SUPPORTING SLIDE SHOWS
Wednesday 20 August InTransit
Richard got up at , showered, and then finished dressing me by . He packed from to while I paid the $150.00 room bill, annoyed at the parking fee, and their lack of a record of the reservation made by the Protea Quay on my behalf. It was blowing a gale, miserably cold and raining outside, and I got chilled and wet getting into the car inn the dark at .
I had suggested to Richard that we try a partial trial run to the airport yesterday and he flatly refused. Now, doing it for the first time in the dark on busy freeways was anxiety provoking. We followed the signs painstakingly, but Richard and I disagreed in which direction the N2 freeway sign actually pointed. I argued it was right up a narrow street and prevailed, but in the rainy dark, lost confidence as we went up the street and saw nothing. “Ok, lets go back,” I said, but then checked the map. “Turn around, I’m sure this is the way,”” and we continued on to the N2 Airport freeway entrance. The rest of the trip was uneventful and we reached the Avis car return by . I paid the BMW $1,300.00 bill for ten days, and the friendly Avis employee drove us to international departures by .
We checked our luggage through to
The lift into the SQ405 flight, Boeing 777-200
plane was unskilled but strong, with this plane giving substantially more
legroom than Lufthansa’s miserably cramped Airbuses. In addition, we all had
private viewing screens with a choice of twenty movies, with FF, stop, start
and rewind controls. I watched, The
Core, Hunted, and the Shanghai Kid, before getting stuck into a first rate
novel, David Morrell’s The Protector. During the first ninety minutes coughing
fits troubled me. “You got chilled,”
Richard noted. “Capetown was freezing
and the airport was unheated. This plane
is also very cold.” I had skipped
breakfast, drinking only water, so I knew Richard was correct. We landed smoothly in
Richard swallowed four sleeping tablets to
my disgust. For three hours he giggled
and slurred his words incomprehensibly, before sleeping for the next six. I
enjoyed the Singapore Airways meal, roast beef with a nice red win and I
consumed my first and only meal of the day.
I passed the night reading; with the occasional nap to rest my eyes
breakfast, which was hungrily eaten by Richard as well as his own breakfast.
“For a little guy, he sure can eat,” I thought. We landed at
Thursday 21 August
Richard and I were assisted off the plane
and cleared customs and immigration quickly.
I exchanged the last of my Canadian and some American dollars for
We caught a taxi to the Swiss Stamford
Hotel in the CBD of Singapore. The
cabdriver drove cautiously and we arrived in a relaxed mood, tipping the driver
$5.00 on the $15.00 fare. We checked in,
finding no hint of the $880.00 reservation that I’d paid my travel agent. “I’m much better off making my own
reservations on the Internet,” I told Richard.
“None of those reservations went astray except perhaps
Although the time said , my Capetown time was , and I was feeling very tired
as I hadn’t slept on the plane like Richard had. I slept all day until , and then Richard and I walked down
Saint Andrew’s Road, past the City Hall,
The biggest problem of eating here was
fending off the touts employed by every restaurant, enticing pedestrians to eat
at their establishments. We chose to eat
at the Lotus Balinese Restaurant, drinking two Tiger Beer and passing on the
Pepper Crab special in favour of Seafood Mee Goreng. Then we walked back to the hotel, I underwent
a BT procedure, showered on the bathroom floor, which has a drain, and
accessible hand held shower. We
barricaded the bottom of the bathroom door, but still water flooded the tiles
in the room, but the shower was good, long and hot. I was in bed by , but lay awake until . It’s hard
work adjusting to jet lag of four to five hours from flying east or west, but I
can fly north or south such as Frankfurt to
I phoned Lily, the first time since
Friday 22 August
Fortunately, I was unaware that Richard was out until or I would have been anxious, dealing with thoughts like, “What if he’s been mugged? Who will dress me? And so on.” The other scenario may have been me awakening at and wanting to be dressed, while my intoxicated friend wanted to sleep. None of these things happened as I fell asleep at , unaware Richard was absent, and then slept all morning until , awakening at the same time as Richard. I’d been on my back in one position for fifteen hours; a stupid thing to do as a quadriplegic as I can develop pressure sores. However, I seemed to have suffered no ill effects, sleeping on a sheepskin and my thin air mattress, which I’ve used throughout this trip.
