April 2020 – Travel & Income Report: Back To The New Normal

At a glance
  • Vietnam imposed a 3 week lockdown
  • no one was allowed to go outside, some people who broke the rules got fined
  • agents started to charge up to $400 for visa extensions
  • online grocery shopping and food delivery became the norm
  • we enjoyed our simple life in lockdown with home cooked meals, Netflix and computer games
  • I worked on my spiritual growth during the lockdown
  • my online business picked up from march
  • staying at home keeps expenses low
Expenses
€859.67
Online Business
$302.61

April has been a strange month. Vietnam went into a full lockdown with all non-essential businesses closing and allowing people to go outside only for groceries or medicine.

I never experienced a full lockdown scenario before and staying at home over such a long period wasn’t easy. Similar to March, April felt like another really long month.

Here is a quick overview of the last month:

My life in Hanoi during the pandemic has been fairly unspectacular.

The whole city went into a more serious social distancing phase after my last monthly report and imposed a nationwide lockdown from April 1 to April 22. This meant that only visits to supermarkets or pharmacies were allowed.

People who were caught on the streets for no important reason ran into the risk of being fined. Malaysia went even further and put people in jail.

empty hanoi 3

I’m so grateful that Vietnam did such a great job in containing the spread (270 cases nationwide) and didn’t have to extend the social distancing campaign multiple times like other countries did. For now, things have been working out great and there hasn’t been any community transmission for over 2 weeks!

Only time will tell if Vietnam opened up too quickly, but I would have had a hard time being confined in my apartment for 2 straight months like with the MCO in Malaysia.

You can only connect the dots looking back and I can slowly see why my plans for going to Malaysia at the end of December didn’t work out. As I mentioned in my January update, flights from Chiang Mai to Kuala Lumpur sky-rocketed during new years and I ended up with Andrea in Da Nang.

In retrospect, this was the best thing that could have happened.

 

Dealing with the visa situation in Vietnam

We were fortunate to end up in Vietnam, but being a nomad right now doesn’t make things any easier, regardless of the country.

It is our 4th month in Vietnam now and we had to extend our 3-month tourist visa for another 3 months. Some governments are really nice about it and extended visas for stranded tourists automatically.

In case of Vietnam, you had to pay big bucks!

It was a bit of a hassle to get our visas extended and agents seem to took advantage of the situation by charging horrendous prices.

For a 3-month Visa extension, some people were quoted up to $400! which is nowhere near the normal price of around $50?

This leaves a bittersweet aftertaste but paying the money is better than going through the hassle of moving to another country and potentially ending up stranded in an airport.

Having three more months gives us some breathing room to see how the pandemic is developing and where we could potentially go next. If countries open up more and more, I don’t think we would go through another visa extension.

 

Life in Lockdown

Life in lockdown has been a challenge at the beginning but over time we got used to it. Andrea and I ended up with a simple daily routine that kept our sanity:

  • Getting up between 8:00AM ~ 9:00AM
  • Doing some exercises
  • Morning coffee / journaling on the balcony
  • I started working between 10:00AM – 11:00AM
  • Working until 5:00PM
  • Dinner at 6:00PM
  • Netflix
  • Relaxing / Gaming / Reading

 

We took it pretty chilled most of the time. I can’t recall the last time I watched so many TV-shows and movies in a row. I really enjoyed it and regret nothing ?. We went through all the Cobra Kai episodes, Harry Potter Movies and watched a ton of Docu Shows like Final Table or Instant Hotel on Netflix.

I also started to dig out some old computer games that I haven’t played in years. Starcraft still rocks!

working from home
Luckily, our apartment can get a lot of natural light in which made the lockdown slightly easier.
working from home 2
Here is my little corner setup with 2 tables.
working from home 4
Many times, the morning was reserved for journaling sessions. I used my iPad the first half of the month but decided to swap it with a real notebook. It adds a little bit of weight while traveling but there is something nice about having a physical journal where you can just flip through pages quickly.

