For the first time in my life, coming back from a holiday has not given me post-vacation blues. In fact, I am relieved to have gotten back to the daily grind of my usual life, from which I often feel like taking a break. I have just safely returned from a Thailand trip along with my family, right in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak, which also coincided with the Chinese Lunar New Year. We were in the country for fourteen days and we literally saw the tentacles of the virus and the scare around it spread every day.
When we had reached Bangkok in mid-January, a handful of people could be spotted wearing a mask. In fact, we came to know about the deadly virus when we switched on our television set the evening we landed in Bangkok. Things didn't look that scary and like many, even we didn't bother to buy a mask then.
As days progressed and so did our trip, things started changing drastically. There was fear in everyone's eyes, a simple cough or a sneeze was looked at with suspicion. With the death toll rising, the tension started galloping manifold. More hassling were the number of random forwards on WhatsApp on coronavirus and the myths floating on social media. Coronavirus Outbreak: WHO Busts Several Myths on Deadly Virus, Lists Protective Measures; Check Answers of FAQs Regarding 2019-nCoV.
There was panic everywhere and it was very difficult to act sane. From the moment you switch to the news channels to health posters, the word coronavirus was everywhere. I have always suffered from migraine and sunlight is a big trigger. But I clearly remember one particular day, right after a visit to one of the beaches on a sunny day in Phuket, I had a terrible headache. The first thing which I did was to Google the symptoms of coronavirus and when I found headache as one of them, I had an immediate anxiety attack. It took me some time to calm my nerves that evening. Coronavirus Can be Cured by Boiled Garlic Water? PIB Fact Check Debunks Fake News.
Our trip started with Bangkok and we were back to the city again, after completing the nearby island tours. In a span of a few days, we witnessed two images of the popular tourist destination. By now, almost everyone could be seen wearing a health mask. Stores were running offers and kids were being targetted with attractive cartoon printed masks. However, no matter how colourful the masks were, the real challenge was in making the small kids wear them. I could see every mother struggling to make their little ones keep their masks.
Hotels had notices placed all over on the dos and don'ts around coronavirus. Right at the entrance of the malls and departmental stores, hand sanitisers were placed urging customers to keep their hands clean. There was one assistant always inside the lift who was pressing the button, in order to avoid the spread of the virus.
Tourists were being asked to avoid crowded places and wear a health mask all the time. The notice further alerted visitors to refrain from having any kinds of uncooked foods.
Malls and restaurants wore a deserted look and the usual hustle-bustle which we witnessed in the first leg of our Bangkok trip was missing. We, in fact, had to cancel a few of our plans towards the end of our trip and preferred to stay safe inside our hotel rooms.
Thailand- the land of smiles - is no doubt a very beautiful country with pristine beaches, colourful nightlife and warm people around. However, for us, it was a very different experience altogether, yes we did witness all the above things, but surely not in an ideal situation for a holiday.