Did you miss any of the earlier posts in this series? Find them here:
Today got off to an exciting start. When I heard the thrice-daily squeak of the meal trolley starting down the hall, I peered through the peephole in my door and saw three Real Live Human beings out there delivering breakfasts! Just to clarify, for anyone in doubt: yes, there really were three of them together! I saw all three of them all at once right outside my door!!!
As if that wasn’t enough, breakfast was exciting too. To my shock, it contained NO BOK CHOI! Not only that, but there were no green leafy vegetables involved at all! That was the first time that has happened in any meal here. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Did it even count as a meal without bitter stir-fried greens?? Oh well, at least there was some form of pork, a mysterious translucent glutinous glob, and two fried items (not to mention the boiled egg that has shown up at every breakfast except yesterday’s so far – in this case, it was stuck to the glutinous glob), so I suppose it could still qualify as a not-too-abnormal quarantine meal after all.
Since this was the tenth full day of my quarantine, it was time for me to take the COVID self-test they gave me at the airport. I had never done anything like it before, and I was quite nervous, but with the help of an instructional video (that I watched twice), I managed to get through it. Later, my quarantine officer called to ask me if I had administered the test to myself and what my results were. I offered to send her the picture I had taken (below) as proof, but she said she was happy to hear I was negative, and that was all she needed.
Another piece of excitement happened on this eventful day – this was actually the most exciting of all (and not in a good way). I was sitting in my cell minding my own business like a good little inmate (okay, fine, I was jumping on the bed. Hey, I needed exercise!) when all of a sudden an announcement blared through the hallway speakers in Chinese. It was the first time I’d heard anything from those speakers (I didn’t even know there were speakers there), and I couldn’t understand anything the person was saying. The message repeated several times, sounding insistent and urgent.
Of course the first thing I thought of was the news article from a month ago, about a fire that broke out in a different quarantine hotel here in Taiwan. (Okay, to be honest, the FIRST thing I thought was that it was some sort of announcement that guests shouldn’t jump on their beds, but it only took me a second to realize how unlikely that was! Yeah, I guess I was feeling a bit guilty….) Anyway, not everyone in that other hotel was able to evacuate in time; there were a number of injuries, and three people died trapped in their rooms (plus a firefighter).
So I sniffed worriedly around my door but didn’t smell any smoke. Should I open it? What if the announcement was about something totally different, and I left my room inappropriately and got served a huge fine? I remembered another news item about a quarantined man who stepped out of his hotel room and walked back and forth in the hallway for EIGHT SECONDS, and was fined $3500 for breaking quarantine! Just in case, I put on my mask so at least I wouldn’t get in trouble for going out without one, pulled my laptop bag out of the drawer where I keep it, and started scrambling around for important items to pack in case I did have to rush to safety. Meanwhile, the announcement kept repeating intermittently, sending my pulse racing faster each time.
Fortunately, a friend quarantining in a different part of my hotel correctly guessed that I would be freaking out and called me to tell me what was going on. It was just an announcement that we should all stay in our rooms as they tested the fire alarm system! Sure enough, then an alarm started to sound, so I’m really glad she got ahold of me before I heard it, or I would truly have freaked out! Of course, it was at that point that someone from the front desk sent out a text on the Line app in English and Chinese: “Hello,sorry to bother you, we’re now testing the Fire security. if you hear the alarm,please stay calm,thank you”
Once the scare was over and the alarm stopped, I knew I was back to normal because I wanted nothing more than to proofread their message and send it back with the errors fixed (and perhaps an offer to let them hire me to proofread any other hotel materials). And to ask them to please send us a warning in English next time BEFORE the Chinese announcement and the fire alarm, thank you very much!
Anyway, I’ll close with this nice, calm picture of my view this evening. If you’re reading this on a large enough screen, you may notice the building reminding people to stay home!
See later posts in the series here (once they’re live):