It’s June already! Normally at this time of year we would be packing our bags and setting off to explore the world. Ahh, Europe!
Last year our range was limited due to an expanding family and covid, so we adventured locally.
Now, in the year Twenty Twenty-one, our schemes have seemingly gone awry.
Summer in Lockdown?
So… after a year of almost perfect normalcy, covid is back. Whilst the rest of the world was in various stages of lockdown, Taiwan executed a near flawless performance of covid avoidance and suppression.
Then, a month or so ago, a hotel that was used to quarantine new arrivals and airplane staff thought it might be nice to boost revenue by encouraging local visitors to spend the weekend.
People who were supposed to be in quarantine mixed with staff and locals. Some of whom went to a “tea shop” or two, which it turns out are also known as grandpa shops – a sort of brothel that caters to an elderly clientele.
As Taiwan’s Dr. Fauci stated, “I’ve not been myself, but I understand given the circumstances it may be difficult for customers to follow masking and social distancing guidelines.”
As such businesses are technically illegal and come with various social stigmas, tracing customers has been difficult – so now we have a bit of an outbreak and a “Phase 3” lockdown. Schools have been closed for the past 3 weeks with at least 2 more to go (officially.) Restaurants are only open for take-out and delivery. Gyms and playgrounds are closed. Our nanny is otherwise occupied. Even our little country club oasis is closed.
Vaccination rate is currently less than 1%. Projections are that Taiwan could be at 50% vaccination rates as early as October.
These are just the facts of the situation – My working assumption is that our summer plans will need to be cancelled (which I support.)
Remaining optimistic, our existing summer plans are fairly simple – just stay local. No planes, no fuss.
Once Jr’s school lets out in early June (all virtual until then), we are headed up into the hills an hour outside Taipei to the Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi. We have been here 2x before, most recently for Winnie’s birthday.
But this time we are staying in the “camper vans” that they have adjacent to the main property, complete with campfires and sparklers for the kids. We will be 4 families in total, so the kids can run wild and then head up to the pool to cool off.
The going rate for these camper van things is not low, about $450/night. We will stay just the one night. At least all meals are included.
Next up, at the end of June we will visit Sun Moon Lake with the same 3 families. The last time I was there was maybe 15 years ago and it seems to have become much more upscale since then.
We are staying at the Fleur de Chine hot spring hotel which looks pretty nice, and includes a big indoor kids playroom.
We got a great rate for this place, just $180/night. We are booked for 2 nights.
At the end of July we are headed to a newish hotel, the Westin Yilan Resort. The pics look nice.
We just booked this place to use 2 of this years Bonvoy “free night” certificates from credit cards*, so 2 nights total.
These rooms are normally ~$350/night+ – ignoring all other card benefits the annual fees on the cards are $95 and $135, so the room ends up at about 1/3 the price. (Although I just checked again while writing this and rates are $500+.)
Finally, in August for my birthday we are headed once again to Taiwan’s north coast to the White House Hot Spring Beach Resort. We will swim all day, ride a jet ski, lounge in some hammocks, and then barbecue a bunch of fresh seafood. We have been here a few times now and it is a great place to spend a day or two.
The White House is a bit more affordable at ~$110/night, and we will stay one night.
In between these 4 main mini-adventures, we will largely be spending our time at the country club. I recently swam 1500 meters daily for 30+ days – inspired to make big speed improvements, I just hired a coach. During the first session, he basically said let’s fix everything :)
There are also a couple schedule “kid only” pool days, where they bring out the extra fun toys.
All together we are looking at about $900 out of pocket for hotel nights plus another maybe $200 for transport, not too bad for a full summer of fun.
Things are not looking so great with Covid at the moment, with rising cases and minimal vaccinations. Hopefully the current soft lockdown gets us back to normal.
If so, we’ll be spending most of the summer poolside – this includes 4 mini-adventures to various hotels and many days at the country club.
If not, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Which will be soon.
If things go as planned, we will only spend about $1,200 on “travel” this summer. Travel hacking was minimal, just using 2 free night certificates (via Marriott Bonvoy cards.) (my personal referral link)