In the always busy Chen Hainan coffee shop in Kuala Lumpur, while sipping fragrant coffee, several high-spirited old aunties at the adjacent table exclaimed excitedly: “Wow! Facebook is incredible, um. On this day two years ago, we Photos of playing in the snow in Hokkaido are popping up now. I miss it so much. Hope I can travel again soon.”
One of them saw me smiling after hearing the news (and eavesdropped on their conversation!) and recognized me. “Hey Leesan, when can we go abroad again?” she asked aloud.
Before the coronavirus, traveling the world couldn’t be more commonplace and simpler. But now, it has become so important. Suddenly, everyone saw me as a prophet of when they could travel again, as if I could make that decision.
But seriously, when can we travel again? The government has mentioned that we should be able to fly again once the travel bubble, which is being negotiated with eight other countries, kicks off in February. I really want to see this become a reality.
But the problem is that we haven’t done enough to prepare for the reopening of our borders — maybe not even anything at all, especially when it comes to international health law.
After tea and roasts, the coffee shop aunties decided to go for a hike to nearby Ketumbar Hill. I followed closely behind them.
I found that these women knew that even though our healthcare system now claims to be able to handle an average of about 1,800 new cases a day, we might not be able to stop it if China’s Zhong Nanshan issued an early warning of “180,000 cases by February.” Things won’t change anytime soon.
In other words, as long as we fail to flatten the curve, no government dares to risk welcoming Malaysians into their country.
It doesn’t look like there will be a proper solution anytime soon, and women are quick to voice their opinions on why we’re in this situation right now. You’ll be amazed at how well these ladies do an incisive and accurate analysis!
They also talked about vaccines: “Singaporeans have already received the most meaningful Christmas present of the year: a coronavirus vaccine. Some say we might get it in February next year, but there are also rumors that it might be delayed…”
Suddenly, one of them stopped and turned to me and asked, “Leesan, will you vaccinate yourself as soon as possible?”
Before I could say ‘yes’, she replied: ‘I’m confident in a vaccine, but not in a rush. Let the frontliners have it first. Also, now that new strains have been discovered in South Africa and the UK, we The ability to travel abroad will largely depend on the effectiveness of the vaccine.”
Hmm… don’t you think it’s a blessing in disguise that you can’t travel abroad? You can save money and go hiking regularly to stay healthy.
After that, they have some select words about government to share.
Most Malaysians have been obediently following standard operating procedures. But the problem is that the decisive factor in this battle against the epidemic lies in the wisdom of our leaders and the ability to enforce the law seriously and impartially.
Covid-19 is a global disaster of unprecedented scale. Tourism bears the brunt, but in reality, no sector of the economy escapes the impact.
To address this, the government has now proposed six key strategic priorities in the National Tourism Policy 2020-2030. I appreciate that the government is doing its best to revive the industry, but I also feel there is something missing.
The priority is to address the loss of income for many, and the government’s 10-year plan will do nothing to alleviate our immediate predicament.
As many as 3.6 million people or 23.6% of the country’s workforce are engaged in tourism, contributing 15.9% to the state coffers. But in the past 12 months or so, nearly everyone has been unemployed or forced to make ends meet.
How many people can survive this pandemic and see through the 10-year plan?
In fact, 2020 has completely collapsed. At the beginning of 2020, we bid farewell to winter, and we were brutally greeted by snowstorms in Europe, North America, Japan and other places before we had time to welcome spring.
I’m thinking that God must have put a giant test of human intellect, passion, tolerance and selflessness, forcing us to rethink who should have an absolute say in the survival of our only planet.
On our way back, the ladies shouted firmly: “We will continue to support you, Leesan. Let’s travel together again!”
Thank you, ladies. After all, there is love in the world, you light up my every day.
The views expressed are entirely the author’s own. Leesan is the founder of Apple Vacations who has traveled to 132 countries on six continents and enjoys sharing his travel stories and insights. He also authored two books.