Staying in Vietnam or going to Cambodia

Bear in mind traveling right now is nigh impossible. Borders are closed. Flights cancelled. Countries are either offering visa extensions or just automatically extending like Cambodia. Vietnam, on the other hand, has this entrenched system which gives certain visa super power to agents. I think somewhere they get money back when an agent charges almost $400 for a simple thing. I should be able to go to Vietnam immigration and get a simple extension stamp in 10 minutes. All they really need to do is cancel the expiration stamp for one day and enter a new one.

And that’s what gets me to the nuts and bolts of this.

  1. Stay in Vietnam for 90 more days and either pay an agent $400 or just go to immigration and do it myself. That would mean I give things until August to get better. Will it? I don’t know. Who does? No one.

  2. Try to leave around mid May for Cambodia. Borders are closed now but may re open by end of April. I could get the so-called ordinary visa and then get the ER extension of stay for a year for $293. That has to be done with an agent that I know in Phnom Penh.

So I imagine many retiree expats are facing the same dilemma. We all feel we want to belong to a country like Vietnam or Cambodia. We have something to offer. We are stable and put money back into the economy. We do not feel the US or whatever country of origin is our home. We are not backpackers or digital nomads or any of those other stupid labels. Most of us steer clear of local politics and instead wish to live or travel a bit in the ASEAN block.

knowing to go or feeling

It’s not a good time now to make a dash to another country. Will it change in 3 more months? Like I said. Who knows. So part of me says to stay put here in Vietnam and get the extension. Another part says Cambodia is just as easy to live in as here. The bottom line is I don’t know. And neither does my South African housemate. We discuss it time and again. We both want to stay. Or go and come back without extending. It only requires some friendly country to let us in for a day to clear customs and then come back. If I could in May I would just go to Malaysia or Laos or Thailand or Cambodia and then come back. Therein lies the last part of the problem. Once I leave am I reasonably certain I am able to get back in?

The whole world and travel and life with covid-19 has changed before our very eyes. Countries need to treat people more humanely. Would you go back to the US or Italy or Spain now? I sure as hell would not. I value my life just a bit to want some safety and those places right now offer little. Southeast Asia, once the home to backpackers and the elites like digital nomads, have emerged as countries that have done the best treating both natives and foreigners with compassion. The countries have defined strategies for months in the case of Taiwan. Where would you prefer to live? The country with a few hundred covid-19 cases or literally thousands and more? Simply put going back to the origin country now is way less safe than finding an answer to staying in Vietnam until August. After all, staying here is some money spent and feeling safer. What would you do?

I will let time go by. Live day to day. And see. There is no rush to decide. There is today with KFC for dinner and weeks to go.

I think though many people are faced with similar questions. I’d like to see bloggers discuss this openly and offer a platform. I’ve started. Show me your voice. Write something if you are staying somewhere. If you wonder the same or different things. Show us your stuff. Forget the cute Instagram captions and silly philosophies. This is now. You can speak to it. You have a voice with written words.

April 5, 2020