The Most Useful Thing We’ve Taken Travelling Around Asia: Waterproof Cast Cover

By Scarlett Hadley (Age 9)

We didn’t exactly take a waterproof cast cover, but…

Well the story really started when we began to climb for the second time in the Anapurna region. After 3 days of trekking it happened.

I broke my leg. Luckily, a helicopter came, soaring into the air with all five members of our family inside, and at last came to rest in Kathmandu, on Vayoda Hospital’s helicopter landing place. When we left Vayodah (me and Mummy in ambulance, Daddy and my sisters in a taxi) my leg had been set into a big full length cast.

Scarlett Onboard the Helicopter

Scarlett being a big, brave girl in the helicopter

The waterproof cast cover was delivered several weeks later in Chitwan National Park, where elephants are the great kings.

After one and a half weeks in Chitwan the cast cover because useful. My sisters were off to wash the elephants, my Nepali friend had to go to a funeral and so me and Mummy had to stay at our hotel, Travellers Jungle Camp. We went to the bathroom ad for the first time put on my waterproof cast cover. Woops, splash, the showers got out of hand! Water – war!

Me and Mummy had a waterfight until my sisters came home and we all played cards. It began when I threw a bucket of water at Mummy, big mistake! She threw one back at me. The bathroom got soaked as water went flying back and forth, having quite an adventure. Splashing back at Mummy all I could see was thousands and thousands of tiny droplets of water soaring to and fro around me. A lot of fun was involved in the weird and wonderful water fight. At last, after 2 and a half hours, both dripping, we left the flooded bathroom to drain, just as my sisters and Daddy came home.

Our Room Name (Rhyming SLang?)

Our room in Chitwan where we stayed a total of 41 nights while Scarlett recovered

Sublime Swimming

On the first day in Thailand we swam in the Hotel Malaysia’s big, deep swimming pool. Me and my sisters played mermaids and used the rubber rings as boats, sailing around and often falling off…

The swimming pool was 3-4 metres deep and very fun. The cold refreshing water had a well tiled floor, which was painted a light shade of turquoise, as were all four walls. My cast cover floated, allowing me to plow easily through the water.

Waterproof Cast Cover in Action

Scarlett in action with the waterproof cast cover

Sandy Samui

After I had my cast changed there was a different tale to tell…

This was swimming from Mummy to Daddy in the wild raging waves of Ko Samui. The water was deep and green but yet my waterpoof cast cover floated above the surface, bobbing gently with the waves. We had a very good time in Ko Samui. I could not get in the sea without help. I could not do this because I only had 3 legs (when I was on all fours).

Scarlett Literally Island Hopping

Broken leg on the beach, Ko Samui

Bad Bubble Maker:  Waterproof Cast Cover is Good.

When we went to do a bubble makers course [an introductory scuba diving course] it was a disaster!

The air tanks were too heavy and the wet suits were too big. I only had one flipper, but the cast cover didn’t sink. It floated along like a good little cast cover and we managed to swim the huge distance (Mummy pulling me half the way). My waterproof cast cover saved me that one big day.

Ready to go diving

Nothing stops Scarlett joining in, not even a broken leg!

Hua Hin

In Hua Hin, I had my cast taken off but my leg was so sensitive it couldn’t touch the water…

Hua Hin was an extremely nice place with an open, public swimming pool right next to our hotel. As my leg couldn’t touch the water I put on my waterproof cast cover. Then we all swam. We played for a very long time until I could take off the cast cover and slowly swim without it. YES! I didn’t have a broken leg!

Scarlett enjoying the freedom of no cast on her leg!

The early days of freedom!

My Foot

My Injured Foot

We’ve been to some dangerous places on this trip: Himalayan peaks, secluded jungles, lonely beaches, rocky reefs, pitch-black swim-throughs, remote diving trips, not to mention trying to negotiate third-World-city traffic… yet it was only yesterday that I had my first injury. In Legoland. That’s right. In possibly Asia’s safest, most engineered-so-not-even-toddlers-can-have-an-accident environment, I managed to slip and tear a big chunk out of my foot.

Walking along, carrying a big inner tube for one of the water slides, my knee inexplicably buckled, my foot slipped on the smooth stone and just as it was flying forward as fast as possible, crossed over from smooth flooring to (ironically) a rough, non-slip one. Unfortunately, it seems that non-slip surfaces, when attacked at high velocity by bare skin, turn from safety feature to cheese grater, leaving me in this case, several lumps of foot lighter.

Now my foot is all bandaged up and I’m walking with a limp… just as we’re arriving in Singapore where there’s nothing much else to do but walk around malls, parks, tourists sights, zoos and the like. And next we’re headed to the Philippines where I was really forward to diving with whale sharks. I really hope my foot’s healed enough to wear fins within the next few weeks.

