Camping out in times of coronavirus

By Lan Huong    March 30, 2020 | 02:58 am PT
As school breaks are extended and popular tourist destinations shut down over the Covid-19 pandemic, some urban residents are packing bags and heading out to explore the wild.

Truong Van Vi, 44, of Hanoi seeks to take his kids outdoors instead of letting them play video games and watch TV all day. Since the novel coronavirus outbreak has ruled out travel and visit to public parks, Vi chooses suburban locations with a lake and fresh air for family excursions at the weekend.

Vi’s family of four went to an ecological park next to Dong Quan Lake in Soc Son District of Hanoi and camped there on March 15. At the camping site, Vi took pleasure in fishing while his children explored their surroundings and played games.

Vi’s family camps at the Ham Rong Lakeside (*) next to Dong Quan Lake.

Truong Van Vi’s family camps at the Ham Rong Lakeside next to Dong Quan Lake in Hanoi's Soc Son District.

Vi said his kids were delighted to camp there after being cooped up at home for so long during the extended school break. "It's great for the kids to hang out since the blue light emitted by electronic screens is unhealthy, especially over long periods." 

There were only three or four families at the camp site, and each tent was set up over 20 meters apart, ensuring there was no chance of contagion. For abundant safety against contagion, the Ham Long camp site does not allow people to stay overnight.

For the trip, Vi got a tent, foldable chairs, eating utensils, lunchboxes, and medical supplies like masks and hand sanitizers for extra precaution. Barbecue grills can be rented at the campground. The trip cost VND600,000 ($26) for the family of four plus fuel. 

Vi said while it is important for people to be cautious and practice safety for themselves and their family, it should not turn into paranoia. Thus, short family trips are fine as long as they comply with anti-virus rules such as avoiding crowded places, eating out and using public transport.

In recent months, as the effects of coronavirus hit businesses, Nguyen Trang of Ho Chi Minh City and her husband decided to embark on short trips of two or three days. She chose lowland destinations near water bodies for convenience. "Since we are camping to avoid the virus, the site has to be fairly empty, rural and far from residential areas," she said.

Their most recent trip was to the Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park at the far end of the manmade Tuyen Lam Lake in the Central Highlands town of Da Lat. Before that the couple visited Dau Tieng Lake, Vietnam’s largest irrigation reservoir in Binh Duong Province and Doi Nhai beach in Vung Tau Town, southern Vietnam.

A group of two to five friends usually accompany the married couple on their adventure. Before each trip, Trang briefly researches the features of their destination and the weather. She also carefully packs their bags with equipment such as a tent, tarp, utensils, and food. Her attitude is to stay healthy and be cautious but fearless. During the whole trip, she avoids contact with strangers other than gas station attendants and food vendors.

Trang said these trips help her fulfill her passion for vehicles and travel. Instead of staying in the city and living in fear of Covid-19, she has traveled new roads, breathed fresh air and connected with nature. "Instead of five-star hotels, we opt for the millions of stars in the night sky."

Hoang Tuan Anh of Da Nang City also enjoys visiting natural spots. On March 21-22, with his family and close friends, he camped overnight at Hoa Bac Village of the Co Tu ethnic group outside Da Nang. He said this trip helped him explore another side of his city.

"Besides famous tourist attractions, Da Nang is also home to many other gorgeous, unexplored landscapes. At the camp site, our children can run around freely, breathe fresh air and be physically active."

In the evening the family gathers around a small fire, grills delicious food and enjoys a completely different experience from urban life. The trip costs VND300,000-350,000 ($13-15) per person, including food and equipment rent.

Family members paddle and take a dip in the stream when camping.

Family members paddle and take a dip in the stream when camping.

Anh said to ensure safety the camp site should be fairly vacant to minimize contact with others, and the usual precautions related to wearing masks and frequently sanitizing hands should not be abandoned. He also spoke about the importance of preserving nature and being the thoughtful to our surroundings.

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