Ruby Ramblings

Tales from the Crypt(ic land of no communication)
May 24, 2009, 6:25 am
Filed under: South Korea Quarantine, Travel | Tags: , , , ,


This is my view for the next nine days. The pink hue is either from the batteries in my camara dying, or the ionic biosphere they have constructed to contain our highly deadly western dragon breath.

To answer some of the questions I’ve received on comments and in personal e-mails.

1. I absolutely believe this is at least partially (if not mostly) a power grab. The first thing the head adminstrator said when we arrived at the quarantine facility was that they have not tried a quarantine of this scale before, and that “Japan and America have both failed at containing the flu virus. We are going to prove that we will not fail, but succeed at this.” My fear is that they are going to make a habit of quaranting every new group of teachers that comes across border just for the hell of it.

2. As to my being sick or not: I was feeling really sick on Friday, but not in a flu-like way. I believe it was a combination of pure exhaustion from the training, and from my apparent strong allergy to the “yellow dust” everyone talks about. Everytime I step outside I immedietly start sneezing, coughing, get congested, and feel tired, but when I go back inside, it clears up within a half hour. Especially since my temp. doesn’t change, I seem to have demonstrated enough of a dog and pony show to the nurses this morning to prove that I don’t need to be put in private isolation as some poor souls have been.

In some ways it has been a relief after last week to just get to sleep and read. I spent the morning: drinking instant coffee, reading Harry Potter, went back to sleep for three hours, hung out with J., read Harry Potter, drank some tea, went back to sleep, and now I’m writing to you.

I think that may be a pretty sad statement to the school training that many people here is relieved to be in lockdown as opposed to having to start work after how hellish last week was. Several people are afraid to start their jobs because they are afraid of the critism and energy output if it is anything like what we just went though. That’s what we get for picking the highest paying company instead of the one that looked like it suited our personalities best.

The worst part about all of this is how woefully misinformed the Korean public and officials seem to be about how dangerous H1N1 really is or how to handle the situation. I think the biggest problem with the virus is more that it spreads so quickly. Areas want to make sure to keep up with treatment supplies, not that it is necessarily deadly or untreatable. One of the teachers had already been sent to his placement in Busan, which is at least 4 hours by train. He arrived at midnight on Friday, and was woken up early Sat. morning by a woman wearing a facemask in an absolute panic who told him he “was infected with a very deadly disease” and that he must leave for Seoul immediatly. First of all, there is no proof that he was ever in contact with any of the sick people, and second of all, telling someone they are going to die is not a good way to deal with kind of situation.

He was then rushed by ambulance, with the siren on almost the whole way, from Busan to Incheon (where we are all being held), and told several times that he had a deadly disease. But of course when he got here they treated him like the rest of us: took his temperature, told him to wear a facemask when around other people, and, by the way, have a nice stay.

Today they declared that we all have “supresed symptoms of the virus.” They have absolutly no proof of that, a lot of the people here had no contact with the sick people, and may not have anything at all. Some of the folks aren’t even supposed to be here. There were a group of people that got to the hotel for NEXT week’s training, that got caught up and told by the school they had to go into quarantine as well, even though they had never met any of us. They were told by the nurses this morning that {the school} was wrong, they hadn’t had exposure so there was no need for them to come, but now that they are here, they may have been exposed and can’t leave. Classic Korean misinformation.

So we are here for at least nine days, although, as you can see, they wireless internet for us. We are quite comfortable despite the food we are not really used to and the lack of shower stalls (I guess it’s supposed to be bathhouse style where everyone just gets naked?). But other than that it’s like a stay at a really, really boring camp.


Somehow, I wouldn’t be surprised if any officials saw me taking these pictures if someone wouldn’t try to come and confiscate my camera.

6 Comments so far
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You survived the plane trip to become the news…I hope all goes well for you. Your training sounded like mine…only I had a month of being in the classroom and training was more of a formality on the checklist.

The hue…is from China. It looked like you were just starting to explore when your whole class was quarrantined.

It can only get better from here.

Comment by Marilyn

Yup, my first thought when seeing the pink hue was “WTF?” but indeed it quite possible is ionic biosphere you deadly Americans!

Power grab? that sounds as if it’s a story from behind the iron curtain. They would invent a disease only to prove how good they are in handling it.
Of course panic is the worst weapon. I told you that officials here are quite concerned about H1N1 because of the coming Universiade and all what they are doing (on the surface) is informing citizens of Belgrade that even if virus arrives there’s no reason for panic. We are all familiar with standard procedure, treatment of the people with symptoms, what we should do if we get in the contact… etc. Of course no one is using “a very deadly disease” sentence. It is curable, especially if the treatment starts in time and since everyone will be “under the microscope” no one is preoccupied. Of course medical stuff (below the surface and eyes of public) is doing frenetically what they suppose to do.

It’s good you at least have free wireless internet 🙂

Comment by Milan

You’re still able to be funny though! hahaha. When I was on the border of Thailand and Burma, I found it wise to be discerning about what I wrote or posted, as it was all screened and observed. It made me appreciate my regular life! I made lots of friends who were teaching ESOL through local NGOs at refugee camps, and they didn’t make tons of money but they had really wonderful experiences. Yeah, maybe it will just be the adjustment period where it is difficult, that is often the case, but also there’s no honor or glory in proving you can take abuse, in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Glad you have Harry Potter with you! That’s perfect! Hope your scar doesn’t start to tingle too often!

Comment by Jenny Yasi

I think it’s strange that all the news articles are only mentioning the 23 y/o American girl that is quarantined and no one else…

Comment by Talya

This is Kind of messed up….. I would like to know if there are any Koreans in quarantine.. … The Hagwan and Hotel staff from the Training …? And I don’t see how they could only quarantine new teachers and not any of the hundreds of other people who walk off of the plane…!

Comment by Trevor

about your first point.. gotta love the arrogance. By the time symptoms develop is too late usually. Thankfully this is a very mild strain of flu. I’d be more concerned with a subsequent wave of it that might mutate and preparing for that instead. (not saying anything folks don’t already know!) Misinformation and panic are the worst. *sigh*

The Pink Hue is from China? *eyes first response* any clue as to what it might be that’s causing it? *curious*

Comment by Kiri

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