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Published: November 3rd 2010
Leaving Queenstown ...
on our way to Milford Sound
When you feel like you're flying high and appear to be suffering from excessive happiness, forces of nature seem to have a way of intervening to get you grounded. You get snowed-in, bogged and hit by a freakin' bus, that's what happens. In our case anyway...
My dream of a good holiday has materialized. I was floating in high spirits, intoxicated with the sheer beauty of the new country I was in. It was the start of spring. Nature is regenerating - the trees have just sprouted new shoots and grass is greener than ever. We are on the road to Milford Sound
, one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand and on earth. I’ve read and been told that the stretch from the town of Te Anau
is the most scenic road you’ll ever see. Unfortunately, it was also the most dangerous road in New Zealand , where blind spots and tourists driving on the wrong side of the road are mostly to blame. And also, the weather ...
I was in complete awe on our way to Milford . The scenery is simply breathtaking. I kept taking snapshots. It's a 3 hours drive to
Milford. The scenery and weather changed dramatically as we get closer into the fiordland. There's a sign saying the road is going to be closed by 3pm. We're already 2/3 of the way and it's only 2pm so I thought we'll get there just in time. The weather shifted from partly sunny to overcast, rainy to blizzard. Living in the snowless sunshine state of Queensland most of my life, I was utterly fascinated by the heavy snowfall. I felt like a kid in a candy store surrounded by fairy floss. Little I know about the danger that lies ahead as the road gets icy and inundated with snow. All I know is ... I'm happy.
On the other hand, Jamie's stress level escalates as the road’s snowy condition worsen. He is not used to driving in snow. We are 30km away from reaching Milford Sound when Jamie's cool reached a breaking point ... We got bogged. Jamie got out of the car and asked me to get into the driver’s seat. I tried to drive it out of bog whilst he pushes. I had trouble straightening the car out as it constantly sliding. Jamie thought of putting the snow
chains on the tires to gain some traction. Then it happens …
I remembered Jamie yelling “sh!t…sh!t…sh!t !!!”
. I had no idea what was coming. The windscreen and windows are foggy. I just felt the impact of something massive slamming into our car. The car spun out. My head hit the window hard. I was in daze and barely conscious. Jamie opens the car door, looked at me and our sons … then asked if everyone are alright. I felt like everything were in slow motion. Still in daze, I got out of the car with the kids and zigzagged my way towards the tour bus that hit us. We boarded the bus to take refuge from the heavy snowfall whilst waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Our hired car was totalled and on the risk of another collision with cars skidding down on the icy road. No matter how ironic it sounds, the bus that hit us was the only safer place to be. The South Korean tourists in the bus were very concern. They offered me a seat behind the driver who is still shaken up about the accident. He’s unable to make eye-contact with me and offer
a single word of sympathy or comfort. One of the roadworks men who called the ambulance kept checking on me asking if I’m ok. The Korean tourists also showed so much empathy. One of them started rubbing my back and hand to comfort me. A guy offered me and Ryan a mint candy. Despite of aches and pain I was in, I managed to crack a smile when Ryan showed me his mint candy wrapper saying, “It's moments like these you need minties “
with a drawing of an ambulance and a clumsy skier (which reminded me of the times I repeatedly fell on my @ss on our skiing trip in Queenstown only a day ago). I thought it can’t be any more fitting . So the minty wrapper will fill a significant place in my scrapbook as a constant reminder.
An hour later, the ambulance finally arrived. They escorted me inside the ambulance, braced my neck and strapped me in a stretcher. The paramedic kept check of my vital signs. As my blood pressure escalates at a dangerous level, the driver pulled over on the side of the road, checked me and administered medication to ease my
pain and calm me down. He then started driving at an alarming speed trying to get to the hospital as quick as possible.
I couldn’t contain my emotions any longer. I started weeping in silence concealing away my tears. I covered my eyes with my forearm so no one can see me in my weakest state. I don’t want anyone to worry about me. I’ve always been emotionally constipated. I have a habit of hiding my true feelings. I’d like to believe that I’m strong, in charge and in control even when I’m crumbling inside. I always wanted to be the rock that my family can depend on. I can’t afford to fall apart.
When we finally arrived in Fiordland Medical Center in the town of Te Anau , a physician is already waiting for me. He quickly performed a medical check and advised that I should be transferred to their Regional Medical Hospital in Invercargill
for an X-Ray. Invercargill is the most southern town in NZ which is 2 hours away from Te Anau. An ambulance from Invercargill met us half-way to take me over. At the hospital, a nurse cut my clothes off with scissors and
slipped a hospital robe on. A minute later a doctor poked me everywhere ‘til she hits a sore spot. They were unable to perform an X-Ray ‘cause the technician is not available. The doctor simply used an ultrasound to check for any internal injuries. Apart from concussion, whiplash, headaches, bruised ribs and arm, sprains and strains, I’m out of grave danger. They kept me at the hospital for observation overnight with a nurse checking my vital signs every 2 hours.
As a positive person who always see the bright side of life, it’s out of character to write a blog with a sombre tone. But I had to get it out of my chest. Call it a therapy. In hindsight, I just escaped a life and death situation. I was scared, angry and sad. Scared that I could have been in a worst condition. Angry for believing that I’m in full control of my life and destiny is just an illusion. And sad that I might not even grow old to see my future grandchildren and bake them cookies. No matter how positive and healthy I live my life; to try to grow old happily and gracefully, it can
Leaving Queenstown ...
on our way to Milford Sound, just few hours before the accident
be all taken away in an instant. It dawned on me that the life force I hold dear is only borrowed. From dust I came to be, to dust I shall return...
Anyway, I'm feeling a lot better now. I'm kind of thankful that it was me who's gone through this and not my kids. I can handle physical pain, but emotional pain would be hard. Jamie said that I should stop buying lottery tickets as I’ve already used up my luck. With the second chance and lucky stars still shining upon me, I guess I’m just gonna have to keep on living .....
The next time I get those cheesy chain-mails from friends asking if I ever ... caught a snowflake with my tongue, gone skinny dipping or got hit by a bus with a clean underwear, at least I can now tick a couple of boxes off. Ahhh... glad to have my sense of humor back .
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