Richard found that the change in my regular
BT routine had resulted in a minor accident, meaning another two hour BT
routine. I was dressed about , a new record late time for
this trip, and without eating we set out walking down Bras Basah to
We returned to the hotel and I went to bed
at . Richard went out on the town, telling me
disappointedly, “I was back at ,
pretty annoyed that I couldn’t find any action or even an open restaurant in
which to eat. Everything was closed and dead,
Saturday 23 August
Richard dressed me at , after thirteen hours in bed and again
I wondered how my backside was coping with such a long period in one
position. Still, I had failed to sleep
well, being awake from
to , and then
sleeping through to .
We ate breakfast in the Burger King in the Basement 1 level of the hotel
complex. My original plan for the day
was to spend four or five hours in the
Richard appeared about and we consumed a pre-dinner duty free rum and coke, and then a half glass of red wine. Richard finished off the Finlandia Vodka. With heavy rain outside, we decided to dine on the third floor of the hotel, which contains a number of very nice restaurants, which I had failed to explore in my 2002 visit. We chose a North Indian restaurant called Shahi Maharani (#03-21B) in the Raffles City Shopping Centre, and entered at their opening time. I found their Curried Chicken, with saffron rice and a cauliflower potato dish absolutely delicious and Richard was equally pleased with his meal. The $31.00 cost was reasonable because we passed on their expensive alcoholic beverages such as their Kingfisher Beer at $11.00.
Returning to the hotel room, I read for an hour and then I went to bed about . The day had been a short uneventful one, but I found it relaxing. Nevertheless, I didn’t sleep well during the night, waking at and returning to sleep about . This broken sleeping pattern is a lingering effect of my jet lag. Richard wandered around the hotel until and then went to bed himself. “Everything was dead, it was boring,” he reported.
Sunday 24 August
I awoke around and Richard gave me a quick shower and
dressed my by . He packed until the checkout time of , while I worked on my
journal. We have a Singapore Airways flight to catch to
Check out went smoothly and we caught a
regular taxi to
We checked our two cases in at row 7 check
in, a system I’ve never seen, in which the departure screen indicates the check
in counter for each destination.
Singapore Airways also refuses to tag the wheelchair until I reach the
departure gate. We cleared immigration
and customs by ,
giving us two hours to explore the plethora of duty free shops. Although there are an excellent array of
products, duty free in
It took us a few minutes to discover gate
F52, as we went towards terminal 1 into the E gates, but we reached our gate
well before the flight. There was no
aisle chair so we were last to board, with the attendant doing an untrained
weak inexperienced lift under the armpits and totally failing to move me. The aisle chair didn’t possess seat belts,
another big error on the airport’s side, very surprising for a major airport
like Changi. I nearly fell on the floor
and would have sued the airport for their neglect and provision of untrained
staff, had I injured myself. The Boeing 777-200 was once again a very
comfortable plane in which to fly, with a lifting armrest on the aisle to
permit an easy transfer and ample room for knees and legs. The flight to Penang was a very quick
fifty-five minutes, covering six hundred kilometres and we soon disembarked at
We cleared Malaysian customs and
immigration quickly, I exchanged $500.00 into Ringgits and we caught a regular
taxi into Batu Ferengi, a forty-minute $25.00 taxi ride across the
I chatted with a tailor and ordered six
pairs of tailored polyester trousers at $25.00 a pair, a price unequalled in
most countries. We are helped by the
excellent exchange rate of 2.4 ringgits to the dollar. Richard also ordered a tailor made suit with
three trousers and shirt. “I hate
wearing suits but I want to look like a businessman when I get to the
We then proceeded back to the hotel to be
in bed by . Richard did his usual nightly walk but failed
to find anything to catch his interest, such as the Indians who bought him free
Monday 25 August
Richard was up by and my usual BT routine occupied the next two hours until . Then Richard announced, “I’m heading off to relax,” and disappeared for the afternoon. I relaxed too, sitting near the pool, consuming a Tiger and Carlsberg beer and eating chicken curry for lunch, while I read my paperback book. I’m getting less and less motivated to continue my journal, after more than four months of daily typing, and my consumption of beer in a hot humid climate confirms my lethargy. The resort pool has a very large tiled area integrated with the hotel, which gave me good mobility in a wheelchair, overlooking the beach and ocean. The hotel is virtually empty, about twenty percent occupancy, with the pool area and restaurants deserted.
