How to Thrive in a Hong Kong Quarantine Hotel for Three Weeks

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Having spent three weeks locked inside a hotel room, I wanted to write about the experience to share some of my challenges and thoughts. I would be  happy to discuss this with anybody who is apprehensive about the experience to try and tailor a routine suitable for your individual needs. Whether that be physical, mental, or both.

The below is an account of my stay, which I hope you can find interesting and useful:

Arriving on a Tuesday evening in November 2021, I had my whole stay planned out. In my suitcase which had travelled to the UK and back was a pull-up bar, skipping rope, gymnastic rings, various resistance bands, as well as nutritional supplements to keep healthy micronutrients topped up whilst locked indoors.

Quick tip for anybody else doing this: Pack a suitcase of things you need in quarantine but don’t need while travelling, to be delivered to your hotel when you land back.

I had a routine mapped out for every day. I knew my days had to be structured. My plan was to wake up with the sun around 0630 and have some green tea upon waking as I had decided to take a three week break from caffeine for an extra mental challenge. Then I’d be ready for an hour of yoga before starting the work day at 0900.

During the work day every hour I would do a set of bodyweight exercises; pushups, pullups, leg raises, sit ups and handstands.

The work day would be broken down into one and two hour blocks, interwoven with my own writing and above mentioned bodyweight routine.

I had wondered “what if” the pull-up bar couldn’t be put up, as it needed a fixed wall on both sides. But even though I had wondered, I didn’t really plan much beyond wondering. I hoped I had enough toys, bands and motivation to just do as planned for three weeks.

The First Days

As I walked into the room, I was rather put aback at how little space there was. A small lump appeared in my throat which I quickly sent back to my stomach and told myself not to be such a wimp. Closing the door behind me, I dare not look for the pull-up bar location. I just felt it wasn’t going to work. And indeed, ultimately, my gut feeling was right. 

I was actually able to put the bar up as one of the walls was fixed. But the other side was part of the wardrobe, and there was no way it could realistically allow me to safely do pull-ups or gymnastic rings work. The bar did manage to stay up for a few days. I was able to hang off it and do some knee raises. But that never felt safe. On the third day, a loud crack came from the wardrobe, which meant the end to my pull-up bar.

The first full day, a Wednesday, was spent trying to work out how to hang all my bands and rings. Where to skip. Where to do yoga. Where to move etc.

When booking this room I had read that the twin rooms can make more space than the double, as the beds can be moved against the wall. Whereas that can’t be done with the double. This was a great find as indeed the two beds could be pushed to one side opening a space of less than 4m x 2m in front of the windows with the open view.

Here’s the next tip, which I fully understand comes with a financial privilege caveat; If you have to do this and you’re going to waste money on quarantine anyway, you may as well waste a bit more money for your own benefit. Choosing a hotel is mandatory and you have no choice but to spend that. It’s the extra 20-25% which is for you and your sanity. An open view with boats, planes and the sea to look out over, along with restaurants to see down below in the square, was really valuable and kept me connected to the outside world.

On the second full day I started my morning yoga as planned, but the rest of the day’s exercise was unstructured. I was trying the bar to see if it could withstand hanging. Or how best to secure the bands for woodchoppers and rows. I tried the clothes rail, door handles, cabinet hooks, anything sticking out was a possible place to hang bands. But no matter how I tried, I couldn’t quite get the right angles, or find enough space for what I wanted to do.

For the skipping, the space in front of the window was a not quite long enough as the rope hit either the desk in front or wall behind. There was another space of similar size by the door and bathroom which was slightly more narrow, although it did have the mirror next to it. In this space the narrowness of the area meant I was unable to turn my wrists smoothly. This meant the end to my skipping rope also.

So by the end of the second full day, I had come to terms with the fact that my pull-up bar, gymnastic rings, skipping rope and most of my bands could not be used. Those were the base fundamentals of my entire three week strength and cardio training.

