Tomorrow will be 2 weeks since our arrival in Merida. Because of Covid concerns we haven’t done much exploring yet, outside of getting to know our new neighborhood. Here is a summary of our first two weeks in pictures.
So, our new life in Merida is comfortable, quiet and beautiful…all we could ask for during these difficult times. We look forward to exploring and sharing more as the weeks progress. Stay safe! Love and light to all!
My friend, Olivia, gave me the inspiration for this week’s blog post. She asked some great questions which I will answer here.
How was your time in Vietnam? It was wonderful! Vietnam handled the Covid crisis very well. It was very safe. Da Nang is beautiful and affordable. However, we came for a month and ended up staying for 10. We were concerned about having to review our visas every month and the strong possibility that we would eventually be denied.
Will you ever return to Asia? We hope so. We love Asia, especially Thailand and Malaysia. Plus there are several countries we still want to visit (India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia for sure). But if 2020 has taught me anything it’s that nothing is for certain.
What was your impetus to move to Mexico, in the middle of a pandemic? How did you choose Merida? Merida is one of the safest cities, not just in Mexico but the world. While the pandemic is of course a concern, we chose Merida because of it’s relatively low Covid numbers, thriving black ex pat community, affordable housing and proximity to family and friends in the U.S.
How are you feeling today? We traveled for 2 days, 4 planes plus all the packing and preparation. We are exhausted and jet lagged but grateful to have arrived safely. We tested for coronavirus before leaving Vietnam and were both negative. We plan to isolate for the recccomended 10 days and will wear masks and practice social distancing until further notice.
One question Olivia didn’t ask but I wanted to share on briefly is: What was traveling like during a pandemic? It was really surreal and a bit anxiety producing. Most of the airports were REALLY empty until we got to Houston. We treated ourselves to better seats, lounges and a hotel stay during our Houston layover. We wore masks at all times and my hands are so dry from all the washing and hand sanitizer. Overall our travel was a positive experience, for which we are very grateful!
Thank you Olivia for helping me to clarify what I wanted to share today, our 5th day in beautiful Merida.
As I walked along the beach this morning in Da Nang, Vietnam I was reflecting on how grateful I am for our time here. We planned on a month but it’s almost a year, thanks to Covid.
I’m grateful for sheltering in a place that took the virus seriously, where everyone wears masks and respects social distancing rules when in effect.
I’m grateful that I am here with my beloved, Kathy, and that we both remained physically healthy and mentally well.
I’m grateful for time with family. While we may not be related by blood I have truly found family here.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to do something I always wanted to do: support another woman in birthing a baby. I’m a doula y’all! Look for a blog soon about this experience.
I’m grateful for some amazing sunrises, wonderful adventures and beautiful sights to see. As our time here is winding down (we leave in early December, details soon) I wanted to express my gratitude to Da Nang for helping me to #findbeautyeveryday
Thank you for allowing me to share my gratefulness. I’d love to hear what you are grateful for.
At dawn today I participated in the opening ceremonies of BLU via zoom. I was able to represent the far east with an altar dedicated to our ancestors, family, friends and community. It was an amazing experience, connecting with my sisters in the U.S. all the way from Da Nang Vietnam!
Later in the morning I had a good time laughing with the fabulous Jazzie Mas at her virtual comedy show, also on Zoom.
Then at noon today the Brothas and Sistahs of Da Nang group got together for a virtual brunch. It was wonderful to see everyone (we haven’t seen each other since lockdown began July 26).
I’ve played games at Zoom meetings and been to Zoom birthday parties. I use my free Zoom account to connect one on one with friends and family. Zoom is a real blessing for those of us in recovery. There are 12 Step Meetings for every fellowship!
This pandemic is awful. I never want to forget all who are suffering. For me, Zoom is one thing I am grateful for. It’s made these difficult times a little easier.
If you have any questions about using Zoom or connecting with any of the groups I mentioned email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are so fortunate to be sheltering in Da Nang during this pandemic. We are able to go places and do things. The virus appears to be under control and with sane precautions we are able to enjoy this part of Vietnam. We’ve been here long enough that we have our top 5 spots.
