Realities of nomadism in the new era of COVID19

My amazing visa-help friends, well I think of them as friends, lol, since they got me out of a pinch in March, they are online, and I think, they are going to help me, if they can, I mean if the government says it is cool to extend again and again and again. I mean, well, come on, I’m in Vietnam. Why would I leave? So. Could I do it? I just emailed to ask. Might I get to extend my visa again where I am? If anyone could do it, they could do it. As they know what they are doing. Living in Asia for a long time has helped me figure out how to do this kind of stuff. Who to ask, what to say. Last night at a restaurant they told me and a new friend we couldn’t sit outside but, me being the daughter of my father, I, um, like my father, have a way, somehow of eloquently explaining that yes!, the architecture and courtyard and open air are exactly why we came, a not untrue thing.

But normally, coming straight from the west you wouldn’t question it if someone said, ‘That area is closed.’ It was the beautifully-designed area. Which was why we were there. It was exactly this very beautifully made area with its perfect uplighting and most importantly no one else around which was then, momentarily… after sketchbook, right, okay, you’re with me, right, after sketchbook was shared… this sketch, that one, you like it? Cool, so this is what I’m here to do, write and draw about this lovely city… and yes, this is my notebook!, (thank you P, that thing is awesome). So they said okay. Right. Space was suddenly opened, magically, because… well, yeah.

A sketchbook. Architect-y looking things in there.

Caring about stuff. You share the drawings, and they gave you the space. Perfect.

Who says it doesn’t pay to be an artist?

This is from my book ‘Breakfast in Cambodia’. I made it in Kampot about 10 minutes before meeting AP, randomly. Fun.


But I was talking about visas. I had to figure it out, on the fly, in a kind of flurry back in March. Guess why. Right. So, all this time later, I’m camped out quietly waiting for borders to open but mostly just realizing that my day to day is basically the same as ever. I work from home anyway. I don’t like to go out much. I think I might write some articles or something about this COVID19 experience. Before that though, practicalities are at hand.

The current visa’s ending. Where to go? Researching today. Hard. Nowhere is easy and a quarantine will await me if I go somewhere and they see my passport. Doesn’t matter I haven’t been there in six years. Just: ‘Oh.’ And if they point me to some room where I have to share space with people from ‘where I’m from’ (though I am ‘nationality-neutral’, hey, but they don’t recognize that at immigration, trust me, I got into…w el, I should keep that out of the public sphere), anyway, I’m like, now what.

But surfing, searching, I realize a different era is here. For example, all this kind of craic is about to change:

However if you are holding a passport from a wealthy country, and look presentable, the immigration officials will not ask for any of this, and will simply take your $30 and pass you a visa sticker. You then queue up at passport control, who will put the sticker in your passport.–Wikipedia on East Timor.

In other words, travel and who gets to and why we go and all our reasons surrounding that, and safety, and public health are going to swirl around and make us all rewrite it all. Nomadism, as we used to know it, is over.