It has now been one week since I arrived back to Bangkok, Thailand, having spent more than 4 months in Scandinavia.
I was booked by end of August for my return with SWISS, but the flight was canceled. I knew when I left Bangkok, that I took a big risk, but all my friends, including myself, thought this terrible Covid19 virus would for sure have ended by late August. As we all know, it’s still going on and even worse.
It was not an easy task to get all formalities together for a return to Thailand. You could never imagine there would be so many required certificates. As we all know, authorities mostly don’t work very fast, so one has to be prepared to wait and have a lot of patience. It took me more than a couple of months to get everything ready and if you are not used to search and go through web sites, well then good luck. I was lucky to have a friend who supported me and guided me through many sites.
I took several trips to Stockholm from the West coast to visit the Thai embassy. I have to give the staff a praise, they were very helpful, friendly and efficient.
Among the documents you need is a certificate, excerpts from the criminal record. One must be aware of that it takes the police authority 14 days ++ to handle this task. You would think it could be much faster since everything is online today. In Denmark, you can look it up by yourself on the computer and print out. In Sweden you even have to pay 280 SEK to receive it. As I hadn’t prepared this document, my flight had to be postponed another 2 weeks longer than foreseen.
You also have to get a certificate proofing you have no Tuberculosis, no Elephant disease, no Syphilis stadium 3, no addiction to drugs etc.
When I visited the medical clinic, the doctor just burst out laughing when he saw this request. He had a great sense of humor. He showed me on his screen how you look like when you have Elephant disease, took a brief look at my legs and said with a bright smile” I think we can agree that this disease is not existing in your case”.
Those diseases are very rare nowadays in Sweden, probably in the entire Western world. The necessary Covid test I can agree on, it should be a must.
You will also need a document explaining who you are, whom you are married to, your civil status etc.
I had a feeling, that one of the most important documents, was the one proofing your financial situation. You had to proof that you had a certain amount of money on your account. This amount seems to be different from country to country.
Last, but not least, your insurance is most important. You have to be covered with an insurance worth at least, 100.000 US$. I had one, but it will expire in January 2021 and that wasn’t popular, there should be a longer time before its expiration date. I was lucky getting away with the short period, but it brought many thoughts and fear in me before the immigration approved on it.
Well, when you have to pick your ASQ hotel, book and pay for it in advance, as well as your flight to the airport you’re supposed to fly out from. All in all, this is an expensive experience, not only time consuming.
I must admit I was close to becoming a nervous wreck. When my departure date arrived, I took an early train from Gothenburg in Sweden to Copenhagen, where I was supposed to embark. A dark and windy morning I dragged, 2 suitcases, a bursting bag and my handbag down to the Central Station. The train was not having a cafeteria and I had had no breakfast or not even a coffee before I left 6 a.m, This didn’t contribute to a very good mood.
When the train passed the bridge (Oeresundsbron) between Malmoe and Copenhagen, we were told to put on the mask. In Sweden you hardly see anyone wearing a mask, except a few foreigners. Today, after the second wave, it might be more common. There are many people against wearing a mask and due to the Public Health Agency of Sweden, it hasn’t been a must, not even a recommendation. Might be today.
I was early at the airport and I realized how good that was. The papers were looked through by Thai staff at the check-in desk. I had applied for a new passport in Sweden and that caused some questions. My COE (Confirmation of Entry) had my old passport number and the OA visa was in my new passport. Wow, how to solve this issue? I got so irritated and nervous again, but one of the Thai staff understood and wrote down a few sentences in Thai and I could check-in, what a relief.
Oh, so much overweight…. I was allowed to carry 30 kilos, but had 45, an expensive story. Paid my overweight and thought of the Swedish butter, crispy bread, Rose Balsamico, cheese etc. these things became suddenly terrible expensive products….but what do you do when you have a crave for it?
This was an expatriation flight organized by the Thai embassy, so the airline was Thai Airways of course. I normally fly Finnair or Turkish Airlines when I go to Scandinavia, long time since I went on a Thai Airways plane.
The flight attendants greeted us looking very uncomfortable in their plastic covers, masks and gloves. Poor them, must have been so warm. The plane was completely fully booked. All Thais were sitting in economy and the foreigners in the business class. I was disappointed that the seats were not as big and comfortable as with Finnair, Turkish or Swiss.
This time you were not greeted with a glass of Champagne, instead a small bottle of luke warm drinking water (not my favorite beverage). Food was still served on real porcelain plates, but well wrapped.
There was a 100% alcohol prohibition. I really don’t see the meaning of prohibiting people from enjoying a glass of wine or beer. To me it makes no sense at all. You pay a fortune for a one way business class ticket and what do you get? Well, I know, you should be thankful to be able to return home, but …
We had no access to internet on board, it wasn’t possible to watch a movie. Most of the time all light was out. A boring trip. Had a family with a baby on board who made some noise, that’s all.
