That Time The World Changed...
We met Nate & Jessie (Nate & Jessie Unfold the Map) on Koh Kood, Thailand in February, 2020. We were staying at the charming Cozy House, which lived up to its name. Like us, Nate & Jessie were refugees from the harsh North American winters (Wisconsin in their case). Seasoned travellers, having explored the favoured SE Asian destinations, we shared adventures and favourite places.
Nate and Jessie were headed to Chiang Mai, Thailand, then on to Sumatra, Indonesia, while we were on our way to Bali, the Gili Islands and Flores.
We made plans to hook up in Bangkok but did not meet as planned. We did, however start yacking on WhatsApp as unprecedented events related to the Pandemic unfolded.
We did not foresee how the pandemic would impact our travel plans, and the travel industry, even as we stood directly in the eye of the hurricane.
Here are excerpts of those WhatsApp conversations.
March 7, 2021: Moving Days
Chris & Elaine are in BANGKOK/Nate & Jesse Leaving Koh Kood for Bangkok
J&N: We will be sending Sumatra updates.
C&E: Lake Toba was like a dream.... we spent New Years there in 86-87
J&N: We will see if it is like you remember it!
J&N: Are you heading to Komodo?
C&E: Rinca which is next door and perhaps better
C&E: Ubud...Amed...Gili Air...Flores...Ubud
C&E: After a month on the island, I get the urge for moving
J&N: We were ready to leave the island. Kinda feels good to be back to civilization for a hot minute
C&E: I really hate buses though - it is getting worse for us.
J&N: We never understood how doing nothing could be so exhausting. Buses are terrible, we agree. I think the days of 17 hour journeys are over.
C&E: lol- Legendary ballerina Margot Fonteyn once said, "Traveling carries with it the curse of being at home everywhere and yet nowhere, for wherever one is, some part of oneself remains on another continent."
C&E: Except the long flight over- we have talked about grabbing a repositions cruise from west coast to Asia- how cool would that be!
J&N: Nate just said that’s his nightmare. He’s afraid of drowning. They have cool round the world cruises too.
C&E: I get that- not a huge boat fan - the ferry to Lombok must have been pretty terrifying
J&N: We had a terrible boat ride in Malaysia. Storm in the middle of the ocean. Everyone aboard was puking and crying; all we saw was water on both sides, it was rocking so hard. Locals were kissing the ground when we got to shore.
C&E: Not fun- no atheists on a third world boat
J&N: That made us laugh out loud! We all needed a God in that moment.
C&E: We always said there weren’t any atheists in a third world bus- especially India and Nepal
J&N: No kidding! People ask us all the time if we were scared doing this or that. The answer is usually no. BUT transportation is always the exception...bus, boat, car with a coked out driver driving 120kph for 12 hours overnight
March 9, 2020: Pandemic Panic Approacheth
Chris and Elaine arrived in Ubud BALI/ Nate and Jesse in Chiang man, ThailandJ&N: Are you guys in Ubud?
C&E: Safe and sound
J&N: Great. Is it busy? We couldn’t believe how empty the airport was today.
C&E:Airport quiet at DMK yesterday. Off season here in Bali but more empty than usual
J&N: What a great time to be here traveling!!
J&N: We went to the amulet market and the floating market I told you about. You guys need to go next year. It was all locals, local prices and great food. The boat trip was 100B per person for 1.5 ride
C&E: Fantastic are you on Sumatra?
J&N: No, we are heading to Chiang Mai for a week then off to Sumatra.
J&N: We need to get some things organized and regroup before we take off. Bangkok is so damn hot. Not that CM is any better but having a motorbike helps
J&N: There are NO tourists. It’s wild
C&E: Surprising how many tourists still in Bali
J&N: Really? Opposite situation here. It will be interesting to see for all of us as we start to move around.
C&E: We are off to Gili Monday although my Dad is deathly ill at present and we may be cutting trip short
J&N: I’m sorry to hear your dad has gotten worse. Being there for your family is always a priority.At least you got to get away from the cold and snow, even if it isn’t for as long as you planned this year.
J&N: Safe travels today over water!
March 16, 2020: Trouble on the Horizon
Chris & Elaine are in Gili Air, Indonesia/Nate and Jesse on way to Medan, Indonesia
C&E: Made it to the Gilis- evidently we were on one of the last boats here- they are closing the islands to tourists today...
J&N: Oh shit
J&N: Well we are about to get on a plane to Medan.
J&N: We don’t want to be stuck there!
J&N: We hope you can get out
C&E: Don’t think that’s gonna be an issue- we might not stay the full week
J&N: We just hope we can find a place to call home after Sumatra in 3 weeks
J&N: A lot can change by then
J&N: Singapore might be out all together
C&E: We still have our booking to Flores next week from Bali
C&E: Yes did you read what they are doing in Singapore? Mandatory 14 day isolation- if you fly in...
C&E: Our return flight to Canada is from Singapore in April!
J&N: Omg re Singapore. You may be able to change your flight for free
C&E: Hoping- it’s with EVA Air- I think you said you are flying them as well?
J&N: Let me look quick
J&N: No we fly Cathay
J&N: I see nothing as of now for EVA
C&E: Exactly- very strange
C&E: Our insurance kicks in if Canadian government issues a “defer travel” order- current alert is “avoid travel”
J&N: Your country might be the only sane one! Did you see the shit happening in the USA? All schools, restaurants, and business are closing for 2 weeks.
C&E: Did you see the lines at the American airports- WTF?
J&N: Where? I saw Chicago and it was insane!! 4+ hour wait for the stupid health screening
C&E: NYC- up to 8 hours
C&E: Evidently no screening
J&N: Bangkok is pretty busy still
J&N: Chiang Mai is a ghost town
J&N: I heard there is no tourism now on Sumatra so we will see. Going to charter a car since there is no one to share with.
J&N: Enjoy the Gilis! We will be curious to hear where you end up after!
C&E: Guess they will have to kick us out!
J&N: Did you see Norway?!
J&N: Kicking all tourists out
J&N: Are you planning on staying in Indonesia for awhile.
C&E: Depends on various lockdown scenarios- we still want to to Flores on March 23 for 5 nights- all paid for in advance
J&N: We have been having a discussion about flying back to Thailand until we see what happens in the next 3-4 weeks. Did you read what countries are doing in Central and South America? All borders are closed for 2 weeks plus in Peru and other places
J&N: We are going to watch how peninsular Malaysia reacts. We don’t want Thailand getting strong armed into locked borders or something.
