Acquiring Second Citizenship Unlocks Greater Travel Freedom for African Professionals, Says CEO of St Kitts and Nevis’ Citizenship by Investment Unit

LONDON, April 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — In an editorial for Kenya’s StartUp Magazine, Les Khan, the CEO of St Kitts and Nevis’ Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Unit, said becoming a citizen of the dual-island nation provides opportunities for African entrepreneurs. According to Khan, a second citizenship can unlock greater travel freedom, a benefit that many African professionals need but are hindered from due to discriminatory immigration policies. This has led to an increase in wealthy Africans seeking CBI Programmes, particularly those of the Caribbean, with applications skyrocketing over the last year.

St Kitts and Nevis is internationally renowned for introducing the world’s first – and longest-standing – CBI Programme. Since 1984, the programme has attracted foreign direct investment in exchange for citizenship. With nearly four decades of experience under its belt, St Kitts and Nevis is a market leader and recognised within the industry as a Platinum Standard brand. Investors who choose the nation can rest assured that their investment is going towards the socio-economic development of their adoptive home, with funds channelled into various sectors of society, including healthcare, education and tourism.

Citizens of St Kitts and Nevis also gain access to a wealth of benefits, like the ability to do business in a fast-growing economy that imposes neither income nor wealth tax. Additionally, investors are not required to reside in the nation. After gaining citizenship, applicants can apply for their second passport, which is the strongest in all Caribbean CBI jurisdictions, thus beginning their lives as global citizens. This perk includes access to nearly 160 countries and territories with major international hubs to ensure that African investors can keep their business competitive.

“The travel unlocking capability of a St Kitts & Nevis passport could give an edge to African professionals often held back by discriminatory passport and immigration policies. For example, Cameroonians can only travel to 17 countries visa-free and African countries consistently occupy the lower ranks of the passport Index. This is perhaps why the past year has seen a marked uptick in CBI applications from African countries,” wrote Khan.

Africa’s start-up scene is one of the fastest-paced and most exciting in the world. As founders continue to raise impressive amounts of funding and seek to grow their companies not only will they seek unique investment opportunities, but a greater international presence will also be paramount and there couldn’t be a better time to invest,” he added.

Investors interested in St Kitts and Nevis can take advantage of a limited time offer under its Sustainable Growth Fund route. Under the temporary discount, families of up to four can gain citizenship once investing $150,000 instead of the previous $195,000.

+447867942505, [email protected],

SOURCE CS Global Partners

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3 Relaxed Travel Ideas For Your Post-Covid Trip MyrtleBeachSC News

Even those of us living on the beach front have had to take some measures to stop our usual travel and recreational plans in the last year, and for quite obvious and necessary reasons. However, as the vaccination programs continue, and the world begins to tentatively open up again, it’s important to consider how traveling with confidence is not something we have been used to as of late.

So, a gentle first foray out could be a wonderful idea depending on your situation, and in that respect, considering our approach is a worthwhile idea. What if you just wish to spend time relaxing, or lazily moving across the sea front, or wish to travel to see each one of your relatives whom you’ve only seen through Skype or Zoom for the last year?

Let’s consider some of this advice below, and potentially understand how we can structure our travel decisions from here on out. We’re sure you’ll be back in the usual saddle in no time at all.

A Relaxing Spa Visit

Relaxing spa visits are very much needed after this past year. Who knows just how much stress we’re carrying in our shoulders, or unhappiness we need to try and work out of our system? It could be that by going on a spa break, or visiting the best hot tub hotels to soak all of your worries away, you begin to feel much more cared for and totally relaxed. This can aid you in your willingness to travel again without worry, and in some part can restore you back to your usual self.

Open Skies & Lovely Freedom

After nearly a year of being locked down and in doing our best to stay inside our homes, it’s true to say that many of us are longing for open skies and lovely freedom even if we don’t know it. You may decide, for instance, to rent an old camper van and lazily drive along the coast with a guitar and your travel companion, taking the time to visit small bars and opening restaurants, eating seafood in the sun, and meeting people once more. There’s nothing quite like having the freedom to enjoy yourself in this light.

