I have returned to the blog world
I am sad to say time in Yangon, Myanmar is not longer. COVID forced us to leave in March 2020 and the coup d’ etat of February 1, 2021 ended any ideas that we would return. We got to witness some democratic steps forward with the election of 2015 and the emergence of Daw Aung Su Kyi’s National League for Democracy party. Over the next four years we saw a growing sense of freedom and the fastest growing SE Asian economy. But the military always loomed ominous.The authoritarian power grab by the military put an end to these improvements and Myanmar now is reeling from the consequences. The election was in November of 2020. The military’s party embarrassingly only earned 20% of the popular vote and subsequent cries of election fraud led the generals to declare the country unsafe and take over. Sound familiar?
I am very sad for people of Myanmar. I am sad for the people I worked with, for those who befriended me in this magical place. Never have met as kind and warm people nor have I lived anywhere so safe. The students we taught there were amazing and I am proud to watched them earn their way to several top universities in the States. Perhaps the major world powers can do something to help.
I have now moved to Vietnam to teach in the city of Hanoi.
QUARANTINE: from Italian “quaranta fiorna”. From 14 century. Forty days quarantine for ships during the plague.
The first thing to note about Vietnam is that when it comes to COVID they do not mess around. Maybe the SARS outbreaks in the past gave them some wisdom. No one here arguing mask-freedoms nor threatening the local school board who may opt to so encumber their child for health and safety of others. Seatbelts?
Upon arrival to Noi Bai airport there were the usual visa/passport checks and wait for luggage. We donned our requisite PPE and had our bags sprayed with a disinfectant. A van then transported us to the Hiatt Regency hotel for the two week stage one of government quarantine-a smart way to maintain hotel occupancy I say. Everyone dealing with us was clad in crape-paper suits, glove, goggles and shields. We checked into our rooms with the explicit instructions not to leave the room for the 15 day period. Sans gym and pool, of course. We got out with to the floor below for two COVID tests and service could dish up some happy-our beer delivered by an attendant in full protection. That and the Olympics narrated in Vietnamese was our entertainment. I did fear Stacie would soon file the end of a toothbrush into a shank if we quarantined any longer.
We are out of quarantine now and in our apartment in the outskirts of the city. The first week here was under self-quarantine so we had to have others deliver some food and supplies. This is over and we can at least walk to the grocery store while under city-wide lockdown. As a store K Market, easy name, is something in between a 7-11 and Trader Joe’s with not much to choose from but at least some basics. That and walking five blocks to school for necessary paperwork are what we look forward to each day. Two trips, one to the US embassy and the other a government required health check, let us see what Hanoi is like under lockdown. Nothing open. Some scooters were about but not the characteristic mass of mopeds navigating to and fro. Hanoi has 8 million inhabitants and they locked the city down with relatively few cases. The outbreak level here would make any American big city envious. Ho Chi Minh city, however, is a hot mess. Vietnam gives all the vaccines they have each day and focus on the hot spots in the south. They constantly negotiate to get as many imported as they can and are testing their own vaccine as I write. Here no vials go unused and there is no choice. I have been in Hanoi for three weeks and have had four COVID tests. And compared to what we see worldwide a country that has over 90 million citizens with just 7500 COVID deaths is something to think about. September 6, is the tentative end of lock down.