For the first time since the accident that left Rhiannon a quadriplegic four years ago, Rhiannon and her family will be returning to Bali on Christmas Eve.
Here she will be revisiting the Jayakarta Resort where her diving accident occurred, as well as the hospital in which she almost lost her life.
Here she will be posting second daily video blogs and an online journal of this experience! Make sure to add this page to your favourites to keep up to date, and feel free to leave comments below!
You can also follow her journey via her Facebook Page STEPBYSTEP
It’s feeling a bit surreal, but we are here! For four years I have thought about coming back here, and I can’t believe I am actually here.I had mentally prepared myself for the emotions that I thought would come from being back here, but in all honesty, I have never felt so at peace.
No plane trip ever comes easy for someone in a wheelchair however. Getting on the plane is always easy as I can walk onto the plane with the airline then taking my chair and putting it into cargo, but the stresses of making sure my chair is still in one piece at the other side is daunting, especially in Bali!
After landing we were advised that we would be the last passengers to get off the plane, which is normal, as we are the first ones on, but what the airline wasn’t aware of was that there was going to be a huge flight of stairs that we would have to disembark from.
Obviously trying to explain to the Indonesian my situation – being in a wheelchair, isn’t easy and we were then told that a lift would be coming, but it’d be around 20 minutes! WELCOME TO BALI – its time to remember everything now runs on Bali time – nice and sllloooowww!
I ended up walking off the plane onto the lift, over the very unsafe man made ramp the connected the lift to the plane, with the assistance of super step dad, and all we really could do was laugh!
Nobody expected this trip to be easy!
I’d love to say we were greeted by beautiful weather, but it is after all Bali’s rainy season so it was humid, wet and yuck!!
When we finally got through customs and the baggage collection, we made our way to the outside of the airport, and thats when I saw that face, and the tears started!
My brother from another mother, our dear friend and loyal driver who became a very important part of my families lives, Johnny.
This man was the loyal friend who drove my parents around at any hour of the day or night while i was in the hospital here, he was the one who tried to keep a smile on everyones face at the darkest time.
The last time he saw me… I was laying in the hospital bed, completely paralysed!
After having a few tears with Johnny, and a very long hug and exchange of all the aussie swear words he has learned since our last visit, we were then approached by the film crew from “Aussies in Bali”.
They are filming my return to Bali as part of a new television series that will air on channel 7 in Feb next year.
They had already had a run in with airport security and were told to shut their cameras off, and believe it or not, bribes didn’t even help the situation this time hahaha!!
Dana, Liam and Richard are the creepers that are following us around, and although it feels quite strange to have cameras in your face, I’m glad it is this three as they are a lot like us, crazy, fun and outgoing!
I must say though I felt a little sorry for Richard on Christmas day as instead of being home with his little ones he was stuck in Bali following my family around :(
It was a little strange driving from the airport to our hotel. I wasn’t as emotional as I thought I would be, but little things like smells and recognising places I had been to on my last trip definitely brought back memories.
Luckily Johnny was playing the usual Celine Dion which was perfect for this occasion :)
When we arrived at our hotel (Su’s Cottages 2), the fun began. Thankfully I had my own room, however there were also 3 MASSIVE steep stairs to get into it. First task, a success! I was able to walk up them, however it didn’t take long for my legs to fatique and given that it rains most nights here, the tiles on the steps become quite slippery so its been up to Gaz (my step dad) to carry me up the stairs which soon took its toll on his knees and body and even mine too!
After a massive night sleep for all of us – I especially was fairly comatosed, it was Christmas Day!
We decided to go for a walk up to Mug Shot Cafe, which is owned by one of our friends, to grab a coffee and some breakfast.
As you can imagine, getting around in a wheelchair in Bali is quite difficult and extremely scary, but I must say I am very thankful the the footpaths in Legian have all been redone, however there are still a lot of difficult spots (I do not recommend anyone in a chair come here without someone that can give you a hand around), we didn’t expect this trip to be easy hahaha!
