My first long haul flight in 7 months and arrival in the Nam

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  • Stevescoots
    Participant

    After a 24-hour journey I finally arrived into Vietnam. Wearing a mask for 24 hours including sleeping in was no fun but if I can do it then I have no patience for morons who refuse to wear one to pop into the local shop.

    After 2 months of a nightmare with bureaucracy I got my approvals through to re-enter. CX, QR and Ek are doing regular flights into Saigon and whilst CX and EK were lower cost I chose to fly CX for a couple of reasons. it’s my usual carrier out to Asia, they are doing free changes which as I don’t know how long I will be here was important, I know that HKG is dead so compared to Dubai or Doha there will be much lower risk of catching Covid while in the airport…..and the tier points, however as my booking is classed as C (charter) on a regular flight not sure how that will work out. Yes, I know that’s actually 4 reasons

    Cathay have moved to T2 and check in was relatively smooth, they checked all my documents but as it was all in Vietnamese the staff were not sure and had to call over a manager who went into a another system that showed me clear for boarding. No fast track available but considering how few people were flying I am not surprised. There was also no lounge for CX in T2 and no vouchers to use in the handful of restaurants open. I did realize I had priority pass with me after it was too late so that might have got me into the Star lounges that looked like they were open. Boarding was socially managed but as there was only about 60 people on the flight to HKG that was not difficult to do. J cabin had about 10 people in it.
    Apart from wearing masks the inflight experience was usual CX, nothing changed or withdrawn in product or service. Usual food and drink servings amenities etc with just an extra hygiene pack of wipes and masks.

    Upon landing in HKG at 6.30am there was the usual temperature check and strait through transit to the upper level. I now had 9 hours in an empty airport. And by empty I almost mean nothing! CX only have the 1st class wing open for all J or F passengers. I think the whole time I was there until 3.30pm there was a maximum of 30 passengers. All the amenities in the lounge were open with the exception of the buffet, table service only.

    Outside the lounge it was a ghost town. The only shops open was Starbucks, the toy store down near gate 26, the sweet shop near gate 5 and 2 restaurants in the food court. Nothing else. Usually I hate walking down Nathan road, as the long concourse is known, but with 9 hours to kill, I walked the entire terminal twice. …ok I was looking for a smoking room…they are all closed……but I did manage to get in 20,000 steps as a consolation prize. I met a couple of friends who work at CX for lunch, socially distanced of course and that was about the limit of my human interaction. Top marks to the 4 Aussie guys sat near me in the lounge whose banter kept me most amused as only Aussies can!

    3.30 and start boarding for CX799 to SGN. This time there as about 25 passengers with 3 of us up in the pointy end. We were all advised to do the online VN govt health declaration before take off to speed things thru on landing. The flight was just like the LHR one in terms of service and product.

    After landing in SGN the fun of bureaucracy begins again. SGN seems to handle each plane as a batch so everyone lines up at a counter to verify your preflight Covid test and that you have done the online declaration, those who already have a visa or TRC to go strait through to a holding area. This is where it got a little frustrating. My understanding was that no visas were being issued on arrival. However, from my flight there was maybe 4 or 5 of us that had visa’s everyone else was visa on arrival. So as a group we all had to wait for the Visa’s to be issued. This took about an hour. Bear in mind ours was the only flight arriving. After that go through immigration and us with Visa were first through really because we just happened to be closest to the desk. Once through you then go to another holding area where you get your bag and wait for transport. Of course, as its being done by batch we all had to wait for everyone to come through immigration before they start to take us to busses. Those of us who had Visa were last onto busses because they took the list from the top, so last thru immigration and first on the busses….and no AC…. I was melting! In all it took 2 hours from landing to getting on the bus for about 25 of us.

    It looked like each person had their own 48-seater bus! Even those of us staying in same quarantine hotel had individual busses, go figure! I first thought it as the only person staying at Ibis Q7 that’s why I has a bus to myself so imagine my surprise, then TIV moment when I arrived to see another 3 busses all with 1 passenger from my flight. I was expecting to have to put the full bio suit etc on as we have seen in the press pictures but of the entire flight only 2 passengers had to do that. Why? I don’t know they were westerners like me, I think they were British like me so I can only guess either they have come from a very high risk zone or they did not have a Covid test before flying, or maybe they were going into Govt quarantine and not hotel

    Check in was simple, hand over passport get key and go up to the 9th floor. The ibis Q7 is basic but I am more than happy to be here. The rooms are not big, maybe 30 SQM but the bed is comfy, it’s clean, AC, Wi-Fi and 3 meals a day. Everything a prisoner should need! You can call room service for snacks or drinks and you can also order in food etc. My company staff have sent me in all sorts from food, drinks, a mouse for my PC, exercise gear etc. you can also have grab etc send stuff in. however be aware they are only allowed to enter reception to drop off at certain times and you are at the will of reception as the rule is a bit contradictive so don’t expect to have hot food by the time you get it. I do plan to try to get a small microwave sent in for me lol.

    Covid test is was done on Day 1 and you have to take your own temperature twice a day. There is no room cleaning, so you have to do yourself and they leave fresh laundry and bedding for you every 3 days. There is laundry for your own clothes, just as normal times bag it, tag it and call reception to pick up. Other than that, not much else to it. I have no complaints, just observations and finally glad to be back!

    Halfway through day 2 now and starting to get settled in. Have set myself a daily regime to try……try…to stick to!
    Get out of bed no later than 9am, do the 3s and make a nice cuppa of Yorkshire tea then sit back and listen to the papers review on sky news then crack onto my email and answer messages. That should take me through to 11.30 when I start my hour exercises. My company staff worry I will get fat and lazy, or maybe they already think that so they have sent in a mat, some weights and resistance bands, and just so I don’t kill them when I leave a nice stash of Pasteur street IPA and a few bottles of wine.

    After doing my stretching a light lunch will be here and then back on the PC and do some gaming to while away the hours until 4, or work in the week. Glad I brought 2 laptops with me, one for work and TV and my old gaming one. It will just about handle anything up to fallout 4 so I have 2 weeks of retro gaming! That will take me through to about 6pm when dinner arrives and then settle down to Netflix, amazon prime or YouTube. I brought my own HDMI cable with me, pulled the TV off the wall and hooked up! Some evening of TV until 10, then read a book until midnight before hitting the hay and dozing off. Can I survive another 12 days? Well the plus side is no contact with other human beings, that alone will restore my sanity!


    SimonS1
    Participant

    Interesting story. Shows how much international travel has collapsed.

    14 days in the IBIS….ouch.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    Bullfrog
    Participant

    I dread to think how the UK could ever mirror such a strict process for arriving passengers .. bearing in mind the volume of UK arrivals, it could never be done.

    The UK’s only way would be to stop in bound passengers .. so totally impossible.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    SimonS1
    Participant

    I dread to think how the UK could ever mirror such a strict process for arriving passengers .. bearing in mind the volume of UK arrivals, it could never be done.

    The UK’s only way would be to stop in bound passengers .. so totally impossible.

    Totally impossible….and totally undesirable. Unless crashing the economy was the aim.


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    I dread to think how the UK could ever mirror such a strict process for arriving passengers

    Steve, to use up some more time….. exactly how strict is your quarantine? Are you allowed any outside fresh air or indeed allowed out of your room? Are you able to smoke? Or is it really a case of being inside a hotel room for 14 straight days with a shut door and window…. Were you told / presented with the rules at the start ?

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Stevescoots
    Participant

    I dread to think how the UK could ever mirror such a strict process for arriving passengers

    Steve, to use up some more time….. exactly how strict is your quarantine? Are you allowed any outside fresh air or indeed allowed out of your room? Are you able to smoke? Or is it really a case of being inside a hotel room for 14 straight days with a shut door and window…. Were you told / presented with the rules at the start ?

    Hi Martyn. Yes, they explain the rules when you arrive and there is a copy of them in the room. The quarantine is what i would term strict. You can leave the room (open the door) but only to collect food and laundry, toiletries etc from a table outside the room door. The only other time is when they do Covid test you have to sit on a chair outside the door. Any rubbish or laundry from the room you put in a biohazard marked bag and put outside the door. Fresh bedding and towels etc are delivered to the table outside the room every 3 days but you have to make and clean your own room, no staff are allowed to enter. There is also security down at reception to stop anyone going out and a taped off area outside where the fire exits are in case you have to leave in case of fire. From my window I can see 2 local police are always parked outside. Quarantine here are above the 4th floor , I guess to stop people climbing out…or in! yes I have heard on some quarantine chat groups about people trying to throw weed and other more exotic…..things…..through open windows, not at my place I add. You can open the windows; I sit at my desk working with it open just to hear the sound of the traffic outside. You can smoke in the room if on a smoking floor

    5 users thanked author for this post.

    Stevescoots
    Participant

    Interesting story. Shows how much international travel has collapsed.

    14 days in the IBIS….ouch.

    I think the best hotel on the list of about 20 is the holiday in where you can get a suite, i tried but fully booked

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    fatbear
    Participant

    What happens if there is a fire ( or fire alarm ). How would the quarantine be maintained ?


    Stevescoots
    Participant

    What happens if there is a fire ( or fire alarm ). How would the quarantine be maintained ?

    there is sectioned off area outside, i can almost see my apartment from my room, i may be tempted to pop home for a brew lol


    nevereconomy
    Participant

    Thank you for sharing – it shows how determination pays off. If we want to be somewhere badly enough it is worth all the trials. Vietnam is very well organized – quite impressive. If you survived the 24 hours in a mask, then maybe I will gird my loins and head back to the States for a long awaited visit after all!

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    Steve, an alternative to ripping the TV off the wall is to get an Amazon fire stick – although it doesn’t work well if you have to put a code in to access the wifi.

    Good luck!! With the staggered arrival of the family back in March we ended up quarantining at home for more than three weeks, and the relief when we were finally all allowed outside was palpable!! Thankfully we all like each other 🙂

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    I can not in anyway say that I would look forward to a strict quarantine Asian style for a period of 2 weeks. At least prisoners usually get an hour in the open each day. My typical overseas trip is as follwos;

    Europe to HKG – a few meetings over 1 or 2 nights

    HKG – BKK – 9 day stay

    BKK – HKG – a few additional meetings – 1 or 2 night stay

    Usually one additional destination (mid trip) – even if it is a BBQ in SIN with K1ngston or to clients in Vietnam but the mid trip weekend, I generally travel.

    HKG – back to Europe

    It is incredible to consider this itinerary (agreed could be modified) would currently mean up to 5 separate 2 week quarantine periods (strict Asian style) plus maybe 1 less severe UK period of 2 weeks self isolation (depending on the mood of the Government and errant youngsters, who seem can not stick to the rules). That is of course if I can manage to get travel permits to enter each of the countries.

    Of course during any trip there is some pleasure time, but the primary reason for my travels is revenue generating business. Sure I can cover some of the discussions over TEAMS / ZOOM etc, but overall, I am missing opportunities by not being able to travel.

    Yes Covid19 is a serious issue, but surely countries need to talk to each other to establish strategies for international business travel to restart – or is it only the holidays makers in need for sun, sea, sand and any other ‘s’ they can think off, whose requirements appear to be taking a priority.

    i also understand that 6 months down the line, repatriation (non scheduled) flights are still needed.

    I heard Boris saying yesterday that those that keep to the rules will be rewarded by the easing of restrictions – I hope there will be some thought given to the business traveller who needs to travel, more than to just stay at home and ride out this storm.

    I’m not sure my business can wait until Q2, 2021 (my estimations of business travel being freely available) to restart travelling…

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Ah,Mr.Bond
    Participant

    A good review of circumstances…. but, Christ on a bike, it all just sounds horrific. Unless urgent VFR or business needs – you just simply wouldn’t bother.


    Stevescoots
    Participant

    7 days in, 7 days to go! So far, I have not gone stir crazy. I have a strict regime and apart from 1 day where I just could not be bothered to do my exercise, I have stuck to it. Food is acceptable, my staff send in plenty of craft beer and a couple of local restaurants I know well are letting me run a tab on delivery items rather than they pay Grab 20% fee! I am usually very lazy when it comes to my IT stuff apart from backups, so it’s been very useful to get a lot of integration things done. I don’t usually need a VPN when in Vn, but it’s been very useful for accessing stuff to watch which is usually classed as not available in this region. 3 covid tests in a week is no fun. I swear they are sticking the thing so far up my nose they are actually looking for my brain…good luck with that!

    Yes, things are close to impossible for anyone whose career or business is so reliant on travel. I have companies in VN, CN and HK. And would rotate between all 3 on average every 6 weeks. Until last week I had not been to any of them since Feb . FedEx has made an absolute fortune from us sending official documents back and forth and you know the Chinese love their official original chopped documents, scans just won’t pass muster!
    To get to China I need to return to UK, spend a week there while my China visa is processed as China cancelled all Visa’s including residents’ ones. Not sure how that effects those of you with china visa that have not expired but at the moment anyone needing to enter needs to apply for a new one in person and the consulate.
    So, one week back to UK. Then 2 weeks in China quarantine. Then a minimum of 3 weeks in country working to catch up. Then back to UK and wait another 4 weeks for the Vn authorities to process re-entry, followed by another 2 weeks in quarantine. In best case scenario I would leave Vn for CN and it would be another 3 months before being able to get back in the office. Pre Covid, maybe a 12-hour journey door to door. In my case I have to make a judgment call which site needs me, and which can make do.
    As for HK no chance (which I can live with as that office runs itself) to get in as I did not have a HKID by choice. However, seeing as HKIR decided to “review my status” last year and not in my favour when this is all over, I will be applying for one strait away

    4 users thanked author for this post.

    K1ngston
    Participant

    7 days in, 7 days to go! So far, I have not gone stir crazy. I have a strict regime and apart from 1 day where I just could not be bothered to do my exercise, I have stuck to it. Food is acceptable, my staff send in plenty of craft beer and a couple of local restaurants I know well are letting me run a tab on delivery items rather than they pay Grab 20% fee! I am usually very lazy when it comes to my IT stuff apart from backups, so it’s been very useful to get a lot of integration things done. I don’t usually need a VPN when in Vn, but it’s been very useful for accessing stuff to watch which is usually classed as not available in this region. 3 covid tests in a week is no fun. I swear they are sticking the thing so far up my nose they are actually looking for my brain…good luck with that!

    Yes, things are close to impossible for anyone whose career or business is so reliant on travel. I have companies in VN, CN and HK. And would rotate between all 3 on average every 6 weeks. Until last week I had not been to any of them since Feb . FedEx has made an absolute fortune from us sending official documents back and forth and you know the Chinese love their official original chopped documents, scans just won’t pass muster!
    To get to China I need to return to UK, spend a week there while my China visa is processed as China cancelled all Visa’s including residents’ ones. Not sure how that effects those of you with china visa that have not expired but at the moment anyone needing to enter needs to apply for a new one in person and the consulate.
    So, one week back to UK. Then 2 weeks in China quarantine. Then a minimum of 3 weeks in country working to catch up. Then back to UK and wait another 4 weeks for the Vn authorities to process re-entry, followed by another 2 weeks in quarantine. In best case scenario I would leave Vn for CN and it would be another 3 months before being able to get back in the office. Pre Covid, maybe a 12-hour journey door to door. In my case I have to make a judgment call which site needs me, and which can make do.
    As for HK no chance (which I can live with as that office runs itself) to get in as I did not have a HKID by choice. However, seeing as HKIR decided to “review my status” last year and not in my favour when this is all over, I will be applying for one strait away

    Steve all sounds horrendous but well done on keeping yourself busy, I know from friends, colleagues and my son that it is challenging! The problem with what you describe is that the average traveler will just not travel, therefore there is no “new normal” and we will just spiral in and out of these ridiculous but necessary restrictions. As I have mentioned on other strings we are going through nightmares trying to get back to Singapore which is at the end of the day 1.25m door to door from Phuket.

    But now have paperwork for quarantine in Singapore from Nov 15th for 2 weeks, and with so called green lanes opening up all the time who knows maybe we will find the new normal one day? >.Edit just spoken to a colleague who tried to use the Green Lane system in place between Singapore and Japan and it is a bureaucratic nightmare which actually makes travelling almost impossible, so more kudos to you for doing what is required to aid your business… 7 days to go my friend 🙂

    2 users thanked author for this post.
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