weather was hot, about thirty-eight Celsius, and humid as well, giving me my
first real taste of summer weather. I’d
departed on this trip to the Northern Hemisphere, thinking I’d get hot weather,
but with the exception of
Richard headed off at , prowling, making friends, and they
took him to
On Richard’s return, he rotated me from my side to my back, which I’m unable to do myself, reducing the number of hours that I sleep on my back. I’ve been negligent in not following this routine regularly, spending more than twelve hours without a turn.
Tuesday 26 August
I got Richard up at by shouting at him, and by , I was dressed and we
caught a taxi into the Gurney Shopping Centre overlooking the beach at the
We enjoyed a Cappuccino at
Richard bought himself socks and a belt for
his new suit and we both left at feeling satisfied, facing a rainy taxi ride back to the
Casuarina Beach Resort. We relaxed
outside the hotel room on the grass in the humid heat enjoying a cold Carlsberg. We chatted to Tom, a seventy year old from
At about 7.00 pm we ate a buffet Malaysian
meal at the hotel Garden Restaurant for $12.00, curried chicken, beef, prawns
and fish, a variety of salads, desert and coffee, a very good bargain. I was shocked when they wanted $10.00 for a
glass of red wine and passed on having a drink. We had an appointment with
Spark’s Tailors at
(Tel: 604-881-3041, FAX 604-881-2503, 101a
Richard and I headed back to the hotel and I went to bed at . Richard also looked and sounded very tired, going to bed at .
Wednesday 27 August
I awoke Richard at to shower, dress me and pack, so we
could catch a taxi
for the forty minute ride back to the
We were ready to leave by , and I paid the $270.00 bill, but we
failed to get a taxi until ,
when we got a dilapidated jalopy to drive us the forty-five minute trip to the
airport. The driver did not speed, but
he changed lanes constantly without signalling, a typical Malaysian driver
trait. “They’re building a new
international airport on the mainland with a tunnel to
The flight back to
I recalled my fist trip to KL in 1977, a
year before I broke my neck, remembering my visit to
Unfortunately, the heavy rain and peak hour
had grid locked traffic, once we left the freeways. Our trip to the Novotel Century Hotel took
about a hundred minutes, nearly three times the length of time taken for the
airflight. We reached the hotel about , pleased that the reception
recognised our reservation but a bit disappointed that they had already let
their disabled room. We received 716,
which have a wide enough door to permit access to the toilet, and like many
Richard and I headed out for an evening meal, stopping nearby at the Ship Restaurant, with a varnished hardwood ship’s bow, advertising steak. The waitresses were all dressed in uniforms with ranks, but the white fish with house red, a French wine being excellent. We then returned for an bedtime. Really, we hadn’t accomplished much except commute from one city to another. “I’m getting really sick of travel and I’m counting the days until I get home,” Richard commented before falling asleep. Actually, he has done very well providing full time care for a quadriplegic for nearly four and a half months while in almost constant travel, driving, packing and unpacking.
Thursday, 28 August
Richard was up by and I completed a belated BT process,
delayed because of yesterday’s plane flight.
I showered, my first in four days.
By , we
headed away from the hotel to explore a nearby shopping centre. The first thing
we noticed was the size of the buildings, twenty storeys being overshadowed by
forty and fifty story buildings. The
streets are packed with people and cars.
This is a big cosmopolitan city.
We selected the
We dined again across the street at the Ship Restaurant, with a Seafood Platter containing two scallops, a soft-shelled crab, whitefish, prawns, salad, red wine and Carlsberg Beer costing only $20.00. We then braved the evening grid locked traffic to walk back to our room at , watching a movie on the movie channel, while Richard wrote post cards.
