervous. What if they canceled tomorrow? After finishing up my morning work, I went to the back, went back to my room, and spent some time meditating. I realized that I should trust the process.

Departure date

I packed all my bags the previous night, had a small breakfast, and headed off to the airport. The taxi driver and I had a good conversation about the football match between Thailand and Vietnam. It was a fun trip.

I arrived five hours before departure time because I wanted to make sure the flight was confirmed and on time. Only two airlines operated that morning.

I had mixed feeling until my phone rang. He, my unique human, was on the line, and we talked about anything and everything not related to the situation. He turned my attention and thoughts to more positive topics. I remembered that energy flows where attention goes. We were on the phone for hours before I had to check-in.

With my earplugs in, I turned on the music and left Vietnam in a calm state of mind.

I hope everyone stays home and stays safe during this time.

Finally, if you enjoy reading this, feel free to click subscribe for more journeys.

Enjoy Living & Be Happy
Jess Soraya

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Thomas says:

    Dear Jess,
    Your article is really wonderful. I can well imagine the chaotic thoughts as the effects of the coronavirus started to spread. And yes loneliness comes with that as well.
    I am currently in the Philipines and will be here for at least the next month, probably even longer. My partner is a Filipino.

    Take care and till soon

    Your Friend
    Thomas

    Like

    1. Thank you Thomas. We are all in this together. Stay strong and positive.

      Like

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