Here we go again. A few thoughts about my last trip to Sweden, the return to Thailand and the quarantine.
After having spent 3 weeks during Christmas and New Year in Sweden, I’m back in a Bangkok quarantine. I was sure this time that “Test and Go” was going to work out, but unfortunately my hotel booking was confirmed too late and the government had shut down the procedure. I don’t have to mention my anger and disappointment. To me everything was confusing and complicated concerning the Thai Pass that followed the old COE (Certificate of Entry).
I don’t know how many times I asked myself, why must everything be so difficult? Must admit though, that I’m a zero when it comes to handle online issues.
I have said it many times, but I say it again, the way we Scandinavians think, compared to how the Thais think, is like day and night. During my time in Sweden, I might have seen 3, maybe 4 people wearing a mask. Of course we were asked to keep a distance, but none really took it too seriously. The busses were, like most of the time, crowded. People were coughing, sneezing etc. and nobody seemed to care much about it. I wore a mask, as after 2 years wearing a mask in public, it becomes a daily habit, but the look people gave me, it was like I was sick and contagious. I was already during my visit in summer surprised, that the shops didn’t have desinfection spray at the entrances or someone cleaning the trolleys and baskets in the stores, but of course, we don’t have as much labour as in Thailand and those we have, are expensive.
You heard and saw just a little news about covid and the latest mutation Omicron on the TV. Towards my last days, I saw a minor change coming. I was seeing 2 girlfriends for dinner and got very surprised seeing a sign outside the restaurant asking for your vaccination pass or “scan your code here”. As I really do not get along well with all those QR codes, I was happy to have my vaccination pass on my mobile. My friends did too, so we were let in and could enjoy a pleasant dinner. There were 2 seatings/evening at the restaurant, so not much guests at all and quite a distance between the tables. We ordered some wine, which is not at all a problem, also during covid times. That is something that really upsets me here in Thailand, why should a government have the right to tell you if you are allowed to drink or not? It is a disaster for the restaurants not beeing able to serve the guests wine or beer. We all know that the alcohol brings the money. I think most people, including myself, think it’s not worth dining out and spending a lot of money, if you can’t enjoy a glass or two.
There will always be people around us who can’t handle alcohol, but let us be honest, they are a minority.
I also experienced, for the second time, that Systembolaget (Sweden’s liquor shop) had a queue outside on the street, especially before weekends. If you think it was because they could not let in all people due to lack of space, you’re wrong, it was suddenly not possible to let in more than 15 people at the same time, less risk for being infected.
Also one of our biggest banks, SEB, had taken on some new restrictions. It was difficult before to be served by the bank employes, but now it’s like a nightmare. I had to take a number and wait outside on the street, despite heavy rain or snow and no place to sit. I was thinking of all those elderly people who hardly could walk or stand, what on earth were they going to do? Inside in the huge office, you could see the staff running around carrying their small lap tops, looking very busy, but where were their customers? Yes correct, outside waiting. I had to handle some issues for my mum, who never could have waited outside without being able to sit down but I waited patiently for a long time. I found the whole thing so inefficient. Just before I left the city, they had decided only to take people by appointment and you had to call them to get an appointment. You get in a real good mood when you hear “you have number 57 in the queue. Hold the line please or key in your number and we will call you back”. By hearing the last words “we will call you back” you immediately knew, that is not going to happen, so you sit/stand waiting and getting more and more upset and impatient.
I was lucky, my bank had another policy. You could drop by at any time and if you had to wait, you were asked to sit down and enjoy a coffee, very stimulating and appreciated. We should not forget that SEB is a commercial bank and not that keen on small private savers.
Despite those few things, everything was being the same as before we even had heard about covid.
You might think now that we are a bunch of complacent people in Sweden, but I can reassure you, we are not. We look at the virus more like a normal winter flu and the new Omicron isn’t very far from that. I have many friends, who had no idea they were carrying Omicron, they had no signs at all, but by being tested, they were positive. That is scary and makes us understand why this Omicron is spreading so quickly, but it’s not killing so many.
