Note: I only needed to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel when I traveled back to Hong Kong. It’s 21 days now. Please check the HK government website for more details because it’s constantly changing. (https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/inbound-travel.html).
I traveled from Canada to Hong Kong. Yes, I’m aware it’s during a pandemic and probably not the best decision I’ve made. I’ve been away from my family for some time already and haven’t seen my dad’s side of the family for almost 4 years. After weighing the pros and cons, I decided to come back. Anyway, when I told my friends and family about me coming back, they all mentioned the 14-day mandatory quarantine. They were worried on my behalf that I would go crazy because I’m stuck in a hotel room where there’s no fresh air, it’s boring and I won’t see other humans.
Their concerns were valid. Hong Kong is known to have small spaces. I stayed in a decently sized hotel room but it wasn’t anything like what I was used to in Toronto. Having essentially no human contact wasn’t a problem. I enjoy my alone time tremendously. My main concern was the lack of fresh air. I wasn’t allowed to open windows (I asked the front desk when I checked in) so I kept looking out the window on the 11th floor. All the people I could see from my room seemed like little ants. It made me feel like I was worlds away from everyone else. In some sense, I was.
The first 3 days were pure torture. I was jetlagged and time was going by so slowly. Every hour that passed felt like 60 hours. I don’t remember the last time I felt that. Usually, I’m pretty good at finding ways to occupy my time. I remember thinking ‘how was I going to do this for 11 more days when the first 3 days were like this?
I soon got used to my new temporary environment and it was because I developed a routine. The time difference between HK and Toronto is 13 hours (daylight savings). I woke up early to chat with my friends and family back home. When I was still living in Toronto, I would sleep around 2-3 am every night. I could have kept this up when I was in HK but everyone would be at work so it wasn’t a convenient time to talk. It was only at night when people were making dinner or relaxing after a hard day at work that we can talk comfortably.
I couldn’t spend all my time talking to people. There’s more than enough time to do other things during your 14 days. I wasn’t going to spend my time in quarantine watching shows only because I had higher things on my priority list. The last thing I want was to feel like I wasted my time during quarantine doing nothing.
I made a list of what I wanted to accomplish during my two weeks. Although I didn’t finish every single item on my list, it was something I revisited constantly when I was bored or felt demotivated. I recommend you to do the same. Write down a list of what you want to get done and set up a routine for yourself. It could be something like finish watching a show or applying to jobs as examples.
Everyone is different so their lists will not be the same. Not only will time go by faster, but you’ll feel better as well since you’ve accomplished something when in fact, you could have chosen to accomplish nothing. If you’re like me, you will feel like you could have made better use of your time even when you did do something. I tend to focus on what I could have done more. However, it’s important to focus on the things that you did do. Compliment yourself more instead of criticizing yourself. Don’t make yourself feel bad when you’ve done something good.
When it came to food, I struggled a bit. There wasn’t a kitchen area/oven/microwave so I couldn’t cook or reheat my leftovers. My only options were: room service, my family bringing me food, or ordering food outside. Thank god my hotel accepted food delivery because I heard some hotels don’t. Food delivery apps were my thing. I was living at Tsim Sha Tsui, an area famous for tourism and shopping so there were many choices available. I used mostly FoodPanda, a well-known food delivery app in Hong Kong. There were other options such as Deliveroo and UberEats but UberEats didn’t have as many options here compared to Toronto. With Deliveroo, I had some issues. I tried 3 different credit cards for payment but they all couldn’t go through. It was fine though because FoodPanda had more than enough choices.
I had to order restaurant food every day so I wasn’t very happy about that. Ever since I started to cook more, I prefer home-cooked food. I also couldn’t help but gain weight during quarantine. How can you not when there are all those hidden calories? Oh well. It was only 2 weeks and sometimes, you just have to suck it up. We are in a pandemic after all. I could have asked my family to bring me more home-cooked food but I felt bad if they were always swinging by. If you want home-cooked food, be sure to let your family know.
Something else I recommend you doing is making a list of things you want family/friends to bring you. That is if you are quarantining in a place where you know people in the city. For example, my hotel provided bar soap but I hate bar soap so I asked my mom for some liquid hand soap. I also asked my mom to bring more Clorox/Lysol wipes so I can disinfectant the high touch areas (door handle, sink handle, table, etc). I am positive the hotel has cleaned the room thoroughly but at a time like this, can you really blame me for wanting to personally disinfect some areas?
I’ve read online comments from hotel employees (thank you BuzzFeed) and they don’t actually wash the glass cups/utensils/kettle by the sink and fridge. As a precaution, I also asked my mom to bring a sponge and dish soap so I can wash them again myself. To make your stay as comfortable as possible (and trust me, you’ll appreciate it), it’s probably best to get some additional things. The hotel will most likely not have everything you need. Some people might not have relatives and friends in a city. You should check to see if your hotel offers to purchase any goods on the guests’ behalf for a small service fee. My hotel offered that but it wasn’t necessary because I had my mom.
Time sped up eventually and then I was let out. It was a weird feeling to join society again when you’ve been isolated for so many days. I thought I would be excited to finish my quarantine but my time at the hotel was peaceful and quiet. I do miss the time when I was there but it’s also nice to be with everyone again.
Anyone else feel the same? Has anyone else quarantined in a hotel during COVID-19? Or any other time?