My quarantine hotel, the Wyndham Shanghai East Bund, is located in the Yangpu District in Shanghai. It is a neighborhood just east of the city center and I can see the famous Shanghai TV tower and the Grand Hyatt, the hotel where I usually stay, from my window. It’s a 5-star hotel but it has seen better days. It’s carpet and wallpaper could benefit from replacement but it’s overall clean and spacious.
As far as I can tell there are only quarantined guests in the hotel. I tried to see if I can book the hotel online, but it was marked as out of service. While in the hotel, you are deprived from all human contact. My understanding is that even couples are split up as well as couples with kids. The kids go with the mom.
I occasionally get to see a glimpse of my fellow inmates when I pick up my meals. The hotel serves 3 standard meals a day. Breakfast (~7am), lunch (~11:30am) and dinner (~5:30pm). Your temperature is also taken twice a day. Around 9am and 2pm. This is the only interaction you have with a human being and few words are spoken. For the meals they just knock on the door and leave those outside. By the time you get to the door, put on a face mask and grab your food from the table outside, the minders are already long gone. You really only get to see them during the temperature check and even that is quick because they are very efficient. They have a runner that knocks on your door, followed by a nurse with an infrared thermometer who takes your temperature by pointing it at your forehead. Its over in seconds and I barely get the words 你好 and 谢谢 in. Of course, they are all in full PPE.
The rules are very strict. You cannot leave your room for 14 days. You and everything in your room, including your luggage, is treated as contaminated. The only thing that can leave your room is garbage and from what I can tell that’s treated like biohazardous material too. They do not service the room or replace bedlinen/towels/etc during your stay. The two bath towels and two hand towels you got at the beginning is all you have for the next 14 days. They provided a tray of 24 water bottles. Again, that’s all you get for the next 14 days. If you run out you can boil water from the sink (yes, that’s what the instructions said) or you can order it online.
I can order things online, but they too come with many restrictions. This is somewhat of a rare privilege because I’ve heard other quarantine hotels don’t do this. The instructions make it very clear that ordering online is a privilege. It is immediately revoked if you try to smuggle in forbidden items such as tabaco, alcohol, prepared meals, kitchen appliances, etc. Apparently, they do check and open up the packages before they deliver it to your room. Since nothing can leave your room once it enters, you cannot return packages.
The toilet, another output, also has a whole routine associated with it. When you check in, you are given a box full of chlorine tablets and strict instructions not to consume those. Every time, after you have gone to the toilet you are supposed to drop in one of those tablets and let it sit there for 1 hour before flushing. While this may disinfect your output, it doesn’t take away the smell. That can linger for quite some time afterwards, so this is not the most pleasant aspect of the quarantine. This may not be the best segue way to the topic of your input: Food.
The food is pretty bland. Breakfast consists of some buns, an egg, a yoghurt or a soy-milk drink, and typically some fried thing with vegetables inside or corn on the cob. Lunch and dinner are pretty similar and typically include a large portion of rice, one or two vegetables, a meat dish (pork, chicken, duck, beef, or fish) and some tofu-based dish. All meals come with a piece of fruit, either a banana, a Chinese peer, or small mango-like fruit that I’ve had before but don’t know the name of it. I knew beforehand that the food would be boring, so I took snacks with me from the US. Some nuts, freeze dried fruits, some salty snack and energy bars to help me get through it. I can highly recommend that.
The first couple of days I was pretty much out of it because of jetlag but now I kind of have settled on a routine. Each morning I wake up around 6-6:30am. Every other day I take a careful shower so that I don’t flood my bathroom like I did the first day. At 7am my meetings start with my teams in the US. My admin has carefully arranged it so that most of my meetings have been compressed to a 3-hour window between 4-7pm PST. That is 7-10am my time. It doesn’t always work; I’ve already had a 10:30pm and a 12:00-2am meeting that I couldn’t avoid. Hopefully I won’t have to do too many of those but that’s the price I have to pay. Between 10am-12:30am I do emails and practice my Chinese. That’s followed by a 1hr session with my Chinese tutor at 12:30pm. That’s one of the first things I got scheduled while I’m here. After that session I go back to answering emails and other work-related stuff until they take my temperature around 2-2:30pm. When that’s done, I’ll try to get some exercise in. Since the room is spacious, I can walk around a bit, like a caged tiger, and I’ll try to put in 45min while listening to a book or podcast. I’m able to walk a distance of over 2 miles. Not much but enough to make my move goals. After that its back to work related activities until dinner around 5:30pm. In the evening I’ll read my book(s) or watch a documentary until I’m ready to fall asleep.
For my next blog entry, I’ll geek out and describe my work from quarantine setup.