Well what a month July has been. I feel so privileged to have lived this version of July. It’s been a full month off work (thank you, summer holidays), and I’ve spent the vast majority away from Hanoi. A month of returning to loved places in Vietnam and exploring new parts of the country too. Then we’ve spent the final couple of days moving and setting up in our lovely new apartment. It hasn’t all been highs though – there’ve been some lower moments too. Let’s take a look back at July 2020.
As you’ll know if you’ve been following my ‘A Postcard From…’ series or my instagram account, July has been full of travels. We’ve been lucky to visit Mai Chau, Hue, Hoi An, Quy Nhon, Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne, Ben Tre and Con Dao (and breathe!). It’s been a busy one, but with not being able to return to the UK as planned, we wanted to fill our summer off visiting new places, ticking some beauties off my Vietnam bucket list and returning to some old favourites too.
Highlights included: quad biking on sand dunes in Mui Ne, releasing baby turtles and snorkelling in stunning coral in Con Dao (and, to be honest, the whole of Con Dao island) and enjoying balmy beachy days in Quy Nhon. I haven’t finished writing about these travels – yet – but I’ll get round to it!
COVID has obviously thrown a spanner in the works for so many people’s plans this year, including many of my own. With businesses trying to bring in some income, many hotels, airbnbs and homestays have had ridiculously good deals for residents of Vietnam which has allowed us to stay in places we’d normally only dream of staying in on a long trip like this! We loved the views at the Avani Quy Nhon, the hot springs at Alba Wellness Valley and the lovely staff at Villa Maison in Con Dao. Conversely, it’s been sad to walk down empty streets that are usually packed with people and see all of the shops shut.
I’ve enjoyed doing some painting and getting back into more regular writing whilst we’ve been away, as well as some meditating too! Feeling so much calmer and more relaxed compared to the first few days of July, when I wrote this post about feeling anxious without structure.
As I said, summer 2020 has been a weird one. Along with the highs of travelling and moving, there’s been a regular niggling feeling that I *should* be in the UK. We’d planned to head back for 6 weeks, to catch up with family & friends and I spend the previous year noting down things I want to do back home. We realised quite soon into lockdown that we’d either (a) have difficulty getting out of Vietnam, (b) have to quarantine in England, (c) have to quarantine coming back to Vietnam so we figured that even if we could get back, it wasn’t going to be easy or worth it for how many weeks we’d have to spend isolating.
A very wise friend of mine who’s from the UK is currently living in Canada and is in a similar position. She reminded me that even if we had been home this summer, it wouldn’t be the fun exciting summer full of BBQs, beer gardens and snuggles with our besties that we’re imagining. I guess this will make it even more special when I finally get home… whenever that may be!
The return of COVID
Vietnam had done so amazingly well at battling corona. We’d had only 400ish cases, 0 deaths and no community transmission for 99 days until last weekend when our second wave began. That’s why life has been pretty normal these last 3 months. Now, it’s spreading here again and I’m obviously starting to wonder whether there will be another lockdown. Social distancing is gradually being introduced and the Vietnamese government are acting so swiftly in tracking and tracing, which is great news, but it’s a bit of a worry and so disappointing after the country had been COVID-free for so long. Hopefully it can be dealt with in a similar way to earlier in the year and the impact here can be limited. We’ll see, I suppose. August could go one way or another and I’ve got everything crossed it’s the right way!
The month has ended with a move to our new flat and I absolutely love it. We’d been pretty happy in our old block for 2 years and it’s actually only due to lockdown that we moved really. Our previous flat had no balconies or rooftop, which was fine most of the time, but during our lockdown we weren’t supposed to go out at all except for food. No popping out for an hour long walk or jog. A few weeks of being stuck inside and I was going a bit insane tbh, so we’ve managed to find somewhere a bit smaller but with a rooftop and balcony and view over a lake so I think *ifff* lockdown comes back, at least I can get some air and some sunshine!
Interview with Jess
Finally, a couple of hours ago the lovely Jess shared an interview with me on her blog, in which I chat all about the highs and lows of living in Vietnam and teaching abroad. I’ve known Jess a few years and her blog is full of great articles about life after uni, living in your twenties and interviews with some great people! Thanks, Jess, for inviting me to join in!
So there’s July. A really great month with so many highlights. Just under 2 more weeks off work to enjoy the flat, get some pictures up on the walls and some new plants and work on a few little projects.
Have a fab August everyone! And I hope your July has had lots of lovely bits xxx
Catch up with my previous ‘Living Lately‘ posts for more candid reflections on life out here!