Unfortunately, Singapore is by far the safest place we’ve visited on our travels. Which probably means I should be particularly careful. It seems that it’s the safe places you need to watch out for.


Me and My Lucky Landings

The spirit shrine where Scarlett came off her bike

The spirit shrine where Scarlett came off her bike

By Scarlett

My lucky landings have served me well over the whole of travelling.

At KC’s at Chitwan National Park a piece of bamboo treehouse fell at me. It was the tallest one and was about six metres. Luckily, instead of landing on my head, it landed very close – on my shoulder. So when we went trekking again, I didn’t have to carry my own rucksack.

The second time was, just as my shoulder healed, when I had my big fall in Nepal. I fell five metres and instead of breaking both my legs I only broke one! And I didn’t have to carry my rucksack. Again.

The third time was a week after I had an x-ray saying I could run and jump again. I had a bike crash. I was going downhill on a rented bicycle and my brakes weren’t working. I kept going faster and faster and couldn’t stop. I was very, very, very, very, very scared. Daddy was urging me on. My sisters were going slower because their brakes were working so there was just me and Daddy there. I managed to get round about five or six corners before it happened…

A corner came up and hit me. Or more like it hit me all along the side of my bike. I went flying. My bike came after me. I think I landed before it.

What happened next was a mystery. One minute I was on the ground, the next minute I was in Daddy’s arms. Well, things like that do happen when you bump your head.

The rest of the family arrived a few minutes later. But that time, Daddy’s t-shirt was a little bit bloody. Mummy asked me whether or not I was alright. I said, “yes”.

It was lucky because instead of landing in the undergrowth and wild places where snakes could live, or the big drop further up, I landed just in front of a spirit house on the softest bit of earth I could have landed on.

Mummy found my shoe eventually. And even though she doesn’t believe in spirits she did a little pray to them to say thank you. Daddy found me a little plastic superhero with moving arms on the floor and I called him Squiddo the Superhero. I think both of them working together saved me from breaking anything.

Moving On from Koh Chang

Our bungalow on stilts

Our bungalow on its tall stilts

And already, after just four days, we’re packing up. It’s beautiful here on Koh Chang but it wouldn’t be island hopping without some hopping. So, tomorrow, we’re getting on a speedboat and heading off to Koh Phayam, just a few miles to the south of here.

It’s hard uprooting ourselves. Not least because within moments of arriving anywhere, our rucksacks are empty and our room is suddenly stuffed with clothes, sarongs, hats, a kettle, tea cups, tea (Earl Gray and redbush – thanks, Mum!), sun lotion, a medical bag, a wash bag, a dirty washing bag, packing cubes, games, cards, diaries, pens and pencils, school books, various electrical gizmos, cameras, a multitude of chargers for the gizmos and cameras, inflatable mattresses, sheets, snacks, bottled water and all the other paraphernalia apparently essential to travelling light. It’s surprisingly easy to unpack all that stuff. And surprisingly daunting to somehow fit it back into our bags.

Whenever we stay still too long in any place where there’s not much more to do than wander the same jungle paths or strip of beach, a Groundhog Day effect comes into play, each day blending with the one before. The later days offer diminishing returns of experience.

And, I’m pretty sure there’s something psychologically beneficial to moving on like this. It’s not the house that makes a family. And it’s comforting knowing that we can survive in relative comfort with just what we carry. Or maybe not. Maybe it makes us feel rootless and unconnected and we’ll return to the UK psychologically shattered. I don’t know.

Whatever. We’ve decided to island hop, so it’s time to move on.

Most importantly, though, even more so than the impending mega-pack and possible psychological implications of abandoning the comforting familiarity of our resort, I have a very practical reason for wanting to move on. Our bungalow is one of the most dramatically-located we’ve yet inhabited. It’s perched atop stilts over a rocky outcrop jutting out to sea, directly facing the amazing sunsets you get here. As you sit on the decking, the waves lap the rocks below, crabs shuffling among rock pools. It’s stunning.

But it also scares me. We’re just recovering from one disastrous five-metre fall, and the balcony rail here is so low that every time my girls stand near it I find myself tensing to sprung and catch them should they fall. Even with strict warnings about acting sensibly near the edge (together with constant reminders), I just cannot quite relax. The rocks below are sharp, and of course, very hard.

I really don’t want any more accidents. And Koh Phayam looks like it has very soft beaches.

The Hospital

By Evie

Unloading Scarlett from the Helicopter

After an unexpected, bumpy helicopter ride we arrived in hospital and waited. What was wrong?

When we arrived, Tettie was taken to a private room in the hospital called the Emergency Department. Only Mummy and the nurses were allowed in. Next moment, a Tettie on a stretcher came past! Amazing news ­– her leg was broken!