C&E: Our friends headed home to Peru are stranded- we met them at Cozy House on Koh Kood...
J&N: Oh shit. Where are they now?
C&E: Mexico City
J&N: Ugh that sucks for them
C&E: I think North American borders will be closing soon
C&E: We have ticket to Malaysia April 6
J&N: Can you stay for two weeks if you need to quarantine in Malaysia?
J&N: We heard domestic flights in the USA are about to be shut down
C&E: That’s crazy
C&E: Gonna see if EVA will fly to Canada from Bali
J&N: That’s probably the best idea. What a cluster! This is throwing a huge wrench in all of our plans/happy time!
C&E: Anxiety level building big time- scared to look at headlines
C&E: No one left on Gili Air- we are going to ride bikes around the island to take stock of the situation.
J&N: I feel the same!! We are nervous to be somewhere we can’t/don’t want to be stuck for the next month.
C&E: Not only that, the thought of being in paid quarantined- imagine if that happened in Singapore- bankrupt!
J&N: No shit!!!
J&N: You have the island to yourselves. What a paradise...
C&E: Sad to see impact on locals though- they have built so many new businesses
J&N: Oh I know. It’s everywhere. The 4 Monkeys Hotel is closing its doors. No guests.
J&N: Maybe until next season.
J&N: It is.
J&N: No better at home. Are things closing down in Canada?
C&E: Our Prime Minister making big announcement 1am local time here
J&N: So you will know then
C&E: We will stay here and monitor events- likely go back to Bali- EVA Air has an office at airport-plus our trip cancellation insurance will hopefully kick in soon
J&N: I’m a realist but this shit is scary. The domino effect is in place!
C&E: Not sure what kind of world we will be going back to.
J&N: We feel the same.
C&E: Our kids are freaking out in Montreal.
J&N: About their world or the two of you?
J&N: I understand. We are hearing the same thing.
C&E: one day at a time.
C&E: What is the situation in Lake Toba?
J&N: I don’t know if we are going to stay that long. We may go back to Thailand to see what transpires and fly back here in a few weeks.
J&N: We may be chalking this up as a visa run to Bukit Lawang!
J&N: It’s a cheap and easy flight...
C&E: Thailand would definitely be a better choice now.
C&E: We are at that point as well- trying to decide if we should go back to Bali and enquire about getting our trip back home booked- would be about $1000 in reservation losses for us with our current itinerary.
J&N: No way out of the bookings?
C&E: Will depend on events.
C&E: Italy and Iran... terrible events
J&N: I know.
C&E: That situation has everyone shook up.
C&E: What do you foresee as the endgame?
J&N: Who knows really. We have been wondering the same.
C&E: Malaysia looks it’s like going into lockdown
C&E: I would say get out of Indonesia and get back to Thailand before they lock it down- food much better- lol
J&N: Well I think we are heading back to Thailand. I can’t believe Malaysia shut down so fast.
C&E: Good call on Thailand- can you get out today?
J&N: We are doing our best! In a taxi now.
J&N: There is only one flight a day to Thailand.
C&E: Good luck!
C&E: Let us know how it goes.
J&N: Thanks. Enjoy your own personal island
March 16, 2020
Nate and Jess Flee Indonesia and Return to Chiang Mai, Thailand/ Chris and Elaine still in the eerily quiet Gili Islands
J&N: Well we made it on our flight. We will see how things transpire in Thailand.
J&N: But we’re planning on coming back to Indonesia as soon as things settle down. So sad this is even happening!!! Ugh!!!
C&E: We are thinking of returning to Bali as we need to get to the Eva Air office to sort out our return flight
J&N: That’s probably a good idea.
C&E: This is an unexpected turn of events
J&N: For all of us. We need to make sure we aren’t totally fucked
J&N: And with countries restricting all domestic travel that could be a huge problem
C&E: Glad you got out- best to be close to major airport at this stage
J&N: That’s what we are thinking too. How many other tourists are on the island?
C&E: I would guess no more than 100- usually over 5,000 people in the three Gilis this time of year
J&N: It will be interesting to see Bali
J&N: Keep us posted and I will do the same if I hear anything else. In the meantime enjoy!! We could be back in the cold with no toilet paper!
J&N: France closed borders, no flights in or out. Just heard from a friend.
C&E: Decided to stay put on Gili - one day at a time
C&E: When the going gets tough the tough go snorkeling!
J&N: Sounds like a fantastic way to spend your day!!
J&N: You gotta do what’s best. We are back in Chiang Mai at the condo. Now we are prepared for Armageddon to come! 😂
C&E: Zombie apocalypse
C&E: Were you able to fly direct to Chiang Mai from Medan?
J&N: No. There is only one flight a day to Thailand (DMK) from Medan. Everything else goes through Singapore or Malaysia.
C&E: So no issues in Thailand then
J&N: No. We had to get temps taken 2x and fill out a medical declaration
J&N: I saw your IG pics...The island sure looks beautiful today!
C&E: No one here- surprisingly a couple arrived today at our resort- flew into Lombok airport and made trek here
J&N: Wow they must have really wanted to come. Repeat guests?
C&E: Nope never even been in Indonesia!
C&E: More coming tomorrow evidently...
C&E: Only 9 villas... pool in middle...not on the ocean but an beautiful gardens throughout- staff at a whole other level of service
J&N: So they just told the public the islands are closed? Or only closed from Bali?
C&E: Just the fast boats from Bali- can still catch slow public boat to Lombok and fly to Bali cheap cheap.
J&N: So they are just scaring tourists away.
C&E: One case in Bali triggered this.
J&N: No way
C&E: Evidently that is the story
J&Ne: You are inspiring us
C&E: When the Dutch couple staying in next suite bailed out this morning it really shook us up as they had said they were staying put
J&N: The next week or so will be telling
C&E: Every day is like a week! I like it better when North America is asleep
J&N: We still can’t believe we bailed from Medan today. Fucking crazy.
J&N: You are in a better spot though to wait it out
J&N: Sumatra was another story
C&E: It was a good call- you need to be in a safe comfortable place to stay sane
J&N: We can get an international flight out if needed
C&E: We also have a great spot in Ubud at our friends villa
J&N: We will keep that in mind with our wads of rupiah we took out of the ATM yesterday
C&E: Staff here are great- they have a gorgeous cafe called Chill Out RIGHT on the ocean- it is one of our favourite places in SE Asia!
