#OurNewNormal | Ryan Patey of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Originally streamed live on Facebook on June 17, I decided to share my current experience in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) during the COVID-19 pandemic before wrapping-up the limited T.O.F.U. Talks series. Find out what life is now like in Vietnam and learn what’s coming next now that I’ve finished documenting the lives of vegans around the world in our new normal.


Although the interview was originally done as a video chat, you can now listen to it in an audio-only format available on most podcast platforms, as well as below.


Ryan: All right. Hi, everybody and welcome to what I guess will be the final episode of the #OurNewNormal series, a T.O.F.U. Talks limited series that I started what seems like a year ago to document the experiences of vegans and vegan businesses and vegan organizations around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Near the beginning, I jokingly did an interview with myself, which maybe some of you picked up on? I’m not sure if the podcast version made that clear, but, yes, episode three, I think, was me interviewing m. In this case right now. I’m not going to do that. I just wanted to have a quick little livestream here to maybe connect with some folks. If anyone had any questions or wanted to share their experiences, and to also kinda give a final update on what life is like here in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and just say thanks to everybody who tuned into the #OurNewNormal series.

Obviously, as I’ve mentioned in posting the last couple of episodes, things have kind of shifted. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely not disappeared, in many places it’s gotten worse probably, the focus of the media and people in general has shifted to, I don’t wanna say more important things, but to definitely things that also need attention, and, partially in an effort to not sort of detract from that, I felt like continuing the series was, I don’t know, kind of not right. See? This lives stuff leads to just not sounding nearly as intelligent. It just seemed inappropriate to continue the series. Plus, in all honesty, I’ve done, well, this’ll be the fortieth, the thirtieth episode and that’s more than I thought I would get when I started, and, in fact, I actually turned down a few people because, like I said, I decided to end it. So, I think ending on thirty is okay.

And, on that note, I guess, here’s a rough idea of what things are like in Saigon, Vietnam. I know I’ve touched on it in some of the episodes while talking with people, but I guess I haven’t done, I haven’t recorded another episode since, like, the end of May. So, not much really changed here in the last few weeks. Sometime in May, they lifted most restrictions, and that’s not just because the government got bored or the people got restless. It’s because the statistics basically support it. Right now, we haven’t had a community involved case in over two months, and, I believe, I’d say at least 90-95% of the cases that have been reported have now been cleared. So, pretty much, the only people that are testing positive at this point are quarantined and have been quarantined for a while. They’re mainly people that came in to repatriate to Vietnam, and there’s also a British airline pilot who has kind of been, like, I guess the biggest case. He was incredibly sick. Has been in the hospital for, I think, about two months now. Was expected to have to undergo a long transplant as kind of his only sort of option to possibly get better, and he actually ended up recovering significantly, and as of, I think, this morning, maybe yesterday, he was up and walking with the help of hospital staff. He’s been taken off of some pretty serious life support measures, and has recovered. I don’t know how much he has of his lung function, basically he’s doing really well, which is amazing to see and hopefully his recovery will happen in full. Vietnam still, as of right now, has recorded no deaths from COVID-19 and I think that’s it, but, needless to say, it feels very much like a different world here.

