Just a short warning before you continue to read this post. This is the second part of Quarantine Diary: Day -1 Leaving Koh Lanta. And just to be totally honest with you, this is the not so fun, a bit sad, very exhausting and super annoying part. So buckle up, grab your wine glass, beer, or shot glass and let’s get through the contamination zone called airport together.
One last check
So after having one amazing last morning on Koh Lanta, I rushed through a quick shower and stuffed all the chips, nuts, anchovies, dried mango, and a real Papaya — yes I know — into my luggage. Sara took my luggage downstairs and I checked once again if I haven’t left anything behind. Well, at least nothing that wasn’t meant to be left behind. Because although I knew that I will leave all my sports stuff behind, I had hoped that I would have been able to share all the Żubrówka with some KoHubbers. But now it seems that I have to leave all the Vodka, a couple of Wedel Torciki (yes Sara, if you want they are all yours!), Krówki and Mozartkugeln in Sara’s responsibility to spread them fairly amongst KoHubbers and Trivia night participants. And btw. although I checked the room at least 5 times and the safe probably even 7 times I managed to leave an SD card behind *facebump*.
So I grabbed all the rest of my stuff to follow Sara downstairs. The driver from Apple Travel was already waiting downstairs with Apple together. She is such a lovely and reliable person. It was always a pleasure going with Apple Travels back and forth between Koh Lanta and Krabi airport!
One last goodbye
There it was. The moment I have been dreading the most. Having to have said goodbye to Alison, Adam, Alex, Laura, and Collie was hard enough. But having to say my final goodbye to one of the most amazing and loveable people on this planet … that was just too much. After hugging Sara for at least the 15th time I managed to finally get my ass into the van and stay there, without running out again to give her JUST ONE MORE HUG. I can’t believe it but I think I have never ever left Koh Lanta with tears in my eyes. Yes! Sad, exhausted, not-yet-willing-to-go-back-home…but never with actual tears in my eyes.
Drive to Krabi airport – contamination zone #1
For the next 2 hours, I tried to calm myself down. I tried to prepare myself for the shit that was awaiting me at the airports. And for what it was going to be like in Vienna. On the one hand, I was devastated leaving this place. And on the other, I had hope to come back and meet all of my friends again.
On the drive to Krabi airport, I managed to eat one package of Peanuts and Anchovy and the leftovers of the dried pork. Damn it Kevin — I didn’t need another Lanta addiction!
The airport in Krabi & Bangkok – contamination zone #1 & #2
We arrived at the airport, I paid the driver, put on my mask and my gloves and after having my temperature checked at the entrance I entered the contamination zone #1 called Krabi airport. And of course, obviously, no one was giving a shit about personal space. I mean?! Honestly?! Well, that’s what natural selection looks like. If you don’t care, well then maybe you just don’t deserve … ok, noooo … naughty Kasia … don’t think like that. You have to accept that there are stupid and irresponsible people on this planet … Whooza! @Alison: name the movie 😉 … and btw. I miss brainstorming quiz questions with you!
No queue at the check-in?
Moving like a rabbit who is trying to avoid touching stupid tourists, I tried to make my way to the check-in counter. No queue yet? That is awesome! And there is also a reason for that. No check-in for my flight yet. Ok … so what to do with a couple of hours at an airport where your main goal is to avoid people? Where is the safest place right now at the airport? This riddle is pretty easy to solve. And the answer is: outside the airport.
Waiting outside in the heat
So I grabbed my luggage, my backpack, and my bag and made my way outside. And although I have been wearing already all of my “plane”-clothes, which means at least 5 layers too much for this temperature, I definitely preferred to be outside, sweating my ass off then ending up lecturing tourists to keep their damn distance.
After eating another bag of Peanuts and Anchovies (thank God they are so tiny) and trying to focus on my book, it was finally time to do the check-in. After having to take out at least three items and stuff them into my backpack I managed to convince the lady at the counter that 24 kg was close enough to the 23 kg limit, I was allowed to have.
