Marcel Bedard and his spouse Paula Britton-Bedard from Salmon Arm hold coconut drinks while enjoying a spacious boat ride in Vietnam. They were two of a sparse group of travellers touring the country. (Contributed)

COVID-19 adds a little sunshine to the adventures of a Salmon Arm couple

Timing was perfect for a couple of travellers touring Vietnam

Unlike many people, the Corona virus brought Salmon Arm’s Marcel Bedard a little good fortune.

Marcel and his spouse Paula Britton-Bedard had booked a trip to Vietnam leaving Feb. 15 and returning home March 4.

When they left, the virus was being talked about, but nothing like the current reality.

On Feb. 15, they flew from Vancouver to Taipei, Taiwan. Then they made their way to Vietnam starting in Hanoi and travelling south to Da Nang and on to Ho Chi Minh City.

They spent a few days in each place along the way and soon found that, as travellers, they were something of a rarity.

Because no one was travelling from China due to the virus, and because people from China make up about 80 per cent of Vietnam’s tourist traffic, Marcel and Paula found tourist transportation, accommodations and many tourist attractions relatively free of people. The lack of tourists translated into extra special treatment for them.

“All our hotels were upgraded and our flights,” Marcel explained, showing photos of luxurious-looking hotel rooms. “We were pretty surprised.”

On some of the flights, there were only six or seven passengers.

The couple also took a number of boats, travelling on rivers and once on the ocean to see their destinations.

On one trip, “there should have been eight or nine groups and there was just my wife and I, the guide and the boat operator,” Marcel said.

Asked if they were worried about contracting the virus, he said no.

“No, everything was great, they treated us great. We had our temperatures checked at every airport, and we went to three or four different airports. It was 37. 5 every time.”

Read more: New wheels for bylaw officer

Read more: Vietnam visit focused on waste management, greenhouse gases

Read more: B.C. adventurer takes two wheels through Vietnam, China

On one overnight cruise, there should have been 60 people on it but there were only 30.

At a lunch spot in Ho Chi Ming City, normally 100 people would be there but Marcel and Paula were the only customers.

There was also a long beautiful beach with just a few people enjoying it.

And Marcel and Paula were alone touring a temple in Da Nang.

Marcel said people spoke very little about the virus, unless he brought it up. One fellow told him the temperature is too hot in Vietnam for such a virus to survive.

Marcel said although it took a few days to get used to the country, particularly the way everyone gets around on motorcycles packed tightly together on roads, he really enjoyed the trip.

One outstanding memory was the meeting of two worlds – a man standing in a rice field with his water buffalo while busy texting on his cell phone. Other highlights of the trip included the many interesting stops, such as the pearl fields, the temples and a cooking course he took because he is trained as a chef.

Known better as Salmon Arm’s bylaw enforcement officer, Marcel said his trip is not a popular topic of conversation with his co-workers.

He explained with a smile that because his fellow staffers had to cancel their trips, “I can’t say anything about my trip because they all get mad.”


marthawickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

#Salmon Armtravel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Marcel Bedard from Salmon Arm pops out of part of an immense tunnel network under Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. (Contributed)

Just Posted

Sicamous district office reopening with new COVID-19 policies

The office will be open again on June 1.

Shuswap Emergency Program warns residents to prepare now for flooding

Risk of extreme flooding of Salmon River rises with forecast of high temperatures followed by rain

RCMP request public’s help in locating missing Salmon Arm man

Ken Derkach is a familiar face to many, one of the city’s residents who is without a home

Drunk man on dirt bike among May motor vehicle calls for Chase RCMP

Other calls resulted in excessive speed tickets and the arrests of two prohibited drivers

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Booze on Kelowna beaches? Mayor says ‘not at the moment’

Mayor Colin Basran says alcohol in public spaces is not on council’s radar right now — but that could change

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

VIDEO: Police look for suspect seen tripping elderly woman in Burnaby

The elderly woman was walking near the SkyTrain station when she was randomly tripped

Summerland amends procedure for virtual council meetings, adding transparency

During COVID-19 pandemic, meetings have been held using online technology

Serious vehicle incident closes Highway 97 near Falkland

DriveBC says an assessment is underway; delays expected

Most Read