5. Hoi An Ancient Town
This picturesque town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s touristy with lots of shops and souvenirs. It also has lovely ancient buildings and views of the water. Hoi An is a short. (less than 45 minutes) ride from Da Nang. A highlight for us was the river boat ride.
4. Bana Hills Sun World
This place is amazing! A marvel of engineering and design, it’s set high above the city. To get there you take the world’s longest cable car. After a breathtaking ride you can spend hours exploring the park. There are amusement park rides, arcade games, flower gardens and beautiful buildings. A highlight of Bana Hills for most folks is the amazing Golden Hands Bridge.
3. Kwan Yin Statue
I love that we are sheltering in a city that is overlooked by Kwan Yin. She is the Buddhist goddess of love and compassion. A short ride up into the hills can take you for a visit. There you can oooh and ahhh at beautiful statues and gardens and even see some monkeys (a highlight for me).
It’s a water park! It’s a zoo! It’s an amusement park! It’s an awesome place to spend the day! Vinpearlland is the kind of place you have to experience, it’s hard for me to really tell you how much fun can be had there! I’ve been twice and each time I discover more. I especially loved feeding the giraffes on the safari river!
1. Hot Springs Park
I LOVE a good soak in a hot springs or even a hot tub. Unlike most hot springs that I have visited, this place has so much more! It’s a fully loaded water park with all the slides and water features you’d expect. There’s a 5D movie theater, an area full of growling, moving dinosaurs and there are lovely gardens. I really enjoyed the mud bath I had and spending time with Kathy and our friends at this lovely place.
We are grateful for our time here in Da Nang. It’s a beautiful big city. We are looking forward to exploring more of Vietnam in the near future and sharing our experiences with you!
I love mornings here in Da Nang. No matter how early I’m up there are folks up ahead of me. The markets are bustling at 6am.
The coffee shops and bahn mi stands are also up and ready for business by 6.
But the thing I love most are mornings at the beach. I went today for the 5:18 sunrise, enjoying the beauty of the path leading to our local beach.
The beach was already crowded. The sights of families swimming, elders exercising and crowds of people briskly walking bring me joy.
Perhaps this is not scientific but I think that the Vietnamese commitment to community and wellness has contributed to the low Covid numbers. As beloved and frequently used as the beaches are when ordered everyone respected the closing of the beaches and following the rules was the norm.
Kathy and I are so grateful to be in such a safe and beautiful place during these difficult times. We hold all in our prayers and meditations. We surround you all with love and light. We pray for an end to this pandemic. We pray for the dismantling of systemic racism and injustice. We trust and affirm that healing is happening and change is coming!
Dong is the currency here in Vietnam. We get lots of questions about the strength of the American dollar here and the cost of living. Of course, Covid 19 has affected prices, bringing them down. This post reflects our current budget for life in Da Nang.
RENT: 7 Million Vietnamese Dong ($300) for our spacious studio apartment, with rooftop pool and twice a week maid service
FOOD and SUPPLIES: 9 million VND ($386) This includes groceries, eating out and all household supplies.
ELECTRICITY AND WATER: 2 million VND ($85) we try to be mindful about our air con useage but it’s really hot right now in Da Nang. This amount includes our monthly electric and tap water bill as well as delivered drinking water.
TRANSPORTATION: 1 million VND ($43) Kathy rents a motorbike when she wants to go out for a solo ride. I prefer the local ride .service called Grab (like Uber in the states). I have a favorite driver who i call for any longer distance trips. We are fortunate that we are able to walk to the local market, etc so we rarely use all of this budget allotment.
ENTERTAINMENT: 4 Million VND ($170) There is lots to see and do here in Da Nang so we have a generous budget for sightseeing. I don’t think we have ever exceeded the 4 million.
Life is really good, affordable and easy here in Da Nang. We could never afford life in a U.S. beach city on our retirement income. We are very grateful to have landed in this safe spot during these difficult times.
