This photo was taken in October 2019, at a lovely restaurant in District 2 of Ho Chi Minh City. Present was myself, my partner, and one of his closest friends.
This was my partner’s and my scouting trip of Ho Chi Minh City, specifically District 2, to see whether we could make it our home in 2020. Start over together in a city new to both of us—he from Hanoi, I from Bangkok.
The result of that trip was satisfactory. I reversed my verdict on Ho Chi Minh City, originally delivered after a short trip in 2017, of it being an uninteresting place—a shadow of the chaotic liveliness of Hanoi which for a long time made me favour the latter as my next domicile. But during those few days in October 2019, we explored District 2 on foot and stumbled across many interesting cafes and restaurants. And as I spend most of my time in cafes and restaurants, well, those discoveries were more than sufficient for me to revise my initial judgement.
And then 2020 happened. Covid reared its big ugly head and Vietnam closed its borders. My plans got pushed, again, and again, and again. For several months my partner and I had no realistic conception of when I’d be able to move. We were swimming in a void of no information. But then we had a lucky break, and then another. And now I’m set (as set as can be given the constant threat of Covid upheaving everything) for a March 2021 move.
Having a departure date is nice. Very nice actually. For the past several months, I’d been operating on “maybe.” Maybe September, maybe December, hopefully January, possibly February. “Maybe” makes it difficult to plan. And I am a planner, so this was mildly frustrating. I was never quite sure how far in advance I could book myself for engagements in Bangkok. Would I miraculously be able to fly before then? Will I then upset other people’s plans if I commit to something then can’t be there for it? Or maybe I’d have to delay my departure to honour my commitments? The questions were always there, in the back of my mind.
Now I can say, I’ll fly on XX March. I can plan to see friends, visit places up until the end of February. I can once again start thinking about when to move out from my rented Bangkok flat, cancel my Internet/phone subscription—you know, all those boring adult things. And this stability is nice. And I do mean stability. I know it’s a weird word to use in this context, but having a date gives me a sense of stability. I hesitate to use “certainty” because, Covid. But stability I do feel.
I’ve had a Moving List for a couple of months now. I like lists, and having one (even when I had no idea when I’d be able to fly) made me feel stable. (That word again.) One day, many months ago, I sat down and wrote a checklist of the items I’d bring with me. I plan to move light, so it’s not a very long list. And I’m hoping I can fit everything into a medium and a small luggage, and a backpack. Maybe I’m being ambitious, but I am feeling confident. If I run out of space and/or weight, I’ll just bring fewer clothes.
These days I’m back to modifying things on the list. It’s a nice exercise that I’ve always liked (ever since I had to move back to London after a year in Paris with only the bags I can manage to carry onto the Eurostar). What I’m basically doing is selecting one best item in each category: the best backpack, the best pair of jeans, the best perfume, the best coaster (I am irrationally sentimentally attached to my coffee-stained Little Prince coaster). Bring one of each. To this end, I bought a new backpack last weekend. I’ve been using it for a few days, and I’m pretty happy with my purchase. Best backpack—check!
Anyhow, March is coming up soon, and Vietnam is once again beckoning. Its calls resonate between mounds of paperwork I have to surmount. I shall place some faith in my solicitor and trust that they navigate the bureaucratic waters successfully, and efficiently. My Investment Registration Certificate (I’m sponsoring myself with an investor VISA) was issued on the day it was supposed to be issued. And I’m hoping my Enterprise Registration Certificate (I’m setting up a company to legally work there) was issued yesterday, as is supposed to be the case. I’ll give my solicitors the holidays off before following up.
The clock is ticking. The wheels are turning.
Vietnam, I’m coming… See you in March.