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My Unexpected COVID-19 Isolation in the Hospital Ward in Taiwan

Updated: Mar 19, 2022

February 17th, 2022 by Cindy Jeng

It’s February, and I have been back in the US for over a month. I have meant to share my unexpected isolation at the hospital in Taiwan, but I have been procrastinating. I want to emphasize that this was just my personal experience back in December 2021, so here it goes.

My mom passed away on Thanksgiving 2021, and I had to plan my trip back to Taiwan within a few frantic days. My family sent me all the Covid protocols and strict requirements from the Taiwanese CDC for a trip back home. I booked the flights, took a quick day trip to New York City (10 hours drive back and forth) to apply for my Entrance Certificate, got my Covid PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test 3 days prior to the flight and. With my family’s help, I was lucky to get a quarantine hotel room to stay for 15 nights as required by the government. There are only certain hotels that are assigned for quarantine. The latest Covid-19 surge had made travelling extremely complicated and most of the quarantine hotels were already booked. Here is the updated Quarantine System for Entry (Aircraft version), which has been modified from the policy that I followed back in December 2021.

My flight left Baltimore Maryland at 6:15 in the morning (12/1) so I had to wake up in the middle of the night to get ready. There were a lot of preparations and processes to go through before the trip, during the trip, and after landing at the airports in San Francisco and in Taiwan. It took much longer, required more patience, more Mindful Inhaling and Exhaling (Pranayama)… and I will spare you the lengthy details that involved the 24 hours of travelling.

Beautiful birds-eye view of Baltimore,

the rising sun, and the crescent moon

Masks are mandatory for air travel

So, I was finally done with every single step required to enter the country and start my quarantine (got my Health declaration Certificate, bought the SIM card and service plan for declaration, electronic tracking system & scanning QR codes, and received the Covid Antigen Kit that I was supposed to take on a certain date after landing), and pushed my luggage out of the Taoyuan International Airport. One last step was to take the Covid Saliva Test before I could wait in line for the Covid Quarantine Taxi to get to the quarantine hotel. No family were allowed to pick me up. I finally arrived at the hotel when it was almost 10:00pm (12/2) local time and 9:00am (12/2) on the East Coast USA.

My Health Declaration Certificate

I received my quarantine sticker and was ready to move to the quarantine taxi line The hotel looked good. I brought crochet supplies, yarns, and a few books in the hope to keep myself occupied for the duration of the quarantine. I also planned to practice yoga philosophy- Santosha during these days, as well as other philosophies and practices. Because the purpose of my trip was to attend my mom’s funeral, I could legally go out for 4 hours each day to meet with my family and take part in funeral preparations. However, before all that could happen, I had to take another PCR test to prove that I was negative. The day I took the test was considered the first day, and each CPR test was only good for two days. If I wanted to go out again, I needed to take another PCR test, which I had to pay out-of-pocket for USD $166. This expense is on top of having to spend money to quarantine myself in the hotel for 15 days and taking quarantine taxis to where I needed to go.

I didn't know what was coming the next day

I was supposed to stay here for 15 nights

Anyhow, I scheduled the Quarantine Taxi to pick me up the next day at 8:00am. While waiting, I was chatting with my youngest son and he showed me his BB gun and other stuff via LINE (Thank you so much, LINE app!) The local Public Health Center offered 24-hour service and the lady who arranged the taxi and answered my questions were very helpful, nice, and patient. I got in the taxi, the driver was wearing all the proper outfits, he sanitized my luggage, shoes, and hands before allowing me to get inside. There was a plastic see-through sheet acting as a barrier between the front and the back of the car. Taiwan has done a good job tackling Covid-19 during the pandemic. I stood in line for a long time and finally was able to hand in the filled-out form, and paid cash to get my PCR test. When it was my turn, I asked questions for clarifications, and a lady in the back of the line started getting impatient and she was either referring at me or the staff handing the registration, with her loud voice yelled our “Miss, can you go fast? We have been waiting for a long time!”

The well-protected taxi driver drove me

to the Covid-19 testing site

The same taxi driver was waiting for me the entire time in the car, and he drove me back to the hotel. It was unreal that I was in Taiwan, it was unreal that I was looking at the familiar shopping center, but I wasn’t allowed to visit it for two more weeks. If I went back to my Mom’s house, it would be the only spot I could stay for 4 hours. They had me in the system and started tracing my whereabouts the minute I got in the hotel, along with everyone else who had traveled internationally to the island. I had a lady assigned to contact me a few times a day to make sure I was in the hotel. I was supposed to keep my cell phone on at all times and was required to answer all texts from her. The lady was just doing her job and she was basically just sending greetings to me and asked me how I was doing. I also needed to report my temperature regularly.