It was, you know, kinda strange to talk with everybody around the world about their experiences. I know a lot of people I talked with, through various privileges similar to mine, were working from home. So, their life hadn’t been changed drastically, but I obviously did talk to some people who had some significant changes in the way they went about their daily routine, how they were able to do their work, how their kids were able to go about their lives. But for me, right now, I’ve been going to cafes. I’ve been looking at the movie listings to see if there’s anything interesting. Not surprisingly, there’s not really. Cinemas here, and in a few other countries, I guess are kinda bringing back some old blockbusters and showing maybe more Asian films which I’d be okay to go and check out some stuff, but a lot of my friends are not really interested. So, I guess that’s not really going to happen, but, yeah, anytime I go and check the news about back home or say in the States or other parts of the world, it’s kind of a reminder that things are not back to normal for everybody. And, I mean, when I started the series, I had kind of hoped that, maybe, you know, I’d be able to kind of document the end of it too for people, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. There unfortunately isn’t much of an end for a lot of my friends. I know restrictions have been eased. Hopefully, that’s not gonna lead to more serious spikes. Unfortunately, according to some statistics, it is. Despite, you know, suggestions by say the president of the United States that maybe they should just lower testing and then the numbers will just miraculously get better. You know, obviously, if you go back and listen to the series, you’ll know that pretty much everyone I talked to is not supportive of his ideas and various other policies of his. And that in itself is a whole other issue, which thankfully more attention is being paid to and obviously there’s protests going on in the States and other parts of the world that relate to so many other things that need to be addressed. So, I guess, in a way, this our new normal involves more than just life from COVID-19 pandemic, and I hope that involves a lot of positive change. I also touched on that with people during the series. About how the pandemic has led to some interesting changes. Obviously, not quite as drastic as some of the things that are being done through the Black Lives Matter protests, and I hope that, you know, this sort of stuff just continues to progress, and there is no regression like with some other measures that we’ve seen come into place because of the pandemic. And because of the protests. And I don’t know, I could continue on. I don’t think I’m going to because like I said I don’t want to take much more time.

I want to thank everybody who was involved with the #OurNewNormal series and, you know, in terms of people who took the time to talk with me and share their experience in the world, and in terms of people who decided to check it out. All the episodes are, well will be available through Youtube and Facebook, and as well there will be a podcast version. That was a whole learning experience. I’m glad that I did it with the series and, you know, obviously I kinda had to rush a lot of episodes out at once. That’s not really the way you normally would do podcasts, but these are all kind of time sensitive because the longer I wait in releasing them, the longer they’re kind of not really valid and sort of snapshots of the moment. However, I do hope to do a more general T.O.F.U. Talks podcast series, which I guess for those of you interested, if you found the #OurNewNormal podcast interesting, please keep an eye on the magazine’s social pages and website. Probably more the website because I’ve run into more issues with Facebook and I don’t know if that’s gonna continue. It lasted about three months last time, so we’ll see how long it goes this time. But the website is a great place to check that stuff out. Also Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr, and there’s other alternatives to Facebook, but whatever, either way, hopefully I’ll be doing the T.O.F.U. Talks podcasts in, I don’t know, maybe later this month, maybe the next month. That will probably first involve some past episodes that I have done because I have been doing a T.O.F.U. Talks series about general topics around veganism and other things, and then eventually I hope to do more interviews with people, and maybe I’ll do more conversations myself around certain topics. I have had, like I said, I turned down a few other people that I approached to interview about #OurNewNormal. Hopefully, I will be able to follow-up with them to do a T.O.F.U. Talks chat, and, like I said, that’ll be a podcast. I think I’ve got most of the kinks worked out from watching the #OurNewNormal podcast, maybe? I don’t know. But, yeah, I’m interested in the format, even though I don’t really partake in it myself to listen to things. I think it’s an interesting way to get information out to people and I will hopefully be continuing it.

For now, though this is kind of it. It’s early in the morning here in Saigon. I thought maybe some people would be awake on the other side of the world where most of my audiences, and I figured I’d say:

Alright. Gonna end the #OurNewNormal series here. Thank you for checking it out. Thank you to those who got involved. Above all else, please stay safe, wash your hands, whether or not your restrictions are being lifted, you should still wash your hands frequently, and, you know, maybe keep up with that twenty seconds thing because, if we learn anything from this, it’s the fact that most people were washing their hands in a fairly ineffective manner. Hopefully, we’ll learn more than that from this whole, pandemic, and, hopefully, we’re continuing to learn from things like Black Lives Matter protests. Please get involved. Like I said, stay safe, do whatever you can within your means, and I guess I will see you around in some other way. For now, that’s it for me. I’m gonna get out of the sunlight that I thought would provide good lighting, but maybe doesn’t quite do it. And maybe I’m gonna go get breakfast because the markets and everything are opened here. I know it might sound weird to you and it probably induces some anxiety, I apologize for that, but I assure you that what’s happening here is more based on statistics and reality than a desire to go back to the old ways. So I feel safe. I hope you do too and see you around.

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