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The uncertainty of travelling during covid times: My story

There was little doubt that travelling to Europe in these Covid times would be difficult. However, my hubby was craving a trip to Europe. It had been a year that we had seen his parents and friends back home in France. And it was time to return for some holidays.

The pragmatic in me did try to reason with him about the cost, inconvenience and headache of such a travel. I also reminded him of the difficulties we have had getting back from our last travels Just at the start of this year. Helas! My point-by-point discussion fell into the deaf years of an over worked man. We were to be leaving for Europe within the next 15 days.

I was left scampering to reschedule my work meetings, notify the summer camps the kids were registered and, of course, get together the mountain of Covid related travel documents.

My hubby left a week before me to work from his company’s Paris office.

Bienvenue a PARIS!!

I landed at the Paris airport with my daughter, 12, son, 6 our hearts full of holiday excitement!

As soon as I switched on my phone on, my husband’s message flashed.

“…Just came to know that the colleague I was working with yesterday at the office has tested positive for Corona (Delta).

Even though fully vaccinated, I will stay away in home quarantine for 7 days, at my parent’s place in the countryside.

As sorry as you about this. More later.”

A list of things I had to take care of now flashed in my brain: Lug the luggage, take the train to the city from airport, managing 2 kids tired after a 19+ hrs flight, find a hotel, cancel tickets to my in-law’s holiday home (as I wanted to go there together with my hubby) etc. This was not exactly how I imagined the start of our vacation!!

During the next few days, I managed to paint Paris red with my 2 hyper active kids: we ate churros at the Eiffel tower, walked in the rain on the banks of the Seine, went on the rides at the fair at Trocadero and ate the ginormous-est ever cotton candy ever in Saint-Michel. In short, we rediscovered all good things that Paris has to offer.

It was only once my hubby was out that we got into the “real” holiday cheer. To be absolutely honest, my husband is the fun part of our family. With him there was laughter, shouting, giggling and playing.

Days flew by, having unadulterated fun, doing things that we like, going to local restaurants and art galleries, spending time with my in-laws. We saw lovely places in France, Italy and Switzerland, ate good food and wine and caught up with friends and family.

Around this time, I started feeling a growing pain in the right side of my stomach.

“Good times fly past quicker”, they say. The 3+ weeks whizzed past.

Before long we were back in Paris to catch our flight to Hong Kong via Istanbul. By this point, I was having difficulties walking because of the stomach ache.

It was a Friday. Our flight back was next Tuesday.

The weekend is notoriously non-working in France. I got an appointment with a doctor at 5pm who suspected an ovarian complication or an appendicitis and suggested I get a CT scan done in one of the public hospitals in Paris.

At the hospital, I was taken in pretty quickly (I suspect that my over acting that I was dying helped 🤪). I was diagnosed with appendicitis and admitted in the emergency ward, to be operated within the next 24 hours.

The hour long straightforward surgery went well.

The next two days seemed to me like 2 years. Especially as I was being totally starved (due to my condition).

My surgeon came for the critical 48hr post-surgery checkup.

It was the day that we had our flight back. He gave me the green light to travel. What a relief!!

We did not have the time to celebrate my successful operation or being together again.

Within the next 2 hours after my discharge from the hospital, we were heading to the airport.

With our return to Hong Kong approaching, my hubby, mindful of the 72 hours delay guideline between the Covid test, our arrival in Hong Kong and our long halt in Turkey, had taken us to a private lab for a Covid test at the right time. My Covid test had been done in the hospital.

On our way to the airport, I was mortified when my hubby told me that our 6-year-old’s covid result had yet to be received. What.?? The lab had assured us that we would get the results on time for our flight. Little did we know the fine print in the agreement stated that the 24 hours delay for results was not contractual but on best effort basis. My hubby was calling the help line, writing emails to the lab to find a way to speed up the results but he could not get any reply other than “it will arrive in due course”.

Our son was not allowed to check-in at the airport because of the missing results of his PCR test. So as not to forfeit all 4 tickets, we decided that I would fly with my daughter. Losing 2 France-Hong Kong tickets was already a pain and we had to save what could be saved at this juncture.

From then, the clock started ticking for my husband: he had to find a way to join us in Istanbul before we take the same connecting flight to Hong Kong as us.

Back in Paris, my hubby had to wait for our son’s PCR test. Thankfully, he managed to get them early in the morning the next day. Step 2: he had to find the right flight to reach Istanbul on time for the same connecting flight to HK as us. The options were limited, the flights were all crazy full and time running out.

We had booked one single and thankfully sufficiently large serviced apartment for this quarantine. According to the Hong Kong Govt guidelines those sharing a quarantine accommodation have to come on the same flight to HK.

These rules implications were that if my husband and son could not join us on time in Istanbul on time for the connecting flight to HK, they would not be able to stay in the same serviced apartment as us. Given the lack on Quarantine accommodation that HK is facing, there was a risk that they would simply not find another accommodation for their quarantine!

Stakes were high!

And then a miracle happened! 2 seats became available at the 25th hour on a TK flight and my hubby and son managed to reach Istanbul on time to take the same connecting flight to HK as us!! Boy, when I saw my hubby at the boarding gate of our flight to Hong Kong, I promise you I hugged him as if he was coming back from the war front!!

We were now finally ready to enjoy and relax during our 3 weeks of quarantine TOGETHER😉😉.

Travelling in general and especially in present times is a personal choice. But personally, despite all these unexpected events in part thanks to Covid, we in no manner regret our trip to Europe. Being able to meet our European family and friends, hanging out in Paris, the Alps or Italy, eating homemade European food surpass, by far, the hurdles we faced.

This trip was yet another lesson for us and kiddies, on how to take unplanned downers that life throws at you in your stride (of which, I think we seem to attract a fair share 😅 😅).

And EVERYTHING always works out in the end.

So until our next trip…


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