(Published on 16 March 2020)
The situation at the border surprised him.
Matej Šemšej from Bratislava was enjoying holiday in South Vietnam, in the provincial seaside town of Vung Tau. When the situation around the corona virus began to deteriorate in Slovakia and the government took strict measures, he began to consider whether to extend his stay or go home. There was no indication that the situation will get worse in Vietnam, everything was under control.
“In the end, I decided to return sooner also because there were rumours about possible flight cancellations and airport closures. I had to fly via Doha to Vienna. I started my return trip on Saturday, March 14, at the lunch time in Vietnam”, he described.
To the airport in Saigon he took a van, in which he spent a two-hour crazy drive. Already at the airport he realized that his decision to return home was right. They took various measures in Vietnam – tourists were not allowed to enter the country anymore and everyone on the street must wear a face mask. “People on the plane were disciplined. About 80 percent of them wore masks”, Matej says.
After eight hours of flight he landed in Doha, where the situation was worse. The airport was crowded, this time very few people were protecting their faces. “I prayed that no one on the flight to Vienna will have a high temperature, otherwise the whole plane will end up quarantined in Vienna. Flight was full but pleasant, as well as landing in Vienna”, he wrote.
After landing in Vienna everyone had to fill in an entry form. “I was surprised how basic it was. Even Vietnamese asked for more detailed information before the entry, they have been asking about latest diseases during the last two weeks, visited places etc. No one asked this in Vienna.”
He passed the passport control, there was no measure of body temperature or detailed luggage check. Matej brought from Vietnam 800 face masks, which were still easily available there. “I will donate them to doctors, nurses and paramedics. I am already in contact with several facilities and we are trying to solve how to deliver them and also meet all hygienic procedures,” Matej added.
How to get to the border?
“At the airport, I took the train to the last village before the border, Wolfstahl (near to the crossing Berg), which cost EUR 10.50. It was a ghost train, we were three. 45 minutes later I was already walking to the border, a beautiful sunny morning 5-kilometre walk. Unlike during the socialism, in the opposite direction.
At the border he counted five cops. One of them checked his passport and with the instruction to continue he let him enter his country. “After Vienna, my second disappointment. Again, no temperature measurement (as promised by the Prime Minister on television), no instruction about quarantine. At least they had masks,” Matej said.
His father was waiting for Matej behind the border, with a face cover in his face. He brought Matej’s car which Matej used to drive home. He unloaded a bicycle from it and used it to drive home. They also kept enough distance. His father also managed to deliver food to Matej’s apartment, so he can handle the 14-day quarantine.
“My journey went smoothly, but at the time, the first cases of Slovaks who got stuck in Morocco began to spread, many flights from various parts of Europe began to be canceled. Rumours started to spread, that more airports will be closed, isolation of countries has slowly started to take place. That’s why I keep crossing my fingers to all, who are returning home”, Matej closed.