獨/受困馬爾地夫台灣人 國際工作返家漫漫長路 | Taiwanese in Maldives shares hurdles in heading home amid lockdown

Shine Hou shares with The China Post and 4-Way Voice her journey home from the Maldives (Photo courtesy of Shine Hou)

【看CP學英文】全球疫情爆發,許多滯留在其他國家工作或學習的台灣人無不擔心該如何回家,內心十分焦急,例如困在馬爾地夫、已經在當地工作五年的侯欣辰,當各國都在封閉邊境時,留在馬爾地夫的她和其他台灣人都十分擔憂,漫漫長路,該怎麼回家?

When the COVID-19 pandemic first started, many found themselves suddenly stranded abroad. As borders began shutting down, Shine Hou, a Taiwanese national who had been working in the Maldives for five years, began searching for a way to return home.

侯欣辰在馬爾地夫工作5年,原本是飯店的中文接待員,後來利用休假在菲律賓考取潛水執照,是合格的潛水教練,5年來在不同的渡假島移動和工作。

Shine had journeyed to the Maldives for work five years ago and accepted a job as a Chinese-speaking receptionist at a resort. After getting her scuba diving license in the Philippines, she became a certified scuba diving coach and she has since spent the past five years working on different parts of the islands.

Shine Hou had been working as a diving coach in the Maldives before the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak (Photo courtesy of Shine Hou)

記者專訪剛剛從馬爾地夫艱難地回到台灣的侯欣辰,才結束隔離14天沒多久的她,解釋之所以會回不來,一瞬間就鎖國是預料不到的原因之一,「在當地工作很難今天買機票、明天就回去,通常都是要工作一段時間才能向公司提出休假申請,今年我是1月到新的渡假島工作,完全措手不及。」她說,另一個原因則是馬爾地夫的交通十分困難,像欣辰工作的渡假島到達機場島最快都需要搭小船3小時,有些已經買票的同事,機票都被取消,頓時孤立無援。

In an interview with The China Post and 4-Way Voice, Hou first listed two reasons she didn’t, and couldn’t, return to Taiwan when the outbreak started.

“The first reason is because borders began shutting down overnight without warning, and the other reason is it’s extremely difficult to buy a plane ticket on such short notice,” Hou said.

As she had only started work in January, she needed to list out her leave of absences in advance and get permission from her employers.

With such short notice, Hou didn’t have time to do that.

In addition, Hou revealed that “transportation” also posed a big problem. From the island where she worked, she would need to take a 3-hour boat ride to get to the airport.

Hou said that even those who were lucky enough to grab plane tickets also found themselves stranded on the island as flights got cancelled.

The Maldives are known for their five-star resorts, making the islands the ideal spot for vacationers. (Photo courtesy of Shine Hou)

417日開始鎖國後,國際移工的生活更是不易,大部分員工都面臨被裁員和放無薪假,雖然欣辰說自己比較幸運,公司還願意提供正常伙食,但其他度假村的員工朋友已經得吃咖哩汁飯或發霉的食物渡日,非常難熬。

When the Maldives entered lockdown on April 17, life became increasingly difficult for foreign workers, with most facing lay-offs or unpaid leaves.

Hou counted herself lucky as her company still provided regular meals of good quality, as opposed to other colleagues who had to eat curry for endless days or food that had gone bad.

後來在等待中,終於等到一次回國的機會,那天是515日,卻是馬爾地夫10多年來天氣最糟糕的一次,狂風暴雨之下船還壞掉,她說一度以為會命喪大海。「雖然終於能夠搭飛機回家,卻到不了機場島,非常難過和煎熬,因為不知道下一次的機會在哪裡,還回得了家嗎?」

A few days later, word came that a flight was available and those stranded on the island decided to take their chance on May 15.

However, as luck would have it, Hou found herself in the middle of the worst storm the Maldives had seen in 10 years.

The relentless weather broke their boat and cut off her only means of heading home.