Taking The Time For You

Remember – you don’t have to travel so much that you drop to your knees, or eat at every single restaurant you’ve missed, or travel the whole of Europe in a week. You know this of course, but it’s hard not to want to do absolutely everything you can once that freedom is again offered to you – and it’s hard not to sympathize with those who may wish for that. Just take the time for you if you can. Take those lazy walks. Meet your friends and spend a week with them. Eat a little too much food and drink a bit too much wine if you’re celebrating with friends, it’s fine to return to this. At least this way, we can find our own pace again, which may be faster or it may be slower than last time. And that’s perfectly fine.

With this advice, we hope you can more readily care for traveling on your own terms, even during the first few months of freedom we’re all about to encounter.



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A Long-Awaited Return Trip to Puerto Rico

ON A RECENT visit to a beachfront cultural center in Loíza, a Puerto Rican town with the island’s largest Black community, I heard Afro-Puerto Rican folkloric music blasting from a car stereo. A young man danced, another carved a ceremonial mask from a coconut and one more filled my glass with his homemade sugar-cane liquor flavored with guava fruit.


If you have visited Puerto Rico, share your favorite tips with other readers. Join the conversation below.

A cultural reawakening is under way in Loíza, a former slave enclave outside San Juan. One manifestation: the Bomba, a drum, song and dance tradition rooted in West Africa that has become an expression of Puerto Rican identity. “You must come back on Sunday,” said Wilfredo “Apex” Aponte, a community leader. “You’ll see dancing, singing, drumming, lots of people. We want visitors to see this.”

At night in Old San Juan, young revelers spilled out of salsa-music-filled bars onto the cobblestoned streets as in the old days.

I moved to San Juan in 1990 and stayed five years, working first in film production and later as a journalist with the now-defunct San Juan Star. Now, 26 years after leaving, I returned with a close friend from those days, Larry Luxner. We sought out old friends and haunts, some of which were gone; others, such as El Batey, a graffiti-laden 1960s-era dive bar in historic Old San Juan, are waiting out the pandemic. We snapped selfies by the former Star building, now a decrepit, weed-strewn site.

That sad spectacle mirrors the island’s slow economic decline, spurred by its loss of a special industrial tax status, a U.S. Navy base closure and a series of hurricanes, earthquakes and other calamities including a debt crisis. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have moved to the mainland U.S. “These are challenges that hardworking, middle-class Puerto Ricans are trying very hard to overcome,” said Maritza González, an attorney, as we sat in Old San Juan’s San Jose Plaza by a 16th-century church. “I am an optimist by nature, which explains why I’m still living in my beautiful island.”

Freshly caught red snapper at Restaurante Sol y Mar at Cerro Gordo beach.


Larry Luxner

The “Isla Borinqueña,” as we discovered, still retains abundant charms, foremost its Spanish-colonial architecture, Caribbean-inflected food, infectious music, a scenic mountainous interior, and of course, warm weather and sandy beaches with clear blue waters.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges people not to visit due to the “very high level” of Covid-19 on the island. If visiting in any case, the agency recommends being fully vaccinated before travel. Despite the warnings, the U.S. Commonwealth has become a popular Covid-19-era destination for mainland Americans lured by bargain airfares and exemption from the requirement that they be Covid-tested before they return home. The tourism surge has triggered tensions, with many Puerto Ricans complaining that some visitors are violating mask protocols and the nightly pandemic curfew (currently 10 p.m. to 5 a.m). One evening, we witnessed an unmasked young American woman in an open-top Jeep screaming profanities at police officers in the Condado tourist zone after they had pulled her over for allegedly smoking marijuana.

Puerto Ricans are taking the Covid-19 threat seriously. Most people wear masks, even at the beach, and reportedly many rarely go to public places at all. Covid etiquette ads and thermographic cameras are ubiquitous. Authorities text medical surveys to visitors daily, following up with texts and phone calls. Visitors must show proof of a negative PCR coronavirus test taken within 72 hours before arrival. When I arrived in San Juan, diligently equipped with my negative test result, my Covid-19 vaccination card and my hotel and contact information at hand, my airport interviewer said, “I wish all tourists were like you.”

Later that day, I reintroduced myself to the island by walking along the 2-mile, elevated waterfront path leading to Old San Juan that I used to jog decades ago, passing the magnificent Capitol building. The path is now flanked by green bike lanes. Along the way, I stopped at El Hamburguer, a good local spot adorned with posters, photos and news clippings that celebrate Puerto Rico, evoking memories of my erstwhile life on the island.

