My quarantine ended at 23:59 on the 24th of February, and I ensured I was packed and ready to leave by exactly that time. I called reception and I stood at my open door with all my bags lined up, I was leaving with more than I came in with. I had all these books and yoga gear, pillows and pilates gear, so yeah, a lot more "stuff".
I swiftly caught an Uber over to my friends home Southside and upon arriving at 12:30am, he was there to greet me and help me bring all my bags up to what will now be my room for the next 5 weeks.
We sat up, cracked open a can of Asahi, yes, even though I was pretty adamant that would make my ears hurt because that is what happened in December, and we sat out on the balcony looking at the unobstructed ocean view and with the breeze that carried sweet fresh air into my lungs, and we talked until 3am.
Oh my word, heaven!
And guess what? The beer didn't bring back any symptoms of my Ménière's disease. I was pleasantly surprised, and hey, let me tell you, I am not going to be seeing this as a green flag to go ahead and begin drinking again. The Tinnitus is still profoundly deafening in the mornings and throughout the day, so I am not entirely out of the woods, but still, it felt good to share an ice cold beer with my bestie.
I slept sound that night, woke around 9am to the alarm I had set myself, and then made my way to Confusion to hug my team, who had all recently been Covid-19 tested, part of a government mandate that all service staff get tested every 14 days from now on. So we all knew we were negative, so bring it in, hug it out!!!
At 11am I had a meeting with the new tenant who will take over our location and much of the fixings. We signed relevant papers and contracts, he put down a deposit for the license transfer, 25%, the remainder of which he will pay me once the license transfer goes through.
Hey, its been a good two days out of quarantine. Its so odd, as soon as I was out of the hotel and in an Uber, driving through Hong Kong, with all the lights still on, people walking with masks in the street at that hour, who knows where they were going! But it felt so normal! I still, at this point feel a disconnect between my brain and my body, like I am here, I am walking around, I am whole, but my mind is somewhere floating about above my body. It is going to take some time before I can get to a place where I feel I am happy to reside in my body, the whole experience is quite alien to me.
Being around people again. Something that isn't even what we have been permitted in Holland, its so wonderful and scary at the same time. Being on a train again, its a conscious effort not to panic when I see every seat taken, like, why are you not permitting more than four people at a table in a restaurant but people can be on a train ride, packed in like sardines, while hanging on to handrails. Its all so wonderful that Hong Kong has such low infection rates, compared to Holland, I am just amazed how everything works here.
Do I think the 21 days of quarantine were necessary? I don't, but I also think this is part of whats discouraging new people coming in to Hong Kong, even though I find it strange that the rules are different for people coming from China or Taiwan. Anyway, I am just glad I have permanent residency and was allowed in at all! Count my blessings, eh?
My very first night out of quarantine, I met with my two best friends for dinner. We chatted, ate together in a restaurant of our choice, and we reminisced about every memory we could muster, and boy I was so happy to be free.
I stayed in the whole of the next day, and I walked the dog. My hosts, good friends of mine, have a lovely terrier named Diego. He's a rescue dog, white, fluffy, old, and he behaves like an animal who suffered greatly in the past. He's quiet as hell, and he isn't the kind to beg for attention, he wants it, he craves it, but he feels almost ashamed to be pet. When I first got here, despite him having met me before, he kept his distance, but as I have continued to speak to him in a soft and soothing voice and pet him very gently, he's slowly warmed up to me.
He now follows me where I go, not all the time, just sometimes, and I can pet him and coo at him and he slowly gets to lying down and eventually rolls over to show me his belly in complete submission to the love I am showering on him. When he is being pet, at least initially, he never made eye contact. He would keep his head slightly down and turned away from me. But now? Pfft, I know its only been 2 or 3 days, he's looking me in the eyes, communicating his love with those lovely old eyes, and I am just smitten. I have taken him for a walk last night when my friends went out to dinner. And I told them to lie in and I would walk him at 7am.
