Family life outside the box

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On the 10th March 2020, we didn’t read the news. We smiled as our homestay hosts handed us face masks, we shook our heads a little, but she told us we must wear them at the airport, ‘It will be safest to wear them’.

Earlier in the week a lady had flown in from Italy (lying about her previous travel on entry) and then travelled around Vietnam spreading Coronavirus.

It’s probably a good thing we hadn’t read the news, otherwise we may not have set out to the Saigon airport that day. We all felt fine, no sniffles, no sore throats, no fevers. Arriving at the airport things did seem a bit tense, everyone was wearing their masks and we got almost everyone in our family to wear their masks (have you ever tried to get a 3 year old to do something they refuse to do?).

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

Elijah at Saigon Airport before we flew to Da Nang. He was fine that morning, but who knows, perhaps he picked up something after eating that lollipop (which he put on the table countless times) ?

We arrived into Da Nang fine, no problems. We checked into the hotel, filled out our health declarations and provided information of all the flights we had taken. 

That afternoon things changed really quickly. Our three year old came down with a really high fever. I was in a state of parent panic. Thinking all of the worst thoughts, ‘Do we take him to the hospital or don’t we?’ 

Behind these thoughts were worries about if he didn’t have Coronavirus, might he pick it up from someone who was in the waiting room with him. And then what if he was high risk, would they separate and quarantine us all? Would we be able to share his hospital room? Would we be allowed to see each other? Who would go with him to the hospital? Should we all go? Or do one of us stay with the older ones? 

I was well and truly freaking out. It was such a scary time, and I wasn’t even worried about the Coronavirus itself. I was more concerned about the process that would unfold if he did have it. I knew if he had it, he would be fine, but at the same time there was the responsibility to the community and people we were around as well as those who we had already been around.

If it was any normal time of this century I would have just dosed him with paracetamol and kept a close eye on him. But that wasn’t really an option because I didn’t want to find out what would happen if he did have Coronavirus and we hid it in Vietnam but then actually did need hospital treatment. 


Chilling along the walkways near My Khe Beach, Da Nang - March 2020

I contacted one of my friends living in Da Nang to get advice on our next steps. The Covid hotline was in Vietnamese and I wasn’t having any luck figuring out the best steps to take. And I don’t take steps out of fear. I try my best to make the right choices. After being advised to take our son to the hospital as soon as possible, we made the decision to watch him overnight.

In the morning we advised our hotel reception. You should’ve seen the look of dread come over the poor guy. He breathed in and leaned back, he looked a little pale and shocked. I’m pretty sure even he didn’t know what to do. The cab driver wouldn’t take us. He told us to go up to the room and to wait for a doctor to come to us. Later that day, he returned to say that we had to go to the hospital. 

We decided hubby and our son would travel together. Me and the big kids would stay back just in case we needed to take things to the hospital, or pack up and everyone leave. My friend had advised only one hospital would do the Covid testing. Somehow the directions I gave to our receptionist didn’t translate to the cab driver and they ended up at a different hospital. Which may have been a lucky miss for that day, but then left us in a state of ‘what if’ for the remainder of the week.

The hospital they visited collected our travel information. We hadn’t been on any at risk flights, and since we’d flown from New Zealand which had no cases at that point, the hospital felt he wasn’t a risk of Covid. They checked our son out and took a blood sample to test for Dengue, then sent him home to get better.

I sent an email to our travel insurer, World Nomads, because we were worried we might not be covered. Fortunately we were. Perhaps we were super lucky with the timing, but we had staff call us twice a day that first day, then once a day for the next three days to make sure he was ok. It was such a relief to know we had people caring about our son and ready to give us advice or help in some way if we needed it.

We loved the service we received with World Nomads.

If you are travelling soon, we highly recommend you check out World Nomads. You can get a quote below or click here to read more about them.

The week that followed was tough for us, mainly emotionally and mentally. Elijah was fine, the fever only lasted that one day. He got a cough, we all did, but we felt like it was from the air con more than anything. We mostly stayed inside, and only really ventured out (masks on) to stroll along the beach – away from everyone. There was a lingering worry that if we were a family carrying Covid, we didn’t want to be spreading it around everywhere.

We had received emails from the New Zealand Government advising us to return home and the world was turning upside down, changing daily. We had some really tough decisions to make. 

We decided to stay! And we are so grateful we did because the past couple of months have been a different adventure than we imagined, but our travel has been more fulfilling because of it. 

More stories coming soon! 

World Travel Ambitions - Family Life Outside the Box - Ba Na Hills, Vietnam - March 2020

A bridge to ourselves - Golden Bridge, Ba Na Hills, Vietnam - March 2020

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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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