It was physically difficult, adjusting to wheelchair life, but I remember a great relief and happiness that I was finally getting somewhere – Robert Wyatt, musician
When you have had your foot broken, being operated on and plastered exactly five days before your very well-planned winter vacation, you would begin to wonder: Why did I bother planning again? Would I trip over my crutches and break a bone again? How would I get to the airport? And the most important question: How am I going to travel? Maybe I should just go ahead and cancel everything.
But I do not think my big (extended) Malaysian family would’ve liked THAT idea. Firstly, I haven’t been back to celebrate Chinese New Year for ages. And secondly, I’m going to introduce a potential grandson-in-law to the family. The latter is actually a far more exciting notion to any Asian grandparents and parents (especially when you’re the eldest grandchild and daughter). I’m actually convinced that my parents would have come to cold, wintry Korea to carry me back for the occasion, should I attempted to cancel it.
Well, to spare them the trouble, I’ve gone ahead with THE TRAVEL PLAN:
- hobbling around in crutches,
- crawling up the steps (with dignity) of Korean intercity buses,
- manoeuvring into taxis without breaking their windows with my crutches,
- finally onto a wheelchair at the check-in counter.
Bless my grandpa’s potential grandson-in-law: he would’ve had pushed around two 20 kg luggages and minding a woman with a fractures mid-foot doing all those above! Bless the airline, they had given me a bulkhead seat and transport around the airport, all the way to my seat in my flight.
Monkey business advice 1: Have your grandpa potential grandson-in-law around. Just joking. Call your airline prior to your flight and they are more than happy to accommodate you with seating and internal airport transport needs. Great for clearing immigration quickly too.
Needless to say, by the time we’ve reached our first destination, a guesthouse in Damansara Utama, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, basking in the glorious tropical weather, we’re sighing with a great sense of re —-, resignation. There isn’t a single elevator! Instead, we are greeted with 3 flights of stairs. Oh, the curses. What was the point of us buying a wheelchair earlier today, again? Wheelchair ain’t the solution here, so it is butt shuffling time.
Monkey business advice 2: Make sure your accommodation has services for disabled, a.k.a an elevator.
Alas we’ve learned our lesson at our next destination in Singapore: we’ve organised a taxi with disabled access, booked an accommodation with disabled bathroom (and elevators) and flat grounds all the way to the metro station. Perfect, except man-powered wheelchair can only get you to so many places in a tropical country. Sweaty, exhausted, my grandpa’s potential grandson-in-law’s first trip to Singapore consists of shopping malls around Bugis. Well, at least there’s a museum just around the corner!
Monkey business advice no.3: Be grateful and be open minded about changing your plans, because when you’re on your wheelchair, you’ll scream Hallelujah when you’re actually somewhere outside of a hotel room.
Finally, we’ve managed our last leg back to Kuching for the fateful grandson-in-law meeting, I mean Chinese New Year family gathering. He is glad to relinquish the wheelchair pushing to my spunky little brother. Regardless of which man-power is powering my wheelchair, it has been a great homecoming nevertheless. Great food, great time. And all with this little monkey who has tumbled down the stairs in a wheelchair.
Monkey business advice no.4: Screw wheelchair! You’ve got your heart and your tummy still. Enjoy all the love and food just the same as you’re fit and walking.
Well, this post is finally up after two years. It’s great reminiscing good times, especially when you’re away from home. In the spirit of the Year of the Monkey, Happy Chinese New Year.
Ryokan Chic in Damansara Utama for Kuala Lumpur leg. ~AUD40 a night
Rendenvous Hotel in Bras Basah, for Singapore leg. 5 mins walk from Bras Basah Station ~AUD170 a night
We flew to Kuching and Singapore from Seoul Incheon via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysian Airlines, return from AUD600 per person
Ryokan Chic, credit to Tripadvisor