Travel Newsletter - 5 February 2021

My current life in Vietnam, my former life as a time lord in London, and maybe my future life as a lord on Lord Howe Island, the proposed new capital of Indonesia, and more travel reads.

Hello from Ho Chi Minh City. We are a week away from Tet (the lunar new year holiday in Vietnam), and one of the traditions here is for pop-up flower markets around the city. I’ll be visiting more of them over the weekend.

We’re still unsure if Tet is going to be cancelled, so to speak, after the most recent coronavirus outbreak. So far the authorities have been swift in locking down locations of known outbreaks. For example, a town of 10,000 people was closed off to stop the virus spreading any further. For some towns, Tet has already been cancelled.

In Ho Chi Minh City, one case was reported, and the travel history of the coronavirus patient was published in the news. I got my visa renewed this week at a visa agent near where the aforementioned coronavirus patient visited. That was stressful enough, so I have no desire to put myself through unnecessary travel.

New at Nomadic Notes

Where I’m At: February 2021 – Saigon edition

My monthly summary at Nomadic Notes.

I come down with a case of shiny-object syndrome this week, where I was working on one article and then I got excited by another article and then started working on that. So maybe there will be two articles next week.

In the meantime, I did a podcast interview with friend and fellow traveller, JohnnyJet. His travel newsletter is ancient in internet years (I’ve been a subscriber since 2000!). We talked about what it’s been like to be living in Vietnam over the last year during the pandemic. The interview is in the February 4, 2021 newsletter, or you can watch it on YouTube:

COVID-19 and travel (or lack thereof)

Coming soon: the ‘vaccine passport’

“In the near future, travel may require digital documentation showing that passengers have been vaccinated or tested for the coronavirus. Answers to your questions.”

To everyone traveling right now: Stop it.

He's travelled to 40 countries, now he says travel during the coronavirus pandemic is totally different

“It took Kaushik Sridhar seven flights across seven cities, four countries, intense security and two COVID-19 tests to journey to India and back to be by his father's side in intensive care.”

After the pandemic, how can we decolonize our travels?

“In a year when a pandemic brought global travel to a standstill, and themes of racial and social injustice were thrust into the spotlight, Meera Dattani explores how we might rebuild travel as an antidote to inequality—wherever in the world we may roam.”

Travel news

Macedonia will become a new attractive destination for digital nomads

North Macedonia is the latest country to adopt a digital nomad visa.

Lord Howe Island sees a wildlife miracle after mass cull of 300,000 invasive rats and mice

Lord Howe Island is roughly halfway between Sydney and New Caledonia. The island is an unincorporated area of New South Wales, but there are limits to how many people can visit so it’s not overrun with tourism. Once this Covid bollocks is over I’m going to start working my way through the Pacific islands, including Lord Howe Island.

Historic winter ascent of K2: ‘This was for Nepal’

“Nearing the summit the native climbers grouped up – they would enter the record books together.”

Caligula’s Gardens, long hidden beneath Italian apartment building, to go on view

“The infamous Roman emperor’s extravagant tastes included opulent marble and exotic animals.”

City of London design competition for a new TARDIS

When I moved to London in 1999 I saw all the world-famous sites such as the Palace of Westminster and Buckingham Palace. They were already so familiar to me that they didn’t really wow me like I thought they would or should. I was blown away though when I saw that the building on the Pink Floyd Animals album cover was a real place, and that the TARDIS from Doctor Who was an actual police box.

Here I am in 1999, pre-digital camera era, which I post here as evidence that I once wore long coats and beanies before living the tropical life. And I also post this to remind myself to rescan my old paper photos in higher resolution.

Assorted travel reads

New Capital City of Indonesia

Indonesia is planning to move its capital from Jakarta in Java to a new city in East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. This may not even happen, but I put together this fact sheet in case it does.

How Bangkok's Khao San Road evolved from a rice market into the world's most famous travel hub

Cabin pressure: the turbulent history of flight attendants

“The airline industry has always had its ups and downs, from recessions to gas prices to coronavirus. But when things get unstable, flight attendants are the first to feel the pain.”

How Thailand’s ‘Egg Boy’ statue became a tourism phenomenon

“Tens of thousands of people are flocking to a provincial southern temple, seeking hope in tough times.”

Venice has people in masks but no Carnival fun

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The Travel Newsletter by Nomadic Notes is a weekly newsletter of the best travel reads and interesting travel news, and random ramblings by the editor.

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- James Clark