China in the times of Swine Flu
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
Yes, I got quarantined for 12 hours but for some of my travel companions the â€śimprisonmentâ€ť lasted 7 days which was almost half of our precious vacation time. I guess we learned that it is probably better not to go to
Flu issues aside the trip was fantastic.
21 members of our church have been planning this trip for over a year. We were going to visit Beijing, Xian, Yichang where we will take a cruise on the mighty Yang Tse river and visit the 3 major gorges disembarking in Chonqing and then going to Guilin and finally to Shanghai.
We were very excited when we met at DFW airport, the trip ahead was a long one, 3 hours DFW to
Anyhow, the first part of the trip was uneventful, my flight on United Airlines was not too impressive, my favorite part was flying over
As we were descending into
As we landed, we were told that Chinese health officials were going to board the plane and take our temperature, so everyone had to stay in their seats until they give final clearance to the plane.
After a few minutes, we were cleared, authorized the get out of the plane, and were ushered into immigration, the entire personnel at the Beijing airport were wearing masks, later as we walked we realized that there were more temperature scanners posted trough the airport, those will scan groups of us as we walked by.
We all made it out of the airport and met our tour guides who took us in a bus to our hotel, The Beijing Crown Plaza hotel, located in downtown at the center of a very commercial touristy spot.
The following day, it was raining continuously, not heavy but enough to slow us down and make sightseeing hard, I personally enjoy rainy days, so except for not being able to take good pictures I enjoyed the day. We visited the Forbidden City and the
When we came back to our hotel, we were going to rest and then go to a Peking duck banquet, but when we got to the hotel we had bad news awaiting, we were told that someone on our plane the day before turned out to be developing symptoms suspicious for Swine Flu and that they were collecting all passengers traveling in the vicinity of that passenger. In our group of 21 people, 10 were determined to be close enough to that passenger and they were going to be picked up by the Health Department and taken into a hotel where it would be determined if they were going to remain in quarantined or set free.
I donâ€™t need to tell you what I felt as they started reading the list of people whose vacation was going to be over a day after arrival.
For those on the list, they had to go to their rooms, pick up their belonging and later were picked up on ambulances and taken to a quarantine hotel; later they will find out that the person on our flight had the Swine Flu so they will stay in quarantine for 7 days. At any time if they develop fever they will be transported from that hotel into an actual hospital.
Our group was only 11 now, we stayed in contact with friends, family and co-parishioners from home via Facebook and to make a distinction between both groups, we were the group of the FIG 11 (free) vs. the group of the FIG 10 (in captivity). FIG is a nickname for our beloved church, The Episcopal Church of the TransFIGuration.
The rest of the time in
After 4 nights in
We arrived to Yichang, uneventfully and after touring the city and
We arrived to the cruise late evening after having dinner in town. The ship was a medium size boat with capacity of around 250 passengers and crew. On the ship, we took possession of our cabins and met the crew on a welcome cocktail.
We were tired so we went to bed earlyâ€¦ while I was already sleeping probably around midnight, the speakerphone in our rooms awaken us with an important announcement saying that we were urged to gather in the main dining room for an important update.
When we got to the dining room, surprise again!!!! The Chinese health official in full protective gear strike again!,
The announcement was made that someone on the previous crew who left the ship earlier was suspected to have swine flu, so, we were going to be taken to a hotel for our own protection, so we were asked to go back to our cabins, gather our belongings and congregate again in the main lobby in order to be evacuated from the ship and taken to the hotel.
We got to the quarantine hotel around 2 am. My room was OK, and had internet access, so immediately posted on Facebook that the FIG 11 were now in limbo awaiting for a decision to be made, we were going to be released in the next few hours or in 7 days. People at home started replying right away as it was the middle of the afternoon in the
Next day we had breakfast and met our fellow quarantinees. There were other people from the
We had breakfast and tea and no coffee to be found anywhere, so I never really woke up completely.
Later that morning we were notified that we were going to be releasedâ€¦ Aleluya!; the health department decided to quarantine the crew of the ship and we were going to be allowed to go back to the ship with a fresh crew and after the cruise ship undergoes an sterilization process.