So, after the test, I was back at the hotel. The staff were very friendly. They put the meals on the stool outside of the room at certain times of the day. I had my lunch, and then dinner, and was waiting for the phone call to tell me that I could go out that evening to meet with my family, who were all at Mom’s house, waiting for me to join the first day of Buddhist rituals for my mom that will then be repeated every 7 days for 7 weeks.

When the phone finally rang, I eagerly picked it up and was so ready to hear the confirmation that I was good to take a 4-hour leave that evening.

It didn’t happen that way. Mr. Tsai from the Public Health Center of Taoyuan District called me and started talking.

“Ms. Jeng, did you take the PCR test this morning?”

“Yes, I did.”

“So, the result came back POSITIVE. Please pack all of your stuff and we are sending the ambulance over at 6:30 to take you to the hospital for treatment.”

“WAIT! WHAT?! What!? How was it possible? What treatment are you talking about? I need to attend my mom's funeral..." " I am sorry that you probably won't be able to attend the funeral."

While I was waiting for the ambulance, I got a phone call from Mr. Tsai again to begin the process of contact tracing.

I tested negative 3 days before the flight and the night before. I had all my vaccinations and a booster shot as well. I wore KF94 masks during the flights and in the airports, and I didn’t feel sick. I did have a very mild cough and itchy throat that started a month ago, but I was feeling basically normal. Couldn’t a girl just simply have a mild common cold during the pandemic? Plus, I had both a rapid test at landing and a PCR test 3 days before my flight, both were negative, and my saliva covid test at the airport was also negative. I later learned that within 2-3 months of a Covid infection, one was likely to experience inconsistent results of Negative and Positive. It was like a Covid Test Lottery that you didn’t want to win.

This was all too dramatic. I felt like it was the plot of a movie.

I called my sister and asked her not to panic, and then I told her that my result came back positive, and they were sending me to the hospital. She later told me that the air at my mom’s house was totally frozen when my family learned this shockingly bad news. Covid confirmed cases were still rare in Taiwan, let alone it happening to their family member.

I was case #16759, one of the 11 confirmed covid imported cases on 12/4. I think I most likely was the first confirmed case in Taiwan who was fully vaccinated and boosted yet had a breakthrough. The newspapers reported the daily cases, and the headline was about a lady who was me. I made a headline, kind of.

Daily summary of the Covid confirmed cases on the right. See my number?

I felt bad for those people who were seated around me in the airplane. They most likely would have been notified to do tests, and quarantine themselves. I remembered the lady sitting in front of me (same seat number, she was one row before me) was wearing an all-white suit from head-to-feet, wore gloves, and face shield plus a facemask. I felt sorry especially for the two teenagers sitting next to me.

Here came the ambulance

It was very tricky to carry my one big piece of luggage and one small one into the ambulance when there was equipment and a stretcher inside. It took me a while to get them in and arranged. It was unbelievable and interesting that I was in the ambulance. Everyone I saw that night was in their best protective gear.

I hauled my luggage and

walked myself into the ambulance

The medical staff were ready for me

I was asked to stay in the isolated room on the first floor for blood work and some tests. The guy who performed the X-ray (with a portable machine) was the only one that was unfriendly during the entire stay in the hospital and the whole trip in Taiwan. He pretty much was yelling and ordering me to do this and that. And then there was waiting.

After one and a half hours, I followed the nurse to take the elevator to the 19th floor, Room 1933, to begin my 10-day isolation.

Waiting for bloodwork and tests done

in an isolated room

This was my ward for isolation

The building was super old, and it was full of dryness and wrinkles. The room was depressing, not only was it out of date, but it also wasn’t clean. Everything inside of the room, from the floor, ceiling, wall, beddings, bed, mattress, bathroom floor, sink… they all needed to be replaced and/or undergo a big makeover. I had a good view looking outside, however, the window was extremely dirty so it was just a big blurry vision, something that I typically experience when not wearing my glasses. I am not exaggerating. I am not sure what they normally use this building for (before the pandemic), I couldn’t picture any patients staying there, because it was in a very sad condition. It looked nothing like the Negative Pressure Isolation Ward some folks were sent in.

