This post is part of a L’appel Du Vide feature, Misadventure Mondays. In each segment, I’ll ask one of my favorite travel bloggers to share one of their Travel Misadventures. This Monday, Edna from Expat Edna shares her tale of breaking a bone China.
Tell me a little about yourself and your current trip?
I’m an American and serial expat; I first moved abroad in 2008 while finishing my degree in politics then left the States for good after graduating in 2010. I’ve since worked in media and tech in China, Singapore, and Australia; I’m also chasing my dream of working with the Olympics. In January 2012 I moved to Paris, which is where I’mcurrently based.
I’m all about eating and excursions. When I travel I always make sure to try the local foods and specialties, which usually leads to meeting some locals and learning more about their culture along the way. I also like to do something athletic or some sort of excursion, whether it be bike tours,rock-climbing, white-water rafting, boat trips, or even just an entire day spent walking around the city.
What’s been your best/worst travel misadventure?
I’ve had a few, but this one might take the cake simply because it lasted so long.
When I lived in Dalian (in northern China), I got really into Gaelic football; I loved the sport and even played in a couple All-China tournaments. One night during a friendly, I was keeper and went to save a ball – and in the process, fell over my own foot in such a way that I got a hairline fracture. I spent the next six weeks — which also happened to be my last six weeks in the country — on crutches.
What were the negative or positive outcomes of your misadventure?
There were several negative outcomes. For one, Dalian was not a crutch-friendly city, so getting around was a huge struggle. Most buildings did not have elevators, and I lived on the top floor of a5-story walk-up (and there were just as many stairs at work)! There was no metro system, only buses, and even the nearest bus stop took about 20 minutes to crutch to. Also, the city was very hilly, so even just walking from one street to the next wasn’t always that easy.
And since it was winter, when snow hit I had to walk even slower – I slipped once in the slush and it was not only painful, but also pretty disgusting.
Don’t even get me started on how hard it was to use Chinese toilets (especially the grody ones in bars). Is incredibly hard to squat on just one leg.
Travel was nearly impossible.I had to cancel a trip to Guilin that I was really looking forward to (luckily,the airline refunded my ticket in full). After I got the hang of crutches, Iwas able to join some friends on a trip to the North Korean border – but still,crutching all day was exhausting, so I had to be carried at some stages.
People stared…a lot. And old women were always coming up to me with well-meaning-but-not-so-helpful advice, like: “You should put a sock on your cast so your foot doesn’t get cold.” (The only way I’d find a sock that fit was if I knitted it myself!)
The Chinese doctors weren’t top notch in that city, and as a result of the poor “cast” job, my foot never healed properly. To this day I can’t run or even walk for extended periods of time without pain and swelling around the old injury.
Of course, there were some positives. I learned which of my friends were truly amazing: the ones who were willing to walk suuuuper slowly by my side while I crutched; bring me groceries so I didn’t have to leave my flat;and yes, carry me if need be.
On the bus, people actually gave up their seats for me – a common courtesy you often see ignored in China, so that made me love and appreciate the citizens of Dalian.
And of course, after six weeks of the crutches workout, I lost a healthy bit of weight, and gained a lot of muscle in my arms and left leg. I’d been a swimmer in college and missed working out when I moved abroad, so oddly enough it actually made me feel better and healthier.
What did you learn from this misadventure that you can share with other travelers?
Obviously, always make sure you have health or travel insurance. If you’re in a country where they don’t speak English, write down some important medical words like “doctor” and “hospital” before you head out, just in case something happens to you or someone around you (luckily I spoke Chinese, but I hate to think how that first night in the hospital would have gone down if I didn’t.)
And if you do fall sick or injured on the road, take the proper time to recover. I know it’s annoying at the time, but it’s worth it in the long run. I took my cast off a week earlier than I should have out of sheer impatience, and that probably stunted some of the healing process (though the “cast” was so bad to begin with, it’s hard to say). I’d rather spend an extra week on crutches than the rest of my life dealing with the consequences of improperly healed foot.
What’s one other lesson you’ve learned on your trip that you wish you had known before you left?
Gaelic football is a great way to meet people, but it is not a sport for the weak.
Thanks Edna for sharing!