photography by Emma Gaffy
It started with Garuda Indonesia Airlines. Never having flown with them before, I was a little worried. My experiences with Jetstar haven't been positive. Seriously, in this day and age, how is it possible for representatives (staff) of major companies not to be trained in basic manners when it comes to their customers? Especially customers with a disability who sometimes require the staff's assistance. Being openly humiliated or made to feel you're a burden for simply asking for some help with your bags. ANYWAY, my experience flying Garuda? 10/10. The staff, the cleanliness of the plane (and toilets), food and the little touches made for an absolutely trouble-free journey. Okay, you may think I'm putting too much emphasis on this (I know, it's only an 7hr flight) but when you're stuck in economy with chronic-pain for that amount of time - every second counts. In June I'm flying internationally with Qantas - I'm hoping that's an absolute joy!
Now getting back to our 10 day escape - hello Sudamala Resorts. And hello private, pool villa. Yes, that's right. The resort was great for people like me, who struggle with stairs. Plenty of ground floor accommodation and hardly any stairs in sight!
We spent a little extra but oh it was so worth it! Not having to trek down to the amazing main pool (which was not too far from us) and lug our towels, sunscreen, books etc was very handy. Aside from obvious laziness, my annoyingly sensitive right-foot/toes despise surfaces that aren't carpet or grass (the soft stuff). The foot-drop causes my toes to have extra sensitivity and drag along the ground. Not helpful when walking to from/around a pool. Slip on a pair a thongs you say? The thing with paralysis is (in some cases anyway) that you lose the ability to grip things - hence, no thong wearing.
So therefore, having our own pool in extremely close proximity to our bedroom was very handy. However, for those guests with a disability who need assistance getting into a pool, unfortunately, there's no hand rails. I also found this a problem - I had to sit on the concrete stairs beside the pool and go in on my butt (see below) after trying and failing to balance unassisted by a wall.
I don't swim enough, but everytime I do - I feel better for it. The fact that the pool was literally three steps out of our bathroom - I had no excuse not to go for dip everyday. It was heaven.
I've had massages all over the world and back in Melbourne, around twice a month. I had four treatments during our stay at Sudamala, each just as luxurious as the last. Over the years, I've attempted almost every type of therapy to relieve my post-stroke body (chronic pain is hell) and found massage is one of the only things that works. Therefore, seeking out different types and techniques of massage is always high on my priority list when arriving in a new country or city. The five star service, care and attention given at Mango Tree is second to none. Highly recommend a visit if you're in Sengiggi.
So, in summary – this holiday was a dream. A combination of luxury, romance, relaxation and most importantly, it was easy. Travel isn't always easy when you've got a disability - the planning doesn't stop after you've got everything in the suitcase. What works for me? Try and travel with people who know what you can and can't do and are willingly to support you. Don't be disheartened when you can't do a certain tour or activity, there's always something you can do - it just takes research. You never know what's in store when you step outside your comfort zone.
Wheelchair Accessible Holiday Rentals in Lombok: https://goo.gl/RvyviH
Disabled Divers Instructor Course (DDI) in Gili Islands, Indonesia: https://goo.gl/pvgpya