My Story of Flying Back to China Under the COVID-19 Restriction

Updated 2021-04-20

From Manila to Incheon to Zhengzhou

My experience as a Filipino-Canadian going back to China coming from the Philippines: it took me several days to procure my visa at the Chinese Embassy in Manila. Then another few days to conclude my negative COVID-19 test result. Had my virtual stamp on my health declaration form from the embassy on the same day. Then booked my flight from Manila to China minutes after I received approval.

My flight itinerary was Manila-Incheon-Zhengzhou. I had the usual check-in procedure at Manila’s International Airport. I then flew Korean Air at midnight and landed at Incheon at around 5am. Immigration didn’t greet me since I was on a connecting flight for Zhengzhou. It was a quick trick from the arrival gate to baggage claim. I waited for a couple of hours at the gate lounge. Then I checked in after my flight number was called. I then boarded the same Korean Air plane for Zhengzhou.

Land In China

It gets a bit interesting as soon as the plane touched down Zhengzhou. Plane made a full stop. We were all told to remain seated as Zhengzhou airport’s quarantine team went in to check on all of us in the plane. After 15-20mins, I left the plane.

I went through the ramp for the arrival lounge. Once I got there, I had to scan a health QR code, filled in my flight and health status details. Waited for an hour or two. Then I was shuffled into several groups for interviews with several immigration officers and the health team. Then I had my nose swabs and throat swab. My experience was not so bad. I’ve been swabbed a couple of times before, so this was ok with me. Filled in a couple more forms and scanned another QR health code. Waited in line for the bus. The entire process took around 7 hours.

There were a ton of us getting off the plane. Some were foreigners like me while the remaining ones were Chinese. So it’s normal for the process to take that long given the number of people that had to be processed. The bus ride from the airport to a secluded quarantine hotel located a little further from the city centre took around an hour and a half.

Arrive at our Hotel

We arrived at the hotel gate. Expected the quarantine prep procedure. Scanned another QR code, so I can be added (along with the others in my flight) into a WeChat group. This online group is intended for the hotel and quarantine team to communicate with me and the rest of the passengers during our quarantine stay.

Food was served right outside the door. Each hotel room door has a small table for the hotel crew to drop off and pick up meals. The WeChat group created by the hotel will make announcements like when meals are about to be delivered to our door, request for our body temp, and for people like me who want to make inquiries or requests. Slept. Woke up in the morning. Saw another notification within the group informing us to get our body temp checked (each room has a thermometer for us to do our self-checks). Used a mini program within the group to input my personal details, room number, and current body temp).

This is what my room looks like.

My hotel stay has been pleasant so far. My hotel room was roomy and clean. WiFi is superfast. TV is available to watch stuff. I expect more body temp checks later and what have you since this is part of the procedure. Then meals to be distributed for lunch and dinner later. Take note, we were all divided into several more groups for the purpose of the team to effectively interact with us during our stay. If we have any concerns, we can simply send messages into our designated WeChat group.

The room itself offered me a ton of toilet rolls, water bottles, soaps, toothbrushes, combs, and shower caps. It’s been a pleasant experience thus far. On a side note, we were offered Chinese food and I can’t get enough of it. I’m not sure if they’ll cater to Western food requests. But I’m happy with what I’ve been munching on so far.

(Richard is an English teacher working at CIPTC Shenzhen. Credit: CIPTC Shenzhen)

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