In a holding pattern…

Touch down in Hong Kong on 2nd August 2022 (Tuesday)

We arrived at our hotel just around lunch time. We were staying at a hotel that has multiple of the same name just in Hong Kong alone. It is strange because service is varied among these locations. You would think that there would be standard practices, but one thing about Hong Kong, logic isn’t always used.

Day 1: Arrival into the hotel…

When we got into the lobby of the hotel, it was an interesting thing. Only one family was allowed in there at a time. Everything is covered in plastic. The people helping you are in space suits or hazmat suits. They checked L and I in first. R and E were going to be in another room.

It was going to be hard to be separated for 7 days.

We were given the menu of what we would be fed each day. Except of breakfast, all of the meals had steamed rice. I don’t have an issue with rice, but I really don’t eat it that much.

They sent L and I up to our room before they checked in R and E. The lift was completely covered in plastic. We got of the lift and even the walls all down the hall were covered. It was almost like they were expecting some sort of slaughter to happen there. There were air purifiers every few meters down the hotel. Each room had a plastic stool outside the door. We got up to our room. The key they gave us would only work that once. They were very adamant that the key was useless after opening the door. If we got closed outside our room, it would be considered as breaking quarantine which would result in both a fine of at least $25K HKD and jail time. There were multiple signs on the door warning about leaving the room and the consequences of leaving.

The view wasn’t too bad. We could see the harbor through the buildings a bit. We were a bit too high to easily look down on the streets, and really not much was going on down there. There wasn’t much going on. L set about instantly getting his Switch connected to the TV.

The room at least had two beds. L and I had been working under the assumption we were going to have to share a bed. Luckily, that wasn’t the case.

These rooms were really the only ones I could get. During the that time, quarantine rooms were scarce. You had to take what you could get.

B was able to make a delivery after he got out of work. He brought me coffee and my glasses. I had been having issues with my eyes for the last couple of weeks in the US. My guess is that it had to do with the difference in humidity. I’m not really sure though. I was finally able to take my contacts out (I was an idiot and forgot my glasses at home). He also brought some treats for the kids.

L and I didn’t have much to do.

Our room wasn’t very exciting, but the one issue I had with it was the bathroom had a window in it that was see through. This made staying with my son a little uncomfortable. He didn’t seem to mind and almost ignored the window when either of us used the bathroom. The beds were terrible. They felt like they were plywood with some fluff stapled to it. It was so hard to get comfortable.

I don’t know how long it took, but L and I both fell asleep. It had been a LONG journey. The curtains in this place were the MVP because they blacked out all light. I think we fell asleep around 4 pm and woke up around 8 pm. We got our first meal.

Neither of us ate a lot. We weren’t really hungry after the flights and the lack of sleep. That and the food had been sitting there for a couple of hours and just wasn’t very good.

Day 2: 3rd August 2022 (Wednesday)

There was a procedure for each day.

  1. Breakfast: Between 8AM and 9AM.
  2. Lunch: Between 12PM and 1PM.
  3. Dinner: Between 6PM and 7PM.
  4. RAT tests are done each day by 10 AM. Leave the test outside by 3PM.
  5. Trash picked up once a day at 3:45PM.

Leaving the room for any reason would classify as breaking quarantine. Breaking quarantine would be met with a fine and possible jail time. You can open the door enough to take the food off of the stool outside the door. The positive is that you are allowed deliveries, and they are pretty quick about bringing them up to you.

Nothing was allowed to leave the hotel room except for trash and tests. I had E’s headphones. They wouldn’t let me get them to their room. Anything we had in our room had to stay in our room.

No one was allowed to come into our room. We had no cleaning services or anything really. They gave us cleaning supplies.

It’s really not a good feeling to be stuck in a small space with no contact with human beings. I mean I did have L, so it was better than being alone, but there was so much to do outside of the hotel. We had our own home to return to. It’s not like we didn’t have somewhere to go. Why we couldn’t do home quarantine is beyond me.

In the morning, the place was freezing. We had to leave the air conditioning on at 19C and the air purifier. They only gave us a thin blanket. Luckily, we had brought blankets with us. L was in heaven because it was so cold. I was in pain from the cold.

We had an issue with the refrigerator where it really wasn’t cooling. L was trying to figure out why. He was able to find a dial in the back of the thing and turned it down. It made a bit of a difference but not much.

I can’t say that I’m surprised. These rooms are continually used in rapid succession for the purpose of quarantine. They aren’t that clean to begin with when you come in.

We came in in such a whirlwind the day before, the place was a hot mess. While we were waiting for our breakfast to arrive, I went through and organized everything. Putting our shoes away was interesting because we wouldn’t have to wear shoes for a week. Heck, if it wasn’t so cold, I may not have worn socks either. Ha!

There wasn’t a ton of space, and we had to bring everything we had with us into the rooms. There were a lot of questions on the support group about offloading some stuff upon arrival. I learned quickly that wasn’t allowed.

Our breakfast finally came around 8 AM. It wasn’t too bad. There was one thing missing though. Salt. We were going to make an order to Deliveroo that day, so I would order salt for both rooms.