J&N: At least you have that to ease your mind in the meantime
C&E: Today felt much better after snorkeling - helped us focus
J&N: That earth connection is always grounding
C&E: Yeah because my head was in the GD Twilight Zone- lol
J&N: No one can blame you for that!
J&N: Look at the world we are living in - fear and panic
C&E: That’s it- so glad we met you two- came at a good time to help keep perspective
J&N: Same! We look forward to spending some time together in the coming years!
C&E: Good call to move to CM
J&N: We shall see what follows. This is really devastating on so many levels.
C&E: Reading the next two weeks are crucial- either spreading or slowing down
J&N: The incubation period. I heard people are spreading without being symptomatic. Doesn’t make sense to me but that’s what I hear from the good ol US of A
C&E: All a mystery- imagine all those people flying into US airports?
J&N: Better not to go home now
C&E: That’s what we are thinking- lay low
J&N: Find a place to call home and hang tight
C&E: Get some Khao Soy and it’s hog heaven
J&N: You must be reading our minds. That is on the agenda for dinner.
J&N: Sri Lanka also banning tourists starting tomorrow. OMG... the company we were going to use in Sumatra is closing and so are the treks to the park. WTF! We would have been there today and they aren’t operating!!
C&E: Whoa, not good
J&N: That’s how fast it’s happening. Right decision to leave
C&E: Thought that as well- CM - you know it well- just like us here
J&N: We are both in good places
J&N: Safe places to see how this plays out
March 18- The Importance of an Airport Hub versus Transit
Note: Jesse is a travel agent
J&N: Did you see the latest from Indonesia?
C&E: No what?
C&E: Things are getting grim- Indonesia new visa rules means lots of planes will be cancelling
J&N: We had thought about that too
J&N: Any thoughts of coming back to Thailand?
C&E: Our flight from Singapore to Taiwan on EVA has been cancelled
C&E: I think we likely need to get to Taiwan from Bali
J&N: Did you recoup your money?
C&E: Can’t get through on phone- sent an email
J&N: To Eva?
J&N: Let me see if I can get you a different number
C&E: I booked our tickets through Expedia so tried them for over an hour- no answer
J&N: Can you send me your flight details and record locator? I will write to my contact
J&N: I will see what I can do on my end
C&E: Flight locator ML3FHT
C&E: Fri April 17- Eva 216 SIN- TPE
J&N: That’s the one that was cancelled? What about your flight home?
C&E: Fri April 17 Eva 10- TPE-YVR- still open
C&E: SIN-TPE cancelled
J&N: I also have a direct contact at Expedia
[J&N: As well as the airline
J&N: Everything was booked through Expedia?
C&E: Yes I have the Expedia itinerary number
C&E: Expedia itinerary xxxxxxxxxxxxx
J&N: Okay. We just got an email today our flight has been changed home from Taipei as well; a day earlier. They are cutting routes. We just talked today about how many flights per week will be reduced to one location and everyone will be forced on whatever is available.
J&N: Our flight isn’t until May 18. We might end up going home early 😢
C&E: There may not be many airlines left by then
J&N: No shit! I’m already hearing about airline bankruptcy
C&E: Canada and US gonna tighten border for commercial flights according to sources
C&E: Stories out of Italy absolutely terrifying- try not to read them
J&N: I haven’t heard much about Italy, glad I haven’t!
C&E: Stay away from it- I regret reading about it
J&N: Expedia is only showing flights to Canada scheduled to depart March 17 - March 31. So at the moment they aren’t handling that far out yet. Let me look at the other flight
J&N: I’m wondering if it too far out for them to deal with at the moment. Not that you couldn’t rebook or cancel, get your money and buy something else.
C&E: Saying No information available….
J&N: Well what the hell
C&E: I did receive an email with a time change March 13
J&N: I don’t have a dedicated rep for Eva. Very odd.
C&E: Maybe what I saw this morning was an error. Still don’t know how we can fly out of Singapore- 14 day mandated quarantine!
J&N: I don’t think you can
J&N: They may refund your partially used flight with no fee. Cathay pacific is doing that
J&N: Is Flores out?
C&E: Worried Indonesian government might will cancel domestic flights and we’d be four days overland and by sea back to Ubud
C&E: I can barely even stand a short Bemo ride anymore- lol
J&N: FOUR days, yikes. Maybe not worth the risk
C&E: If you would have told me last Sunday Gilis would be closing I wouldn’t have believed you
J&N: We get it! We feel the same. Shit is happening at lightning speed
J&N: Do you have a better chance of getting home from Bangkok?
C&E: Thinking need to go back to Bali tomorrow to try to organize a flight back to N. America ASAP
J&N: Or is Denpasar okay to fly out?
C&E: Our luck they’ll lockdown or shutdown before we get there
J&N: Don’t put that out there
J&N: I wasn’t sure about transit countries
C&E: Good call. DPS likely to have less flights as they lockdown
J&N: Taiwan just put quarantine in effect
C&E: There it is
J&N: Our travel plans are feeling like they are going up in smoke!
J&N: Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan- all on lockdown. Shit
J&N: Can you guys get a cheap flight to Bangkok?
J&N: From Lombok?
C&E: Not sure
J&N: Expedia won’t help you if your trip is more than 7 days out
C&E: I think Thailand will lock down next
C&E: Then we may not have anywhere to go. Our next step is to visit EVA office at DPS.
J&N: It might be best to get somewhere to sit that is more connected than Bali- it is only a transit destination.
C&E: Fly to Bali in morning- hope to hear from insurance or get in the queue on phone
J&N: EVA has flights from BKK to YVR one way for $530
J&N: Transit in TPE but that’s unavoidable
J&N: Your options from DPS are not the best and you do not want to fly through the USA
C&E: I wonder what they charge for ticket change
J&N: Only 7 airports handling all those people. That limits airline choices.
J&N: It should be waived.
J&N: That’s what I’m saying. You should be able to change your date and departure city for free
C&E: EVA office might be able to let us book best option and route
J&N: Maybe you should call and see if they can change it. Bangkok might be your best option if you can get there.
C&E: Ok will give it a shot.
