I Survived AH1N1 (Part 1)

I have found a happy place. It took me forever to get here, yes. The GPS had failed me on my first try. But I'm here.

The place is really pretty. It's coffee shop. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of coffee. And cake. Definitely cake. I'm sipping a warm mug of "sweet dreams" and munching on a slice of cheesecake as I write all these down.

Now I know this doesn't read like a very Malaysian-flavored introduction. I'm supposed to be writing about teh tarik and nasi lemak. Don't worry, I'll get to that soon. But for now, let's bask in the cozy atmosphere of my new-found happy nook.

I passed by the Sungai Buloh Restoran Jejantas on my way here. I told you the GPS failed me. I was supposed to be heading off to Petaling Jaya, but lo and behold - after a few missed turns, I found myself on that memorable highway to Sungai Buloh.

Sungai Buloh will always be memorable to me. Before I set foot on our house in Kajang, before I made myself comfortable in my dormitory in Bangi, I first had to spend a few nights in the infamous Hospital SB.

Why? I had AH1N1, you see.

* * *

I was feverish a day before my Manila to Kuala Lumpur flight on June 2009. I blamed it on stress and all the hassle I had to go through to get a special pass. I didn't think much about it - the fever, I mean- although there was already news of people catching that year's pandemic buzzing about.

The morning of my much awaited flight, I first had to go to the Malaysian Embassy in Makati to collect my passport and special pass. My former roommate, Melody accompanied me. We then killed time and grabbed a goodbye coffee with creatives Edward and Adrian (my super crush at the time) before we taxi-d our way off to NAIA3. But there was still a couple of hours to go before the check in counters opened.

And I was still feeling hot and stuffy.

Ate Grace, my travel buddy, arrived later with my bags and our send-off party.

My overweight bag caused Ate Grace and me to sit in different rows. She knew I wasn't feeling well, though. But I slept it all off.

"Are you feeling better? How is your temperature?" She asked me when we deplaned.

"I think I'm okay," I answered. I looked at the immigration card in my hands. There were several checkboxes asking me the same. "Have you had fever during the past n days?" How was I supposed to answer that question? I ticked "no". I didn't want to cause so much hassle that early in the morning. Our plane landed past midnight and Kuya Brian, our welcome party, was waiting at the arrival area, ready to take us home.

Let me give you one travel advice. Never lie to (or through) an immigration arrival card. They will catch you anyway. There I was, tagging behind Ate Grace the experienced traveler, when a woman in uniform asked me to stop. She said I made the body heat detector light up. They had to check if I was sick enough to be quarantined or not.

I didn't have a choice. They didn't even look at my untruthful arrival card.

What was going to happen to me?


Ready to fly: June 23, 2009. But I don't look sick!
(to be continued)