How Germans abroad are desperately trying to get home

How Germans abroad are desperately trying to get home

According to the Federal Foreign Office, the German government brings back around 10,000 Germans from abroad every day. That costs millions. But not everyone finds the way home.

“The consulate is not available”

Lennart Kluge, 29 Years old, studies economics at the TU Berlin and is currently with two friends on Kho Phi Phi, southern Thailand.

We have been here just over two weeks now, and until recently everything was normal. We will of course notice what is going on in Germany.

You can actually still go on vacation here. We hardly notice anything on the streets, apart from the fact that fewer foreigners are on the move.

Four days ago, however, the bars, cafes and discotheques were closed, so they’re very rigorous, too are no exceptions. Only the restaurants are still open.

In Bangkok it should be different now. Ten days ago we tried to register on the Foreign Office website. There is an online form for Germans abroad.

Everyone is being screened

Unfortunately we could not complete our registration. It was funny, the page crashed and has not been accessible since.

We sent an email to the German consulate in Bangkok, but apart from an automatic reply that our message was received, we didn’t hear anything from there.

Because of the decline in tourists, the prices are of course in the basement and everyone is trying to outbid themselves with discounts if the remaining guests want to win for a boat tour or something. But no matter what you take, a boat or the bus, everyone is screened now.

They measure the temperature and look you in the eye to see if you are healthy. This is also handled very strictly.

The family is pushing: cancel the trip

Of course we discussed among the three of us whether we should stop the trip. Friends and family at home are worried and urged us to do so, but this is our only vacation, maybe for a long time. And as far as the virus is concerned, we seem to be reasonably safe here.

We experience both here, people who say I stay here and do this, do my two-month trip as planned. And those who want to go home immediately.

But that’s not that easy anymore. Our return flight should go on March 27th with Turkish Airways, which is canceled. Nothing can be done about Turkey anymore.

We then checked what is still possible. Lufthansa and Thai Air were utopian for our budget, we should have put in more than 1,000 euros. Others have flown with Emirates and are now stuck in quarantine in Dubai – you are trying to keep in touch with other travelers.

Turkish Airlines does not respond

We got a return flight with Finn Air for March 27th. Hopefully it will take place. Tomorrow we are going back to Bangkok on a domestic line.

The flight has been postponed a few times, but at least the airline is responding to our emails. This was no longer the case with Turkish Airlines. They stopped responding at all.

We now know from Bangkok that the authorities are currently considering a curfew, at least that’s what they are saying here. Let’s see what awaits us there. We hope the best.

Protocol: Andreas Austilat

Quirin Dilling und Simon Büscher werden in Ecuador auf der Straße angegangen.

Quirin Dilling and Simon Büscher tackled on the street in Ecuador. Photo: private

“The government acted much more resolutely than in Germany”

Quirin Dilling and Simon Büscher couldn’t even do more in Ecuador Withdraw money.

We flew to Ecuador on January 15th to help with an architecture project of two friends in a small village on the coast. In mid-February we were asked about the corona virus for the first time. A senior woman kept asking if we had been infected.

In the following weeks we as Europeans were raised more and more about the virus. But it was only on March 13th – a Friday. At that time we were on a finca in Puyo, a provincial capital on the edge of the Amazon basin.

There is silence on the bus. A man is praying.

The news from Germany overturned and drastic measures were suddenly taken in Ecuador, where there were only a handful of corona cases at the time. Provincial borders were closed within 24 hours and the bus system, the lifeline of Ecuador, was discontinued.

The government acted much more resolutely than in Germany. Awareness of the danger appears to be more pronounced in society. We got off with the last bus.

When we got in, there was silence, the man next to us prayed the whole journey, the other guests – most of them with mouth guards – eyed us very suspiciously.

All right We were lucky to go directly to the airport, but it was already sealed off. There was no counter, no one was reachable by phone or email anyway.

Iberia had simply canceled our return flight, just a three-line with the prospect of a voucher . There was no more information.

We then rented a hostel in Quito, where mainly refugees from Venezuela lived. But the people radiated warmth and confidence – that was impressive.

Credit card copies via Whatsapp

The message took ages to disseminate information. We didn’t get personal contacts at the embassy, ​​but only from the consulate in Guayaquil. Friends gave us the tip.

Communication with the consulate was very dubious, always via Whatsapp. The travel agency we were referred to also wanted copies of their passport and credit cards on their cell phones. Not a nice feeling, but for us the emergency anchor.

Finally, we were able to book a flight with KLM to Amsterdam – for 1,700 euros per person. The next five days were mostly waiting and hoping that the flight would not be canceled.

