We decided to “shelter in place” where we were in the Philippines when the new coronavirus caused chaos for travelers. There are so many reports about people who want to get home, but cannot get there – yet.
My friend Beatrice is one of those.
She had a scramble against international border closures and flight cancellations to try to get home, which for her is Vietnam.
Beatrice is strong, bold, intelligent, beautiful, resourceful. When she posted her ordeal on her personal Facebook page, I asked her if I could reprint it here. She agreed.
This is Beatrice’s story.
Visiting Vagabonds: Stories from around Earth
The reality of it all: I am fine, I am safe but it has been a rough ride.
I was in the U.S. for a business trip when things started to get rocky. After a week, we made the decision to go home, considering the rapid escalation of the situation. But flying home from the U.S. meant loosing two days in the air for me.
I made it to Singapore and had my connecting flight the next morning. We were five people in a plane made for 150. I arrived a day late.
While having a valid visa, the (Vietnamese) immigration officers were confused by the constant changing guidelines and decided to deny entry instead of offering quarantine.
I quickly booked a flight back to Singapore for a few hours later before being brought to the deportation room. Surreal experience…
I researched as fast as I could and Malaysia seemed the best and fastest option. Still open, 90 days visa on arrival for Canadians (not even trying to be French anymore at this point).
I booked a flight for the next morning. After the whole deportation ordeal, I made it back to Singapore and spent the night at friends. While there, Malaysia announced a lock-down from the 18th of March, one day after my planned arrival. Needless to say, I made sure I got on that plane.
Arrived, got to the hotel and started researching Airbnbs straight away. Thanks to the support of my company and to the ever awesome Sandor, it was booked on the 17th…. which turned out to be life saving because, unbeknown to us, the lock down meant that nobody could check in anymore between March 18th and March 31th. No hotels, no Airbnbs, no accommodation at all. I would have been basically homeless.
But it all worked out and after four days of crazy travels around the world, sleeplessness, jet-lag and uncertainty, I made it to a safe place until April 30th.
Now, I got the place organized, supplies and food to sit this out. It is just… surreal, being in a place I don’t know and all I have seen is an airport, an hotel, supermarkets and a flat. I don’t feel like I have arrived anywhere. It is kind of a nomansland of sorts.
I am grateful to be safe, while missing home terribly and trying to cope with the fact that going home could be months away. But I will be fine, and I did not lose my sense of humor yet, so there is hope. 😉
Thanks for sharing your story, Beatrice!
Note: Ellen met Beatrice in Hoi An, Vietnam, in 2019 (pictured together below), and looks forward to the day they meet again!
Thanks for reading “Visiting Vagabonds: Beatrice’s story.”
What to read next – not related to the coronavirus:
- Phong Nha, Vietnam, is phenomenal, for now
- Life on a floating house in Vietnam’s famous HaLong Bay
- Challenging overnight hike up an active volcano in Guatemala