East vs West

Mad Chaos: February 2, 2020 – A 5.2 Scale Earthquake Strikes Chengdu

As my wife cooked dinner tonight, I had a burning desire to return to my normal routine.  The novel coronavirus outbreak (冠状病毒) in China has confined us to our apartment in Guangzhou (广州市) for eleven consecutive days.

Earlier today I managed a brisk solo walk to purchase a cappuccino.  The sip of freedom led to an impulsive desire later in the evening to take our son lakeside for his first outdoor activity in over ten days.  He was exhausted and fell asleep within minutes of our return home, but I noticed the taste of freedom brightened up his disposition.

Now I am cooped up again indoors.

I told my wife, “I am going to go for a jog now.”

She said, “Okay then.  Make sure you wear a face mask.  We only have a few masks left.”

As I foraged through our supply of face masks, I found we only had 8 masks remained.  I estimated that if I jog every day and my wife goes out once in a while, we will be out of masks in four days.

Jogging In Guangzhou During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Donning a mask, by 9:45pm I stepped out of our apartment complex for a jog down Industrial avenue (工业大道) to Pearl river (珠江), bloated from the peanuts I ate before the jog.  From Pearl river I jogged up to the red bridge (解放大桥).  Then I returned to complete a 6-kilometer jog.

Haizhu District (海珠区) At Night

On the jog, I was not surprised at all to see everybody – except for very old people – wearing masks.  Even a very thin, athletic Chinese male clad in spandex gear wore a face mask as he rode his racer down Pearl river.

People in China are taking the novel coronavirus outbreak quite seriously.  I also take the situation seriously.  Ever since I bought a disposable face mask for 1元 a day before Hubei (湖北省) was locked down, I have since worn a face mask every single day.

Playing Indoors With My Son

When I returned home from the jog my wife was in the middle of getting our son to sleep.  She asked me to take care of him for a while.

He walked out of the bedroom into the living room with a cheeky smile on his face.  We had a huge, boisterous game tonight where he would shriek out “Ah!”  I would also shriek back, “Ah!”  He dives into his tee-pee, as I shook the top of the tee-pee.  He ran around inside, yelling out, evading the monster outside the tee-pee.  I am yelling back out at him.

My wife laughed, “You two are so crazy.  I can’t understand you guys.”

Chasing Up Scoot Airlines Flight Cancellation Refund

Soon, I came into the study room to work, but the VPN on the laptop did not connect all night, so I could not log in.

I am still waiting for a Scoot airlines representative to call back to discuss where in the process the Scoot airlines refund is.  Their automated email advising me of my Guangzhou to Sydney flight cancellation advised that the refund would be issued within 24 hours.

I checked online banking and saw that the refund from Scoot airlines still had not come through.  The Scoot airlines refund money is important because I will use the money to purchase another airplane ticket.  The longer it takes, the more expensive any new tickets will be.

I phoned up Commonwealth Bank in Australia to chase the matter up.

The Commonwealth Bank phone operator informed me, “It takes up to five days for a refund to show up in your account.”

I asked, “Does Commonwealth Bank know when Scoot Airlines issues the refund?  Is that when the bank becomes aware?  Or does the bank only become aware when the money arrives in the bank account?”

His information was that the bank becomes aware once the money is in the bank account.

An Earthquake In Chengdu

Into the morning hours, I was able to log into Facebook.  I had been blocked for unspecified violations of Facebook community rules. The review period was finally lifted.  I could now talk to my family in Australia via Facebook Messenger and see photos of the baby cot that my mother had purchased for our son to sleep in when we return to Australia.  I am still working on purchasing new airplane tickets from Guangzhou to Sydney.

While posting my jog results onto WeChat Moments (微信圈) my friend wrote in my comments section, “There was an earthquake in Chengdu today.  It measured 5.1.”

I saw the irony as news of the Chengdu earthquake spread at 4am in the morning. When people can feel an earthquake, immediately everyone in China knows about it through word of mouth.  It goes through WeChat like a thunderstorm.  Then every person in the country knows about it.

But nobody can see the novel coronavirus except for one particular hospital in Wuhan that treated the first infected patients.

This was a lesson in the great dichotomy between people power and the Chinese government.  The Chinese government controlled news of the novel coronavirus for weeks before doctors in a Wuhan hospital began to disseminate information.  Then from what I hear, those doctors got arrested for speaking out and becoming whistle blowers.

Later, when I joined my wife at the dining table, I turned to her and said, “You know why everybody immediately knows about the earthquake in Chengdu?”

She answered, “No.  Why?”

I answered, “Because you can’t hide an earthquake.”

This was a tale of what type of information in China can be censored and controlled.  The Chengdu earthquake is a natural disaster, and its information spread rapidly like wildfire online.  Too many people in China already know the facts, so it would be hard for the internet censors to scrub it away.

Diary Of A Mad Chaos: Coronavirus In China
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