Post-Quarantine Updates (15-27 March)

This image is from this article regarding flattening the curve related to the Covid-19 pandemic. If you are reading this in the US, please remember that, currently, you are at the left black dot. Qingdao is, at this moment, at the right black dot. Our current reality is different from yours. Read on….

17 March – Here are the updated AQI spectrums of the mountain view from our apartment window. When I was taking a photo of “62” earlier, I realized actually how insane this whole thing is – I wonder what the neighbors across the way think; probably that I take a random photo of them each morning. How bizarre. As you see from the “62” image, Tuesday is supposed to be a real *winner* for AQI, so I’ll keep taking the photos as the pollution level changes. Like a crazy person.

One interesting thing that happens here in spring with the AQI. Notice that there are two AQI 50 photos above – one you can see the mountain and the other you can’t. That is due to the fog of spring. If you judge the pollution simply from the mountain view, you may think that it’s bad (this works opposite as well – the 120 photo above looks quite clear). Only with the data can you understand the true situation for each morning.

Overall, the pollution in China is down this year due to limited production and factories not restarting after Chinese New Year. A 51 AQI on March 11th seems quite low. This time last year, I was training for Ironman 70.3 Liuzhou, and I recall carefully looking at the AQI, morning and night, to make sure I was able to get my training in. My ONLY regret while living here in China is that I have not taken careful data regarding the daily AQI values I look at. Is 51 today less than the AQI a year ago? I think so, but I don’t know because I didn’t record the … data each morning and night.

Spring blossoms are here πŸ™‚

20 March – Things look pretty normal outside here. This past weekend, we walked along the beach on Saturday morning. People were out in DROVES. Playing in the sand in full-on winter clothes. Setting up their tents on the beach – very Chinese, very bizarre, it still blows our minds that tents here are used to shade from the sun on the beach. Everyone was wearing a mask, but no other precautions were taken (no distancing).

Family day at the beach? 21 March 2020

Above: Walking by the Qingdao May 4 statue, photo booth fun

On Sunday 22 March, we had a friend gathering hosted by the lovely Paul and Tina. Tina made some unreal dishes – lamb, vegetable curry, and chocolate tart.

27 March – Again this week, things are getting back to normal. We went out biking a couple of times in the morning – hitting rush hour around 7am when we came back. Grant is making some amazing dishes for us at home; including some vegetarian meals. Below: eggplant parmesan, making black bean burgers, chicken ramen, bean and pork quesadillas, black bean burgers

My mom asked me to remind her when “all this” began in China – On January 23, the city of Wuhan was locked down. Two months later here in Qingdao, things are back to normal. If you are reading this from abroad, please keep in mind that 2 months time takes into consideration everyone following the recommendations and the lockdown procedures. It’s also in a city that wasn’t hit “hard” by the virus – few initial people infected and most quickly treated. If people in the US are out-and-about routinely and not following the guidelines regarding social distancing and self-quarantining, then 2 months is just the minimum amount of time to return to normalcy.

Above – going out and buying some groceries (and flowers), Skype with Sarah and Camry in VT (quarantine in the 802)

The quarantine ends (aka Day 1 of the rest of our lives)

In a bizarre twist of events, our quarantine started on Leap Day and ended on Pi Day.

This morning at 10am, two FULL Hazmat suit humans (gender unidentified, they were very well concealed) knocked on our door. They pulled out a pink sheet (the “sheet to freedom”) and asked us to confirm that these were our names. Then, they got our temperature reading using the laser-to-wrist thermometer. The morning check had gone without a hitch.

Then, at 2pm, they came back (same or different people? not sure, still quite concealed). Pink sheet identification and thermometer-to-wrist. Our temperatures checked out again. Everyone signed the sheets and they gave us the pink copy (ticket to freedom). EEEKKKKK!

First moments of freedom.

We got all dressed (it’s winter outside, who knew?) with masks and winter clothes and backpacks and headed down to the lobby. We were told by our HR woman that there was a checkout procedure to complete. We went down to the lobby and were given two small health cards from the property manager.

