Every time I take a long break from this blog, I feel like starting over again, with introductions and reasons why I am writing it. It’s all my fault, really – I shouldn’t be slacking like this. But remember, this blog is not a commercial enterprise (yet), and therefore, I can afford to take some time off, especially when a lot is happening in my life.
And a lot has been happening. About 2 months ago, I have left Vietnam, where I spend 1.5 years, which happen to be most and the worst of the Covid pandemic, and came back to California. There were lots of reasons for the move, mostly personal ones, but a change of scene was certainly one of them. I missed certain elements of the Western life, particularly in California, and spring is a great season to be here. Flowers are blooming, weather is getting warmer, and most importantly, things are getting back to normal here in the US, Covid-wise.
When I was flying out of Ho Chi Minh’s airport, I felt like the stupidest person in all of Vietnam. Here I was, leaving the country that had been practically Covid-free for the country that had some of the worst impact of the pandemic. I got so used to businesses being opened in Vietnam – dining and drinking out, walking the streets with my camera, usually without a mask, driving my scooter (yes, in Saigon) – that it was hard to imagine what life was like in the US, where various lockdowns and restrictions have affected life greatly for most of 2020 and a good chunk of 2021.
I kid you not – there must have been no more than 10 people total in Tan Son Nhat Airport’s International Terminal. As soon as I crossed the passport control line, there I was – in the zone of no-return. No foreigners are being allowed to Vietnam except with very expensive and difficult to obtain invitations. The same 10 passengers were on my flight to Tokyo, where I was transferring to San Francisco, on another plane that had maybe 25 passengers total.
It took a couple of weeks to readjust to the American lifestyle again, but the strange thing was, I hardly felt any restrictions. Of course, many of them were being lifted week after week, as more and more people got their Covid vaccine. I got mine too, as soon as it became possible. My take on it is, regardless of what you feel about vaccines, if you plan on travelling in 2021 and beyond, and I certainly do, a vaccine will be pretty much a requirement. Take it or leave it.
And Vietnam, strangely, suddenly got into a massive Covid wave a week or so after I left. The country now is experiencing it’s worst Covid numbers since the whole pandemic started. Needless to say, everything is closed and even the inter-city travel is highly restricted. So in a way, I left at the right time, although I wish with all my heart that things stabilize there quickly. The only way, alas, is with the vaccine, and the country is far off from doing them on a mass scale.
In the meantime, I have been taking care of a long list of things to do that had accumulated in my absence, and trying to enjoy California as much as possible. I will do a post on California’s national parks soon, as I have re-visited 2 of them recently – Sequoia and Joshua Tree. I have been freezing my ass off in San Francisco – after Vietnam, 10-13 C is just bone-chillingly cold. And it doesn’t matter how hot it might be across the Bay, and it is a god-awful scorcher just 25 miles to the east. Still, it’s refreshing to be wearing long sleeves and denim for a change, something you don’t get to do often in the tropical heat.
Stay tuned for some new posts – I promise, it will be less than 3 months this time!