The nurse helped me get inside the ward. She asked me if I had scissors or knives with me, and she did a quick look. She told me that there was a surveillance camera (they were watching me 24 hours) and kindly warned me not to get undressed within the range of the camera. She gave me a general guideline, such as when and how the meals would be delivered, where to put my water bottle for a refill, how to handle the trash, and I was required to report my blood pressure, body temperature, and oxygen level by sending them pictures using LINE messages every morning.

Mentally preparing for my first night at the ward

They offered me a small tube of toothpaste, two hotel-sized shampoo and soap bottles, a cup with a lid, a pair of flip-flops, one washcloth, and one hand towel, both were very thin. They asked me to add my room number as a contact to all LINE communications so they send messages directly to me. LINE is the most popular chatting and sharing app in Taiwan, everyone there uses it. I was surprised that I wasn’t afraid of the ghosts, you know, in this strange and isolated room. I washed my hair, took a shower, brushed my teeth, and tried to dry my long hair(but there was no hairdryer.) I finally was in bed after midnight. I woke up around 2:00am every day. There were moments of darkness running through my head on the first day, I thought about how people died alone, without family by their side when the pandemic swept violently and mercilessly across the United States in 2020. I was having a mental block referred to as Abhinivesha, which is one of the 5 Kleshas (Mental Blocks, afflictions) that caused human suffering in the teaching of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

They left the syringe in for a couple of days

until I asked for it to be removed

Day 1 (Friday, 12/3)

The doctor and the nurse came in with full protected gear- PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). The doctor told me my blood work and test results the night before looked normal, except it looked like I had a “clip” from surgery inside of my right chest. He said it might also be what I was wearing that night and we could look at it later (which has never happened). This was very odd.

The doctor gave me another PCR test. One thing different was they looked at the specific number called the “CT Value”. CT was short for Cycle Threshold.

I have never heard of it, and the media has never mentioned it in the USA. I googled and learned about CT Value, how it works, why it matters, and what was going on inside of me with the virus (Svadhyaya). You can find more about it here What is CT Value. Basically, when the number was low, it indicated that it was a newer case and was still contagious. If the number is above 30, it’s considered non-transferable. My number was 35.5 the day before and it was 38.8 for this second test. It didn’t make sense that I had to be isolated for 10 days. But I was considered a confirmed Covid case, so they had to follow the strict rules that have been made.

There were a lot more detailed Contact Tracing questions from Mr. Tsai, who was a wonderful person. He was tracing all the way back to 14 days prior to my arrival- where I was, what I did, how many people were there, when I taught my yoga classes, the names/addresses/phone numbers of the places that I have been to, etc. I understood that these were part of their standard and lengthy procedures, I was sorry yet grateful for Mr. Tsai’s kindness.

Lots of texts, messages, and e-mails exchanges between me and my family both in Taiwan and in the USA. It brought some comfort and joy to video chat with my husband and youngest son.

What a blurry Vision...

Oh wait, I had my glasses on!

The view still helped me feel less isolated & more connected

Day 2 (Saturday,12/4)

The nurses in different shifts communicated with me via LINE app. I enjoyed the meals in the hospital. It was the best thing during the isolation (Saucha). I requested more veggies to replace the rice. They had the lovely nutritionist communicate with me over the phone for my diet request. She added a protein drink for me because I was too thin. I felt respected as they didn’t treat me like a Covid Monster. The number of confirmed Covid cases each day was from the single digits to the double digits in Taiwan, and most of the cases were imported from traveling people like me. They are still hyper-vigilant for any confirmed cases. It’s the exact opposite of the USA.

I enjoyed the food a lot

The joyful moment in the ward

was getting my meal

Because my sweet sisters wanted to make sure that I had enough Taiwanese dollars, one of them met me with the permission of the quarantine hotel staff prior to the test result that landed me in this isolation hospital. My sister called the hotel before she came to gain permission. She came to the hotel the night I checked in, so I was waiting for her before I went up to my room. She put the envelope with cash on the other side of the front desk, and we were more than 6 feet away. She took a picture of me. The customer representative responded that it was ok for my sister to hand in the envelope to me, so we got closer, both were wearing the masks In fact, I was wearing a KF94 at the time. I took a quick exciting selfie of us. Then, she left. Little did I know, I already put her in trouble.

