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Mr. Virusosity. My Exile on Pain Street

Author: Bill Barnett. Category: Tourism. Posted: 8th Mar 2020

Guilty as charged. My crime is not murder, mayhem or theft, but the seemingly unforgivable act of traveling to Singapore last Tuesday. I’m now five days into my new life as a virus exile.

Mind you there currently is no travel ban between Thailand and Singapore, yet someone in one office has not informed another office to connect the dots. The resulting chaos means either I can opt in and go home, with the consequences being my kids cannot go to school for two weeks or else I check into a hotel and become a refugee away from home and family. I’ve chosen the latter.

Singapore is generally an extremely safe place, often referred to as Asia-light or Orange County East. During my daring flight from safety in Phuket to danger city Singapore last week, everywhere I want the level of hygiene and crisis information was on display everywhere. As soon as I entered an office building, digital thermometers took center stage.

After a short 24-hour business trip I returned to Bangkok where strange daze has erupted over whether there was actually a travel ban. Yes, that deleted Facebook notice has caused total confusion across the Kingdom. Ultimately even schools issued, retracted and re-enacted the directive mentioned above. My fate was sealed.

Just a moment ago, I could almost hear Tom Petty wailing “Don’t want to live like a refuge”, real or imagined, never mind, let’s get back on point.

My life over the last 4 days has been turned upside down. I now know what it’s like be Jewish, Palestinian, Syrian or a gypsy and become a wanderer with no home. Okay, that might be over the top given I am staying in a nearby moderately priced newish hotel room with kitchenette. Still it’s not home.

Daily routines have changed, I have been disinvited from my favorite local coffee shop (they say wait 14 days but let’s just make it forever baby), looking for a temporary home in crisis mode a well-loved hotel wanted to charge me more than even their average rate and yes meetings became all too hard.

Since the Covid-19 coronavirus has emerged, an entire new etiquette order has emerged. There is self-quarantine. I’m not sure about anyone else but this term is totally weird, as it beckons images of masturbatory solo love in a white clad hospital. Or social distancing? Really?

Our new life ethos is taking us back to the cave, where it all began. Fear, confusion and rage. Maybe it’s just a Sunday morning but I’m not buying into it.  Mr. Petty and I are about to break free.

As my existence revolves around the travel industry, the present circumstance make it a  sort of divine obligation to continue to travel. The alternatives are just too awful. There is simply no way I’m being into that back to the stone age reality television you see about doomsday preppers or living off the land. Screw that. Give me aircon, an ice-cold margarita and Netflix any day. Why forage for your dinner when Food Panda is just a dial away? 

Each and every day in my refuge life has started with a trip to the front desk to recode my key card as the guest services clerk stares quizzically into my face and says “for how long will you be staying sir” and my same same but different replay remains the same “all things must pass”.

Next Monday, or eight days from now I am booked to fly to Singapore. Will I go. Hell yes. And then, of course the 14 days may, or may not again start but for now all I can do is continue to walk on the wire….

 

 

 

 

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C9 Hotelworks Founder and Managing Director Bill Barnett is a noted columnist, author and leading authority on travel trend, hotels and property.

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