Lunch had been fish, and between L and I, we don’t eat fish. We decided to order Deliveroo for lunch. At this point, I was still under the impression we were stuck with the menu we had. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t as bad as some places I’ve seen.

We completed our first RAT test. There were rumors online in a support group on Facebook for people in quarantine that we were supposed to upload it onto an app. That was tricky because at this point, we hadn’t gotten any other information about it. So we did our thing with taking the test, taking the photo, and sticking it out in the hallway.

L introduced me to this guy, the Sausage Guy. He had seen a few of his videos before we went to the US. He started playing his channel in the background while we were doing other things or even sleeping.

Dinner was much the same with rice and cabbage. Of the few meals we had already gotten, rice and cabbage were main staples. L wasn’t thrilled by the food and hadn’t really eaten much at this point. Neither had I, but that was more because I just wasn’t hungry yet. We were only day 2 after travel. That tends to mess with your stomach. We had been in the US long enough to acclimate to the time difference and the eating schedule.

B was giving me a hard time because we weren’t trying to stay awake to adjust to the time. L would close the black out curtains at like 4PM, and we’d take a nap for a couple of hours. I really didn’t see the issue because being awake meant freezing. It also meant sitting in that hotel room watching time pass…. slowly.

It started to rain that night and seemed to rain most of the night.

Day 3: 4th August 2022 (Thursday) PCR DAY

I had been part of a quarantine support group on Facebook. It was super helpful in dealing with the RT-PCR tests we had to get and what to expect and all of that.

In the last week before we were coming home, there was talk about shortening the quarantine stay. This talk ramped up as we drew closer and closer to our departure date. After a certain point though, they were still “considering” and “examining data” and there didn’t seem to be much hope.

Then there was this huge hype around an announcement being made on Friday the 5th. The government was going to announce changes to quarantine.

This could mean that the kids and I could possibly leave a few days early and get some of my money back. All of Thursday, I was checking that group to see what the thoughts were and what the possible configurations would be.

Most people were of the mind that any more than 0 days of quarantine would be ridiculous, but I also understand that there has to be something to “save face”.

There were rumors from the government that it would be 5+2 or 4+3 (so the first number is the days in the hotel and the second number would be home isolation). We, who sat in quarantine and about to go into quarantine, eagerly awaited the announcement.

While we were in the US, I bought some yarn to make a quarantine blanket. I made the mistake of knitting and didn’t have needles big enough. I dropped two stitches, and I’m not good enough to fix that yet. So I had to start over.

We got a call in the morning that the government medical team would be by around 3 PM to complete the PCR test. I had E and R’s HKIDs, so that presented a problem according to the front desk. When they came though, it wasn’t a big deal. I showed them the HKIDs, and they were able to complete their tests without any problems.

B was giving me crap about making coffee because I had brought Dunkin Donuts coffee with me as well as the aeropress. I was able to make myself a cup of coffee. I had bought the Animal Crossing cup in Disney specifically for quarantine.

L and I continued watching the sausage guy for most of the day.

I’m not even sure what lunch was. I don’t think either of us ate it. I hate to be that way about food. When I saw the menu, I really just thought we could stick it out and deal. When you’re stuck in one place though, it doesn’t seem to work that way. Food is the only thing you have to look forward to really.

L started looking up information on the food for our hotel and found that there were different menus we could get. He really wanted us to get the children’s menu. For dinner, we would be getting cheeseburgers if we got the children’s menu.

That was a fun phone call. They couldn’t understand why I wanted the menu for all of us. They kept saying, “just for the kids”, and I was saying no, for all of us.

The food was decent. It had only been a couple of days, and I was already sick of rice. This was definitely a welcome change.

Of course, we had to do our RAT test. L and I remained negative as did the other two.

Day 4: 5th August 2022 Friday

Today was the day of the announcement. It was going to be at 3PM. The support group was buzzing with speculation about what would happen. Would it change for those who are still in quarantine? Would it take affect for people just now coming into quarantine? Will it happen soon? Will it happen later? Would it happen at all?

This was after a false start. This yarn is really warm, and I was highly motivated to finish the blanket because I was so cold. We were still stuck on the air conditioning stuck on 19 degrees.

Again, it was raining again. We were able to watch the storm come in over the harbor. It was good to know that we weren’t missing good weather.

L, for some reason, determined that eating animal crackers with chopsticks was a great idea. He had done this before with flaming hot Cheetos though.

The weather seems to have cleared up a bit, but I kept getting alerts for thunderstorms. Still, I really enjoyed watching the clouds.

L pushed to have us switch over to the children’s menu for the rest of our stay. I called down to the front desk to change. Again, we got the questions about why we all wanted the kids menu.

At about lunchtime, they announced that they were going to cancel the announcement for that day. They said they were going to make the announcement on Monday after considering and reviewing data further. I think something in me broke. I had really thought there was a chance that we could get out early.

We completed our daily RAT test as required by this madness. Still nothing.