J&N: KL is out
C&E: Yes sadly.We really wanted to chill at KL Journal Hotel.
J&N: Ughhhh I know! The Journal will just need to wait until next year
J&N: How soon would you go home?
J&N: Air Asia has flights to DMK direct from DPS for $163
C&E: We flew into Bali, THAI Asia Air, Don Mueng to DPS
J&N: Okay same
C&E: we feel trip our is over now
J&N: It’s hard to admit, I know
C&E: Getting depressing to be here- it is so sad for these poor people
J&N: You could come back to Thailand and try to ride it for a bit
J&N: I know. It’s horrible. So many businesses are suffering. And may never recover.
C&E: That is an option- I am afraid to book as they might lockdown tonite!
J&N: Buy the cheap cancellation insurance.
J&N: Air Asia offers something. Not sure if it would cover a cancelled flight
C&E: Yeah I already have a great policy for interruption as well. But who knows if the insurance companies will be able to pay back with all the claims!
J&N: I understand completely. It’s hard to know which way to turn
J&N: Wow so sad
J&N: But no matter what you will need to change your departure city
C&E: Makes sense...
J&N: For us, it isn't smart to go home yet. Our country is in crisis panic mode and shit is going into lockdown. People in SF are getting tickets for being out unless it is for essential items. That’s insane...
C&E: One step away from worst nightmare...
J&N: Schools closed through the end of the year, Nate can’t go back to work, and it’s still cold!
J&N: It feels like a movie
C&E: That’s what we thought- in that movie they are watching a newscast about the approaching Pandemic!
C&E: It gets so confusing- big fear is lack of flights and airport closings
C&E: We def consider Thailand though
C&E: Looks like we will need to go into 14 day isolation in Canada upon arrival
J&N: Corona Virus Prevention.docx • 1 page <attached: 00000523-Corona Virus Prevention.docx>
J&N: We may have to do the same when the time comes
J&N: I feel like you could squeeze out 2 more weeks just waiting things out in Thailand
J&N: And it has the biggest airport in this region to get out
J&N: It’s the best connected
J&N: Those are our thoughts. Give it a couple weeks….
C&E: Flights still going through Middle East. Feeling DPS will not support many flight out options.
J&N: Unfortunately Bali is not very well connected
J&N: Deciding to leave is always so hard
J&N: Yesterday I was embarrassed we jumped the gun and left Medan, but today I am glad we did! Things changed that left us feeling like we had no choice.
C&E: That’s how I feel today
J&N: It’s not the virus itself but how these governments are reacting and the impact it can/will have on us
C&E: It’s because of Italy which is a doomsday scenario come to life
J&N: Let’s hope other places have things under control and caught it fast enough
J&N: Let us know how things unfold today and if a reunion on a different Thai island may be a possibility! Try to stay positive! 😁
C&E: Yes thx for this- I felt like staying on Gili Air made sense but it is so incredibly sad to see the locals; we are starting to wonder if we might get robbed by a desperate local
C&E: After the earthquake here two years ago, things got a bit intense on the Gilis
J&N: No way! I hadn’t even thought that would be a concern. There is a lot to consider.
C&E: I saw videos of the evacuation...
C&E: When we went for a walk this morning some of the locals gave us the stink eye...
C&E: A lot of the workers are poor and uneducated
J&N: That’s not good. When it starts to feel unsafe, it’s time to go.
J&N: No matter the situation. Are you getting a bad feeling?
C&E: Our staff have been amazing but they have cut back
C&E: Just a bit weird early this morning
J&N: Listen to that inner voice. We have learned over the years that when we don’t we just fuck ourselves.
J&N: Hence the fact we are here right now...
J&N: I booked a flight out of Sumatra at 7:45am that was leaving at 10:10am and we dropped our bags 10 minutes before check-in closed!
C&E: We just made the call- Bali tomorrow for sure- it is weird, I was telling Elaine this morning I kept hearing a voice telling me to skip Bali this year!
J&N: Really?! You knew all along! But could never have predicted this being the reason.
J&N: We heard the same voice about leaving Thailand, didn’t listen and the candy I bought in Medan cost us over $500!
C&E: Hard to tell if it’s just paranoia...
J&N: Of course! Or not wanting to leave a place.
some time later that day...the shit hits the fan...
C&E: I picked a bad time to quit drinking!🍺🥃🍷
J&N: Lol isn’t that the truth. We had to buy a bottle of vodka from duty free to assist in releasing the stress of the day.
C&E: Someday, we will look back on this and it will all seem funny
J&N: Keep us posted on how your plans are looking and what you decide.
C&E: We are gonna head back to Bali
C&E: Gonna try the Eva Air office to see if we can change our flight
C&E: Taiwan on lockdown starting tomorrow
J&N: Good plan.
J&N: How long is Taiwan on lockdown for?
C&E: Don’t know
J&N: Let’s hope we can still transit there
C&E: If not then we are major screwed
C&E: Expect Thailand to lockdown soon
J&N: We just heard
J&N: They are going to a stage 3 lockdown
J&N: We have 60 days if we need it here
J&N: They won’t kick tourists out?
C&E: that was a great call to leave Sumatra- hard to believe that was only a couple of days ago
C&E: What? Oh man...
J&N: I know! Even for us we can’t believe it
J&N: Travel friends around the world are in touch. One friend is in full lockdown mode in Spain. Police said he can’t be outside.
J&N: Is it worse now to get on a plane home with that recycled air!?? And all those people jammed together?
C&E: My friend flying out of Madrid today- he took the train from Cadiz- not one person in the car (note- he caught the last plane to Toronto)
J&N: He better get out
C&E: Who knows- we have read that planes are pretty safe from the virus
J&N: I saw Europe is locking borders
J&N: You have the option to come here and stay away from the cold!!!
C&E: If Thailand locks down then we have nowhere to go
C&E: We have a beautiful compound to stay in Ubud with a Bali family
C&E: I can’t believe that was only yesterday you booked out of Sumatra
J&N: I know. I can’t believe how things have changed already
C&E: Off to Bali Friday to try to get sorted
J&N: Are you flying?
C&E: Yup only $15 free bags on Air Asia
J&N: Celebrations in order!
J&N: A decision has been made. And alcohol always helps lighten the mood!
J&N: Laos also suspended visas
J&N: At Least you can get home from Bali on Eva
C&E: We hope
J&N: Well Eva flies from DPS so that’s huge
J&N: In the meantime try to enjoy your last day and know it’s not goodbye but see you soon!
