Greetings from Da Nang and another edition of Where I’m At – my monthly summary of where I’ve been and site news.
Where I’ve Been
I’m happy to report that I’ve been somewhere this month, and here’s a summary of the previous month. For real time updates, follow me on Instagram at @nomadicnotes.
The start of May was about a week after lockdown was lifted, and the good news for Vietnam was that no community transmissions of the virus have been reported for over a month. All new cases have been returning citizens who are quarantined upon arrival. Vietnam has been a COVID-19 success story.
With the lockdown lifted, businesses got back to business. There are a lot of closed shops with “for rent” signs up where businesses have not survived the lockdown. With international tourism not on the agenda for the next few months, other tourism-dependent businesses may not survive either.
I got my visa extended for another 3 months, and I’m not even thinking of international travel at this point. I will have to consider what my next moves are when it comes to visa renewal in August. If it is possible to travel to Thailand or Cambodia by then, that might be an option.
With my passport returned to me I started planning domestic travels in Vietnam. The airlines are promoting cheap flights to get people flying again, and hotels are offering big discounts in an effort to revive the travel economy.
I picked Hoi An as my first place to visit as I wanted to see what it looks like without the crowds. To get there I booked a flight to Da Nang with Vietnam Airlines.
I used the check-in kiosk and I was asked if I had filled out a health declaration at tokhaiyte.vn.
I downloaded the app and filled in the required details. The app has a map of every reported case in Vietnam. When you open the app at the airport there are numerous red warning dots. When you click on the dot it tells you where and when the case was detected. Given that most cases in Vietnam have been from repatriated citizens it wasn’t a surprise to see so many cases here.
The domestic terminal was busy. People are getting back to business here, or perhaps returning to their home town after being stranded, or if they be like me they are people just itching to get travelling again. I looked at the domestic departure board and considered that these destinations will likely be my travel options for the next few months. I’m completely ok with that.
I may not look it in this photo, but I was delighted to be flying again.
Departing Tan Son Nhat I saw many aircraft parked with their engines covered, and at the international terminal there were two Vietnam Airlines aircraft at gates. Whether they were flying somewhere I didn’t find out, but usually most of the gates would be occupied by international airlines.
The flight to Da Nang was full, and on this trip I was meeting three other friends from Saigon who were all flying on different flights. They reported that all their flights were full as well.
The “wing shot” might be in the top ten most cliched travel photos, but I don’t care. I spent most of the flight looking out the window, grateful to be able to fly again. It was good to see Da Nang from an airplane window.
An Bang Beach
An Bang Beach is a beach suburb of Hoi An, about 5km from the old town area. I’ve never considered staying there before as I prefer to stay in the old town action. Hoi An is such an amazing destination in itself that my brain does not compute that it could also have world-class beaches just down the road.
For this trip I wanted to stay somewhere different in Hoi An, and I wanted a beach break to wash away the lockdown fug in my mind.
There is a bit of an expat scene happening here, with some great beachside cafes. If it wasn’t near Hoi An it would probably be more famous as a beach destination. I will have a trip report on An Bang.
I’ve been to Hoi An numerous times over the years, and each time I visited it’s been getting more crowded. It’s one of the overtourism hotspots of Southeast Asia. With almost no international tourists (apart from remaining expats like myself) it was a very different experience. I will post a report on Hoi An in the midst of the pandemic.
I’ve been a regular visitor to Da Nang over the last few years, and it continually amazes how fast things are changing here. Construction is still happening, and I noticed some new places that have started since my last visit. But there are a lot of closed places here that were relying on tourism. South Korea had become the biggest tourism market in Da Nang, with over 100 flights a week from Seoul at its peak in 2019. Now there are scores of abandoned Korean BBQ restaurants everywhere, and many hotels have not reopened.
For the last few trips I’ve been staying in the My An area near the beach, so that will be my next blog topic for Da Nang.
ICYMI – Last Months Posts
Apart from the monthly update I didn’t post any new articles on Nomadic Notes in May. It must be the longest I’ve gone without posting anything. In this era of no travel I haven’t been inspired to write anything about travel. I have been posting weekly at Living In Asia though, with travel themed articles such as the New Manila International Airport, and the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore high-speed railway.
I’ve also been doing more updates on the newsletter. There I can write about more random subjects that wouldn’t fit on a blog post. You can follow me at nomadicnotes.substack.com for weekly updates.
I had a traffic flippening this month, where on the 25th of May I got more views at Living In Asia than on Nomadic Notes for the first time. While Living In Asia traffic is improving, it’s more to do with the low traffic numbers currently on Nomadic Notes as no one is planning travels.
Now that I am travelling again (in Vietnam at least) I will have some new blog content starting this month.