On the streets they shout: Leave the country!

In Quito there was also a curfew , only for shopping you were allowed out. After all, there was everything in the supermarkets – including toilet paper.

We were approached a few times on the streets that we should leave the country. We almost didn’t make it to the airport, because on the day of departure you suddenly couldn’t withdraw any money. A taxi driver finally drove us – after a long negotiation – to the airport for our last copper money and a few euros. When the plane took off, we were very relieved – even if we don’t know what to expect in Europe now.

Minutes: Felix Hackenbruch

Adax Dörsam 2019 auf dem Heck der MS Artania. Über sein Leben und die Musik hat Dörsam zwei Bücher geschrieben:

Adax Dörsam 2019 on the stern of the MS Artania. Dörsam wrote two books about his life and music: “Saitenweise … Photo: Adax Dörsam

“Please stay in the cabin”

Adax Dörsam, 64, is a guitar virtuoso from Mannheim, Germany, who has worked with Rolf Zuckowski, Tony Marshall, Lou Bega, DePhazz, and Xavier Naidoo and plays with his band on a cruise ship every year, but this time everything is different .

Actually I should with my band “Flower Power Men” make a few weeks of music for the 832 passengers on the “MS Artania”. We have been playing for 13 years cruise ships and this time we should start in Sydney and near Auckland , Bora Bora and Easter Island. I was looking forward to a dream trip.

We entered Singapore on March 13 , in the last machine that was still let through from Germany. I had decided to take the long-planned trip, even though the corona virus had already spread like this. I love my job and am not afraid of the virus.

I also hoped that the development in the South Seas would not be as rapid as in Europe, since the infection rates in China were already declining. I was wrong.

Yesterday Touris, today danger

Before we checked in in Sydney we learned that the ports in New Zealand and French Polynesia were closed for us be. A day later it was said that we should also leave the harbor in Sydney and stay in the roadstead. Yesterday still popular tourists, today danger of epidemic …

We passengers had the choice: Either with the “MS Artania” non-stop with an average speed of 15 -18 knots to Bremerhaven, so at least 28 days without land contact, or take a last flight from Sydney.

Both options involved risks: Would we make it to the airport? Where to stop? Or would we end up in a transit zone at any airport?

We, my band, my wife and I decided to stay. Although there were doubts: are there enough supplies on board? The planned stopovers in New Zealand would be canceled. Will the machines last that long? And what if Corona breaks out here? I have no regrets, even if the last few days have become a bit uncomfortable.

But first the cruise operator reported on board television and announced that he would pay the cost of the trip. I find that accommodating! I also slowly realized that the trip would be a group dynamic challenge. Fortunately, we have a priest and a psychologist on board.

A really nice community has emerged over the past few days. Everyone is very careful with each other. A new experience! And the saying “We are all in the same boat” has never been so true.

Every morning the ship’s doctor knocks on the cabin door and holds a gun-like object on my wife’s forehead. Fever measurement. We always had a low 36 degrees. I wrote home: Our ship is corona-free.

scratching in the throat, suddenly fever

Everything has changed since the day before yesterday. It started on Monday with a light scratching in the throat, I felt tired and weak. I fought that first with muscle training in the gym. In the evening we played a wonderful show, 450 people in the audience, great atmosphere! I signed autographs, sold CDs and posed for photos. We smoked, drank, I fell into bed exhausted.

At the morning visit, the ship’s doctors wore mouthguards yesterday and refused to shake hands. My value suddenly stood at 37.8 degrees. “Please both stay in the cabin. We’ll keep an eye on you, ”the doctors said to my wife and me. So now I’m suspicious of Corona.

The cabin with bathroom is 10 square meters small, the window cannot be opened, the choice of room service is rather modest. Outside the sun is shining, the sea is sparkling, the other guests are walking past.

I have finally started cleaning my guitar and changing the strings and tonight we will probably be watching TV – for the first time on this trip. Unfortunately, I cannot send a current picture, because our photographer is also in quarantine in his cabin and I have mastered my life so far without a smartphone.

Full throttle for the corona test

An announcement sounds every ten minutes: Cruise director and captain announce unpleasant news. The shipping company called at night and they have now hired a consulting company that has decided on measures: No more buffet restaurants, no events on board and full throttle to the next port in Perth to do corona tests and refuel there. Australia tests extensively and reports 2136 infected cases so far.

We will not play anymore for the time being, and what will happen next is completely open. My fever has now dropped to 36.5. One of the 198 travelers who opted for the flight home all over the world has now contacted me. She has arrived home safely.

Where are Adax Dörsam and the MS Artania, can be followed here.

Minutes: Julia Prosinger


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