By Nora Thamthanakorn
Day one: Last week I moved out of my family home and into an apartment. It was a last minute decision. It's a studio, great for one, and perfect for self-isolation. As I was packing my luggage, a news reporter urged us to stay at home as infected cases rise each day. Thailand is currently under a month-long state of emergency, but not yet in a complete lockdown.
My mobile phone sends messages from friends and family, updating me on the situation and ways I can protect myself. I try to read the news once every evening, just to be informed and not obsessed. A few days ago, a ‘SafeAtHome’ message showed up on my phone. All shopping centres and most public venues have been ordered to close until at least the end of April. Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, has been a destination for people from other provinces who have moved into the city for work. Now that their workplaces are closed, they are returning home.
Supermarkets and certain markets in Bangkok remain open at restricted hours. We are encouraged to not panic buy and I am very thankful that supermarket shelves are still full. Restaurants have turned into takeaway only. We currently have no shortage of food and we are well stocked on toilet paper, but very scarce on face masks.
Day two: The government announced a curfew between 10pm and 4am. I had never imagined 24-hour convenient stores in Thailand being closed, or complete silence at 10pm. A neon-lit city has turned into a haunted town. But on a positive note, pollution from heavy traffic has dramatically reduced over the last week.
My days consist of replying to emails, reading, and making ceramics, although I haven’t been able to go to the kilns where I have my works fired. News also arrived that my upcoming exhibition in Melbourne has been postponed, as galleries are now closed until further notice.
I call my mum everyday to remind her to stay home, wash her hands, and eat well. 2020 is when love should be expressed at least 2 metres apart. It is also the year when I seriously feel the need to improve my cooking skills after seeing countless photos of home cooked dishes on my Instagram and Facebook.
Day three: I had my online French class this morning, which could be what most education is like from now on. It was so refreshing to see my classmates on my computer screen without their faces covered. I barely remember what life was like without a face mask. Our teacher introduced us to this website providing virtual visits at various galleries and museums. I have found my getaway for next week!
I really need to go shopping for household goods and groceries today. Lipstick and hand lotion in my bag have been replaced by alcohol spray and hand sanitiser. I wear gloves when visiting supermarkets to avoid direct skin contact with everything from a button in the elevator to notes and coins. Many questions come to mind as I am on my way. What else is nature teaching us? What will life be like after this? Where is my life heading and what are my values after all? What should I cook this evening?
Next week is usually when Thailand has a week-long holiday and celebration of Songkran Thai new year, however, this is of course not happening. We are waiting for another announcement of a possible 24-hour curfew to be enforced over coming weeks. How will some survive this? My questions go on ....
When arriving at the supermarket, my body temperature is monitored and my hands are sanitised at the door. 36°C is my body temperature today as advised by the staff, and I am allowed to enter.
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