Most of us are scared of the thought of getting hurt abroad, worse still being unable to move like we did before. Being disabled is by no mean fun, but there are some aspects of it that I loved – especially while travelling in China.
First of all, I loved that my movement impairment was temporary (read more about my accident at work and Chinese medical care), but that does not count towards the list of 5 things. I’m just happy that the worst is behind me and I wish every reader of this article to stay safe on the road and not to experience this.
Now, let me introduce to you a list of 5 advantages of being disabled while travelling:
#1 No More Queuing.
This one is especially valuable at the border crossings. Instead of waiting for 30 minutes, or even a couple of hours in some instances, your crutches or wheelchair will get you through the special lane in no time. I have been to Hong Kong a few times while I couldn’t walk without the aid of crutches, and I just couldn’t believe how fast it got me on the other side – every time. Same applies to banks and few other places, wherever there’s a line of healthy people.
#2 Appreciation Booster.
We never fully appreciate our health when healthy. The thing about being unable to walk, made me appreciate every single step I took afterwards! It’s amazing how much happiness I had from the fact that I could once again go to the restroom on my own, which was just 3 meters away. The moment I took a step without crutches was simply emotional. I realized that lack of very little things in life can change everything about it.
#3 Friends Filter.
We get to know who our best friends are when we are in need. Although normally people find out that the friends they were counting on cannot be counted on, I had quite the opposite case. I have realized that I made more friends in China than I imagined.
#4 Conversation Starter.
In China, there’s a lot of people who want to talk to a foreigner. While normally they are shy, as soon as they saw me on crutches, they had something to talk about. Being disabled somehow convinced them that I’m much more approachable, and people were coming to talk to me all the time. Way more than normally.
Additionally, foreigners in Hong Kong also stopped to talk to me quite a lot.
#5 Upper-body Workout.
I lost most of my leg muscles, but thanks to the crutches, I gained some strength in arms. It’s not a dramatic change, but if I weren’t able to walk for longer I’m sure the difference would be much more visible.
To sum up
It wasn’t a pleasant experience, but it wasn’t as bad as one may think. I’ve learned a lot during the time.
I’m really happy to be back on the bike again and training hard to regain full capacity of my knee. I want to cycle long distance as soon as I can, but for now, the next time I’m in Europe, I’ll be only able to take advantage of public cycling schemes, like this one in London.