My husband Floyd and I have just returned home to Taiwan after a summer in California visiting relatives. Taiwan is taking the current COVID situation very seriously, and all incoming travelers are now required to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks upon arrival. I decided to record my quarantine experiences for anyone who might be interested (and to give myself one more thing to do in what I’m calling my luxury incarceration)! Today is day 0, because the 14 days don’t technically start until tomorrow. (They have to be 14 full days.)
Both our flights (LA to Hong Kong; Hong Kong to Taipei) were fairly empty. Getting through the Taipei airport was an interesting adventure, very different from any of our previous arrivals. First I had to buy a Taiwan SIM card for my new phone (required for all incoming quarantinees), which was pretty simple since they had a table selling them right after we got off the plane. There was a short line for that – the only line we had to stand in the whole time. Then there was a huge hassle about how to access and take screenshots of certain messages and quarantine-related documents on both Floyd’s and my phones, but some helpful airport personnel who sort of spoke English were finally able to help us.
Next we had to walk all over the place, always with uniformed personnel standing ready to point out the way, and always being followed by a masked and gowned cleaning crew spraying disinfectant and wiping the floors down behind us. After getting through customs and immigration as usual, we picked up our boxes and duffel bag from the baggage claim, where a sign informed us what had been done to them.
Along with showing our phone screenshots and other extra info at extra places, we had to take rapid COVID tests (these were in addition to the PCR tests we took a few days ago that actually let us fly). For these ones, we were escorted to private booths where we had to spit in jars, wipe down the outsides of the jars, double-bag them, and hand them to more masked and gowned personnel, who stuck big “quarantine Taiwan” stickers on our shoulders to prove we had completed that step.
Finally we were funneled outside to the quarantine taxi waiting area, where we had to submit documentation about our quarantine hotel arrangements and then get sprayed down with sanitizer, along with our bags. (All of that took almost two hours, even though, as I said, there were pretty much no lines. Actually, the whole airport was almost deserted.) To our disappointment, they had run out of the van-sized taxis, and the regular ones couldn’t fit all our luggage (three large boxes and a duffel bag, plus carryons and a few other small items). So we had to pay for two taxis, which dropped us and our things off at the HiOne Gallery quarantine hotel in Taichung.
Checking into the hotel was complicated. It didn’t help that neither of us speaks much Chinese, and the man trying to check us in didn’t speak English. There were all sorts of COVID- and quarantine-related things to deal with as part of the check-in process, too. We would never have managed without calling a couple bilingual friends of ours and asking them to translate over the phone! All this happened outside and in the entryway, with the expansive lobby standing empty, tape on the floor showing potentially contaminated guests like us which way to walk to the elevator so we wouldn’t contaminate anything else.
Though it will be hard to spend the next two weeks alone (no, husbands and wives aren’t even allowed to quarantine together!), I’m grateful for how nice my room is. I had very little idea of what to expect, but it’s better than I dared hope for. Tomorrow I’ll post a little video of my room.
A lot has been said (and wondered) by various people about the meals that are included in the cost of most quarantine hotels here. I decided to take pictures of each meal to include in my blog, for anyone who might be curious.
That’s all for now. It’s time for bed. Here’s hoping jetlag will let me sleep!
See later posts in the series here (once they’re live):