Back in May last year, we travelled with my father-in-law (FIL) to Croatia, Hungary and other European countries. Based on the experience of travelling with a senior person (age 80+) I wrote my post The Challenge of Travelling which was well received with 828 “Likes” and 62 ” Five Stars” votes so far http://retireediary.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/the-challenge-of-travelling/.
Spring has arrived in the southern part of China. We were anxious to see the canola (rapeseed) flowers, the cherry blossoms and other flowers blooming in the early part of Spring. Once again we travelled with my FIL, this time to Yunnan and Guizhou provinces on the south-west side of China.
We were delighted by what we saw. A highlight of the journey was to go up to the mountains to view the Land of Ten Thousand Hills (WanFengLin). High up on the mountain, we could see numerous hills springing up from the plains which were carpeted in yellow and green.
As someone who like taking pictures, it is not surprising that my FIL ventured out along the stepping-stones connecting the banks of the river (lower left hand corner of the picture above) towards the center of the lower waterfall area, happily taking pictures. While walking back on the stepping-stones, he slipped and fell into the (shallow) water, getting completely wet on the left side of the body. Fortunately, he only suffered some minor scratches in the leg. His new DSLR camera, however, was damaged through immersion into the water.
As we aged, we become less mobile and less able to balance our body movements. This makes me ponder whether we should be doing something now to improve our physical balance and mobility. Tai Chi is said to be good for improving balance. I ponder for a moment whether I should take up Tai Chi again.
My FIL was not terribly disturbed by the fall but became very cautious during the rest of the trip. For the rest of the trip he resorted to the use of a walking stick. This journey also taught us that we have to be patient when travelling with seniors. As my FIL did not bring his hearing aids with him, sometimes we found it difficult to effectively communicate with him as to our travel plans and intentions. Some of our challenges was to make him understand of our intentions and to remind him of the potential dangers along the way.
When we reached one of our destinations (literally translated as an art gallery on the cliffs), my FIL wisely declined walking up and down along paths cut into the limestone cliffs on both sides of the river (picture below). He waited while my wife and I walked up and down many steps and paths cut into the cliffs, crossed the river to make a turnaround, only to find my FIL drowsed into sleep in the waiting area.
After this inspiring cliff walk, we proceeded to Luoping in the eastern part of the Yunnan province. Here limestone hills rise up amid a sea of flowering rapeseed plants. Its vast farmland is covered by the blossoming rapeseed crops every February and March, drawing flocks of tourist and photographers.
My FIL was overjoyed when he saw the whole area carpeted in rapeseed flowers giving an impression of a golden sea. Fortunately, he still has another compact camera with him to take many lovely shots of the yellow fields.
It was also a joy to walk into the fields of these flowers. I like Yellow in that it gives you a sense of positivism; a golden ray of hope.
Walking back, I became more convinced that we should be doing some of the more physically demanding trips while our bodies can still cope with them; leaving the more leisurely and less demanding ones to the time when we become more restricted in physical mobility. In the meantime, also get ourselves prepared for the challenges of travelling while we age gracefully.