About , I retired to bed and Richard went out to explore
the city by himself. “I drank a Dome
Coffee, and around
everything came alive, people, bands and music everywhere.
Friday 29 August
I awakened Richard at and he had dressed me by . I suggested we visit the KL Tower, the fourth highest communications tower in the world, with a revolving restaurant at the top. I investigated hotel tours, cheap but in a van. I can’t get into vans without a major lift. I could rent a limousine for $20.00 per hour, but then I paid while it waited for me. So we took a $5.00 taxi to the tower, which sits on a ninety-metre hill, and paid $15.00 admission fee to the Observation Deck. Wheelchair users have a special entry from the ground floor and needn’t use the escalators. The lift itself raised us two hundred and fifty metres, to the observation deck below the restaurant where we obtain MP3 players, which describe the view from twelve observation stations.
I learned that
We could see most of KL below us including
the National Mosque,
Richard and I descended and made a reservation for lunch in the revolving restaurant at only $25.00 a head for a buffet. We should have skipped the $15.00 observation deck and settled for the meal with free entry instead. There was no queue or waiting and we were soon to the revolving restaurant, which was two thirds empty. The emptiness was surprising because the buffet was comprehensive and delicious, European, Malaysian, Indian and Chinese foods, the biggest display of desserts that Richard had ever seen and coffee. Richard devoured three heaping plates, not cleaning them but leaving them still heaped with food. He repeated this routine with desserts. As usual, I was embarrassed at the wanton waste, but said nothing. The scenery was magnificent and we enjoyed a full hour slowly rotating three hundred and sixty degrees before finishing at .
Richard pushed me a kilometre back to the
hotel doing very well with such a full stomach. Although pedestrian crosswalks
are well marked, there are still many large curbs in KL and it is not easy to
get around on the sidewalks in a wheelchair. Everywhere, there seems to be
obstructions or construction. Eventually, in frustration we took to the streets
and risked the slow moving but heavy traffic.
We explored another Plaza,
By , Richard and I reached the hotel, and Richard immediately
showered. He was exhausted from the
humidity and heat. I spent a quiet
evening in our room, watching Michael Palin circumnavigate from
“I phoned my wife, Hisako for ninety
minutes and also Jurick in
Saturday 30 August
I awakened Richard at , he rolled me on my side and then went
back to sleep until ,
at which time he performed the BT process, showered and dressed me. I like the
Novotel Century Hotel room since we can turn off the air-conditioning, warm the
room, and have a decent shower. In
I was up at . I thought about an incompatibility, Richard sleeping most mornings while I wanted to get up early. Richard likes some free time, to drink and play in the evening on his own, until well into the early morning hours. I prefer going to bed and getting up early. Richard sleeps in, while I’m trapped in bed wanting to get up. We’ve survived this trip without a clash because we’ve both been tolerant of each other’s needs. I let Richard sleep until , while he alters my bed posture so I’m not in one position for fourteen hours. Travelling with Lily hadn’t presented this issue, but she also liked her free time. She leaves me with a book in a shopping centre while she would shop by herself for a couple of hours. Any quadriplegic who’s travelling must work out some understanding with their attendants.
At we headed off in a taxi to the
Unfortunately, the third floor displays were old and static, stuffed animals, stuffed birds, insects on pins, rock samples, everything dating back many years. The collection of knives, spears, body armour, and miniature cannons, though static, was interesting as was the ceramic collection. Malaysians still haven’t come to grip with wheelchairs and generally no attention is being paid to accessibility. Two displays were through doors too narrow for my wheelchair. An AV display theatre was up some stairs.
Outside, we past the
Next we tried the
It was now and the grey skies let go with a torrent of rain. It was time too return to our hotel room 716 by taxi, a $6.00 trip. We relaxed in our room with the last of my Capetown Lamb’s rum, and then to avoid the outside rain, we tried the hotel’s first floor dining room.
