Thailand

Our Teachers Firsthand Quarantine Experience in Thailand

Saskia Smuts

February 16, 2021

A mandatory two-week quarantine period upon arrival. That’s more than enough to get anyone’s heart racing and send the imagination on a weird and wonderful Coronacoaster of a ride.

But is the stress and panic we feel when we hear these strange words really worth it?

The answer?

Definitely not!

We’ve asked a number of our teachers who have recently travelled to Bangkok what their honest experience and opinion of the quarantine period was. Straight from their mouths, here’s what happened, didn’t happen and what to expect:

Brian TriplettArrived in Bangkok on the 12th of December 2020

I’m uncertain if it says more about me or the quarantine experience at large per se, but regardless I look back at my 15 days and nights of serene solitude with extreme fondness.

Not only was this an unprecedented, unparalleled chapter of life, there’s a strong likelihood a period such as this will remain unrepeated for as long as I live.

I once instructed a course at the University of Iowa titled “The Experience Economy” based on a book by the same name. While I won’t attempt to break down a semester’s worth of content, the concept is both simple and thought-provoking – more than ever before, humans are paying money to have experiences and feel feelings over purchasing goods and services.

And not necessarily experiences of comfort – though we’re all guilty of seeking these often as well – but ones that get us outside our comfort zones because, as some say, that’s where life begins.

Subconsciously we crave challenge and the unknown because we know deep down those are what allow us to grow most.

Examples include adventure races (why would we pay to be put through such strain?), skydiving (to take a flight and bail only to barrel back to earth halfway through?) and travel in general, which most of us know is something that often doesn’t come easy yet is almost always 100 percent worth it.

And this is how I view my quarantine experience.

Did it suck to fork over that much money especially knowing how far it would typically go by Thai standards?

Sure.

But going into it I chose to look at this transaction as a means to get me to where I wanted to be figuratively and literally to get going with my new life.

What I didn’t know at the time was how it would lead to instructing online yoga for my first time ever for fellow quarantiners, learning to play guitar in new tunings, setting new personal-best jump-roping records, reading books I’d been forever meaning to, experimenting with fasting, experimenting with my sleeping routine, experimenting with meditation, enhancing bonds with old friends I’d procrastinated on catching up with, forming meaningful relationships virtually with new friends who were simultaneously going through the same bizarre experience and who I would soon enough connect with IRL, and, perhaps most importantly, a rejuvenated relationship with myself.

Then there were the simple joys:

Pizza and movie date with your beautiful self

The sacred knock at the door when it was mealtime, the implementation of the quirky tradition of forcing myself to exercise first when the lunch bell rang, the hilarious Line stickers shared back and forth with the nurses and hotel staff as my new favorite form of communication, the morning pep talks to myself (yes, audibly) while staring out the window as the sun rose over Bangkok each morning, the 60 minutes of rooftop garden time with a pair of Indian friends I’d made who scheduled their outdoor hour the same as mine so we could continue the ever-interesting conversation from the previous day.

And I won’t pretend there weren’t creature comforts as well like my bluetooth speaker, VPN for streaming American football games in the wee hours of the morning, go-to snacks from back home, and, rumor has it, a guy I know quite well snuck in some whiskey to celebrate his first Christmas alone 🙂

Was it all a joyride or an ideal situation?

Of course not.

But is that what we’re always looking for in this short life?

Or are we looking for new experiences?

You can’t take money to the grave, but you can take memories.

The bold decisions we make and the more unique the journeys we take lead to the stories worth sharing, and the peculiar ones, like being locked inside of a hotel room all alone, intentionally, for two full weeks of existence during this strange time in history, make for the best kind.

At the end of it all, I’d never been more ready for the world, but I’d also take nothing back. So talk yourself into it. And then get ready to talk to yourself a whole lot more for the first and perhaps last chance you’ll ever truly have.

Mika NizinksiArrived in Bangkok on the 24th of November 2020

When I was picking out a quarantine hotel, I had to pick quickly as my departure date was quickly approaching and I needed to apply for a visa ASAP.