C&E: Right - off to snorkel now
C&E: Headline: Qantas suspends all flights until end of May
J&N: I saw
J&N: Good thing we aren’t Australian
C&E: People are stranded all over the world
J&N: Is your dollar dropping? OZ friends freaking out
C&E: Dollar has tanked but not like NZ and OZ
C&E: They are asking 800,000 RP for boat and taxi to Lombok airport- normally about one quarter that price
J&N: But they are desperate
C&E: Exactly, but I still got it down to 550!
J&N: Will you have time to get to the Eva office before the weekend?
C&E: I hope
J&N: Understandable. It’s hard to make a sound decision with all the stress
C&E: Open Friday and Saturday according to web
C&E: Our buddy Agung picking us up and we will stay in his compound at new house our Canadian friend built
J&N: At least you have some support there
C&E: Yes the apartment is beautiful
C&E: Did Thailand shut down yet?
J&N: We are still in stage 2
J&N: Thank whatever God(s) we listened to the voice that said GO
J&N: Did you get money back for the other hotels?
C&E: No- might have lots of time in airport lounges flying halfway round the world!
J&N: No kidding! So much gratitude for lounge access
J&N: It’s a game changer
C&E: We have 5 passes left
C&E: Do you know if it is still possible to transit through Singapore?
J&N: I’m assuming all transit in major airports is ok
C&E: Can you imagine a world where all flights are grounded?
J&N: That’s fucking scary
J&N: Choose where you want to be very wisely
J&N: There has been news here about not closing down just increasing health checks so every tourist has somewhere to go and in turn will stimulate the economy a bit here
C&E: No place left to go in this world
C&E: Our friends have been traveling around the world for almost two years. They were in Sri Lanka when it hit the fan- they said the locals were giving them the stink eye as if they were carriers of the virus- they were totally freaked out- can you imagine?
J&N: Feels like the twilight zone...
J&N: I just heard the same about Krabi and Phuket!
C&E: What a world!
J&N: At least we are both in places with a lot of expats live….
J&N: Us crackers are a normal sight all year round 😂
C&E: If the lockdown continues all the expats living in Bali won’t be able to do Visa runs to Singapore...
J&N: Impossible without quarantine?
C&E: They are so screwed
J&N: They will need to make the trek to Thailand
J&N: No other choice
C&E: Off to watch the sunset best over Bali
J&N: Live in the moment! 😎
MARCH 20, 2021- ESCAPE FROM THE GILIS
J&N: Good morning. You ready to go?
C&E: We are off the Gilis at Lombok airport- things went smoothly- 20 minute flight to Bali- lol. It was like a James Bond movie getting off Gili Air- the launch pulled up right on the beach- we climbed aboard and crossed the bay but did not go to the port as they are scrutinizing all foreigners- pulled into a small bay and clambered on shore- we stumbled into a small car- six people and bags and drove to Lombok airport! Parts of Lombok coast were so beautiful!
J&N: Did you see what Thailand imposed? Health documents or you are allowed on a flight
J&N: As of the 20th
C&E: Oh man we are traveling with a young couple headed there- will let them know
C&E: Indonesia is supposedly on lockdown for foreigners arriving- no one allowed in. But of course you can still arrive in if you buy a visa at embassy!
C&E: I found a flight Singapore- Dubai- Toronto... Air Asia-Emirates for $800 CDN
J&N: What about quarantine on arrival in Singapore?
C&E: Gonna find out- hoping it doesn't applies to transit.
C&E: As long as we bring our bags on board no need to go through customs.
J&N: Wouldn’t you need to go through customs to recheck in? Or the flight is from DPS through SIN?
C&E: Looks like air Asia to Singapore then connect to Emirates to Dubai- we heard connecting in Singapore not an issue at this time.
J&N: That’s not a connection technically
C&E: Right! and that makes me nervous
J&N: Unless the flight is all the way through on one ticket.
C&E: found it on Skyscanner
J&N: Talk to Eva and let me know. You can call me and I will get on my computer and help you in any way I can.
J&N: I have access to the airlines ticketing system.
C&E: Oh that is great- Eva first
Meanwhile, at Denpasar Airport in Bali...
J&N: Any news yet?
C&E: At Eva office- line not too bad maybe an hour or so...
C&E: People scrambling to get on EVA flight today
J&N: I’m sure they will get you on a flight in the coming days
J&N: At least you have a little flexibility
J&N: How soon will you try to leave?
C&E: The word is they are charging difference in ticket costs
J&N: I had a feeling but waiving change fees
C&E: Doesn’t matter. I have a dedicated insurance agent- she is working on my file at 2 in morning back home!
[2J&N: Your claim will cover all your extra costs?
C&E: I hope- def. qualifies as trip interruptions
J&N: Good luck with your flight changes. Fingers crossed! We will be anxiously waiting to hear what you can figure out. It will be very telling for us as well.
C&E: So many cancelled flights on EVA- they are consolidating with China Air
C&E: Was able to book to Vancouver on 24th in four days time...
C&E: Best we could do
J&N: I had a feeling it would be next week. So glad you are all sorted.
C&E: We will figure out the rest from Vancouver once we are in Canada.
J&N: Hopefully that eases some of the stress.
J&N: Did you need to pay?
C&E: Yes about $800 Canadian in difference of ticket cost- bastards- will never fly with them again.
J&N: Shit!! Well better than being stuck! Let’s hope your insurance covers it
J&N: Are most people flying home?
C&E: Watched a woman book a flight on an EVA Air flight to Vancouver leaving today- she paid $10,000 for a Business Class Seat!
J&N: Wow! We don’t have trip insurance. Only medical. So it is what it is when the time comes.
J&N: Hoping your last days will be rejuvenating now that your mind is at ease.
C&E: That’s right- we are staying in our friends extra apartment just south of Ubud
Later that night:
C&E: There it is:
J&N: Oh fuck...
J&N: Thanks for sharing. There goes our trip too.
J&N: No more flights to Chicago.
J&N: Looks like we have a 30+ hour flight to get home
J&N: We might be leaving a week from today
C&E: OMG- seems like the airline business shutting down by end of month
J&N: We are going to sort through a few options. Maybe just flying to LA and getting a flight home from there.
C&E: You might have to do a road trip!