On my 3rd full day I had a plan and started the day with yoga as planned, but I struggled to get into the rest of the day.

Mentally, the first couple of days were spent internally fuming about the sheer waste and stupidity of the ridiculous quarantine rules. On this 3rd day I had internally settled that feeling and moved on, because there is literally no point making my body stressed over something I have zero control over.

I had however concluded that my idea of how to structure the day before quarantine began could never work. So my plan evolved to a different structure. The hourly bodyweight circuit was hard to keep to, and I had realised there is absolutely no point waking up at 0630am. The evenings were easier to handle than the day, so I needed to stay in bed as long as possible.

Around 5pm on this 3rd full day with dinner approaching, feeling a little deflated and directionless, I suddenly decided to put on some music. The sun was setting, and it was the only time of the day I got to see the sun from this room. I wanted to listen to an album, so I put on Purple Rain. 

Then it happened……………..

Something I haven’t done for more than 20 years……………

I started dancing! Dancing like nobody could see.

And as Prince sang; “if the elevator tries to bring you down, go crazy!!!”, I duly did. 

A short while later as the end of Purple Rain faded, I had completed an hours cardio and movement session. More importantly I had serendipitously discovered a daily practice. Something I will never be able to do anywhere else ever again.

Dancing became my daily ritual. My daily exercise. My daily stress reliever and sanity checker. Where else would I ever be able to dance again like nobody’s watching!

Other Tools

When I walked in the door of this room one of the first things I noticed was there was no chair. Only a cloth covered cube stool. This stool became the wall from which I could kick the ball against and not disturb neighbours.

Whilst in England I went to Sports Direct with my son. He made me buy a table tennis bat and balls, as well as a size 3 football for my quarantine stay. I must admit at the time I wasn’t wholly sold on the idea, but I could see the potential so got them both. Luckily I did, as the football was a life saver. The area in front of the window, with the stool one side, and rolled up yoga mat the other, as well as the length of the bed to play off, I was able to have a little football practice area.

Football became my break time, and also my after meal walk.

Weekends and Week Two

With the weekend starting, my structure would be allowed to bend. Don’t set an alarm, and don’t worry about waking. I had Saturday evening sports to keep me entertained, then Sunday horse racing. 

As the first full week began, I naturally formed into a routine. My alarm was set for 9am, and not 630 as originally planned. I’d wake to a cup of hot tea, then yoga and shower ready for work. Work til 1 then break for a little movement session while listening to a podcast. Work throughout the afternoon, then around 530, as the sun was coming into the room for the only part of the day, I put on an album to see where it took me. Much jumping and dancing ensued.

Food and Entertainment

Dinner was delivered around 630 so I’d eat at 7, but be sure to stop eating by 8/830 as I needed/wanted some kind of fasting window to help me with calorie control.

At the end of the first week as I had found a rhythm and structure I was comfortable with, I then started to change my feeding patterns.

One thing I had discovered is that boredom, for want of a better word, definitely makes you want to eat. So I knew if I had a narrow time-window to eat, this is an artificial way of limiting calories without thinking too much. 

I don’t like to eat too many times per day. I enjoy fasting as it keeps my mental clarity sharp. I also enjoy eating, so balancing eating and fasting was going to be a challenge. But I found a way, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Quite simply, I saved my breakfast and lunch for dinner time, and ate all three meals at one time in a big buffet dinner. This meant I obviously could not finish everything, and left most of the starchy carbohydrates like the rice and bread, allowing me to focus on the meat/fish, vegetables and fruit only. This kept my calories in check, and allowed my mind to be free and not have to think about food.

Tv would come on at 7pm with some light hearted shows. I’d shower around 8/830, then settle in for a couple of hours Netflix before sleeping around midnight.

Horse racing is not something I  am interested in. However, it must be said, it was a great way to make a day fly. Studying the horses takes me at least 3 hours, and a 10 card race meet takes 5 hours. So that’s a full day gone. Even if  you don’t usually bet on horse racing, I highly recommend it to pass time and have some fun while stuck in quarantine.

