Traveling during COVID-19
Updated: Jul 20, 2020
My most recent trip back to China will never be forgotten. Thank you to all who is supporting in any way possible to the Coronavirus. 武汉加油，共度难关！
Going Back to China
It has been exactly two years since I have stepped foot into China and it has been exactly ten years since I have celebrated Chinese New Year at home with my family. This year, with school being finished and no job to go to yet, I decided to go back to China and celebrate Chinese New Year with the family. But before my trip could even begin, something unexpected happen in China. The coronavirus happened.
On January 21, 2020, I landed in Shanghai Pudong International Airport. At that time, the coronavirus hasn't even gotten out of hand. For the next few days, I basically stayed at home with my grandparents to catch up and celebrate Chinese New Year. On the 24th, things started getting really bad. Wuhan was in complete locked down. Most transportations have been canceled. But none of that affected any part of my plan at that time.
On January 28th, my family and I went on our originally planned trip to Japan. Things weren't looking too good by the time we left. We had to get our temperature taken and questions like "have you been to Wuhan lately" and "have you been hanging out with anyone who has been in contact with anyone from Wuhan" were questioned before we were able to enter the airport.
We got through everything and arrived at Narita International Airport perfectly fine. The entire time when we were traveling, everyone had their masks on. It was becoming a requirement in China whenever a person would leave his or her apartment.
While In Japan
It isn't my first time in Japan, but it is my first time when I felt like I had to protect myself at all times because of the coronavirus. My first stop in Japan with my family is Tokyo. Throughout our entire time in Tokyo which is three days and three nights, we shopped at every mall possible and ate just about everything. We also went through every pharmacy and convenience store to find surgical masks but we had no luck except in one 24 hour convenience store in the metro station. On January 30, we went to Kanazawa-Shi for a quick stop before heading to Wakuramachi for some onsen time. In Kanazawa-Shi, we tried to go to every pharmacy and convenience store but masks are sold out everywhere. You didn't even have to go into the shop, they have signed on the front door that basically says don't bother coming in, we are sold out of masks. In Wakuramachi, we had an amazing kaiseki-ryori dinner followed by onsen time. After Kanazawa-Shi and Wakuramachi, we arrived in Kyoto. It is my first time in Kyoto and I can't wait to explore the city. During all the exploring, we were still looking for masks everywhere we go. While we were walking around Gion-shijo, we were very lucky to find a big pharmacy that just got their masks shipment. Everyone was only allowed to buy one box each so with the help of my family, we were able to buy five boxes which contained 150 masks total. Then my sister, my cousin and I went back in to buy more and to see if they would notice, they didn't. At the end of the day, we left with eight boxes of masks containing 240 masks. For the rest of that trip, we weren't able to find anymore masks.
Coming Back to America
On February 1, my dad notified the family that our trip will be cut short due to the fact that our original plane ticket from Shanghai back to New York has been canceled by the airline company. I was very upset by that news but I understood that it is a difficult time and our plan was bound to change at some point. We ended up booking our flight back to New York from Osaka. On the 4th of February, we got on the train to Osaka Kansai Airport. On the train, I cried. I cried not only because the trip has came to an early end, but because my dad has decided to stay in Japan. After we checked in and said goodbye to my dad, I cried again. I didn't want my mom or my sister see me cry so I turned around but I can't stop my tears. I hate goodbyes. I never thought for a second that this trip would be so short. I was ready for some family time. Ten years, this was my first time to be able to go back to China and stay for as long as I wanted to. Leaving my dad at the airport, I can't say I am not worried. I was but I had to go. Stay safe dad and I will see you soon. On the flight from Osaka to Seoul, my sister realized the flight attendants had a box of masks so she asked one of them if we could get one each. The flight attendant was very nice and gave each one of us two masks. Thank you! We had a layover in Seoul and before we could go to our terminal, we had to answer a series of questions before we are allowed to go in. Here are the questions that were asked:
Who packed your suitcase for you?
Did anyone you don't know touched your belongings today?
Have you been to Wuhan?
Have you been in contact with anyone from Wuhan?
We spent four hours in the airport and we were able to buy a few more masks in the pharmacy at the airport for a very ridiculous price. For the rest of the time, we spent it at the lounge to avoid crowded place. At 19:30, we boarded our plane back to New York. Twelve and half hours later, we landed in John F. Kennedy International Airport. We were very successful going through customs and receiving our luggage. We headed back to our apartment. That was the end of our short but exhausting trip. We picked the worst time to go back but this is an unforgettable trip. We are currently quarantining ourselves at our apartment to make sure we are okay before heading into public.
To All Who is Fighting Against the Coronavirus:
To all who have sacrificed yourself and are fighting against the virus that may take your life, thank you. To all who is on the front line, please take care of yourself. Your family is worried and would love to see you again. To all the kids that are home alone because your parents are taking care of those who were affected, be proud. To all who have donated, thank you for your contribution. To China, you can get through this.