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A Positive Perspective on the COVID-19 Travel & Quarantine Experience

SynergenOG co-founder, Puvan Balasubramaniam recently returned to Kuala Lumpur from a business trip in Brunei, where he was conducting essential critical services to support the safe start up of a new Ammonia and Urea Plant operated by Brunei Fertiliser Industries, designed and built by German company – Thyssenkrupp. Among the highlights of his trip, was the travel and quarantine experience.

Yes, you read that right.

Image: Brunei International Airport

Seamless processes

Unlike many reports of poor travel and quarantine encounters, and general despondency surrounding COVID-19 preventive measures; Puvan says what surprised him most was the efficient and proactive measures that authorities had in place in his departure journey from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to the quarantine location in Brunei.

“Officials on both sides of the border were ordered with effective systems set in place. KLIA was very organised with immigration checks, while in Brunei there were many officials on location to provide adequate guidance and information to all arriving passengers on forms to be filled and next steps to take,” he states. “Credit has to be given to the authorities for making the process seamless to and from Brunei.”

Image: Empire Hotel in Jerudong

Comfortable quarantine quarters 

Upon one’s arrival, there are different locations used for quarantine in Brunei and Puvan was directed to a local hotel.

“I was lucky, as I was placed at the Empire Hotel Jerudong, which is one of the best hotels in Brunei. I had a balcony, with a view, good reception and housekeeping services, and the food quality was very good providing balanced meals with fruit and salad,” he added.

Image: Healthy local delights

Local flavour

The local monkeys kept Puvan on his toes, and added entertaining flavour to the whole experience.

 “The hotel balcony was sometimes visited by monkeys from the nearby jungle. There was a notice on the sliding door urging guests not to feed the them… I had to remind myself to keep the sliding door closed or risk my food being taken!”

Productive professional

Bryan Robinson writing for in April, discussed a valuable tool in handling the quarantine experience in his article titled ‘The Perspective Less Taken During Quarantine: 10 Tips To Raise Your Spirits.’ In it Robinson says we are hardwired for anxiety to keep us safe when faced with uncertainty, but the key was to make anxiety work for us instead of against us in unpredictable times. 

We need to identify what we can control and what we cannot change. He highlights perspective as a powerful tool as it can victimise or empower. We find “the opportunity in the difficulty during an uncontrollable situation instead of the difficulty in the opportunity,” says Robinson.

Puvan echoes these sentiments as he shares his tips on managing the quarantine experience well. He is a big believer in discipline through a regimented routine and personal development to capitalise on time spent in quarantine. So, if you’re about to go on the 14-day quarantine adventure, here’s Puvan’s list of – Dos and Don’ts.

  • Do – Have a routine and stick to it

Pretend you’re still at work and being quarantined at home. Have things all organised, with set tasks to accomplish at a given time.

  • Do – Allocate time for fun

Work out! Watch movies. Allow yourself to take meaningful breaks.

  • Do – Make it count 

It is the perfect time to try new endeavours. Sign up for a course, enhance your skillsets, grow in different areas of interest. 

  • Don’t – Have a bad attitude

It is all about mind over matter. If you decide to view the experience negatively, your outlook or lens will determine a negative outcome. 

  • Don’t – Take the time for granted

Not many of us, in usual circumstances, have time and space to ourselves as we balance various responsibilities and demands. Enjoy the solitude.

And remember, you have the power in part to create an experience that you can be proud of. 

Image: Puvan, taking a break from his daily routine


Gratitude and Appreciation

Puvan extends his personal thanks to the Empire Hotel Jerudong staff and health officials looking after the SynergenOG team during the 14 day quarantine as he travelled from KL to Brunei, and Thyssenkrupp administration personnel, Hazlina Pg Jaladin in particular, for making all the necessary transportation and hotel arrangements upon completion of the quarantine period.


Puvan co-founded SynergenOG to better serve the Oil & Gas industry in the Asia Pacific region. He is a chemical engineer with more than 20 years working experience in Process Safety & Technical Risk Management, in the North Sea & Asia. He is competent in risk assessment & risk management processes, & has diverse experience in the offshore industry, both in consultancy & production operations.

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