After ten months, Malaysia finally lifted its interstate travel ban yesterday (11 October). The decision was made in light of the country achieving a 90 pc vaccination rate for its adult population.
Many are understandably excited at being able to see their families; while others are keen to travel again, even domestically. The recent Langkawi travel bubble — a pilot project for fully vaccinated travellers to visit the island for tourism — was seen as a success, generating some RM24.9 million for the local economy.
Personally, I’m still a bit cautious about travelling for leisure, because as much as I want to be out and about, I live with my parents and they’re in the vulnerable category. But I understand that achieving COVID-zero is now almost impossible — so the next best thing is to learn to live with the virus. For those who want to travel, I think the best that you can do is to use common sense (which seems to be severely lacking these days!). Wear a mask, sanitise and avoid crowded areas (if you see that a place is crowded, don’t lah go and berpusu-pusu there with no social distancing wtf).
Anyway, now that the PSA is over and done with: for those who are headed south, LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort is slated to reopen on October 14. Legoland Malaysia is the only one of its kind in Asia — so families and fans will be able to enjoy a complete experience encompassing the LEGOLAND Theme Park, Water Park, hotel and SEA LIFE Malaysia once the resort resumes its operations. And even though they haven’t been able to operate for months at a time due to the pandemic, the resort has not been idle: there’s going to be a brand new attraction, called Planet LEGOLAND®. This immersive build experience encourages children and parents alike to unleash their imagination by building, unbuilding and rebuilding the world of their dreams with LEGO® bricks.
As guests arrive at PLANET LEGOLAND®, they will be greeted by a six-foot-wide LEGO globe built out of more than 200,000 bricks. The idea behind it is to envision a future filled with positivity and joy, something that the world needs to ‘rebuild’ following the aftermath of the pandemic. From there, guests are welcome to select one of four different themed stations to create their masterpieces: whether they prefer dragons, princesses, knights, vehicles, animals and creatures, or ninjas. Younger guests with smaller hands are not left out, as there is also a DUPLO® station. Once you’ve got your masterpiece built, snap a selfie with the model and share it using the #RebuildtheWorld, then place your individual models onto the globe!
Returning to Play With Safety in Mind
Like any responsible entity, the resort has health and safety measures in place. At PLANET LEGOLAND, there is a 2-metre distance rule, and the usual safety guidelines apply, such as face masks, the use of hand sanitiser and reduced capacity are enforced. All bricks in the space are also ‘quarantined’ for 72 hours after sanitisation, while build stations are cleaned several times daily. *Of course, PERSONAL responsibility is very important too, so do your part to be a responsible guest!
Welcoming guests back to the resort are a series of sweet deals. Purchase 4 Triple Park passes and you can get a 2D1N stay at LEGOLAND Hotel for free. The passes will also be eligible for upgrade to an annual pass. Meanwhile, those who already have annual passes can renew them at a 25% discount, so if you’re a family of five, you stand to save up to RM350.
Malaysia has come a long way from last year – and I don’t mean that in a good way. From being lauded as a ‘model’ for other Southeast Asian countries for its quick response to curbing the coronavirus pandemic, we now have the highest cases of coronavirus per million people, at 205.1 cases (at the time of this writing) – higher than that of India.
How did it go so wrong?
Well, if you ask me, it’s a combination of many factors: poor governance, weak leadership, a lackadaisical attitude and a lack of discipline among the public, poor enforcement, double standards… the list goes on. Malaysians are also notorious for being super invested and enthusiastic at starting things, but are terrible at sustaining them. Sure, in the beginning, it seemed like we had our shit together. Everyone cooperated, and there was a sense of solidarity that we’d all get through this together. But as time went on, people either got tired of keeping up appearances, or simply did not care anymore. There are some who have no choice but to be out and about, due to economic reasons. But there are also plenty who are contributing to this current wave because of a “it won’t happen to me” attitude. And frankly, as someone with two elderly parents in the vulnerable category, I find this behaviour disgusting, and I cannot fathom how anyone can be this reckless and selfish.
There was a viral post by a local doctor recently on how she had to perform an emergency surgery for a pregnant woman who was diagnosed with COVID, and yet STILL went to visit relatives over the holiday season, KNOWING FULL WELL she was putting everyone’s lives at risk, including that of herself and her unborn baby. It’s time like these that I wonder if there could be a waver of some kind; like if we know you’re going to contract COVID because you’re being a stupid idiot, doctors can refuse to treat your stubborn, selfish ass.
But we can all talk about my lack of faith in the human race until the cows come home; it doesn’t change the fact that we are in a serious situation. I’m not trying to be a doomsayer, but our front liners are exhausted and on the verge of a breakdown, many people have lost their jobs, our hospitals are bursting, and our vaccine rollout is super slow.
