This post is part of a spontaneous interview series I’m throwing together this week. The goal is to share personal accounts from people doing compulsory home quarantine in Taiwan during the coronavirus pandemic.
Hi Karen, this is my first family interview! So what’s your family’s situation? We got in Tuesday night on March 17, right before they announced the ban. I’m not a citizen so I “just made it.” My husband is Doug, and my two daughters are Riley (4) and Casey (2). We’re Americans from NYC who have been traveling around the world since January 2019. We were in Taiwan for a couple of weeks last March and April, then came back this year in January to apply for passports for the girls. My husband was born in Taiwan so he has a Taiwan passport.
Where did you fly back from and how was the trip? We came from Spain, where we had spent the last month in Sevilla (there were not a lot of coronavirus cases in the south). We took three flights in three days, including an overnight in Paris and an 8.5 hr layover in Bangkok. So we were just exhausted and we’re trying bounce back.
When did you make the call to come back to Taipei? We had been in Spain for one month and kind of riding out our time there as we had a one-month rental. As the situation got more dire in the EU, we started thinking about where to go. With all that was going on, we decided to move up our timeline and head to Taiwan earlier.
Who are you staying with? We’re staying by ourselves. It’s a family friend’s unused apartment. We have an online business so we’re just working and keeping our kids occupied with activities, learning, toys, etc. Honestly our days are a mess between coming up with activities for our kids and working on our online business. We basically ignored work all last week while we were taking care of our girls who were sick and then it got even more hectic as we tried to book flights back.
How has the quarantine experience been in terms of check-ins? Check-ins have mostly been via phone calls. Our first day we probably got checked up on five or six times including a surprise visit in person to drop stuff off. Day two and three came with calls but not as many, and both those days included a visit as well. Over the weekend though, we’ve not gotten any calls or visits which leads me to believe that others who want to escape probably could quite easily. We definitely plan to stay inside and follow all the rules, but what I’m worried about is how easy it will be for others to not follow protocol, especially now that there are so many people returning.
I’ve heard other people have received a care package. Did you receive one? We did get a care package, one for each of us. We actually gave it back because we didn’t want it to go to waste as we knew we weren’t going to be using the items. We just kept one tiny box of these pills they suggested for immune support. The kids’ care package was the same as ours, which is all the more reason for us to return them as we definitely did not need four sets.
Have you been tracking your health? We’re required to log our symptoms daily but there’s not actually a spot to write your temperature. You just note if your temp is greater than 38C. They haven’t really asked us about it though.
Do you and your husband speaking in Mandarin for the phone check-ins? I wonder what it’s like if someone can’t speak Mandarin. My husband is Taiwanese and speaks to the guy in Mandarin. I speak baby Mandarin so I don’t field the phone calls. Plus, we only have one Taiwan phone so all calls go to him anyway. He did mention there was an overseas CDC rep assigned to us too. My husband thinks the overseas guy is for me because I came in on an American passport!
What kind of support are you getting? We’re thankful for family. A cousin and uncle helped us get our stuff from an apartment where we usually stay and stocked our current apartment with a crib for my little one, a bunch of toys, and food items from Costco. Another cousin came by the following day with BEER (which is tough to find delivery for) and books/activities/art supplies for the kids. A friend also came over on our first day with cleaning supplies which we desperately needed.
How are you getting groceries? Delivered too? We had a bit of groceries to start from our family which was awesome for our first day. My mother-in-law is in New York at the moment, and has helped us order more groceries from a local Taiwan website plus other supplies for the apartment and for the girls. I ordered Carrefour delivery the other day with no issue but when I tried again this weekend, all the delivery slots were taken! A friend of mine told me that people in Taipei are now also panic buying due to the new spike in number of cases.
Are you relying a lot on delivery apps? In the morning, we get our daily coffee. That is a must and the first thing I do when I wake up. Some days we order in lunch or dinner but for the most part we’ve been cooking. In the afternoon or evening, we will sometimes get bubble tea, cookies, dessert, etc. A “pick me up” of sorts for ourselves and the kids.
So is everyone in pajamas all day? Yes, my husband and I have worn the same thing the last five days, haha. But the girls change daily. Their clothes get so gross from them playing, crawling on the floor, eating and making a mess, etc.
Thanks Karen! You can follow Karen’s travel Instagram account @theroadlesstoddled.
Read more coronavirus-related posts:
- Life in Taipei: Coronavirus Edition
- Impact of Coronavirus on Taipei’s Food & Hospitality Scene
- Coronavirus Home Quarantine Stories: Emilia Wang, 30, Day 8
- Coronavirus Home Quarantine Stories: Michelle Lee, 25, Day 2
- Coronavirus Home Quarantine Stories: Alex Hedreul, 28, Day 5
- Coronavirus Home Quarantine Stories: Daniel Shih, 20, Day 2