China II: The Fall

?

Huanggang was not like the China we had seen with sleek skyscrapers, luxurious hotels, Starbucks, 711s – and crowds everywhere.   This tiny rural village of simple wooden houses where farmers live and toil as they have for ages was the China I had been eager to see and photograph.  Unfortunately it was my downfall, literally.blog2-5

Our guide had given us free time to wander around, take photos, explore.   Voila — a wooden footbridge over a canal of raging water with a pagoda downstream. The perfect shot awaited from the middle of the bridge, or so I thought. In eager anticipation of  getting that super shot, camera ready, I stepped on the first plank. Crack! It split, broke in two. Into the canal I went.  I seized the canal wall, hoping someone would extricate me before I  plunged into the nasty, brown, turbulent water. No such luck. The pain in my arms became unbearable. I could hang on no longer, let go and dropped into the churning canal.   Fortunately  the water was only about waist deep and I was not swept downstream over the Yellow Fruit Tree Waterfall. But, my precious Canon was history.

Huanggang
Huanggang

Husband Bob and a few others rushed to the scene.  The rescue effort was challenging.  My arms were shot.  I could not use them to hoist myself, even with their help.  They pulled me by the arms.  Ouch!

Bridge similar to the one that crashed
Bridge similar to the one that crashed

Once safe on the ground, I was in disbelief.  How could this have happened? It was so unreal, like a scene from a slapstick comedy.  Except —  it was really me and it was not funny.  I had been so  excited and thrilled with this trip – finally a chance to visit China, a destination that had beckoned me for years.  Now what?

Guide Xiaoxaio rapidly arranged for a driver to take us to a hospital.  He insisted on accompanying us, leaving the group behind. The hour long ride over twisty, primitive roads was scenic, but hard for me to appreciate.  The lower half of my body was soaked.  I was in denial, depressed, devastated.  My arms, my shoulder, hurt.

The hospital – not the Mayo clinic, but thanks to Xiaoxiao there was no emergency room wait.   I was quickly sent to X-ray.  The equipment seemed on the antique side.  Each X-ray, and they took many, seemed to take ages.  I feared a Chernobyl dose of radiation.   While waiting for the results, I asked Xiaixiao if he could find a shop and make a purchase for me.  My clothes were slowly drying out, but my shoes were like overloaded sponges.  I have very large feet, bigger than most Chinese feet I feared.  Not to worry.  Within record time, our trusty guide reappeared with a very comfortable pair of shoes, perfect fit.

shoes-002
My only Chinese souvenir:  my Xiaoxiao shoes.

None of the doctors spoke English.   Xiaoxiao, who speaks perfect English, relayed the diagnosis: broken collar bone. The doctor said surgery might be required.   Continuing the trip with our group was out of the question. Our compassionate guide arranged for us to  return to Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province, where we had started our tour.

Chinese efficiency in action.  We were whisked to a larger town, met by a guide and interpreter who accompanied us in first class splendor on the bullet train.  The train was spiffy – roomy and comfortable with a stewardess who served meals.  We were too shattered to eat, but were impressed with the smooth, quiet ride. It was impossible to believe we were traveling at up to 246 mph.

Stirring the pot in Huanggang
Stirring the pot in Huanggang

The arrival station was so futuristic it was almost scary:  minimalistic, spacious, spotless, quiet.  Passengers paraded swiftly, silently down long, wide corridors (no shops or advertising signs en route) to exits. Here our train guide turned us over to Miss Koo, the local rep of Spring Travel, the travel agency which had arranged the trip, and  Tingting, a bubbly young translator.  Both were delightful and showered us  with TLC, treating  us like dignitaries. They felt I should see another doctor at the big city hospital.  They had purchased fast-food burgers for nourishment en route. “Since you are Americans, we figured you would like burgers,” Tingting said.  We did indeed.blog2-14

This hospital was more up to date, but still no English speakers. Waiting rooms were packed, but we were ushered in ahead of all.  Here the emergency room doctor confirmed the break, but said no surgery would be required.  Maybe we could continue the trip after all?

Drying rice hangs from many houses in Huanggang.
Drying rice hangs from many houses in Huanggang.

Since there had been collar bone confusion –  surgery or no surgery, I asked if I could see an orthopedic specialist the next day with hopes that he might reconfirm the no-surgery assessment and we could salvage our trip.   Thanks to Spring Travel, we spent the night at the five-star Kempinski hotel.  Our guardian angels arrived the next morning to escort us to the orthopedic specialist.  No English, but lots of back forth conversation and phone calls.  I had told Tingting to tell the doctor that even though I am an old lady, I am still active and wanted to continue to enjoy some sports.  She said in that case he advised I return to France and see a doctor there.

Miss Koo, Tingting and Bob
Miss Koo, Tingting and Bob

That did it.  End of trip.  More whirlwind action and mind boggling efficiency.  We could take a flight that night back to France.  No time to think.  No time for tears.  Just pack and get moving.

Before departing for the airport, Tingting and Miss Koo arranged a  mini b’day celebration.  In all the stress, we had forgotten —  it was Bob’s birthday.  We sat in the elegant lobby and enjoyed a delicious birthday cake.

Bob's b'day cake
Bob’s b’day cake

Once home, the reality sunk in.  The 18-day trip to China had been  slashed to 3 ½ days.  We saw very little of this intriguing country.  We never made it to the Society of American Travel Writers Convention, which had been the main purpose of the trip.    And, I had a very painful shoulder.

