By Yiannis Kyriacou (University of Hong Kong)
After a 9-hour flight finally landing in Hong Kong, it brought a huge sigh of relief that I had finally made it after all the trouble and work needed to get here. As soon as you get off the plane, it becomes clear that there are still some things that need to be done before you can enjoy what Hong Kong has to offer. That is the two-week quarantine and the covid testing in the airport. It took me four hours of waiting for my covid test at the airport before I could finally be transported to my designated quarantine hotel, which felt like a whole day as the fantastic view you had from the airport only made you want to leave that place more and go outside.
The bus ride across Hong Kong from the airport to the hotel was the most mesmerising bus ride of my life. It was late at night, and the lights from the massive skyscrapers made the city feel alive. The journey took you over bridges, and the view of the city was incredible. It exceeded all my expectations of what Hong Kong would look like and just made me even more excited about what was to come. However, as we approached the quarantine hotels, it became clear this was only a taster of life here as a two-week quarantine was ahead of you.
I had prepared well for my quarantine as I brought two books with me, had downloaded many movies and tv shows, and made a small exercise schedule for myself. However, plans never go exactly as intended, and my time in quarantine was different than planned as food plays a massive part in your mood and actual willingness to do things.
The first week was not too bad. I enjoyed doing the things I like, relaxing all day and enjoying the amazing view from the hotel. However, I started to dislike the food progressively the more I had it. We would get three meals a day, but some of the meals were inedible for me as they were not to my taste, and all the other food was bland, unseasoned and felt like no effort was put in it. The food was also very repetitive, and there was never anything tasty as they were all made to be as cheap as possible for the hotel. I even started skipping breakfast as the food was just not appealing many mornings and sometimes too heavy for morning meals. Therefore, I ordered some instant noodles from Food Panda and had them for lunch or dinner when the food they provided was not enjoyable. However, the second week of quarantine became even more challenging as the repetitive and bland food started to feel even worst and sometimes, depending on the food, I could not eat it. I ended up ordering food some nights so I would at least have some nice food for a change which would significantly lift my mood. I also discovered some amazing restaurants in Hong Kong and tried some fantastic food; however, I do not know if the food tasted this delicious because of the lack of flavour in the past week.
Due to the lack of energy and enthusiasm from the constant tasteless food, I did not exercise as much as I had hopped, and the constant lying in bed ended up making me quite unfit as I would not walk anywhere in the room was small. I also ended up not watching any of the movies I had downloaded and only kept watching some of the shows I had as I found myself quite busy calling family, friends and reading my books.
After two weeks of quarantine and being stuck in a small room, it was finally time to leave the hotel and head out to the real world. That day was extremely sunny and hot, and as I was leaving the hotel, I finally realised how hot and humid Hong Kong was. But the heat felt pleasant as it meant I could finally explore this city, which I had wanted to do for such a long time. As i was getting ready to leave the hotel it had also sunk in that I was in a foreign country and knew no one that could help me if needed which can be an overwhelming feeling. But after two weeks of quarantine this feeling gets taken over of excitement of finally leaving this place and going out to the real world that you do not let those thoughts scare you and it allows you do the things you have been imagining about doing for so long.