Updated: Jul 25
Whatever preconceived notions I may have had about being in hotel quarantine, I was somewhat surprised to find that the actual experience was pleasant and even rewarding in many ways.
I could have chosen to complain that the mandatory 21 day quarantine has no scientific basis or that it was not fair. But I could also have chosen to stay away from Hong Kong and return later, whenever the quarantine restrictions would have eased up.
Perhaps the biggest take away lesson from the 2020 pandemic is that freedom is all relative. We have all missed the freedom to travel and to gather without fear. We long for the days when our kids can just go to school and when we can come and go as we please normally again.
Freedom of choice is a gift of our collective humanity
Some of us are fortunate enough to have the freedom to work from home, and to reach out and connect with others anywhere in the world. We can choose to find ways to exercise and keep fit, and to spend time with our families, even as we are confined to our homes.
The point is that there is always a choice. even when we believe that we “were given no choice”. We may not like the options or their consequences, but the freedom of choice is a gift of our collective humanity.
The word quarantine by definition means a period or place of isolation. So how is it that I felt a tremendous sense of connection with so many others during mine? The first answer is of course in the magic of the internet. The second is that sharing experiences induces a sense of belonging.
All HongKongers share the burden of government mandates, whether they involve closing of gyms or travel restrictions. Indeed citizens the world over may question the wisdom of government policies, but at some level we recognize that the intention is to keep people safe. I am completely certain that being locked up would have been much worse if we were missing out on social activities, but life in Hong Kong has been severely limited during the so-called fourth wave of the pandemic.
Messages of encouragement and support kept coming in all along, as did care packages and deliveries, making me feel loved even on my mid-quarantine birthday.
When I first contemplated 21 days in a hotel room, my brain definitely immediately went to scarcity. Would I be stuck with cold institutional sandwiches for 3 weeks? Would I be bored out of my mind with nothing to read, watch, or do?
Turns out that I was in the enviable position of having a surfeit of almost everything from food to entertainment. With a modicum of planning, my husband and I had books, games, puzzles, and of course our work and Netflix to keep us fully occupied. There was even an abundance of toilet paper thoughtfully stocked by the hotel staff ahead of our arrival.
We don’t like to think of ourselves as being in a position of needing help, but it turns out that people are generally glad to do so. I myself almost always enjoy giving even more than receiving, whether it is a cup of coffee, a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of bourbon. In my experience generosity always begets abundance.
My husband Howie and I will be celebrating our 31st anniversary this coming May. We’ve definitely had our “for better or for worse” times over the decades, but I can honestly say that I could not have asked for a better companion for 21 days.
Howie and I have nested together so often that we quickly made even our stark hotel room cosy and homelike. Had I been entirely on my own I probably would have made the best of things, but somehow through Howie’s resourcefulness we were actually quite comfortable.
Perhaps the most unexpected gift of this quarantine is the recognition of who I have become through this coaching journey. Life in quarantine feels like being in a bubble where time and gravity have less pull, so it’s all about slowing down and letting go.
I realized that I have learned to accept reality for what it is and to let go of that for which I cannot be responsible. I have learned to give myself permission to tune in to my own needs and to take care of myself first.
I have learned to choose thoughts that serve me well, whether in work, life or relationship, and to act from a place of integrity. This is all a work in progress, and will continue to be so for many decades to come. But the gift of quarantine is learning that anything is possible when we have set our intention.
Detailed, up-to-date information regarding Hong Kong government travel requirements and restrictions, recommended testing sites and procedures for obtaining required paperwork for airlines. Includes crowd-sourced ratings on hotel experiences and workarounds.
Provides accurate information pertaining to all things COVID in Hong Kong. Travel section can be difficult to navigate because changes are frequent, there’s too much irrelevant information and documents are often presented in PDF format. Infographics are colorful but not too helpful.