“Are you sure you want to go?”
Given the coronavirus situation, this was the million dollar question that I was asked anytime I brought up my work trip to Singapore. Family, friends, relatives - they would all throw me this line and I’d always counter with a general shrug.
And to be perfectly honest, my initial indifference about the trip started to waver as this frequent question lingered in my head. I became slightly apprehensive and with the various news of the coronavirus pouring in, let’s just say it didn’t help with my budding fear ?
Before I let my unfounded worry dictate my travel plans, I made sure I knew what I was getting into and carefully considered the circumstances. Also, communicating with the HHWT team in Singapore about what the ground situation was like helped with the decision-making. After much contemplation, (and as you can already tell from the headline) I decided to proceed with the trip.
As a disclaimer for those with upcoming travel plans to Singapore, my decision and personal experience is not a benchmark as to whether you can or should travel to Singapore. It’s best to weigh all your options, discuss with your family or loved ones and even check the Ministry of Health’s official update page for the latest news before changing or continuing with your own travel plans.
So, early Monday morning, I made my way to KLIA2 and boarded a flight bound for Singapore along with my colleagues, Cheng Sim and Takeem. Just like any other trips I’ve been on, things were fairly busy at the airport with long lines of people at the check-in queues and travellers rushing about. The only difference this time was the obvious number of people wearing surgical masks and that included me.
Although I wasn’t sick, it was important for me to be fully prepared by practicing a few simple precautions such as wearing the mask which also helped to give my family peace of mind. Besides that, I packed my own hand sanitiser and avoid touching my face until I could properly wash my hands. But alas, as prepared as I was, the one thing I overlooked was checking in my toiletry bag that held my hand sanitizer. That meant, going without one until I landed in Singapore ☹️
Luckily for me, there were several hand sanitizer stations located throughout KLIA2 ? Even upon arriving at Singapore Changi Airport, it was easy enough to find these stations (they have 240 to be exact!) which was a huge relief to me. While I was happy about the multiple hand sanitizer stations available in the airport, I made sure to wash my hands with soap and water since it's a more effective method of killing germs.
At this point of my trip, noticing the different preventive measures taking place in Singapore kept me on my toes about personal hygiene and making it a priority. From the airport’s thermal scanners stationed at the arrival checkpoints all the way to the accommodation I stayed at, which had its housekeeping disinfect the entire place and scheduled more cleanups with the rooms and toilets, I’ve never been more hyperaware about my health than before. There were even hand sanitisers available in the GrabCars that I took throughout my trip (with the exception of one)!
On one of the days of my trip, I had the opportunity to visit The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands with the HHWT team. The place turned out to be pretty empty though it may be due to the rather sporadic, torrential rain happening then ?
In between periods that weren't raining as hard, I also got to roam around the area outside the ArtScience Museum. In spite of the bad weather conditions, I still found the experience to be unique as I got to enjoy the view of the Marina Bay Sands and the city skyline in a different light ?
Though my time in Singapore was a short one, it definitely gave me a different experience from my previous visit back in September 2019. Despite the worry I had in the beginning, being fully informed and diligent about my hygiene helped ease my mind and I actually enjoyed the trip a lot more than expected. Though the public areas were less crowded and relatively calm, there were still a handful of tourists strolling around and locals going about their day as usual. So, whether you’re travelling to Singapore or any other country in the region, it’s important for you to do your research, take the necessary precautions and keep yourself updated with accurate information before making a decision.