I was in China until recently during the virus epidemic.
China was OK… I had a decent job and an apartment. However, I had had enough of living there. Let me explain, One day the cleaning person quit cleaning my floor of the apartment build I was living in. Trash piled up in the hall near the elevator, thrown away by the residents. Not trash in trash bags, people just tossed garbage on the ground. Rotten pieces of water melon, open containers of food just thrown on the ground. Now, you have to understand, I’ve been teaching overseas for some years and I’ve stayed at some crappy places. I’ve lived with huge roaches in Saudi Arabia, No hot water in Bangkok, and cold apartments in Korea, but that was it for me. I made up my mind to come back to Japan.
Then the virus hit… restaurants closed, gyms closed, then shopping malls. The only thing open were the convenience stores and grocery stores. Then they put the apartment complexes on locked down, allowing people to only go out every other day. Ugh… Not being able to speak Chinese didn’t help things. Eventually, they quit doing the locked down on the apartment complexes and people started to come outside more, but I was still worried about getting sick and ending up in some worthless Chinese hospital with lack of resources.
I bought a flight to Korea, packed up, (which only took a few hours) and made my way to the airport. No DIDI drivers were out due to the virus. Which meant I had to catch a taxi for the airport. I prayed for a cab. After about 15 minutes on the street with everything I owned (a huge suitcase, a duffle and a good sized backpack), a managed to flag down a cab. Man, I was happy that that guy stopped for me.
When we arrived at the airport I was stunned to see no cars. Not one car was dropping people off or picking people up. It was like a zombie movie for sure. When I passed the temperature check to get into the airport, I thought, “I’m gonna make it out of here!” In the airport, there only a few hundred people waiting around. I was very happy to get on the plane. I landed in Korea and the checked our temperature and made everyone give a valid phone number and checked the number right there on the spot. Thankfully, my Chinese sim still worked in Korea. Also we had to register on a Korean app designed for travellers. Eventually, I made my way to Tokyo.
After I got off the plane at Narita. I made my way to the cash exchange and got some yen. The politeness of the people was like a breath of fresh air. I went outside with my luggage to catch a bus to the subway terminal. The sun was out along with some clouds darting in the sky. The bus was clean. The streets were clean. I thought about the first time I arrived to Tokyo years earlier. It was good to be back.