I woke before my alarm, walked out into the living room, and the weather outside looked clear but overcast. Diego remained curled up on his cushion in a little ball. So I pet him a bit and he remained sleeping. Odd! I thought he'd be well up for a walk. So I sat on the couch beside his doggy bed, and I checked my Instagram and my messages, nothing much there. I waited, and then almost like some freak of nature, the heavens opened up and an almighty downpour of torrential rain was unleashed!
This old doggie, he knew! Ha! I was all genki and up for taking him for a walk, feeling all good about myself as my friends had a well deserved lie in, but old Diego was having none of it. When the rains finally ceased 20 mins later, I saw him stir and start to acknowledge me. I figured hey, lets do this, but he still behaved in a hesitant manner. I got his leash, I got his harness...and he followed me, but he was unwilling to go out the door with me to the service elevator. What? Why? Buddy, its not raining anymore! He reluctantly came after much soft talk and encouragement.
Well, let me tell ya, we went out there and we passed many helpers walking dogs, every single one was carrying an umbrella, already open and ready. Diego continued to walk hesitantly, maybe his paws feeling wet wasn't so great. He scattered his scent here and there and it began to drizzle with big gusts of wind. I persevered, telling myself, hey, this is nothing, weather is always drizzle and gray in Holland, I got this! Diego knew better, just five minutes in, he dropped a deuce, I got the little poop bag out, found a huge dry leaf, covered those turds as I did the day before, before gingerly picking them up with the bag.
Cats shit in the same spot, and you just scoop those super dry turds out when you can. Dogs, nah, dog turds aren't even slightly the same! I am lucky I have had dogs before, but my husband was laughing when he knew I was going to walk Diego last night, he was like, "Oh, yeah, pickin' up dog turds!" as if that was the only thing that we'd be doing.
You don't walk a dog, the dog walks you. They are curious little creatures and they sense their world with their sniffer. Diego is very curious. He stops every few feet to sniff away and then he makes very careful decisions on where he's going to dribble his pee before I do my best to wash away the traces of it. Nothing worse than that stank of dog pee everywhere. Anyway, what I am saying is, I enjoyed our walk last night, a good 40 min walk. But this morning, we had to make it a 10 min walk because it began to rain harder with each step and I tell you, Dutch rain and Hong Kong rain are two different scenarios. You remember watching Forrest Gump? How he talks about the rain when he was in Vietnam? How it was big drops, small drops, sideways drops, and sometimes even upwards drops? Yeah, that is how it rains here.
In Holland it rains a lot, people talk about the weather...a LOT. And it gets to where people ride their bicycles in the drizzle, they walk to the shops without an umbrella in the drizzle, they just do everything they normally do, in the drizzle and gray. Here in Hong Kong, the raindrops are fat and heavy, and they fall in every direction and from the trees, blown hither and thither in the howling wind. The other difference is that Holland is flat. Everywhere you walk, its flat, everywhere you look to the horizon, its flat as far as the eye can see. Not Hong Kong! Its mountains and hills and winding roads, its rain flowing past your feet vs pooling in a flat puddle you can sidestep.
Still, I am loving my newfound freedom, and I am shocked at how quickly I have forgotten my 21 days of waking nightmare. Maybe its not forgetting so much as its my body and mind blocking out the trauma of the memory! I wasn't until I opened my email this morning to see a "feedback" form from the Best Western Plus that I was reminded of my stay there. Oh, yeah, they should NOT have sent that to me, I did my best, but somehow, none of what I would say will reflect well on my stay.
Its not their fault...not really...these are tough times, and they are probably running on 10 staff who are woefully underpaid.
In the end, you get what you pay for. Its still a stupid amount of money for something so terrible. When you consider the cost of living in Holland, you feel robbed here. Anyway, it is what it is. I will think about it no more, lol.
Its the weekend, and that actually means something now, so I am going to make the most of it. I will head into town at some point, and see my team to hand out their paychecks, and then I have a dinner invite from a friend, so I may just cook something to take with me using the shop kitchen.
