Yes, I traveled during a global pandemic. No, I’m not encouraging travel. But I will say for some of us out there, travel is actually kinda safe. Not 100% safe, but safe(ish). Or so I thought when I chose lớn travel in Vietnam in mid-July.
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When I made the decision to take a mini-beach vacation from Ho đưa ra Minh đô thị to Ho Tram there had been no community spread cases of Covid-19 in nearly three months & no deaths. Vietnam was (and is) doing an incredible job.
After five months of pretty much hanging out in my apartment in Saigon, I decided it was time to lớn get out of the city. The government was promoting domestic travel, most everyone I know was taking trips (domestic of course since Vietnam’s borders are closed), & people in the travel industry were desperately seeking tourist dollars. So, Aaron và I decided to lớn go for it.
After being in the thành phố for 156 days, we just wanted some fresh air, a little bit of nature and a change of scenery. We were so looking forward khổng lồ a getaway. After a challenging few months, we both really needed it.
But this is us we’re talking about and travel doesn’t always go smoothly for us. Remember our disastrous anniversary in Bali or that time we crashed our motorbikes on Nusa Penida or my taxi ride from hell in Jakarta?
Aside from being walking disasters when it comes lớn travel, our trip to Ho Tram might not have been such a great idea for a myriad of reasons!
A Literal Guilt Trip to Ho Tram
Tourism is a huge part of Vietnam’s economy and because borders are closed, tourism has come to lớn a grinding halt here. For those of us who are in Vietnam, it’s pretty crazy to lớn be able to lớn experience what are typically jam-packed tourist hotspots while they’re relatively empty. It’s like going back in time to lớn when Aaron and I first Visited Vietnam in 2005. Another perk is that most hotels have drastically reduced their prices by roughly 50%. Clearly none of this is good news lớn anyone working in the travel industry.
Because we only had a few days before Aaron started work, we opted lớn go somewhere close lớn Saigon. We’d heard nothing but rave đánh giá about a resort in Ho Tram (I’m not going khổng lồ give the name because I can’t say I was a fan). Typically, we don’t pay more than $30 on hotels in Southeast Asia. Maybe we’ll go up to $50 if we’re splurging. But because we hadn’t traveled in so long và because it was only for a few days we decided lớn go big và spend $75 on what is typically a $150 room at a beachfront resort.
I kind of cringed when we booked the room because I’m frugal by nature, but at that point I hadn’t had a steady job in four months. The guilt of spending so much money was immediate & it was about to get worse. But Aaron was sweet enough to lớn shell out the $$$ for what was a much-needed trip.
What we didn’t think about is that the only way lớn get khổng lồ Ho Tram from Saigon is by driving or taking a ferry lớn a neighboring city và getting a taxi to Ho Tram. Taxis are generally cheap in Vietnam but not when it comes khổng lồ getting lớn Ho Tram. When we booked this particular hotel, we were told that there was a không tính phí shuttle that would take us from Saigon khổng lồ the hotel and back.
When we contacted the hotel, we were informed the shuttle was already booked up for both our arrival and departure dates (odd since there were very few people staying at the resort). Since this trip was so last minute the only option we could come up with was lớn book a private oto for roughly $50 each way. The guilt got even more real.
The next day we got into our private car, masked up of course, và took the 3-hour drive to lớn Ho Tram. The traffic was real. I actually felt lượt thích I was in Southern California again. (Those of you who live in Southern California will understand the bumper-to-bumper traffic I’m talking about.)
Fumigation & Deforestation & Mosquitoes, Oh My
When we got khổng lồ the hotel, we were blown away by the grounds. The place was like being in a small village in the forest, surrounded by pine trees và a short stroll lớn the ocean. I’m mean this place was so big we literally got lost trying to find our room on more than one occasion. OK, I got lost. Aaron has excellent navigational skills. I on the other hand literally get lost going in a straight line. True story.
But it really was beautiful.
As we’re being walked khổng lồ our room we hear a pretty loud buzzing sound và then we start smelling some super noxious fumes. The khách sạn worker turns around & explains that they are fumigating for mosquitoes from 2:30-4:30 pm. I was like, that seems excessive. The smell was so strong & when we saw the guy with a full-on blower spewing out god knows what it was a bit disconcerting. But this is the tropics và spraying for bugs is normal. I figured this must be something they have to bởi vì every now và again. Little did we know that they would bởi vì this every day from 2:30-4:30 pm.
Tree Trimming & Chainsaw Buzzing
So at first, we assumed the loud buzzing was from the fumigating but as we were exploring the grounds we found out that a team of workers was actually trimming the trees. Actually, they were pulling down huge branches, felling some trees & cutting all of it up with chainsaws. Over the course of the three days we were there they did this all day, every day. Kinda makes the whole trying-to-relax thing difficult. Thankfully, the grounds were extensive so it didn’t wake us up but trying khổng lồ chill by the pool was loud. Really loud.
Masses of Mosquitoes
We visited Ho Tram during the rainy season. We expected potentially rough waters, mosquitoes, rain and all that. We’re used to lớn it. But holy shit the sheer amount of mosquitoes was off the hook. If you’ve read my blog for a while you’ll know that mosquitoes love me. And I also have some sort of allergy which makes things worse.
I started getting eaten alive immediately. But I always travel with tons of repellant và my magical salve (see above) that helps stop the itching and irritation. I immediately understood why they were fogging the grounds so aggressively. I also wondered if it was actually helping…or what it would be lượt thích had they had not been fumigating.
The Underwhelming Room
I wish I would have taken photos. The room was nice và all but it was pretty much what you’d get for like $25-35 in Vietnam và it was a bit rundown. It was comfy và nicely decorated but I was kind of like, people seriously pay $150 for this? This is very expensive for Vietnam. Obviously, the grounds, pools và oceanfront location are what you pay for at this particular resort.
The Bizarre Open-Air Bathroom
Open-air bathrooms are a thing in Southeast Asia. Sometimes they can be really cool & typically have no roof so you can bathe in the sun. This one wasn’t like that. It was kind of like they just didn’t create a whole wall. There was a roof but on two sides the wall went up for about 12 feet và then just stopped leaving about a 5-foot gap between the wall và thatched roof.
I realize this is designed khổng lồ allow air lớn flow into the bathroom và reduce moisture. But seriously, there were some design flaws that posed some issues.
Despite the fact that there were only about 10 guests in the whole place, we were positioned right next to lớn the kid pool. This is a family-friendly resort so all the other guests had kids. The sounds of kids playing sparks joy và all. But not for me at 7 am. Did I mention that the bathroom door was glass? Yeah, so you could hear everything inside the room. Kids included.
The bathroom also filled with mosquitoes at sunrise và sunset each day because the xuất hiện section had no screen. For me, that’s utterly terrifying. And when they fumigated it would fill our bathroom with whatever chemical they were using.
The wall we shared with our neighbor’s bathroom also had the same 5-foot gap. Nice right? So we could basically hear everything the family next door was doing, even if they were in their room. And if they left any lights on it would light up our room, thanks to the glass bathroom doors. Thankfully they only stayed one night.