Ben, our waiter, told us, “Tonight we have a special, Chinese Steamboat for $20.00. You choose from these trays of fish, meat, and vegetables what you would like to add to your choice of soup. We heat the soup with your additions on your table in front of you, and then I serve you.” I started with a glass of Australian Shiraz, ($10.00) and then we tried the meal, and the food was very tasty, a wonderful success. Richard ate on and on, a second and then third helping, to the pleasure of our waiter. Our second course was equally good. We selected BBQ satay sticks of chicken, fish, beef and vegetables and these were barbequed. I was already so full, although this was my first meal of the day, that I limited myself to one chicken stick, but Richard made a respectable showing, devouring six or eight sticks. The final course was a gigantic buffet dessert display with forty or so trays on offer. I managed six or eight small portions and found the desserts excellent, followed by a coffee.
We finished eating about , absolutely stuffed. Richard commented, “This must be one of the better meals of our five month trip, probably in the top five. I’ve heard people say that there’s nothing to do in KL except shop and eat, and they’re right, but the shopping’s cheap and food is absolutely excellent.” What amazed me was that the large hotel dining room remained empty from to . I saw only one other couple. That entire huge buffet would be thrown out. I asked Ben about it. “Tonight’s the eve to Independence Day and tomorrow is a national holiday. Everyone’s crazy, they’ll all be out tonight in huge crowds, getting drunken and watching the fireworks at . It’s a bit dangerous with the big crowds, so I recommend that you be careful going out tonight.”
Richard and I walked down to BB Plaza, as Richard wanted to do last minute shopping. All the computer stores were closing up by for the celebrations, while open-air bands were setting up everywhere. Richard returned to get me at and we found ourselves trapped in huge crowds of young people, queuing to watch some band. We enlisted two policemen to help us push through the dense mass of people to get out of the Plaza. There were mobs of people everywhere, with the streets being closed to cars by surging crowds. We fought our way down the street and back to the hotel. That was all scary stuff and no fun at all.
I went to bed at while Richard went outside the hotel
to watch the fireworks. In spite of the
secure, double-glazed windows, I could hear the music, shouting and finally
loud booms, like cannons, of the fireworks.
Richard reported, “It’s like
Sunday, 31 August Journey’s End A Return to
I woke Richard at and he said, “Oops, I was planning to
get up at . I’ll never get packed in time.” Actually, he had me dressed by , and was mostly packed by . I bought my diary up to date. Our flight from KL to
We had organised a cab driver from the day before who had quoted us a $25.00 discounted rate for the one-hour fr5eeway drive to the airport. He greeted us as arranged at and we enjoyed a pleasant trip to the airport passing considerable construction of luxury apartment blocks. I recalled a nightmare taxi trip with lily in 1996 late at night from KL to the airport when our taxi driver raced another cab to see who would arrive first. The new KL airport is huge, built to accommodate many airlines but to date the airport is largely under-utilised and empty. Hectares of marble floor are left empty. We checked our luggage and I read a book waiting for departure. We worked out how to catch the inter-terminal train to reach our airline departure gate. I was amazed when the attendant assigned to assist me wheeled the wheelchair to the plane door then simply disappeared leaving the Singapore Airlines stewardesses to transfer me to the aisle chair and again to the airline seat. Unlike stewardesses for most airlines who simply refuse such duties, these attractive ladies simply did the task quickly and efficiently without drama. Richard, as always, refused to lift but assisted by giving directions and pulling on my belt.
The Boeing 777 planes used by Singapore
Airlines provide more legroom than the Airbus 321s and are more
comfortable. The one hour flight was
quickly over, and I was transferred back to my wheelchair to await the flight to
It’s been fun reliving the trip as I put together these web pages and link my diary with a few of the photographs. I been thinking proudly, “I’ve flown 65,000 kilometres, crossing the equator four times as I circumnavigated the globe, and driven nearly twenty thousand kilometres in the last five months. I rented ten different makes of automobile and driven myself through major cities on the opposite side of the road from what I’m used to. I’ve navigated major freeway complexes and country byways. I’ve visited twenty capital cities and fifteen countries. I’ve accomplished the trip without medical problems or incidents with nothing broken, stolen, forgotten or lost. I’ve done all this under my estimated budget with nearly ten thousand dollars remaining thanks to the help of friends who gave me accommodation and bought my meals.
