I have been doing a lot of complaining about Vietnam and a friend of mine in Thailand has been doing the same about that country. I think that these days it is really easy to get down because Covid is hitting us late and now we have to stare in awe at all the people on the other side of the planet that no longer have to lockdown at all and it is "our turn" now. Therefore it is easy to complain a bunch and I will admit that I have been doing my share lately.
To balance things out I want to talk about some thing that I really love about Vietnam even though I disagree with the way that they are not handling Covid.
They have all the seasons here, if you want 'em
Of course a vast majority of the country is very hot most of the year round but if you are willing to seek them out there are some areas of this country that get really cold... well, probably not by Western standards but we have several mountainous areas that are known for their cold and snowy winters.
I have only been to the area of Sapa once and it was in the fall so I didn't personally see any snow but I did need a jacket and long pants to go anywhere at night and this was in early November. As someone who has spent a bit of time living in a tropical country I can say that this was really refreshing. They actually had heaters in the hotel rooms which while common in the west, is something you don't really see around here all the much.
Most of the country is hot and humid but if you want to find winter you can. Also, even for the areas that are generally hot most of the year, the temp drops dramatically in Nov to January and at least for me, this is my favorite time of year.
It is an extremely affordable place to live
I will admit that I haven't lived very many places. I have visited a few countries and spent the first 25 years of my life in USA. I have never lived in a place that was as affordable as Vietnam. I currently live in a pretty decent apartment that costs around $300 a month and I am really happy with it. Friends of mine that are willing to shell out a bit more live in places that are $500 a month and they get swimming pools and gyms along with this. While a lot of this discount has come at behest of Covid price wars, it was cheap before Covid really came to the country also. There are a lot of beautiful countries in the world, but it is difficult for me to imagine very many other places that for under $1000 a month you can live as well as we do here.
There is almost no crime
When you encounter police it can be a bit of a scary situation but a lot of this has to do with the uniforms and what those uniforms have meant in many films. They look Soviet to me and I think most other people and we have been programmed throughout our lives to believe that this is evil. It doesn't really matter though because you very rarely ever even see a police officer here.
One would think that this would mean that crime is just running rampart, but that is not the case at all. I don't know anyone that has been robbed or broken into in the city that I live in and only one person has had a motorbike stolen and honestly, when you leave a bike on the street with the keys in it, is this really theft anymore or are you just an idiot who is asking for it?
Visas up until recently, were easy
This obviously no longer applies because as the country scrambles like a chicken with its head cut off to figure out what to do about Covid. But prior to recent times this country was actually growing as a digital-nomad mecca for the world. In the end of 2019 and start of 2020, we saw a massive influx of long-term residents and almost all of them worked online. This has turned into a not so great situation lately because these people were legally working but didn't have a work-permit and their ability to stay in the country was based on their ability to leave it once every 3 months. While it is possible to leave the country at the moment, it is difficult and expensive and you also will not be allowed back in.
I think that once Vietnam figures out what they are going to do about Covid (I would suggest to stop talking about it) then the country will engage in perhaps even better visa policies than they had before. There is already talk about a retirement visa and this has never existed before in this country. I'm not anywhere near old enough for that but it is exciting to hear some officials talk about getting more foreigners in rather than eliminating them... which is what most of the talk has been lately.
I suspect in the next year or so we are going to see some very friendly and attractive visa policies as this country is reeling from the complete lack of tourism.
There are other things that are great about this place such as surprisingly fast internet speeds - much faster than where I lived in USA, a wide-variety of food that can be obtained for damn near free, cheap beer and cigarettes (I don't smoke, but lots of other people do), and a pretty laid back attitude about most things in life.
Of course all of that is on hold at the moment but like a lot of people that haven't fled the country yet, I am hopeful that it will come back some day soon. In the meantime I just try to focus on the good stuff and remember what it was like, what it can be like, and what it almost certainly will be like in the future.
we'll get back there!
Vietnam kind of sucks right now but we have to focus on the good when we can, right? I remain hopeful that the rather extreme nature of the country right now will be reversed before too long and life can be great again like it was before. I think those of us that can manage to stick around will be greatly rewarded by our perseverance on the other end of this.