One Month Of Lockdown - Nothing Improves

It has been one full month since the Movement Control Order (MCO3.0) was implemented in KL, the exact date was 7 May, and almost one week since full lockdown in the whole country was imposed on 1 June. The number of daily new infected Covid-19 cases show no signs of slowing down, we even saw a sharp rise in the past one week, leading to the government's final decision to have a full economic and social lockdown starting June. Things are looking quite grim for the country and us, Malaysians. The government even had to specifically ban "outdoor photography". That did not stop me of course, but being prudent I did not bring out my camera, but just shoot with the smartphone Samsung S21 Ultra whenever I was out getting supplies or buying food. At the very least, we are still allowed to do that. In KL, public parks are banned and we can't even jog or walk out in the open. I shall share some of the shots from my smartphone here, and also my thoughts on the current lockdown situation. 

Took this in the laundry room, the sun shining sharply behind me, casting deep shadows. 

Bird symbolizes freedom. Which I apparently do not have right now. 

The vaccination rate in Malaysia is laughable. Vaccination started in early March. It has been more than 3 months, and the vaccinated population stands at 3.7%. More than 3 months for mere 3.7% of the people being fully vaccinated, that is really too slow to have any effect in combating the virus. Even if the government triples the effort, in the next 3 months, we probably have 15% vaccination rate? Still not enough to cause any significant change or improvement to the current situation! A lot of things could have been done, but who am I to say anything, or question the authorities? I am just a photographer who clicks aimlessly with his camera and seriously, this is getting a little miserable here being in Malaysia. 

The only short term solution the government had was to impose lockdowns of various degree, one after another, in hopes to control the movement of the people and bring the number of cases down. We have just implemented full lockdown since 1 June, one week ago. With the number of daily cases not showing any signs of slowing down, and the rate of vaccination being so unbelievably slow, I don't know what else the government will do next. If the numbers don't go down at all, or not fast enough for the next few weeks, or a month, the lockdown is expected to be prolonged. This will be disastrous to everyone here. Many have lost their jobs, and quite frankly there are no happy stories going around lately to talk about. 

Say we can achieve about 50% of of the people being successfully vaccinated by the end of the year, which is quite an incredible feat by itself considering the efficiency of the current practice, and the numbers start to come down. Will there be anything else to go back to after that? Will the country still be even standing? 

Stairs, climbing up to nowhere

Door, going in or out, but still being trapped

Risky Shortcut. 


R for Robin, or Restrictions


No one else but me and myself. 

It has been a month plus since I last met anyone I know. It has been a month being trapped in my tiny room, not being able to walk out freely in the open, or exercise/jog. It has been a month having to eat in all by myself, and try to figure out how to survive the coming months of empty calendar bookings. I am not in any immediate dire situation or anything, I have enough savings to keep me going for a considerable amount of time, for that I am truly thankful for. I did work really hard and save up quite a bit. However, the glass will get emptier and emptier, no matter how you see it. I am not the glass half full kind of guy. I am the - "if you don't fill the glass fast enough and replenish the water you will have an empty glass soon" kind of guy. I guess the frustrating part is that there is nothing I can do at the moment being forced to stay indoor for an extended period of time. 

I get really offended whenever someone suggests oh you can try to shoot "isolation style" or do indoor creative photography. Like that is going to put food on the table and pay my rent. If you are truly passionate about photography, you will still continue to shoot no matter what. I don't need ideas and suggestions, I prefer to do my own photography my way, and I have been shooting for quite a long time, keeping this blog updated. Even now during lockdown this blog is still updated rather frequently. The truth is this - not being to go out depletes me of my main photography income - that's the part that "shooting creative indoor shots" won't be able to help. Not shooting outdoors means I cannot create fresh meaningful content for my YouTube, which has become another important source of income. 

I respect that you may try to help by giving suggestions, but please don't. Have I not shared thousands of new photographs over the span of 10 years? I am doing the best I can, you have to believe me. 

