Simple English Listening

My Crazy Experience Leaving Vietnam During COVID (Pre-Intermediate)

July 07, 2021 Tristan
My Crazy Experience Leaving Vietnam During COVID (Pre-Intermediate)
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Simple English Listening
My Crazy Experience Leaving Vietnam During COVID (Pre-Intermediate)
Jul 07, 2021

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⭐ TIP: The best way to learn is to listen to and read as much English as possible which is just ONE level above your level. This way, you pick up MAXIMUM amounts of new language and pronunciation naturally.

❤️ English: Your PASSPORT to the world! My name is Tristan, from England. I've been a university-qualified English teacher for 10+ years, and taught in five countries - UK, Italy, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam. So far, I've lived in 10 countries and visited over 45.

#IntermediateEnglish #SimpleEnglishListening #Englishlesson #EnglishPodcast #englishstudy #Englishteacher #Englishcourse #englishvocabulary #Englishquiz #englishspeaking #speakingpractice #englishpractice #Englishlearning #learningenglish #EnglishListening #영어공부 #الانجليزية #anglais #apprendreanglais #английскийонлайн #английскийдлявсех #aprenderinglês #inglês #aprenderingles #estudaringles #英語 #ingilizceöğren #tienganh #hoctienganh

Show Notes Transcript

❤️ EXCITING Topics in SIMPLE English
✍ Free activities:
☕ Buy Me A Coffee:
⭐ Every 1st day of the month!
👉 Subscribe!

▶️ Youtube:
👉 Facebook:
📸 IG: 

⭐ TIP: The best way to learn is to listen to and read as much English as possible which is just ONE level above your level. This way, you pick up MAXIMUM amounts of new language and pronunciation naturally.

❤️ English: Your PASSPORT to the world! My name is Tristan, from England. I've been a university-qualified English teacher for 10+ years, and taught in five countries - UK, Italy, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam. So far, I've lived in 10 countries and visited over 45.

#IntermediateEnglish #SimpleEnglishListening #Englishlesson #EnglishPodcast #englishstudy #Englishteacher #Englishcourse #englishvocabulary #Englishquiz #englishspeaking #speakingpractice #englishpractice #Englishlearning #learningenglish #EnglishListening #영어공부 #الانجليزية #anglais #apprendreanglais #английскийонлайн #английскийдлявсех #aprenderinglês #inglês #aprenderingles #estudaringles #英語 #ingilizceöğren #tienganh #hoctienganh

(There are two or three sentences missing, but everything else is here)

Hello, hello, guess where I am?

Back in my hometown, back in the UK. In the south of England!

I had to suddenly leave my home in Vietnam, suddenly leave my home of the last 6 years! Because of... well, I'll tell you the story of my escape from Vietnam and my return to the UK in pre-intermediate level English, in simple English.

Language for today - today there'll be lots of airport and traveling vocabulary AND I will use the past continuous often - I was walking, I was flying etc.. 

Nice to be speaking with you again, after 5 or 6 weeks.

Remember, you can change the speed of this podcast on the app 'Castbox', Castbox - C A S T B O X  

Ok, so, in Vietnam I worked at an international school in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. My work contract finished and I did not want to continue working at my school. So, I left my job.

Where did I go? I moved to Da Nang, a new city, to find a new job and start a new life... the sun was always shining, it was on the beach, it was nice. The lifestyle was healthy.

BUT - because of Covid 19, they stopped giving out new tourist VISAS in Vietnam and stopped extending business So, I had no work VISA, and I could not get a tourist VISA! My VISA agent rang me 5 days before I was supposed to get a new VISA and said - Tristan, I'm sorry man, but the laws have changed and I cannot get you a new tourist VISA.

Oh my God! So, I suddenly found out that I had to leave Vietnam in 5 days. 5 days!

There was not enough time to get a new job! And, I couldn't get a new tourist VISA, my mind was going crazy, my work VISA was running out.

