Half term was a while ago, but other things have been more pressing… before we get into the festive season even further (I’m currently on my way to the UK!) I want to write about being broken in Indonesia for the October half term holidays! It was difficult to find any information on accessibility and wheelchair access before going so maybe this could be useful for other people.
The week before half term started, I felt nothing but absolute dread and fear. I was due to have a mini tour of Indonesia with some lovely ladies from school, but I was unable to go very far without being exhausted from my crutches. I am just not made for constant physical activity. I had an overwhelming fear of being a slow pain in the arse on the group. Like they say, you’re only as slow as the slowest person. Me, always!
We first arrived in Yogyakarta to stay for a few days. It seemed to me that this part of the world is similar to dakar in the way that the drivers are crazy, beep everyone and there seems to be a lot of dust. The heat was similar, drier, and the air was fresher than in KL. Seemed great!
However, accessibility was a problem! hardly any road or pavement was flat, either crumbling away or just built at different levels- so crutching about felt like an assault course. Wheelchairing was basically impossible, when there were pavements there would be no way of drving a wheelchair, which left the option of stopping traffic by being on the road. Due to the amount and craziness of the traffic that was only tried once, and I think we all felt lucky to be alive. We were lucky to be vaguely close to the main street with the best bars and restaurants, and the hotel had the grand total of four steps which was great!!
Also, tuk tuks were everywhere if I was feeling tired which helped- we spent a day travelling with these. However, it is absolutely not possible to do the sunrise tour with Borobudur temple. Or most of the temples. Just thinking about crutching up that many steps in the dark makes me feel a bit sick. I just went to a spa and had a massage instead, then had a coffee and people watched.
So, if you are confident on crutches, you have patient friends and love people watching then it is definitely doable. would not recommend for wheelchairs.
I fell in love with Bali as soon as we jumped in the taxi and started heading to Ubud, a few hours slightly north from Bali airport. It was so green and beautiful. I didn’t fall in love with how uneccessarily hilly it was as we approached Ubud- where we would stay for a couple of days- especially the hill (or should I say tiny mountain) to our hostel. Then I was faced with stairs to our dorm where the only option was to crawl up. Undignified but much safer. Faced with these things that would seem small for an able bodied person filled me with dread and instantly put me in foul mood. After we had lunch, one half of our group went in search of a monkey park, the other exploring. I stayed at the hostel with a book putting a brave face on. But after maybe 15 minutes of self pity I started to chat to other people in the hostel and all my woes were forgotten. Even though in the day time I was largely on my own- I managed to get up and down the steep hill, do some shopping, get a couple of massages, and even see some temples! It was all a case of mind over matter and working through the pain of the crutches and sweat (what a lovely image!).
Unfortunately Ubud is in no way wheelchair friendly, which became very apparent on our first night when the very kind Anna decided we would take my wheelchair to the bar we were going to. I was not so sure but the rule is to always go with these things right? So off we went. To wheelchair on the ‘pavement’ meant either Mike lifting up the front of the wheelchair and Anna pushing or getting out to crutch every 5 steps. It was a slow progress but we did get there! Although it was harder physcially for me, crutching is much easier- but like Yogyakarta it is not for the faint hearted, and much more hilly.
Our last destination was Seminyak, which was by the sea! I was so very excited by our hostel as there were no steps to get to our dorm room (if you ignore one of the entrances) ,and it had such a welcoming feel. Some of the receptionists would shout at me ‘You are strong!’ whenever we left to go anywhere! The first night was great, we didn’t go to far- and I even got a lift from a police man on a scooter to a toilet!
Getting to the beach by taxi was easy enough, but unfortunately sand + crutches = much more likely to fall over. However, good strong friends and keeping an inner core balance helps! Pavements wise it’s much easier than Yogyakarta and Ubud for crutches- but going from the beach to the hostel felt like a marathon even though it was probably only a 15 minute walk- I would very much need to be in the zone with the end in sight. It really helped with Shona telling me I CAN do it every so often! All the main bars are on the beach so wheelchairs are out of the question due to the sand.
All in all this trip was amazing. Tough, but so worth doing. It would’ve been so sad if I had stayed at home on mI feel like I practised being patient and had numerous workouts everyday, which meant I could enjoy as much Indonesian food as I wanted! I gained some hefty guns for the first time in my short life, and definitely needed to sleep for at least a week after. I definitely couldn’t have managed without the help with the amazing people I can call my friends! They are saints for putting up with me!
Right now I am in Dubai Airport halfway home to England. There is no way I would’ve managed this journey on crutches, especially on my own! Although I still limp a bit my aim since the beginning has to be to walk on the plane for christmas and that is exactly what I did. Wahoo!
Here’s to the next adventures in the new year!