A quick selfie with my sweet and

beautiful sister at the hotel

My Covid positive result was never just about me, it involved a lot of people. My sister was considered a Close Contact with me, even though it was only for about 15 seconds. My brother was showing extreme concerns about contact tracing, and he wanted to make sure that we didn’t break the rules/laws, and the funeral could be held as planned because my sister was with everyone else after she visited me. The family, the chanting volunteers, the nuns, and a monk. My sister started to quarantine herself at home following the One Room, One Bathroom rule. I called Mr. Tsai and let him know about my short close contact with my sister. He then contacted my sister, and she was asked to quarantine herself for 14 days in her house, where she was able to stay in one room with her personal bathroom. No one else needed to quarantine themselves and they could go about their normal life, which was a huge relief for us.

Nevertheless, sadly, it looked like neither of us could attend Mom’s funeral which was planned for 12/9. I felt terrible for dragging my sister into the hot water.

Day 3 (Sunday,12/5)

I was pretty much accepting the unfortunate reality and surrendered (Ishvara Pranidhana) to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to attend my mom’s funeral, despite all the efforts and troubles I went through and finally landing in Taiwan. I have been busy working on the slideshow for my mom’s “Celebration of Life” that would be played at the funeral. My brother suggested me to record myself with words and added it into the slideshow. I wasn’t going to do that as I felt that it would have just reminded the relatives and my mom’s friends of my absence and made them wonder. Covid was like the Plague at the time.

I have been experiencing tiny sensations in the throat (barely cough but did a couple of times) and the very weird sensations and smell inside of my nostrils. It felt like waves of the specific smell when they poked the swabs deeply inside of my nose to get the samples. My sleep was horrible. I felt sleepy in the afternoon and took a nap.

It was wonderful to chat with my oldest son via LINE. He helped me with Google Cloud questions. I also watched some videos on YouTube to learn some PowerPoint functions that I needed for the slideshow. Meanwhile, I decided to at least give it a shot (Asteya), not just give up on hope, and accept the unreasonable outcome, and regretted and felt sorry that I didn’t show up for my mom’s final farewell. I sent messages to the nurse and Mr. Tsai and asked for their help. I wrote them my feelings of deep sadness of not being able to attend my mom’s funeral and paying my last respects to her. She was an amazing mom who had raised 4 kids with all she had, did all she could, in her own power. They also had parents so they could understand my wrenching heart. I also expressed my thoughts on how the isolation for me wasn’t fair, given that my CT values were so high, and I posed no threat to the public. I asked them to reach out to the doctor and see if he could give me another Covid test earlier, in hope that I got the CR value up to 40 and I could be released in time for the funeral. I needed to give it a shot because without trying, there would be no going. I knew they couldn’t really help me in their own powers, but I needed them to help me deliver my voice (Satya).

My family delivered some essential items

for me. Ahhh... I have been missing

the smell of my morning coffee

The doctor wasn’t working that day, the nurse told me that they had consulted with Taiwan Centers for Disease Control and the answer was that I would have to be isolated for 10 days no matter what.

Day 4 (Monday, 12/6)

The doctor called me this morning and asked me some questions. He asked me how long I have been coughing. I replied that it has been 3-4 weeks, it could have been longer. He said that what I just said was helpful in my case. It showed that I had been infected with Covid for more than 3 weeks. It meant that the possibility of my spreading of the disease was next to impossible. He was kind enough to give me another Covid test this day, as normally they only administer it again on the 9th day of isolation. He said he would come up later after putting on his PPE to give me the test. I was very grateful for the nurses and especially this wonderful Doctor Ye.

He was very nice and respectful. He asked me if I had a Covid test when I experienced the cough and itchy throat. I replied no, I didn’t. I mentioned that no one would have thought it was a big deal to see a doctor two years ago, as my symptoms were very mild, on and off for the past 3-4 weeks. He did the swab for both nostrils and told me he would write something about my recent history on the report. He said it was not guaranteed that I could be released from the quarantine earlier as he has never done this before. He also told me that I needed to be mentally prepared that people might have some reactions to me because I had Covid. He was professional and empathetic. The result would be back the next day, the day before my mom’s last farewell. I prayed that it went well this time since things went so crazy the past few days.

