Ever wondered what the ‘new normal’ of vacationing would look like? Look no further! Bangkok-based Karuna Amarnath, a sales and marketing communications specialist at Four Seasons Resort Thailand, shows us a glimpse of the future of travel by taking us through her recent post-Corona vacation in Thailand‘s Koh Samui. By Bayar Jain
1. Where were you when the lockdown was announced and how did you spend your time?
When the lockdown was announced, my husband, Niren Saldanha, and I had just returned from a trip back home to India. We have been in Bangkok ever since.
2. Why did you choose to visit Koh Samui during this period?
Most beach destinations in Thailand are along the rain-hit Andaman coast, and monsoon has already hit the country. Koh Samui was our best bet for a sunny tropical island holiday during this season.
3. When packing for your vacation, what are some additional items you packed which you ordinarily wouldn’t have thought of?
Apart from the typical beach holiday get-up which included a pair of snorkelling kits, we packed a few sets of our own home linen (like pillow covers and bedsheets), towels, and easy-to-cook foods so we wouldn’t have to rely on eating all our meals from restaurants.
4. How did you travel to Koh Samui and how different was the journey when compared to pre-Corona times?
We took a Bangkok Airways flight directly to Koh Samui as it was the fastest route, and would limit our exposure to public transport. The transit was a little more tedious than usual as we were required to scan QR codes and fill online forms. At the airport, it took an extra 15 minutes or so before check-in and security. The flight was only half-full to ensure social distancing between passengers was maintained. Upon arrival, there was a 20-minute process of temperature checks and documentation with health authorities before we could collect our bags. It was all very thorough and seamless, but it does take some time!
5. Where did you stay in Koh Samui and how did you narrow down on the accommodation?
We stayed at two different accommodations during our stay in Koh Samui. We opted for places with top ratings and those which had good reviews for cleanliness and hygiene. The first place we stayed at was a hillside cottage just above Bang Po Beach in the North. The second one was another hillside villa on the east coast, overlooking Chaweng Beach. The hosts were very hands-on with the place. In fact, at the latter accommodation, the host also ensured that the private infinity pool was cleaned every morning. Both the places we stayed at had kitchens, so we could make our own breakfast every morning.
6. How did the people close to you react to your post-Corona vacation plans?
Initially, we were careful to only tell our close friends and family about the vacation as many of our friends are still coping with lockdowns wherever they are. The one who we told were excited – an understandable emotion during this time!
7. If you had to choose another destination to travel to domestically, where would you go and why?
With so many islands to choose from in Thailand, there is always something left to explore. Among these, the Trang islands, Rayong province, and the Similan islands are a few places we still have to visit. However, monsoon makes most of these places off-limits till September, so perhaps Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai would be a nice getaway right now.
8. What are your predictions for travelling in a post-Corona world?
From what we have seen, it’s going to be a daunting uphill climb to recovery for the tourism industry. People are reluctant to take long-distance flights given the fear of contact with co-passengers for several hours. The strict quarantine measures by different countries are understandable too. It’s going to be a waiting game, as everyone is coping with something unprecedented.
9. Any tips you would like to extend to travellers when it comes to taking a post-Corona vacation?
From our experience in Koh Samui, we are confident that travel is certainly possible, as long as you are cautious and take care of yourself. We recommend people avoid large groups in stores and restaurants and limit time in public spaces where possible. Wearing a mask and sanitising your hands regularly are non-negotiable. Choosing travel destinations where there are strict measures in place is the best way forward.