This post is part of a spontaneous interview series I’m throwing together this weekend. The goal is to share personal accounts from people doing compulsory home quarantine in Taiwan during the coronavirus pandemic.

Welcome home, Alex! Where did you fly back from and how was the trip? My work colleague and I flew back from LA and landed at 6am on March 19. I’m a Community Manager for a food IOT company and also an artist agent/manager. We were on a three-week business trip with our boss which got cut short. It was a LOOOONG trip. The LA to SF leg of our original flight back got cancelled, so we weren’t even sure if we could get back to Taipei in the next few days, let alone the same day. We were VERY lucky that the lady at the United Airlines counter was incredibly kind and did everything she could to put us on the direct EVA Air flight flying out that night. The whole process of getting re-booked took about an hour but it felt like a lot more. We didn’t mind the wait, because all we really wanted was to get home to Taiwan.

Alex’s mom visiting with stuff.

How did you feel once you got back to Taiwan? Once we landed, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, even if I knew that I would have to spend the next two weeks in quarantine. We got back the day they started imposing quarantine to everyone coming in from Europe and US. Not gonna lie, getting back into Taipei from the airport was a VERY, VERY long process. It took us a little over five hours from the moment we landed to the moment we got into a cab. But at no point did we complain, or did anyone else for that matter. The Taiwan CDC and immigration were amazing. Everyone at the airport was incredibly helpful and supportive. Every time I think about it, it puts a tear in my eye.

What was the tipping point that made you decide to fly back to Taipei? I think it was during the first leg of our trip. We were in New Orleans for a trade show and there were very, very few people. The next two trade shows in Chicago and Las Vegas had been cancelled and we were following the news in the US very closely. A lot of people that we met during those four days in New Orleans didn’t believe that the virus was a big deal, some really thought it was “fake news”. I guess that’s what happens when you have “you know who” as president. On our last night in New Orleans, our boss made the decision to send us back to Taipei ASAP. He stayed up all night to help us change our tickets back. At that point, we had three days left in LA before flying back. We were in the US for a total of eight days. It felt like a month.

Are you staying with family during home quarantine? I’m staying with my work colleague. Our company put us up in an Airbnb for two weeks so that our roommates/partners/family would be safe. My boyfriend has a history of lung issues so I couldn’t really go home and my colleague has a few roommates. A massive thank you to our company <3.

How are you keeping busy during home quarantine? We’re still working, but from home. When we’re not working, we’re trying to figure out recipes with what we have available to us: one hot plate, one microwave and whatever food our friends and family bring us. Yesterday we had a pork and vegetable fried rice burrito. I’ve also been watching all the movies that I’ve been wanting to watch for a long time and I have a VERY long reading list. We’ve both been catching up with family and friends around the world, almost every country has shut down, which means that everyone’s home and actually has time to call each other. That’s been really nice.

Alex’s boyfriend drops by.

What about the quarantine part? We’re not allowed leave the Airbnb. When people deliver thing to us, all I can do is talk to them through the front door. Not being able to hug my mum and my boyfriend has been really hard. No more meeting up with friends, exercise, walking to 7-11 or the store. The police and volunteers call us every day to check up on us, asking how we’re feeling and if we need anything. I have so much love for everyone involved, CDC, government, police and all the volunteers. But honestly, we deeply respect the Taiwanese government and everything that they are doing for the country, so it really doesn’t bother us to have to stay in for two weeks. If it means that we can help in any way, then we’re happy!

Any other thoughts to share? My colleague and I are both so thankful towards Taiwan. The way they are handling the situation is amazing. So much better than anywhere else in the world (especially the US). The whole process of getting into the country took us about five hours, but I have no complaints. I’m really just incredibly proud of being half-Taiwanese and very, very happy to have called Taiwan my home for the last three years.

I think I can speak for all my friends and family who live or are from here. We’re very lucky to be living in a country that not only cares about its people but goes above and beyond to make sure that we’re all okay. This cannot be said about most places in the world. Lastly, I just really want to thank everyone that’s been working overtime, the CDC, the government, the police, (we wouldn’t be thanking the popo in HK), the volunteers, plus family and friends helping us out! 

Thanks Alex! You can follow her @beefnoodz account covering beef noodle soup spots in Taiwan, or her personal account @alex.mei.

Read more coronavirus-related posts: