A Silver Lining
In "sunny" London the general consensus is "please don't patronise us with your perfect, sunshine filled holiday photos", especially in the height of winter when SAD is at an all time high. So to honour this very British attitude I have a less than perfect story to tell from my recent trip to Bali - I'll try to spare the pleasantries as best I can.
On the way back from visiting a waterfall my wife Hannah and I had a traffic accident - we were riding a moped and an approaching car pulled out suddenly to overtake, we swerved to avoid a collision and hit rough ground at the side of the narrow road. Luckily we weren't traveling fast but were sent flying nonetheless and after skidding across the ground it was all over in what felt like a millisecond.
Still lying on the ground, I knew instantly that my shoulder didn't feel right. A quick investigation with my hand confirmed that it was dislocated, I cautioned Hannah who was up instantly and checking if I was alright - she intervened with a local who was tugging on my dislocated arm in an attempt to help me to my feet, then proceeded to bandage her bleeding knee with a piece of her sarong... What a badass chick.
Once I got up I began shouting "someone pop my arm back in" but was met only with helpless stares from the people around me. A Spanish couple who had seen the accident stopped and kindly came to assist us. After a few minutes of discussion they agreed to take us to hospital so we gathered our belongings which had been scattered across the road. The couple had a bike and ours was still working, so they mounted one each and we got on the back for the short ride to Ari Canti hospital.
The next 8 hours would be some of the most uncomfortable that myself and Hannah have ever experienced. Thankfully we both had travel insurance... Unfortunately the process of getting clearance for treatment is longwinded to say the least - I would learn that traffic incidents in particular require far more paperwork than other cases. So for 8 long hours I was franticly sending emails and making phone calls to provide the insurance company with what they needed to give the hospital clearance to treat us, my arm still hanging loose from its socket.
Hannah's knee wound was quite deep so a minor procedure was needed to remove the dirt and stitch it back up, but not until clearance was obtained. I have to say, our ability to cope with the situation and keep our spirits up throughout is a testament to the strength of our relationship. Needing to be helped in and out of bed to go to the toilet certainly isn't dignified but we still managed to laugh and make fun of the whole ordeal.
Hannah had already been in Bali for a month studying yoga before I joined her, a couple of the girls from her course visited us in A & E to bring us a phone charger and give their support. Around the same time we finally got clearance for our procedures and were so relieved - mine would be performed that night and Hannah's first thing in the morning. It was at this point that I was completely overcome by feelings of gratitude for the help that we had received - from the Spanish couple, doctors, nurses, insurance team and of course Hannah's friends who I could see had developed a sister-like connection with her during their time together.
City life can often leave us caught up in our own little world, forgetting our duty to help and support each other - people we know and people we don't. In our hour(s) of need such as the situation I've just described we are reminded of how much we sometimes rely on the compassion and assistance of others, which in my opinion is reason enough for us to reciprocate it whenever possible. I can honestly say that it was humbling and such a powerful experience to be shown the fragility of my own life, to be looked after so well by so many different people who owe me nothing and live to tell the tale because let's face it, it could have been a lot worse!
During my stay in Ubud I was totally won over by the kindness and hospitality of the Balinese people who will do anything they can to help you, always smile back and say hello. I was speaking to our Airbnb host about this, saying how nice it is to witness this mentality coming from a city like London where that isn't always the case. He told me that in rural Bali where life is simpler, the traditions and beliefs of the people are such that a sense of community and respect for spirituality is upheld. He then went on to say that in the main city (Denpasar) people's values are different, they are more money driven and focused on themselves. He finished by suggesting that industrialisation, consumerism and less emphasis on community cause a decline in people's humanity. My question to this - is that something worth losing?
Before the accident our plan was to spend 4 days in Ubud where Hannah did her course and then travel to the north to explore unspoiled areas of the island. Given that we were now less mobile we decided to stay in Ubud for the remainder of our holiday - this might have been for the best as we later found out that at the time we had planned to travel, rain had caused massive land slides between Ubud and the north. When you consider that our injuries were relatively minor, that the experience led to an insightful perspective and that it potentially saved us from a tragic fate, I probably don't need to explain why these events demonstrate beautifully how even the worst situation can have a silver lining.