I went to rural China for one day (on crutches)


Six years ago I was invited to go to the, then newly launched, Club Med in Guilin found in the Guangxi region of southern China. Driving from the airport to the all-inclusive resort, an abundance of moss-green peaks greet you along the way, all wearing the same misty cloak.

READ: Bao over baguettes: China to overtake France as top travel destination by 2030 

Home to the Li River, Guilin's landscape is one of almost-mystical quality. 

Yet, in a phenomenal twist of typhoon, I flew all the way from South Africa, only to spend a single night here. On crutches, nonetheless. 

I broke my ankle 4 weeks prior to travelling, but still decided to go. I had my ticket, and I was determined despite my orthopaedic surgeon's reservations. 

My journey to Guilin was planned out, Cape Town to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Guilin (3 days), Guilin to Hong Kong (1 night) and then Hong Kong back to Cape Town.

A day before boarding my Cathay Pacific flight, a typhoon hit Hong Kong. Sufficed to say, things got complicated, fast.  

Sun beams on a misty morning on karst mountains an

(Sun beams on a misty morning on karst mountains and river Li in Guilin/Guangxi region of China. Photo: iStock)

From being rerouted to Bangkok, delayed for 8 hours, missing a connecting flight and losing our luggage, we finally made it to China. A day and a half late.

Hence why I only spent one night (6pm to 1pm the next day to be exact) in Guilin. 

On crutches, you truly realise how big airports are, the vast distances you cover on foot when travelling, how inaccessible sights are (I attempted and succeeded at trekking my way into a cave) and how tricky small things, like fetching your luggage from the belt, can be.

I cannot even comprehend how this effects those that are differently-abled. 

READ: One of the world's most unreachable historical sights is now accessible by wheelchair  

This trip taught me that travel cannot be controlled. And maybe we shouldn't try to control every aspect of it either.

You can have all the right apps, everything booked, know city streets like the back of your hand and still get lost. Still pack the wrong clothes, and still end up being let down by that place you have wanted to visit ever since you were a child. You can end up with a fever in Venice or lost luggage in the Swiss Alps and hate every second of it - or you can just let go.

In the end, its a great story to tell. Travelling, literally means leaving your comfort zone. Otherwise you could've just stayed home on the couch where it's all cushy and nice. 

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