It’s been a long time since I last sat down and wrote down my thoughts.
It’s currently Day 35 of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia since lockdown was first announced by the government last March. News of the novel coronavirus first caught my attention back in January when the lockdown of Wuhan, China (the epicentre of COVID-19) was reported in almost every news outlet. What I didn’t realize at the time however, was that the situation in Wuhan would soon become our own reality in just a span of a month and a half.
March 18th was the first day of the MCO in Malaysia - the same day I landed back from the UK in time before the country went into lockdown. What was initially a quarantine for two weeks became a month and a half. Pushing extension after extension, the government fights every day to control the increasing number of COVID-19 cases across the country.
In fact, it was because of COVID-19 that I decided last minute to fly back from the UK to Malaysia. To witness the very different ways people in the UK and in Malaysia reacted to COVID-19 at the beginning of its outbreak was certainly an eye-opening experience. Back in the UK, my friends remained calm and unworried, even when the number of infections increased day by day and neared a thousand cases total. The majority of people went about their normal routine without taking much precaution. In contrast, the situation was taken much more seriously in Malaysia; the government implemented a nationwide lockdown when the number of cases was only in the hundreds. The tension over how seriously people took the matter hit me the moment I sat down on my connecting flight.
On my journey back to Malaysia, I was amazed by how COVID-19 already changed the way people travelled, with almost everyone wearing face masks. Gloves and hand sanitizers became an essential must-have item after a passport. I was relieved when the airport officer asked if we each had hand sanitizer when we passed through security, even offering to place them into a zip-lock. The gesture made me realise how important it is to be kind, even to a stranger, at times like this one.
Having been in lockdown for a month, I had not expected that my journey back from the airport would be the last time I would be in contact with the outside world for the indefinite time being. Some people (myself included) have been using this extra time at home to try picking up a new hobby or experimenting with different recipes like the trendy Dalgona coffee (sad to report that I tried it, but failed miserably). It’s also been nice to hear stories about how people in Malaysia are supporting the local economy through purchasing food and produce from local hawkers and farmers.
One of the best parts about the lockdown is the quality time I get to spend with my family. Before this, I’d been living abroad for many years, so my time spent at home became less frequent as the years went by. I’m extremely grateful for the quality time I now get to spend at home. My family and I have been busy spring cleaning. I finally got around to sorting out and donating some of my unused items. I’ve dusted off some forgotten books and items left in the storage, like my electric mixer, to pick up reading and baking again.
The lockdown and the whole COVID-19 situation has taught me to reflect and appreciate the small things in life. Most importantly, I’m remembering to live in the present. While things are uncertain and I don’t know when I’ll be able to return to the UK, I believe it’s important to stay positive and to help out as much as I can, whether it’s spreading positive words or donating (or even sharing) food with our neighbours.
Till then, stay safe and positive!
Content Strategy Intern
credit: Rachel Lim