I may have done something stupid.
Dubbo was doing my head in after almost 3 weeks so, irritated by the the ineffective plodding of our government and hysterical coverage of Covid19 pandemic by the Australian media, I’ve decided (after much angst) to bite the bullet, get the FUCK out of Australia and see whats really going on in this world.
*I’m looking at you specifically, Peter Overton and your intensely melodramatic and borderline insane delivery of the seemingly endless Covid19 updates and scoreboard of death. Your fear mongering pushed me over the edge.
Yes folks, I know it’s serious; people are dying, we gotta stay home, self isolate blah blah blah…but with so much confusion and conflicting misinformation out there its impossible to know what’s right and wrong.
We can’t rely on our Government as they just slowly instigate their usual end-of-the-world ‘FEAR’ campaign and then copy whatever the US (and NZ??) do as they seem to have 1) no clue and 2) no original ideas (pfffft its not like they actually had a plan left over from the SARS episode or anything).
…and isn’t it great this pandemic came along so soon after the bushfires to distract the Australian public from the PM’s /Australian Government’s usual state of corruption and incompetence once again. Super lucky eh? Hey isn’t this year an election year in the USA as well? Hmmm…Almost too lucky! 🧐jeez i love a good conspiracy.
The one sensible piece of advice I received was to ‘act as if you already have the virus and don’t want to give it to anyone else’.
Hmmm that actually makes sense!
Easey peasey as I’m practically an OCD hygiene freak already thanks to three seasons in confined Antarctic research stations. I just have to up that game a little more, steer clear of people as much as possible and see if responsible world travel is possible during a global pandemic.
Like I said – STUPID!! – but having already planned my usual Chiang Mai trip and scouted out Turkey, Czech Republic and Hungary as the destinations of choice I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to go.
At least right up to the end of my 6 hour bus/train trip from dusty Western outback town to the Big Smoke and rainy skies of Sydney.
Add getting to the airport 4 hours early and seeing it a veritable ghost town – it all adds up to way too much quiet thinking time.
Dammit. Now I’m not so sure.
I canvassed my friends here in Australia, in Thailand, in Romania, Turkey during my quiet time on the bus/train – wherever I could get hold of people that could give me some insiders information – Whatsapp, Instachat, Facebook Messenger and SMS’s were humming. I even asked the airline people met along the way, who mostly just shrugged 🤷♀️ 🤷🏻♂️ and wandered off.
When commenting on the lack of people at Security (Sydney Airport was deserted) one grizzled Security lady replied with a deadpan “Havent you heard?, it’s the end of the World!”, and just waved me on. Then she walked away.
10 minutes to get through Immigration and Security? Unheard of!
On top of THAT, I was constantly checking the DFAT Smart Traveller website, the ABC, the New York Times, Twitter and Reddit trying to get more info to make informed decision.
Informed decision. Pffft.
All I’d achieved was a growing sense of dread, uncertainty and a mildly escalating panic as my boarding time approached; my options were dwindling ( it was 7pm) the last flight back to Dubbo left, and my Sydney Plan B options vanished.
A other hour of researching should help… tappitty tap tap.
My flights CheckIn opened early and I had a moment of clarity.
Lets give it a crack.
8 hours later and it’s 4am in -“a deserted Kuala Lumpur Airport and I’m dozing (or trying to), propped up against the wall under the escalator in the transit lounge waiting for the coffee shop to open.
The Air Asia flight to KL had been virtually empty – the plane probably had a 80 people on it including staff. I got a whole row to myself and stretched out for a nice 5 hour nap before the snoring person behind me tried to snore the windows out of the plane.
I hate snorers (but we knew that already, DID’NT WE)
Surprisingly, there were no annoying kids or crying babies, or snifflers, no coughers, no sick people – sure the crew all wore masks but everyone seems to be wearing those paper surgical masks that for all intents and purposes are useless.
So quiet!!! 🤫
Maybe 15% of the people in KL Airport are wearing masks of any kind – few white travelers seem to be bothering at all (which is disturbing), and as I watch people eating at the cafe, NOONE seems to be washing/disinfecting their hands before they eat or drink! Most cafes here are using tap-to-pay BUT as seems the norm in SEA, you still have to sign the receipts with 1) the pen they hand you and 2) the paper they hand you. Gross. Might as well just use cash for all the good the automation does. The most surprising thing is that people are still travelling! Sure its nowhere near as busy as usual, and most are probably heading home before a lockdown, but the ebb and flow of humanity continues despite the doom and gloom end-of-the-world scenarios.
As the day progresses, more and more white Westerners come through with now say about 30% wearing masks. A good sign.
**Some Aussie long haired vegan hippie asshole just sneezed right at me! Asshole!
One good thing is you become hyper aware of the things your hands come into contact with not just in an airport, but at home as well.
Must be time to hand sanitize. MMMMM…. love that smell.
So how’s it going so far? 5/5 stars!
Air travel during a pandemic is rating highly.
There are no crowds, airports are quiet so you breeze through CheckIN and Security as there are no queues, planes plenty of seats so you can stretch out.
Apart from the odd ignorant asshole that will sit right next to you when there are endless other tables to choose from, you have personal space.
Sure, wearing a facemask that makes me look like a Stormtrooper isn’t awesome fun and washing my hands every 5 minutes is a pain and having to rehabituate (look ma!!! I made up a word!) to not touch my face and eyes at all was a challenge, but hey…small sacrifices for an overall win.
I’m super curious now about any disparities between the disaster, fear and panic that the media is peddling globally to what is really happening out here in the wild – with world governments tightening their grip and the people finally seeing how little control ( or clue) they really have, getting out of the bubble seems to be the answer for clarity …at least so far.
Early days though. I’m on to Chiang Mai in 6 hours, and Thailand’s response has apparently been suboptimal – it’s tipped to be the “Italy” of South East Asia with Corona virus – but even so my people on the ground there are saying its just life as usual so far.
It might even be possible to get into Eastern Europe after all!
Time will tell. All I have to do is act like I have it already and don’t want to pass it on, wash my hands, keep to myself and not get sick while traveling as much as I can over the next 4 months.
Oh and not get stuck in a country with closed borders and no International flights.
…what could possibly go wrong!
to be continued…hopefully!
** Ive sanitized my hands three times while writing this. Jeezuz.
*** I just got confirmation that I’m wintering Science Tech at Scott Base next season – have to be back by August for a 13 month stint down South as the Winter Science tech! Gotta be back by July now….