Well, if you have guessed it from the title (and have been following my monthly updates), you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that I’ve made a decision to proceed with my trip to South Korea. Well, the pre-condition of it is that I don’t contract covid in the next few days or for whatever reason, my Pre-Departure PCR test shows a positive result. If all is good, I will have 24 hours or less to complete my accommodation booking, insurance purchase and all the miscellaneous administrative work.
In case you’re wondering why I am leaving things to the eleventh hour – that’s because covid is so common in Singapore right now that you’ll really never know when it is going to happen to you. I did a count a few weeks ago and it seems like 20 to 40% of my groups of friends have already contracted it. Just yesterday, we crossed the 1,000,000 mark of registered cases and together with the rest of the unreported cases, it seems like 20% of Singapore’s population has already been a victim of this contagious disease.
So.. if covid is so rampant in Singapore, why do I have the ‘hesitancy’ to go to Korea? Well, that’s because.. the news keeps reporting on the escalating Korea daily cases – which hit 600,000 counts last week, following the presidential election where they allowed positive cases to visit the polling centres. Thankfully, the numbers have been declining (~300k) in the recent few days and let’s hope it stays the same throughout my trip. Since the extensive coverage of Korea’s escalating daily cases, people around me have been genuinely concerned about whether I will still be making the trip and of course, a handful of them are wondering and doubting my rationality of this.. ‘brave or stupid’ decision.
In all honesty, I didn’t ‘need’ to go to Korea. It was a vacation that I am capable of postponing or cancelling at any time because I’m flying solo – not bound by any commitments/expectations of any travel buddy. In addition, there isn’t a real reason why I had to visit korea (during this period) – I don’t have any tickets booked nor have any event that I wished to attend. So.. why do I want to go? Well, reason number one (which was why I booked my air tickets 4.5 months ago) was that I have never seen cherry blossom in full bloom before. I am usually too early/late because I wasn’t willing to pay for the premium for this period. Getting tickets at $600+ on SIA is practically unheard of in the pre-covid days as there’s a ‘premium’ for the spring blooms. Reason number two was that I felt I needed a break from work (though it has only been 3 months since my trip to UK). Pre-covid, I used to travel multiple times a year and being overseas every other month was pretty normal to me and alright not surprising because I own this.. travel blog right? Somehow, I don’t enjoy taking leave without going overseas as I perceive it as any regular weekend or public holiday. For me, utilising an annual leave day means having actual plans, even better if it is abroad. Lastly, the reason is.. as pathetic as it sounds but I feel that there’s a need to normalise travel and.. ‘save’ the travel industry and the best way to do it is to lead by example. I don’t have many followers but at least to whoever that is reading this or watching my stories on Instagram, I’m hoping to share that it is possible to travel again, even with all the inconvenience. If everyone is just gonna wait for things to be ‘normal’ again and if that ‘normal’ situation doesn’t come.. will you just sit there and continue waiting? Wouldn’t it be nicer if we humans learn to navigate through the inconvenience and.. explore the world again like how it used to be?
One or two years ago, a decision for ‘unnecessary’ travel (aka holiday) may be slapped with an ‘irresponsible’ notion as you are contributing to the potential transmission of the virus but given that the vaccination rate has risen and that the side effects have been reported to be mild (at least for omicron variant) and that the % of death is a lot lower than many other deadlier disease, can everyone just keep calm and move on with how life should have been?
So.. in my preparation for my trip, I’ve been imagining in my head what things would be if I ended up being positive for COVID. I’ve imagined myself getting a positive PCR test before I fly – having to cancel all my bookings + postpone my flight to a later date. I’ve imagined myself being positive on arrival – having to spend the first 7 days of my trip in quarantine in an accommodation I have not yet reserved. I’ve imagined myself feeling sick during the trip and possibly tested positive on the ART kits that I have brought and having to find accommodation to do the self-isolation. I don’t have answers to all the what-ifs but at least thinking through all the possible scenarios could help me anticipate and calm me down. Somehow, the fear is as bad as my car breaking down within the first week of my NZ sabbatical – I panicked and freaked out but I still found help and safety eventually. You really can’t be too certain of the certainties and life will always throw a curveball back at you and somehow, this is a chance to build upon your adaptability, resilience and confidence to navigate the unknown. That being said, I still have a greatest fear – one I cannot control but will definitely be regretful about – which is to bring the virus home and infect my family members. But then again, this can happen to me even if I’m in Singapore as I do go back to office and I do have some sort of a social life and meet up with friends. Thus, this fear is not unique to me travelling, so.. I guess I just do what I can have control about – maintain good hygiene habits – and leave everything else to fate.
This is gonna be the most last-minute trip that I’ve ever been on. I don’t have an itinerary – just know that I want to be visiting both Seoul and Busan, perhaps with an extra stop in Pohang or Gangneung. I don’t have accommodations booked for all night but I know that it’s gonna be alright as the tourist numbers should still be pretty low as Korea is only opening up to international travel from 1 April.
Am I making a brave or stupid decision to proceed with this trip? It could be a mixture of both, depending on how things turned out to be and whether I can even board the plane after my PCR test result. Whatever the conclusion may be, I’ll be back to tell the tale and the latest would just be a month’s wait (since I’m pretty committed to having a monthly update post on my blog).
Stay tuned for the next update next month 😀
(feels like I am writing a novel)