Russian bloggers travels to Indonesia defying coronavirus fear


Victoria Ryabikova

Instead of sitting at home in fear of catching COVID-19, two popular Russian travel bloggers hired a yacht and a private island in Indonesia. Makes you sick with envy.

Travel preparations

Instagram blogger and photographer Sergey Kabankov first contemplated renting a yacht and pushing out to sea to escape coronavirus back in February 2020, when he and his friends were in Bali. He spoke about this in an interview with Russian publication gazeta[dot]ru.

As the virus spread, he decided to act fast and turn his plan into reality. Together with Instagram model Anyuta Rai, he began preparing for three months in quarantine.

“The prospect of staying home for months didn’t appeal all that much. We have a great crowd in Bali and decided it’d be better to be altogether on a yacht than in self-isolation. We bought food, masks, antiseptics, etc. online, since they were no longer available in pharmacies by early March. The situation was made worse by the fact that there were no tests for coronavirus in Bali, and lots of tourists from China come here,” says Kabankov.

The bloggers rented a yacht and a small private island in Indonesia, says Kabankov, and also assembled a team of 14 people, including a medic. All the same, Kabankov urged readers not to do likewise but to stay at home, since even his mother, recently back from Colombia, is suspected of having the virus.

“People I know made out like I was insane, but I just ignored it. Now these same guys write that they want to visit our island. I realized then how well we’d done to get everything sorted. If we’d started just a couple of days later, we’d have missed the window,” the blogger writes on Instagram.

Paradise found and early difficulties

Kabankov, Anna, and the team set off in early March, and spent the first two weeks on their rented private island.

“It’s amazing how quickly we got acclimatized and comfortable here! The first few days we mainly spent creating a living space, which wasn’t helped by an injury I picked up. Fortunately, it was a sprain not a fracture, and I can already walk normally again. And in the water I feel great! There’s an amazingly beautiful coral reef, and I go diving there every single day without fail,” Sergey tells his followers.

In the evenings, the whole team gets together to discuss the global situation and draw up plans for what to do next. According to Sergey, this helps to avoid conflicts. Before leaving, Sergey also signed up for a distance-learning course in psychology, and even continues to study on the island.

His island companion, Anyuta Rei, also shares her impressions and posts stories about their daily routine.

“Under the aquamarine-colored water you enter a completely different dimension, so calm and beautiful, time seems to stand still. Above all, there’s no quarantine, no bad news from planet Earth, no anxiety and minimal human impact. I already got used to the taste of salt on my lips, tangled curly hair, crunchy sand the color of sugar dust, waking up to the first rays of rosy dawn and birdsong, watching orange sunsets and chatting with turtles,” writes Anyuta.

According to Sergey, there’s no escaping the odd hair-raising moment. For instance, one team member got stung by a jellyfish, but fortunately the medic had the right antibiotics and tools to drain the poison.

Hidden danger

On April 15, the whole team went to explore other islands. Sergey says that initially they were planning to go to a neighboring island, but the day before departure immigration police arrived by boat and told them the island was closed to tourists.

“We went further east and drew up a list of places, but almost everyone everywhere refused to take us in. In one small village, local residents were ready to receive us, but we decided not to trouble them and continued the journey aboard the yacht,” says Sergey.

“Every day we look for adventures, swim on the beautiful reefs, chase stingrays and huge colored fish, and secretly land on uninhabited islands seemingly abandoned because of the virus or some other reason. Yesterday we sailed through a storm and came across a crab cemetery, and today in the sea we found some huge, silver, glass-like eggs laid by some unknown creature,” Anyuta describes her impressions.

On April 24, she blogged that the entire team had been ordered back to the port in Bali to be tested for coronavirus, followed by two weeks in quarantine aboard the yacht without going ashore or sailing to any islands.

In the end, the travelers were able to find an isolated island with a hotel that agreed to accommodate them.

“They took us in basically because we’re helping them survive, otherwise they’d have to close down and dismiss all their staff. The locals would be jobless and moneyless. The local authorities are due to arrive, take our temperature, and give us papers saying we’re allowed to self-isolate here,” explains Sergey.

Sergey doesn’t yet know how long the team’s island-based self-isolation will last or whether they’ll be able to continue their travels on the yacht, but one thing’s for sure, quarantine on a tropical island isn’t all that bad.

“Given what’s happening in the world, we can’t complain about our situation,” the blogger is sure.

He’s not wrong.


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