It was very VERY stressful - 'stressful', meaning, a 'worrying' time.  

So, I quickly booked a flight ticket to the UK, I packed 5 boxes of my possessions and things and put them in storage, 'storage', meaning a special locker room in Vietnam. So, all of my possessions have been left in Vietnam! I sold my motorbike and my bicycle and I got ready to return to good old England.

There wasn't even enough time to say good bye to my friends...

It was IMPOSSIBLE to leave Vietnam before my VISA expired. There just wasn't enough time! I could not get a flight to the UK in time for the end of my VISA! Could not get a flight in time! So, I had no choice but to overstay, to overstay my VISA by three days! To leave Vietnam three days late! My only choice!

(inhale), what happens if you stay three days late?

If you overstay your VISA, you must go to the immigration office in HCMC in advance, before the flight, and, you must pay a fine. The immigration department is on the other side of the city to the airport in HCMC.

BUT if you were to fly from my city Da Nang to HCMC, and go outside of the airport - you would need to quarantine for 21 days! Because there was Covid in my city of Da Nang, and at that time there was no Covid in HCMC.

But how? How could I quarantine for 21 days in HCMC, if my VISA expired in three days?

This was a very tricky and strange situation.

I just wanted to go home. I did not have time to quarantine in an expensive hotel in HCMC for 21 days, just to go to the immigration office.

I could not quarantine for 21 days in HCMC, because my international flight was in three days! And, I had overstayed my VISA by three days already!

I decided that I would just go straight to the HCMC international airport and try to pay the fine at the airport, and just pay someone whatever money to let me through, and to let me out of the country. I was hoping they would understand my difficult situation. I had no choice

I booked my international flight from HCMC to London. I had to fly from where I was in Da Nang to HCMC to catch my international flight.

But... guess what? The day before flying to HCMC, I hear the news. The HCMC domestic airport was closed because of COVID. Because all of HCMC was in lockdown! It was closed! OMG!! How could I get my international flight from HCMC to London, if HCMC airport was closed??

I was already three days overstayed on my VISA. And already, I could not get an exit stamp because I could not go to the immigration department. Now, I couldn't go to HCMC - which is where my international flight leaves from!

I was trapped, I was stuck in Da Nang! Having overstayed my VISA!

It was sooo stressful.  What could I do? To be honest, I was terrified - 'terrified' meaning very scared. I was terrified of being blacklisted. Blacklisted is when you cannot return to Vietnam. Being blacklisted is the punishment, and I was scared of being in Vietnam illegally. I wanted to leave! But, I couldn't leave!

After hearing the news that HCMC domestic airport was closed, I received an EMAIL from the airline and they said 'sorry, sir, we regret to inform you that your flight has been cancelled.'  .... Shit. How can I get to HCMC to fly to London?

My Vietnamese friend rang the airport and found out that there were still flights from Da Nang to HCMC, but just half of the flights had been cancelled! OK, phew! Great! So, I booked another flight from Da Nang to HCMC for midday, for midday, for noon the next day!

That evening, I had a final dinner with my friend, with Mei! You guys know Mei, she has been on this podcast a few times. Mei, you know her! We had a sad final dinner, I gave her my bike and chair and desk and a few things, and I said my goodbyes.

I then got home and went on my computer. A new email was in my inbox! A new email from the airline of the new flight! O..M..G. It said 'sorry. but your flight will be delayed, will be late by two hours'. Two hours!! That would mean I would miss my international flight from HCMC to London!! O..M..G!!  I looked desperately, for any other flights from Da Nang to HCMC. There was one!! One last flight, one last hope!

One more flight, and one more chance to get to HCMC for my international flight. BUT, this flight.. was at 8am. 8am, it would get me to HCMC seven hours, a whole seven hours before my international flight, but it was my only choice and it was the only other flight that day.

