It all started in Si Racha Thailand March 18th around 3 am when the taxi came to pick me up at my apartment. The evening before on March 17th the entry into Vietnam was allowed if you signed a health certificate and already had your visa so I was ready to come back home after being away for almost 3 months but how things can change in just a matter of hours. When we landed in HCMC it was a rather quiet at the airport which was expected but the next step in the challenge was soon to come. I had my health certificate, visa and was ready to go home but surprise surprise the rules changed the morning of March 18th. How did they change and why well this would become clear in time and when I say time I mean days not hours. As my flight landed just before 9.00am we were amongst the first happy travellers and home comers to get treated to the new rule of entry, it could have been worse and you could have been denied entry but looking back with hindsight that may not have been such a bad option as I would have returned to Thailand where I could skydive. Well there was not a lot of information to be found but as I know from living in Asia for over 20 year you just keep asking offical looking people until you can piece together what's going on and I was told that everyone now returning has to go into 14 days quarantine the new rules from this morning, lucky me I thought. So 14 days quarantine news reports said the Vietnam government had set up quarantine at a resort hotel along the central coast of Vietnam this was the first place so here's me thinking ok resort quarantine I was a bit off the mark.
So the journey continues, I could see the right end of the arrival hall when you come down the escalators after immigration and that is where everyone was, the quiet from before was no longer, it was the normal noise you expected. It was not clear who was in charge as there were no uniformed officials anywhere so using my years of Asian travel experience I turned to the left and headed toward the normal exit to freedom knowing that if there was someone supposed to be guiding people or doing something they would either stop me and I could find out what to do or fingers crossed I could have made a break for it. As expect the call started from out of no where " hello, hello, excuse me" so I had roused the sleeping airport employee. He told me "cannot go, cannot go" so I asked "where can go " ? He then pointed to the far right corner past Belt 1 and said "go to table " ok so I tried and failed but it's always worth a shot. From where we were standing in the middle of the arrival hall all you could see and here was a mass of people all yelling over the top of each other, well this is what the untrained eyes and ear would think but to us in the know it's the normal level of volume for Vietnamese in public not to mention the no one puts their phones to their ears anymore they love to yell at their phone from arms length so the rest of the world gets to share their call. Back to me now looking for a table of officials , how stupid of me expecting a sign or something, I know better. So I made my way over to the corner through the crowd looking for this magical table of answers. When I got close enough to the Staff Exit far in the corner there was a table a very small table which was surrounded by people just standing around blocking all view and yelling on their phones. I then gave my passport to the person at the table and moved away from the table and took a seat as I could tell nothing was going to happen at anything close to light speed so hurry up and wait, a phrase I am very used to being a skydiver.
The guy at the table was sending passports into the back room and getting bunches of passports back than calling out names, of course he had no microphone and was trying to call out of the mass of yelling people it was exactly as you are imagining it, don't laugh that's how things happen. There were around 300 people there so you can image the sound level and this one pour old guy trying to call names so here I am thinking how the hell will I even hear my name then I thought shit what name will they call, Black or Steve or Albert it was a raffle? I then decided to watch a group of people who had handed their passports in front of me in the hope I would be called shortly after them and Hail Mary it worked. Once call you got taken outside to a loading area for the buses and guess what you waited again. Once the bus arrived your bags were sprayed, you washed your hands, you got your passports back, signed a list next to your name on the chart and away we go, the next stage of the journey is about to kick off.
We didn't know where we were going to be taken, how long it would take we had no information so I knew as much as all the local people who have no language issues, it was time to just sit and go for the ride in a 22 seat mini bus with no AC and it's 35 degrees outside now as it's around 11.00 am and the sun is doing its job. We drive for around 45 minutes then come to the entrance gates of a military base which is set up like the entrance to a CDC outbreak station, armed security , decontamination spraying for all vehicles it was rather interesting and we had no idea what was next. But I'll leave that for part 2.
You can check out my Instagram to see my daily video updates while at the camp https://www.instagram.com/nudie_boy_films/
Below are a few photos as we disembark from the bus at the quarantine camp for our stay which at the time we had now real clue as to what was ahead, I think these were less than 10 foreigners and there were only 3 white foreigners amongst our camp of 200.