Singapore—Marcus Chua, who returned from studies in the US late last month, found himself quarantined at the Swissotel Stamford when he got back.
He documented the duration of his stay on Twitter. And though staying in one of the city’s posh hotels is by no means a hardship tour, returnees do have to face their share of boredom, loneliness, and isolation, as well as the anxiety that the rest of the world is feeling during this coronavirus crisis.
Mr Chua’s SHN story started just before he left for the US. On March 26, he tweeted that he had planned to ride out the coronavirus crisis in America, but “but the Smithsonian closed, then campus shut.” Mr Chua, whose Twitter bio says he studies mammals of SE Asia, is on the research staff at Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.
He added in his tweet that “Strongly worded emails from the embassy and NUS” convinced him to come home, but said he planned to return to the US.
He announced on Facebook that he would be documenting his quarantine on Twitter. “Will I survive the boredom, or will I succumb to the Coronavirus? I’m documenting my SHN on twitter for curious folks starting from arrival at Changi. Keep me from gnawing off my arms please!”
I’m back from Washington DC because campus and all research facilities are closed, and on urgent advice from the…
And document he did, posting about what he ate, what he saw, how he entertained himself and kept himself fit. Thankfully, his SHN ends on Thursday (Apr 9).
Here are some highlights:
When he arrived in Singapore on March 26 he wrote that he would be staying at the “5-star @swissotel Stamford for 14 days. We’re not to leave our rooms.” His lodging, food, laundry would all be care of the Government, which he called a “Brilliant move to support the hospitality industry and keep the pandemic at bay.”
He added that the room was certainly posh, but it also had special laundry bags to prevent contamination as well as information about the SHN.
The room has all the trappings of a 5-star hotel, with the view of Marina Bay. There’s even a balcony.
Yes, very Crazy Rich Asians.
— Marcus Chua (@marcuschua) March 26, 2020
Mr Chua tweeted that he loved the view, and at the end of Day 1, he wrote “I can’t be more impressed and proud of Singapore’s response to #COVID19.”
Regarding the food, Mr Chua was impressed that the returnees serving their SHN could choose what they wanted, and that the portions were big enough for two meals.
On Day 2 a friend in the concierge sent him some bubble tea.
Mr Chua also used his wildlife photography skills to film the “delivery ninjas,” the hotel staff who brought his food. The staff would come to his door, put the food, down, and go away quickly.
To end Day 2, the hotel sent him a slice of cake for his birthday, and he had also received Heaadphone Holography from @CreativeLabs.
Mr Chua tweeted about endeavouring to finish a course assignment
And how ICA checked up on him
He spent his days in online chats,
and posting photos of his meals,
observing how life is going on the ground
And throughout his SHN, Mr Chua was still attending classes—on US time, which wasn’t always easy.
This starts late because I’ve been trying to finish and submit a course assignment—done.
I started today trying to do some bird watching. But trying to see birds from 36 floors up is a challenge until I heard and saw this:
A rooster in the city. pic.twitter.com/Rdd9MKO648
— Marcus Chua (@marcuschua) March 28, 2020
Midway through his SHN he realized he was counting his days incorrectly, that the day he arrived should have been day 0.
Sometimes his meals came with encouraging notes.
And once, an exercise gadget came with his meal to help him stay fit. During his SHN he “jogged, done body weight & furniture exercises, elastic band workouts, tried yoga” and even filmed himself doing the #Handstandtshirtchallenge.
This #SHN has gotten me desperate for any physical activity.
Thought it looked pretty easy. pic.twitter.com/YxK71opCaN
— Marcus Chua (@marcuschua) April 6, 2020
And he kept on posting photos of his meals, and on Day 13 said he would miss the “F&B team’s work soon.”
We’re glad that Mr Chua did not succumb to both the coronavirus and boredom and that he’s succeeded in keeping both his arms. If anyone was wondering what an SHN experience is like, now they know! -/TISG
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