I spent the whole day working on the slideshow (Tapas), which was a great way to keep me busy and shifted my attention. I cried while working on it, as all the memories of Mom flashed back, yet she was gone. I had my brother showing me video of Mom’s face in the freezer-coffin and her altar at home. His connection wasn’t good but I had a quick glance at Mom’s face. My brother said he could hear everything that I said. I tried to stay up late and was ready for bed after midnight, yet I still woke up around 2:00am again. When I experienced the sleepless nights, I practiced Meditations, Mindful Breathing with Longer Exhalation, or listened to Yoga Nidra. I often gave myself Reiki to help me relax and heal in some way.

I snapped a quick screenshot of Mom's alter before the connection was lost

I hadn’t been on social media and had no desire of doing so, which truly gave me a sense of freedom and contentment. I was able to redirect my energy (Brahmacharya) and focus on finishing the slide show the past three days.

My morning report for the nurse

Day 5 (Tuesday, 12/7)

I have received the BEST news in the afternoon since my arrival. My PCR result came back NEGATIVE, and I was approved to be released from the Isolation/Quarantine hospital early. The nurse said that it has never happened before. I was so grateful for Dr. Ye. I was also very thankful for Mr. Tsai, and the nurses. It was rough in the beginning, but the ending was sweet. I told the nurse that I would like to stay one more night, so I had time to prepare to book a hotel to stay for the following 7 Days Self-Health Management. I also requested copies of my Covid diagnosis both in Mandarin and English and the CD of my chest X-ray.

I contacted Mr. Tsai and he confirmed with me that I was indeed out of Quarantine, and my sister was out of “One Room One Bath” Home Quarantine, too. We only need to practice 7 Days Self-Health Management, which meant we had to avoid taking public transportation, dining at restaurants, or attending big gatherings. Other than that, we were ok to buy coffee at the store, and do other regular stuff. Everyone wears face masks indoors and outdoors in Taiwan. No one complained as it was for the wellbeing of the public, and of the vulnerable. It’s like the practice of Ahimsa (non-violence/ non-harming) in Yoga Philosophy and Karuna (Compassion) in Buddhism teaching.

My sister helped me book a room in the motel very closed to her residency. It would take 3 minutes to walk to her home from the motel. The motel was kind of icky, but it was all good. We both needed to follow 7 Days Self-Health Management, so Mr. Tsai suggested that we not stay in the same residency. At least I didn’t have to live in a quarantine hotel, and I was free to walk, shop, visit my sister’s, and go back to my mom’s place to see her alter, and to light incense to pay tribute to her, and to see her.

Bye Bye Leaking Sink

Bye Bye Mirror Mirror on the wall

& the surveillance camera

Day 6 (Wednesday, 12/8)

I was delighted and excited that I would be out of the ward today! I videotaped myself doing a short and spontaneous morning yoga flow “Yoga in the Hospital Bed” to honor and remember my time in this isolated room. I also took a few pictures. I had breakfast. The hospital was working on getting my release papers ready. They were waiting for official papers from CDC.

Yoga in the hospital bed

Honoring my time and lessons in the ward

I was given three big trash bags to cover my two pieces of luggage and a backpack. The nurse gave me instructions over the phone and said she would come in add another layer later. I would have to follow directly behind her. My sister was ready to pick me up. I signed the necessary papers, took pictures of them, and sent them to the nurse using LINE app. My sister followed their directions and paid the bill which was only USD $50. Thanks to the government for paying my medical bill. I didn’t have Health Insurance in Taiwan. I was so ready to leave

It was around 11:30am when the nurse was finally ready to take me out of the room and leave the hospital. I followed her and walked directly behind her. A guy mopped the floor right after each step I took. There were hospital staff at the turns ready to clean up after me. We took the elevator, and I was so ready to get out of there.

Time to get out and breathe the fresh air

Deep gratitude to all of the medical staff

I was finally outside with my trash bag covered suitcases and backpack waiting for my sister. I felt so free and a bit anxious. There were people across the narrow street, I am not sure what they were doing and why they were there. There were also guards around. My sister wasn’t familiar with the area and somehow, she was approaching the street from the oppositive direction in the one-way street. The guard started to yell (not in a mean way) and was directing and stopping the oncoming traffic to let my sister park her car and waited for us as we frantically jammed everything into the small car. Everyone there knew what was going on with me, a Covid case. I was glad I was wearing a mask as I could sort of hide my identity.