So, I used the Alternative State Quarantine Facebook page, searched by all of the hotels less than 40,000 THB, and emailed every single one.

I went with the first one that responded, which was the Cinnamon Residence. Based on the way I selected my hotel, my expectations were low. I did not have outdoors time (although I was later informed that if I’d asked, I may have been granted an outdoors time allowance), presumably due to the lack of space for a designated quarantine area in the hotel I stayed in.

The food was pretty good!

There was a breakfast, lunch, and dinner delivered at 8am, 12pm, and 5pm respectively, and each mealtime had an option for Western food and Thai food which I had pre-selected with my reservation about a month in advance. So when it was time to actually eat the food, I’d chosen my meals a long time prior!

It was all pretty good though and I can’t complain, it was usually warm and my room had both a fridge and a microwave for leftovers, which were apparently not common in other hotels.

My days were spent drinking the free coffee, catching up on photo editing I had to complete for photography clients, and teaching online.

The zoom meetings set up were a good way to pass time and meet some of the people I got to see in Hua Hin!

Overall, quarantine was not bad at all. It was a relaxing 2 weeks that were a nice way to unwind from the craziness of getting there and the stress of it all.

It was nice having very little that I *had* to do besides relax and prepare for the coming weeks. 

Alex KalnuikArrived in Bangkok on the 1st of November 2020

I stayed at Siam Mandarina.

They took care of everything from the moment I stepped outside the airport.

The activities they had listed ended up not being available, but we were allowed to go outside for an hour after our first negative test.

The food was decent and delivered 3 times a day.

It was difficult to keep track of time and the days and changing time zones, so I would recommend some kind of routine immediately to keep you from going crazy.

For the most part, the hotel room is your whole world for 2 weeks.

It went by quicker than I thought though. I brought some books and watched some new shows.

The staff were all incredibly friendly and fulfilled any request I had almost immediately.

It’s not going to be fun for anyone, but it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Cian TaylorArrived in Bangkok on the 3rd of December 2020

My quarantine wasn’t very eventful.

I stayed on British time for a few days, going to sleep at 8AM or later. I didn’t exercise at all, watched a lot of Netflix, and listened to music.

I bought a guitar and the shop delivered it to my door, so it was something I could look forward to as it took 5 days to arrive.

After that, guitar kept me occupied and moving forwards, and I called home several times for interaction. Small things like the first time you walk outside of the room, the first time they clean your room, the first time you can walk around with a little more freedom, kept me positive.

Rachael WynneArrived in Bangkok on the 10th of December

My experience in quarantine was surprisingly refreshing and relaxing.

It was exciting to be somewhere new, but it was comfortable at the same time.

The Thai people working at the hotel were extremely friendly and accommodating.

I had three giant meals a day and could choose from a daily menu. The meals were amazing, and breakfast was beyond my favourite. I could make coffee and tea every day.

After a certain time, I could sit outside by the pool area. There were beautiful sunsets and palm trees.

My advice is to start a routine and bring a notebook so that you can journal/make a to-do list every day.

The hotel provided a yoga mat, and I really made yoga and exercise a part of my daily routine. I was able to catch up on reading which I honestly haven’t taken the time for in years.

I binge-watched Stranger Things (for the 3rd time) and watched a lot of movies.

During quarantine, I also had a few orientation zoom classes which helped pass the day.

I made some really great friends in my orientation group, who I still keep in touch with. We are planning to visit each other from different parts of Thailand.

The quarantine experience can seem dull at times, but I actually found it peaceful and productive for a lot of my time. You got this!!

A few last words from me to you:

“Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.”

Yvonne Woon

Take time to reflect, to remember, to rethink, to understand. 

And whilst you’re doing that, also remember you’re not alone – I’m a phone call, text message or email away, and as most of our applicants can attest, I’m always happy to chat about all things, big or small.

With all my love,

Your Lady in Support

Saskia

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