I am looking forward to this evening, to be able to spend more time with friends, to get some hugs in, and to just be there for others as I love to be. And to just feel human and alive and social again. What a treat. After 2 months in Holland with full lockdown, easy as it has felt, I had forgotten what it felt like to be around other human beings! Anyway, here's to feeling human again.
Until next time. Much love and respect.
Words cannot adequately describe the experience of 21 days in quarantine.
I had a friend mention that her sister just came out of quarantine and, get this, "She actually quite enjoyed it!" and I also got a private message from a regular customer and my former Pilates trainer at a Crossfit Gym from years ago, who said much the same, "I quite enjoyed it!"
And I am like..."Girrrrllllll, you had something to do, like you were probably locked in here while able to work remotely!" and I know for a fact that was the case from my friends sister, I do not fully know what the deal is with the other lovely lady, but I am gonna lay it all down on the line here and tell you that no matter what happens in life, I am not going to do anything that could land me in prison! Like...EVER!
These last 21 days have been like shit on a stick! I would not recommend it to anyone who has even slight concerns about their mental health. And let me tell you, I have many! I am the kind of person who has what we could call "mild OCD". I do stuff like ensure all items in my cabinet face in the same direction, that labels all face the same way. When I shop, I buy the exact same number of each item, it makes me feel good. If I chew my food mindfully, I count how many times I chew it. If I am drinking sips of water, I count how many sips of water I am drinking. When I take money out the ATM, I ensure it is always that an even number remains. I count my steps when I walk, I sometimes even count in my head the number of seconds something I boil an item for, or I count the number of stirs I make of something. Lets just say this isn't an all day, every day thing, but I guess I do this when I am agitated or something is on my mind and I need to be free of it. I count steps as I climb. I am pretty sure my husband has witnessed me counting at times, and we know now, my issue is not something he would do. I count tiles I walk on, Its just...I am not an excessive hand washer, or some shit, although I do wash my hands, but I have noticed a phase where my eldest son went through that and it was a cause for concern when he was a kid, as he'd wash his hands all the time until his skin was dry and unhealthy.
Put it this way, what I am laying the groundwork for here for you to understand why mental health is so important when someone is under severe stress.
I have ADD, for years it went untreated, so I suppose it explains why I would self medicate with whatever was available to help me feel more focused, and they were rarely things that were good for me. I have been prescribed everything from Ritalin to Concerta, never Adderall, but I know my brother has had his share of abusing that stuff, being as it seemed to be very popular at universities to help people with exam study. My concerns about the dangers of pharmaceuticals go way back, all the way back to my attempting suicide with my mothers Valium stash when I was 17.
I am not sharing any of this for pity or such, but just to raise awareness about what has happened to me while here in quarantine. I started this experience believing in myself, believing in mind over matter, believing that I was surrounded by kind and overly giving friends, who much like myself, do everything they can to help. I still have those friends, the same friends who dropped off books, beautiful pillows worth falling asleep on, a yoga mat, a pilates ring, resistance bands, a puzzle, a skipping rope, all of which I requested and was sent, while I started my confinement.
My first five days were spent struggling quite happily with jetlag, I attempted to read, but my ADD prevented me from surviving more than a 20 minute stint of any one book before I had to put it down because I found I simply wasn't absorbing any of the information. Much as I was grateful for the loving friend who sent me a 500 piece puzzle of the night sky, no doubt, a phenomenal piece that would illicit sighs of awe once complete, I cannot even begin to tell you how I am not that kind of ADD person, puzzles stress me the fuck out. And you can imagine what a puzzle in mostly black and gray with a shit tonne of milky way is gonna make me feel. So that remained in the box permanently. My brother, who is 4 years younger than me, likely has ADHD, so he can sometimes get into 10,000 piece puzzles that take months and he loves that shit! Dude can read a big fat book in a day! Nope, not me. I ain't saying this to somehow say I am special, I am just not that kind of person.