C&E: Tragic events/ has your travel agency business fallen off the cliff?
J&N: Yes. No work at the moment but we are sure things will be busy once this clears. People are going stir crazy!
J&N: I see $38 flights from LAX to ORD
J&N: Unheard of!
C&E: Your airlines are being charitable- Air Canada, Vancouver to Windsor: $1000 USD...
March 29, 2020: Fear and Loathing in SE Asia
J&N: Morning. We got our flight changed. Home on the 25th. A long haul then a red eye. Brutal! I’m hearing talks of Thailand closing borders.
C&E: Ours not as bad- 17 hours Bali to Vancouver through Taiwan- a red eye connection to Toronto then 4 hours drive home.
J&N: At least we will all be getting home
C&E: We hope!
J&N: How’s Ubud?
C&E: It’s a struggle- lol- we love it here...
C&E: Not as busy
C&E: Our friend's place...
J&N: Very much a struggle I see.
J&N: All major US cities are on full on lockdown until April 7...
J&N: Fear is just crippling the country. I wonder what will happen over here?
C&E: If this virus finds its way to Bali, it will spread like a hurricane cause they live so close together in compounds.
J&N: I think it is everywhere. We overheard an expat on the phone telling someone 400,000 Chinese came in December to Chiang Mai; in early January, everyone was sick there. He thinks the city has already been dealing with Corona. Before this was even an issue. The first reported case was back in early December in China.
J&N: Everyone was sick HERE
J&N: He said even he had the flu bad and thinks he had it
J&N: But there was no testing back then
J&N: Let me know if you hear anything about Thai borders closing.
J&N: We can make a quick move if necessary
J&N: Shit is hitting the fan here
C&E: Have not heard a thing about Thailand- quiet here and getting quieter - not surprised about Air Asia- they had a good system for rebooking people yesterday at Bali International
J&N: I just contacted my supplier and she assured me borders would not close for foreigners to leave via plane
J&N: Bangkok is shutting down
C&E: Whole world shutting down like one big Nyepi! Which is coming up BTW (Note: Nyepi is the "Day of Silence" in Bali when everything- airports, all public transportation, phone systems, internet- literally everything shuts down. Balinese and tourists must stay in their compounds to reflect and meditate- no one is allowed out of their resorts)
J&N: This is just crazy. We are still shaking our heads in disbelief
C&E: Keeping our fingers crossed they don’t cancel our Tuesday flight
J&N: I understand
J&N: We toyed with changing our flight to tomorrow. It would complicate things but if we have to get out we can
C&E: When you flying?
J&N: A lot can change in a couple days
C&E: I think airlines are going to fly until end of month, and then that’s it
J&N: Me too
C&E: Air Asia gonna leave a lot of people screwed
J&N: I have friends that booked back to OZ from BKK on April 2 just last night. Flight already canceled
C&E: Oh man
C&E: What are people supposed to do?
J&N: I don’t know what they can do
J&N: What about the Europeans that can’t get home
J&N: No restaurants are open in BKK, only take away
J&N: Starting tomorrow
C&E: Indonesian government fining people $100 day who overstay their visa
C&E: Class act
J&N: That’s awful to take advantage of people in this time of crisis
C&E: If you have an option leave as soon as possible
J&N: We may try to go Monday
J&N: I am just looking
J&N: This is so stressful
C&E: High anxiety
C&E: Mach 12
J&N: We changed our flight to Monday
C&E: Good for you... I am so stressed thinking Tuesday flight will be cancelled- it was only option on EVA out of Bali
C&E: Two days gonna seem like forever
C&E: Still lots of westerners here- they just cancelled Bali Spirit Festival but many folks had already arrived here
C&E: How quickly the world became a scary place
J&N: You will get home
J&N: I know it
J&N: I can’t believe we are leaving Monday and I just checked in
J&N: Last day tomorrow!!
J&N: People better get out
J&N: It is scary and changing too fast to even wrap your mind around
J&N: Good morning. How are you folks feeling today?
J&N: So ready to go home and try to detach from some of this. I haven’t been this stressed in a LONG time
C&E: Howdy J&N- we feel the same way- two more days but who's counting?
C&E: We travel to reduce our stress but this - OMG/ last night was feeling stressed to the max but then had a relaxing dinner with a Canadian couple in one of favorite Italian restos in a sublime garden, they are flying back to Canada on same flight as us
J&N: Well that’s positive
C&E: Decided we will rent a place together if we get stuck here
C&E: Rumour is Bali airport won’t reopen after Nyepi on the 26th- we will be getting out just in time!
C&E: THAI Air Asia shut down today
J&N: You are just getting out! Phew!!
C&E: So many people gonna be stranded
C&E: Nightmare scenario
C&E: Government says no one can be repatriated from Peru- military dickheads
C&E: So we could all be a lot worse off
J&N: Exactly. We are so close! Let’s have a video drink together when we are all home safely!! That will be something to celebrate...for the first time ever!!
J&N: Usually we are so depressed going home
C&E: Tomorrow for you
J&N: Yes. Tomorrow
C&E: Great idea for video toast for sure- gonna grab a couple bottles at the duty free!
J&N: Okay so we will talk at 3am when we are all wide awake!
C&E: That’s cool!
C&E: Elaine says the hardest part of going home is leaving her travel self behind and switching to her home self...
J&N: That’s exactly how we feel!! So hard to leave this self here but I don’t feel like my carefree, travel self at the moment.
C&E: Carefree left town- Anxiety moved in
C&E: Are you transiting through Hong Kong?
C&E: They’re closing Singapore to transit tomorrow
J&N: We are getting out just in time.
C&E: Still over 48 hours for us...
J&N: You will make it
J&N: You go to Taiwan right?
C&E: I had a palpitation when I read Singapore closing- that is a major gateway in this part of the world...
J&N: A week ago Monday we landed in Sumatra. In SHOCK a week later that we will be on the plane home.
C&E: Was just saying that to Elaine- we were gonna skip Amed and head to airport last Monday
J&N: I know, things are really getting to the point where you just can’t get home fast enough
C&E: On Monday it was keep travelling- now it’s homeward bound. But evidently we could not have departed any sooner than the 24th on EVA….