I booked this very early flight and I had to pack and clean my apartment through the night. I finally got to bed at about 2.30am. 2.30am! I woke up at 5.30am to get my flight!! I put my two suitcases in the taxi and off I went to the airport. 

When I arrived at the airport, my flight to HCMC....guess what? It didn't exist! I looked on all the screens, the desks were all closed. They sold me a flight - the name is Budget Air. Budget Air, they sold me a flight that didn't exist! And, they will not refund me the money. So, don't book flights with budget air, they are an international company.

Anyways, my only choice was to buy another ticket for the flight that would be two hours late from Da Nang to HCMC! Which means, I had to miss my international flight to the UK.

So, I had no choice, but to miss it. And I would now be four days late on my VISA!

I moved my flight from HCMC to London to the day after, to the same flight but 24 hours later.

I left Da Nang, and looked down through the clouds. Below, I could see the beautiful city on the beach. And I was sad to leave. I could see the whole coast, the big green mountains that surround it.

After one hour and a half, I landed in HCMC. And, I had to stay in HCMC airport for 27 hours, on a seat in front of the check-in for my international flight. Have you ever slept in an airport for 27 hours? Before check-in? It's not safe, anyone can walk in and take your bags.

After 3 hours, I couldn't do it!  So, I went to an hotel just next to the airport. I did it quietly, nobody said anything, it was fine. 

The next day, I went straight to the airport immigration to speak to them about my 4 day overstay. So, remember, my overstay was going to be 3 days, now it was 4 days.

The immigration officer looked at my passport.... 'You are 4 days overstayed', he said. You must go to the Vietnamese immigration department and he gave me the address. 

How? I couldn't leave the airport! I told him that I could not leave the airport without doing a 21 day quarantine! He took me around the corner and he said to me, when is your flight? I said, 'my flight is in three hours, there's not enough time to go to the immigration department'

He said - I can help you - 100 dollar. So, luckily, I was prepared, I had planned this! I had 200 dollars with me, for these situations.

I gave him the money.

Then he walked me to the check-in staff at Singapore Airlines and he spoke with one of them and I checked-in with his contact and, it was OK. I gave them my two suitcases and got my flight ticket.

I said to them, 'you know I have overstayed my VISA by four days, am I ok' , and the check-in staff, she was a girl, she said 'it's ok, don't worry, it's no problem, you're fine now'

phew. That's good to hear. So, I relaxed a little bit. But I didn't relax fully!

Next challenge, I had to walk back through immigration! Through immigration with my four days overstayed VISA. I was nervous.

I nervously stood there, looking around, looking for my man who I had paid earlier. I saw him! I could see him about 10 metres away.

He, didn't look at me and he ignored me. Haha, Yea, he looked up and then looked down again and pretended he didn't know me.  He had four friends with him now, four other immigration officers. One of his friends was on the immigration desk.

I walked up to the man at the desk. I gave him my passport and I was hoping, you know that he had spoken with his friend and hoping that everyone knew my situation.

I gave him my passport. He looked at my passport and he said ''you are 5 days overstay! Where is your exit VISA??''

I said, 'I'm sorry, I'm four days overstayed, I already spoke with your friend'. His friend ignored me.

HE said' there is no sorry for five days overstay, come with me'

and next, he walked me to an office and he made me sit down in a chair, alone.

Next, two uniformed men walked in and they asked me many questions, about my last school, why I was in Da Nang etc. etc.. why I had no exit VISA, and I answered ..all of their questions. Then, they just looked at me, looked at me right in the eyes.

So I said, 'I read on the internet that if I'm only overstay a few days, I can pay a fee at the airport, is that true?'

The officer looked at me and he smiled. He typed in a price on the calculator. The price was about 50 dollars American. And, to be honest, I was very happy to pay it! Very happy to pay it and just be out of there! 

I paid, and, he was nice, he was a gentleman about it. Then he said, 'it's ok, you can come back to Vietnam' phew, I sighed in relief.

