About that long taxi ride in Japan ………
The Shinkansens are a superb way to travel around Japan. These lightning fast bullet trains are the epitome of efficiency – punctual down to the millisecond. They’re what we used to travel from Tokyo to the ski fields of Nozawa, in the Nagano prefecture, north west of Tokyo. And it wasn’t because of the shinkansen incident that we decided against using them as our mode of transport to return to Tokyo.
What was the reason?
A three quarter length plaster cast encasing my left leg from ankle to thigh was the reason. That and the pain from the fractured bone at the top of my tibia meant I just didn’t want to contend with organising a wheelchair at the Tokyo end and stress about getting out of the station to the hotel. I had come to the end of trying to tough things out for the sake of it. It had been a stressful couple of days. Two days earlier I had a little incident on the ski slopes – I fell over while skiing with an instructor. Resulting in me ending up with a “tibia plateau fracture” written about here.
Today marks 12 months since the incident. The same incident that resulted in us cutting short our much anticipated Japan holiday because I had to return to Australia for surgery.
Although it was a year ago so much of it feels like it was only yesterday.
The nature of “accidents” are they’re unplanned and most commonly inconvenient events. We had to skip our post-Nozawa plans – including Kyoto and all the activities planned for Tokyo at the end of the holiday. The days immediately following the incident were filled with pain, learning how to cope with using crutches in a lodge on three levels (many narrow stairs) and sleeping on tatami floor mats with a massive plaster cast (another interesting challenge.) Also, the fact Nozawa was surrounded by snow meant I was curtailed to the inside of the lodge! (Crutches and ice are not compatible.) There was also the sorting out of insurance paperwork.
Once I received the medical clearance from Dr Katagiri required by my travel insurers the process of getting me home began. If my surgery was critical and needed to be performed in Japan that would have happened. But with the boys my responsibility and my fracture not being compound it was considered best I fly home. And I admit at the time, it felt more reassuring to be operated on in a country where I’d understand the language and where friends and family could visit me. The thought of a few weeks in a foreign hospital ward on my own was enough to ensure I’d overcome any challenges to make it to Narita airport and fly home to Brisbane.
This incident reiterates why I am a great believer in travel insurance. Thankfully I had mine sorted and my travel insurance company, after numerous phone calls and emails, it was agreed at the eleventh hour the boys and I could take a taxi from Nozawa to Tokyo. An up front payment of 115,000 yen (converted to $1,370 AUD) was required, which I hoped would be reimbursed to me by the insurers when I sorted the claim out. (And eventually it was.) That was one expensive taxi ride.
Why was it so much?
Remember – the taxi is from Nozawa – it’s a 4 – 5 hour drive to Tokyo and the taxi driver has to return to Nozawa (unlikely to have a fare from Tokyo.) So the agreed upon price included paying for his return trip. Basically a full day in the car taking us (myself and Mr 18 and Mr 13) to Tokyo. All organised in a hurried conversation on the Wednesday evening – locked into at 7.58pm (the taxis close for business at 8pm.) The decision was irreversible I was told. Just a little pressure!
We made it to Tokyo on Thursday afternoon and booked into our Hotel in the Shinjuku district. The boys had a small amount of time to race around a few Tokyo shops before it was time to board the bus for Narita Airport on Friday. My wheelchair “status” meant we were whisked through customs and immigration like celebrities. Thank-you QANTAS and my insurers for flying me home in business class. Although I appreciated the space and the service, unfortunately the plaster cast was restrictive and bulky. I was reluctant to try the champagne as I did not want any chance of slipping over nor wanting any extra trips to the bathroom (could barely shut the door with my horizontal cast!) And of course the limb swelled under cabin pressure. Despite the in-house movies, it was a long and restless trip home.
12 months on
With the passage of a year and much rehab since that day in Nozawa, I’m almost recovered, a thin white scar the only physical reminder of the big surgery 12 months ago. As a writer I was able to share what I learnt from the incident in WellBeing #170 Real life experience. And the fact my accident, although inconvenient and painful was not life threatening. This helped me put things in perspective.
In 2017 I attended a couple of funerals – my father – who passed away in April and my cousin’s eldest daughter who at age 36 died way too young from bowel cancer.
I watched a close friend survive breast cancer, an arduous and brave journey. The harsh reality that death is final, reiterated the realisation life is short and we must not take the everyday things for granted. Thanks to social media we are reminded to celebrate life while we are healthy. Like Holly Butcher whose family shared this posthumous post on Facebook after she lost her battle with a rare form of cancer at a ridiculously young 27 years.
Reminders no-one knows what their time frame is and we must make the most of what time we have left on this earth.
Writing goals and travel plans
I remain passionate about my writing, with 2017 a year of a few highs and couple of lows in that field. I’ve been following the successes of those in my writer’s alumni – and recognise the way to achieve your goals in the writing world is to put yourself out there and to keep trying no matter what.
The events of 2017 and my enlightening reminders throughout the year to live while we can, sparked the desire to travel and explore. One of my goals this year is to become a successful travel writer – to do so I must travel (well that is my excuse anyways!)
So instead of talking about it, this year I am making the time and investing the money in following my travel passion. I’ve started 2018 by spending a week in Hong Kong – seeing the New Year in and discovering some new areas and experiences with friends who live in that fascinating city.
With the passing of my father and his connections to Scotland, I’ve followed a desire to return to the land of whisky and will be touring there in April 2018. As my skiing mishap helped me understand my body can’t handle that kind of activity anymore, I’ve chosen a less demanding physical activity: hiking.
And as the trek from Aus is far, I’ve tacked on another adventure. A country I’ve wanted to check out for a long time: Iceland. I will be writing about those travel plans and my new travelling buddy (who’s been a real inspiration) in a new post.
These are my 2018 travel plans for the first half of the year. Who knows what will follow after that?!
From my incident 12 months ago – here’s to a year of new adventures, friendships, discoveries and hopefully no more expensive taxi rides!
What do you have planned for 2018?