After the first 5 days of suffering with Jetlag, I finally started to fall into a routine. My hotel said food was included, but after the first meal I tried, a "vegetarian" option that consisted of "shit tonne of white rice, one slop of beansprouts and a side of boiled radish" I called the front desk and told them not to send me any food for the rest of my stay. It wasn't that kind of place, you didn't have a choice on what you eat, there was a set time table, a set menu of this is what you get on this day. And it was all shit! So I decided to either fast or to drink protein shakes, as I had ordered some meal replacement shakes from iherb prior to my arrival and I had my team drop it off for me at the hotel along with one of those shaker bottles and some oatmilk.
So I did my best. I played solitaire, I did crunches, pushups, squats, leg raises and stretching daily. I meditated with ease, sometimes several times a day. And I showered daily, even though, technically, who fucking cares if no one can smell you, but I did it, daily, sometimes twice daily, as it helped me pass time.
By about Day6, I began to suffer from insomnia. I found it harder and harder to fall asleep. So initially I was quite nonchalant about it, like, pfff, what does it matter, right? Oh, it matters. If you are staying in a hotel room that you cannot leave for fear of a HKD25,000 dollar fine and 6 months in prison, where you are stuck with a monitor bracelet and you have to keep your phone on 24/7, you have one set of anxiety, but if that hotel room also happens to have the most atrocious Wifi connection on the planet, you will go slowly mad.
Lets face it, this pandemic has been going for a year solid, you know you, if you have Netflix, you have already drained your share of anything worth watching, and if you are like me, you are not ready to start watching 20 year old Stallone movies or Segal movies just to pass time, I would rather fucking die!
So not only was I refusing food, every time I ordered food from Deliveroo, I was disappointed by how bad it was, as I have no idea where to order from and much as you may suggest I order from my own shop, I will tell you here and now, I would always prefer to eat our food fresh and hot, not in take away form. I am THAT kind of person. I began choosing to eat OMAD, which is a more severe form of intermittent fasting where you eat one meal a day. I did this because I was so lacking in hunger or motivation from the sheer stress of being cooped up in a room with no fresh air other than what piped through the air conditioning. The other reason was that these restaurants that I actually was happy to eat the food from, once I discovered them, used plastic packaging. There is a difference between choosing something when you have a shitload of choice, but when you are in a very special situation, where food is the only thing that can make you feel even moderately happier, you aren't sitting there thinking about the packaging part.
No I wasn't up for ordering from somewhere that I wasn't really craving the food, purely because of the packaging, what I did was reduce the opportunity to do more damage, so I ate once a day. On the odd day I would have an urge to binge, I would order from Dough Brothers, which has sourdough pizza with the option for vegan cheese on about two or three of their options. And they have donuts. They do eco conscious packaging, and their pizza if f-ing awesome! You should give it a go, if you ever have a chance.
Anyway...by about Day 9, my insomnia had gotten to where I would be stuck awake, in the dark, sitting up in my bed, rocking to and fro until 5am, sometimes with my head in my hands, crying uncontrollably as I felt so helpless and alone. Everyone who checked in on me to see how I was doing was met with a, "Good, you know, as best as I can be, hanging in there!" and more bullshit, but I was crumbling fast. I was struggling with depression and anxiety, and abject despondency, so I finally called my therapist in Hong Kong, shared my situation and begged for something, anything to alleviate my anxiety and also to help me sleep because the sleep deprivation was getting to a point of impinging on my ability to function normally.
This entire time, I was writing in my journal daily, still trying to "stay positive" but with insomnia and my body only allowing me 3-4 hours of sleep before I was awake again and unable to function, it was getting to a place where I was ready to break things. When you have struggled with depression all your life, its never easy to reach out to friends and family to tell them you need help, because you don't want them to feel helpless. Being an empath, I struggle with this because when others need help, I give of myself to the point of feeling drained and I have had to actually cut myself off from energy vampires because at some point I had to care more about my own mental health as I was not enlightened enough as an empath to be able to compartmentalize or protect myself from other peoples inability to keep their own shit together.