The peacefulness of Bali kicked in pretty fast, as even though it was technically only our first day here, the three of us (mum,gaz and I) quickly found ourselves chatting about things that we hadn’t really discussed as a family over the last four years. It became clear to see that this holiday isn’t just going to be about me finding peace, but us a family finding it together.
It was at that moment I suggested that we drop into the Jayakarta and visit the pool where my accident took place. Random and spontaneous I know, as I didn’t plan on going back so soon, but the moment just felt right.
Walking/rolling back into the Jayakarta, was no where near as emotional as I had prepared myself to be. I think it was actually more emotional for mum, even though she came back last year…
The funniest thing was that as I went up to the pool, mum thought the accident happened in a completly different one! (Mum was not with me when the accident happened)
This was something we were able to joke about as last time my parent were here they preformed cleansing ceremonies that according to the Healers here were meant to help with my recovery, and I joked that because they did it by the wrong pool, I am not healed! (wicked sense of humour, I know!)
Not one bad memory came into my head being by the pool. I expected flash backs, but instead was overwhelmed by all the good memories I have had here. Not one tear was shed on my part, and I even decided that I’d feel comfortable staying at the Jayakarta again!
Walking out of there felt so peaceful and the 3 of us felt extremely content..
We are back where we belong!
Christmas lunch was spent at our good friends Robbie and Jeff’s Bali Beach Shack. After many trips to Bali, this place soon became one of our favourite hot spots here. This is actually where I was before my accident, watching the best drag show in Bali!
Having “The Creepers” (film crew) filming us eating was a little strange, but once they got the footage they needed, it was nice to kick back and have a drink with them.
Christmas night was pretty uneventful, once night time hits here I am absolutely stuffed and can’t wait to hit the pillow – my body is still adjusting to the change of climate.
On Boxing day we caught up with our Balinese friend Willy, who hadn’t seen me since I was in hospital, and he too was pretty amazed with my progress. It was actually really interesting chatting to him about the freaky things that were happening to us up until I had my accident, and to get his take on the spiritual beliefs of the balinese as to why this could have happened… I still put it down to the fact that it happened because I was meant to help people get through this – Everything happens for a reason :)
Gaz and I also dropped into the Jayakarta and met the “Healer” that both mum and Gary worked with the last time they were here, Agung.
Agung was everything I had expected! Your typical Mr Miaogee (probably not the correct spelling but oh well!)
Out came this little old man in a white suit with the biggest smile I think I have ever seen, and boy did I pick up his amazing energy as soon as I shook his hand!
We had a quick chat that basically had him totally believing that my situation was temporary and that with my continued handwork, I would make a fantastic recovery.
We organised to start working with him a few days later…
During this time, it was becoming way to hard on all of us to stay at Su’s Cottages, so very luckily we found rooms at a new hotel just 10 metres down the road called Aq-Va.
Apart from one small step to get down to the pool, the hotel is completly accessible, and absolutely beautiful!
The staff are amazing and my room is just opposite the reception/restaurant so they are very attentive and help me whenever its needed.
After settling in to the new hotel, it was time to shop!
It’s so amazing to see how much people stare here when they see someone in a chair.. I am completely oblivious to this back home, but here its so obvious as it is very rare to see someone in a wheelchair here as usually a balinese in this situation would be tucked away in the villages.
However, the locals are extremly attentive, which is more then I can say about the tourists!
The new joke for us is when the locals yell out “TRANSPORT”, my response is, “I have my own!” and they have absolutely no response haha!
After doing some shopping it was time to start the pampering!
The producer aka head creeper (of Aussies in Bali), hooked us up with a lady that comes to your hotel to do massages etc, so we quickly booked in and all enjoyed a bit of R&R, after all thats what we are here for :)
I must say it was probably one of the best massages I have ever had, so much that I slipped the lady a bit of extra cash to do an extra half and hour!