Cerro Gordo beach


Larry Luxner

After dark in Old San Juan, young revelers spilled out of salsa-music-filled bars onto the cobblestoned streets as in the old days. This time we traded that scene for a refined oasis at the Cannon Club, where a virtuoso jazz duo played upright bass and a Steinway piano amid sculptures created by artist Jan D’Esopo. Ms. D’Esopo, a resident for six decades, owns the club and an adjoining boutique hotel that she restored from Spanish-colonial ruins. “Great music ought to keep them at bay,” she said that night, jokingly suggesting that the noisy partygoers outside would seek out cruder pleasures.

One day we took a scenic 75-minute drive from San Juan to El Yunque National Forest after reserving two spots online. The 44-square-mile preserve now limits entries in accordance with Covid-19 safety protocols. The only tropical rainforest in the U.S., it’s still recovering from two 2017 hurricanes. But we experienced lush, green flora as we hiked to the 3,500-foot peak—62 “floors” of climbing, according to an app—breathing fresh, cool air while passing rivers and waterfalls. Puerto Rico’s emblematic species, the tiny coqui frog, guided the way.

Famished, we drove to nearby Luquillo Beach and feasted on fresh mero (grouper) with white rice, red beans, sweet plantains and parcha (passion fruit) juice. Dozens of open-air kiosks have for decades served Puerto Rican fried specialties in Luquillo. A few have gone a bit more upscale now, including our choice, La Parilla, but the $36 lunch bill for two plus tip was well worth it.

Another day we drove west to visit an old friend who married a local and moved to Aguadilla, where a former U.S. Air Force base is now a commercial airport. We stopped along the north coast to swim at one of our favorite ’90s-era destinations—Playa Mar Chiquita—a cove sheltered from the rough Atlantic waves by jagged volcanic rocks. On my last day, I swam at Cerro Gordo beach outside San Juan and then settled in at a waterfront bar, gazing at the setting sun. As I drank a cold Medalla beer and listened to the local gossip with a Juan Luis Guerra merengue song in the background, two men on horseback meandered by. In this blissful moment, it struck me that in essential ways, Puerto Rico hasn’t really changed.


A brief guide to sleeping, snacking and hitting the beach in Puerto Rico

Staying There

El Convento, in the middle of historic Old San Juan, is a former 17th-century Spanish monastery converted into a boutique hotel (from about $150 a night, For a beachfront hotel with a swimming pool consider the Condado Plaza Hilton in San Juan’s Condado neighborhood, a residential and tourist zone with restaurants and other hotels (from about $250 a night,

Eating There

Visit La Placita, a century-old market square surrounded by music-filled bars and restaurants in the hip San Juan suburb of Santurce. There, La Alcapurria Quemá, a former pottery shop-turned-eatery, serves typical Puerto Rican comfort food such as chicken stew, rice and beans, bacalao or the restaurant’s namesake, alcapurrias–mashed plantains and yucca stuffed with savory meat or pork and fried. Meals start at about $8 ( After a hike at El Yunque rainforest, head to La Parilla, one of the more elegant open-air seafood restaurants at nearby Luquillo Beach ( Follow the meal with a swim at the popular beach.

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.

Corrections & Amplifications
The pandemic curfew in Puerto Rico is 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that the curfew is 12 p.m. to 5 a.m. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises Americans to avoid traveling to Puerto Rico because of a “very high” level of Covid-19 on the island. An earlier version of this article omitted the CDC warning.

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Posted on Apr 22, 2021 in COVID-19 News Releases, Latest News, Newsroom

Department of Health:

101 New COVID-19 Cases and Two New Deaths Reported

DOH reports 101 new cases of coronavirus today and the death of an O‘ahu man, 30-39 yrs, who had been hospitalized. It is not known whether he had underlying conditions. Additionally, the death of a Maui woman, 50-59 yrs., with underlying conditions and who had been in the hospital was reported.