So no, its not as easy as calling someone and saying, "I need help". Because you don't have faith in their ability to help you when you yourself feel so helpless and incapable of verbalizing what it wrong with you. You know you are merely a victim of the circumstances, you are intelligent and coherent enough to know it will pass, years of dealing with depression has taught you that, but its still very real and very claustrophobic to get through without any human contact.
My therapist was able to prescribe and drop off 10 tablets of Valium at the midway point, the point at which I was crying and feeling like I didn't want to begin considering things like "100 ways to die without leaving a mess" (quick heads up, they don't exist, you always leave a mess!). So humor aside, that Valium essentially saved my life. I slept sound that night, and every other night after that. It was also at this 10 day mark that I figured out that my laptop seemed to pick up the shitty Wifi better than my ipad or my phone, and so I was able to stream, only occasionally interrupted or freezing, on Netflix.
So at this point I passed days with watching one season of Dusk till Dawn a day for three days straight. My dreams were full of vampires, thanks to Valium, and I am lucky I am a lucid dreamer, so for the most part I enjoyed the dreams because I knew I was dreaming.
As the days crawled on, and as I got to the last week of my stay, I began to experience further troubling mental health issues. As a younger me, I struggled with body image and weight related issues, I still struggle with these issues, and for a few days in this final week, I have found myself beginning to binge and purge from the stress. I would eat, but then because I was consuming, obsessively, 3 liters of water a day, I would feel excessively full, almost to the point of throwing up, and the only comfort I got was to actually purge. I am not sharing this because I wish to concern anyone, I am sharing this purely matter of fact. I would eat and then I would chuck it all up. I wrote this in my journal, I also signed up with a registered dietician online to try to understand better my relationship to food and to try to work on, from a CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) perspective how I could have a healthy relationship with food and how to have a positive body image, to make peace with my body that has birthed three children and that oftentimes makes me feel ashamed to look in the mirror.
These realizations would not have become an urgent issue had it not been for this 21 days of forced isolation. Realizing how important my mental health is has always been at the center of my life concerns, but here, in this hotel room, alone for 21 days, it became the only thing I could face, day in and day out. I had gone from excessively cleaning every single piece of furniture or window sill in my room until my hands smelled like Clorox to insomnia to almost starvation, from binging to purging, from over exercising to dejected refusal to leave my bed, all in the course of 21 days! For 21 days I went through the entire spectrum of all the ills that plague my mind! I cannot tell you how, through all this, I did my best to stay positive and to think outside the box and to maintain perspective on the "this too shall pass" I have always maintained when dealing with depression.
It has not been easy in the slightest.
And yet, I got through it, as is what we all do in life. In life, sometimes we get sick, sometimes we lose a loved one, sometimes we suffer through an accident, sometimes we lose a job, sometimes we suffer severe depression, and we still get through it because time stops for no one, no matter how hard you try, time just keeps on truckin, and so you just survive it, like a message in a bottle, bobbing about on the ocean, buffeted by the waves, until one day you find the sandy beach and someone finds you, picks you up and knows what lies within you.
For the last two days of my stay I have tried to do something good for a stranger, and that has made me feel so much better and I have not had to struggle to feel alive. Since I am vacating this room with more shit than I came in here with, it made sense that I try to offload things like cleaning products I had delivered in. Rolls of paper towels, hand soap, Clorox wipes, Tea bags, Bars of laundry soap for handwashing clothes, Hand lotions, Fresh fruit, Mineral water...things I wasn't going to get a chance to use anymore and didn't want to carry out with me. So I put them into two Deliveroo bags, and with a hand written note that said, "Dear Neighbor" I offered them up to the lovely lass next door who I know, purely from hearing when she moved in, about three days ago, that she could use all this shit. I also informed her that although the hotel had not offered as such, she could actually call the reception and ask for new towels, new bedding, all that sort of stuff, and change it herself. I suggested she try to stay fit and healthy, that she drink lots of water, and that she pray if she was the praying type. I knocked on her door and left that outside her door, much the same way they knock on our doors to drop off take away.
