Quarantine in ThailandAn XploreAsia Teacher Experience
What is Quarantine in Thailand Like?
As we adjust to the ‘New Normal’, teachers from all over the world are now able to return to their schools overseas, as well as new teachers can begin their life-changing overseas teaching experience with XploreAsia! However, there are a few hurdles and processes that need to be navigated in order to return. One of the most common questions we are asked is, ‘What is quarantine in Thailand like?’. Well, we have first-hand accounts that we will be presenting to you over the coming days and weeks, detailing the planning, arrival, and quarantine processes both in Thailand and South Korea!
First, we hear from Lucy, 24, originally from Wiltshire in the UK but has been living and teaching in Thailand since December 2018. After returning home, and now back in Thailand, Lucy writes to us from quarantine in Bangkok, Thailand.
Which Program were you on, and how did COVID-19 Impact your Experience?
I did my TESOL course with XploreAsia in Hua Hin, January 2019. After traveling around and falling in love with Southeast Asia in 2017, I knew as soon as I finished university, I needed to get back out for a longer amount of time, and teaching seemed like the perfect way. I initially only intended to stay out here for around 6 months, but that quickly changed as I got settled into my new Thai life. Having not seen loved ones for over a year, I had planned to go back to the UK in the March/April school break to see my friends and family. I arrived home on the March 21. 3 days later, the UK went into lockdown, followed by Thailand about a week later. The international flight ban was originally until the end of April, then May, then June and with no definite end date, I had no idea when I could get back. I can’t explain how stressful this time was as there was so much uncertainty, yet so much speculation and false hope online. I was checking the news every day for if and when I would be allowed in, and as soon as they said work permit holders could apply to return on repatriation flights, I began the process, and prepared myself for my quarantine in Thailand experience.
What Preparations did you Have to Make for Your Return?
For me, the process was a lot more stressful and confusing than it is now, as when I started to apply the system was very new and no one seemed to really know the proper procedures. There was however a clear list of documents that you needed to provide to the embassy to be considered for a certificate of entry. These are:
- Copy of work permit
- Copy of passport and visa pages
- A letter from your employer stating they wish you to return
- Health Insurance policy covering you for over $100,000 and any COVID costs
- Fully completed declaration form that the embassy will send to you
Once you have all the required documents you have to send them to the embassy. When I applied the process was that the embassy would forward your documents to people who in Bangkok who would make the decision. Despite emails from the embassy that said it would take about 2 weeks, it actually seemed to be taking 4 weeks until people heard back with confirmation of a place on a flight. However, the night before the 4-week mark for me I received an email to say that the process had changed and the embassies were now able to issue a certificate of entry. It also said that to be considered for a repatriation flight that month, to reply to the email. So I responded to the email as soon as I saw it on Thursday evening, I didn’t find out I had a place on the flight until the following Monday and the flight was that coming Sunday. So once you find out you are able to fly there are more documents to prepare:
- Flight booking – through the embassy
- Quarantine in Thailand – ASQ Booking (all non-Thai nationals must book alternative state quarantine, prices ranging from 28,000 baht to 144,000)
- Negative COVID test with a result within 72 hours of flight departure and with a full lab report
For the COVID test, I ordered a home testing kit from Randox the week before in case I got a place on the flight. The test costs £120 and is delivered the next day if ordered between Monday and Thursday, but they don’t deliver on weekends. I then had to arrange a collection through Polar Speed a UPS company, which costs an additional £16.99. The test takes 2 days to arrive at the test facility, but once it arrived I got the results within 8 hours, less than 24 hours before my flight.
- ‘Fit to Fly’ Certificate from a doctor to say you are free from COVID symptoms
For the ‘Fit to Fly’, I used Freedom Health who do a virtual consultation over Zoom and it was super easy and cost £55. It took about 10 minutes max for the consultation. Once I had my negative COVID-19 test results, I forwarded them over and then they sent me my Fit to Fly Certificate.
