BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Saturday, July 4, 2009

globetrotting in the time of influenza

I would normally jump on any invite for a trip abroad, whether it's business or pleasure. That's me, bitten by the travel bug since I was a child. However, when I was given this assignment, I hesitated.

But assignments are assignments. There's no reason to say no unless you have absolutely no choice.

So, I'm hoping I didn't catch THE flu. These days, however, maybe that's almost like asking for the moon. At the Centennial airport, it's a crowded Sunday morning. There's no escaping the virus if it's there. Everywhere you go, there's a crowd, a line or a gathering of people.

Some are wearing masks, some seemingly isolating themselves from the crowd while others couldn't care less.

As for me, I didn't have the time to worry. I was late for my flight and could hear my name already being called on the P.A. system by the airlines. My plane is about to leave.

On the plane, I wanted to sit alone. I wanted to stay safe for the sake of my two-year old daughter back home. Unfortunately, the airbus was crowded.

At the hotel where I and another journalist was billeted, there were some precautionary measures. There were lots of signs on what to do and what not to do to prevent the flu from spreading.

A friend in the area wanted to meet up with me. She told me to meet her at this coffee shop. On the way there, she said, I should avoid the crowded streets. Whew!

Oh, and that I should avoid touching my ears, eyes and nose.

At the airport, on my way back to Manila, I saw the girlfriend of a former housemate. She was wearing a mask. A big one. It was good to see her but we had to avoid the usual beso-beso.

On the plane, the French guy seated beside me was trying to strike a conversation. Photography, diving, Paris and Bordeux...he wanted to talk about these things. Oh but he kept on sneezing!

A few hours later, I'm back in Manila. I went to a dear friend's office to wash and change clothes -- my futile attempt to keep clean.

It's been less than ten days. I don't have the symptoms so far. But who knows what tomorrow will bring.