Similar to many others, we also organized casual hangouts over Zoom or Skype. It was a great time to connect with friends that we haven’t talked to for a while.

zoom session

Every two or three days, we had the chance to go grocery shopping. This was the most exciting part of the lockdown since we could left our apartment and take a walk. On some days when we felt really bold, we would take a detour to extend our time outside. Desperate times require desperate actions!

old quarter hanoi during lockdown
Sometimes we would sneak into the Old Quarter of Hanoi. It wasn’t really on our way to the supermarket but we were curious what was going on there. We discovered some small shops that secretly and sold items under the “door”.
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People in need are queuing to get rice while people in the west are enjoying their stimulus checks.
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Small local food vendors were still open during lockdown.
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Even though food is more cheap at local vendors, I still prefer to shop at supermarkets because of the quality. Vietnam has a track record of overusing pesticides and other chemicals so you just don’t know how safe the food is.

Supermarkets were still open. Before entering, however, people had to use hand sanitizers and let the guard check the body temperature with a device. I was lucky that my temperature was only 32.8°C!!! They waved me through with confidence. ?

grocery shopping 1

Because supermarkets in Vietnam can be quite small, keeping a distance of 2m to each other wasn’t always possible. Nevertheless, people did their best to keep a healthy distance. Everyone had to wear a mask and queue at least with a little bit of distance.

grocery shopping 3

grocery shopping 2
The biggest downside of buying all the veggie is that you have to wrap them in plastic bags to weigh and calculate the price.
20200422 180900
The thing about living in asia is that everything is so cheap. It’s not worth the time going grocery shopping and cooking if you can enjoy a meal for €3.00 outside. But during the lockdown, I had to unpack my cooking skills again. It was fun!

 

Food Delivery Services on the rise.

To my surprise, supermarkets were never really crowded. I can imagine that most Vietnamese people shopped at local merchants because it’s still so much cheaper than a supermarket.

Online grocery shopping and food delivery also got a huge boost.

20200418 112718
After weeks of only drinking vietnamese coffee, it was so good to have an Americano again! I used GRAB to order from a local coffee chain and it worked great!

Since I‘m working for a European client, this is a very interesting topic for me. Early on, we shifted our focus to support local communities and governments. Many of the ideas we had, included a volunteering workforce, connecting struggling restaurants and supermarkets to deliver food to people in isolation.

In the end, none of the ideas really made it through because it took people in position too long to make decisions.

In comparison, many businesses in Vietnam adapted pretty quickly. The popular ride hailing app GRAB, removed options for transportation and added grocery delivery options at the same time to leverage their existing pool of drivers.

Many businesses also started to use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to take orders. They created simplified menus that could be shared easily through social media. It is fascinating to see how small brick and mortar business adapted so quickly to survive.

It shows that it is not always necessary to jump on popular tech platforms that take a 30% cut from you. You can be creative and leverage existing platforms with less time and monetary investment.

Also watching a big business like GRAB adapting their business model so quickly was fascinating to me.

 

My Learnings during the Lockdown

The whole lockdown was also a good opportunity for me to work on my spiritual growth. I had more time on my hands to read and watch documentaries:

  1. I read the Biology of Belief →
  2. I watched a ton of videos of Gregg Braden →
  3. I started to read the Law of One → (This goes together with the 7 Cosmic Laws)

 

There are three major breakthroughs for me that I made in the last few months:

 

1. I realized that everything is connected

Quantum physics proves that everything is made of energy. The Newtonian view on the world is outdated. The atom is not the smallest element. It is empty and made of energy.

Which means that EVERYTHING is energy.

Material things and organic things. We are all made of the same stuff. Quantum entanglement proves that things that are far away, can still be connected through an invisible field. This invisible field is the universal consciousness, the „infinite intelligence“ (Think and Grow Rich), the „thinking stuff“ (The Science of Getting Rich), the „Akashic records,“ or „God“. Whatever you want to call it, it is all the same. We are all cosmic beings having a physical experience on earth.

 

2. I started to see that reincarnation is real

Buddhists are talking about impermanence. When we die, our soul will be reincarnated in a new body. Past life experiences and Karma is not a concept that can be dismissed.

Quantum physics proves that everything is made of energy.

The law of conservation of energy states that energy cannot be created nor lost. When our physical body falls apart, our soul, our energy, will look for a new body with a matching energetic signature. We will be reborn in a new physical body.

Our memory is NOT stored in our brain. It is stored in the universal consciousness. This is why some people remember their past lives. This is why some people with heart transplants recall exact memories of organ donors.