Some suggested me to do macro photography. Yes I do macro. In case you have not noticed, my macro shots are specifically of spiders and insects. I seriously hope I don't find any of those in my tiny little room, please!

If only I can fly

Bars - trapped

Everything starts to blur

My last meal dined-in a restaurant cafe, on 6 May

Don't think we get to dine-in anytime soon. Even eating at restaurants has become extinct at this point

A shopping cart, being discarded. 

The feeling of helplessness, not being able to do anything or change the circumstance is quite daunting, having to deal with this every day. Some will be so quick to point out hey there are others who are doing worse, or other countries suffering more severe outcomes, and Malaysia is not such a bad place. If we keep comparing, there is no end. There will always be someone better, or worse. So why even compare in the first place? It certainly won't make anyone feel better. 

Am I thankful that I am still alive and still can get by, at least for the time being? Yes, absolutely. I am not taking things for granted, and I do appreciate people who do care about me, and especially all of you beautiful readers for just being here. I still exist, and still can go on, knowing people do come here and care about what I have to say, or share. I will be lying if I say I am OK. However, there really is nothing that can be done. I cannot just pretend everything is ok and just smile through the pain and misery. I'd rather be honest and say, no, not everything is ok. The best I can do is to just take it one day at a time, and just continue journeying on. For better or for worse, a lot of things are out of our control now. 

Just a pale reflection of me, waiting for the train to get supplies. Not a usual sight, without a proper camera in hand. I feel naked somehow. 

Some of you may have been following me since my early blogging days, when this all started in Perth, Western Australia. I cannot help but wonder how my life would have been if I have returned to Australia and worked there, choosing a different life and career path. That possibility of another life never stops to haunt me every night when I go to sleep. I have said this before, but a piece of my heart was left there. 

Will we ever recover from this pandemic trauma? Is there anything left to look forward to once everything is over? Hope starts to fade when you are trapped in a tiny room for an extended period of time. 
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  1. Oh boy, so sorry to hear about your desolate situation! It really is a wakeup call to hear how tough it is on your side. I know it's probably not much help, but rest assured that all your friends around the world keep hoping, praying and having their fingers crossed for you. And maybe donate a few bucks to "keep the glass full".

    It is sad to hear that Malaysia's vaccination rate is so low when this is the only true way out. Again - fingers crossed for some improvement.

    And please rest assured that we are happy to her from you, no matter what!

  2. Reading your blog makes my own experiences seem so small. The emotional and psychological impact it had on me tells me you are very strong and perhaps all we can do is support you by some form of connecting and stimulation as well of course buying coffee! It would help if you knew when you would be entering the light at the end of the tunnel! You are an incredibly strong and compassionate being.

  3. If you've been only a week in full lockdown imho it's still a bit early to see the cases go down, here it happened only after a minimum of 2 weeks. However by checking on the covid tracker I see the # of new cases seems to have reached a plateau, and this is already encouraging.
    Also, you're right that a mere 15% of vaccinated won't stop the epidemic, however if that 15% are people over 60yo or other high risk people, it should already drastically reduce the burden on hospitals (and the death toll) and your government could ease restrictions to strike a balance between public health & economy. However I don't want to sound too optimistic: it will take a long time, since March 2020 my personal glass hasn't stopped getting emptier, and will start refilling next Autumn, hopefully... but "thanks" to the free time I discovered your YT channel, your blog and I even bough a 2nd hand Olympus... maybe something good and unexpected will happen also to you :-)

    1. One month. Not one week. The difference between the partial and full lockdown - shops close earlier, more roadblocks, more travel/movement restrictions, public parks are closed (stupid, since outdoor is safer than indoor) and they specifically ban photography, which is also stupid.
      One month, and cases don't go down. With the new restrictions on full lockdown, I don't see how that can help.

  4. I hope things get better for you personally and for everyone still toughing it out. Even though some of us have undoubtedly been more shielded from the impact of this crisis than others, mostly due to good fortune, choice of profession, and so on, there must be few people who have not needed to make some sacrifices in the last year or so.

