Two weeks in a hotel room later, I am finally out. Ahh, fresh air. Nothing like air breathed through a mask.
- Monday : Release Day -
The phone rang. 'Hi Miss, please come to the lobby now'.
A flurry of last-minute room checks. A plastic-suited staff came to help with my luggage. I slipped on my mask and with slightly quickened breath, stepped over the threshold like I had two weeks ago.
- Saturday -
9 May 2020
The week had passed quickly, in a way mirroring the week before.
Even the meal combinations, I realised, had all been specifically planned and scheduled. Days bled into one another as I went about with my usual routine of online classes, reading, blogging, meal times spent with all devices turned off as I look towards the runway: hoping to see a plane take-off or land. Nothing of particular interest happened... until two plastic-suited medics came knocking on my door at 10am.
'Oh, hi. Erm, swab test?'
It was not. It was a blood test. Phew. But darn those pointy little things still get me nervous.
'Ahh. Blood test eh. Ooh big needle. LOL.'
My SLIGHT anxiety definitely showed as I brandished my arm with a flair, head twisted away from the duo, eyes fixed on the door. I tried to humour them. They were not impressed.
'It's done? That's fast. LOL.'
Twenty minutes they said. If in twenty minutes I did not receive a call, then I would be free in two days. Woah, that was the longest twenty minutes ever as I tried to calm myself. Took a quick shower and actually changed out of my PJs in case. Boiled the water. 10.20am. Hmm what if the 20 minutes included the 5 minutes they needed to take my blood?
10.45am. I'm in the clear, right?
11.00am. YAS PEEPS. I'm going HOME!!! *proceeds to spam friends with complete gibberish*
- Sunday -
10 May 2020
'Hi. So tomorrow, please be ready in your room by 10am.'
Ooff the chills!
So basically, the government health department is the one who'll decide what time we get to check out for control purposes.
One thing really befuddled me though : how was it that, despite being locked in a room for two weeks, could I have MORE things to pack than when I arrived?? Because the food delivery times were fixed to those three times daily, probably to ensure we don't starve, they would pack our meals with cup noodles, biscuits, and literally double, sometimes triple, my usual portions. I came with cleaning supplies. I left with a bag filled with Maggi cup noodles.
- Back to Monday Morning -
11 May 2020
Left : My last breakfast, and the hotel gifted me with a latte I didn't order but not ever going to say no to coffee especially an amazing one.
Middle : Bye forever room 704 / the most attached I've ever been to a hotel room.
Right : My red carpet outfit. 2020 Theme : Quarantine. Think I nailed it.
Despite the many lifts, we had to wait a few turns as the lift doors kept opening to people and luggage, positioned carefully at the four corners of each lift, delineated by yellow masking tape. The staff began some friendly small talk. A foreign businessman briskly walked past me, his face half-covered with a mask, his eyes grim. Do we all begin our quarantine with that same expression I wonder? Silent acceptance, grim understanding of a war-like situation. Finally, an empty lift.
I never noticed just how cavernous the lobby was. Towering pillars lined the long red carpet that stretched the length of the space, all the way to that rectangle of bright light at the end, dotted with silhouettes. I made my grand exit striding down that long, lush red carpet in my chunky military boots, my luggage in tow, with the people at the end looking at me.
Wah, like VIP hor? Nah, it was just the government's controlled method of making sure all the guests check out one by one. And it was quite frankly, very nerve-wracking. I felt like a specimen in scrutiny making my way down the huge space alone, with the whole medical and hotel team waiting at the end. On top of that, I hate being the centre of attention.
'Hi, Miss Wei!' The familiar, cheery voice that had been waking me up every morning belonged to a petite lady, greeting and smiling through her mask by the counter at the end. What an odd way to meet someone. Outside, my backpack and teddy bear were taken from me - to be sprayed with disinfectant with the rest of my luggage like in the airport. A medical staff signalled for me to stand on a white floor mat.
'Are you going to spray tan me or something?' jumped into my head. Nope, they just sanitised me as well. And my shoes.
To my left was a counter of staff. It was a flurry of forms, first from the hotel, then the medical team, the procedures and my test results. A pen given, sign here, another form, a payment. And within minutes, off I went, into a familiar car, as we rolled off the driveway in a chorus of 'Thank you for staying!'
Well, what an experience. The staff were all very friendly. I definitely had a comfortable stay and was very grateful for their hospitality. However, this is the first time I've paid for a hotel room to service it myself: from cleaning every corner, every hanger, to brushing the bathroom with a toothbrush as well. Four times to be exact. Oh no...how am I going to stay in another hotel again without thinking of the dust, I wonder?
The drive home was a long one : four hours of endless green, mountains, palm trees. Kampung houses: some clustered, others a standalone amidst paddy fields. The road was rather empty. The whole time, I was in a daze: looking out with renewed wonder at the scenery that had largely remained unchanged since childhood. Had I really been in that hotel for two weeks? It felt like it was just yesterday I entered. Time is a mysterious, elusive companion: on one hand, it stretches so long, you can't wait to see the end of it; on the other hand, it slips through your fingers so fast as if it were never there. But anyway, despite the sudden lethargy, I willed myself to stay awake. To enjoy that sun, the rolling hills, the road, as I know not when I'll see this route again.