My husband asked me, "is that legal"? And I said, hell, I just got tested for the third time and I am negative, so I am sure this poor girl can take my stuff.
She then came back with a knock on my door and left a hand written note thanking me, saying she cried, that she was so overwhelmed with the kindness and that she didn't know how to repay me, and there were some cookies and some sort of raspberry perfume. Hmmm...So I took this into my room, put it in a bag immediately, washed my hands to ensure I was safe from her newbie possible germs, and then considered how I would return it without being rude.
So then I went through my stuff again and found little cosmetics, unopened, from my business class flight that Cathay had given us free when they fired my husband, and I thought, yeah, lets put this together with the toiletries bag, as I brought them as a "just in case" and so I made another note, thanking her for wanting to return my favor, but that she didn't need to. Because of my degenerative inner ear disease, I couldn't consume much processed food without setting off my symptoms, I also don't use much in the way of aromatic chemicals, so I would hate for her to waste them on me, to know that I am not ungrateful, that I appreciate her gesture, but that I am giving them back to her so she can gift them to someone more deserving. I gave her my HK temporary number, said if she ever needed any help, to let me know and I would do what I can.
Knock, knock, and drop off.
And then I got a knock about 10 mins later, and there was a note with HKD100. The note was read swiftly, and then I washed my hands again after I threw it in the bin, she was asking for my help to get a sim card, as she didn't have one, and if I had a friend if I could ask them to bring one, she would be grateful as she didn't know anyone here as she was new to Hong Kong. Her name was Mary Ann and she has come here to work as a Domestic Helper, so of course now I did what felt like the best thing I could. I got on Deliveroo, went to 711, ordered one of those 1500 min, 300 SMS, 18GB sim cards, and I had it delivered within 30 mins. I wrote one final note, told Mary Ann that the world works in a weird way, that we find it hard to accept kindness without feeling indebted, that it was ok to deserve a little kindness without feeling guilty. I told her this was a gift, that as soon as I got out of this shithole I would find her a prepaid calling card so she could then call her family in the Philippines, being as she mentioned they don't have Wifi, and so I said, for now, at least if they wanted to call her, they had her number, and if someone had a mobile with data, at least they could whatsapp her.
I folded the note, put her HKD100 back in there, and knocked on her door once more with the Deliveroo bag with the sim card and the note in there.
More handwashing ensued in my room. And then I got a call. She had called to thank me. Today I feel good about life. I feel positive about the good in the world, and that may have something to do with my having taken my last Valium during the day coz I know I need to be awake to get the hell out of here at midnight tonight! But hey, lets just say I am alive, I am feeling kind, I am feeling generous, and I am so fuckin ready to get out of this room.
I am certain I will be leaving this room in a better position than when I arrived. I have asked them for the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed this room myself. I have cleaned all the surfaces with cleaning products I bought, as they provided none, and I changed my own sheets upon requesting for the clean bedding, as they didn't offer it at all. Insanity. Daily, I have opened the curtains and have been grateful I have windows at all. My biggest source of suffering has been the lack of fresh air, the lack of direct sunlight, and the shitty wifi.
Other than all that, I am grateful that I have come to address all the things most pertinent with regards to my mental health, and I hope that the government addresses this aspect of what they are doing to people by making the quarantine period 21 days. Its inhumane, it truly is, without mental health support, it is just cruelty to human beings. To be fed food not even worthy of an animal, to be kept in quarters much akin to a pen, to be made to languish in your own flaking skin and falling hair, its counterintuitive if we are considering containing a disease. If you didn't come in sick, you could well leave here sick! If not physically ill, mentally ill! And lets face it, mental illness can lead to physical illness. I have been struggling with severe constipation from the lack of ability to move about, I have had to have everything from Metamucil, Senokot and Ducolax delivered, all to varying degrees of effectiveness. I have essentially just given up on being able to take a proper shit until I get out of here.
