There is nothing charming about serving hotel quarantine in Singapore for the third time. No elite club membership, no perks or bonus miles, no fanfare. The privilege is simply in getting off the island, whereas others have not.
I call these two weeks “Living in the In Between”. It is the pause between a whirlwind time back home and resumption of our lives here in Singapore. The pace slows. There is plenty of time for working, reading, napping, binge-watching, exercising and catching up with friends.
Daily and weekly activities mark where we are in our 14 days of SHN (Stay-Home Notice).
- Record temperature morning, noon and evening
- Answer a phone call from a government official asking the exact same questions as the previous day
- Wait for the doorbell to ring with meal delivery
- Select the next day’s meal from two choices, Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian
- Administer self-COVID test on days 3, 7 and 11
- Change towels every third day and sheets at the halfway point
- And, the most anticipated, leave the room for a PCR test the day before checkout – a reason to bathe!
What was different the third time?
Well, for starters, my husband and I quarantined together for the first time. It went better than I thought, but then again we only had plastic cutlery, so weapons were limited. I was able to reserve a small suite. No balcony, no stunning view, but there was a door that closed between the bedroom and living room. This meant my husband could be on a conference call without risking a photo bomb of his pyjama-clad wife walking by.
We became savvier about what would make the stay more comfortable. A friend sent items from our condo: coffee maker, yoga mat, throw blanket, computer monitor. Delivery services ensured a supply of snacks and meals, when we grew tired of the hotel bento box rotation. Friends dropped off Happy Hour fixings. We lacked for nothing, except fresh air.
We also rented a stationary exercise bike from a company called Happy SHN (no joke). Someone was bound to capitalise on our captivity. It was a game changer. Unfortunately for my beloved, my favourite exercise playlist was Disco Essentials. The cycling sessions unleashed my inner dancing queen, and the Brothers Gibb delivered.
While my husband spent his time working, I punctuated my days rocking to “Staying Alive”, listening to Friends of the Museums lectures, and chatting with friends. We both read. I finished the latest novel for my book club and participated in our online discussion. My husband worked his way through Singapore founding father Lee Kuan Yew’s memoir. We played Scrabble and cribbage. We watched Ted Lasso and tennis. On one lazy Sunday afternoon, we imagined we were holed up in a cabin in the woods, minus the great outdoors.
A friend poetically called this our “liminal” space, a gentle word for being neither here nor there, as in location or states of being. A lovely way to reframe SHN. I like that.
Read more of Julia’s writing at oursingaporeblog.com.
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This article first appeared in the November 2021 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!