Just a day in Bali Paradise…

Just a day in Bali Paradise…

I checked out of the swanky Sanur hotel and I heard a voice shout my name. It was Made (pronounced Mah-day). He was sitting in the lobby and stubbed out his cigarette and smiled at me. Something about his smile was so comforting. He was the kind of character that within minutes of his company I felt like I had known him my whole life, very familiar with kind eyes. He dressed casually in a t-shirt and jeans but still had an air of being presentable. He appeared to be in his 40s but I later learned he is only in his early 30s – perhaps life had trodden him down a little. I had met him prior to today as he is the Nephew of an old Balinese friend and he offered reliable transport. Today was different; today Made’s eyes were full of concern. It turned out his Father had a stroke and he needed to get him to the hospital urgently. I asked him why he didn’t cancel picking me up as I would have been happy to get a taxi. He looked stunned and quickly responded, “Nooo!” I also asked him why his father could not get an ambulance. Made told me that ambulances are not sent for ‘trivial’ things like strokes! Being an ambulance clinician myself in England, this really stunned me. A stroke is serious and is treated as a time critical incident in England, yet here in this Balinese paradise, over-swarmed by western tourists to the point that you could be in Sydney, an ambulance was saved for something more serious!! This highlighted even more how the healthcare service in England is abused by so many!! But also, how in the developing world, the idea of turning down paid work to take your urgently sick parent to hospital is impossible. My heart broke a little for Made.

I arrived back to the cosy hotel in Kuta that I have stayed in many times before over the past 7 years. The local shop owners recognise me. One in particular, a young lady called Putu always recognised me, even when I return pasty and white some years later. “Lou!” She shouts as I walk past her shop. Putu was always smiling, come rain or shine. She invited me into the back of her shop where a small child was screaming on a small dirty mattress. I joined Putu on the mattress and she explained to me that Olivia (her daughter; one of four!) was upset because their family friend had left to return to Australia. Putu went on to tell me how blessed and happy she was. I looked around the small cramped room that she lived in with a small mattress to share with four small children and I felt a pang of guilt. Putu was grateful¬†and happy to have her shop and a roof over their heads. I couldn’t help but retrace the thoughts I have had over the past 2 years and all the difficulties I have faced which one would consider ‘first world problems’ and yet here was Putu who had next to nothing but she was so happy and always smiling. It really put things into perspective for me.

Soon after, I left Putu’s shop feeling a little dazed and strolled through the humid heat around the buzzing lanes of Kuta. I found a tailor shop filled with hard working local men working on sewing machines. I am a keen sewist and asked if I could watch them for a while. Within no time they had me working on a machine, for fun of course. However, the thick humid heat swelled in the room with a small dusty fan which may as well have not been there. Whilst I struggled to concentrate and work in that heat with sweat pouring from my entire body, the employees mostly had their shirts off and a cigarette hanging loosely from their lips, casually working away, cutting fabric, ironing, overlocking. I admired them so much. Naturally being a western white woman, lots of tourists walked past and giggled at the sight of me working in this shop filled with Indonesian men, but I didn’t mind. I actually got a glimpse of an insight into what life is like working in poverty-stricken Asia and I noticed that they don’t take ‘days off’, they will work 80 hours a week without a complaint if it pays the bills. This again gave me perspective on my life. Yes, my job is challenging, but I DO have days off and down time to put my feet up. I doubt very many do in Indonesia and similar countries. I stayed in the shop for several hours and found a new sympathy for the local businesses “harassing” tourists for business. Seeing things from the other side softened my heart.

I had been reading a book about he Bali bombings (The Paradise Guesthouse, Ellen Sussman – highly recommended) and felt an overpowering need to visit the memorial site. The book had made the incident feel so real to me, all those who lost their lives. I was pulled to the location of the bombings and stood for a while, staring at the plaque listing the full names of all those who lost their lives on that tragic day. For some reason, I couldn’t walk away until I had read the full names of all 202 people who passed away and tried to imagine a little something about their lives, be it local Indonesians or Portuguese solo travellers.

The rain started beating down, harsher than a power shower and I slinked off into the shelter of a local pub for a beer. What a day it had been! A real eye opener. It’s days like these that keep my desire to travel burning forever.

I later found out that Made’s father was treated for his stroke and is on the road to recovery, much to my happiness and relief!

Cuddle Your Globe

Jan 2017

You are ABLE to Travel, Disabled.

You are ABLE to Travel, Disabled.

*warning* material in this article may upset readers.

Did you realise that there are over 11 million people in the UK living with a severe dibilitating illness or disability (estimates of 6% of children, 16% of working age adults and 45% of 65+) that’s over 17% of our population.

In the UK, we are very fortunate that most medical conditions are recognised and we generally get the support we need. It’s not uncommon in developing countries for disabled or impaired individuals to be seen as having drawn the short straw and have no alternative but to resort to a desolate life of begging on the streets for food.

  
How does a disability affect travel? There are many factors to take into account.

  • Will I be able to get travel insurance?
  • Will there be amenities to suit my requirements?
  • Will the different climate affect me?
  • Will flying be stressful / possible?

Travel insurance can be tricky if you have extensive pre-existing medical conditions and will take a little time to research the best policy for yourself. Most policies will insure everybody but simply exclude cover for any existing illness. Other policies will allow you to add on cover for certain illnesses, for an additional premium. There are also companies that specialise in these areas and / or elderly travellers. Please do not be simply discouraged from travel altogether because of this, rest assured with a little research, you will get there in the end.

Any reputable UK tour operator will have a selection of wheelchair friendly properties. When you call with your requirements, please be patient! When I worked as a travel agent I recall a client becoming irate on the phone because I wasn’t able to produce an immediate selection of suitable hotels for him and his requirements and he accused our company of discrimination. The travel industry is very broad and it can take time to liaise with hotels / resorts to ensure that what is offered is definitely suitable. Villa companies usually will have ‘wheelchair friendly’ properties with wheel-in / walk-in wet rooms, wider doorways and handlebars.

In the UK, we are mostly graced with miserable, cold and wet weather. The good news here is that warmer climates can actually help certain medical conditions. Heat therapy (or thermotherapy) can improve muscle pain, chronic pain or stress, amongst others. So get your sun cream out and enjoy!

Flying long haul can be stressful for everybody. If you are elderly or have difficulty in walking long distances but are not in a wheelchair, the prospect of battling the airport alone can be terrifying. At the check in desk you can request a buggy to take you to the gate for your flight. If you are immobile, you should advise your airline or travel agent prior to departure and they can arrange boarding assistance for you. Wheelchair users normally receive priority boarding to ensure you are comfortable prior to the flocks of other passengers boarding. If you have a life threatening allergy, you should also advise your airline prior to travel. I have known instances in the past where the airline has banned all nut products from the entire aircraft because one passenger had a severe allergy.

I am one of the 11 million people to suffer with a disability. I have chronic fatigue syndrome and fibro myalgia and can empathise with others who find travel difficult but do not want to miss out on these fabulous joys in life. 

If you have any queries, please feel free to email me and I will try my very best to help you;

Info@cuddleyourglobe.com
References

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/disability-facts-and-figures/disability-facts-and-figures

https://www.painscience.com/articles/ice-heat-confusion.php