Family life outside the box

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Toward the end of our time in Da Nang, Elijah was still a little tired but ok (he'd come down with a high fever the day we had travelled there - conveniently during the Covid panic in Vietnam). We were ready to head off and enjoy the next leg of our trip in Hoi An where we intended to stay a few days before beginning to make our way down the coast back toward Saigon. At that time, we held hope that we would be able to continue our journey through Cambodia to Singapore and Turkey. Back then Turkey still had zero cases, and Cambodia still seemed fine.

On arrival into Hoi An, our plans began to derail. We spent a few nights on Cam Nam Island with the wonderful Kiwi Family Adventures, who told us about the hazmat suits and temperature checks at the train stations. We were watching in disbelief as this Covid pandemic was changing the travel world very quickly. Places around the world were closing borders and shutting down faster than I ever imagined. We realised a lockdown of some sort was likely to happen very soon and we needed to make sure if (or when) it happened we were in a place we wanted to be. We ditched our plan to return to Saigon, and made a new plan to stay put for a month. Most tourists had gone home, so our plan turned out to be a good one. We found a nice villa with bikes and a pool located just outside Hoi An town and close to the best Hoi An cheap family eats. 

Within a week of moving, our host advised that there was mandatory Covid testing for people who arrived to Vietnam after 1st of March. This was different to other regions where it was only mandatory after the 7th of March. I felt a mixture of fear and relief. We would know for certain if we had picked something up... But what would happen if we had Coronavirus? We had no idea.

Our testing day came around, we ate breakfast and rode our bikes around the corner to the testing site. There were barely any people there. It was a very hot morning, so we found a spot under a tree to sit and fill out our forms. There were nurses dressed in hazmat suits with goggles taking the samples. We observed people getting their tests taken, a blood test, followed by a throat swab and then a nose swab. I was very nervous, my daughters anxiety had kicked in and my youngest didn't want another blood test, he was still upset about the last one a few weeks before.

When it was our turn, I was so grateful for our host coming along with us. My daughter was panicking, my youngest son was clinging to me and the nurses were trying to herd our older kids over to them while we were still finishing our paperwork. I had to ask her to explain to the person doing the forms that my daughter was anxious and my youngest wanted only me, so we would have to do the tests together.

I was grateful that the nurses were so patient with us. We were holding up the queue badly. Myself, my husband and oldest son breezed through the tests and then I sat with my daughter and gently encouraged her to get her tests taken. She really didn't want them done and it was really tough. I had to put my foot down though because we didn't seem to have any other choice. I didn't want them pinning her down to take the tests and I still had to get the little guy through the tests too.

My daughter got through it with a few tears. Then it was Elijahs turn. Getting the blood test seemed to be the easy part. He really wasn't keen to do the throat test, which wasn't that bad. He moved as they did it, which hurt a bit, so he really put his foot down against anything going right up his nose. The poor nurses didn't know what to do. He was crying and very difficult. I was down to bribery, "If you do it for us, we will get an ice cream", and he says, "NOOO". Then I was offering two ice creams. Still no luck. They asked me if I wanted to take the sample for them, he still wouldn't let me get close. It was so hard for me to stay calm and easy. In the end I had to hold his head in my arms and get them to take the test. It was really awful.

He came right after a few minutes. We were the last ones left, the staff and nurses had been waiting for us to pack up and return home. We called in for an ice cream and a toy as we rode our bikes home.

Next up was the waiting game. There was worry about what would happen if we tested positive. We had no idea. All we knew was that the test results would take a few days to come back to us. That first night I had fear that the Vietnamese military might turn up at 10pm and just take us to some unknown place. Trust me, I was imagining all the worst possible outcomes so I could be mentally prepared if any of them actually happened.

After getting through the first night, and then the second, I felt much better. I figured that we must've been ok, because surely they would've collected us quickly if we had tested positive.

On the fourth day of waiting, we finally got our results. I posted this live video from our hotel the day we received them.

We survived our tests. It was such a relief to know for certain we didn't have Coronavirus. A huge weight lifted and we felt truly free. Just in time for the restrictions to come into place. Winning. I'll save that for another day.

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World Travel Ambitions - Family Life Outside the Box - Saigon, Vietnam - March 2020

About Us

We are a blended Kiwi family of five. All born in New Zealand, we have lived abroad for most of the kids lives. Rimaha moved to Australia 15 years ago, Melissa, Noah and Aaliyah followed 10 years ago with a dream to someday travel the world. In 2020 we set off on our dream, stopping to live in Hoi An and An Bang along the way.

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