They sent this treat for it being Friday night. I got a message from R that they got beer too. R is 20, so she could technically drink the beer if she really wanted to. She doesn’t really like alcohol though. I didn’t drink it either though and ended up bringing the beer home with me. It seemed like a waste to leave it behind.

Dinner was much better than what was going to be on the original menu. It was an interesting idea because it was basically a ham sandwich in a tortilla. It was at least edible.

Day 5: 6th August 2022 Saturday PCR DAY

Day 5 seemed like the hardest for some reason. Maybe because the newness of the whole thing had worn off. Maybe because we were so close to the end without any early end in sight. Maybe because we had been sitting in that stupid, cold hotel room for 5 days. All of those are possibilities.

L and I had spent most of our time with the Sausage Guy on the TV, so that was our constant companion during our quarantine.

During the day, we had B on video chat. L and I would have a video call going for most of the day. We didn’t always talk so much as he was present with us. I did the same thing for him while he was in quarantine though not all day because of the time difference.

Our children’s menu lunch was … interesting. It was mashed potatoes, poached eggs, and spinach. I didn’t hate it, but L wasn’t happy with it. Luckily, I had gotten some food through PandaMart, and he was able to eat something. On top of that, we had a bag of food from the US that had finally come.

Oh yeah, on arrival, L and my quarantine bag was lost. They found it the next day and delivered it that night. All of L’s snacks and stuff for the hotel room were in there.

Another form of entertainment for us was to watch the storms coming in. The clouds would change so fast, and then the sky would break open. We really enjoyed just sitting and watching the clouds and storms.

Of course the RAT test. Five days and still negative. At this point, if we turned up positive, we would have gotten it in the hotel.

For the majority of our time in quarantine up to this point, it had been raining still. The storm clouds are incredible.

Dinner was … interesting. It was some pasta with a cream sauce and huge chunks of mushroom and chicken. It wasn’t great, but at least it was edible.

Day 6: 7th August 2022 Sunday

Okay, I thought day 5 was hard. Yeah, day 6 dragged on forever… It just wouldn’t stop.

I took the time to clean up the floor and the beds. We had stuff all over the place. Really, there was just so much stuff we had to bring into that small of the space. I worked on starting to pack some stuff up as well.

Another storm moved through. We watched that come in.

Another negative!! Surprise!!

Dinner was concerning. More rice. L made me promise that we would have something special for dinner on our last year. I had tried to keep our Deliveroo to a minimum because it isn’t cheap, and I had already paid for the food we were getting.

Day 7: 8th August 2022 Monday LAST DAY!!!

Pancakes were a nice surprise. I mean I knew they were coming because it was on the menu, but I didn’t have high hopes. They were a pleasant surprise.

My last RAT test!! Negative!! Yay! We don’t have to do any more RAT tests until we get back to school.

Lunch was not too bad. It was our last lunch in this place.

Last day of watching the storms come in.

We had a choice of leaving at midnight that night or wait until the next day. Fairly early in the day, I called to set our time to go. We got the time of 12:00AM to leave. I was told we would have to wait for the phone call.

I ended up spending much of the day working on packing up our stuff and cleaning up the room. We actually got down to the last bit of toilet paper. It wasn’t even worth calling down to get move. We ran out as we were walking out.

Last lunch of quarantine. It was not very good. After having lackluster food for the last couple of days, L was able to convince me to get Five Guys for us for dinner and Shakeshack for the other two. He wanted MrBeast Burger, but I refused that.

It was really good food. I had never had Five Guys before. I didn’t get a burger though. L didn’t eat all of his, so I got to eat what he had left. I got a shake and some fries.

After dinner, it was just a matter of waiting for midnight.

It was finally announced that quarantine would be reduced to 3 days in a hotel and 4 days at home in the afternoon. The rules changed for the people who landed the day after we did. They were able to leave in the afternoon.

I ended up calling down to see if we could leave at 10PM instead of waiting until midnight. It was only a couple of hours sooner, but it would get us home sooner. They said no.

We had everything packed. We were ready to go.

I don’t even remember what L was doing in this photo. He didn’t want me to take a photo of something. We were left just to wait.

L and I were ready before midnight. We were waiting for the phone to ring. We didn’t actually get the call until around 12:10 AM. I know it’s only 10 minutes, but it was 10 minutes more sitting in that hotel room than I really wanted to do.

When they called, they instructed us to go to the lift, bring the key, and go straight to the lobby. At the lobby, they took our paperwork and our key. Then we were free to go. I had messaged the other two, and they said that they had gotten the call and were coming down.

When we got outside, it was threatening to rain again. I was working on calling an Uber driver to get us home. L and I were waiting for the other two to get down. Our Uber driver showed up not long after I called. I felt bad for the guy because we were waiting for about 15 minutes for R and E to come out.

I will say that the people at the hotel were super friendly and kind. They were very helpful. It’s got to be difficult dealing with all of the government’s regulations on a regular basis and all of the changes.

I really never want to go through that again. At least if we travel again, it most time in a hotel would be for 3 nights (at least right now).

We were home in no time. The kids went straight to bed. It was so great to be in my own bed again.

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