It is the 5th of October, it is 7.30 am and I woke up by my alarm that I set on my phone. My eyelids feel very heavy and I barely could open my them. It felt like the middle of the night. Probably my body is still not used to this time zone, which is 6 hours ahead of my original schedule.
I look around me, and realize that I am in my room, my ONLY room and space for the next 14 days. The blinds are still closed, and I feel the need to open them, so I can have a look at the weather here in Taipei, Taiwan. I open up the blinds, and I am confronted with the building on the other side of the street. It is a Taiwan Bank building, and I can look to the big office on the 10th floor. The office has a lot of cubicles inside, but no one is present. Probably this office will be filling up after 9am with the employees of the bank. I look above the building, and the sky is covered by a very thick and grey layer of clouds. It resembles my state of mind at the moment: not a very sunny appearance.
I walk around a bit in the room, to digest the situation. The contract that I signed yesterday stated, that the breakfast will be served between 7 and 7.30 am. I feel hungry and carefully open the door to welcome my breakfast. The door squeaked and the alarm went off, to remind me that I am not allowed to exit my room. I look to the metal cupboard directly in front of my door to block the passage of an individual entering or exiting the room. My eyes are moving fast to the top of the cupboard, but unfortunately it still completely empty. No breakfast, no message, no anything. It feels like a disappointment, and walk to by desk and sit down. I double check my contract, and it clearly states between 7 and 7.30 am. What should I do? Just wait? Like a dog or cat waiting for their boss to deliver the food? I feel like a dog, locked up, while my boss is having fun outside. It still feels like a punishment to be here. I open up the messaging system, and kindly informed the system that it is already past the delivery times from the contract, but still haven’t received the food. After a while, I got the answer in which they state that they have changed the breakfast time starting October 1st, and that the breakfast will be delivered between 7.30 and 8am. I thank the system, and take a shower to try to wash off my emptiness. I brought French shower gel that I bought during my last holiday, already more than 1 year ago. Fortunately, the shower has a stable temperature and the flow is steady, making me feel a little more happy than before and escape the reality for 5 minutes.
I hear knocking on the door. That is the sign, the sign that the breakfast has been delivered on top of the metal cabinet, and ready to be picked up. I rush to the door, open the door quickly and say “Xie Xie”, which means “Thank you” in Chinese. I can’t see the person, I just hear the person walking away to the lift. I pick up the package and bring it to my desk. It consists of one small box, something wrapped in plastic, jam and a paper cup with some fluid inside and a paper cup with passion fruit. I opened the box, and I am confronted with a sausage cut in children sized parts, potatoes covered with some herbs and scrambled eggs (see below). The plastic wrap had a white slice of bread inside, probably dedicated for the jam that was delivered with it. I tasted the fluid, and probably it was a kind of tea with sugar.
I prefer to enjoy Taiwanese style of breakfast, not this kind of ‘Western style’ food. I brought from my home country a kilogram of cereals for emergency purposes, and it crossed my mind to open up that bag. No, I should not do that, not yet, it is not yet an emergency situation. Maybe first I should try this Western style food before judging it, like my mother always told me: “First try, than judge.” I took the first bites of the sausage eggs and potatoes. I try to think that I am hungry, and that this food is better than eating nothing. With that mindset I transferred the contents of the box piece by piece to my mouth. I flush in between the pieces the food down with the tea, so it can rapidly enter my stomach. Next challenge was the white bread. I spread the jam, with the knife provided, onto the sandwich. Take a bite, and I am happy that I still have some tea left in the cup. The bread is luckily not to dry, but rather moist and sweet. Last stop is the passion fruit, I used the spoon to remove the inner part of the passion fruit, and enjoy it! I am happy that the fruit is delicious, and that I consumed it as the last part of my breakfast. I clean my desk and feel tired, and again empty, although my stomach is just filled with breakfast. Should I surrender to this feeling, or try to keep awake. I walk back to the bed and convinced myself that a short powernap is allowed. After covering myself with the sheets, I took a small nap.
