Quarantine diaries Part 2 : one week, four walls, many thoughts
3 May 2020 // Kuala Lumpur
Week 1 of quarantine is almost over. Seriously, where does time go? This one is more of a reflective post. It may lack the adventurous punch of flying between two countries in lockdown, but there are planes taking off! And a lotta thoughts accompanying that.
If you missed Part 1 of my quarantine diaries, well that was a suspenseful adventure through a ghost town of Changi Airport, and stringent virus control in KLIA. Ever since then, I have been quarantined in Sama-Sama Hotel. Welcome to quarantine club!
- Day 2 -
28 April 2020
KRRIIINNNGGGG! What the- oh, breakfast?
It was 8am sharp when the shrill doorbell forcefully dragged me out of the depths of sleep. I had a really good, wholly uninterrupted sleep for the first time in the past week. So it was mildly confusing when I opened my bleary eyes to an unfamiliar room basked in the soft glow of the morning sun. Also, shout out to Sama-Sama Hotel's bedding choices: the pillows, the bed, the covers were so comfortable. Naturally, I fell back asleep...
To a loud phone call five minutes later.
'Hello....?' I mumbled, my voice heavy with sleep.
'Good morning, Miss Wei Shan? Is Miss Sheryl with you?' ...Eh??
After clarifying that I was both 'Sheryl' AND 'Wei Shan', *shocker* the bright, chirpy voice, which belonged to the Guest Services Manager, enquired about my health, if I was showing any symptoms, if I had any food allergies, and stating that she would be calling at around 8.15am daily to check up on my health. Looks like I'm going to leave this quarantine a disciplined person.
Breakfast : a sinful serving of mee goreng mamak. My god, it was so good. I'm your basic health junkie : gotta have my banana, my oats, that scoop of (NO SUGAR!!) peanut butter for breakfast. Seeing this carb-filled breakfast... Oh what the heck. It was so worth it.
Having fully come to terms with my current situation, it was easy to fall back into a routine, especially in such a comfortable (and now sterilised) room. I packed my to-do list, mainly revolving around my blog. FYI, I want to start a style blog soon, so stay tuned for that :) I started watching Itaewon Class (shoutout to my friend who recommended this. It is so inspiring, with a theme unique to k-dramas). And got back to my Blogilates/ Emi Wong workout routines.
The most exciting thing that happened that day was using the grocery delivery service. I whatsapped a Mr. Riza for shower gel, toilet roll (last I heard, an essential against Covid-19, no?), and a local SIM card. I'm amazed by the service. Mr. Riza replied very efficiently, and followed up when he was at the store to ask what scent I would like, what number, and even had the foresight to activate my SIM card at the store before delivering it. And actually, the toilet roll happened because I asked him if the hotel provides it, seeing that I only have one roll in my bathroom for two weeks? Well, he got me covered with a *ahem* Vinda Deluxe.
3D Deco. Extra Strong, Extra Soft, Extra Absorbent.
Yup. This gal is now well-equipped against Covid-19.
- Day 3 -
29 April 2020
They have been serving their specialities for breakfast. It has been the best meal and I've been saving the generous portions for both lunch and dinner. I woke up to fragrant Nasi Lemak (a speciality apparently, that the in-room dining menu claims), with a side of smoky, spicy sambal, nuts and anchovies, a boiled egg. Literally one of the best Nasi Lemak I've had, especially that sambal.
The highlight for Day 3 actually happened at around 10.15am, when I was still chilling in my jammies. And the doorbell rang. A doctor and his assistant, both entirely plastic-covered, masked and gloved, with their names written on them with a blue marker, had come to take my temperature and again, ask if I was experiencing any discomfort. They were really friendly. I feel bad for all the staff who has to walk around in giant plastic bags while servicing this floor.
- Day 4 -
30 April 2020
Last day of April, y'all! Crazy.
How. How to not turn a quarantine diary into a food diary. Literally, I begin my daily journalling with a sketch of my meals because that is the only thing that is not a constant in my daily routine.