Which is why I signed up for the voluntary AstraZeneca vaccine programme recently. And I was very VERY lucky to be among those who managed to grab a slot, because thousands of others did not make the cut and will have to wait for whenever the next one, whichever brand it is, becomes available. Of course, AZ was not my first choice, but with how things are going, I think it’s the ONLY choice for many people to protect themselves and their loved ones.
To give you a bit of a background, Malaysia is supposed to get a bunch of vaccines from different countries. The three main ones are AstraZeneca (12.8 million doses), Pfizer (32 million) and Sinovac (12 million), and we’ve also placed orders for Sputnik V from Russia, and CanSino Biologics, from China. That sounds plenty for our population of 32 million. The problem, however, is that only a sliver of these orders have arrived in Malaysia, and our government is extremely slow at administering the vaccine to the population (you can read a more detailed report about the reasons why in this article). So it is that while neighbouring Singapore has already vaccinated 25% of their people, and even Indonesia with its large population has done 4%, Malaysia is lagging behind at an abysmal 3%.
In the early days, the government announced that vaccination would be done in stages: frontliners first, followed by seniors and those with comorbidities (since they are most at risk), followed by everyone else. Being a relatively healthy 30-year-old, I fell into the LAST category, which meant that if everything went according to plan, I’d be inoculated sometime at the end of the year, or early 2022. Seniors, like my parents, were supposed to start their vaccination in April.
Malaysia being Malaysia, April came and went, and my parents (and many other seniors) were still waiting for an appointment. The government seemed to be dragging their feet, and the lack of info further added to public frustration. Now I’m not blaming our medical system. I know our front liners are working crazy hard. But I think they are limited by many things (like manpower and availability of vaccines and facilities), and the poor way the programme is coordinated isn’t helping at all.
The vaccines that arrived earliest were small batches of Pfizer, which were given to our frontliners. Then came the AstraZenecashots, and many were reluctant to sign up because of the blood clots scare. This was a couple of months ago when cases weren’t that high, so a lot of people adopted a “wait and see first” attitude. The take-up was so bad that the government opened it up for volunteers, even if they weren’t from the Phase 2 (seniors/comorbidities) category. I initially wanted to register for this, but my mom cautioned me strongly (I’m being polite here) because she was worried, despite me explaining that it was all rumour-mongering and that the percentage of blood clots happening is really low. Like 8 per 1 million. To set her mind at ease, I decided not to volunteer. Cases weren’t that high at the time, and I thought as long as the seniors were vaccinated first, then I could always wait, since I didn’t get out much anyway.
But then May came and there was the Raya holiday. Despite being warned that there would be fines and possible jail time for travelling interstate or visiting friends and family, thousands still slipped through the cracks and risked their lives and health to go see their loved ones. I know it’s difficult to be away from family. Heck, I haven’t seen my husband since we had our wedding ceremony in February 2020. But that isn’t license to do whatever the hell you want. Sacrifices are necessary – we are essentially at war with an invisible enemy. The worst thing would be to infect a loved one and watch them die because YOU can’t fucking stay at home. Well, maybe you wouldn’t feel the guilt, because if you did – if you had even a shred of responsibility in your being – you wouldn’t have done it in the first place.
So here we are, at 8,290 cases as of May 28.
Now, seeing that shit has hit the fan, people started to go into panic mode. My mom, who was initially so against getting AstraZeneca, finally asked if I could register for her on the MySejahtera app, when the second phase of the voluntary programme opened for seniors aged 60 and above.
“What made you change your mind?” I asked.
“Well, I called your cousin and he was talking about how your aunt and uncle are getting it. And it seems like the chances of blood clots are low.”
“That’s literally what I’ve been telling you since Day 1, and you didn’t believe me.”
“Yeah, well… the cases weren’t that high before. And our rollout is so slow. Even seniors haven’t been vaccinated yet. Who knows how long we’ll have to wait?”
I would have very much liked to say “I told you so,” but I didn’t want another fight so I just did what she asked. And as long as my parents are getting vaccinated, I guess it doesn’t matter if it took an outsider to convince her lol. “You and Cyrus (my brother) should take it too,” she said. “You’re both in the last category, and we’re not even sure if you’ll get it next year, at the rate this is going,”
From naysayer to advocate! I thought.
Unfortunately, the time for being able to leisurely sign up was over. EVERYONE was thinking the same thing. On Wednesday, when the government opened registration for below 60s, it was pandemonium. If you’ve ever tried buying concert tickets for a popular band online, it was exactly like that.
I knew it was going to happen, and that the website would probably crash due to traffic, so my brother and I had our laptops and our phone at the ready at 12pm. The registration got delayed until 12.15pm. Once the button appeared, we were both clicking furiously on both sides: I had one hand on my mouse and the other hovering over the refresh button on my Samsung. True enough, the website kept crashing. At one point, I managed to get to the registration page – but it wouldn’t allow me to select the state I was in. At another, I got past that stage, but it wouldn’t allow me to set the date, even though the slot showed it was still available. Then, of course, the dreaded “I am not a robot”, and having to pick out the frames with bicycles or highways, only to have it crash and repeat everything all over again.
