Whilst most travel addicts like myself are experiencing cabin fever because it’s just a pain in the arse to try and go anywhere (even within your own country sometimes), you should check out the story of one of my friends who has had nothing short of a nightmare regarding international travel. This will quash any temptations to travel during the pandemic immediately!
He’s an Australian citizen, but these days he lives in the Philippines. He came out to Australia in February 2020 to do a short stint of work to earn a bit more cash but it’s ended up costing him way more than it’s worth! His ordeal to try and get back home to the Philippines has been ridiculous and comical – but not for him.
If you have the attention span of a goldfish, here is the short story:
- In February 2020, he flew out from the Philippines to Australia to do a short term stint of work for a few months.
- In June, he tried to fly back to the Philippines via Singapore, but because of a last-minute technical change to an entry requirement, was refused permission to enter (try communicating in a foreign language when both parties are wearing masks).
- He was then sent back to Singapore, but because they weren’t letting anyone in, had to fly back to Australia – at his own expense ($AUD 1,200).
- And since there is a mandatory 14 day period of hotel quarantine for international arrivals, he then had to sit out two weeks in a hotel room – at his own expense (another $AUD 3,000!).
But there is a happy ending, even though these events were a serious challenge to his mental health. Read on! You won’t want to go anywhere until these crazy COVID-19 capers are over!
Some good reasons why you should avoid travel during the pandemic like the plague!
Check out his story below which are excerpts from his updates. I guess this travel experience falls into the category of ‘great dinner party conversations’.
It’s a great story! Here goes!
22 August 2020: Considering travelling internationally? I suggest you learn from my recent example before attempting it yourself. For those that don’t know, I have been trying to return to my home in the Philippines since the 8th of June. In that time I’ve had 4 flights cancelled. Prior to my most recent attempt, I called the Philippines Embassy in Australia twice, to confirm all requirements, prior to booking another flight.
The first call was to confirm I met all requirements, and the second call was to confirm nothing had changed. Sunday the 16th of June I finally managed to depart Brisbane and fly to Cebu via Singapore, yippee! .
On arrival in Cebu I was informed of a change that occurred in recent days, which meant I would not be permitted to enter the Philippines (they now require verification by the Philippines embassy in Australia, that the Philippines issued documents I had with me, were legitimate. They said it was not possible to verify their own documentation in the Philippines ).
I then had my passport taken off me and taken under police escort back to the plane I arrived on. I was not allowed to call anybody or see any written evidence of the changes they referred to.
I was treated like a criminal from that point on. On arrival back in Singapore, I was placed in a “holding” centre (basically a jail without bars – a story for another day) until the next available flight back to Australia (because I had no legal right to remain in Singapore).
I was then told the next available flight was three days away. The following morning I was informed that the flight was “full” but if I paid for the flight, they may be able to give me priority over others in the same situation, who weren’t paying.
They suggested I try booking myself. I did but the Singapore Airlines (SIA) website also said the flight was fully booked. The SIA staff then said they would “assist” me if they could. They came back and said for $1200 they could get me a flight (which costs usually less than half this). I paid because Option B was to remain in jail indefinitely.
Yesterday I was released from jail and boarded the “full” flight back to Australia. 48 passengers in a 212 seat plane. Lying ……! (See photo of “full” plane and note clusters and gaps).
On my return from overseas (although I’d never left a quarantine box in any airport) I was placed into COVID quarantine for two weeks by the Queensland government, at my expense.
What a nightmare! So my recommendation is if you need to travel, do your homework thoroughly and get everything in writing and check for updates DAILY as authorities/airlines/travel agents may not notify you of changes.
None of these three notified me of this change. Please also note after all the previous flight cancellation dramas, I used a travel agent on the last occasion. They were no help and just charged me a commission on top. I have basically spent a lot of money to fly around in a circle back into a COVID quarantine box. At least I have a new adventure tale to tell!
22 August 2020: Queensland tourism has released its new promotional campaign. It goes like this. Upon arrival, even if you arrive in perfect health from a town/city with no COVID, you will be treated like you have the Ebola virus and directed by police and military everywhere you go.
You will be forced to wear a mask to restrict your breathing, then sent to a quarantine hotel, where the probability of catching COVID is the highest in the country (google the Victorian quarantine disaster for an example – the single biggest source of COVID infections in that state).
