When I read that Vietnam was ranked second in the world (after New Zealand) at keeping COVID-19 at bay, and then had multiple readers ask me for Vietnam-related travel advice, I decided to interview a friend who’s also a travel writer who now lives there.
I met James Clark over a dozen years ago in New York City at a travel conference. Then I caught up with him again when we both happened to be in Malaysia. James is originally from Australia and has traveled all over the world and documented it on his site NomadicNotes.com.
He also writes about transport and infrastructure in Southeast Asia at Future Southeast Asia. He is currently based in Ho Chi Minh City and sat down with me to talk about what it’s like to live in Vietnam. It’s really remarkable how the government has prevented COVID-19 from spreading and how affordable Vietnam is to live … so much so that I was thinking about moving a close relative there so they could live like a king just on their social security check instead of struggling to get by.
I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Listen to the interview on your favorite podcast platform or watch on YouTube.
I just listened to the “What It’s Like To Live In Vietnam” podcast. I started coming to Vietnam in 2003 and along with my Vietnamese wife who is a native of Cao Lanh city. We built a house here where we have lived since my retirement from EPA in 2016. We live on the Mekong Delta about 3 hours from Saigon and 90 minutes from the Cambodian border.
I enjoyed the podcast and agree with Mr. Clark on most of what he said. Yet, I think it is important to point out that while we have seen little of the virus here until now, the picture of relative safety he provides is dismissive of the risk. We not only share a border with China as Mr. Clark points out, but also with Cambodia for 720 km and Laos for nearly that much. Cases in Cambodia are rapidly increasing and many people are sneaking across the border. Some of them are captured and quarantined. Some are caught only after getting all the way to Saigon, DaNang or even Hanoi.
There’s more, but my point is clear. With substandard medical facilities here and an eagerness of so many to gather in very large crowded conditions (many without masks contrary to what Mr. Clark has said) the situation is ripe for the kind of epic disaster now playing out in India.
I love Vietnam, despite its faults and agree with Mr. Clark’s enthusiasm about it. Yet, providing. a different perspective is important.
We really want to get back to the US and get a shot because there is very little hope of accessing the vaccine here until the end of 2021. I am trying to find the best and safest way back, but it could be risky . . . not as risky, however, as what we may be facing here in the coming weeks.
Cao Lãnh, Đồng Tháp, Việt Nam