And then, it’s August. The silly season, they say. Maybe it is, in more ways than one, but that’s not the main point now. We are for all practical purposes stuck here; some, more dramatically, might say trapped. It seems the silliness of the period, real or presumed, is easier to bear from the outside.
For most residents, that summer horizon is now an elusive mirage (a redundancy?), if that’s an apt description for our unease. Our visible horizon goes barely further than Ka Ho (for the mountain lovers); or Hac Sa (for the impenitent sunbathers); or the trimmed hanging gardens of Cotai (for the cocktail-demanding).
Time is making its weight felt. We wait for some opening, waking up every day with a vague sense of optimism – only to face a slow, stern reality that seems to keep moving normality away, again. The ever longer and uncertain confinement (a word that in other less troubled times was reserved for the sick) may bring its own health hazards.
Even the guys at the travel support office appear to be losing a bit of their earlier freshness and confidence. Not long ago, they would not let us go without a hopeful “check again tomorrow, maybe some door will open.” Now, we may get a sterner “nobody is preventing you from traveling, if you can find a flight” (was there a change in the chat guidebook, maybe?)
Of course, that is mostly (wholly?) a theoretical option. Closed the Hong Kong corridor (and one may feel that not all was done to keep it open), with transit through China restricted to those holding Chinese travel documents, the alternatives are flimsy. On the one hand, there is no guarantee that the connecting flights will operate, even where transit passengers are allowed. Just check how many are cancelled each day. Then, there is no guarantee one will be returning on time. And both ways, there is a real risk of quarantines in unexpected places.
If only we could fly to Dubai! Emirates is now trying hard to attract tourists providing automatic insurance, for free, against Covid-19 treatment costs and even, God forbid, death. It’s scorching there now, I know. But wouldn’t many (count me in!) be ready, for a change, to spend the day in an air-conditioned room with a view, and venture a foot at sea in the cover of the night? Someone out there, please listen: MFM is calling!