Are you ready to read about the wildest roller coaster you will ever experience? It is called QUARANTINE, the topic everyone is curious about! First, let me set the scene. You pull up in a van to the back entrance of a hotel, hop out, get ushered to a waiting area by employees dressed like they work in a hospital while you watch all of your luggage get hosed down with sanitizing spray and wait for your name to be called to check in. Thankfully, we arrived around midnight and were exhausted after 24 hours of traveling, so we were able to shower and get to bed. It still took a few days to get completely adjusted to the time change, but with arriving late it wasn't too bad at all.
Now, let's look at some bullet points that I thik would be helpful to know prior to arriving! (Keep in mind all this information is specific to the Maple hotel, but I have heard that most ASQ's are the same.)
It was a fabulous hotel room! If you check out what ASQ you will be staying at prior to arrival, it ACTUALLY looks like the photos, and the beds are comfy! We were able to have access to a balcony, the most glorious 2x6 foot outside space there ever was. The walls did start to close in after a while, so we rearranged the room a couple times to make it feel homier, and to kill some spare time.
The Food: Overall, the food was delicious! We had around 8 breakfast choices and 20 lunch/dinner choices (including vegetarian options) that we were able to pick from each day. It was nice to be able to mix it up throughout the duration. They delivered food to our doors on a cute little table for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No snacks though, so if you are a "snacker" like me, I HIGHLY suggest packing some snacks with you for your stay! If you see the option for American Fried Rice...steer clear of it, it was no good. Funny enough, one of the Thai OEG staff members said that was the one dish you didn't need to even try but to give everything else a chance. Also, make sure to mix Thai and American food options and don't jump straight into all Thai food, trust me your stomach will thank me later! ;)
The Check Ins:
Each day we would have several knocks on the door. On the second day we had to go check in with the doctor and answer some medical questions. Daily we would have 2 temperature checks, they were never at the times they were scheduled for on the paper. On days 5 and 11 we had COVID tests, in BOTH the throat and nose. It was always exciting to a hear a knock at the door because you never knew what to expect!
On day 7 after 1 negative COVID test we were able to head up to the roof top! This was SO exciting after a week of being "stuck" in one room. We planned with the other teacher participants to head up to the roof at the same time so we could hang out together, it was great to be able to see other humans and interact. Seriously, don't take being able to see someone face to face for granted back home! Other than that, we spent a lot of time watching Netflix and doing random things in the room, like building forts, playing cards, pointing out humans we saw from the balcony, and you even have the opportunity to bucket wash your clothes. If you are into any shows from back home (any Big Brother fans out there?) then I suggest buying a VPN so you can continue to watch them while you are here. We also had Zoom Orientation (almost) daily, so that was a fun way to fill time, and get prepared for what this upcoming year will have in store.
Overall, the emotional toll was definitely a roller coaster. The first couple days you are a little jet lagged and excited to be in Thailand, but then day 3 hits and it was the hardest. It went up and down a few more times throughout the 14 days, but being able to contact family and see their faces was a huge help, so make sure everyone downloads the Line app so you can communicate while you are abroad. Also, bring some pictures from home, we thought having them on our phones would be enough, but having some pictures to lay out would have been nice. The staff/people are all SO friendly, I can't wait to venture out and meet other locals. The day before leaving quarantine brings a mixture of feelings, after being stuck in a room for 2 weeks it starts to feel like home, but at the same time you can't wait to get out and explore the rest of Thailand and make it to your actual home for the remainder of your time here.
I can tell you that I am writing this post of the filp side of quarantine (day 2 of teaching actually), and we all made it! It was quite the experience, but just think of all the stories you will be able to tell. Oh, and if your birthday happens to fall during quarantine like mine did, I hope you have some awesome people in your life that make getting a cake delivered happen!
Until next time: keep life simple, travel, and be kind
P.S.- If you want to follow along on our journey more, follow along on instagram @morganmoellering