While he was walking me out of the office I asked to confirm, 'are you sure, can I come back to Vietnam? I'm a teacher here and I've lived here for 6 years!' and he said 'it's ok, Vietnam welcomes you!'

I was very relieved at this point, phew. Because, you know, I've been there for 6 years! And, I love life in that beautiful country. I've invested so much energy and emotions into Vietnam. Many of my best friends, and relationships and job contacts are in Vietnam.

I feel like, that in that office, in that room where I sat with the two uniformed men - THAT'S where they normally blacklist people. I don't know for sure, but it felt like it. The way he said 'it's ok, you can come back to Vietnam'.

Anyways, I was comforted by his words that I could return to Vietnam. He took me to the immigration desk, they stamped my passport, we laughed a friendly laugh, which put me in a positive mood. and then I walked through the security check and then... I was free, after a week, a solid week of the most insane stress! The most insane stress I've ever felt in my life, probably. ha.

I walked to my flight gate, and in front of me through the glass, I saw the airplane, the Singapore Airlines airplane that would take me back to the UK, and (phew) and I breathed a sigh of relief, and I took a picture of the airplane.

I boarded the plane and I saw the air stewardesses in their Singapore Airlines uniform and I thought ooo how exotic! That was my first foreign experience since Covid began in March 2020, because since then, it has been too difficult to leave and enter Vietnam, so all my expat friends and I just stayed in Vietnam, since Covid began!

I slept for most of the journey back to England.

The airport when I arrived in London, was a beautiful place! I met my Dad. It was beautiful because there were so many happy families there, more than usual! Happy families being reunited. Because of Covid! Many people who were arriving that day had not seen their families for a very VERY long time! There were lots of hugs, lots of tears, people crying with joy. Yea, it was beautiful, a bit like the opening scene from that movie Love Actually, but, more emotional, if anything.

We drove back, my father and I. We had a good chat. My mother was very happy to see me, actually, she had been more stressed over the previous 2 weeks than me! 

I had to do a ten day quarantine. I had some English tea, some beans on toast, and enjoyed the home comforts, English traditional foods that I always miss when living in Asia.

Since then, I've caught up with my best friends here in the UK, my oldest friends, people I've known since I was 7 years old! It's great to see everyone again! I think I'll use this opportunity to reconnect with my life here in England. I want to become a part of people's lives again, after living away on and off in Asia for 9 years.  I want to spend more time with my four nieces and nephews! All of them are less than four years old. So, they don't really know me.

I am a myth to them, the mythical uncle Tristan

For the last four years, I've worked at an international school, so the only time I've seen people in the UK is just a few weeks here, a few weeks there. So I'm really happy to be spending a much longer time in England.

How long? So right now, I'm thinking maybe 6 months. I'm going to try to visit Italy and Portugal for a few weeks, enjoy Christmas here in the UK and then leave probably just after Christmas.

My ideas right now are, I'll probably return to HCMC, Saigon in Vietnam, there are many good jobs there and it's a fun place to live as an expat. I have many friends there, and I know the city as I used to live there for two years.

OR, I'm also thinking of moving to Mexico. So many people have said amazing things about Mexico! So, I'll do some research. Or maybe Portugal! I'll travel to Portugal this October with my friend from university. If you live in Portugal and want to meet up, please message me on the SEL Facebook page.

So, next I'll live in HCMC, in Vietnam, Mexico, or Portugal. If you are from Mexico or Portugal, maybe you can recommend some towns for me to research! 

I need a population of at least say 80,000 people, a beach, surfing, if possible and you know, other young people there. If you can recommend some towns, please tell us on the Simple English Listening FB page or message me.

Please stay subscribed to this podcast! I will release new episodes, when I have free time. maybe once per month or once every three weeks or so.  Also, please listen to the last podcast if you haven't already - it is about the story, the history of the USA! I will release part two, next time!

Take care my friends and all the best to you!