At first, I didn’t think much of it as the MCO was to last 2 weeks and I would be back home just after the MCO lifts – so I thought. I couldn’t get through to the airlines at first. Panic was slowly creeping in as it’s been 2 days and I am not able to get through to Malindo Air. Almost a week later I received an email letting me know about my options and from the news, I got to know that the airlines have grounded all their flights till further notice – so I asked for a travel credit refund.
I went a head and booked a one-way ticket from Bali to Kuala Lumpur on the next available flight – 1st of May. At this point, MAS had limited flights into Bali and all of them were fully booked. Within a week of me arriving here, air travel has changed drastically and it was still March!
All is not what it seems…
I have to admit, when I received my flight cancellation email the 4th time and finding out I had no flight till possibly later in June, I broke down. Although I was living the island life, paradise has it down sides too and I was missing my creature comforts, and home.
*will blog about this on a later post
After a short breakdown, my brain was functioning again and I reached out to the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta, they knew of my presence in the country as I registered with them within my first week of arrival. I was given a list of confirmed flights and the name of their appointed agent that I am to be in touch to purchase fresh tickets.
At this point I have travel credits across two airlines running into the 4-digit mark. As much as I didn’t want to spend more money on air travel, the urgency to get home was there. With borders around the world closing within 24 hours, and with uncertainly in air travel; I just wanted to get home where I know health care is readily available and reliable.
In the wee hours of dawn, 12 hours later, I was on a plane out of Sumba.
Mentally, this was too fast and I was not prepared to leave.
I had an 11-hour transit in Bali and I took this opportunity to freshen up at a budget hotel, and get some sleep before my flight that evening from Bali to Jakarta. In between I manage to walk to the local supermarket by the hotel in Seminyak to get a few essentials, as I know I will be heading to the quarantine centre upon arrival and I do not know what to expect.
Bali was a ghost town… I have never seen Seminyak this quiet in my life. Just a month ago this place still had some life to it despite the reduced number of tourist – right now it’s just eerie-quiet. By nightfall, I made my way to Bali Airport, to only find the bustling airport dead as a cemetery till I got to my gate where a handful of people were waiting for the same flight.
2 stopovers (another night in Jakarta) and 3 flights later, I’m finally home – never felt this relieved to see Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)!
The moment I stepped off the plane, right at the disembarkation gate, immigration officers neatly segregated us to two groups – Malaysians and non-Malaysians. From here, we were taken down to see health officials where they ask a series of question such as, ‘Do you have any underlying health conditions?’ or ‘Are you showing the following symptoms…’. After a quick health Q&A, we were given a document that we are to fill out at the quarantine centre before proceeding to manual immigration clearance.
After immigration, there is another form that has to be filled out and given to another officer just before we are taken to collect our checked-in luggage. In neat lines and in smaller groups we were escorted to collect our luggage that has been taken off the conveyor belt and arranged to one side. In groups of 14, we are then escorted to the buses waiting outside the arrival hall. Just before we boarded the bus, all bags including hand luggage were disinfected. Another team in full personal protective equipment (PPE) helped to carry our luggage onto the bus.
I was in the first group that exited the airport hence my group and I waited an hour or so for everyone on board the flight to complete the process. While waiting for the rest to board the other buses, we were handed little bags filled with snacks, a bottle of water and some juice to keep us from dehydrating or going hungry while we waited.
We were not sure where we were heading and some of us needed the loo at this point. Again, no big deal, one of the other passengers asked the bus driver and next thing, two by two, we were escorted to the toilet and back to the bus. Apart from making sure we don’t wander off, it feel like I was a prisoner that might break free if I wasn’t escorted to the toilet.
There were talks on social media where a few groups that have arrived the week before had an option of self-pay, which is now not available I believe as we were not given this option.
Upon arrival to the hotel, our passports and IC were photocopied, phone numbers taken down, allergies and other details were asked before we were each given an envelope with our room number, key and other documentation inside. Together with my bags, I followed the markings on the floor through a short maze of turns before I was meet with another fellow quarantine and another personal in full PPE.
Together with my belongings, I was sent up to my floor and nope, I did not touch the buttons in the elevator. The person on duty did.
Now, when the door opened to my floor, I was clearly shocked as it was dark without a sign any where to which got me thinking, ‘where the hell am I?!’. Took me a second to realise then I was in the service elevator and exit door was close. Through the exit doors, I navigated to my corridor and found my room at the end of it.
When I open the door to my room, I was surprised to find that I had a personal corridor, with an additional bathroom on the left of this corridor leading up to a table and two rooms at the end of it.
My room was furnished with a box of water, lots of coffees and teas, toiletries and other essentials I would need for 14 days. There was even a hair dryer, iron and ironing board, a kettle for hot water as well as a safety deposit box. I had a small bag of snacks provided too.
I am very impressed with the level of organisation; everything worked like clocked work from the time I landed to the time I got to the quarantine hotel.
It was close to 4pm when I got into my room and settled. It has been a journey of almost 36 hours from when I left Sumba and got into Kuala Lumpur. I was mentally and physically exhausted, plus it felt surreal being back on familiar grounds.
One day I was by the beach enjoying paradise, living the island life and the next I’m in a 4-star hotel room back at home in Kuala Lumpur under quarantine.
From life in paradise to a luxury in quarantine – it is just surreal.