In addition I’ve written a three hundred-page
journal that strengthened my skills in cognitive therapy as a functional
real-life daily process. I’ve recorded
my travels and adventures for a broader audience on the Internet supported by
ten thousand digital photographs.
Hopefully such writings will be preserved after my website is gone by
such archivists as http://www.archive.com which actively archives the World
Wide Web for future generations. Most importantly, I’ve re-established
relationships with many friends from my earlier life and relived through my
visits, conversations and reflections happy adventures from my past. In spite of my occasional frustrations, I’ve
maintained good relationships with my care attendant Richard, and he’s really
enjoyed the adventure and is willing to undertake further travels. I’ve lost considerable weight and on my
Part of the success of my travel has been
in coping with worry and anxiety generated by my physical helplessness and my
general dependence on other people to have my physical needs met. Anyone can imagine the anxiety provoked by
being in a situation where one is unable to dress oneself, get onto a bed
unassisted or even push a wheelchair any distance. It is very easy to imagine
the worst-case scenarios, catastrophes that will leave one helpless at the
total mercy of fate and placed in life-threatening situations. It is easy to say to oneself, “What will
happen to me if…” and to build anxiety by focussing on imaginary events which
have not yet occurred and probably never will and coming up with unhelpful
thoughts or beliefs about calamities. I
still vividly recall anxiety provoked by my imagination in these
situations. I was resting on my bed in
For me, the importance of cognitive therapy
during my travels came from learning to recognise emotions, by identifying the
specific symptoms of the emotion such as rapid heart rate, and sweating and
saying, “Hold on a minute. You’re making
yourself anxious, or angry, or depressed, or possibly all three at once. Quickly now, identify the thoughts or beliefs
that generate that anxiety, anger or depression. You’re thinking a belief that you’d be burnt
alive or left on a plane with no one to help.
What is the evidence that supports or refutes that belief? Now Don, substitute a more helpful belief
aligned with the evidence. Look, your
fears are groundless. It’s highly
unlikely that the Fijian cottage would catch fire or that the aircraft would
have taken off without Richard. But even if the cottage did catch fire, my new
belief could be that there were lots of guests around to rescue me. If I arrived in
Keeping a thought record by way of writing a daily journal I found to be very helpful. The journal writing process allowed me to articulate to myself my emotional state, unhelpful beliefs and to substitute helpful beliefs that reduced emotional agitation. As the adage goes, ‘when you are up to your ass in crocodiles, it is difficult to think about draining the swamp.’ Similarly, when anxious, angry or depressed, it’s difficult to think about weighing up evidence and developing new beliefs. Regular daily practice is needed to hone these skills so they are readily available to be used when one is anxious or depressed. The journal writing process refreshed the evidence gathering and disputation process in my mind daily so that the process became an automatic one when I was emotionally aroused.
Severely disabled people need these skills. It’s hard not to become highly anxious if, for instance, our carer goes missing somewhere, or we develop what may appear to be a medical problem. Yet every traveller may feel equally anxious in a strange country when facing language barriers and confronting an apparent crisis, be it SARS, a theft, medical issues, or an emergency at home.
Extensive planning is another key for a
successful holiday. It is a good idea to
read travel manuals such as the Lonely Planet in advance. For instance, a
discussion of dangers of taking photographs of some things in
also recommend carrying lots of cash or travellers' cheques. I use ATM and credit cards to get cash, but
at times such as in
For disabled travellers I recommend booking your wheelchair to the next port of call and insisting to receive it at the aircraft door. Use of pressure cushions on car and aircraft seats will help prevent risk of pressure sores. I find use of a small air mattress on beds offsets hard versus soft beds and provides a stable known environment from bed to bed.
I welcome emails hearing about your adventures and wish you pleasant travelling.
Attached is a checklist of useful items.
QUADRIPLEGIC ITEMS FIRST
Two leg bags with straps
Shower sheet and nozzle
Commode seat for wheelchair
Roho cushion (Spare)
Plastic pill bottle
Credit cards / cash
Neck carry bag
Passport and airline tickets
Pants / belt
Acrod parking permit, voucher book for taxi
Sunhat / sun block
Lock and key for suitcase
Amateur radio gear, camera, laptop, power adaptors,
End Chapter 12