Hou said that though the flight was available, her only way of getting to that flight had disappeared before her eyes. This was a very difficult time for her as she didn’t know when the next opportunity would arise.

Hou in the Maldives (Photo courtesy of Shine Hou)

在新型冠狀肺炎病毒爆發後,馬爾地夫的疫情每況愈下,今(16)日截稿前確診數已來到2065人,死亡數則有8人,對總人口僅有50萬左右、亞洲陸地面積最小的國家馬爾地夫來說可說是非常嚴重。更遑論馬爾地夫的醫療十分落後,病患難以得到妥善的照顧。

As of the tally recorded today, the Maldives currently has 2,065 confirmed cases and 8 deaths. This is quite serious for a population of only around 500,000 people.

Combined with the lack of advanced medical care in the Maldives, getting sick there would mean less chance of receiving proper care.

在擔心患病、伙食和薪資心情下的她終於又迎來一個回家機會,能從馬爾地夫飛到斯里蘭卡再飛到日本,再從日本飛回台灣,自費機票大約是新台幣六萬多元。雖然過程艱辛,但只要能回家,再苦都願意。

Under gradually dire circumstances, Hou seized another opportunity to return home—this time taking a connecting flight from the Maldives to Sri Lanka and Japan, and then finally, back to Taiwan.

The out-of-pocket fees costed her around NT$60,000 (US$2,023).

Although the trip home was bumpy to say the least, the ending made it all worth it to Hou.

談及返家路最大的幕後推手,侯欣辰大力感謝駐印度新德里辦事處的劉秘書,不但一直來電關心、問候,還幫忙喬好了回程的機票跟通關。

Hou credited Deputy Director Liu from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in Chennai as her biggest ally for getting her home.

Hou said that Liu would often call and check up on them while also taking care of seeking more flights and arranging for transportation and passes to get to other islands on the Maldives.

5月底我終於有了一個返台機會,從渡假島到機場島時,岸上的警察卻還是禁止我登島,說沒有收到上頭指示,當下我就慌了。」侯欣辰說她當下只能打電話給劉秘書,雖然事前的資料都做足了,卻因為馬爾地夫政府機關沒有協調好仍然被攔截。幸好劉秘書立刻跟機場島岸上警察溝通,讓欣辰能順利登島,並搭上返台飛機。

On the day Hou was supposed to get on her flight home, she was held back by police when trying to disembark the boat to get to the airport.

“Apparently, something was wrong with the papers and they didn’t get my flight information in the system,” Hou said.

She then immediately called Deputy Director Liu for help and within minutes on the phone, the police let Hou through to catch her flight.

The boat Hou took to leave to the islands. (Photo courtesy of Shine Hou)

在劉秘書的協助下,轉機過程沒有受到太大阻礙。終於飛回到台灣,一下飛機,欣辰同時見識到台灣超強防疫,醫護人員進行確認身分、篩檢和移往檢疫所的工作,絲毫不馬虎。

With Liu’s help, Hou did not encounter any more inconveniences on her flight home.

When she finally arrived in Taiwan, Hou was surprised to discover the intensity of Taiwan’s virus-prevention measures.

Aside from being double-checked by health authorities of her identity, she was also tested and transferred to a quarantine facility set up by the government upon arrival.

在檢疫所的這14天侯欣辰的生活十分規律,三餐都有專人準時遞送。「整趟回家之路感觸最多的是收到來自各方的關心,有家人擔心生命安全,有多年沒聯絡的朋友來電關切,非常感動,也非常開心能夠回家。」她說,現階段會好好待在台灣等疫情過去,並慢慢思考人生的下一步。

Hou added that her quarantine life was relatively peaceful and all her meals were delivered by special personnel.

“Coming home was an amazing feeling as people were reaching out and asking how I was. I was touched by the phone calls from friends I hadn’t spoken to in a while, and I’m so happy to be home.”

As for her plans for the future, Hou said she will use this time to think carefully and decide her next steps.


馬爾地夫工作日誌:擁有夢想的工作-Shine your life