It would make for a change from the usual fare at Christmas Island detention centre – an Indian Ocean outpost famous for housing thousands of asylum seekers, surrounded by beaches filled with millions of red robber crabs.
Breakfast at the detention centre is a twist on the full English. Eggs, baked beans, sausage and pasta.
“The taste is about average from a Western perspective, scoring 5/10,” she jokes – TripAdvisor style.
The banter distracts residents of the detention centre from the reality of their predicament and that of their kin – many of them still stuck in China – where the coronavirus has upended the lives of millions, shut schools, businesses and overrun hospitals.
The infection rate has doubled in the past week, surging past the 30,000 mark. Australian medical authorities fear it could be as high as 300,000 because of under-reporting and the challenges of diagnosing such a large population. The number of deaths is now set to surpass the SARS crisis in 2003, after reaching 717 on Saturday.
“It’s difficult for us to even watch the news now,” says Zheng.
Describing her group, the first to arrive on Christmas Island, as “guinea pigs”, she now believes the families are “like soldiers in a battle” after almost a week in the quarantine centre.
Following a tense first couple of days, she believes most of the evacuees have “accepted the reality and are ready to settle down” and the “smiles and assistance” of Australian medical workers on the island had helped with the adjustment.
“Everyone who comes here should adjust their mentality,” she says. “Don’t think it is a tropical island holiday.”
Zheng’s group was joined by 35 more Australians that came from Wuhan via Auckland on an Air New Zealand flight on Thursday. They will be the last group of Australians fleeing China sent to Christmas Island, which the chief medical officer has declared full. From Saturday, when a third flight was scheduled to leave Wuhan, evacuees are to be sent to an Inpex mining camp 30 kilometres outside of Darwin for their two-week quarantine.
Sydneysider Bon Lee, who had secured a seat on the flight to Darwin, says he was ready to go to Christmas Island.
“I was happy to go anywhere the government has deemed safe for quarantine – but Darwin is definitely a better option,” he says. “Anyone would prefer that.”
Zheng dismisses concerns from some other evacuees that the Christmas Island facilities are dirty.
“Yes, there are cockroaches! They are all over the Australian continent. My Sydney home has not only cockroaches but also big spiders!” she says.
And she is surprised by the newfound attention she and her compatriots are receiving from reporters and long lenses behind wire fences.
“As soon as we went out, we saw [it was] full of reporters outside the barbed wire. Then sudden intensive flashes reached out to the dark inside the vehicle,” she says. “Only when [David] Beckham came there would be such sensation.”
Beyond the sudden sense of celebrity, life on the island follows a familiar pattern. Food, walks, crabs, video games. Families huddle around an internet router in one of the offices attempting to get a better Wi-Fi connection. They scroll between glimpses of normal-life in Australia and the anything-but-normal pictures of deserted streets of Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan.
Everyday things, like trading goods, become more difficult as families are separated in their units to stop the risk of infection spreading among the group and restarting the 14-day quarantine clock for everyone if the sickness takes hold.
Zheng now has an unwanted packet of cigarettes after they were accidentally delivered to her room. She is unable to give them to her neighbour, who ordered them.
For the island’s full-time residents, the episode is the latest in a series that makes them feel as though their home is a dumping ground for Australia’s problems.
“People are feeling that their island is being trashed to a large extent, but most also know that it will blow over,” says Philip Tubb, the island’s destination development manager.
Tubb says the island needs to shake the impression that the coronavirus quarantine is terminal for tourism.
“We should be saying that while this is a setback, it is still one of the most sensational places to come to,” he says.
Gordon Thomson, the shire president and a member of the Labor Party, described the quarantine on Christmas island as “hysterical and ruinous” this week.
Perspective is a powerful force, notes Tubb, highlighting the challenges faced by those still in Wuhan and in particular the case of Li Wenliang, the 34-year-old doctor who first tried to alert medical workers to the spread of the coronavirus in December and was silenced by the Chinese government.
“It is tragic to note that the ophthalmologist who first raised his concerns about this has died,” Tubb says.
“A wife, young child and one on the way. It makes our situation look rather minor by comparison.”
Eryk Bagshaw is an economics correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra