I can’t understand what the whole issue with the coronavirus is. I’m just a twenty-something wild soul, with a strong European passport and a desire for an easy life.
Some months ago, I decided to embark on a journey around the world with only my wanderlust, a very limited budget and the full financial support of my parents.
Everything started on the right foot. Meeting people here and there, downing shots once in a while and sharing my nomadic life through fun and silly Instagram stories everybody loved. South East Asia was a blast and although I saw many locals using a mask, I thought it was just part of being in Asia.
However, as weeks passed by, tindering became more difficult and my drinking buddies slowly went back home. I became one of the few brave adventurers left standing.
Exploiting the vulnerability of airlines, I booked ridiculously cheap flights and continued my journey of collecting more stamps on my passport.
But don’t call me reckless. I checked my Facebook feed every day and learnt that the coronavirus is like a simple flu. Moreover, since I’m under 55, my chances of dying are almost zero and although the virus is extremely contagious, I had no plans to visit my grandpa in the near future.
Despite all of this, why should I worry? I purchased the best cheap travel insurance I could find and if something ever happened abroad, I’m quite confident a helicopter will pick me up and take me wherever white foreigners get taken in these situations.
But it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Not long ago, in an almost empty traditional Thai market right on the outskirts of Bangkok, I felt racism right in my face. While bargaining over a t-shirt for about 10 baht, a middle-aged woman came out of nowhere and without any shame took off her protective mask and yelled at me to go back to my country. That’s something I’ve never encountered in any western civilized countries, where friendliness and hospitality are simply part of our culture. Maybe she could not understand that because of my visit, these poor families living in misery were able to support themselves.
At least I’m not the only one on this crusade. Many others like me are experiencing online bullying firsthand. “You could spread the coronavirus”, “cancel your holidays” or “stay home”. Words that speak to the jealousy and bitterness of those who don’t have a free spirit and just don’t get us.
My freedom and lifestyle are under threat these days. After feeling the pressure of being a social pariah at empty party hostels and bars, I made the difficult choice to fly back to my boring home country.
Yet, it was not an easy task at all. The completely unreasonable airline I tried to exploit for every penny cancelled my tickets, inaccurately stating that they would not let me transit in Istanbul – they didn’t even look at what kind of passport I have.
I ended up buying some overly expensive tickets right at the airport and I don’t even know when I can get my deserved compensation for the stress they caused.
Once at home, life is dull. I’m just a square peg in a round hole. There are no ancient temples advising me that they are closed, no colorful markets people want to avoid or perfectly empty beaches like the ones you see on chocolate commercials.
Tomorrow evening I’m meeting my friends for the first time since I got home. However, since all bars are closed for no reason, I guess we will have to buy a bottle of wine, sit next to the river and share stories about my thrill-seeking experiences. My family and roommates recommended that I stay home, but what can I say, I live on the edge and if I die, I die.
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Each one of these sentences and situations were conversations and opinions taken out of travel social media groups and online forums. While thousands of people are getting infected by the coronavirus each day, others still see it as an opportunity to travel.
If you were caught abroad, please return back home or isolate by renting an apartment in the country you are. You can spend the next weeks there until further notice.
Traveling is one of the most beautiful things in the world. However, traveling is more fun when is shared with the people you care and at the same time experience the beauty of a culture.