This report includes cases up until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Full data is posted on the State COVID-19 dashboard and on the DOH Disease Outbreak & Control Division website daily:

Hawai‘i COVID-19 Counts as of 11:59 p.m. April 20, 2021

Island of Diagnosis New Cases Reported since


(including new cases)

O‘ahu 76 24,325
Hawai‘i 9 2,660
Maui 9 3,294
Kaua‘i 2 205
Moloka‘i 0 36
Lānaʻi 0 111
HI residents diagnosed outside of HI 5 1,027
Total Cases 101 31,658++
Deaths    2 476

Hospitalizations as of 8:30 a.m., April 21, 2021: Hawai‘i-4, Maui-16, O‘ahu-20, Kaua‘i-0

++As a result of updated information, four cases on O‘ahu were removed from the counts.

Weekly Cluster Report Attached

Department of Public Safety:
Statewide Testing Continues

COVID-19 testing is continuously being conducted statewide at all facilities. There are no new positive results to report. The Maui Community Correctional Center reports 10 negative inmate test results and 34 negative staff results. The active positive inmate count remains unchanged at one (1). The O‘ahu Community Correctional Center reports 21 negative inmate test results. For more information on PSD’s planning and response efforts to COVID-19:

Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority:

March Vacation Rental Performance

Today the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority released its monthly Vacation Rental Performance Report. In March 2021, the total monthly supply of statewide vacation rentals was 587,300 unit nights (-32.6%) and monthly demand was 365,700 unit nights (-34.4%). That resulted in an average monthly unit occupancy of 62.3 percent (-1.7 percentage points) for March, which was nearly 20 percent higher than the occupancy of Hawai‘i’s hotels (43.1%). The unit average daily rate (ADR) for vacation rental units statewide in March was $248 (+3.6%), which was less than the ADR for hotels ($285). To read the full report:

18,069 Passengers Arrive on Tuesday

Yesterday, a total of 18,069 people arrived in Hawai‘i from out of state. A total 12,044 people indicated they came to Hawai‘i for vacation. There were also 1,645 returning residents. The trans-Pacific passenger arrival data is derived from data provided by the Safe Travels digital system.

To view more:

Helpful Resources

Trusted Testing and Travel Partners:

The state of Hawai‘i only accepts Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a certified Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) lab test results from Trusted Testing and Travel Partners. For the full list of domestic trans-Pacific, inter-county, international and airline partners, or information on how to become a Trusted Testing Partner, go to:

Safe Travels Hawai‘i Program:
Program overview:


Email: [email protected]

Call Center Number: 1-800-GO-HAWAII

COVID-19 Vaccine Status in Hawai‘i and FAQs:

Vaccine Call Center: 808-586-8332

COVID-19 Expanded Dashboard (Tables, Charts, and Visualizations):

Safe Travels Digital Platform:

Kaua‘i County:
Kaua‘i COVID-19 webpage:
To report violators:

Vaccine Information:

Maui County:
Maui County travel and COVID-19 information:

To report violators: (808) 244-6400 or [email protected]

Hawai‘i County:
Hawai‘i County COVID-19 webpage:

Critical infrastructure and medical travel request: 
To report violators: 808-935-3311

City & County of Honolulu:
Honolulu COVID-19 webpage:

COVID-19 Vaccine Information:

Hawai‘i COVID-19 Joint Information Center:

All media inquiries should be directed to the appropriate State department

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8 digital nomad-approved apps for globetrotting remote workers

So you have a preferred booking app, but what about options to locate Wi-Fi connectivity or find the closest spot to grab a slice of pizza? Don’t be an amateur.


Image: GettyImages/Images By Tang Ming Tung

Digital nomads should always heed the principles of Murphy’s law while traveling and working from the open road. After all, anything that can go wrong could go awry when juggling hotel check-ins and complimentary Wi-Fi amid Zoom fatigue. To assist wayfaring professionals this travel season, there are a number of handy apps to keep at the ready.

Sure, most people have preferred apps for hotel bookings and navigation. But what about an app to locate nearby Wi-Fi connectivity or pinpoint the closest spot to grab a slice of pizza? Don’t be an amateur. Below, I’ve highlighted 8 apps to keep digital nomads connected, on itinerary and privy to the local happenings as they work and play this travel season.

