East vs West

Mad Chaos: January 31, 2020 – Scoot Flight Cancellations From Mainland China

Today, on our ninth consecutive day of self-quarantine in Guangzhou (广州市) due to the coronavirus (冠状病毒)I have only been out of the house for 30 minutes to buy a cappuccino.  I had just placed my son to sleep.

My wife also took her turn to travel to the mall separately.  She soon returned home with 3 plastic bags full of groceries.

As she pulled out some snacks for me, I saw she had bought bread buns, an 8-pack of yogurt puree for the baby, and all kinds of fruits and vegetables – enough stock for the next few days.

Dinner With Medicinal Chinese Soup

While my wife prepared dinner I came onto the exercise bike for 30 minutes.  That is when our son woke up.

She placed soup on the table, and said, “You can have some of that.  It is for your cough.”

It was a new soup, traditional Chinese medicine her mother or auntie would have given her.

During dinner we discussed news reports about the coronavirus.  There is a doctor in Wuhan who wore a surgical mask but still contracted coronavirus through exposure to his eyes.  The news confirmed my suspicions on modes of infection that the coronavirus uses.

I also wanted our eyes to be protected from infection, so I transferred 60元 for my wife to purchase protective eye-wear online.

Playing With My Son

Once dinner was over, exhausted, my wife decided to have a nap.  Those few hours had me come onto the quilt in front of the TV to play with my son.

I turned on a TV show where children dance on a talent show.  He was fascinated for a few minutes before he moved into his play pen to jump on balloons.  We scared each other, growling, jumping around, being silly.

Then I put him on his singing stroller and watched him go up and down the aisle to the kitchen and back.  We played like this for over an hour.

Scoot Airlines Cancels Our Flights To Sydney

Scoot Airlines Flight Cancellation Text Message

Around midnight, I checked my mobile phone to see a message from Scoot airlines.  The message read that due to the growing scale of the novel coronavirus outbreak, my Scoot flights on March 13, 2020 from Guangzhou to Sydney had been cancelled.  I was devastated.

The tickets we purchased as a family to travel to Australia on March 13, 2020 were planned ahead so that my parents would finally have a chance to meet their grandson.  My family in Australia has not laid eyes on our one-year-old child since he was born.  Now flights from mainland China were being cancelled left, right, and center.

I began to worry that maybe the panicked reactions around the world towards the coronavirus outbreak would put a pinch on us travelling as a family to Australia

An additional worry is that I had paid $660AUD for those two adult tickets and one infant ticket days after I returned to China from Australia a month ago.  The tickets were purchased three months in advance, which made the tickets cheap to buy.  Now I have to go through this whole procedure again.

Everyone in China desperate to leave is in the same boat as my family, waiting for their refunds to be returned to their bank accounts so they can purchase new tickets.  The mad scramble to purchase new tickets through alternative airline carriers would likely make tickets even more expensive.

Discussing Scoot Flight Cancellations

I tracked down my wife in to the bathroom, and alerted, “We have a problem.  Our flights to Australia have been cancelled.”

She sighed, “Oh no!  What are we going to do?”

I said, “I am going to check for new flights but we don’t have enough money now to pay for them.  We are stranded.  Can you take care of our son, because I have to go online to check new airplane ticket prices?”

I did a quick check online for airplane tickets in these next few weeks from Guangzhou to Sydney.

Minutes later, I divulged, “I found tickets but we need to leave in the next ten days.”

She had a shocked guffaw on her face, as if to exclaim it is too quick.

I told her, “I don’t want to sit around and wait for this thing to get worse.  We should get out of China while we can.”

It is going to be a very quick turnaround to get out of China in the next 10 days, but I think we can get it done.

My wife mentioned she has to ask her dad to put all our belongings into his house for storage.  That will take time to organize, but if we can move our belongings out within the month before our rental agreement is set to expire on March 13, 2020, that would be a good outcome.

The Scoot airlines refund will hand me back $660AUD.  But the tickets I saw on February 10, 2020 will cost at least $600AUD each.  That is going to cost $1,500AUD to purchase two adult tickets plus an infant ticket at half price.  That is a small fortune.

We can ask the landlord if we can forego the unpaid rent for this month and only ask for half of our bond money back.  There would be no other bills we need to pay in our final weeks in China.  Whatever money we have in the bank we can spend up in the next ten days, or otherwise save it for when we come back to China.

QANTAS Cancels Direct Flights To Mainland China

While my wife got our son to bed, I came onto the exercise bike for half an hour.

Most of my time on the bike was spent reading international news.  VPN connections have become harder to achieve.  Even in those early morning hours I was unable to get online for more than ten minutes with either of my three VPNs.

Then, came a wave of bad news.

I read that QANTAS had cancelled all direct flights to mainland China.  I became more concerned because it is looking increasingly unpredictable what every country is going to do.  Those sudden cancellations will put a huge squeeze on the demand for airplane ticket prices.

When I mentioned this news to my wife, she floated the idea that we can fly back to Australia via Hong Kong.  That is a good idea because my wife and son are Hong Kong citizens.

But I told her no, because we still have to travel with a lot of people back to Shenzhen, and unnecessarily expose our child through crowds in Shenzhen and Hong Kong until we finally arrive back to her relative’s house.  We would then need to stay there for 14 days in self-quarantine until our flight back to Australia.

Determined To Evacuate China For Australia

This now has started to turn into a nightmare, but the silver lining is that I did not want to stay in our Guangzhou apartment every single day for six more weeks.  That type of virtual prison would become very tiring  I wanted to leave China sooner than March 13, 2020.

We cannot anticipate that this is going to get better any time soon, so we must evacuate with our son and get back to Australia to enjoy the sunshine while there is still a chance.

I had visions of getting our son to walk around and kick a football in the safety of our Sydney backyard.  That is going to be fun.

Diary Of A Mad Chaos: Coronavirus In China
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