    It has been tough at times because of these sacrifices. It has also been frustrating to see those with power and influence exercise those privileges incompetently, unwisely or selfishly, and to see those same people avoid scrutiny or accountability (and in some cases pursue their own selfish and destructive agenda as if there is nothing wrong in the world) while taking credit for the tireless work of those who really have put their own lives at risk to save others and to make sure that our societies will recover.

    I just hope that a will for change and a desire to genuinely build better and fairer societies will emerge from all this and that opportunities will present themselves for such change to take effect. Everyone who has struggled and suffered through this deserves better.

    Take care, Robin!

  5. Take care of yourself. Things will come around. It takes time. You seem in such high spirits. Still photographing with your phone. Lol. You are unstoppable mate.

  6. From my experience partial lockdowns have a very limited efficacy when there's a steep climb in # of cases, a full lockdown should do (unfortunately the very hard way), but it takes some time, however judging from the Bing Microsoft tracker you had 7400+ new cases the 4th, 7700+ the 3rd, 8200 the day before... this to me means the rise has reached a plateau, this is already partial good news. I agree authorities should leave people stay outside more, unfortunately it's a mistake authorities have been doing, and are still doing, everywhere :-(

  7. Robin, I wish I could write something to help you through your situation, but I'm at a loss for words despite being in a similar (though not as bad) situation.

    My wife and I live in Melbourne, Australia, and are in our 4th lockdown.... last year our second lockdown lasted 112 days through August-October, but I don't even count the days anymore. Our restrictions are not as severe as yours - we could exercise and go outside, though were for a long while limited to a 5km radius of our house. What makes it hard sometimes is knowing that in most other parts of Australia, outside our cage, life continues as normal. Life in Melbourne is tough - life in Perth is fine - but I’m largely convinced that is just dumb luck. We might all wish we were in Perth.

    My wife is fond of saying "everybody's experience of COVID is different", too which I agree, and even under the same roof my experience is vastly different to hers. I know people who have lost jobs and careers, and other who have done quite well. I too am haunted by that “other life” you speak off - the one I had, and where my heart is. Most fortunately, I do not yet personally know anyone who has died of COVID.

    But while our experiences are different, we are all together in this, some will just have it easier than others. All I can hope is that we are on the exit of this pandemic - we still have a long way to go, but with vaccines at least available, there is light at the end of the tunnel. History will judge our leaders on the efforts they make to ensure we all exit this as quickly as possible, together.

    Just remember Robin - you’re not in this alone, and I’ll send you some ‘coffee money’ for when you can go and get one.

    Love from Australia.

  8. Love the photos and deeply appreciate your thoughts.

  9. Hi Robin.
    I have been reading carefully and I am very sorry about your situation. There is nothing we can tell you to alleviate your situation. Maybe everything sounds like set phrases, empty and without real meaning. I try to put myself in your shoes and imagine the frustration and helplessness. Perhaps worst of all, at least in my case, is the uncertainty. Not knowing what else is going to happen and how long it will last.

    I wish I could tell you that it will all end in no time. But I can not. Because I do not know. But if there is any certainty in this whole process, it is the fact that there are many of us who are with you despite the distance, despite the fact that you do not even know us. I don't know if that will be comforting enough, but I hope it helps you stay mentally strong.

    We all owe you a lot. Surely much more than you imagine and perhaps also than we imagine ourselves. All of your content has helped us in multiple ways. To understand the equipment, to understand the techniques and ultimately to understand photography. In a pleasant, didactic and passionate way. And you have continued to do so during this long time of restrictions and confinements making it a little easier for us.

    I would like all of us to contribute to helping you as much as each of us can. Perhaps financial aid will help you a little with expenses and at the same time make you feel supported by your followers.

    I do not extend more.
    Robin, be strong, hold on, resist.
    We are with you.

  10. Really sorry to hear how hard the lockdown is and can sympathize after being in a city that has been significantly locked down since November or so last year. It’s sucks, but I’ve found doing even limited exercises at home can help to calm me, and like you I’m in a *very* small space.

    Hang in there, and I hope that things improve for you and all Malaysians.