I have just returned from a month long trip overseas…and it looks like I got back to the UK in the nick of time!
As we left in mid February, the virus was just starting to kick off and as we returned on Friday it had very much taken hold. And of course, since then the situation has already changed dramatically.
Our trip took us back to Australia for our annual visit and then on to Cambodia for a couple of weeks. We were so looking forward to it, and the longer than normal stint in Cambodia was to celebrate my partner’s birthday. Of course we were mindful of the risk when we left, but it seemed quite low at the time.
I was keeping an eye on the situation and our flights whilst we were away. As it developed Singapore Airlines were sending out notifications every few days of more flights that were being cancelled. Thankfully we only had one flight of ours which was cancelled and we were just moved onto an earlier one, so no drama there for us really.
And we were very lucky. The trip was not really adversely affected at all by the virus situation. The only noticeable difference was the number of people, or lack of them, as time went on. Most of the places we stayed at were reporting low visitor numbers and we did notice a considerable lack of people at some of the sites and markets we visited.
There was also a considerable amount of hand sanitiser everywhere at the hotels in Cambodia! Definitely a good thing!
The most noticeable change to me though was at the airports, they were so very quiet.
Singapore’s Changi Airport was the quietest I have ever seen it. And at Heathrow, it was like a ghost town with no queues anywhere!
Our flights to and from Australia weren’t particularly different, but it all changed when we got to Singapore. Our flights to and from Cambodia were very empty and the flight back home from Singapore to London was half empty – it did mean that I managed to get a row of three seats to myself though! The holy grail when flying economy!!
It was quite a strange experience indeed, but I feel we were very lucky with our timings and if we had pushed the trip back, even by just a week, we could be in quite a bit of trouble getting back home.
It was also sad to see and hear of the lack of tourism and I was glad to be able to support those businesses whilst we were away, even in a small way.
But we are now home and it all feels very strange. Going back to work yesterday, which usually feels weird after a longish break anyway, but with everything else that’s going on, felt very surreal.
We are in unprecedented times and it’s time to look after each other.
My thoughts are with everyone at the moment, especially those who are on the front line, unwell and in isolation. I also wish everyone safe travels if you are currently stuck trying to get from A to B.
There will be no more travel for me for the time being as the world locks down. But I am already looking forward to getting back out there when I can and it’s safe to do so!
In the meantime, it’s looking after ourselves that matters. This is a unique situation which has no borders and we are in it together.
All the best everyone.