Suddenly the hotel room phone rang. A little dizzy, I picked up the phone. It is the lady from the front desk of the hotel. She reminds me that I need to provide as soon as possible my body temperature for the Home Quarantine Record. I told her I will do it immediately and will send the result to the messaging system and hung up. I feel the pressure, the pressure that I need to do something fast otherwise….. otherwise…. I do not know actually, I just feel that you need to obey the rules, and do not challenge them. I walk to the desk, open the drawer pick the thermometer and stuck it under my left arm pit and waited. 36.5 degrees Celsius. I submitted the result to the system and feel relieved again. Yesterday evening, just before to going to sleep I drafted a general schedule for a day in quarantine. I think about it, and realize that I already screw up massively. I try think of way to get some more positive energy and open up the Netflix account to watch the latest episode of ‘Undercover’ that was aired yesterday. I hope after watching this episode it gives me more hope, more energy for the rest of the day. I know it is very tempting to watch for hours things on Netflix, but I can be very strict to myself, and switched off the Netflix after the episode.
Luckily, I feel indeed more energy running through my veins, opened up my schedule on my phone, and I see that I plan to do some sport exercise in the morning. I look around me and it is pretty clear that this room, in this configuration is not suited for any sport activity. Even playing chess, if you consider that a sport, would not be possible. I grab the matrass of one single bed, and transferred it to the other bed; moved the bottom piece of the bed against the wall to make a dedicated sport and activity center in the middle of the room. I estimated that the square is about 1.8 x 1.8 meter, enough for now. I took the jumping rope that I brought with me, played some music and start jumping like a mad man. While jumping, I look through the window, to the office building. Right now, I can see office workers sitting in their cubicles and people walking around. Maybe someone can see me jumping. “Ah, who cares” am I am thinking. I ended the show with some push-ups and stretch exercises. I feel the sweat running everywhere, and realize that I need to modify the schedule: first sport activity, than relax and then take a shower. I open up my small refrigerator and killed a complete bottle of 500 cc water. That felt good! I feel energized! I feel again hope! I definitely should keep that sport activity in my schedule.
Unexpectedly, my mobile phone rang, the phone with my Taiwan number that is known by the Taiwan government. I pick up the phone, and the gentlemen kindly introduced himself as Leo who is from the Taipei police and will take care of my well being during the Home Quarantine. He double checked the address of the hotel and reminded me that I can not leave my room, cannot power off my phone, need to answer his calls as soon as possible, and every morning need to reply on the text messages that are sent by the police. 1 for healthy, 2 for issues like fever, and 3 for other issues. I friendly thanked him and hung up the phone. I really feel like they are taking it very seriously here in Taiwan! That is probably one of the reasons why the amount of COVID-19 casualties and infections are remarkably low. All inbound traffic needs to have this 14 days of quarantine.
At 12.15pm I hear again knocking on the door. I rush to the door, opened it and I see a person dressed in orange walking away on the corner. I say ‘Xie Xie’ and I am sure she could hear me.
I remember the Chinese words from the box! That is ‘BaFang’! During my last stay in Taiwan, our business partner also provided us with this dumplings during a long day at the factory. I opened up the box and I was right! I consumed all the dumplings and the corn soup. I prepared some coffee and started to write the first episode of the Q10 Podcast. I also drafted the Q10podcast.com website as I want to share both the stories as well as the audio on a dedicated place. Firstly, I thought I want to write these stories is my journal, and don’t share them with anyone, because I am writing them for myself. Later, I realized that during this pandemic, my stories could bring some worthwhile perspective on the way of living during a quarantine. So I decided to share it, and I hope some people might appreciate it and even learn from it. I also think it might be, in a way, helpful for people who need to go through this kind of quarantine by themselves.
The room phone rang again, and the lady informed me that I need to sign some paperwork because I moved yesterday from the small hotel room to this room. I received the paper, signed it and placed it in a zipper bag and placed it on the metal cupboard and informed the system that is ready to be picked up. I hope by now, that I finish all paperwork and can continue the quarantine without any further issues.
I am so focused working on the episode for the Q10 podcast, that I almost did not hear the knocking on the door. It was already the dinner! The dinner from the Howard Plaza Hotel, according to the menu. It was definitely the best meal from the day, and absolute a highlight of the day! The plastic bowl consisted of two layers; the bottom layer was delicious spicy rice and the top lawyer a mixture of beef and vegetables. Really good quality beef: tender, juicy and very tasteful. Even the broccoli was not cooked too long. I feel a little bit like a king who is being served by his servants. But then I realize, that I am still alone, alone in my room, and the only people that I can see are the people in the office on the other side of the street, and the ant size people walking on the street below. “Heavenly joy, deadly sorrow”