Back to my returning trip. I was leaving my home city Gothenburg for Skåne a few days before my departure from Copenhagen airport in Denmark. Here I had to find a place to do my last pcr test. I was honestly very nervous, not because of the test, but the result. I was wondering, what do I do if I test positive? The same day I took the test I had both a source throat, an aching chest and wasn’t my nose maybe running a bit….of course it was all imagination.
My test this time and the first time for me, was just spitting as much as possible in a test tube. It was not as easy as you might think. When I, after quite a while, had spitted enough, my test tube looked more like a blood test. I had had some gum bleedings lately and spitting heavely was not ideal. I asked the nurse if it might influence on the result, but she laughed and said “you should see how much left-overs etc. we find in the tubes.” Okay, that was calming me a bit, but the night before the day my result would pop up in an email, I could hardly sleep.
During the night I looked at my phone several times to see if there was an email with my result and at 7.30 am it arrived, Negative, I can’t explain how happy I felt. Now I could enjoy my last 24 hours before leaving.
I stayed at a close friend’s house in Skanör, the most beautiful place in summer, but dark and calm during half the year. My friend has the gift to make it warm and cozy and we had a great time chatting, eating, drinking and remembering…..
My departure day I was picked up by a taxi at 06.00 am. It was so dark outside, like in the middle of the night. When you know that you have to wake up very early and even if you have turned on your alarm, you never sleep too well, or at least, I don’t. I had packed almost everything except for some cheese, salami and 2 packets of the, in my taste, best butter in the world BRE GOTTT with sea salt.
I had no difficulties to close my suitcase, very unusual. I waved good bye to my friend and off I was to Denmark. I don’t know how many times during the drive I checked my documents, Thai Pass, Vaccination certificate , PCR test and Insurance……
I arrived to the airport early, they had not even opened the check in desk. Half an hour later, a beautiful and very nice young woman checked me in. As I was travelling on an old SWISS flight ticket, there was a transfer in Zurich, my old hometown for more than 40 years, and that still has a huge place in my heart. Our flight was delayed from Copenhagen, so I was worried my luggage wouldn’t be on time for the last part of the journey. I wasn’t too upset about it as I knew I was going to stay alone in a room for a week.
Landed almost on time at Suvarnabumi. It was early morning in Bangkok, the sky was still a bit dark and smoggy, but I was back home.
I expected the arrival to be complicated, remembered last summer and all the fuss before you were allowed in to the Kingdom. This time was different. We had been told, already before landing, to keep the Thai Pass, Covid test and Vaccination certificate ready in our passports.
The procedure this time went real fast and efficient. Believe it or not, my luggage came, but as the absolutely last piece and when I already had lost hope.
Now, the last obstacle, to getting through the custom without loosing my cheese and butter. My friends back home had warned me to bring some food products. They said, “It’s so easy to see on you that you are smuggling as you have no poker face.” Might be true, but I went through the custom with my head high and lucky me, I wasn’t stopped and I could keep my Swedish delicatessen.
A car from the hotel waited for me and took me to Fraser Suites on Sukhumvit soi 11. I was almost home, my apartment building is located around the corner. At the back yard entrance I was let out and a friendly nurse was waiting for me and another pcr test of course. They are very meticulous here so one swab in the throat and one in my nose.
I had booked the less expensive room this time, but was happily surprised to find a nice, small apartment with a big bedroom, a living room with pentry and 2 TVs and all other necessary equiment except a yoga math. My meals are served 3 times a day outside my door on a small table. As I like to eat in style, I was happy to find nice China and cutlery in the cupboard.
I only knew Fraser Suites from its famous rooftop bar Above Eleven and its Indian restaurant. Until now, I have no complains at all. I’m doing my best to not getting too desperate as I find it hard, not being able to exercise or having some tasks to fulfill. I do the wash up 3 times a day, but that is done in a couple of seconds, I spend much too much time with Netflix, (thank God for Netflix). My maid was able to come over with some light clothes and my lap top, so I’m okay. Normally I think a week disappears much too fast, but sitting here now, I realize a week can be very long too.
How have you been during quarantine? Like me, restless or have you maybe enjoyed a time without duties and stress?
That’s the question!