By sheer luck or force of will, I finally managed to submit my details after 40 minutes, and my brother got his shortly after. Registrations were closed after just over an hour, in which over 1 million slots were snapped up.
I was one of the lucky ones. Many of my friends expressed frustration, not only because they didn’t get it, but also because the entire experience with the website was such a shitty one. There were memes about how many laptop mice and phone screens must have been damaged that day.
Surprisingly, there were people who appeared not to have gotten through, but received a notification the next day that their application went through. My notification came almost 48 hours later. The earliest available date when I clicked was on 4 July. So July it is. My parents are getting theirs in late June, and my brother in late July.
Honestly, I just feel like it’s a load off my back. I’m not really worried about myself, because I feel I’m fairly healthy and strong – but I’m worried about catching it and spreading it to my parents, who both have comorbidities. Beyond the physical aspect, I also think getting the vaccine is a good thing for my mom’s mental health – at least she would feel a little safer knowing that we have some form of protection. My mom has always been an excessive worrier, and this pandemic has just exacerbated the condition, to the point that it makes things difficult for everyone else living under the same roof. Not that it’s her fault, of course – that’s just how some moms are, and I know that despite her demeanour, she wants what’s best for us.
Life feels like it has been on hold for the past 1.5 years. Can’t wait for things to resume some semblance of normalcy again – or at least normal enough that it’ll be safe for us to go out again (and for the hubs to travel here!).
It will be a long and hard road, but I’m hopeful the day will come. Until then, all we can do is keep ourselves, and our loved ones, as safe as we can.
PS: Update – The government has just announced a full lockdown from June 1 to June 14, whereby only essential services will be allowed to operate. This will be similar to the first lockdown we had back in March 2020. Dunno, just feel it’s a bit too little too late seeing as how people have been calling for one for the longest time.. rather than allowing leniency and just letting things drag on until it got to this point – but hey. I’m not a policy maker, nor am I an economist, so what do I know?
We’ve officially entered the second half of the year. I don’t know about you, but I think the first half of the year was shite. Bushfires in Australia, COVID, social unrest in the States… I wouldn’t be surprised if an alien invasion is next on the agenda lol.
Malaysia has not gone unscathed. The economy has taken a hit, businesses have closed and people have lost their jobs. The one good thing is that we seem to have controlled the spread of the virus for now. By and large, the government’s measures have proven effective, and although we had over 8,000 confirmed cases, mortality was relatively low (121 deaths).
In the middle of June, the government announced that the country is entering a ‘Recovery’ phase. Since then, almost all sectors have returned to full capacity (but this means the traffic jams are back too, boooo). Non-essential services such as spas and cinemas have also reopened on July 1, and theme parks will resume operations on July 4.
Some of these businesses are also implementing safety measures to minimise the risk of transmission, which I laud. For example, Sunway Lagoon, one of Malaysia’s premiere theme parks, will only be allowing a 50 percent guest capacity for better crowd control. There will also be adequate distancing on rides and regular sanitisation of surfaces.
Cinemas are finally open to cater to another favourite Malaysian past time – watching movies.
While it’s great to hear that businesses are back on track (since this means the economy can recover!), I think it’s important to remember that COVID isn’t going away anytime soon, and we must stay vigilant. We certainly don’t want a theme park or cinema cluster. I know people (myself included) tend to have a tendency to return to old habits, but we must all adapt to a new way of life – one that includes things like being aware of social distancing and maintaining high standards of hygiene. At the end of the day, if you are still worried about going out for non-essential services such as shopping / entertainment, there’s always the option of staying home. 🙂
I parked at my usual spot, went to work, and then came back in the evening to this. Somebody had smashed my passenger side window and went through my glove compartment. There was nothing in it so the idiot only succeeded in making a huge mess, and I’ll have to fork out a few hundred for repairs. -_-
Thing is, I was parked near a housing scheme with a whole bunch of other bigger, nicer cars (I drive a really small one) so I don’t understand why they targeted mine. I racked my brains to see if I had pissed off anyone but nah, don’t think so.
This isn’t the first time my car has had it’s window broken (the last time was the back window). It’s pretty bad luck for a three-year-old car to have this happen to it twice (in different neighbourhoods).
I did a police report at the nearby station. The policemen were nice but said they couldn’t do anything so they’ll just keep my statement for the records in case something like this happens again. Meanwhile, I’ll have to park my car somewhere nearer to the shops so there are more pedestrians around.
I kinda feel sorry for the guy who did this because he has a pair of strong arms that can break glass (? lol) but has chosen to use them for petty crime instead of working for an honest living. It’s also an indicator of how bad the economy is that more and more such cases are happening.. so stay safe, guys!