Greetings from Con Dao and welcome to another edition of Where I’m At – rounding up my travels from the last month, and other news. I haven’t been blogging much lately, but I am still running the weekly travel newsletter that rounds up the most imspiring travel reads from around the web. Sign up here.
Where I’ve been
If you’re tuning in to Nomadic Notes for the first time (welcome!), I’m currently based in Vietnam where the coronavirus is under control. I have been making the most of my time here by doing domestic trips while waiting for international travel to get back to normal.
At the start of the month in Saigon there was a single new case of the coronavirus detected, which burst our little virus-free bubble. There was a fresh outbreak in the north of the country, which found its way to the airport in Saigon, and then up to 30 workers were found to have caught it. We were teetering on the brink of another lockdown, and this happened just before the Tet holiday – the busiest travel week of the year. Fortunately, the spread was stopped quickly. One of the reasons that the coronavirus has been contained here is because the government has been swift to lockdown apartments or whole streets to contain the virus. So far it’s working. and I live here knowing that I could wake up one morning to find that my street has been locked down.
Mekong Delta – Part II
The most recent outbreak has been contained to a single province, so I went ahead with my next planned trip to the Mekong Delta. I travelled through the Delta in January on the way to Phu Quoc. Rather than just flying in and out, it made more sense to go overland and get the ferry to Phu Quoc. In a similar spirit, I travelled through the Mekong on the way to the ferry to Con Dao. This was a good way to see some provinces that I would not otherwise have a reason to visit.
I started by flying to Ca Mau. I’ve always been intrigued by Ca Mau purely for its location in the far south of the country. They don’t get many visitors here, and I was concerned that I might run into trouble for being an inter-provincial visitor in these pandemic times. I didn’t have any trouble though, and I just got the usual “hello!” from passing kids and photo requests when people saw me walking around with a camera.
Bac Lieu is the capital of Bac Lieu province, and I went here mainly because it would have been rude to not at least stop and have a look around. I’m also making a point of visiting provincial capitals in Vietnam, so I stayed here for a day. It was worth visiting just to see the theatre.
Soc Trang is the capital of – you guessed it – Soc Trang province. Even in non-pandemic times, this is not the sort of place that foreigners visit. I actually saw a foreigner for the first time on this trip here. He was riding by and saw me walking along. Seeing a foreigner here was such an oddity here that he was compelled to pull over and ask what I was doing here. He was working here for a foreign company.
There is enough to do here though to warrant a stop. The closest ferry to Con Dao departs from Soc Trang, so if you are creative about your Vietnam travel itinerary you could include Soc Trang on the way to Con Dao.
I will have a trip report for each of these provincial capitals.
Con Dao, or if I was writing for a travel section of a tabloid newspaper – Con Wow! Con Dao is a small island group in the East Sea off the coast of the Mekong Delta. This tropical island paradise is more famous in Vietnam for its brutal past as a prison island. It’s becoming more popular as a tourist destination, and I will be doing a report about this amazing destination soon.