A broken collar bone is much like broken ribs –not much to do except suffer and reduce movement when possible.  After six weeks, I thought the

Copious lunch spread in Huanggang before the fall.
Copious lunch spread in Huanggang before the fall.

worst was over, but the black Chinese cloud resurfaced with  more bad luck.  Somehow nerves had become compressed.  My left hand is only partially functional.  I cannot type with two hands – which is driving me crazy. I have shoulder pain when I walk.   Doctors tell me it is not “grave” (French for serious) and the nerves will come back.  When?  No one knows, but it could take a long, long time, up to a year, I am told.

My lust for travel has not been squashed. I still crave adventure.  It could have been far worse. Spring Travel, Xiaoxiao, Miss Koo and Tingting are to be commended.  Thanks to their care, consideration and kindness,  we even managed to smile during these traumatic times. Chinese hospitals and the bullet train count as interesting experiences.  Spring tried to get a refund for me – faulty bridge.  But, they learned the government had not built the bridge.   Nonetheless they provided a small sum.

Huanggang villager
Huanggang villager


Please feel free to comment – just scroll down and add your thoughts.  We are not down yet.  Soon we will be off to Abu Dhabi, Sri Lanka and the Maldives — where  I will avoid wooden bridges.   Don’t miss future posts. If not already a Tales and Travel follower, sign up (upper right). Your address is kept private and never shared

makeread2

30 thoughts on “China II: The Fall”

  1. Harrowing experience…thank goodness you are safe…the sound part is pulling up the rear, albeit slowly. Bon courage, my dear friend…we are thinking of you from the other side of the pond and continent. Loved the stirring the pot photo.
    Gayle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Betty, I am dong PT, but since the big problem is nerves, it can’t do much. The massages of my upper back are heavenly, but unfortunately the nerves don’t respond . Patience, they tell me… but I am not a patient person..

      Like

  2. You are one brave woman! The best part of the story is that you’re off again soon on another adventure. Nothing will stop you, ever. Love ALL of the Huanggang photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad you liked my photos, Karen. I just replaced the dead Canon with an Olympus, so I am ready for the next voyage. Wishing you all the best in the year of the Rooster, and hope to see you in May in K’town.

      Like

  3. I’m so sorry for your accident, Leah. Not a “happy ending”, but a good one — the excellent care meant everything, so thankful you travel with the best agencies. Even more thankful for your passionate spirit — next adventure just around the corner! Keep taking good care of that shoulder!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So sorry to read about your fall Leah! I love reading about your travel adventures and seeing your photos they take me on a journey too. I look forward you having a quick recovery so that we can all live your adventures again very soon. ( I met you at Meg and Brendan Downie’s in Australia a few years ago and have been following your travels since ) Cheers Heather

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is wonderful to hear from you, Heather. That is what is so much fun and rewarding with the blog — feedback. I am very happy that I have a dedicated fan in Australia, in addition to Meg. More adventure is coming.

      Like

  5. Those are the most beautyful pictures I ever seen! I wish I could live there.
    Leah, ich wünsche Dir schnelle und gute Besserung – und keine Schmerzen.
    Sigrid

    Like

  6. Dear Leah, I just heard about your Chinese adventures from Dagmar and am so very sorry about your accident. What a great sport you are! Your experience in China is obviously one that few tourists have had, and it looks like you made the best of even that harrowing situation. I am sorry to hear about the demise of your Canon, which probably hurt every bit as much as your collar bone. Your pictures are wonderful, even though you only had three days to take them. We are headed to China in early April, and will be traveling independently to the west after time in Shanghai and Beijing with a group of booklovers. I was very interested to hear that you and Bob were going there, and am just so sorry that your trip had to be cut short. I hope that you are healing well and will be back to more adventures in no time. xxxSusan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great to hear from you Susan, and thanks for becoming a blog follower. Yes, the Canon loss was tragic, but it has been replaced by an Olympus which will be put to good use soon, YourbChina trip plans are exciting. Avoid wooden bridges.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. One more thing, Leah–Dagmar told me that she sent you my narrative of our recent trip to the Caucasus and Central Asia. In case you’d like to see my photojournals of our travels, they are at issuu.com/srh99. I am enjoying your blog so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes , I have your travel journal which is most compressive and impressive. I have only read a bit, but am anxious to read and learn more about this part of the world which is not on most travel agendas.

      Like

  8. You are dauntless, Leah! Going on another big adventure already. It’s great to hear you feel well enough to take in on. I agree with others — your photos of China are fantastic. Looking forward to seeing pictures of Abu Dabi; my great-nephew has been living there for several years. Take care –=

    Marian

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marian, Dauntless– not quite. But, I am determined to travel while still able, We are looking forward to the upcoming adventure. I am glad you like my photos. I am ready with a new camera for more. Thanks for commenting….love these comments!

      Like

  9. It’s interesting when you start your planned adventure with great anticipation of the journey about to unfold only to find yourself having one that is uniquely yours but makes for a far more
    Interesting story. Similar to my ski accident in Italy and my weeks stay in an Italian hospital.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery though nerves do take time to heal. Had the same problem with my wrist.

    You’re a strong, determined person which will carry you forward with more adventures–even those unexpected. Love reading your travel stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you Barbara..I could have done without this interesting story.. but we are moving on to more adventure despite collar bone setbacks.. Sometimes things just don’t work out as planned. C’est la vie.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s