SEE: Electronic communication policy  (TechRepublic Premium)


The Roadtrippers app helps travelers plan their route, locate sightseeing opportunities along the way, save these collections and share them with other members of their caravan. On a regional or cross-country adventure, planning is everything and roadside attractions are a welcome sight after hundreds of miles of highway.

A set hit list of sightseeing opportunities will keep you from overlooking hidden gems along the way. After all, you don’t want to find out you were mere miles away from the world’s largest pistachio and didn’t even catch a glimpse of the majestic monument. You may never forgive yourself. (Side note: The world’s largest pistachio is actually worth a stopover if you’re traveling through Southern New Mexico. Pro tip: Grab a bag of ‘staches for the road.) Available on the App Store and Google Play.

Internet Speed Test Speedchec‪k

Wi-Fi connectivity is a must in the remote work era. This app provides a snappy on-site Wi-Fi speed test to measure connectivity. After the test, the app uses a five-point system to list performance metrics for email, browsing, gaming, streaming and video chat. The app interface includes a “Wi-Fi Finder” button, but you will need to install a separate app to use this feature. Available on the App Store and Google Play. (Available on the App Store and Google Play.)

SAP Concur

When mixing business trips with a leisurely escape, keeping track of expenses can get tricky. The SAP Concur app helps travelers log business expenses, maintain digital receipts, peruse itinerary information, track rental car mileage, book flights and more. Available on the App Store and Google Play.

Pizza Compass

Not so long ago, pizza was recognized as a vegetable, making it easier for humans to hit their recommended veggie serving target by devouring a single Hot-N-Ready. Nutritional arguments aside, pizza remains perennially popular around the globe and the Pizza Compass app quite literally will point you in the direction of the slice nearest you. Available on the App Store.


Image: GettyImages/Aliyev Alexei Sergeevich

SEE: Samsung Galaxy S21 Series: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)


The TripIt app makes it easy to stay abreast of your full travel itinerary in-app and access key details offline. Earlier this year, Tripit announced a new COVID-19 guidance feature to list pandemic-related travel information for areas around the globe. This includes local COVID “hotspots,” quarantine measures for new arrivals and more. Other app features like the Neighborhood Safety Score helps travelers assess destinations before going all-in on a visit or booking in the area. Available on the App Store and Google Play.


For digital nomads looking to explore the outdoors, nearby hiking and camping trips can offer a refreshing escape from city life. The AllTrails app helps travelers peruse hikes, biking trails, backpacking trips and more. User-submitted information about trails and locations provides a granular level of site-specific detail to fine-tune the search for that next adventure. Available on the App Store and Google Play.


Untethered and on the move, traveling remote workers are often at the will of their environment. The aptly named “Flush” app helps digital nomads locate public restrooms in cities around the world; the merits of which are self-evident and mutually understood. Moving on. Available on the App Store.

SEE: If PJs aren’t allowed in the new normal office, I’m not going (TechRepublic)


Crowdsourcing information is one of the best ways for travelers to get the inside scoop on a city without bothering the locals and Yelp is a great option. The app makes it easy to search stays, dining options, attractions and set filters to suit your preferences. The bookmark feature conveniently categorizes hit lists such as lunch spots, coffee shops, dives with great happy hours and must-see attractions for quick access. Available on the App Store and Google Play.

Also see

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Where Will Americans Travel This Summer?

According to Tripadvisor’s newly released ‘2021 Summer Travel Index’, 67 percent of Americans are already planning on traveling this summer (i.e., June 1–August 31), representing a 17-percent increase over the figures for spring (March 1–May 31). Of those, 74 percent are opting for domestic vacations, while just 13 percent plan on traveling internationally.

The U.S. robust vaccination campaign likely has a lot to do with restoring Americans’ confidence in travel. Since most of us spent last year hunkered down in our homes or settling for subdued staycations, our collective cabin fever has intensified to the point where it’s looking like big-ticket travel is going to make a major comeback.


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Travel technology, man with airplane and laptop

“As the vaccine rollout far exceeds the Biden administration’s promised target of 1 million doses administered per day, Americans are resoundingly saying they are prepared to get out there again, to travel and see the world once more, to make up for lost time,” Tripadvisor spokesperson Brian Hoyt told CNBC.