We were then escorted to the main office where we had to contact the local police station on our phones. We sent them photos of our pink sheet and small health card. We then stayed in the office to try and obtain an electronic health check card. Forty minutes later, still waiting for our phones to load the information, we were told that, actually, foreigners can’t obtain the online health card. This means we need to keep our pink sheet + health card with us wherever we go.

We then headed to the metro, which was, thankfully open.

What does this mean for us?
Poster translation

For a Saturday afternoon at 4pm, the metro was quiet.

We headed downtown to a restaurant/pub that we knew was open. We walked past “I am Legend” streets – almost nothing was open. However, the places that were open and selling food were busy. We had a nice evening with our friends; catching up, giving them our gifts we brought from NZ, and relishing in our freedom.

We have been notified by the school that the start date is still in flux. Basically, we know that we don’t know. For now, we will get into a routine of online learning, cycling and running (AQI dependent), and making meals from the groceries … that we can actually go and buy ourselves .. crazy thought, I know. I am weirdly excited to go to the supermarket πŸ˜‰

Day 14 (of 15?) in these four walls

AQI was an epic low today (50). We could see the moutain with some actual details out of our window. See slideshow below of the past two weeks of mountain viewing.

….when your call your sister when you’ve just woken up…. you look like a muppet, and she likes ready for the runway! ‘Mander is still working on the “little heart”.

Grant cycled this morning, and Ali caught up with her “friends” on PopSugar.

This sweat is real. This love is real.

We both had online class today, and checked in with students regarding their online learning.

Some of our other colleagues are starting to trickle back into the country to start their 2-week mandated quarantines. We still aren’t sure when school will officially re-open. Rumors are flying about the beginning of April, but all is determined by the local education board. Qingdao is a large hub city for South Korea; if numbers continue to rise there and flights are still going, the decision may be made to reopen later.

“We get by with a little help from our friends” – Grant chatted with Eric this morning on the phone, and Ali chatted with Sam this evening

Sweet Sam in VT πŸ™‚

For dinner, we did a combo of takeout (guity-charged, to get our favorite The Way beer) and Grant made some chilli. For a cold evening, it was the perfect Friday-night grub!

We aren’t sure if tomorrow is the end or if Sunday is the end. We received a message this afternoon that the health officers would be here tomorrow to check our temperatures twice for the bill of health. We aren’t holding out breath, but getting out tomorrow would be awesome (since we were told this week our quarantine would last until Sunday afternoon).

*Lucky 13* in quarantine

A couple of days ago, we made this video for Charlotte’s parents (Rosemary & Gary) in NZ. This video exhibits the most epic day we had under the NZ sun. Hiking the Tongariro Crossing is not a feat most would endure – it requires hiking all day across 20+ km of mountains in the central part of the North Island. We wanted to commemorate the teamwork, fun times, and relentless efforts of this day. Hope you enjoy it!

In other news, we are hanging in there (today is Thursday, we get to leave our apartment Sunday afternoon).

AQI was up today; notice how the mountains in the distance dissolve into the smog (as compared to a day last week with a more healthy AQI).

Today’s view
Last week

Sam-O brought us homemade cheesecake. Honestly, I am not a huge cheesecake fan; I find it a bit too rich/strong of a flavor. However, this cheesecake is DA-BOMB; excellent flavor and fresh strawberries on top.

#adulting paperwork for the next gig πŸ™‚ Can you tell which fingers I struggled on?
Ready for schoolwork in my “sweater pants”

After China, where are we going?

We’ve been living and working in China for the past two years. In that time, we’ve seen and done a lot, made some amazing new friends, and shared many new experiences. Now it’s time to move on, but where to? In this video we discuss the highlights of our time in China and what are plans are moving forward. We hope you enjoy!

