While far from being a distant memory yet, the word has by and large gotten back to normal with regards to moving around. Therefore we are now at a stage where we can reflect a little. What then was it like traveling and eating during Coronavirus, or Covid-19?
Well no two stories are, or can be the same, but I can at least give my take on things, which saw me go to various places, as well as get locked down in Cambodia.
Traveling at the start of Coronavirus
By the time Covid-19 had truly kicked off an indeed when it was known as Coronavirus I was actually doing the Least Visited Countries Tour, this meant that by the time shit really hit the fan when I was in Beihai China, I had already been to 10+ countries in 2020.
Hong Kong then decided to close the border with China, so I batted. Hasty retreat through Hong Kong. I then moved nomadically through Thailand, Laos, New Zealand and Vietnam, before settling to a degree in Cambodia and Siem Reap, before I was locked down there.
During this time countries were falling like dominoes, slowly just closing their doors. I could have gotten myself repatriated to the UK, but thought better of it.
The two stages of lockdown in Cambodia
Amazingly Cambodia managed to stay coronavirus free for ages after the pandemic started, only for some rich guys to bring in some Chinese hookers and then it spread like wildfire.
This meant things moved from being paradise to lockdown hell. At this point I had moved to Phnom Penh and found myself locked in my apartment, with some shopping trips allowed, but there also being zones, as well as an alcohol ban. Said ban merely meant the sales of tea cups went up though…….
I actually enjoyed this time to a large degree and certain things like visiting and empty Angkor Watt, as well as seeing Phnom Penh like it must have looked after the Khmer Rouge emptied the cities was abstract to say the least.
Working during Coronavirus
Being a travel agent meant that work all, but dried up for me and I had to put up with what was at best a substance salary for the most part. To cope with this I concentrated on writing, both for my own blog and indeed as journalist.
This saw me get a job at Khmer Times famous although not so reliable a newspaper….
And of course we persevered with YPT, with a tour to Chernobyl ironically being one of our first trips. For me personally I began my travels in February of 2022 when I visited Syria, indeed for the first time in my life. This if course does not count my domestic travels.
Traveling domestically during Coronavirus
For many of us though, myself included it was for a while all about domestic travel. For me this meant Cambodia, with me having memorable trips to Koh Rong, as well as Koh Trong and of course Anlong Veng among many many other places.
When international travel did finally reimburse everything was about having the vaccine and proving you had the vaccine. Because I initially had Sinovac this meant me paying a “gift” to get Johnson and Johnson.
We then of course had to carry our vaccine cards bloody everywhere, as well as wear masks at all times, Many of us, myself included thought these things would never change, but of course they did. Sadly the pace has been slower in both China and still so in North Korea both places quite personal to me.
Eating during Coronavirus in Cambodia
Eating during Coronavirus was of course different depending on where you were, but also had a lot of similar things in common. Mainly this meant stuff like not eating in restaurants, and of cours social distancing.
This made eating during Coronavirus in Cambodia very hard, with restaurants largely off of the menu and food delivery apps being all the rage. For me personally I also got to rely quite a lot on cooked food.
Another facet which greatly amused me was bars selling food so that they could get around the laws around Coronavirus, with the many contractions making very little sense at all.
Street Food and eating during Coronavirus
I think though one of the things that made me most sad was the plight of street food during coronavirus, with most vendors having to stop work in favour of “real restaurants” many of which did not survive.
The same of course could be said for smaller restaurants too, with the sight of closed places being an ongoing and pretty sad one. While streets also disappeared, such as Pub Street in Phnom Penh, which slowly drifted into a sleazy slumber before finally dying.
And the resurgence?
Business does always come back, even if it has changed to some degree and this can be seen, not just in Cambodia, but far and wide.
For me it also saw in a lot of changes, not all of them good, and some which sadly will probably never be undone. One day I will write a while detailed epic about the time, but alas that time is not now and traveling and eating during Coronavirus is quickly becoming a memory again.
Things are not yet exactly normal, with North Korea opening and an end to the war in Ukraine being my biggest benchmarks for that, but many things also are and new opportunities, such as in Nauru may not have even materialized were it not for what we went through.