Compared with the first week of January 2021, hotel searches have increased by 65 percent; searches for experiences, such as tours and attractions, have risen 78 percent, and restaurant searches are up 53 percent. Those unused 2020 vacation budgets appear to be rolling over, too. Over half (53 percent) of Americans said they plan on spending more on trips this summer versus last, though that percentage swells to 66 among Millennials.

Still, that immense amount of pent-up travel demand among consumers is mixed with pandemic-acquired, generalized anxiety about enclosed spaces and proximity to strangers. At the top of travelers’ wish lists are wide, sandy beaches, and destinations with ready access to the great outdoors and open-air attractions.

Myrtle Beach South Carolina aerial view at sunset (Melpomenem / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina aerial view at sunset. (photo via Melpomenem/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

“This summer, we continue to see travelers favor outdoor locations like beaches or national parks, locations that continue to enable the practice of social distancing,” Hoyt explained. Although, beach vacations seem to be the type of getaway that Americans are most craving, based upon Tripadvisor’s recent study data. Ranked according to popularity, many of the most sought-after Summer 2021 destinations are situated on the coast of either Florida or Mexico.

Tripadvisor’s Top Ten Destinations This Summer:

1. Cancun, Mexico

2. Orlando, Florida

3. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

4. Key West, Florida

5. Miami Beach, Florida

6. Las Vegas, Nevada

7. Playa del Carmen, Mexico

8. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

9. Tulum, Mexico

10. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Cancun Hotel Zone
Cancun Hotel Zone (Photo via Quintana Roo Tourism Board)

Other noteworthy findings of Tripadvisor’s study:

—Twenty-nine percent of U.S. travelers plan to take weeklong vacations, while 28 percent are making it a longer trip of ten days.

—The most popular weeks for travel are those beginning June 21 and June 28, leading up to the Fourth of July holiday.

—The most popular accommodation types are all-inclusives and beach resorts.

—The most looked-for hotel amenities include comprehensive cleaning protocols, free cancellation policies and properties with on-site restaurants.

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Travel to Sri Lanka: What it’s like to visit now

I live in Hong Kong, which has done a good job containing the pandemic. But the tradeoff is that it has been extremely difficult to travel anywhere.

Due to Hong Kong’s tough quarantine mandates, most residents have been limited to our city and can’t even cross the border into mainland China.

Normally I’m a hyperplanner, but nearly two years of not going more than 30 kilometers from my apartment had gone to my head. The idea of a country in Asia being open to tourists was so thrilling to me that I didn’t even do much research, figuring I could sort it out later and make sure regulations didn’t change before my trip.

Here’s how it went.

One week beforehand

In order to get into Sri Lanka, I needed more than a spontaneously purchased airplane ticket. Most visitors to the island nation must spend up to 14 days at a “level one” hotel or resort, which means it has received an official government designation as a safe, approved place to quarantine.

I’m glad that quarantine went smoothly, because a few days into my stay Sri Lanka loosened its rules, permitting vaccinated travelers to spend only one single night in quarantine provided they test negative on arrival. I’m immune compromised and have been bummed out about not getting vaccinated yet — at least this removed one layer of FOMO.

And this was no ordinary quarantine. While some places — like Australia and China — require all quarantiners to stay inside their hotel rooms except for when they are given PCR tests, Sri Lanka has come up with an innovative third path.

Guests are allowed to go anywhere on hotel or resort premises and can visit certain pre-approved “bubble attractions” provided they follow strict criteria. They are also allowed to stay at more than one property during those two weeks as long as all the hotels are level one-listed.

The Anantara Peace Triangle Tangalle is a level one listed resort, meaning they can host quarantiners.

The Anantara Peace Triangle Tangalle is a level one listed resort, meaning they can host quarantiners.

Courtesy of Anantara

Based on that, I went with a two-in-one deal from the Anantara hotel group — I would spend one week at its resort in Tangalle, at Sri Lanka’s southernmost tip, and then one week at a sister property in Kalutara, on the western coast.

In addition to the rooms, I was able to pay for my three mandated PCR tests up front and buy the mandatory health insurance (just $12 to cover up to $50,000 in hospital costs) through the hotel’s booking service, thus fulfilling all my travel requirements in one go.

Once I had everything confirmed in writing, I submitted the forms to Sri Lanka’s tourism board website and, after a few tense days of constant refreshing, got my tourist visa.

