The Pandemic Letters: Trapped Overseas

Trapped in Taiwan: The Experience of Thomas

Associate Editor Jim Weitz has compiled a series of interviews and first-person accounts from travelers trapped abroad by quarantine protocols related to the CCP virus (COVID 19) Pandemic.

My name is Thomas, 38 years old from Germany. I had been living in Tokyo with my girlfriend for the past 4 years, often traveling to Taiwan for visa runs. I’ve come to Taiwan around 6 times, always for around 5-6 weeks, but this time its been 7 months already. I work freelance and do some crypto currency trading to earn my money.

I arrived in Taiwan in January 2020 thinking I will stay another 5 weeks as usual but then due to unforeseen circumstances stayed until March. I wanted to return to Tokyo March 24th and booked my flight on March 22nd. At that time I didn’t know yet that Japan closed its borders one day prior, so I could not take this flight and didn’t even get refunded (they said it was my mistake).

That’s pretty much the story.

Since arriving I only did the usual stuff. Continued with my work, tried to stay in shape and work out a bit. I love basketball and tennis and here you have a lot of opportunities to do that as many people are very active. Also I try to study Chinese from time to time but this is going nowhere. Sometimes I meet some friends who I met over my many visits here but they are often busy so its not that often.

My and my girlfriend’s original plans were to leave Japan after the Olympics where she would have a job as a volunteer. Now this obviously did not happen. We decided it’s smarter for her to continue her job in Tokyo for now as this time it would not be smart to quit an ok paid job . Our plan was to travel a bit after the Olympics and then next year move to Europe for a while. Hopefully this will be possible, next year. We already decided for her to stay in Japan at least until the end of this year and after that we will see how the situation with the pandemic, visas, and everything else develops.

So, everything is very uncertain at the moment, but we have high hopes this will change soon. Also because we didn’t see each other for around seven months now, this can be very frustrating. But we call at least twice a day .I am glad that Taiwan is so generous for extending visas several times so I can stay here. If they hadn’t done this, I would have had to go back to Germany, as that’s the only destination available to me right now I could travel visa free. Obviously my life is in Japan and not in Germany, so this option would be very difficult for me. Thinking about visas and so on messes up my mind sometimes, but I recently got another extension. So, I am a little bit at ease, at least for the moment.


About the editor/compiler:
James Weitz is the author Gonzo Global Inc., a satire of globalization in which Mexican tap water is exported to the United States and sold as a laxative. He is also a travel writer. He has lived in Asia and Latin America for most of the previous 15 years. During that time, Weitz has worked as a technical editor and taught ESL, composition and law at schools and universities in Latin America, China and Taiwan. Previously, he worked on anti-corruption issues at the Organization of American States and in the Latin American and Caribbean section at the World Bank. His writings have appeared in print at the Mekong Review and in the online journals Red Savina Review, and Pennyshorts. Weitz has a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics with a focus on cross-cultural communication from Nottingham University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Minnesota. He is an Associate Editor at OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters and also contributes articles to O:JA&L on Literary Tourism associated with the Western Pacific region.

Image: National flag of the Republic of China. Public domain.