J&N: Imagine what thinsg will look like in another week
C&E: Complete lockdown
C&E: Fine with us as long as we are at home
J&N: I told my sister I was SO stressed and she was like why?! I had to shake my head. What they are dealing with at home is NOTHING like the roller coaster we are on
C&E: Off to lunch
J&N: Enjoy. We are going on a ride up the mountain.
C&E: Headline: Taiwan suspends all transit midnight Tuesday - our flight departs Taiwan for Vancouver at 23:55 Tuesday- OMG
J&N: Deep breathing
C&E: We are thinking shutdown midnight Tuesday, not midnight Monday else why would they rebook everyone?
J&N: You would know if they were rebooking you
J&N: Did you check your flight status on the airline website?
J&N: We are beyond grateful you are making it! Skin of your teeth!!!
C&E: Says confirmed
J&N: You are good!
C&E: We hope- you never know with everything changing so fast...
J&N: How long is your layover?
C&E: 2 hours
C&E: We just received 48 hour check-in notice
J&N: Can you check in?
C&E: I was not able to pay when I booked my flight- their system wasn’t accepting payment
J&N: So how will you pay?
J&N: At the airport?
C&E: Correct. But I can see our booking through the app
J&N: So you can’t check in until you pay I’m assuming
C&E: We headed o to airport well early Tuesday
C&E: When I rebooked they told me I could skip the line to pay
J&N: You will be fine!!
J&N: At least you are confirmed
J&N: That’s most important
C&E: Anxiety rising
J&N: I know. It will all be over soon!
C&E: What a scene...
J&N: I keep visualizing us all at home with a video toast! We made it!!!
C&E: If we go to airport and it’s cancelled I am buying whatever I can get...
J&N: It won’t be but that’s a good backup plan
J&N: Prepare for the worst...EXPECT the best!
J&N: We leave Chiang Mai for BKK at 10:10am; international leaves at 4:40pm
J&N: We have a good the window...
C&E: We met a young British couple on Gilis- they decided to fly from Bali- Singapore- Phuket- we tried to talk them out of it...they were refused entry in Phuket- sent back to Singapore- now in detention- a total nightmare...
J&N: Are they in a facility quarantine?
J&N: They didn’t know about the health certificate?
C&E: They got a health test in Denpasar but not a Corona test which JetStar neglected to tell them
C&E: Detention room with 20 other people
J&N: For how long?
C&E: Flight leaves for London at 12:45am but they may not be on it
J&N: Hopefully they get tested and are clear
C&E: Some serious horseshit
J&N: I’m sure this is happening to so many people
C&E: Yes bad luck at Phuket- if they would’ve booked Air ASIA their flight would’ve been cancelled
C&E: That’s why we decided to stick with Eva Air
J&N: So much to stay on top of as things are changing hourly
C&E: We hope all is well tomorrow
J&N: I convinced our Aussie friends to ditch their Air Asia flight home on the 2nd and book a major carrier ASAP from Bangkok. As of April 1, who knows!!!
C&E: Likely won’t happen
J&N: but you will be fine! Just one more day.
C&E: I think we are getting one of the last flights
J&N: I agree
C&E: Just got another notice on the Eva Air app/ we are still scheduled
J&N: You are good to go!
C&E: One last piece of stress is paying for the ticket- they said we could jump the line and go right in to pay
C&E: Gonna get there four hours ahead
J&N: Good plan. Right when they open
C&E: They told me to come at noon to pay
C&E: I have cash as well in case the card card terminal not working
J&N: You have thought of everything
C&E: I forgot I had cash with me on Friday- could’ve paid it then!
J&N: @ CM airport
J&N: <attached: 00001041-PHOTO-2020-03-22-21-07-52.jpg>
C&E: Hope your flight is jumping! We are rooting for you!
J&N: Thanks! We will keep in touch along the way. We hope your last day is as enjoyable as possible.
C&E: Everyday at sunset the locals burn so much crap including all their plastic, the air is foul with nasty smoke, drinking lots of ginger and lemongrass tea
J&N: Same here. It’s that time of year.
C&E: Hard on the lungs
J&N: <attached: 00001052-PHOTO-2020-03-22-21-59-40.jpg>
J&N: You need one of these
J&N: Made it to Bangkok. No temp check in CM unless we didn’t see it
J&N: Temp checks at every entry here. They are asking all passengers to wear masks
J&N: We have some time before we can check in. Lounge was open in CM.
J&N: Through security and in the lounge. This Cathay flight might be pretty full. Long line and premium economy was sold out.
J&N: All flights a go and on time. 🤟🏻
C&E: Good luck and fly high
J&N: We will be following your flights.
J&N: Lots of Canadians on our flight to Hong Kong
C&E: Last chance dance
J&N: What did I overhear about Bangkok? No more transit?
C&E: Our British friends in detention in Singapore: we think they were put on a flight as we haven’t heard from them since around 10:40 this morning and she was whatsapping us furiously
J&N: The stories people will have
C&E: What I am reading- so many people stuck
J&N: When does no transit into Thailand start officially?
C&E: Cannot enter unless you have been tested for Corona with proof- that’s what they were told in Phuket
C&E: Indonesia still accepts visa from embassy with medical questionnaire
Note from Maria Nursanti: Thai airways refused me boarding yesterday.I had all the paperwork you are talking about + proof of insurance that covers me for covid19. but to disembark at Bangkok a Covid19 negative certificate is now required. This is my own personal experience.
J&N: Thailand is cutting transit as well
J&N: Things are no joke here in Hong Kong
C&E: What happened?
J&N: Wait for the pic
C&E: Is that Nate- lol
J&N: We have seen a few
C&E: How was the screening?
J&N: Nothing more than a temp check
J&N: Coming here is scary
J&N: 14 day quarantine and if you go out, 6 months in jail with a $25,000 fine
C&E: What a wild ride!
J&N: In HK, you need to provide tracking via phone
C&E: Our friends will be dropping a car for us at Toronto airport- four hour drive home after three long flights.
J&N: You are just getting by!
C&E: Don’t remind me!
J&N: You will make it!
C&E: Thanks for that!
J&N: Ever since we started talking about you going home I always thought you would go home on the 24th. You’ll make it.
C&E: What time do you fly out?
J&N: 12:10 am
J&N: 3 hours
C&E: already long day!
J&N: I know!
J&N: We might sleep for 2 days straight!
C&E: Might as well go for 14!
March 24.20: Will the Last Person to Leave Please Turn Out The Lights?