Going through the security check and trying to find a quiet and empty spot far away from all the crazy tourists, I waited for boarding. I got on the plane, took my seat, and tried to ignore all the stupid people while trying to survive with my mask on. Yes, I can’t mention that often enough. And honestly, the surviving part was a tough one. The mask is amazing and I am very thankful that my father provided me with enough masks, that I was even able to leave one for Sara and one for Laura on Koh Lanta. But honestly. How would I be able to survive 11 hours on the flight from Bangkok to Vienna, I have no clue!
Flight on schedule
Finally, after a 1.5-hour flight, and dinner on the flight, we landed in Bangkok: contamination zone #2. As advised by my father, I switched masks and put on new gloves while waiting for boarding. I managed to wiggle my way trying to avoid as much contact with other people and also trying to keep the 1-2 m distance. And damn it, that wasn’t easy. Don’t people know that this distance is also valid if you wait in queues? “Yes, mam I am also standing in this line, just keeping my distance!”
After I arrived at the gate for the flight to Vienna, I once again tried to find a spot the farthest away from all the other people who were waiting for boarding. And while waiting, guess what. I finished another bag with Peanuts and Anchovies — I think that was the last one that I had prepared for the trip — finally!
Already feeling exhausted
I started to feel exhausted. Not only because it was already 10:30 p.m. but also because the last couple of days took a toll on me. But I had to fight through those last couple of minutes, get on the plane and then… well just survive the next 11 hours without taking off the mask, disinfecting my hands every now and then and trying to at least have a short nap. Because you know what?! After such a journey, most of the people would take the day off. I mean, after traveling for almost 24 hours, you deserve a break, don’t you? But no mam. Not for me. After arriving in Vienna I would have to get home, take a super fast shower and spend approximately 9 hours in front of my MacBook in web meetings, while once again working my ass off. WHOOHOO!
Boarding earlier than scheduled
Although boarding was scheduled for 11:15 p.m. they started at around 11:00 pm. I assume that everyone wanted to get this over with, even the pilots. Boarding the plane, finding my seat, freaking out, because the guy next to me had a bracelet that looked like the ones they have at mental hospitals, the clock hit 11:55 p.m. on Wednesday, the 18th of March 2020 as we took off and were on our way to Austria.
The flight: BGK – VIE – contamination zone #3
I have to admit that being a bit of a Monk when it comes to hygiene, the first thing that I did after finding my chosen seat, that I have paid 35 € extra for, was to disinfect everything. By everything, I mean everything that I would be probably touching during the next 11 hours. I grabbed my little disinfection spray and had also the disinfection wipes, that I have packed and started to literally wipe my personal space clean.
How to stay safe during the flight?
Things and surfaces you touch during a flight:
- the TV screen
- the table in front of you
- the seat belts
- the armrests, don’t forget the button to move your chair
- the small pocket in front of you
- the window blind and the area around it
- the top part of the seat in front of you
- the top part of your own seat
Done. I now had a somehow disinfected and hopefully contamination-free personal space. What has astonished me the most is that although I haven’t been the only one wearing a mask during the flight, you could count all the other, in my opinion, responsible people, on two hands. Call me crazy, call me Monk, call me stupid. I honestly don’t care. Better to be safe than sorry.
How to survive the flight?
Trying to take a nap right now wouldn’t be the wisest decision, because I would be awake within the next two hours anyway, would have missed my 2nd dinner and would probably get hangry within 30 min. Scrolling through the “recently released” list on my TV, I was surprised that I couldn’t really find anything to watch. That reminded me of the typical “What to watch on Netflix scrolling to death” dilemma. Deciding on the first movie, switching after 5 min to another one and keeping this pace up until I was so damn pissed of watching the stupid “Wagner” add before each and every single movie, I promised myself to stick with no matter movie I would pick next. Being honest I don’t even remember what I watched.
I had my dinner, although it seems that when you rebook your flight, Austrian Airlines doesn’t take into account your preferred meal option, that you have booked. I watched a movie and I even managed to take a nap of around 3 hours. Inbetween I stretched my legs a couple of times, tried to stay hydrated and disinfected my hands every single time I came from the bathroom, even after washing my hands for the recommended 20 sec. Have you noticed how long 20 sec are? Well, I did. Since Corona, I really appreciate people who have done this even before. I have to admit, that although I think of myself as a clean and hygienic person, I have never ever before washed my hands for 20 sec.
