"Food served during the stay in Hilton Singapore. When the Singapore government announced that it would mandate a 2-week Stay-Home Notice at designated facilities for individuals arriving from specific countries, I was sitting in my apartment in Los Angeles. Having opted to ride out the pandemic there instead of returning home and finishing my last university classes from 15 hours away, I told myself, “Okay. You just have to be very careful and not get sick. If all goes well, you’ll be able to graduate, return, and relax for two weeks.” Thankfully, things went as planned – not an easy statement to make during these unprecedented times. I completed my final examinations, said goodbye to the friends I had made over four wonderful years, and got on the June 17 flight from Los Angeles to Singapore. The flight went smoothly, being only about 20% full. We were provided face masks, sanitizer and antiseptic wipes. I enjoyed the delicious airplane food, got as much sleep as I could and felt a little surge of happiness at the thought of two weeks of relaxation ahead. After exiting the plane, all passengers turned in health declaration forms and passed through immigration, after which we were brought onto buses heading to a hotel, name unspecified till right after the ride began. When the lady in front of me told me we were heading to the Hilton Singapore, I rejoiced! For two weeks, I slept on luxurious sheets on a huge bed instead of the small bunk bed in my former apartment. Even the toiletries provided were high-class, such as $35 body wash. Free of the demands of schoolwork, I watched a good amount of Netflix and video-called my friends, all of whom were excited to see my quarantine surroundings. I also enjoyed the scrumptious food served three times a day, with occasional snacks left outside my door. While this experience was accompanied by ICA officers’ intermittent visits, as well as video and phone calls to verify my presence in the room, I thought these were justified in the name of ensuring public health and safety. On day 11 of my quarantine, I had to undergo a compulsory Covid-19 test. Despite feeling well, I was still a little worried about the results. However, it was also going to be my first time smelling fresh air in nearly two weeks, so I was excited for – of all things – my visit to Jurong Polyclinic. During the taxi ride there, I stared out of the window, enjoying the verdant greenery and warm weather. Fortunately, I tested negative for Covid-19, completed my staycation and then went home to my family. The pandemic has undeniably taken a big mental toll on many people and every day, I wish the disease could just be wiped out instantly. In the face of such circumstances, I try to think of happy times like this one, where I got to have a staycation I could otherwise never afford, and was carefree enough to soak in each moment."--Contributed by Rebecca Tan Hui Qing, as part of the "Documenting COVID-19 in Singapore" collection community call.
All rights reserved. Rebecca Tan Hui Qing, 2020