January 31st, 2020

mom walk

first day back at work... or not

Today would have been everyone's first day back at work, if the coronavirus hadn't happened. Last week we were notified by HR that as per the government order, Friday and Saturday have been declared additional national holidays. Since then various provincial governments have also extended the local holiday period. This morning Guangdong extended the holidays till Sunday, February 9.

Although i knew i had the day off today, i decided to check in with email and Slack (chat) just to make sure there were no pressing issues. There wasn't anything major, but i did see a notice from HR advising that no one is to come into the office until Monday, February 17. This follows the guidance of Hong Kong authorities, which probably makes sense since we are right on the border and have at least one colleague commuting from over there.

Honestly, i doubt that people from other provinces are going to be able to make it back to Guangdong any time soon anyway. There is still confusion over train and plane schedules. People who went overseas for the holidays may not even be able to come back with the rate all these airlines are canceling flights to China.

It's going to be an interesting few weeks at work. I don't even know how many colleagues took their laptops home for the holidays, outside of on-call folks.

Meanwhile, i went shopping this morning.

There is a wet market closer to my house than the supermarket, and after the empty shelves debacle of Monday i decided to check out the wet market first. Yes, the wet market is still open in my village. There were no live animals, but the butchers were cheerfully carving up a pig and there were plenty of eggs from every bird under the sun. I picked up a stack of garlic and ginger, since at least with that i can make plain noodles taste decent, plus carrots, napa cabbage, king oyster mushroom and bok choy.

After scoring veges at the wet market, i proceeded on to the supermarket, expecting the worst. They have now implemented a mandatory temperature scan and face mask check to get in. I still don't have any surgical masks and the local pharmacies are sold out (i went in to ask this morning) but i do have my trusty bandanas, so i geared up and walked in looking like i was about to molotov the place. Actually i just needed to buy toilet paper, rice crackers, sesame oil and 老干妈 black bean chili sauce.

Lo, there was tofu. I bought a bunch of silky tofu and some fermented tofu. There were also veges so it turns out i didn't need to go to the wet market after all, but man... those vendors probably need the business right now more than supermarkets do.

In the spirit of supporting local business, i also went to the 肠粉 place on the way home and got my first outside cooked meal in over a week. I don't mind cooking my own food, but in China street food is cheap and healthy, so i have gotten into the habit of eating out probably 7-10 times a week. Normally i get the 斋 vegan/fasting version, but after a week of eating peanuts and cabbage and noodles i figured i'd go with egg and greens for a treat. It was excellent.

I also nabbed some bananas and sweet tea from the other fruit shop near my house (the one that didn't close over Chinese New Year). I normally don't like the other fruit shop because the clerks are unfriendly and the fruit is more expensive, but beggars can't be choosers.

Outside i only saw two people without a mask, and one of them was drunkenly ranting in the village square. There is sort of a hush in the air, not like the normal quiet vibe of Chinese New Year, but a "what's going to happen next" vibe. I think everyone has a sense that we're going to be okay - the mortality rate of this virus is not really high enough to be worth panicking over - but because of all the lockdowns and transport restrictions nobody is really sure when life will be able to get back to normal. I imagine that's an especially big worry for people who don't have a salaried job.

I posted a newsier update over on werebel, but there were some good articles i wanted to share here too. If you are at all interested in Chinese politics, i highly recommend reading these.

• China Media Project, The Truth About "Dramatic Action"
• The Scholar's Stage, Political and Practical Implications of the Wuhan Virus
• South China Morning Post, Coronavirus response highlights flaws in the way China's bureaucracy handles a crisis
• David Cowhig, Wuhan Mayor Zhou: Reporting Delays Caused by Center, I Acted Fast Once I Got Authorization

As always, The Guardian are doing probably the best foreign reporting on China: Coronavirus Outbreak

I am also digging Shenzhen Noted - Mary Ann has been in Shenzhen since the 90s so already lived through malaria, bird flu and SARS outbreaks in the city. It's a good reminder that as much as the media and the government puff these events up, for the most part life just goes on.

My life will just be going on. Sadly it appears i will be spending my 40th alone in my apartment.

Yo. It's Brexit Day everyone. I am going to buy lots of alcohol to drown my sorrows.