Toren’s Taiwan Trip: Quarantine (the First 2 weeks)

In excruciating detail!

We were surprised how full the plane was, giving that it’s a pandemic, but also it’s around Lunar New Year so maybe we should not have been quite so surprised? All the paperwork leading up to this moment (COVID test, etc) was a nightmare of stress and confusion. I don’t recommend it. It was even worse for my wife, who actually handled it! The flight was 12 hours, not including the usual preflight waiting. I’m not sure about the benefit of waking passengers for 2 meals between (what was for me) midnight and noon, but okay. The movie selection on the plane was not great, the ‘classics’ were essentially old Bond films, so I finally watched Goldfinger. Yes, I had never seen Goldfinger.

IMAGE: I was number 29 to take the test, I was NOT number 29 to get my results 🙁

Once we landed everyone had to take a COVID test. This involved waiting to be called, in order of your passport number. Fun fact: Taiwanese passports start with numbers and Canadian ones start with letters, so I was pretty much dead last out of around 250 people.

IMAGE: A small army of Taiwanese health personnel. Now I truly feel I’m in a pandemic movie

Then we had to go through the rigmarole of getting simcards and setting up apps for the government to check in on us that we were quarantined and doing our regular self-tests. All that business took about 4 hours. Then we got into the quarantine taxi for the long drive from Taoyuan to Kaohsiung, which is were my wife’s fam lives.

IMAGE: Getting hosed down for the quarantine taxi

The highway from the airport is SO HIGH UP! Higher than the buildings and trees! I love the shape of the tree line in Japan and Taiwan, always reminds me of M.A.S.H. even though M*A*S*H was filmed in Malibu Creek State Park in California.

IMAGE: driving driving driving from Taoyuan Aiport to Kaohsiung

It’s over 3 hours drive from Taoyuan airport to Kaohsiung, which I spent with a spider in the back seat. Overall we were in transit roughly 22-23 hours!

IMAGE: my first close encounter with Taiwanese fauna

The quarantine hotel was adequate and our room was on the second floor. Mother-in-Law’s house was just a few blocks away so occasionally relatives would drop off stuff for us – like fruit!

We would spend the next 2 weeks confined to this hotel room. They provided us with enormous amounts of disposable plastic (ugh…) including disposable razors, many toothbrushes and tiny toothpaste bottles, etc, of which we used maybe 10%. Plastic waste is a huge problem in Asian countries, as far as I can tell. We took the leftovers to mom’s place, as I’m sure the hotel would just throw the unused items in the trash.

IMAGE: disposable plastic toiletries

The hotel provided meals (which my wife prepaid for) but they were crap, so we cancelled that service after a few days. Luckily, Uber Eats was there for us. My closest contact with non-wife life was oriental turtledoves that frequented the trees outside our hotel room window.

IMAGE: oriental turtledove eating the crumbs I left for ’em

I spent the next two days drawing, working on Ruin Nation, and watching movies. There were 4 reliable Hollywood movie channels on the hotel TV, and while the audio was in English, the sound on the TV was not great so it was hit and miss (English subtitles were not an option). Old movies on youtube were my go-to.

I also did a lot of sampling of the local cuisine! If you’re on facebook or twitter use the hashtag #torentries to see all the details

The government also left us a care package! A big bag of snacks, masks and bleach. I learned something interesting about Taiwan garbage collection – but more on that later.