The mini pain aux raisins they served today reminded me of the times my brother and I went for breakfast buffets in hotels. He would usually load his plate with a mountain of fried beehoon, while I, would have a variety of mini pastries. It is sad to see a hotel buffet - the beautiful plating and decorations, the ambience - all reduced to a plastic lunchbox, sealed with a rubber band, paired with water bottles and plastic cutlery, and delivered in a labelled plastic bag. It does pain me to see so much plastic and food wastage. I wonder if I should include a 'CLEAN RECYCLABLE PLASTICS, JUST SPRAY DISINFECTANT' on my recycling trash bag? Do you think they'll recycle it? Worth a try.
The lunch pasta (Aglio-Olio I believe), was really tasty. I saved it for dinner as well as I set up the evening ambience, got my chopsticks and had a date night with myself ;) Except that tea replaced wine.
The first day I arrived, I looked out the window to a view of the carpark, and short but sprawling trees. A quiet road. Nothing special. Dismissively, I kept my drapes down, partially also because of my vampiric tendencies. But that night, I pulled up my drapes and blinds, to enjoy pasta over darkness. Suddenly, I saw a plane's tail, the MAS Airlines logo lit in a warm yellow light. All this while, that stretch of trees were hiding the runway. And a jolt of realisation: it was my first time, in the past week, actually looking out the window, seeing the world, living the present.
'Rest your eyes every 20 minutes. Focus somewhere far.' A practice that I often do, even during my internship when I chanced a nice window seat. But I was always just looking, not seeing, as my mind drifted on the next big thing to worry about. Even now, trapped in a room, as long as one has a device that connects to the globalised stage that is media, it seems that worrying about the news, job or university applications, talking about the next 'it' thing, has clouded our lives and our thoughts. For me at least, my phone and my laptop, where I type my thoughts out and get my life in order in terms of emails and applications, are both my escape and my prison: this is where my creative juices run free. But they are also the veil that has clouded my vision over the very surroundings where I am merely existing, but not living in.
- Day 5 -
1 May 2020
In this quarantine, I have become the ultimate Asian grandma: I saved all the plastic containers, and leftovers (that could be saved). By Friday, I had enough containers and saved food to make myself a breakfast spread. YYYYEEEESSSS Livin' that influencer life y'all.
Day 4 ended a tad deep eh? In university (a.k.a the three most miserable years of my life, except the bright spots which were the amazing people I met along the way), I used to wallow in self-misery thinking: hang in there. Life will get better when you're out. Did it? Not for a while. It took me the past half a year to realise that life? Will stay a stubborn witch. And that it is up to me, how I choose to see it, and live it, that will truly make a difference. Being quarantined is truly punching that lesson in. I could continue eating on my desk off plastic containers, or I could use that tray by the window (took me a whole week to realise it was a tray), and heck yes! In-room breakfast delivereeehhh! I spent half an hour taking everything out of my 'pantry' just to arrange this, photograph it, enjoy it for like an hour, before keeping everything.
Also, anyone else use chopsticks to eat pastries?
Trying to entice my bear with some tea.
Seriously honing my chopsticks skills just because I was too lazy to wash my hands for the millionth time that morning.
- Disclaimer! - Berries are my own and not provided by the hotel.
Despite having this time and space to myself, that morning was the first morning I had given myself a good hour to read while savouring my tea. Rather than the usual 10-minute half-eat-half-read situation. I stared, fascinated now, at the green, longing to see a glimpse of another plane. To wonder, if more Malaysians were coming home? From where? Is everyone ok? However, only a bright blue, white-striped Mini Cooper drove past. Other than that, the morning was still. Quiet, as I stared out into the morning sky.
I wonder if the chef was also feeling the Fri-yay vibes, for serving chocolate and a really mean piece of cheesecake for dinner?
