Our intrepid intern just went through quarantine. This was her experience.
Through the flood of hot air and the sea of passengers, I can see airport personnel lining the gauntlet. I try not to think of the oppressive heat before they test my temperature.
The hallway is long, and the staff watch our every step as if ready to pounce on anyone daring enough to cough.
Soon, a mass of blue plastic chairs pop up on the horizon like unmarked graves. The staff get ready to descend on us with their questions.
They move down the column of chairs one by one, handing out tags to those of us staying at an Alternative State Quarantine and sifting through our documents. Various languages echo in the otherwise empty hall.
A small Thai lady, reacting to the impatience of the passengers, barks out a harsh admonishment. The men cower.
Row by row, we are led up to the temperature checkpoint. Those of us with temperatures higher than 37˚C are immediately taken to a separate area to cool down. I sit for 40 minutes before I realize that I had damned myself by being honest and admitting to a cough on my form. Only God knows what the future will hold for me now.
Immigration officers swoop in to take our documents and photograph them with their iPhone Xs. They travel in pairs and work through our ranks as slowly as they please. I am taken to get a Covid-19 test along with six others.
The test brings tears to my eyes. I was not aware that my nasal cavity extended so far back into my head. Perhaps feeling sorry for our aimless waiting, they bring food and water for us to scarf down. The spice burns after so long in Japan.
Ambulances from various hospitals come to pick us up and our group diminishes until I am the only one left. Five hours after I land, I am eventually escorted to the ambulance and almost immediately fall asleep.
I have to say there is something vaguely unsettling about having everything disinfected and cleaned after you have touched it.
After receiving confirmation that I would not be upping Thailand’s Covid-19 numbers, I am told to pack up from Samitivej and get in a van headed for the Movenpick Hotel.
Following a well practiced run-through of what I should be expecting during my quarantine and what services they provide at the hotel, I am led to my room. The room is huge and perfectly fills out my K-drama heiress fantasies.
Apparently I can go out into the garden. I would go but I need to book ahead by a day. I also need to wear slippers between my room and the garden because Movenpick has something against shoes.
I don’t know how I spent 10 hours doing nothing but it felt like four and I was alternating between my phone and Netflix.
I tried watching TV. Turns out, people my age don’t really need cable when we have handheld devices and I don’t need 50 different news channels to browse through.
I gave up and asked room service not only for snacks but for their signature carrot cake, too. I regret nothing.
I realize that my whole life has been leading up to these two weeks, isolating in an exceptional state quarantine hotel. I am never forced to leave my living area and I am fed adequately. The food tastes fine and I can order cake from the Rim Khlong cafe. I feel like a very well pampered house cat, which is exactly my dream in life.
I barely remember what life was like before I came into this hotel. The outside world is an illusion. I am the god of this space.
The only notable thing to happen today was that I had my room cleaned again. By now, I know the drill. I am asked to leave my room to enter a separate, smaller room where I wait for the very nice room cleaning ladies to knock on the door and tell me that they are done and pretend they aren’t disgusted with whatever I had lying around.
I’m getting the hang of having to throw everything that came with my meal into a red garbage bag and just leaving it outside my room. Dishes? Who’s she?
Time for my last Covid test. Thanks to my unexpected airport test, this will be my third one. I just need to make my way down to the lobby into a special room where the nurse completely ignores me because she’s set up outside on the balcony. You do you, boo.
I have discovered an allergy. I have also discovered that people get alarmed when you have bright red hives all over your body. Also, I’m being transferred to Samitivej Hospital.
Hospital food isn’t half bad.
I really like the hospital clothes. They’re weirdly comfortable and easy to put on. If I was unafraid of the consequences, I would steal them. They would be the only clothes I wear.
Is it bad to lie when someone asks you if you’re relieved to be free of quarantine?
By Kanicha Nualkhair