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Holidays and travel must wait for now

By Chris Kudialis | China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-03 09:00

If there's any solace in facing this year's pandemic, it's that we can tell future generations how we all experienced it firsthand.

Sure, they'll learn all about COVID-19 from their teachers and history books. But nothing will explain the drastic lifestyle changes like listening about quarantine, social distancing and mandated mask-wearing from someone who went through it.

What a time to be alive.

My coronavirus conundrum goes something like this: I spent Thanksgiving back home in the United States, just as the most recent wave in my home country has resulted in about 170,000 new cases each day during the past week.

The cases seemed to be tailing off in August and early September. But they skyrocketed in October and November and are now setting daily highs as we enter December.

To be fair, access to fast and free testing has become significantly more widespread here in the US, which means less cases go undetected and unreported in the final tallies.

For any readers that perhaps are unfamiliar with Thanksgiving, it's an annual holiday in the US that dates back to the 1600s when the Pilgrims emigrated here from England. They held huge feasts as a way of pausing from their daily lives and work to thank God for what they had.

Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of every November, mostly with family and friends, by eating a huge turkey dinner and watching American Football on TV.Other countries in the West celebrate their own variations of Thanksgiving, too.

COVID forced most friends and families to stay apart this Thanksgiving. Unless you're living with someone, there's a good chance you didn't celebrate the holiday with them this year. I normally spend the day with extended family, including my aunts, uncles and cousins in addition to my parents and siblings.

The virus forced us to limit our Thanksgiving to just my parents and siblings, for the first time in as far back as I can remember.

The next hurdle is even more daunting: traveling back to China will be an incredible challenge.

I say "incredible" challenge because it's not entirely impossible. But here's what I'm up against:

The cheapest one-way flight from here to Beijing in the next couple weeks is $1,300. That flight just happens to be the shortest flight, which includes two stops and takes 47 hours from start to finish.

Also, foreigners re-entering China must quarantine for 14 days at a hotel outside of Beijing before being allowed to enter the capital city. The hotels are apparently in Tianjin and even further away in the south of the country. I'm told they cost about $65 per night, so just over $900 total for the two weeks.

A cool $2,200 and 14 days alone in a hotel room. That's assuming there's no change in flight prices or policy by then.

Talk about an opportune time to reflect on what we can be thankful for. It's one of the best ways to get through what has otherwise been an unpredictable year.

While nobody knows for sure what the near future holds, count me among the billions of people with fingers crossed that an effective vaccine will soon be widely available and distributed.

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