 

3. I believe that thoughts shape our reality

Once I understood this simple concept, I started to understand how the law of attraction works. Before, all of that was a lot of whoo whoo to me. But now I understand the science behind this and it is plausible to me. Our universe is mental (First cosmic law).

Stuff is made of thought.

Before we can create something, we have to think it. When we think and apply emotions to out thoughts, we put things into motion (Quantum entanglement). We cannot just sit around and wish things to appear. But when we visualize and feel our desired future, as like we’ve already achieved the things we wish for, we will send out an energetic Signal to the universe and a matching signature will start to move towards us. This works both ways. You can visualize your dream future or you can visualize poverty and illness. Both can come true. Thoughts shape your reality.

„Whether you think you can, or you think you can‘t, you‘re right.“ – Henry ford.

What do all these realizations mean?

As a result of these realizations, I believe that we live in an abundant world / universe. If everything is energy, then also the “empty” space around us is energy. As a consequence, we have more than we ever need. There is more energy in this universe than we can materialize = there is more “money or abundance” in this world than we can ever possess.

This means that we can do and achieve whatever we want in life. Believing this is true, is a relieve because it takes away fear from experimentation.

Most of us just think too small. Instead of seeing with our eyes what’s in front of us, we need to start seeing with our mind.

 

Online Business

April has been a bit of a surprise to be honest. With the economy declining and people worrying about their current employment, I wouldn’t have expected anything but declining sales.

To my surprise, my traffic stabilized and sales went up. Even with no advertisement. I doubled my revenue from March and got a some new positive reviews which is great for my ranking.

There is absolutely no rational thinking behind this. In times when the economy is getting worse, people are shopping like there is no tomorrow. I’ve seen multiple sources reporting about Black Friday / Cyber Monday-like scenarios. It is absolutely mind-blowing to me. Even though I should be happy, I’m running into this with mixed feelings.

My current business handles physical products and currently I am relying on manufacturers and shipping providers who don’t have enough resources to handle incoming requests because of the ongoing social distancing campaign. This increases processing times to almost 4x which makes me a bit nervous if customers have to wait too long for orders to arrive.

However, I communicate things with my customers as openly as possible. I know long processing and shipping times will lead to less sales, but I think it is better than setting wrong expectations

.

Here are my stats for April 2020:

traffic april 2020
My traffic had an upward tendency but there was a sharp dip that looks like a glitch in the system.

March to April 2020

traffic march april 2020
Traffic picked up towards the end of March and grow slowly over April.

March – April 2019 vs 2020

traffic 2019 vs 2020
My traffic is much lower compared to last year but I decreased my social media traffic a lot to improve my conversion rates and boost my ranking. So far, it seems to work.

 

Expenses

My monthly living cost in Hanoi during the lockdown has been on a similar level to March.

We didn’t go out for coffee, cooked at home every night and didn’t spend money on fancy shopping or tourist attractions.

Life is simple and so is my expense report. Overall, I spent around €860 entirely that includes rent, food, insurance, etc. Not bad!

expenses april 2020

april daily
It is funny to see how my expenses went op towards the end of the month. This is when the lockdown was lifted and I could go outside for coffee and food again.

 

Wrapping up

The lockdown ended on April 22 and things are almost being back to normal.

It’s so wonderful to see how life is filling the streets again and how most businesses are back to serve people. I can’t express the joy of being able to go to my favorite coffee places and restaurants again.

Here is my excitement on first morning after the lockdown:

Since the last two weeks, life in Hanoi has been pretty good. Kids started to go back to school and life feels very much like normal.

We decided that it is time to leave Hanoi and move back to Da Nang to enjoy better air quality and getting back into a healthy workout routine.

Even though I love my family here and the things that Hanoi has to offer, i just had being trapped here for a long time. I feel like my body needs more Vitamin D, fresh air and the sound of the ocean. I’m looking forward.

I hope you enjoyed this monthly update and I see you in the next one.

ninh and buba first day after lockdown

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Hi, I'm Ninh

I’m a UX Designer, Online Entrepreneur and World Citizen.
I currently travel around the world, build lifestyle businesses and help others to hack their creativity, personal growth and entrepreneurial mindset.

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