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The Gratitude Vietnam Retreat Venue Blog

Nationwide Social Distancing Begins in Vietnam

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

Dear Friends,

As always our love and thoughts are with you all, during this challenging and uncertain period of time.

The past week here has been eventful to say the least!

On Saturday 28th March, the Government stepped up containment measures across the country. This included limiting public transport between cities and provinces, changes to laws around hotel registrations and new guests, and a full-suspension of non-essential services nationwide. Wednesday 1st April saw a move to nationwide social distancing (which in effect is the same as a lockdown in other countries, though it is not called this here). Everyone is now being asked to stay at home and restrict movement to food shopping, emergency medical needs and essential work, until 15th April as a minimum. We are fortunate that this measure is, at present, a preventative one as the government continues to maintain a phenomenal effort to trace, quarantine and test individuals and linked cases. The numbers in our own province remain remarkably low, and this 'nationwide social distancing' is in affect to allow the government to divert needed resources to Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, whilst preventing and allowing the tracking of clusters in other districts.

These sudden changes led to a coming together of a beautiful community here at Gratitude Vietnam. We have welcomed Chris and Julie from Australia, Amy and Susan from the USA, and our lovely housemate Fran (who joined us at Gratitude in September and never left!) into the villa. We now have a wonderfully balanced, eclectic, diverse and mutually respectful, loving and supportive family of 14, ranging from 1-70+ years young. Hannah and I would like to publicly thank each and every one of you for your understanding, flexibility, love and open communication, as we navigate this unique situation as a team!

As a community, we have put stringent measures in place to play our part in protecting each other and the wider community. Whilst we are fortunate to have freedom within the villa, everyone is observing government measures, shopping communally and minimising movement as much as possible. This is made so much easier by the fantastic delivery services available here, and we are able to order and receive the vast majority of our supplies in this way.

Following our first community gathering, we now have 'cooking couples'! From Thursday-Tuesday, each couple is preparing dinner for the masses, and we've already enjoyed three incredibly delicious meals! Wednesdays are take-away and movie night with the TV hooked up to surround sound in the open-air sala and beanbags, bolsters and yoga mats for comfort! On Tuesdays and Fridays, we are offering guided sound-bowl meditations, and hope to live-stream these very soon as an offering to our wider community. We are at once deeply grateful for this amazing family, and intensely aware of how fortunate we are to have physical connection and hugs, moments of laughter and joy, tears and sadness together, when so many are home alone.

Monday evening, we enjoyed the fantastic efforts of 6-year old entrepreneur, Tilly Gluckstein! Having been at home since schools closed here in early February, Tilly has set up her own business and is making pizza dough for delivery within Hoi An. We'll be interviewing Tilly early next week and look forward to sharing a video from the Gratitude Community. (If you're in Hoi An and haven't yet sampled her products, her dough is delicious, so do go ahead and place an order!)

We're devastated to share with you that on our way home from enjoying Tilly's pizza, Poppet went missing and has not yet returned. Our neighbours shared with us that they saw two men on a bike with her, and having ruled out the meat market which has been closed for at least the past ten days (and the worst possible outcome), we are still hopeful that she will be returned to us, or at the very least, has found another loving home.

The support we have received from our wonderful Vietnamese friends within Hoi An in trying to find her has been truly incredible. Those of you who have joined us for retreats, know quite how special this little bundle of joy is to us, and we know how much love she has shown to all who have passed through our doors. In amongst the daily challenges this whole situation has posed, we are heartbroken, but recognise that this heartbreak is being mirrored around the world. Anticipation of the worst, hoping for the best and trying to stay grounded in the present with so much uncertainty is reflected in so many stories we are reading. The grief and fear mingled with hope seems universal, and whilst our foreign status (as mentioned in our last blog) makes us a symbol of fear whenever we venture out in Hoi An, we are eternally grateful for the friendships we have formed since being here. In particular, the efforts of Mr. Vu (from Same Same But Better) and the landlady of our former house here on Cam Nam, Hana, who have helped us to visit different locations, raise awareness in the community and shown compassion for the peculiar western adoption of animals as family, has not only given us hope of her return, but also that once this has passed, we will once again be welcomed, not feared by the community at large. (If you live in Hoi An and would be able to share this poster in your street, we would be extremely grateful).

Once again, we would like to offer deep gratitude for the outpouring of love and support, both within our immediate environment and from friends and family around the world. We're immensely relieved to be at a point where we can stop, stand still and breathe, for a short while at least. Having been given the green light by our local police and with current regulations in effect until 15th April at the earliest, we're entering a welcomed haitus, and look forward to sharing guest blogs within this time as our community shares their individual stories and journeys!

With gratitude and love to all,


for just a second.

a moment.

and be grateful.

even if life isn't perfect.

but thankful

for the life you get to live.

for the stories.

the adventure.

and for those you are blessed to love.


- Rachel Marie Martin

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