Seattle, March 15. 7:46 pm

A little excitement when I got off the Air Alaska flight in Seattle. The board was showing EVA Air cancelling the 12:30 AM flight to Taiwan. I thought I was stranded in a Plague Hot Zone, but at this point in the trip that struck me as merely a minor inconvenience.

It turns out, however, that EVA was just consolidating two flights, and the 1:30 AM flight is good to go. I’ve checked in, found internet and power, and am busy leaving a trail of breadcrumbs in case someone needs to reconstruct my movements.

So I arrived in Phoenix without incident on March 11th. Well – one incident. I managed to lose my old Samsung J7 in the Narita airport — which NEVER happens to me. I know some people go through 3 phones a year, but I’ve had that one since 2017 or something. Not a huge deal. I bargained with a regular cabbie at Phoenix Sky Harbor Int’l. When I arrived at my parent’s place in Peoria AZ, the guy at the door asked who I was looking for — and then asked if I had “worked out a place to stay”. I didn’t pay it much mind, and walked up the stairs to my parents apartment. Never got past the doorway.

Management had banned me — even though I was coming from a country with a much lower infection rate and WAY stricter containment protocols. But in Trumpland, all of them Asians are the same — sneaky and dangerous. No need for the morbid details now, but it turned out to be the saddest family reunion on record. That’s for another time, though.

When my flight left Saigon on Wed morning, the official US policy toward Covid19 (that Woohan Disease) was “what, me worry?” By the time I landed in Phoenix, it was a weird mix of apocalyptic panic and clueless complacency. Americans seemed to spend their days hoarding toilet-paper and their nights squeezing into crowded bars. No one was wearing masks, the information coming from leadership and media outlets was worse than uninformed — it was actually dangerous. (The “it’s safe to go to work if you have the virus” press conference is up there with the “very fine nazis” line from 2017).

BUT… just as the US was trying to decide if it was scared or clueless, Europe was melting down and Asia started shutting its borders. So I decided to high-tail it back to familiar shores. In Asia I have connections, an apartment, visas, and health insurance. In the US I’m homeless and under-insured. Plus it is really depressing here — and I can’t do anything to help the people I care about.

I was hoping to beat the tide and slip back into Saigon with a 24 hour quarantine, but the headlines are ugly and I may be looking at a 14 day stay in a military facility as a best case scenario. But now I’m not even sure that’s an option. I touch down in Taipei at dawn on the 17th (you lose a day going back), and I’ll make a plan then. Right now I’m scheduled to land in Bai Noi (Saigon) around 10:30 am. But staying in Taiwan or diverting to Thailand are also options. If that doesn’t work out, I may end up self-quarantining in Laos.

Next update from Taipei – hopefully.

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