Day 2— The COVID-19 Monologues, Sai Gon, Viet Nam.
Good morning; it’s day 2, we are still here, in our house (surprise!).
Our AC is broken — we only have 2 working units; our dehumidifiers are flat out at a pretty constant 65%, so it’s a little uncomfortable, but otherwise, we are fine, not much to complain about, definitely doing better than some.
The insomnia is slowly creeping in; at 4:30 am I finally gave up and dragged myself from my bed. It’s ok really; I like this time of day — the blue hours. It can be hard to see the sky through the canopy of trees above our house, but I can tell by the sounds of the animals and the absolute silence and stillness of everything else. We are definitely in the last hours of darkness before the sun comes up.
Everyone else is sleeping, and this is somewhat eerie. Sai Gon is very much a 24-hour city, a paradise for insomnia ridden humans. There is always something open and people out running errands, exercising, delivering parcels; Banh Mi stands by the side of the road, always!
The Vietnamese (maybe just Saigonese) are early morning people; they get up and do their stretching, Tai Chi, go on a morning stroll, meditate in the park, and I like it a lot. Maybe it’s because it gets dark so early all year round; they like to make the most of the light; I have never thought to ask this until now, now when there is no one to be seen.
I go up to the roof to do my morning pilates and see if there is any further evidence of this apocalypse. Nothing.
I don’t know if my lovely tree-lined street is in a parallel universe, and I imagined this entire thing because yesterday coffee man did his normal stroll up and down the road several times whilst drinking his tiny cup of espresso pinky finger raised so elegantly. Today well, it’s no different.
We still await our official instructions. I think this is making people go a bit insane, not knowing, but I am starting to think that maybe there isn’t much of a plan; after all, perhaps it’s all a bit ad-hoc, on the fly, suck it and see…
We do have news on the food parcels, and there are even vegetarian ones which is awesome; I need to translate exactly what is in them as my language skills are not that good, but there are different options, they only cost around USD 10, and they should last a week.
To clarify, total lockdown is not pop out to the shops but wear a mask or take two hours of exercise to keep healthy; as it suggests, total lockdown is not being able to leave your house. Your garden gate or apartment door is the final frontier to the forbidden land, and I dare you to disobey, I dare you to pluck up the courage to cross this imaginary line because the consequences will be severe. Some apartment complexes remove security privileges from the key cards so that people cannot leave; I always thought this was a bit extreme until Chuck happened; this could have prevented Chuck’s little escapade.
People are already going a bit mad.
God only knows how this will escalate by day fourteen or beyond if yesterday is anything to go by.
First, the convicted criminal decided to try to avoid stopping at a checkpoint by just driving his scooter directly into the security guard staffing it. Luckily they were both ok. Sadly I am sure there was plenty of other stuff like this that wasn’t even reported.
I am not really a fan of Facebook, but in Vietnam, I use it out of necessity as so much takes place on that particular platform. I still don’t like it, and at times like this, when people are on their absolute worst behaviour, I really hate it.
The incident that got my attention was in an ‘ex-pat’ Facebook group by an American man; I have changed his name to Chuck to protect his identity. Hands down the most blatant abuse of the total lockdown; I didn’t expect this to happen in the entire duration, let alone on the first day! This just reminded me how truly awful people could be.
So Chuck decides he cannot possibly stay inside for one day and makes his bid for freedom. He had to go out OUT. Not into a quiet little tree-lined street to sip his tiny coffee, oh no; he went way further. He left his apartment complex, took his scooter, went on a little adventure and filmed the entire thing. I was speechless.
‘I’ve just driven past 45 security guards and they don’t give a crap’
Boasts the maskless lunatic, and in all seriousness, the mask alone is Vietnam (current status) basic etiquette.
‘All the shops are open — you have been lied to’
Of course, the shops are open to deliver food and supplies.
Then there is some more detailed information about the length of the queues, and inaudible rambling before he finishes on how it’s all fine and he is freeeeeeee and everyone should go out and do the same as him.
I have to stop myself from banging my head repeatedly against a wall.
I am not sure how many laws (and these are laws that they care about and enforce) this man managed to break in this short video, but I can only assume this is some last-ditch attempt to get deported.
Thankfully the group swiftly removed this video and Chuck from the group.
I think the key to this situation is to stop obsessing about going out; it’s just going to make it worse. Keep yourself busy, give yourself a purpose, get on with your life as best as you can.
It’s probably not healthy to assume that your street is in a parallel universe with some invisible protection forcefield around it and that the security guard was blessing it with the incense from our neighbours’ offering. No, that’s probably not a good thing to think, don’t do that.
Then again, our neighbours were out playing badminton at 10 pm last night, as they do every night — you can quite literally set your watch by it.
And… That barricade they were making wasn’t for our street!
So who knows, maybe I am onto something after all 😉
If you are enjoying reading about my total lockdown adventures, you can find day one here: