2020 was a crazy year.

We just ended the year 2020. A year where the world was turned upside down by a certain virus. Now how did a guy like me cope with a year like that?

2020 actually started really well. I flew to Vietnam in early January to do some work research. It was really nice to be back in Vietnam, where I worked a few years ago. Had some fantastic days in Hanoi, which has to be one of the most charming big cities on the planet. After that I had a few very relaxing days in Mai Chau, where I was meeting with some business partners. I finished off in How An and Da Nang in central Vietnam. Two places that I also enjoy to return to time after time.

Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam.

From Da Nang i Flew to Malaysia, where I was meeting up with some family. My brother and his wife and kids were coming to Malaysia on holiday. We spend a couple of really nice weeks in Penang and Langkawi. Two fantastic islands, where Penang probably comes in as my number one place to stay in all Asia.

Street kitchen Penang.

Spent some time eating at Penang street kitchens, with my family.

Beach Langkawi

Also spent some time on the Langkawi beaches as well.

After some holidaying in Malaysia, I flew to Vietnam for work in early March. I was tour leader on a round trip in Vietnam for a small group of 7 Danes. The group was very nice and the trip started very well. But a few days into the trip the world started to lock down. I have heard stories from other tour groups who were very unhappy about being in Vietnam during the lockdown. For my group things went surprisingly well though.  We were told right away that we could continue our trip in Vietnam, as we had accommodation booked in advance. Something very important, as the Vietnamese authorities were tracking people’s whereabouts a lot, in case someone caught the virus in our group. We had to change our schedule a little. But we were allowed to fly to Da Nang Airport and travel down to Hot An, where we spent a few days. They also allowed us to fly to Saigon after that. We were allowed to visit the Cu Chi tunnels, as almost the only tourists of the day. If any of you have been to the Cu Chi tunnels in recent years, then you know how jam packed with tourists this place normally is. But we were the only tour bus in the parking lot when we drove away from there. I have never seen this before. not even when I first visited Vietnam, back in 2001.

Covid 19 restaurant.

Covid 19 style restaurant in Ha Noi.

Parking lot at Cu Chi.

We were the only tour bus at the Cu Chi parking lot.

Restaurants and bars also stayed open while we were in Vietnam. We did not have to wear any face masks, except for inside airports and onboard domestic planes. But we were checked several times a day. Had our temperature taken. Every cafe, bar and restaurant had to have a door man that made sure that we used hand sanitiser before entering the premises. But considering how most of the world locked down even more. It was actually quite nice to be in Vietnam. They also only had 3 confirmed cases of the virus while we were there. So it was not like we were worried about catching it. The worry was more about whether we could fly home. Or that was my clients’ worry. I was quite confident after speaking to Vietnamese authorities and Qatar Airways that this would be no problem. I was quite stressed anyway, because I had the responsibility of my group. But they made it home, after holidaying in Vietnam 12 days into the lockdown. I have only received positive feedback from the group, after they came back to Denmark. All in all, it was not a scary experience at all, being in Vietnam during the lockdown.

EastWest brewing company.

We had time in Saigon for visiting the East West brewing company and trying the excellent beer they make..

Once I was back in Denmark, it was lockdown time. I self isolated in a Copenhagen apartment that I borrowed from a friend who was stranded in the Netherlands. Took some nice lonely walks around parts of Copenhagen. I actually visited most of the Copenhagen cemeteries in that period. Cemeteries are filled with history and in my opinion very interesting places to visit. I spent 8 days in a row visiting some Copenhagen cementeries that I had never previously taken the time to visit.

 

In early May, I went to my home village called Bøjden, where I grew up as a kid. My father still lives there alone in a fairly decent sized house with plenty of space. I have always visited my father frequently. But I have often wished that I had a few more days to see him, so that I could help him with some tasks around his house and garden. With the world locked down, this was a perfect time to catch up on that. My dad was also quite happy to have me home more than just 2-3 days at a time. He is 85 years old. So it might also be limited how long he will be living in his house. With the world locked down and me having lost my income as a tour leader, I also decided to stay put for a few months if I had to.

Cycling Denmark.

2020 gave me some time to go cycling in my native Denmark.

In many ways I felt like traveling over the summer, where the Covid 19 numbers went down big time. But I am not traveling to see things (to hell with bucket lists). I am mostly traveling to meet people and suck in the local vibe. And with the majority of the world being masked up, that kinda travel would prove hard. So I decided to take some freelance work and stay in Denmark. Without spending my savings though. They are still sitting in the bank, ready for 2021 travels.

Faaborg.

Spent quite some time, just outside Faaborg, where I grew up as a kid.

I did some freelance work in 2020, for a market research company. Also worked for the Copenhagen city council, helping them with the annual traffic statistics. In many ways boring work. But it was easy work and easy to combine with other tasks.

Talking other tasks, I kept being active internationally, using zoom like I never thought I would. Both in terms of talking to my friends around the world. As well as talking to business contacts. I also attended an internatonal conference for sustainable tourism that took place in Kolkata in India. This was also via Zoom. Very interesting day, where I made some new friends and contacts, even if we were just on Zoom.

Speaker at a travel conference.

I was also a speaker at a travel conference.

The conference was organised by an Indian travel magazine called Touriosity magazine. This is a magazine that I have also contributed to a few times. I actually had a photo on the front page of one of their issues this year, showing the empty streets of central Copenhagen, during lockdown.

Touriosity magazine.

The frontpage of Touriosity magazine, with my photo on the front cover.

2020 has for sure not been a very nice, or a very interesting year. But I think I managed to get the most out of the circumstances. As a traveler, who goes with no schedule, I am used to adopting to sudden circumstances. I am not afraid of the unknown in any way.

I will never get nostalgic in any way about 2020. But I will look back at it as a year where I proved that I have not forgotten how to react to sudden problems and get the most out of it.

Now let’s get 2021 going.

With lot’s of travels.

2 Comments

  1. I have tried to keep up with you this year on Facebook just to see how you were handling this year. It’s interesting to see how you mangaged to make the most of this bad situation. Although no traveling was open here I did manage to do a few interesting over the summer. The highlight being the only customer at a 180 resort in New Hampshire after it reopened from twelve weeks of lock down. It was a great experience. And I visited a small cabin in the White Mountains three times. There were no cases of covid there basically because there were no people there. Not my usual travel experience but I loved it.

  2. I just missed you in Vietnam I believe. We were there when the pandemic was just taking hold but little was locked down. The cluster of villages in the north that had cases were sealed off, schools and universities were closed but otherwise it was pretty normal. There were still quite a few tourists around but from what we were told, much reduced in numbers. We were even interviewed in Hoi An by a reporter from a TV news channel who wanted our views on travelling there during the pandemic. He hoped to use his footage to encourage other tourists to come as he was worried about the impact of the reduced numbers on businesses there and elsewhere in the country. I suspect his news story was overtaken by subsequent events!

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