Soon after, we were in the room, the room Tettie lay in for 8 days. The room was comfortable, had enough beds and ,most importantly of all, there was space for me and Mima to play. Of course, we didn’t like Kathmandu particularly, however we couldn’t help liking our cozy room.

Tettie got a moving bed. I was so jealous!

Scarlett in Her Hospital bed

We went to the zoo twice. We saw 2 tigers and a leopard and lots of deer and 8 bears and 4 monkeys and 5 buffaloes and lots of fish (including piranhas) and even a few guinea pigs!

Another day we went shopping for animal carvings in Thamel and Mima got a tiny gold tiger. Later, however, she  said she wanted a golden deer that she had wanted for ages (more than 2 weeks!) I found a pegasus which was too much money (2000 rupees). A really sad day for me. Daddy says I can get it if I still want it after our 3 week trip to Chitwan though.

Thamel Souvenir Stall

Spending a week in hospital was a bit much although the food was tasty and the beds were comfortable. I was sorry for Tettie because she couldn’t do these many things, just lie and wait. I guess she enjoyed night more than day! Poor young Tettie Wettie Woo Woo, falling from so high.

A Heroic Helicopter Ride

By Jemima

A helicopter came down to meet us as we waited with a girl who couldn’t walk at all!

Waiting for Helicopter Evacuation

It looked like it was snowing as bits and bobs of wood shavings flew up in the air and came down again with the force of the helicopter. Tettie was almost blown off her chair and Evie was pushed into Daddy by the force. We were all loaded into the helicopter…

I sat in the back next to Tettie and Evie. Evie sat next to me and Mummy. Tettie sat next to the other window and me. Mummy sat next to the other window and Evie. Daddy sat next to the pilot and the other window. And the pilot sat next to Daddy and the other (last) window.

Scarlett Onboard the Helicopter

The pilot was very good at steering. We set off for Pokhara, or so we thought.

As we flew we saw sky all around but mountains all below. We took many photos of the mountains. Basically, we flew over the top of nit noy (the Thai word for tiny) Nepal. Mountains plodded past us as we moved slowly along. There were lots of mountains with snow on. The snow was brilliant and beautiful and impressive! Great steps of field rose up and up and disappeared over the mountains. Little toylike houses moved past so slowly it looked like the helicopter was staying still and they were being pushed but they were so heavy the process was slow. Big, fluffy clouds pressed on either side but we never passed right next to or through one.

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It was the first helicopter ride we had ever had and it was really exciting. Me and Daddy and Evie might not have got to go on the helicopter but we did. If the helicopter had not come at all then we would have had to carry Tettie to the road where we would go to Pokhara in a car.

When we arrived in Pokhara, we landed on the roof of the hospital and realized we were in…


How a Pizza Broke My Leg

by Scarlett

I never realized what would happen when I ate that pizza…

Suspension Bridge on Annapurna Base Camp Trek

First we went down and flat. But that was only the first part of the day’s trek. Then we crossed a suspension bridge and went up. We were climbing steps forever or so it seemed. Sometimes the steps were little, sometimes the steps were big. Sometimes the steps were smooth, sometimes the steps were bumpy. Sometimes the steps were thin, sometimes the steps were fat. But always the steps went up!

When at last the steps came to a halt at the top of the hill, we had veggie curry and rice each (normally we get three and share). After lunch we climbed again the neverending steps up to our destination, Chommrong!

We were very hungry from all this walking and had three pizzas for tea instead of the usual dhal bhat. Of course, we shared and laughed together, playing pontoon, writing diaries and Mummy and Daddy reading Harry Potter to us. It was most comfortable in that little dining room with civilization all around us.

Then the pizza came and it was delicious. The rich taste stayed in your tummy for a long time after you ate it. Then we climbed yet more steps to bed feeling satisfied, unlocked the door feeling satisfied and got into bed feeling satisfied.

In the night I woke up feeling sick. I got up or tried to. Because as soon as my feet left the bed they hit the wall! I’d tried to get out of the wrong side of my bed. When I was at last out of bed, I felt my way to the wall. It was pitch black! Then I started to cry in despair because I didn’t know which way to go. Luckily, Daddy heard me cry out and showed me the way and I went to the toilet and back to bed.

Then I told him I didn’t feel well. He brought me something to be sick in. Almost immediately after he had left, I was sick! This time Mummy came and sorted me out.

When I woke up again, I was informed that we were not trekking again that day because I was ill but we were exploring the village.

On our way, I fell four or five metres! I landed on my leg it really hurt and the pain didn’t go away. Everyone was asking if I was OK. I said no.

Then Daddy carried me back up the hill to our lodge so that his arms ached.  Every time he stepped, it hurt my leg. When we reached the lodge, I lay down and Daddy ready Harry Potter which I definitely think made it better.

