One key aspect of solo travel is knowing when to call it – when to blow that “full time’ whistle and head home. To be able to read the signs around you, look at your motivations, assess the risks and take action. I’ve hammered this point to fellow travelers over the years; now to take my own advice.
It’s time to bail.
Weighing up the quickly dwindling options available to get back to Australia safely (ie not transiting through virus zombie wastelands like Bangkok), I’ve decided to err on the side of caution and booked a Thai Airways flight outta here leaving on Thursday afternoon. There aren’t many options left and staying here long term is becoming increasingly less viable.
My AirAsia panic booking for the 5th was cancelled (although AirAsia never even bothered to let me know and even now the flight status is OK – fuck you AsiaAir), and it looks like Thailand is going to go into full Italy-mode sometime soon. International flights are getting scarcer each day. The current whisper is that any lockdown could last several months, some saying even 6 to 9 months, or extreme restrictions and in house lockdowns of some sort.
Land and sea borders are closing or are closed. Bus stations are jammed, trains are crowded, but Public transport is still running as of today. The streets are still busy with traffic but even fewer pedestrians.
Everyone local is masked, again the small groups of largely European tourists seen wandering around are still not (insanity) – mainly younger people that seem to miss the whole fucking point of this self-isolation thing.
Theres also a whisper of draconian new measures being considered by the Thai leadership that would kick in Thursday (just my luck).
The escalation of the governments response here (depending on what you read) is due to some silly and irresponsible actions of persons and sporting venues (particularly one large kickboxing venue in Bangkok) , returned International travelers, and foreign workers returning home for the holidays. The infection rates are rising rapidly.
Despite the soft shutdown of Chiang Mai, I’ve noticed that there are still a lot of shops ope, lots of local cafes and eateries serving sit down food, lots of local sidestreet eateries still half-full of locals sharing tables. Even the the big Mall Food Courts and their shared tables were still open and half full of Westerners last night (insane).
Out of sight, out of mind I guess is the attitude there. If you can’t be seen from the street, stay open. Hmmm, wonder why the transmission rates are climbing?
Weighing the decision to head home early was difficult – accommodation being my achilles heel at the moment as I’m basically homeless lol – my sister’s place in Dubbo, where I usually stay between overseas jaunts and contract work in Antarctica, is no longer an option. She’s totally freaked out about the virus and any effects it might have on her business so has said ‘sorry no deal’.
Fair enough, but definitely not looking forward to what follows.
It puts me in the unenviable position to have to reach out and ask friends for favors. I hate doing that.
Really really really REALLY hate it.
Luckily, I have some extremely kind and compassionate friends that have offered accommodation to get me through the quarantine period (14 days mandatory) in Sydney and after that? Who knows.
The main thing is that getting home will (hopefully) allow me to take up the Antarctica NZ contract I just signed late in August – which I DEFINITELY can’t do if stuck in Thailand – and like the rest of humanity, will just have to make the best of it and take things as they come.
Of course, the way my luck runs, Thursdays flight will be cancelled and Plan C will have to go into effect (which is basically stay where I am and see what happens).
Being able to adjust your plans on the fly is something that’s indispensable to a solo traveller, and in hindsight the gamble I took traveling just as this crisis took off won’t pay off.
2020 looks like a write-off so far : lets hope it improves dramatically.
**Also, if I get this virus and don’t die, I’d bloody better get a superpower out of it. I want x-ray vision or the ability to fly, thanks.