Travelling in the midst of COVID-19
For me and I suspect for most people, the world of Coronvirus is quite a surreal and challenging situation on many fronts. There is an increased sense of insecurity about health (physical and mental), finances, work, friendship, family and what the future may hold in general. However, isolating at home had become the new normality. It was strange to start with, not usually being a home-based worker, but strange slowly became the status quo and the status quo becoming a new sense of comfort. The trickle of familiarity and routine helping to provide that stability in a new world. This newfound comfort would however need to wait.
Yesterday, I needed to fly to Hong Kong due to family reasons. This resulted in a late notice 12-hour flight, being electronically tagged and an 11-hour COVID-19 assessment near the airport, before being released to my hotel for 14 days in quarantine with no ability to leave my hotel room. It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks...
Whilst this is day one for me, I anticipate these will be some the challenges of being quarantined in one room:
Quarantine is hard. However, put frosted windows in a hotel room and you have no view of life outside for 14 days. With the windows locked for safety, this also means no natural sunlight and no natural air. When I discovered this, it dealt a big blow to my overall morale. A view, fresh air, sunlight – all of these things you take for granted every single moment of your life, so to lose these, even for a two-week period, is tough. So, currently it feels a little like prison.
Some level of exercise is important for most people and trying to maintain any kind of fitness or healthiness from a hotel room is challenging. Yes, there are online exercises to follow but it’s not the same and motivation isn’t easy. Going for a walk or a run once a day in the UK during isolation is currently a luxury.
Staying anywhere for a prolonged period will inevitably require clothes to be washed. However, due to COVID-19, laundry services are now temporarily suspended in the hotel. Whilst washing detergent is available, washing clothes in a hotel room is not the easiest thing to do owing to the total lack of drying space for dripping wet clothes. Also, a small washbasin does not double up well as a washing machine.
On the contrary, I suspect the following more obvious challenges may not be as bad as one might think:
1. Loneliness and boredom
Yes, there will be moments when being effectively imprisoned is not the most exciting situation to be in. However, aside from the copious amounts of work I have, I brought a ukulele with me to try to learn to play, a Rubik’s cube to complete as quickly as possible under two minutes, a book and (failing these) there is YouTube.
2. Food variety
Look, being in one room for a 14 day period provides few luxuries, so any variety is welcome. Thankfully, Hong Kong is full of an eclectic mix of genres of food. Add that to the fantastic Food Panda app and you get almost any food you want delivered straight to your cell. Eating is one of the most exciting times of the day, it genuinely makes me happy. This happiness will be outweighed (pun intended) by my 18 stone weight gain by day 13.
These are my observations at day one and I am sure things will change. In the meantime, time to eat my body weight in dim sum and barbecued meat.
Any tips on how to keep generally sane are gratefully received.
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