- Some plating pro tips -
Ask anyone, and they know I'm a sucker for plating. I don't know what it is, but even when I am ravenous, I will instinctively plate my food. Plus, it is a little luxury that really brightens my mood. And you can do it too in your own home! You don't need to spend a ton in a hotel for a breakfast spread. Literally, you can do this with any pantry staple:
1. Mix up the sizes.
Whether you're plating on actual plates or containers, use a mixture of both big and small. Use mismatched plates even!
Try to get as colourful as you can. Fruits and berries are the easiest way to make a spread brighter. Or, if you only have bread in the pantry, pull out sauce dishes (if you can be bothered), and fill it peanut butter, honey, jam, nuts, cereal even. Stick a small teaspoon(s) beside them so you can keep the leftovers clean. And there you have it.
3. Make yourself a cup of tea/coffee. Or just get a glass of water.
No breakfast spread is complete without a cup of some sort. I love my morning coffee/tea, but even a cup of water is cool. I'd recommend keeping the cup neutral though: either a plain white, or glass, so that it does contest against the vibrance of the food.
4. Like to read?
Pull up a newspaper or a book or a kindle. Place it by your food.
And ta-daaaaa~ Enjoy!
- Healthy Snack Idea -
I know no one is asking, but if you're wondering why the hell I had to pack peanut butter and UHT milk, here you go:
Snack : Banana, dates, nuts, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter & a milk tea to pair!
It is of tradition that Muslims break their fast with dates. Hence, every dinner comes with a small box of medjool dates and nuts. I have now accumulated a big box of that because sweet as it is, *annoying health nut alert* dates are very high in sugar and intake should be limited.
Anyways, this is a simple snack that is high in protein, filling and healthy that can keep you full for quite a while, should meals not be sufficient or if the delivery times are far apart.
- Day 6 -
2 May 2020
After Friday morning, weekend vibes got me feeling fancy
again with breakfast spread number two.
Two weeks. Isolated in a hotel room. Sounds daunting, no? Actually, I find it pretty healing. There is even time for some self-care. The first being, I've made it a point to wake up just that bit earlier in the morning before the sun turns too strong. A small time frame freed so that I can actually taste my breakfast, read, stare out the window, and actually see the world. On hindsight, I'm glad that I am not quarantined in the city centre because the green I'm surrounded with truly helps me feel disconnected from the world. I used to wonder why someone would want to travel to some isolated part to be alone. Wasn't that lonely? And I never got the whole concept of meditation. Because in my experience, as much as I have tried to brainwash myself to 'clear my mind and live in the present', I was never able to completely quieten my mind. Something would always catch my attention.
This past week however, I think I do understand now? I am truly enjoying this disconnection because I feel like I can finally hear my thoughts loud and clear. It is healing me in a way because I feel like the world is not impeding in my little peace bubble for now.
On top of that, I am currently reading Kite Runner, after completing Tattooist of Auschwitz just a few months ago. These books have really put things into perspective for me. In comparison to the horrors the Nazi camp prisoners had to face, or the extreme poverty and war-ridden lives of the people of Afghanistan, my own worries seem so insignificant. If I were a poor orphan in Afghanistan, with barely two meals to eat, the imagery of a future so nebulous because all I would see is trying to survive the everyday, how would I see Covid-19? Is it even something I would be worried about? Would I just brush it away just like any mundane life problem? Would I even know of it?
Also, does anyone have any humorous novel recommendations? I feel like I need a break from this heaviness.
- Day 7 -
3 May 2020
Before this gets way too long, how has everyone's weekend been? Mine has, like aforementioned, involved many spreads, thoughts, words, a few planes taking off and Janitor Sheryl went back to work cleaning the bathroom. All's good :)
11am tomorrow morning would officially mark week one of my quarantine over. My quarantine is happening faster than I imagined. But like this, this pandemic too, shall pass, quickly.
Some offices are opening in Malaysia tomorrow. So, if you are going back to work tomorrow, stay safe! And here's a little photoshop I did. As a reminder to sometimes look out the window. To stop and stare, and dream. May your week be filled with happiness and magic!
Thank you for reading!