The author shared her experiences of traveling in a pandemic and living in a two-week quarantine hotel.
Quarantine. Just the word itself can give anyone the feeling of stress and panic. But my family decided to travel to Taiwan in the summer of 2021 to visit my grandparents and relatives when Taiwan safety restrictions are high along with the covid cases. Here’s what two weeks of being in a quarantine hotel was like.
Before we started traveling, we had to go through an intensive process. First off, you have to have some form of Taiwan citizenship in order to fly to Taiwan. Both my sister and I have dual citizenships, so we weren’t worried. Next, we had to order plane tickets before booking hotel rooms at quarantine hotels. At first, my family wanted to pick one closest to home but after a bit of debating, we decided to spend a little extra money and choose a nice hotel even though it's a little farther away from home. No regrets! One last thing that we had to do was get a negative PCR-Covid test which we did from our local CVS. The test had to be at most 2 days before your flight. At the airport we filled out Departure Place Declaration Certificates and Health Declaration Certificates and showed them our negative tests. Soon, we were on flight!
Going to the Hotel
After we landed, a huge line of Health Safety workers stood outside of the arrival gate and sold SIM cards to get through the two weeks. It took a long time, and we were asked to fill out Departure Place Declaration Certificates and Health Declaration Certificates again due to an error in the system, but the worker was extremely kind and worked as fast as possible for us. We grabbed our bags and ordered a taxi from the airport where we got sprayed down with disinfectant from head to toe. Arriving at the hotel took 15 minutes, and when we arrived, they had us wear gloves and shoe nets while riding in the elevator up to our rooms. This will be the last time my sister, mom, and I see each other in person for another 2 weeks!
Outside the door was a large, padded area of cotton that was taped down onto the floor, along with a chair which is where they would deliver breakfast, lunch, and dinner for you. Usually, you’re allowed to order takeout and delivery service from nearby restaurants, but since Taiwan’s at Level 3 emergency now, it’s been suspended and only family and friends can deliver to you. Inside was a little snack bar with a fridge filled with two each of Coke, Sprite, Pocari Sweat, and Mr. Brown’s Coffee. On the bar were a water heater, two packs of ramen, and a packaged bag filled with tea and coffee. They also gave trash bags and a large box of bottled water. Our rooms had two beds, but only one of them was made- the other bed only had a bedsheet. In the bathroom, we were given two bags of amenities. One bag was filled with soaps like hand soap, shampoo, and shower gels: enough to last 14 days. And the other bag contained cotton buds, a comb, toothbrushes, and shaving kits. Everything was packaged so carefully, even the plumber!
What Have I Been Up To?
I was extremely stressed about having to spend time all by myself for two weeks, but it quickly became exactly what I needed. I very quickly fell into a routine of waking up at 7am everyday to get ready for breakfast, which they deliver at 8am, worked until they delivered lunch at 12pm, then watch shows and waited for dinner at 6pm. They also collected trash every day at 3pm. After dinner, I would work on what I needed to then took a nice long shower. Before bed, I would watch TV, usually BBC Lifestyle. For the first week, I spent the time working on my four-year plan for college and watching shows on Taiwan Netflix. My sister and I would facetime and Teleparty sometimes whenever we were bored, but we always called at dinnertime to watch a show together. My grandmother would group call us at lunch and ask how we’re feeling and then afterwards I would continue onto my work. In the mornings, my girlfriend and I would talk for a few hours and at night, we’ll message a few words before she goes to work. Before I left the States, she dropped by my house and handed me a new container of deodorant that they use which I keep by my bedside. I quickly got into watching TV, particularly BBC Earth and Warner TV. Showering after dinner and lying in bed is probably my favorite part of the day because the water pressure at this hotel is so comfortable and the bed was so soft. Contrary to popular belief, the days fly by very quickly and soon we hit our 50% mark on our stay here!
The view from my window was of an apartment building and a little bit of the city. Every time I got bored, I would look out my window and around day 5, my sister and I were keeping eye on a stray cat that lived on the apartment grounds. I would call and message my friends, do Duolingo, watch a LOT of shows and workout. My uncle and aunt were extremely kind and asked us if we needed to bring anything. When they came, they got my sister and I each a cup of boba tea and two cups of unsweetened tea from Comebuy (a Taiwanese boba chain shop), cookies, and a pack of maixiang milk tea. We were extremely grateful for their trip which we recently learned is only 15 minutes away from our house! Not too long after they decided to drop off milk tea and cookies again. Needless to say, I love and appreciate my aunt and uncle so incredibly much. In fact, I’m still munching and drinking right now!
Traveling during the pandemic is extremely stressful, especially when countries like Taiwan have extreme safety restrictions (which is perfectly reasonable). The idea of staying in a room by yourself with no human contact may seem terrifying, but for the sake of the country and most possibly yourself physically and mentally, it may just be exactly what you need (and enforced!).