The Story Ends? - One For the Books - CycleBlaze

March 23, 2020

The Story Ends?

And we all lived happily ever.  No, we did not.  

Sophia knew all along I could exit the airport with a green sticker, and she met me right where the green channel ends.  I had so many doubts and told her things like, "Oh thanks darling but we'll probably be on the plane until 3am and escorted on buses somewhere to get a nucleic acid test and then sent to a quarantine hotel" and stuff like that.  She was having none of that bullshit.

As it turns out I was extremely lucky with the timing.  Not only did I dodge a partial lockdown in Thailand the very next day, I also missed the new rules by a matter of hours that say any foreigners arriving in Shanghai after 11:59pm March 22 would be subject to a nucleic acid test and sent to a government hotel for 14 days quarantine.  A week later, China closed the border.

I literally got out at the perfect time.  They did tell me I needed to self-isolate at home for 14 days however it wasn't enforced and wasn't very strict.  For the most part I stayed in and only went out every couple of days at night.  Sophia had brought a care package full of food and snacks to tide me over for the initial quarantine, and we basically sat down and chatted for a bit as a way to start the decompression.  

I can't tell you how happy I was at that moment to see this beautiful girl and the timing she would meet me at the airport after such an emotionally draining ordeal.  In the end I had rejected my Dad's so-called marching orders to go back to Canada.  

[Updated November 2022]  I would later come to regret that.  He passed away last month when I was still stuck in China, nearly 3 years after that plane arrival.

As I started the decompression I was just relieved this was all over with.  It seemed like this was the best plan because now I need not worry about the coronavirus with China having successfully contained it.

For the rest of 2020 that was essentially true.  Their zero covid strategy had indeed worked the first time and it bought about 8 months of normalcy where we could all go on with our lives.  I ended up finishing that school year with classes resuming in-person around May as predicted.  Fitness classes resumed as did some more limited partying and social events.  All this went on as the rest of the world sunk deeper into 2020 malaise.

But what goes around comes around.  I had fallen into a trap and gotten smug while enjoying a great 2020 and thinking how brilliant I was to have flown back into China just before the border closed.  And 3 years later it is still a closed country with no signs of reopening.

The passport was eventually renewed but it took forever.  They insisted on the birth certificate which was a huge ordeal to get one posted over from Canada.  Eventually it got done but way too late for Malaysia.  Plus since I had now gotten married with Sophia there is no way that option would be possible anymore so I had to call the new employer and tell him the updates.  He was understanding but also upset and said that it's not too late, other teachers are still being able to make it despite it being 2020.

My friend back home who had suggested Malaysia in the first place said not to give up on the idea, this pandemic was temporary and there is no way it would still be happening in August.

Well now it is November 2022 and it's sort of over in most places but China still insisted on zero covid despite the more contagious variants in 2021 and onwards.  Their vaccines were a failure.  Zero covid strategy could have been used to buy time to collaborate with western scientists and develop some real joint vaccines but they insisted on their domestic junk.

Besides in 2022 we suffered more with the Shanghai lockdown later on than any malaise I would have experienced earlier in 2020 by choosing some of the more risky options on the table.  In the end I played it safe and settled for less.

Later on I would cancel the Malaysia job altogether much to the disappointment of both the new employer and my friend who encouraged me at first.  I found a different job on the spot in China because there was a severe teacher shortage.  It was for a middle school job teaching hyper 11-13 year olds.  It was good money but I hated it.

As for Sophia and I we got married in 2021.  It was and truly is a pandemic love story.  We'll always be together but not always in China.  After the Shanghai lockdown it made me realize how unlivable this place is and the need to relocate.  How or when to do that is for the next stories.

Meanwhile the next 3 years consisted of being stuck in China and doing sub-par domestic bike tours because international ones were off the table.  Those you can read about here.  I tried to make the most of them but compared to this trip I would be drastically reducing expectations.

It was finally towards the end of 2022 that international trips looked to be on the table again albeit with restrictions.  That you can read about here

All that said this 2020 fallout was more a reflection on the sad state of the world than the virus itself.  Fun, adventure, and freedom is hard to come by these days.  Where there is any to be found you can be sure that I'll find it.  This trip more than succeeded to that extent.

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Comment on this entry Comment 2
Wendy BeaudoinI don’t know you, Steve, but I have enjoyed reading your blog while you figured out what to do in the strange situation in which you found yourself. I was pleased to see how much you had changed from the beginning when all you seemed to be interested in was partying, to realizing finally what was really important in life. I wish you and Sophia all the best in the future.
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4 years ago
Rachael AndersonTo Wendy BeaudoinSophie sounds like a wonderful person! Best of luck to both you!
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4 years ago