After weeks of pandemic hibernation in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, South African native Kim Gordhan somewhat reluctantly boarded a flight with two girlfriends at the beginning of May and headed to the former port city of Hoi An in the country’s Central Coast region.
“We did not want to be like those expats who travelled as soon as they could even though they knew that it was risky and it was putting other people at risk,” said Gordhan, 24, an English teacher. “But coming here, and seeing how many people are here, I feel a bit better and not judged as much.”
Several hundred Vietnamese visitors crowded the banks of the Thu Bon River on May 2 close to where the three were drinking craft beers in Hoi An’s Ancient Town area, posing for photos on the footbridge, stepping into wooden boats festooned with colourful silk lanterns, and queuing at food carts.
Tran Nga, 30, sat with friends on little plastic stools near the riverbank, sipping from coconuts. She had four days off from her job at an oil and gas refinery and decided at 4pm on April 30 to get the overnight sleeper bus to Hoi An from her home in Thanh Hoa in North Central Vietnam.
“I expected people in Vietnam to still be afraid of the coronavirus
and not travel, so it would be a good time for me to find someplace quiet,” she said as young couples, families and groups of friends strolled past.