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.
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.