I scheduled a PCR test for 48 hours before my flight and pre-booked a hotel to quarantine in upon my return to Hong Kong (a must for being allowed out of the city in the first place). With everything in hand — literally, as I printed it all out in case of phone malfunctions — I was ready to go.

Bandaranaike International Airport reopened to international travelers in January 2021.

Bandaranaike International Airport reopened to international travelers in January 2021.

Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

The day of travel

The Hong Kong airport was deserted, but I still arrived two and a half hours before my flight just in case there were any last-minute snafus. I’m glad I did — it seemed like every single member of the gate staff at HKG had to read all my paperwork in triplicate. But I was eventually awarded a boarding pass and sailed through security in about 10 minutes.

I’d brought some snacks and an empty water bottle with me, assuming that everything in the airport would be closed. Happily, there were a few businesses operating — I was able to use the ATM, buy a sandwich and exchange my Hong Kong dollars for Sri Lankan rupees.

My flight was pretty empty — I’d already guessed as much based on how wide open the seat selection options were when I checked in online the day before. Despite that, cabin crew still insisted that the dozen or so passengers board by sections just to keep everyone socially distanced.

I had an entire row to myself and absolutely zero stress about whether there would be space to stow my luggage in the overhead bin.

Instead of printed out menus, there were lists of available items on the seat-back screens, plus handy wipes for everyone to sanitize the TVs with before touching them.

Upon arriving in Sri Lanka, we deplaned as normal. Security lines were short, but everyone — local and foreign alike — waited in two short lines. I had the full sheaf of paperwork in my hand along with my passport, but the agent only asked to see my PCR test. He gave me a nod, stamped my passport and sent me on my way.

In the arrivals hall, a representative from my hotel was waiting. One condition of quarantine is not taking any public transit, so the Anantara had contacted me ahead of time to confirm my flight details and ensure a private car would be waiting to pick me up. The driver wore a mask and full PPE.

Once I arrived at the resort, a staff member took my luggage to be sanitized before it was dropped off in my room. Before I could check in, I went to a kiosk near the parking lot that had been set up to conduct PCR tests. My nose and mouth were swabbed and then I was sent off to my room without interacting with any other guests.

To minimize contact with others while waiting for the test results to come back, I was asked to stay in my room and have breakfast delivered to me. Free breakfast in bed, in case I’d contracted coronavirus in the past 72-ish hours, seemed like a pretty decent offer.

No one was allowed to clean my room until the test came back negative — and, once it did, I had full run of the resort, which included a pool, spa, gym, three restaurants and access to the beach.

Week one

During the seven days I spent at my first quarantine hotel, I was tested for Covid twice — on arrival, and then again on day five. Day four was a Saturday, and the hotel concierge had organized an outing for me. That’s right — an outing.

I was taken to Udawalawe National Park, about 90 minutes away from the resort. A safari-style experience where everyone stays in their own Jeep, keeping interaction limited, it was the closest of Sri Lanka’s 18 “bubble attractions” open to quarantiners.

Eddie, the hotel’s nature guide, accompanied me in the Jeep, both to give more information about the animals and to make sure everything was kosher with regulations.

A glass partition separated us from the driver, so we knocked on the glass if we wanted him to stop. There were bathroom facilities at the park entrance, with separate, clearly labeled sections for foreigners and locals.

Upon checking in at the visitor’s center, Eddie and I had to show my negative Covid test and an endorsed letter from the hotel confirming I had permission to visit the site. (A rep had called the day before to double-confirm that it was still fine for quarantiners to visit.)

It was fairly painless, and the trade-off — real, live elephants, some just a few yards away from me — was more than worth it.

On day seven, I checked out of the Anantara Tangalle and headed by private car to the Anantara Kalutara. Because I booked the package deal, the hotels organized everything.

From secluded beaches, amazing wildlife and beautiful architecture, the southern shores of Sri Lanka are among the island’s top attractions.

Week two

Switching hotels gave me the opportunity to see another region of the country. This time, the closest “bubble” activities were the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Open Zoo in Pinnawala, just outside of Kandy.

I took my third and final PCR test on day 13. Once the test came back negative the following day, the Anantara Kalutara sent all of my information to the national tourism board, which issued an official letter confirming that I had completed all the quarantine requirements and was now able to travel freely around the country.

