Travel tales from the time of COVID

Yes my lovely readers – it’s me. I’m back! The last couple of months have been so entertaining that I’ve finally been inspired to blog.

It all started at then end of summer when news came that renewing my visa in country would be nye on impossible thanks to Cambodian regulations and British Embassy shiteness.

And so an extortionatly priced flight ticket to the UK was purchased with one of only 2 airlines currently flying out of Cambodia to hub countries for European flights.

Knowing I would have to self isolate for 2 weeks when I arrived in the UK, I decided to visit for a healthy period of 6 weeks to allow me to spend lots of time with friends and family once isolation was over (oh how foolish and naive that idea would prove to be!)

The journey was long but fairly uneventful. Key learning points were:

  • Flying during a global pandemic is a ball ache especially when transiting through countries that take the whole thing very seriously and tag you with a fluorescent green wristband before marching you single file through the airport – the only thing missing was the bell around our necks and someone hollering “unclean” as we came through.
  • Little Miss Sunshine is an awesome film no matter how many times you watch it.
  • Face masks are not fun to wear for 30+ hours straight but are great for catching sleep drool.
  • Watching people try to don hazmat suits over puffer jackets is entertaining in the extreme – especially when they’ve chosen to put their 2 pairs of rubber gloves on before starting the process and are confined to the aisle of an Airbus A350-900.

Back home in the leafy East Midlands, I settled in to a simple rhythm during my self isolation, peppering my days with super early work calls, online shopping, walks down country lanes and lots of shite tv watching. All the while eagerly awaiting the end of the 14 days when I would finally be FREE (in a socially distanced, covid friendly way obvs).

Sadly, the dumbass UK government had different ideas and, half way through my isolation period, announced that the UK would be going back into lockdown 3 days after I was finally free. To make matters worse lockdown would end the day after I flew back to Cambodia!

So that meant that, apart from the couple of times when I exploited the travel for exercise clause of lockdown to visit a couple of my favourite places, I spent most of the 6 weeks in the UK at my mum’s house in the centre of the universe that is sunny Shepshed, seeing very few people and doing very little other than a hell of a lot of online shopping (my record was 7 parcel deliveries in 1 day!).

And then, just as I was getting into my stride with lockdown UK style another curveball was thrown. This one came from the Cambodian Government who decided to change the quarantine rules following an incident involving a selfish prick of a Hungarian Foreign Minister testing positive for Covid after a visit to Cambodia. Up until this point returning to Cambodia involved 2 days quarantine in a hotel awaiting the results of a COVID test on arrival followed by 12 days self isolation at home with a second COVID test on day 13. This process was withdrawn in favour of a 14 day mandatory hotel quarantine at my own expense. And just in case you were wondering, no you aren’t allowed to choose your own hotel, you ride the magical mystery bus to who knows where (more on that later). The COVID test on arrival and on day 13 still applied but the latter would now be administered at the quarantine hotel rather than at one of the 2 designated COVID test hospitals in the city.

Well, that announcement sure got the tears and the expletives flowing and added more fuel to my already regularly occurring nightmares about the return journey. Now not only did I have COVID test horror stories to contend with but also magical mystery buses taking me to prison camp style hotels featured heavily too. Thanks to a very active Cambodia focused Facebook forum there were plenty of horror stories of what awaited me courtesy of those who had already done the trip.

And then, before I knew it, my time had come to say farewell to mum and head back home to Cambodia. With documents and paperwork in order (listed below) I headed once more to Heathrow airport to begin the long trek home.

The journey home mirrored the outbound in that it was long, uneventful and masked (no drool this time as no sleep but did watch a total of 4 Christmas films which I consider a win). And 29 hours after leaving mum’s house on the Saturday morning we finally touched down in Cambodia and the fun really started.

Evidence of my inflight Christmas movie marathon

And that my lovely readers, is where I’m going to leave you today. Please come back tomorrow, I’ve got lots more to tell you about my arrival and subsequent 14 day imprisonment quarantine.

All the stuff I had to show to various officials numerous times throughout my journey:

  • New passport (yes I have sadly had to relinquish my lovely Eu passport in favour of the awful black (it’s definitely not blue) new non EU one)
  • New visa (one of the highlights of my time in the UK is how wonderfully helpful the Cambodian visa official at the embassy was – made the whole process so pain free)
  • Lab results for Negative COVID test less than 72 hours before departure (had to have this done at a private clinic to guarantee getting the result – this actually involved sitting in mum’s car in a garden centre carpark and having a swab bodged up my nose through the car window)
  • Certificate for Negative COVID test less than 72 hours before departure stamped with the official clinic stamp (yep I had to pay extra for this and get them to do it again as they’d missed the word negative off – An absolute must have for Cambodian immigration who are not happy to accept the standard wording of not detected).
  • Government mandated COVID insurance (even though my own health insurance covers me for COVID!)
  • $2000 quarantine deposit (yep you have to pay in advance for your magical mystery bus trip to god knows where)
  • All boarding passes
  • My new flourescent green wristband acquired when I once again returned to the COVID transit lounge in Singapore (this time for a 9 hour wait).

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