Denpasar Airport, Bali
C&E: We are screwed- we cannot fly out.
C&E: Transit in Taiwan closed to foreigners
J&N: What? Why?
J&N: We just landed in LA....
C&E: They closed Taiwan transit 12:01 am last night, not tonite as we had hoped
J&N: Your flight was canceled?!!
C&E: EVA Air flight is outbound but they refused to board us- can you imagine?
J&N: Did you talk to the airline?
C&E: In line now got here two hours ago, but spoke to fellow travellers.
C&E: and...EVA AIR is closing down its entire operation until May 1
C&E: We missed it by one day but they had already cut back flights. This flight was our only option as of 10 days ago, so it didn't matter if we had come back earlier from Gilis.
C&E: Of course we could have rebooked with another carrier but who knew
J&N: Can you rebook today?
J&N: With a different airline and just get home?
C&E: They are offering options but doubtful they will help to get us to Canada.
C&E: And Balinese Nyepi tomorrow so the airport will be cosed.
C&E: Best option Jakarta but can you imagine getting stuck there?
J&N: Can you get out today even to LA and book a different flight from the States?
C&E: Not likely...not many flights left and everyone is scrambling
C&E: I don’t think Canadians are allowed into the USA….
J&N: Can you get a flight through the Middle East?
J&N: Emirates, Qatar, Etihad?
C&E: Emirates just closed down- chaos at their office here in Denpasar- huge lines
J&N: I read they reopened….
C&E: Eva closing down until MAY 1- they may not reopen
J&N: Can you transit through Japan?
J&N: I can help you look soon. We are just at the gate. I have 3 hour layover
C&E: Any help appreciated….
J&N: What airport codes can you fly into?
C&E: Only four international airports left open in Canada: YVR YYZ
J&N: I will call you. Let me get through customs...
J&N: Hi. Okay at the gate.
J&N: Is there an ANA office there?
J&N: There is a flight through Jakarta
J&N: You may need to fly to Jakarta to get out
J&N: I also see a flight on Virgin Australia
J&N: You are right re Emirates. I just saw an article….
J&N: Are you guys okay?!!!!
C&E: We were just quoted $10,000 CDN! Each
J&N: To get home?!!
C&E: Yes through Jakarta on ANA.
J&N: Can you buy the same flight online?
C&E: I checked it’s crazy expensive...
J&N: Let me look again. What time did it leave?
C&E: I am not sure anymore
J&N: Are you still at the airport?
C&E: No we left airport headed back to UBUD.
J&N: On my computer looking
C&E: Ok we gotta organize food supplies as tomorrow is Nyepi begins at 5am- and the airport closing for 24 hours doesn’t help
J&N: Do you want me to look the day after then? What are you thinking?
C&E: Anything at this point- there are so few gateways left.
C&E: I don’t think tonite is realistic.
J&N: What was EVA going to do? Refund you?
C&E: Yes could take up to two months
C&E: They could not find us any options back to Canada
C&E: No notice from them about Taiwan transit closing- everyone in a state of shock
J&N: That’s bullshit
C&E: Total, plus Taiwan could’ve easily kept the transit lounge to get through, as the flight did leave Bali for Taiwan as scheduled but we could not board- ridiculous!
C&E: I feel like the virus is going to explode in Bali
J&N: Are there a ton of people stuck?
C&E: Internet shutting down for 24 hours starting 5am tomorrow
J&N: There is a flight on Virgin Australia on the 26th you can book on Expedia
J&N: Transit might need to be in either Australia or Japan
J&N: I know you are worried about getting stuck in Jakarta but I’m seeing that is the best option unless you fly through Australia.
J&N: Sorry I can’t help more. One last leg! We are holding the space for this to work! You will get home one way or another!
Not sure if there is an office in DPS
C&E: We can’t travel through Australia anymore
C&E: Good luck- we will be offline for 24 hours- we can’t do anything until 27th
C&E: Hopefully something will open up
C&E: Starting 5am local time
J&N: I think you can still transit in OZ
J&N: I will do some looking
Later that night before Nyepi lockdown
J&N: We are back to Chicago
C&E: Congrats, returned to our villa in Ubud- totally surreal- especially when we said good bye to everyone!
C&E: Looks like Jakarta Tokyo-Vancouver is your best bet on Sunday
C&E: $1231 CDN
C&E: Worried they will close airport as soon as I purchase!
J&N: I liked that one too...
J&N: Can you get out sooner?
C&E: Too expensive as in, insane- $10,000 each!
J&N: I know. I saw prices that were unreal!
J&N: Your travel insurance should cover a flight home
C&E: Yes I have been in touch
C&E: Not sure how much they will cover… thinking this could bankrupt them
C&E: We had to get groceries for Nyepi shutdown which has been extended to two days- grocery store was insane, filled with locals and farangs panicking and stocking up- it was my Corona nightmare
C&E: We just booked the ANA flight to Jakarta-Haneda-Vancouver
J&N: Good! Are you getting a domestic to Jakarta?
C&E: Garuda... looks like a code share
C&E: Def code share
C&E: Taking a gamble on those two airports
J&N: No choice at the moment
C&E: Looks like Japan still offering day tours?
C&E: Our government offering $5000 travel loans for stranded Canadians
J&N: Oh wow. That’s great! Your government is doing much better things than ours.
J&N: Keep us posted when you are back online.
March 26, 20: 24 hours of silence ends, internet and phones come back on, lockdown still in effect in Bali
C&E: Just back on
J&N: How was the holiday? Festivities?
C&E: Quiet, they banned most of the ceremonies.
J&N: How are you feeling about Sunday? Do you know any others on your flight?
C&E: Yes we know one other couple we met at EVA office at airport- they are also nervous it will be cancelled
J&N: Japan has just imposed a mandatory 14 day quarantine
C&E: Canadian govt has imposed 14 day quarantine for all travellers entering country
J&N: At home or facility?
C&E: How are you settling in?
J&N: We are trying to get organized, see family at a distance with driveway visits, and get on a normal sleep schedule. We are keeping to ourselves for two weeks with the exception of getting food.
C&E: Too bad about Thailand would’ve been a great place to lay low.
J&N: Not anymore. They imposed a curfew and all the restaurants were closing. We have been in contact with our local friends. I don’t think it would have been good.
C&E: Same same thing here in Ubud
C&E: There is another flight on Saturday...differ