It was time for phase two — the vacation vacation — to begin.

sigiriya sri lanka

Normally, Sigiriya is packed with tourists.

CNN/Lilit Marcus

Weeks three and four

Free to explore the country, I was on what actually felt like a pretty normal holiday. I visited three major cities — Kandy, the cultural capital in the island’s very center; Galle, a southern coastal gem best known for its Dutch-era colonial fort; and Colombo, the most populous city.

As per the rules, I kept paper copies of my most recent PCR test and the government letter with me. That said, I was only asked to show my papers twice during the rest of the trip — once when I checked into my first level two hotel and again when I was the lone straggler walking through the “foreigners” gate at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Kandy.

The Tooth Relic Temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic city of Kandy.

The Tooth Relic Temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic city of Kandy.

Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images

Multiple employees came over to read and re-read my paperwork — I suspected it was a mix of excitement at finally having something to do, nerves about messing up the process since there had been so few travelers to test it on, and heightened awareness as we were closing in on Sinhala New Year, a massively important holiday celebrated by many of the country’s Buddhists, which meant that the temple complex was packed.

Being one of the only foreigners visiting Sri Lanka was a double-edged sword.

On the plus side, I often had places to myself. Being able to visit Sigiriya, Sri Lanka’s most iconic attraction, with no one else around was a breathtaking experience — there were no people setting up elaborate Instagram photo shoots or fit hikers whizzing past me on the trails.

But the isolation was also challenging. It was sad to see all the roadside booths deserted and many small businesses boarded up.

After eight months of being closed off from the rest of the world, people in the hospitality industry were understandably concerned about their livelihoods, and when I was the only traveler I got the brunt of it. While it’s common for a tuk tuk driver to offer you a ride or a vendor to ask if you want to buy a carving, there was an air of insistence and nearly every ask came with a sob story.

No matter how many bottles of water I bought or cab rides I took, it never felt like enough to really help.

Being the lone unfamiliar face in a crowd came with other perks and risks.

A man on the street in Kandy shouted “Coronavirus! Coronavirus! Go back to the hotel!” at me.

At one hotel, it felt like the other guests — all locals, as it was a level two property — unconsciously edged their seats away from me at breakfast.

At the same place, a staff member told me that he wasn’t allowed to clean my room during my stay because of Covid regulations, even though he had just cleaned every other occupied room on my floor.

Many Sri Lankans believe that whoever controls the Tooth Relic Temple controls the country.

Many Sri Lankans believe that whoever controls the Tooth Relic Temple controls the country.

Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images

Yet there were also moments of beauty. A woman walked up to me at a cafe to say how happy she was that tourists were coming back to her country, and some friendly locals wanted to hear about the coronavirus situation in Hong Kong and asked how people were coping.

Colombo and Galle both have expat populations, so I stood out way less once I moved to those cities.

The long way home

Three days before I was due to leave the country, my phone pinged. Hong Kong had updated some of its quarantine regulations, stating that travelers from Australia, New Zealand and Singapore could shave one week off of their quarantine times.

The downside? Hong Kongers couldn’t transit in one of those countries lest they be confused for someone who now fell under the new regulations.

That meant that my return flight home — via Singapore again — was canceled.

I managed to find another way home, but it required me to transit via Doha, which is in completely the opposite direction, and involved a 13-hour layover.

This also meant I had to update my Hong Kong hotel information and that I’d be getting sprung on a Monday instead of a Saturday, thus wrecking yet another weekend.

You know the opening scene in “Reality Bites,” in which Winona Ryder’s character opens her graduation speech by reciting her social security number, saying it was the thing she needed to know the most? Well, I now can recite my passport number and expiration date with my eyes closed.

The Anantara Kalutara Resort is on a quiet peninsula just south of Colombo city.

The Anantara Kalutara Resort is on a quiet peninsula just south of Colombo city.

Courtesy of Anantara

In order to leave Sri Lanka, I needed one more PCR test. This was easy to book online and was a drive-through process, so I got a cab and had the driver take me through. My results were emailed to me in about 23 hours.

Paperwork completed, printed out in the Hilton Colombo business center and in my hands, I was ready to head home. But I wasn’t ready to leave.

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