Over the past seemingly countless months of the pandemic, people have lost their jobs, countries have closed their borders and partners have been separated from their loved ones. During that time, it has been interesting to note the doors and windows of luck opening and closing, ever changing the facts of who has had it worse, where, when, and for how long. In September 2020, as France announced its highest count of Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, while Taiwan barely registered any, three Taiwanese women, Olivia, Rong Jia and Ku, met each other in an online group. They were three halves of millions of couples around the world to have been separated from their partners (at that time, for roughly a year each), and they bonded over a common desire: to cross the globe and reunite with their loved ones as soon as possible. Rong Jia, 34, has been with her boyfriend for more than four years, and they have lived together in both Spain and France. Last year she returned to Taiwan to celebrate Lunar New Year with her family and was unable to get back to Europe. Olivia, 23, who had spent three months with her partner in Europe before returning to Taiwan, was in constant contact with her fiancé via daily video calls. She decided to move to Belgium to marry him, pandemic or not. Pet dogs abandoned in Hong Kong – nothing can justify this Ku, 33, got engaged to her Paris-based fiancé in February 2020 and they had been separated ever since. After spending a few days discussing and researching online, the trio chose a flight route and at the peak of the pandemic in Europe – Olivia and Ku planning to marry their fiancés right away – decided to travel there. Each prepared a folder that contained passport and local ID copies plus invitation letters from the men, bank balances and health insurance information for both halves of the couples, proof of a booked hotel during transfers in Istanbul and London, and negative PCR test results that cost €250 (US$300) each. Photos of haunted mansions, deserted schools reveal Hong Kong’s grittier side In case they were asked to prove the relationship’s legitimacy, the women carried photos of themselves with their partners taken over the past few years, screenshots of their phone-call histories, text messages, as well as stamps on passports to show that each couple had travelled together before. All this amassed, Olivia, Rong Jia and Ku boarded one of the few planes still flying from Taiwan to Europe, believing that with the future so uncertain, this was the only way they could reunite with their partners. Having passed through border control at London’s Heathrow airport, Ku video-calls her fiancé in Paris. Even before the pandemic made it necessary, the couple would regularly spend three hours at a time on video calls. They had booked a hotel next to St Pancras railway station in preparation for taking a Eurostar train from London to Paris, and were relieved to learn from other travellers online that despite Brexit, customs at St Pancras station would not ask many questions. The day before, Olivia had been stuck at Heathrow customs for five hours, but after calling her fiancé in Belgium, officers allowed her to go on her way. At Paris’ Gare du Nord station, Ku and Rong Jia cleared the last border controls without issue, while Olivia carried on to Lille. Rong Jia’s boyfriend drove eight hours from Toulouse to pick her up, and a few weeks later she received the laissez-passer , a return-travel permit she had applied for at the French Office in Taipei. The couple now live together in a village in the Pyrenees, and expect to be married later this month. Olivia’s boyfriend picked her up in Lille, proposing marriage soon afterwards. They held a small wedding ceremony with his family in November 2020. She has begun learning French, and the couple hope to hold a second ceremony in Taiwan after the pandemic, when they plan to bring her puppy, left behind in Taiwan, back to Belgium. Ku is a well-known tattoo artist in Taiwan. She owned a tattoo studio on one of Taipei’s busiest streets, and had been booked up with appointments well into next year. She had to close her business to move to Paris and marry Robin, also a tattoo artist. The couple met three years ago, when they were both working at a tattoo studio in Paris. According to Robin, it was love at first sight and he would walk Ku home each day. In February 2020, Robin travelled to Taiwan to visit Ku’s parents and ask their permission to marry. The original plan was to live together for a year before getting married, but with the virus running rampant, they decided to skip straight to the nuptials. Covid-19 rules permitted a small wedding ceremony and Robin’s family were able to attend. Pre-pandemic, Ku and Robin would spend a few months each year travelling together and working in the same tattoo studios. They rented Airbnb accommodation in cities all over the world, discovering new places together. While Ku tries on her wedding dress, Robin sends photos to his family. Despite their travels, this would be the first time the couple had lived together. Ku and Robin now live together in a studio in the 10th arrondissement of Paris. In the first week, the couple laid down some ground rules, such as that one of them must take a shower before going to bed and the other in the morning; as well as who will do the laundry and how often. They also opened a joint bank account.