ANNIINA IS A PHUKET LONG-TERM RESIDENT GIVING US A WEEKLY DOSE OF THAI LIFE. READ FROM HER WEEKLY BLOG WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE LAND OF SMILES.
One might easily think that getting stuck on an island like Phuket to “hold off covid” would not be a bad option at all. I believe that in the very beginning there were a lot of young people who decided to stay at Phi Phi Islands. Over time it became clear to everyone that it was not a matter of a few extra weeks on holiday, but months of ever-tightening life-limiting control, which is anything but a lottery win.
Especially after the money really ran out and it became noticeable that even in paradise one does not live on ocean and sun energy alone. Soon, news sites began to show pictures of young people with their masks on pegging for permission or money or both to get home. One Russian couple repeatedly rejected the call to return to their homeland and eventually had to live in a temple accommodation and alms. Similar stories are there to read weekly.
I have actually spent a fair share of island life at Raya Island. It was a while back, so long ago that many of today’s basic entertainments were missing and the highlight of the day were two loud roosters who together annoyed a monkey to scream. After being on the island for just one week (!!!) it was a great feeling to get back to Phuket to eat more than just chicken or chicken and to get a decent shower.
I like nature, but I also like certain level of comfort, so I could never live permanently on ‘holiday’. A tourist may easily feel similar if stuck in Phuket, even though it is a larger island. It is not easy to try to come up with entertainment for yourself, let alone the whole family in a small hotel room where the wall-to-wall dimension is three steps. Everything was closed for a really long time, all the restaurants and even the beaches. Yes, the holiday feeling is far away when the hotel turns into a ghostly deserted mansion in the absence of other guests.
How about not being able to reunite with your own family? It’s been sad to read how families for one reason or another are in different countries and how difficult the process of getting back together is. Procedures between families have also varied, even in the same country, so it has been difficult times of everyone. It felt like no one really knew how to handle all this…
Fortunately, there have been happy endings too like the story of Sam's family, which you can read here. There are probably thousands of similar cases. The Embassy of Finland has not dealt with visa cases for months, so if for some reason I had to ‘return’ to Finland myself, I would have had to separate from my husband until the foreseeable future.
Currently, only berry picker visas are processed in the Finnish Embassy. In other words, the berry picker gets a visa to go to Finland but not a spouse or a child. If you ask the Finnish Immigration Service you will be directed to contact the Embassy and vice versa. The pingpong game is on. This may sound like criticism but it is not. This is just the way things are right now. The year 2020 went into short-circuit from the start and no one seems to know where the fuse board is located.