- T8 form from the embassy you must fill out
- I also had a form from EVA airlines to fill out
It’s a bit of a logistical challenge trying to get everything done in the right time frames, but once you have all these things will you be able to get on the flight.
What was Your Arrival Experience?
Arriving in Thailand now feels like something out of a movie. As you walk from the plane into the airport you’re met with people wearing full-body PPE who ask you where you are staying. They then direct you to a row of chairs where people come along and check your documents. Once they have done this they send you off to wait in line to get your temperature checked, documents checked again and temperature checked again, the second time in your ear. If your temperature is too high for their liking (like mine was on the second test) then they give you water and make you sit down in a separate area for 10 mins before checking again. After all these points you are then able to go through to the waiting area to be taken to your ASQ transport. All the ASQ hotels will have a specially arranged van and you will be taken out to meet the driver who then takes your straight to your hotel to begin your quarantine in Thailand.
How About Quarantine in Thailand, What are the Conditions Like?
Minus the plastic screens on the check-in desk, and checking in with the nurse, it was a pretty normal check-in experience where I am staying
Arriving at the hotel, they check your temperature before you are allowed to enter. Minus the plastic screens on the check-in desk, and checking in with the nurse, it was a pretty normal check-in experience where I am staying – Three Sukhumvit Hotel. The quarantine in Thailand package at this hotel costs 40,000 baht and provides you with 3 meals every day, 2 COVID-19 tests, transport to the hotel, and 24/7 nurse contact. They also allow you to order food delivery services which is amazing, as the hotel menu options daily are pretty limited, so if you fancy something different it’s nice to have the option! Each room has a little table outside the door where they will place any food or orders you have or any rubbish you have to be taken away.
On one of the first few days you have a COVID test, which, if negative, you are then allowed to book 1 x 30-minute slot outside your room per day in a designated area. You are also given a bag of masks, hand sanitizer, and a thermometer on arrival. Whenever opening the door you are required to wear a mask, as well as having to take your temperature morning and evening each day to send to the nurse.
What are you Doing to Keep Yourself Busy During Your Quarantine in Thailand?
I was obviously aware I would have a lot of spare time during my quarantine in Thailand, so I tried to get some things to help kill the time. I bought a scrapbook and printed off a whole bunch of photos from my Thailand experience so far which has been really nice to put together and reminisce some amazing times I’ve had in Thailand from the comfort of my quarantine home. I also bought a couple of books and magazines to read and I’ve been reliving my childhood playing The Sims. If you can’t go about your normal life, at least you can live vicariously through an animated Sim!
Looking Back on the Experience so far, have you Learned Anything From it?
I would say there are two main things I learned from this journey; patience and persistence. Being stuck somewhere and not knowing when or how you can get back to where you live is stressful to say the least, especially when everything is so unpredictable right now. I had to learn to be more patient with things as there was absolutely nothing I or anyone else could do about it, and stressing out wasn’t doing me or my family (sorry mum and dad) any favors.
Secondly, I had to learn to be more persistent. I’m the type of person to feel guilty if I have to ask about something more than once or send a second email out of fear of annoying someone. However, I am sure there are several people out there who never want to hear my name again due to the number of emails and calls I made to try and get everything sorted in time. But, had I not done all that, I doubt I would be sitting here in quarantine in Thailand writing all this now!
What are you Most Looking Forward to?
I am most looking forward to seeing my friends with who I work and spend most waking hours together, as well as getting back to work! I have missed all my students and colleagues so so much, and I am beyond excited to get back in the classroom and start teaching again! A lot of people in England were asking me if all the stress and money was worth it, but sitting in quarantine in Thailand looking forward to getting out, I can safely say it was definitely worth it.
If you want to learn more about how you can get started teaching overseas, contact us for more information! We are always on hand to help.
Written by Lucy Frobisher. Follow her on Instagram – @theadventuresofanexpat