We arrived to Suvarnabumi airport early morning and were escorted out and greeted by staff all looking like people from another planet. Hundreds of people wrapped in light blue plastic. What a sight, almost had to laugh. Row after row with chairs, of course placed with recommended distance. We had to pass through at least 5 different sections for security control, and time after time the same documents were read. Surprisingly it didn’t take much time. Everything was very organized and efficient.
Next stop was Immigration. Here, the fact that my insurance was to expire in January came up again. I tried to explain that it will be renewed in January. The guy had to ask several colleagues and after almost 30 minutes, I was allowed into Thailand.
Took a deep breath before entering the custom. You always manage to look guilty, even when you have nothing to hide. I had my bag full of caviar, cheese, crispy bread, vinegar, salami etc. Not mention anything more….. I put on a very innocent face and went straight through. I was lucky as the woman ahead of me, got caught. Happy, happy.
I had booked the Rembrandt Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 18/20 as I see this place as my second home, like many Swedes do and as it belongs to my landlord. It was an easy choice. At first, before Rembrandt was allowed on the list for ASQ hotels, I thought about Moevenpick on Soi 15. There I would had been able to look up to my apartment and would maybe even have seen my dogs walking by.
Many of my friends chose a hotel by the river and with a balcony or terrace, Anantara by the Riverside is popular. I booked a superior room at Rembrandt and it’s quite big, has a huge window from floor to ceiling, a microwave, a small fridge, TV and, important, a yoga matt.
A van from the hotel picked me up at the airport and took care of my luggage. Before i could enter the car, I had to put on the blue plastic covers over the shoes. I was clinically clean. It was a nice drive and a good feeling seeing all the familiar sky scrapers again.
I was surprised when I was taken to a small back yard entrance I even didn’t know existed, me who thought I knew every single part of Rembrandt. The main entrance was closed and shielded. “Normal” hotel guests are during this period using the building where the serviced apartments are.
Here, at the back entrance, I was greeted by friendly nurse from BHN hospital. She started off telling me how great I looked after such a long flight. A winning welcoming. I had to register and was asked about my health condition, followed by temperature measuring, blood pressure etc. Wasn’t sure how to get those apps and QR codes downloaded (hate it) so received a helping hand from a staff member.
Arrived to my room, had a shower and unpacked. Lunch was delivered and placed on a table outside your door. If you think you are in for a diet 15 days, I have to disappoint you. You get much more food than you can eat, beautiful dishes from well known Restaurant Rang Mahal (my favorite) from Mexicana and daVinci. You can order In-Room dining menu if you wish for something extra.
Plain water you get 3 liters daily, I can soon start to sell my bottles, as I only use plain water for making coffee or tea.
Wine or beer, just forget it. You are not allowed to have any kind of alcohol during your quarantine stay. This is something, I personally have difficulties understanding and accepting. You are in for a detox period if you want it or not. What harm would it be to let the “prisoners” enjoy a glass of wine or beer with the meals? A delicious dinner without wine is not complete in my opinion.
I think every one has a right to drink whatever he/she wants, but this is Thailand…..
I’ve often been asked how it is to be in quarantine. Well, I was a bit worried, as the typical Aquarius I am, I very much dislike to be deprived my freedom. But honestly, I think I have done well so far.
I arrived quite psychologically exhausted and this first week with myself and no duties, except from sending your temperature twice a day to BNH, has done me good. It’s nice to catch up on the phone with friends. I am normally not a person who likes to be on the phone, but I never called and received so many calls as during this past week.
Netflix has become kind of a lover. He’s perfect in every way. You turn him on whenever you feel for it. If you want him to be quiet, you press the button and he will shut up. He makes you both laugh and cry, a real good companion, but no good in bed.
I brought my own cutlery from Sweden as I had heard that you only get plastic cutlery and food served in Styrofoam boxes. This is not true, at Rembrandt you get real plates, glasses and cutlery. It is delivered in boxes though. I think that even if you are locked up you should be able to eat with style. I wish there would be a linen napkin too, but that is missing.
It’s kind of weird that you stay in a good hotel and don’t get your room cleaned, your blankets and sheets changed daily and can’t use any of the hotel facilities, but we know why. Also an odd feeling to do your washing up in the lavabo, but despite this, everything goes well and no need to complain. With other words, it’s not too bad.
You have to do swab tests, one on day five and if it shows negative, you are allowed out to spend 90 minutes by the pool, but not in the pool. You will be escorted by staff and you are not allowed to move around. I think here there are different rules depending on which hotel you’re staying at.
Also during your first stay outside, the room gets a cleaning up and they give you new bed sheets and towels.
The swab tests are known to be awful. The one I had before I left, was easy and painless, but I heard that here in Thailand the swabs are big and they pull it through your nose all the way down to your tonsils. I was afraid and worried, but the nurse took one test in my throat and one in my nose and it was quick and painless, but that also seems to depend on which hospital.
I’m soon finishing my quarantine, less than a week to go and I’m not depressed, not feeling stressed, I’m just fine.
My advice to you who has this journey in front of you; is to start early to collect all required documents. If possible, pay a visit to the Thai embassy for advice and assistance and take a deep breath.
Good luck and happy return to the land of smiles!