in China, Mainland

Thermometer and checks

I arrived in Shanghai yesterday. The Malaysian Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur was surprisingly full. Other flights have been cancelled and moved into the flights that stayed, like my flight yesterday. Also, I remember that my flight to Kuala Lumpur in late January had been in a bigger plane, with those fancy business class throne seats. The plane on my flight yesterday had a 3-3 seat configuration in economy, and the business class seats were only slightly bigger than those in economy. A surprising amount of Malaysian accents among the passengers. I had assumed this was all Chinese people going to China, but it was mostly Malaysian Chinese people! And a surprising amount of families with young (preschool or younger) children.

I landed at 2 pm and at about 3 pm, mid-taxi ride, my employer sent me an email with several files to print out. Fill these out and submit them to your apartment complex in order to get in, the email said. Be sure to have at least a day’s worth of food with you before you get into your apartment complex, the email also said.

What incompetence. They’ve known for over a week that I was flying back on this day, at this time, on this flight, and they timed it like this. Of course I couldn’t print it out.

When I got to my apartment complex, I got briefly harassed – nicely – about whether or not I lived there, especially since I was carting around a big suitcase with me. They let me go through when they found an unclaimed delivery box for me with my name and phone number on it. A delivery guy came by just at that moment, overheard my apartment number, and said, Hey, you haven’t been picking up your calls! The neighborhood watch said, Yeah, it’s because she just arrived today.

Oh, and my temperature reading was apparently 31 C. Send help, I must be hypothermic? They decided that this was healthy and let me through, however.

I went into my apartment, unpacked, took a shower, wiped down my stuff with Dettol wipes, and went to sleep.

I got a phone call from saying that my groceries had arrived and had been left at the gate for me. I went to the apartment gate to pick up my bag. There seem to be three sections: a shelf with mailed boxes just inside the gate, a long table outside the gate with food deliveries from restaurants … and the third, floating section is sprinkled all over the place, really – wherever the delivery guys (they’re almost always guys) think has security by obscurity.

Carting my bag up the flight of stairs was surprisingly difficult with my N95 mask. I took off my mask halfway through and went up without the mask. In my defense, there was nobody around. Also, I could smell the cooking going on in various kitchens that I passed — is this mask really N95!?!?

At around 3 pm today, two women from the apartment neighborhood watch (or whatever it’s called… they have an office downstairs) came by and knocked on my door. They asked me, in halting English, about when I had arrived. (Yesterday.) They then took my temperature reading and wrote it on a folded piece of A4, which already had other stuff scribbled all over it. I’m not sure how they plan on keeping all this information straight.

They got me to scan a QR code to attempt to register my name and flight details. I had already tried that yesterday, and hit a wall because I don’t have a Chinese ID number. It wouldn’t take passport numbers. It’s a known issue. The women took down my details and said they’d do it for me. They’re going to hit the same error and will give up and just shelve my details in some drawer somewhere because meibanfa+chabuduo, I just know it.

I was given a thermometer to keep, and told to scan one of their personal Wechat QR codes. Send my thermometer reading to them tomorrow, and then every 2 days, they said. This is totally not a reliable method — what if I’m a liar with coronavirus?

Free thermometer

The evening ended with a phone call from one of the women who had visited me earlier. Her voice sounded familiar. She said slowly and loudly, in her best English – I truly appreciate the effort, by the way – “YOUR BLOOD IS OKAY!”

Wait, what? I didn’t do no blood test!

“Sorry – What? 什么?”

“Your blood is okay!”

This, I knew, was clearly lost in translation somewhere. Perhaps she had come across a script somewhere of translated sentences for nurses to say to foreign coronavirus patients.

“Okay! Thank you! 谢谢!” I said.

“Okay, bye!”

And that was it. I’ve been cleared and okayed of something. That’s fine by me.

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