• Rich

'Rona in the Sticks

Updated: Mar 28

I remember pretty vividly, lying on the bed browsing the news on my phone, reading with a mild curiosity about a novel virus beginning to take hold in a little-known city in China.

Before then I had never heard of Wuhan, or Hubei and seldomly heard the term 'coronavirus'. I had only seen this whilst sitting in my doctor's waiting room readying myself for my annual flu-jab. Kate and I would never have believed, discussing the outbreak back then, that within 3 months it would be one of the most debilitating events we had ever witnessed.

In our little corner of the globe, Chai Nat, there was a tension growing but the Thais, like with most things, took each and every day in their stride. Masks started to appear more and more, every doorway to every shop began to supply a squirt of hand sanitizer for every patron. The stalwart shop attendant with a thermometer barring the way to all and sundry until their temperature was assessed became common-place. All of these measures were put in place without even a raised eyebrow from the townsfolk, they all knew and understood that this sort of stuff was indescribably important to stop the disease in its tracks. These guys had lived through other epidemics in the area and they knew their beans.

In the school at which we work, kids' entertainers were brought in to talk to the children about COVID and how to avoid becoming infected. They even had 'how to wash your hands' songs, which I was privy to multiple renditions of by all of my students. I now have a comprehensive knowledge government-accredited hand washing technique.

There are even border patrols monitoring who is coming in and out of the province, a curfew from 10 pm until 4 am and a ban on gatherings of people. These measures, when written down, may seem severe but they seem to be working so far. Currently, in Chai Nat, there are no confirmed cases. Now, this sounds dodgy, but as with all countries, real numbers are not forthcoming due to the lack of tests and this is the same here. There could be active cases in Chai Nat that have flown under the radar, but that is unknowable. Right now, we're in clear, but this has not stopped the precautions. In the day, however, people are just plodding along unaffected. One blip a few weeks ago was the alarming lack of eggs in the area, but this rectified itself pretty quickly, much to my relief.

Bars, some restaurants and a whole load of shops have closed which could be deemed inconvenient but what really can be considered inconvenient when lives are being saved due to this?

On the whole, the escalation of the disease has not affected our everyday lives. I do have to say this, I nearly cried when it dawned on us that our trip to Japan had to be cancelled. I was bereft and if this is not an example of first world problems, I don't know what is but here's the rub; I have been trying to visit Japan for as long as I can remember. Kate was so supportive of us going as she knew how much of a dream it is of mine and we had been talking about it and getting all excited with extra butterflies on top, but alas, it was not to be. We are but two of thousands who have felt this kick to the gut but I can't complain, we are well.

Admittedly, the times ahead will be a bit of a challenge with the schools closing but with a bit of ingenuity and thought we should be able to toddle on. The more anxiety-inducing element is being so far away from family. Reading the news in the morning is somewhat of a horror story. The outlook is grim in the UK at the moment and doesn't seem to be on the turnaround anytime soon. With all flights in and out of Thailand being grounded for the foreseeable future, we have no real way of getting home. Some flights are available that can take three days, bunny hopping around everywhere but even these are filled up in an instant.

All we can do is hope that people follow the guidance that they have been given and wait until it all blows over. The sad fact is, that even if we were at home, we could not even see our loved ones anyway with everyone being in isolation.

Speaking of which, this is another eventuality we had not planned for. Being told to stay in a rather large single-room apartment for nearly 24 hours a day has its challenges. Fortunately, not am I only with my partner here, she is my best buddy too so this hasn't been a problem (come see me in 3 months and we'll talk then). We work together and live together so this hasn't been a huge difference. We, most of the time, operate on the same wavelength and have used this time away from the school as an opportunity. We've completed a bunch of tasks that we had given ourselves ( set around *mumbles incoherently* time ago) and also taken it upon ourselves to finally start this blog. We decided towards the beginning of this lockdown that positivity and motivation was the key to keep ourselves sane and trying to find the silver lining in this dismal time. Doing that has kept us on the straight and narrow.

That's in our little bubble, and it's easy to forget to look out of the bubble. Any problems that arise for us here could be seen as trivial to a guy hooked up to a ventilator or the poor woman down the road who is losing their business because of this. Somehow, in many little ways, the horrible things can bring a sense of community and humanity out of a hardened shell and we see this happening from continent to continent (maybe not as much in some…no names). The community shell is a soft one here anyway with plenty of people to try and lend a hand, Daily, neighbours are offering food, friends are randomly giving you small presents of hand sanitizer and the local old ladies in the street enjoying the sunshine giving you a stern word if you forget your mask. These gestures show that they care, and I hope that in your little corner of the world, you have that too.


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