Landing in Vienna – contamination zone #4
Although I was dreading the 11 hours flight, it went by faster than expected. At 4:30 a.m. Lanta time, the pilot announced that we will be landing shortly and gave us an update on the weather situation in Vienna. I mean, honestly, well thanks for the weather update, but we are advised to isolate ourselves and stay at home. So honestly I think a reminder on how to behave and mentioning to keep the 1-2 m distance to other people would have been more of use.
No temperature check in Vienna
After having had my temperature measured before entering the airport in Krabi and also once again in Bangkok, I have assumed that there would be even a more thorough examination in Vienna. But nope! Not in Vienna. Either they have been thinking that an 11 hours flight would cure us all of Corona or they just assumed that the temperature measurements in Thailand would be sufficient enough.
Really?! I mean, would it have been so difficult to grab two employees and let them check everyone’s temperature. Either to give the ones that had higher temperature ones again the needed health instructions or at least to give us a bit of, even if it would be false, reassurance, that every single one of us needs right now? I would also have expected to get some more advice on how to behave, what to do next and how to deal with this situation.
Nothing. And I mean nothing at all! The only thing that they have been announcing through the speakers was, that you should keep 1-2 m distance. And that is exactly the one thing that no one cared about. Queuing up at the passport control I seriously had to tell 5 people that I indeed was standing in line but that I also was keeping the recommended distance! *Whooza*
Leave the building as fast as possible
After getting my passport checked without killing any of my fellow travelers, I made my way as fast as possible to the baggage claim. I know that you normally can take your time with that part, but the Vienna airport is really fast with getting your luggage out of the plane and onto the assembly line. And it also was probably not that busy at the moment. And yes, after the short walk I already saw my red Samsonite trolley moving towards me on the line. I grabbed it and made my way out, ignoring the 1-2 m distance, because it really was pointless.
How to get home?
I don’t know how the recommended way of getting home from the airport was. You probably should avoid public transportation. Taking a cab would be an option, but what about the driver? You could be picked up by a friend or family member. But having been in Thailand, you also should self-quarantine yourself to not endanger anyone close to you. So tell me: how should I get my cute little ass from the airport to my apartment?
With a little help from my sister
The answer is “with a little help from my sister”. I honestly hadn’t had the time to think about that beforehand, because of the workload I have been coping with during the last couple of weeks. But thankfully I have a sister who always takes care of me. Especially in situations like those. One day before my departure she and her husband suggested taking my car to the airport. The plan was that they would go in the middle of the night, to park it in one of the parking places at the airport, so that I could just get out of the airport, grab the keys and go straight home, without getting in touch with anyone.
And as usual, that was the best solution ever.
After I grabbed my luggage, I made my way out of the airport, and after getting lost just once I found my precious little Micra Mouse. I got rid of the gloves and the mask — FINALLY some fresh air — and began the last part of this journey.
Missed the last opportunity for a walk
Honestly, if I would have known back then what I know now, I would have stopped somewhere on the road. I would have gone for one last walk. But I haven’t been thinking so far ahead and I also was kind of in a rush. Although we landed around 30 min earlier than planned, I still had just 2-3 hours left until my first work meeting at 9 am.
The drive from the airport home was for this time of day really easygoing. Thursday, 6 am there normally would have been way more traffic. I assume that’s how it looks like around the globe right now in most of the bigger cities. On my way, I saw just a couple of people probably going to work. But I also saw some people jogging and just a few wearing masks. Shouldn’t we all be wearing masks while being outside? Isn’t that the policy that we should stick to right now? Hmmm, maybe I am mistaken. I definitely need to catch up on all the restrictions and recommendations … as soon as I find some time for that.
Home, sweet home
After the 50 min drive from the airport back home, I parked in my garage. I managed to get to my apartment without encountering one single human being. I managed to get back home safe, without any unplanned layovers. And I did survive one contamination zone after the other without getting sneezed on. Without any further major incidents. That’s definitely going on my “successful-self-quarantine” list!
But being awake, and I am not counting the 3 hours nap on the flight from Bangkok to Vienna, for the last 27 hours, my day basically just started. *yay*
Hello #quarantinelife! Let’s start the first workday back in my home office in Vienna during my self-subscribed quarantine after being awake for way too long already.
Is that really what I gave up Koh Lanta for?