As I have absolutely no idea about what day is what because I am running on Bali time, I’m not going to refer to exact days, but instead just go with the flow and talk about what we have done so far, leaving out days and dates! I have extreme Bali brain now :)
A huge highlight so far has been seeing our beautiful Balinese/Kiwi family, Jinae, Rochelle, Bagong and Jackson!
I must say that I have so much love for this family and am honestly so thankful that they are apart of our lives.
We met this family years ago, when we first started coming to Bali, through mutual friends, and to this day we remain great friends.
Upon my last visit here, four years ago, Jinae and Bagong had just welcomed baby Jackson into their family, and he was one of the most gorgeous babies I have ever met. Of course given that mum and I go baby crazy, we fought over him last time and spoilt him rotten!
Now four years on, Jackson has grown into a real spunky little man, with the most beautiful manners and personality, which doesn’t surprise me given his beautiful family, and Jinae and Bagong have also just welcomed another new addition.. Baby Kyra, which is just like Jackson all over again, an absolute little angel!
Mum mentioned to me that Jinae had asked her if it was going to be physically possible for me to hold Kyra, and when mum told me this I laughed, but then remembered that once again, the last time this family saw me, I couldn’t move a thing!
It was very overwhelming to see them all walk in, I stood up and gave both Jinae and Rochelle a huge hug, and may have shed a little tear as well.
These two were the rocks that held my mum and Gary together while I was in hospital here and I just cannot thank them enough.
Out came the suitcase that mum had filled with presents for Jackson and Kyra, and also the Caramello Koalas and Freddos that we never leave Australia without when we come to Bali, and it just felt so good to make share new happy memories and reflect on the last four years with our dear friends!
Jackson even showed me how he crumps now! (If you don’t know what that means, your obviously just not gangsta enough so I suggest googling it, haha!)
So something that both Gaz and I had to see while we were here was the Midget Boxing! Every day we were seeing the advertising truck drive past our hotel with the back full of the Midget Boxers.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not insensitive to small people, but just like I take the piss out of myself I will laugh at anyone else willing to do it as well!
A few months ago my parents told me a story about someone that Gaz works with that has an actual phobia of midgets and I almost peed my pants laughing when they were telling me, because I can totally understand their fear as I have a severe phobia of clowns and people don’t understand how serious these phobias are!
So when we found out about the boxing it was a MUST on our Bali to do list!
We arrived at the venue and before the she even started I was pissing my pants laughing and I don’t even really know why…
The show starts up with the midgets, both male and female, doing a dance, and I absolutely lost it when I saw that one of them was actually dressed as a baby, dummy and all!
Then they real action starts and they just playfully kick the crap out of each other, with a few other funny moves included… I have never seen so many tears of laughter pour down Gazzas face!
After the show we HAD to get a photo with them and they were just amazing people! Out there doing their thing, living their lives and being happy! I love it!
That day was also my first session with Agung, the “Healer”. After having a chat about exactly where I am with my recovery and what works in my body and what doesn’t, Agung started working on loosening up the tight muscles in my body, partially on my right side. He also did some reflexology on my feet which was extremely painful as the points he was working on where obviously connected to things that aren’t working properly, but it was really amazing to see how my body reacted to all of this, and how exhausted I was after the session. I went for a little walk after the session and my right foot which usually drags was able to stay upright and actually work the way it should, until it started to fatigue. But what it showed me was that the muscles and nerves are there, and they work, however they just need to be worked on and built up. So that’s my focus for 2014!
New Years Eve was spent pretty much in bed, as I had a visit from the dreaded Bali Belly. I have never had this before when travelling to Bali, and I never EVER want to experience it again.
In the four years since my accident I have never really thrown up, and I didn’t really think I had the muscles or reflexes to physically be able to, but apparently I do because I power chucked my way into 2014!
Happy New Year to me!
Because of the weather here at the moment – being the wettest time of the year, everyone is sick. The rain basically washes the germs and bacteria around therefor distributing Bali Belly to the tourists!
It’s so bad that mum was literally handing out Maxolon tablets like they were lollies!!
Ahh Bali, I still love you!