Living Through The COVID Lockdown in Hanoi, Vietnam

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The day Hanoi started its COVID lockdown, I was coming out of the Vietnam French Hospital.   I was in the hospital for a week due to a cycling accident on the Long Bien bridge;  I needed an operation on my hip area.

No Way To Get Home From Hospital

At six am the morning, I checked out of the hospital, the Hanoi Government suddenly announced the locked down. Walking out of my hospital room felt like the entire hospital was empty; in fact, I hardly saw any staff except a few random people walking the empty halls.  

When I got downstairs to the reception area, none of the usual taxis were parked outside the hospital’s front. Grab was no longer operating their car service, so I had no idea how I would get back home to the Tay Ho area of Hanoi.  

I certainly could not walk home in my condition, and I did not want to ride a motorcycle after having a major operation on my hip area. 

I asked the hospital staff to help arrange transportation back to my home in Tay Ho, but they told me they had no way to help me.   They did not seem too concerned and acted more like it was my problem and not their problem.   

Lucky for me, my friend Carrie had a private car and driver, so she was able to send him to my rescue. Noi, her driver, came to the hospital to pick me up and bring me back home.  

I realize that I was lucky because I had a friend who had a car and could bring me back home; I knew others in the city were maybe not as fortunate.  

I honestly felt like whoever decided the lockdown did not thoroughly think through all the practical implications. I wondered how others who did not have a family or friend with a car and had also just undergone surgery would be able to find their way home?

Lockdown Was More Tricky Than I Thought

I never expected the lockdown to be as tricky as it was.   

First, I had to overcome the psychological feeling of being in a lockdown; the psychological is often the hardest thing to overcome. I love to swim, so I felt like my entire summer was gone. 

It was hard not to allow myself to get into a deep-seated depression.  Staying indoors, not seeing others, having little or no social contact can be very isolating.  

I decided that to keep myself sane; I needed to keep working and find ways for my team to keep working.  I needed to ensure that everyone had projects and things they needed to.  

We started to have daily zoom meetings – sometimes several times a day. The daily Zoom meetings allowed us to stay in contact and stay connected.  

Walking My Dogs Proved To Be Difficult

Having an animal during this lockdown was very challenging.  I have a dog and am watching my friend Carrie’s dog.  Her dog is used to roaming the Q block of Ciputra and having a large backyard with grass and flowers.  My house in Tay Ho is down a small alley and has no front or backyard areas. 

Not being able to walk your dogs during the lockdown was a real challenge.  After all, a dog does not understand why they cannot go outside and get some sunshine and exercise.  They have no idea what the lockdown means and why I am forcing them to be inside.  

 In speaking to other foreign dog owners, I know that many of them had the same challenge.

I honestly do not know of any other place in the world where having a lockdown meant that people could not at least go outside and walk their dogs; my family in America does not understand why a lockdown means you can not go out even to walk a dog. 

COVID Lockdown Reflections

Now that the lockdown is over, here are a few things that I reflected on that I believe helped me survive during this time:

Kept My Schedule

I decided I needed to stick to my schedule. Keeping to my schedule meant I got up on time each morning and went to the office on time -even if that office was a desk in my bedroom. 

Kept My Team On Track

I kept my office team on track by having a team meeting every morning at 8:30 am. I chose 8:30 am. I knew if we continued to keep on a schedule that it would help to keep everyone on track. The meetings also allowed us to all touch base and talked about what we needed to do for that day. 


I realized that I needed to exercise.  I made sure I got in some physical activity every day.   I would run up and down a small hallway in my house to get in enough steps to count for 1 US mile or 1.6 kilometers.  I put in my AirPods and listened to a podcast while I was running in circles.  My dogs thought I had lost my mind.  

Reached Out To Families and Friends Online

Reached out to friends and family – If I felt lonely, I would reach out to a friend or family member. I was so busy each day that I hardly had time to feel lonely or sorry for myself.  

Tried to Have Productive Days

The thing I did not want to do was to spend my days in the mindless act of watching television. I knew if I started to do that, I would not be able to accomplish very much.   

I found that by keeping myself on my schedule, I could accomplish as much as I had when there was no lockdown.  

I also tried not to stress over the lockdown.   I realized I had no control of when or how the lockdown would end, so I just had to make the most of it. 

Now that the lockdown is over, I will admit that I have a sense of gratitude.  

I am grateful that the Hanoi government instituted the lockdown when they did. I am thankful they put the lives of all the people in Vietnam – foreigners and Vietnamese – over our individual personal freedoms.   

 I appreciate the Vietnamese people for their willingness to wear a mask and get vaccinated and their desire to save the lives of their fellow citizens by ensuring COVID did not continue to spread.

3 Easy Steps to Handle Stress and Pressure In Life

Are you ever traveling and suddenly something completely out of your control happens? You miss a flight, a car cuts you off in front of you, your passport is stolen or you get hurt while traveling? Many of us how been in these situations.

Alia and Thomas Crum wrote a very interesting article in the Harvard Business Review that stated that stress in our lives could actually prove to be a good thing. Especially if we learn to see the stress, then own up to the stress, and finally use the stress to our advantage.

You can read more by reading 3 Easy Steps to Handle Stress and Pressure In Life by clicking here.

How to Travel Alone and Make Friends?

Embarking on a journey to travel alone and to make friends is not easy. You must first learn how to be alone by yourself and enjoy yourself. Break the ice as you smile at others and invite them into your life. Go up to talk to new people and get to know them. Be a good listener and get to know others. Don’t be afraid to try a new language. And finally, when you travel alone and start to make friends around the world, you quickly learn that there are a lot of good people out there in this big wide world of ours.

To find out more about how to travel alone and make friends, you can read our blog called How to Travel Alone and Make Friends, What You Need To Know by clicking here.

Anita L Hummel
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