The Final Days

The freedom from responsibilities was another unexpected pleasure. There was nothing I had to do for anybody specifically. Everything was my choice. This of course comes with a warning. Because when humans are given the choice to do nothing, or force themselves to do something challenging, the natural tendency is to do nothing and procrastinate. I had just two weekdays of procrastination which I regret and did not enjoy. So leave the freedom to do what you want to do for the weekends, and keep your weekdays structured

As I was sitting on my last day reflecting about the three weeks just gone, I was struck with a strange feeling of confusion. Of course I want to get out of here and back to life, but I need to be honest and say there was a part of me which was going to miss it. A little Stockholm Syndrome maybe (ah, Muse have some great albums for dancing like nobody’s watching!). Three weeks of zero responsibility has its advantages as it frees the mind and body from conformity. So when I left the room for the first and last time, there was a part of me which missed it and wanted to stay.

Other Crutches

It would be remiss of me to write this without mentioning crutches, or external support of the mind to handle the reality of mind numbing boredom. Some people smoke. Others drink. It’s a way to change the mind away from reality and pass time. I had one drinking session day only. But even then my tolerance for alcohol is so low nowadays, that I really did not drink much. 

As alcohol is not my thing anymore as I know the damage it does to your body, I eventually reached for my CBD/THC. I initially told myself I would quarantine without any crutches, I would use this time to test my ability to handle life with nothing to alter my mind. But during the second full day, I had decided this is not the way I wanted to do this. I needed, or wanted, help. So I called up my shrink in Beverly Hills, you know the one Dr. Everything’ll be alright. And he duly delivered some beautiful pure CBD/THC oil to the hotel. An uplifting head feeling for end of work play time, and a body hitting feeling to help me chill and relax at night.

This made the whole time in quarantine so much more manageable and bearable. The uplifting euphoria was perfect for dancing, and was great for keeping my creative mind inspired.

Sunlight and Supplements

The last thing to mention is supplementation. Supplementation is always the last thing to mention because without getting your exercise, movement and nutrition right, supplementation is irrelevant.

However, being a self confessed supplement junkie, I went into quarantine fully armed with my myriad of pills, potions and

Joovv Red Light Therapy: Being locked indoors for 3 weeks brings internal health challenges I was very concerned about. Primarily the lack of sunlight, as most other vitamins and minerals can be exogenously supplemented. So I had my Joovv Solo delivered to the hotel which ensured I could get some red light sunlight while I was there which i did for at least one hour per day.

Organifi Red, Green and Gold gave me the nutrients usually associated with fruit, vegetables which would be limited with the quarantine food.

Biioptimizers Magnesium Breakthrough, as magnesium is always deficient in the food we eat.

LMNT Minerals to keep sodium intake at a reasonable level while fasting.

Ancestral Supplements Beef Organs for my multivitamin instead of an actual multivitamin. I preferred to go with fully natural supplements for this period, which is why I opted for these beef organs.

Conclusion

There is no best fit for all on quarantine thriving. I have heard others who had the experience tell me it was more difficult for them as the days passed. But for me it was definitely harder at the beginning, and easier as I found my rhythm and the end came closer. If I could leave a few final bullet points, they would be:

  • Have a plan, but be adaptable.
  • Have a clear daily structure.
  • Break your day down into 2 hour segments.
  • Alternate between mental and physical activities. Or change your mental activities to keep your mind stimulated.
  • Have fun toys to play with, ie. football, juggling etc.
  • Dance and move like nobody’s watching, because for once in your life, nobody is.
  • Keep a positive mind. This is not prison, or even Penny’s Bay.
  • Don’t just survive, thrive and grow.
  • Educate yourself in something new by listening to podcasts.
  • Work on something you’ve been planning to do but never have time in your every day hectic life outside.

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