Back in September I was recovering from surgery, twiddling my thumbs and wondering what I was going to do with my 3 weeks of annual leave that I still had left to take off work before the end of the year. It’s been a few years since I did any adventure travel when I drove to Mongolia in 2012 and I started thinking that something like this is the high that I’d like to end the year on.
Out of nowhere, I received an email from a friend at the charity Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed (CRP) in Dhaka with an invite to attend the Asian Spinal Cord Network conference at the end of November. It’s been 4 years since I was volunteering at the CRP and always knew I’d go back there.
On my last visit to the CRP I’d been blown away with the services they were offering people with a spinal cord injury in a developing country. So much so, that I was inspired to travel home overland to raise money for an outreach development project they were working on in Moulvibazaar, a northern province of the country. Taking on this fundraising challenge led me on what was to be a one of a kind, incredible adventure trekking across Asia.
When the opportunity came up to visit the CRP again it wasn’t even a question whether I’d go, just how long I’d go for. After looking at how much time I had, with annual leave, time off in lieu, office closure over Christmas and the way that the working week had fallen this year, I realised that I had 6 weeks of travelling ahead. I was going to make the most of this.
My plan now involves a lot of South East Asia, starting in Bangladesh then going on to Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Places that I’ve never been to before but have been on my to do list for quite a while.
Doing solo travel of this size in a wheelchair means that I’m going to have to pack light. I’ll be taking a 40L rucksack with the bare essentials: sleeping bag, micro fibre towel, medical equipment, mosquito repellent, sun cream, minimal spare clothes, toothbrush, comb etc. Visas, vaccinations, malaria tablets and solid tyres are all in place, so it would seem I’m good to go.
I’m writing this entry a week before I take off, feeling confident that all the essentials have been taken care of. I’ve never been to these countries before and no doubt that there are major challenges ahead, but I’ve got a great feeling that this trip will offer me the (mis)adventure that I’m looking for.