Mama, I am coming home

We drove away and made a left turn, and then, right there, we stopped and jumped out of the car and ripped off the plastic covers. We sprayed every part of the suitcases and backpack with sanitizer. Funny that I was admitted into the hospital because of Covid infection, a notifiable disease that people shivered. Yet personally, I was thinking that I might be getting sick from staying in that old, dirty ward. I checked into the weird motel and got settled in for the following 7-day stay. We went back to my mom’s house where my brother’s family were residing as well. Finally, I got to burn the incense and bow to my mom. I Am Home, Mom.

The Funeral

We went back to my Mom’s house the next day. It’s the day of the funeral and it begins at her house. The monk led a religious ceremony and we participated in the process with our hands in prayer position. The monk chanted, cleansed the space, guided my mom’s soul and body to the hearse. People from the Funeral Services helped bring my mom’s body into the hearse, then it was time to head to the City Funeral Services location. The decorations were simple and elegant. There were flowers formed into the Lotus shape and my Mom’s favorite picture of herself wearing her Tzi Chi uniform greeted everyone.

One last picture with my mom

We held a closed family ceremony first. We bowed down to my Mom, to the earth, repeatedly, up and down, up and down, following the monk’s lead. We gathered around my Mom’s coffin to be with her and to see her one last time while the monk performed more religious rituals. Mom was dressed in her favorite Tzi Chi uniform and hair bun. She had told us many years ago that she wanted to wear her blue Tzi Chi dress. She has devoted herself to this wonderful Buddhist organization after she retired.

Deep Bows to you, Mom

We were told not to turn our heads back once we were back to our seats and there was a big curtain that divided the seats from the coffin. Soon all the other family members, distant family, Mom’s friends, students, neighbors, and a few uninvited politicians who routinely schedule visits to the city funeral halls. We played the 10-minute slide show that briefly told my mom’s life. A lot of the funeral attendees were included in the slideshow as they were involved with my mom. It was touching. And then every funeral attendee paid their tribute to my Mom in front of her altar. They either offered incense powder or used the flowers that the funeral prepared.

The most peaceful moment to me was when my Mom’s brothers and sisters from Tzi Chi chanted together for her to send her away to meet the Bodhisattva without any instruments involved, just pure chanting in harmony.

Honestly, it was quite exhausting physically and mentally, with all the rituals, sounds, bowing, crying, and everything else that was going on. When it was time to proceed to the crematorium, we followed the staff of the funeral services. They were the professionals that we hired to be in charge of the entire funeral since my Mom passed away. More rituals were performed as we were getting ready to send Mom inside to burn down her virtual reality suit, along with a few of her belongings, to complete her transition out of the earthly life. Everything was happening yet it was still like a dream, a lucid dream. We were told to yell “Mom, the Fire is Burning, Run, Run Away!”

It took about two hours before we could pick up the bones. We were taking our lunch break eating vegetarian food. We were eating, chatting, and waiting. No one was sad. We cried a lot already. There were just moments of ease, peace, and joy. It was a sunny and lovely afternoon. Although my closest family got together for this sad occasion, we cherished and enjoyed our special time together.

When mom’s cremation was finished, we each picked up a bone and put them into the urn. And then we drove to the temple where my mom will be resting forever. There were nuns leading the ceremony with more chanting, and more bows...

Picked up one of mom's bones

and put it into her urn

It was a long day.

After the funeral

Every 7 days, there would be a religious ritual conducted at the temple. It was an hour's drive for a 2-hour long ceremony. There would be 7 rituals (49 days) for Mom after she went to meet Bodhisattva, followed by one held on her 100th day of departure, and then another one marking her 1st year of death anniversary. I was able to attend the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rituals.

This was where the monks and the nuns

held religious rituals for the deceased

I stayed at my sister Teresa’s house for two weeks after the unique experience at the motel, where I woke up every day around 5am and walked to the convenience store across the street to get my morning coffee and 2 tea eggs. She was busy driving her daughter here and there; meanwhile, she also took care of me. I have always been her little sister, regardless of where I was or how old I was. I got to eat authentic Taiwanese breakfast and lots of her homemade cooking. My brother-in-law welcomed me with open arms, he has always been like a brother to me.

Got my 5 am morning coffee and two tea eggs

My oldest sister has the heart of a living Buddha. We three sisters got together with our nieces quite often. They all tried their best to entertain me, show me around the new places and took me out for good eats, coffee, and shopping whenever they could. I am so blessed that they are my family. We siblings got together frequently at my mom’s house to take care of the legal documents and to go through processes. Nothing was the same when Mom was longer there. My dad passed away in 2010 so this house was soon to be my brother’s as denoted in my Mom’s will. In my culture, the oldest son is like a father figure for his younger siblings. He will play an important role for his nephews and nieces regarding decisions making, weddings, and such. I know my brother would be a good uncle that the kids could turn to for suggestions and guidance.

