A Travellerspoint blog

Week 1 - New Home

First entry of my year in Hong Kong, detailing journey from Birmingham and testing/quarantine process upon arrival.

rain 34 °C
View Bham->Dam->HK on David Zhao's travel map.

Posted on 2nd August 2020

Huge thanks to Dr and Mrs Holliday for awarding me the Nick Holliday Travel Scholarship, in memory of their son Nick who was a geography teacher at KES. He was an avid traveller, explorer and climber, and died tragically in a climbing accident doing what he loved. The Scholarship helps fund the travels of KES students who aspire to travel, which I am sure Nick would be very proud of.

Decided I'm going to add entries on a weekendly basis. Currently planning to travel the majority of SE Asia, with Thailand, Japan and Indonesia at the top of my list, though how much of it goes ahead obviously depends on how the corona situation plays out.

Journey here was relatively enjoyable considering it took 24hrs. First flew to Amsterdam before undergoing a 9hr layoff, giving me the chance to see the amazing Amsterdam Centraal - more like a palace than a train station - as well as visit Vondelpark and Ijwit brewery.
Amsterdam Centraal Station and the Amsterdam Canals

Flight from Dam to HK with a 1hr stoppage in Bangkok totalled 15hrs. I did however have the entire economy cabin to myself (seems not many people want to visit HK right now for some reason...) so it was a surprisingly comfortable 15hrs. The TV screens that stow away in the armrests were quite cool, never sat in the extra legroom seats before. Asked if I could get a free upgrade to 1st class but they said no.

Hong Kong are VERY strict with people arriving from abroad. Upon arrival I had to fill out a health declaration form and give the government an address where I'd serve my 14-day quarantine. I was then given a GPS tracking bracelet and threatened with a $25000 fine and 6 months imprisonment were I to break my quarantine.
Quarantine order form that every person travelling into HK receives

Had to get a COVID test done afterwards. Was genuinely impressed with how smooth the process was, with staff standing every 10-20m pointing me where to go. Probably went to 15 desks in total, receiving some form of document at each, declaring things like my address, where I'd travelled to in the past 4 weeks, what symptoms I had etc.

I was then transferred to the Asia World Expo, similar to the NEC, with huge halls that had been emptied and fitted with chairs spaced 2m apart. Maybe 20 people (excluding staff) were waiting in the hall. We had been given a lanyard at one of the desks with a number (I was R5303) and we sat in the hall waiting to be called up, before being briefed on how to conduct the saliva test. Waited for around 2hrs before being called up.
The first hall where we received a briefing on how to conduct the saliva test

I then got transferred to a second hall fitted with white booths, each for an individual to carry out their test. They were strict on sanitising hands before and after, and minimising contact with the inside of the sample tube. The experience, being surrounded by staff in hazmat suits in a spaceship-sized hangar, felt very futuristic and surreal.
The second hall with booths to conduct the test

After handing in my test sample, I was transferred to a hotel which the government kindly provided for free. The time from when I touched down to when I got to the hotel was nearly 5hrs. I was lucky that I arrived in the evening as it meant I could spend the night in a hotel as opposed to waiting for my results in the hall. The other five Gap Tutors, who all flew on the same flight from Heathrow a day later, arrived in the morning and had to sit in the hall for 10hrs waiting for results.

Got a call at 11am the next morning telling me I was negative. I checked out and got a taxi to the apartment, which is in a beautiful setting on the HK Gold Coast. All six of us tested negative thankfully, though one person on the Heathrow flight - which had over 100 people on board - did test positive, which was slightly worrying. Quarantined with the other two guys, and the three girls are on the floor below.

Have to record my temperature twice a day and carry out another saliva test on the 8th August. On my first morning at the apartment, I was woken up by a phone call from a government agent who explained that they were unable to see my location when I wasn't on my phone, and requested that I turn my phone location services on at all times, which was sweet of him.
View from the apartment where we are quarantined

Honestly, it was satisfying to see how seriously the HK government takes the virus. I don't know what the current rules are in the UK but I know that passengers flying into the UK did not receive any kind of temperature testing/quarantine order for months at least, and during the April peak too. Hopefully these strict measures take effect sooner rather than later. This place is too nice to be sitting on the sofa all day.


Posted by David Zhao 03:56 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged quarantine

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Brilliant blog David!
Hope Dr and Mrs Holliday will be relieved to know that Nick’s legacy lives on and inspiring more and more people. Very grateful for their generosity.
Thanks David for sharing with us your unique experience when the whole world is changed by Covid19!
All the best with your gap year job and the rest of your journey!
Lots of love
Your No.1 super fan!

by MichelleXMH

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