QQC (12 out of 15)

A not-so-good thing about today: The HR woman (savior) from our school helping us during our quarantine called the health quarantine headquarters today. We will be screened (temperature checks) twice this SUNDAY. If our temperature checks are okay both morning and evening, then we will get a paper saying we are done with the quarantine. This health declaration paper must be with us at all times in order to go anywhere. This is an additional day to what we were first told (14 days). Not happy about the result (an additional day away from freedom), but thankful for some transparent information/answers.

Good thing #1 about today- Skyping with our homies Franky, Christiana, Robbie, and Zach

When you tell Zach you’ll be in the “802” this summer… please notice the actual fist bump πŸ™‚

Good thing #2 – Chicken tikka masala for dinner

Inside the apartment was a big work day for Grant with grading, online Business class, and catching up on some #adulting items.

Outside the apartment was a gorgeous *spring* day. AQI was down and the sun was up. Life from the tenth floor looks pretty normal – people walking around, taking their kids out walking, cars driving on the road. These are all happy signs for spring, and for life getting back to normal here in Q-city.

11C = 51.8F

We opened the windows for to let some fresh spring air in!

A gorgeous spring day in Qingdao!
Here is the reality in Qingdao – people walking on the streets, kids outside, cars driving on the road, some buses out for commuters.

Quarantine “sunset” as the cookie lady calls it

Day 11 of the qingdao quarantine chronicles (QQC)

No “grand-chose” for today.

Victories:

A) Leftover bolognese for breakfast. Here are photos from its fresh form:

B) Chats with Brooke a.k.a. Brooke trout a.k.a. Brookie a.k.a. Brookie cookie πŸ™‚ Love you Brooke!

See you this summer πŸ™‚

#photogenic

C) Cycling for Grant and PopSugar for me

*high-fiving all my invisible friends*

D) Mexican *hot pockets* for dinner

Challenges:

A) Delivery woes again today – Groceries arrived in the lobby at 9:15am and we received them at 10:12am. Based on how yesterday went, we put in one LARGE order. If we planned it out correctly, this will last us until Saturday!

Rations between now and Saturday πŸ™‚

B) The HR worker from our school told us that the “quarantine system” is backlogged; meaning that the Quarantine Officers were backed up on the check-out paper to let us “free” from quarantine. She estimated our quarantine would last 1-2 days longer due to this. In kind words, we said NO, and she called the health office to confirm that Saturday afternoon would be the last temperature check before our “bill of freedom” – which she said will be a paper stating we can leave. We will wait and see…

Day 10 a.k.a. delivery woes

The recipe for Day 10:

  1. Order some food (that should be kept hot) or some groceries (that should be kept cold).
  2. Have items delivered to the apartment in a – surprisingly – quick fashion by “kangaroo delivery guy”. Drop items in lobby to be brought upstairs by property manager.
  3. Wait two hours. Hound people through messages regarding not-so-hot or not-so-cold items that are down in the lobby.
  4. Items get delivered. Sometimes the whole order is there; sometimes not.

Exhibit A)

Exhibit B)

Honestly, we get it. They have A LOT of packages to sort through and bring up to people. However, there is not a system. Such as … hot food goes up first. Or … an extra person is on duty to help with deliveries. Instead, they are putting out fires as they occur.

Sent from the property manager in an effort to get sympathy from us

PS Did ya’ll see our new logo? Grant worked WICKED hard on this for the past week, and it is legendary.

PSS We get by with a little help from our friends πŸ™‚ Highlights from Skype convos today – Laura a.k.a Laker, Janine a.k.a. J-9, Sam Parker, Mom, Camry & Sarah a.k.a. 3 Mildreds

Day 9 at the “ranch”

The Quarantine Chronicles continue on this rainy (Funday?) Sunday in Qingdao.

The highlights from today:

-Eating homemade salsa and playing chess

-Homemade ramen made by Grant *the broth was TOO die for – ginger, slightly lemon, salty, hearty*

Before….
…and after
…and AFTER πŸ™‚ Seriously best Ramen ever!