You will then be confined to a room for 14 days and pay the exorbitant fees as directed. You will not have access to fresh air or sunlight and you will eat what the QLD department of health believes is “healthy” – see sample in photo.
It’s almost like the QLD govt is trying to make you sick to increase the COVID “case” numbers. We live in crazy times.
23 August 2020: During a health survey today during my quarantine, I was asked would I be willing to be vaccinated. I said no but wait for it, the health professional doing the survey said “I wouldn’t be either”. I thanked her for her honesty. They also informed me that they wanted to “test” me for COVID but I have the right to refuse the test.
However, if I did so, I would be quarantined for 10 more days at my expense – another $1400. So even if I show no symptoms after 14 days, the Queensland government claims they have the right to lock me up for 10 more days. On what legal grounds? I have no symptoms but how can I verify the results if they say I am positive? Watch this space.
24 August 2020 (Part 1): Queensland Quarantine: Even though my health is fine and I have no COVID symptoms, I have been locked in a quarantine hotel with no access to fresh air, or sunlight for 14 days. It is well documented that the probability of being infected by COVID in one of these hotels is higher than any other location of my choice.
I was supposed to be tested for the virus after 10 days but because of their apparent inability to count, they turned up to test me this morning. Assuming the test results confirm I don’t have COVID. I asked the government why I can’t be released immediately after confirmation of a negative result (the process in many other countries). Their response was “because that’s the rules”. So not only can they lock you up without evidence that you have COVID, they won’t release you when they do have evidence that you don’t.
24th August 2020 (Part 2): This s*%t has got to stop!!!! The lady in the room adjacent to me in this quarantine hotel just asked me for help from across the hallway. She came here from New Zealand to see her father in hospital who is not well. Like me, she has to spend 2 weeks in quarantine. Her father just had a stroke tonight and she was desperately seeking a quarantine exemption. The heartless assholes running this show, would not help her in any way beyond instructing her to go online and apply for an exemption.
I cannot believe how heartless fellow humans have become during this COVID bullshit. I can’t even give this poor lady a comforting hug, or I will be arrested wtf!!!!!!
Update – another lady on the same floor 3 rooms down, cut her wrist with a broken glass tonight because she has been separated from her kids, had TWO COVID tests since she’s been here, the first one was negative, results for the second one are delayed meaning she has to stay longer. Police will not release her. I heard it all go down. I hope they’re not stupid enough to leave her in her room tonight. Losing faith in humanity tonight .
25 August 2020: One thing about these quarantine hotels nobody that has been quarantined here would ever come back because of the mental scarring from staying here. Would be like holidays in Auschwitz. I do not cope well with being confined but I have joined an online yoga thing and am meditating and doing yoga every day. I need to keep mind calm. The things you take for granted. I’m sitting right next to the window right now because I can get a bit of sunlight for about half an hour at this time of the day . Just getting some Vitamin D!
1 September 2020: I received a flyer suggesting I dance in the window like a $%^#& zoo exhibit to make out quarantine is fun. I felt like wiping my ass on the flyer and throwing it back in the hall. I can’t believe anybody participated. Are some people enjoying quarantine? What’s wrong with the demented $%^#?
4 September 2020: Such an improvement on Quarantine
(after the second attempt to enter the Philippines).
13 September 2020: Update. Tested for COVID at the airport at 2 pm yesterday, and 8.46 am this morning I received my negative test result and am free to go. So happy to be back in the Philippines
21 September 2020: I’m about to board a flight to Cagayan De Oro, then a bus to Balingoan, and lastly a ferry to Camiguin (there are no direct flights any more since they stopped tourism dead). What a f#&$* long journey. Only brave souls are travelling these days.
Holy crap, what an adventure/nightmare. Enough to put off anyone from attempting overseas travel for a long, long time! Anyway, my friend is now enjoying a few San Miguel’s (beer) on his island paradise. I’d like to visit him there some time, but I don’t think that’s happening any time soon!
Anyway, for more Pandemic Pandemonium, check out my Travel Ban Jokes and Memes, How The Coronavirus as F#$ked Up Travel, Coronavirus Jokes, Lockdown Pisstakes, and Social Distancing Memes.