Yeah, these are things NO ONE thinks about. You'd think I would be doing all sorts of creative things while trapped in here, but the only thing I have been able to do is just try to stay sane. All my work is only able to be dealt with once I get out of here. I have papers to sign with the tenant who will take over the space after us. I have spoken to him on the phone, lovely young man, former Cathay Dragon, imagine that, full circle. He knows what it was like to lose his job, much like my husband!
So there is that bond there.
The rest of my work involves selling every little bit of excess we can afford to get rid of. I have sold the license transfer and all the basic furnishings and equipment for just enough to cover the cost of my trip, basically, for nothing, but its what I know its worth. It would cost us so much more to break the place down to bare shell condition, and to try to flog one item at a time on facebook. I just...I don't have that fight left in me.
I am just glad that we are almost to the end. I have so much love in me for my team, and I can't wait to get out of here and hug each and every one of them, with our masks on, and to tell them how much they have been missed. Yeah...I am just so ready to get the fuck out of this room. 21 days has felt like an eternity. I just want some semblance of normalcy. I want for my brain to just feel at home in my body again, not like it wants to escape.
This is my testament to what it has been like, experiencing quarantine in Hong Kong in a government approved hotel.
That is about all I will say about that. :)
So I am all set for my flight back to Hong Kong. I am glad that we will be getting COVID-19 tested upon arrival because it saves me the trouble of getting another COVID-19 test here in Holland. I got tested two weeks ago because I was feeling tired and my husband was feeling like shit, so we both went for a test only to be told we were negative within 24 hours.
Makes sense to test people upon arrival, I mean, you hop off a plane where anyone on the plane could pass germs on to you, be it from you using the tap in the bathroom sink to someone coughing as they walk past you in the aisle. I know, I know, its nuts to think of every single person as a possible vector for disease, but I have been blown away how each country seems to be handling the Coronavirus situation so differently! Here in Holland we are in full lockdown, the only place I get to visit is the supermarket. Shops and restaurants have been shut ever since I got here, I don't know how small business owners will survive this shit. I don't care what the governments say about giving people money, you can tell that they are panicking themselves as the government has essentially dissolved here, the ruling party has abdicated over some tax department mishandling of funds where they racially targeted a segment of the population, falsely claimed those families owed them money and then went about destroying these families financially with some even ending up with divorces, depression and even suicide.
Its a mess.
And with all the government "relief" packages going out, you can see why they scam the public the way they do, anyone caught not social distancing or out after curfew is fined heavily, yeah, you need to find ways to get your money back, the money you got from taxing the public in the first place. Taxing them on houses they already own, cars they already paid tax on, and fuel that pollutes the environment even when there are eco friendly alternatives out there!
My dutch isn't great, so for the most part I get some of what the talking head on TV is saying and my husband has to fill me in on the rest. You know there was a farmer/engineer who created this ginormous greenhouse, like...think as big as your eye can see, its just like a huge warehouse that spans several fields length, and its completely powered with solar and even the water is geothermal heated, 170m beneath the ground, and this dude despite having this 100% carbon neutral set up, gets a tax for the environment. So he's all, "Wtf? Why do I have to pay this tax when my entire business is carbon neutral?" and he's told, "Yeah, you got to pay for the rest of the environment to be saved!" and guess what he did? He switched his set up to use natural gas, coz it cost him less, as businesses surviving on that get government subsidies!
Greta Thunberg is right, she is bang on the money when she talks about politicians saying, "Climate change, blah, blah, blah. Targets, blah, blah, blah. Emissions, blah, blah, blah. Carbon, blah, blah, blah...." that they blah, blah and f-ing blah so much and yet for the past 20 years nothing has really changed and targets have not been met.
Nowhere have I been more overwhelmed of the blah, blah, blah of politics than here in Holland. They talk politics all the time, and people are miserable about the decisions the government makes, the lack of housing, the improper management of funds, the outright scamming of the inland revenue department and there being no one taking responsibility, and yet, nothing seems to really change.
Its not a socialist country anymore, not like it ought to be for the amount of tax people pay. They pay more for insurance than ever, and its mandatory, even schooling is mandatory, as in I was surprised that home-schooling is illegal! So our kids will have to go to school once I leave, as we managed to get that bit of permission for our situation, all so I don't increase my chances of getting coronavirus from them. Their classes are in person, none of the kids wear masks, the teacher doesn't either. Yeah, don't ask.
I am genuinely looking forward to setting sail. Although we are living in a lovely space, overlooking a man made lake, the quack of ducks to wake us each morning, I just want to finally be going somewhere and seeing the scenery change. I dream of wintering in Croatia or Summering in Ibiza. How cool would that be?
Of course, all the other little details of life will be mundane, daily cleaning of the boat and such, maintaining the boat, home-schooling the kids, and making videos of our adventures, but for the most part, I am truly looking forward to the next year, broadening my horizons, traveling places I have never been before, and learning more about how capable I am of handling drastic changes in the weather or the sea.
For now I am looking forward to my trip to Hong Kong. I am much more settled about the aspect of 21 day quarantine. The hotel room is a Superior Suite, I checked their website and that room normally goes for HKD2600 a night and I think I am paying something like HKD560 a night, inclusive of breakfast, lunch & dinner! I mean...how the hell are they even managing to run at a time like this?
I mean, who am I kidding, I have been sitting here with the restaurant running through the month of January with no dinner dine-in option. All things considered, January wasn't as bad as the month before, but then again, December had Christmas in it. Its not even a matter of what can hold us back when the looming dark cloud of COVID-19 is forever destroying the numbers on a daily basis.
There may be no real recovery around the corner. I think landlords are just squeezing the last out of people while they can, all so they can get those last dollars for the century out of the final tenants they will have. The offer I got for the license and all our equipment and furnishings are just about going to cover my trip back to Hong Kong, that is how low its been, but I don't care, honestly, as I know I will be ready for a break once we come to the end of our lease.
My team has been stupendous. To have survived through all this and to have thrived, I am just so proud of them, no words can describe how much love and respect I have for them. I think back to our early days and how tired I used to get and how tight a ship we ran that if I needed a break I had to give everyone a break, now I realize how capable they have become, and how dependable they are. That confidence took time to cultivate, as most of the team are quite young, but it also took maturity on my part to be willing to give them that space, that room to grow into their authority.
Only three more days now, more like two, as my flight will be on Wednesday and I land in Hong Kong on Thursday morning. I am carrying mostly presents in my bag, I am not even sure how I will pack for the trip because 21 days of that will be likely spent in my PJ's as I won't even be able to leave the room! Does it make sense to dirty more than one set of clothes when you may have to handwash all of it? Heck, until last week I didn't even know food was included in my booking, I was ready to fast for the majority of it and get my team to deliver food to me! Lol. So something as simple as hoping they have enough soap for me to wash my undies in daily, is actually a matter of great importance to me!
I grew up in boarding school in India, so I know how to wash my own clothes by hand, but don't ask me to go about trying to get jeans to dry in a hotel room that has no open windows or doors! 21 days of doing that and they would end up with a serious moldy room!
Well, I am guessing the next time I write I will be jetlagged in Hong Kong. So until then...be safe & see you soon.
My name's Lisa. I love to cook, I love to laugh, I love to write. I don't always believe I have the time for creating, and now I am going to work on simply going with the flow, with the food, the restaurant, the writing...and if I can, for one moment, spread a little joy along the way, well, its worth the effort.