Scanning QR Code before entering the store

I didn’t feel like going to Taipei or anywhere else other than staying with my family in Taoyuan during this trip. However, two of my former classmates, one from middle school, and the other from the college, found out that I was in Taiwan, and they came to visit me on different days. Each time I had great times chatting, eating, and drinking coffee with them. I appreciated their company, yet I also was fearful that the Covid virus that was detected in me wouldn’t magically come back and get them. I knew there was no way, but Covid has been such a crazy bitch.

There was something unique about the pandemic – masking up. I bought quite a few of fancy surgical masks with cool designs. People find a way to have a little joy during the challenging times. It was like a Mask Wonderland in Taiwan. My sisters brought me more cute masks and snacks and lots of goodies. I couldn’t jam them all into my luggage without going overweight so I let go of a few items (practicing Aparigraha/non-possessiveness/ letting go)

The stash of masks I brought back from Taiwan

The day before my flight (12/24), I had to take a Covid test. Luckily there was one clinic right at the corner of my sister’s residency. We both were kind of worried and were just hoping nothing went wrong like it did at the beginning. If I failed the test, I would not be able to get on the airplane. I knew my Covid infection was gone, but I wouldn’t know if it would show up Positive in my blood. I was glad it was an Antigen Test this time. We were waiting in the waiting room for the result. Tick Tock Tick Tock. I had to get on the airplane tomorrow! No one deserved another 14-day quarantine.

When the nurse called me to sign the name on the Certificate of Diagnosis for travelling, I knew I passed. My sister and I looked at each other and we changed smiles of relief and comfort. Thank Buddha, Thank God, Thanks to the Higher Awareness. I could go home for Christmas with my husband and kids.

We felt so relieved and were ready for the family gathering. My cousin invited everyone to his house. My uncle is 92 and he is still very sharp with good memory. He is my aunt’s husband. My aunt passed away 3 years ago; she was my mom’s only sister. All of us brought some good eats and we had such a joyful time eating the scrumptious and the yummiest Taiwanese food and snacks. We took family pictures that include three generations.

Flying Back to the USA

I flew back to my motherland Taiwan for a funeral, and now it was time to fly back home for the holidays. It was Friday and was a working day. My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew came to the airport with me, they helped me carry my stuff and check-in. My other nephew met us there to see me off. We had a nice coffee at the new development at the airport where you could watch the airplanes takeoff. My heart was full of gratitude for all the love, care, generosity, and joy I have received from my lovely family in Taiwan.

Thank you my loving, caring, and supportive family. Thank you, Taiwan.

‘My flight from Taiwan to San Francisco was unbelievably empty. I pretty much had an entire row to myself. I wondered why they couldn’t just be generous and bump us all into Business seats since it was empty as well. Also, it was Christmas time, the time for giving! Was I being greedy? I had to transfer my flight at Chicago, and it seemed like over 2,000 continental flights got cancelled due to the outbreak of Omicron and the airlines were suffering shortages of staff. I was blessed this time; my flight was on schedule.

After hours and hours of travelling and laying over, I finally arrived at BWI very late at night. It was sweet that my boys were waiting for me at the luggage pickup area, they helped carrying all my belongings, and we walked outside. My husband had his car parked right there. It was a moment of certainty, happiness, and joy. We chatted all the way back home.

It was incredibly empty for the flight back to SFO

There was nothing like it to simply be home. Home is Where the Heart Is.


The Eight Limbs of Yoga from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

1: Yamas Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha

2: Niyamas Saucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya, Ishvara Pranidhana

3: Asana

4: Pranayama

5: Pratyahara

6: Dharana

7: Dhyana

8: Samadhi

There are some other highlights that are also yoga teaching. Such as the Five Kleshas

Five Kleshas (Afflictions, Mental Blocks)

1: Avidya – Ignorance/ I-ness

2: Asmita – Egoism

3: Raga – Attachments

4: Dvesha – Aversion

5: Abhinivesha – Fear of Death, Clinging to Life

If you are interested in finding out more about yoga therapy and/or yoga philosophy, please reach out to me. Thank you! Namaste. Website: Cindy Jeng Yoga and Wellness

Instagram: Cindy Jeng Yoga

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