Carrying Scarlett to the Helicopter Landing Field

Then a helicopter came and took us to hospital. The flight was amazing! I felt as though I was floating on a very noisy cloud! The view went on all the time we were on the helicopter. Mountains skidded past and beneath us us villages skated. Forests seemed like patches of grass and I couldn’t see the difference between paths and rivers.

Himalaya Range from a Helicopter

Then we landed on the roof of the hospital and found out we where in Katmandu instead of where we thought we were going, Pokhara.

I never realized what would happen when I ate that pizza… I would end up in Kathmandu with a broken leg… But now I do!

A Sudden Change of Circumstances

As you may have guessed from my previous post, we’ve had to cut our trek in the Annapurna Region short. Scarlett had a nasty fall. She’s OK but it turns out that she has fractured her lower right leg in two places. One small, one larger.

We were four days into our trip and at least 5-6 hours hard walk from the nearest dirt road (probably a lot more carrying Scarlett). From there, if we could find a 4×4, it would be another half days drive to Pokhara. And to complicate matters, there was a general strike on so no public transport or taxis were running.

It was already getting on in the day when she had her accident so would have taken two days at least to get to hospital so our insurance arranged for a helicopter evacuation. They’re also paying for a private hospital room that’s big enough for all 5 of us to sleep in. I guess all that tedious insurance shopping was worth it.

It was all very chaotic what with looking after a very pained and frightened Tettie, a tearful Janet and two alternately bored and worried sisters, carrying Tettie up to a local lodge and then the helicopter landing field, finding someone with a phone that could make international calls, ringing the insurance company, waiting for them to authorise a helicopter and organise one to be dispatched, paying off our porter, repacking all our clothes and gear for our separate return journeys.

We had to repack because Initially the insurance company said only one adult and Tettie could be airlifted out. Scarlet wanted her mummy with her so I was going to walk back with Evie and Jem and our porter. Not ideal but I was just glad Scarlett would get treatment quickly, and we’d soon be reunited in Pokhara. But when the helicopter arrived, the pilot asked how many we were. I held up five fingers and he motioned for us all to pile in. Who was I to question him?

As it turns out, it was very lucky that we stayed together.

The flight was very exiting, high above the Himalayas in a tiny chopper, buffeted by side winds, terraced hillsides below us. Which is why, I think, we didn’t realise until we were over the city that we hadn’t been evacuated to Pokhara at all… but to Kathmandu!

Good for hospital care. Slightly awkward in that all out non-trekking gear was in left luggage at our Pokhara hotel.

Anyway, Tettie is getting great treatment here. She was rushed straight from the helipad to the emergency room and then onto x-ray. Initially she was in quite a lot of pain but it is lessening daily. They put a half cast on when she arrived because her leg was still swollen. But when the swelling goes down, hopefully tomorrow or the day after, they’ll put a cast on her whole leg right up to the hip and give her crutches. She’ll have to keep that on for 6 weeks, then have it replaced with a cast below the knee for a further 6 weeks. Three months of being in plaster!

Despite that, we are hoping to keep travelling around Asia, although there is some question as to whether the insurance company will keep insuring Tettie if she’s in plaster and what follow-up treatment she’ll be entitled to. We have flights to Sri Lanka booked for December 7th so that gives us enough time for the 3 weeks of initial rest the surgeons are prescribing if we do carry on. Then back on the road.

As soon as she’s discharged, we’re planning to get out of Kathmandu. It’s no place for kids at the best of times but with one child immobile and two others bouncing around it would be impossible. There’s nowhere to play, the traffic is terrifying, there’s often no pavements (and those three are are littered with rubble, rubbish and mangy stray dogs), and everything here costs money. Instead, we want to go back to the guesthouse near Chitwan National Park where we stayed for nearly three weeks. It’s all flat, there’s no real traffic except elephants and there lots of space. Sure, there’s also only one restaurant and nothing much to do but we did love it there. Of course Scarlett won’t be able to join in with elephant bath time this time but she says she’s ok with that.

And we have to somehow get our luggage from Pokhara (a 7-8 hours bumpy bus journey away!) as we only have warm trekking clothes and boots with us and it’s sweltering here in Kathmandu.

Anyway, wherever we end up, I’ve promised we’ll read Tettie stories, do drawing and maths, play chess and maybe buy a ukulele to learn chords on. She’s also very excited about learning to use crutches. I think she’s taking it better than I am. Both Janet and I feel terribly guilty.

As for what we’ll do in Sri Lanka, I have no idea. The next leg of our trip was supposed to be all about swimming and playing on beaches. Not something you can do in a pot. I guess one of us will sit with Tettie while the other plays with the other two. And we can still go whale and dolphin watching.

But that’s too far in the future to think about right now. At the moment, we’re just trying to get Scarlett better and deal with the shock of our sudden change of circumstances.