I’ve been on a high since Thursday! A group of sister friends and I set out for the local Hot Springs Park. Finding out, mid route, that it was closed our driver made a great suggestion: Vinpearl Land
I’d never heard of this place, located about 40 kilometers outside of Da Nang on the outskirts of Hoi An. It was AMAZING!!!
It’s like this crazy, only in Asia, combination of zoo, water park, amusement park, arcades and more! We were one of a very few visitors and had the place mostly to ourselves.
Vinpearl Land has one of the best, most humane zoos I’ve ever seen. The animals roam in beautifully designed enclosures and we saw no cages. You few the animals on a boat ride with a very knowledgeable guide.There were two stops along the way where we got to feed the giraffes and elephants.I feel like the actor on the commercials where they say “But wait, there’s more!!!”. There’s a parrot house where the birds come and perch on you as you feed them.There’s a water park with a wave pool, a lazy river and all kinds of water slides.There was a large amusement park area with lots of thrilling rides.The grounds and buildings were lovely and well maintained.Three things were a bit disappointing to our group. Unlike other attractions we have visited the arcade games were not included in the admission price. Neither was the tram ride to help you cover the vast park. Also the food was a bit disappointing. We paid a flat fee of 550k dong which included a meal. There were only two choices of meal however: vegetarian (eggs, rice and spring rolls) or a bowl of beef and noodles. Perhaps this will be different with more people attending.Despite those small inconveniences we all agreed that it was an amazing day! If you are visiting Da Nang, I highly recommend Vinpearl Land!
Kathy and I feel very safe here in DaNang Vietnam. We have good reason for this. Vietnam has one of the lowest incidences of Covid 19 in the world. This is amazing when you consider that we share a border with China and are a mere 1200 miles away from Wuhan (where the virus first was documented).
There are many reasons for the low number of cases and the fact that there have been no deaths. This NPR article gives some details as to why this is so. The Vietnamese government was very proactive from the start. When we got off the plane in February we were carefully screened including our temperatures being taken. Masks have been worn for months, hand washing and social distancing have been stressed and for the most part respected.
I feel that in addition to a respect for governmental authority (say what you want, this is a Communist country), there is also a real level of concern for the well being of others. Masks are worn, not just to protect the wearer but for the protection of others. There has been no hoarding or panic buying of food or home goods. To alleviate food insecurity rice ATMs have been installed. While I have heard about some xenophobia, it is my understanding that it is not sanctioned by the government.
So BOLT intends to remain in DaNang until the pandemic is over, maybe even until a vaccine is created. We are practicing social distancing, eating well and enjoying our time together. We know we are extremely privileged during these times. We hold all those who are sick and are affected negatively by the pandemic in our prayers and meditations.
Living under shelter in place rules means that the highlight of my day is a walk to the local market. I try to find and share beauty every day. I often find it in the fruits of Vietnam.
Many of these fruits were unusual to me. I’ve tried to buy and try most of them. Of course there are lots of pineapple, mango and watermelon, but I thought I’d share some of the more unusual ones here.
Jackfruit has a funky smell but is really sweet and delicious. It can be used as substitute for meat in tacos and curries.
This is a sapodilla or sapote. It’s really delicious, having sweet cinnamony taste.
I never had a custard apple until coming to Vietnam. While it’s not very pretty it is really delicious-sweet and creamy, lots of seeds though.
Star fruit are really lovely as a garnish on a fruit plate. I’ve yet to have one that is anything but bland and sour.
I fell in love with rambutan and longan in Thailand. They are well worth the effort it takes to get them out of their skins and into your mouth. Their taste reminds me of a green grape.
Mangosteen has all sorts of health benefits and it’s really good too.
The bananas in Southeast Asia taste different than the ones in North America. I like the small ones the best. They are sweet and firm.
Dragon Fruit gets my vote for the prettiest fruit! It has a very bland but not unpleasant flavor.
I’d love to hear from you about which of these fruits have you tried. I’m sure I’ve left some out. Please let me know.