The lowlight from today:

-Grant and I had to record our temperatures at 4pm (like usual) – which happened to occur during the chess game. The game must have been heated because Alison’s temp came in at 37.5 celsius (100 fahrenheit). Without even thinking, we sent the results away, but I was quickly messaged to redo the temperature. Apparently, a red alarm had sounded because people from HR started messaging and privately asking if I was okay. I redid the temperature (but clearly was not any less flustered with people starting to freak out). The two subsequent readings were 37.0, and then 36.9. Clearly I hit a hot minute for the initial recording.

However, the hysteria related to this reading started me thinking… alot…. about this virus and how it is being handled. I have seen the data related to the virus for my age and gender (0.2% in people 10 to 39). Why is the media painting a death sentence for anyone with the virus? Shouldn’t we be using the data to inform our medical practices? This virus doesn’t affect a 29-year old male the same way it does a 75-year old female. People, CHANGE THE NARRATIVE! Please, let’s use the data to *educate* people about the predicted side-effects their body will experience instead of using highly-improbable broad-strokes.

Day 8 in the slammer

The “Quarantine Chronicles” continue on this rainy Saturday morning.

1:11pm Saturday 29 February – Start of quarantine

1:11pm Saturday 14 March – End of quarantine

We are at the exact halfway-point of our quarantine (7 March at 1pm). Thankfully, the AQI dropped below 50 this morning so we were able to open the windows and kitchen door (that leads to a too-small-to-use balcony). The fresh air coming in shocked me a bit – all the windows and doors have been closed for a solid week. We have an air purifier in the bedroom that keeps the AQI below 10 in the apartment (except when Grant is cooking; I have witnessed 600 when something smokey is coming from the downstairs kitchen) but the fresh air blowing in, and car horns from the street below, did something to cleanse the atmosphere and bring a bit of normalcy back in.

A week in, here are our reflections:

Grant – So far the quarantine is going okay. I’m not loving it, but it’s been tolerable. It’s good that we are comfortable at home with our things, can get the food/water we need delivered right to door, and haven’t killed each other yet πŸ˜‰ My personal struggles have been with the lack of freedom. I was pretty pissed when we first got informed about our quarantine and it took me a few hours to get over it. I’ve since accepted this fate and moved on but the inability to just walk downstairs to get my favorite chicken stew or head to the pub with friends is annoying. I think today was first day where I was feeling a bout of cabin fever (So many images of Jack Nicholson from The Shining are running through my head right now). I’ve got my computer, iPad, books, movies, games, and little projects to keep me busy (not to mention online teaching for school) and Alison is close by to talk with and provide giddy, upbeat entertainment. So all-in-all it’s not the worst thing. But I keep coming back this lack of freedom. I’d never survive in a prison or any kind of confinement, I’d literally go crazy (All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy). I’ve found it really helpful to take each day and make a little schedule or routine of sorts. I plan meals to cook, try to exercise or get a workout in, do some work for school, do some doodling on my iPad or gaming, make phone calls home with friends and family, then go to bed and repeat. So far so good. Currently, we have 6 days, 23 hours, and 17 minutes until our quarantine is lifted and I can once again taste the smog-filled air of Chinese freedom (Come and play with us, Grant. Forever…and ever…and ever). So long as my sanity will keep till then. For now, Salisbury Steak and Mashed Potatoes is on the menu tonight!

Even kiwis like steak and potatoes – just kidding … They are herbivores!

Alison – The “honeymoon” is definitely over, and the appeal of being in this apartment for 14 days has worn off. In the first week, things around the house like laundry, cleaning, organizing, and school work were good distractors. I will need some other distractors in this upcoming week. The saving graces thus far have been Grant (for daily discussions, bouncing off ideas, and laughs), and Skyping with family and friends back home. Glimpses into the lives of my family and friends in Vermont/Rhode Island/Washington honestly does, for a minute, help me get out of my head. Let me know if you want to Skype in this upcoming week – believe us, we are right here πŸ™‚

Kind words from an HR woman earlier this week