When I fell off a motorbike and crushed my left wrist in Koh Phangan, Thailand, I quickly went into spiritual-existensial crisis mode.
Why did this happen to me? Was I supposed to die? I could have died! Is the Universe trying to tell me something?
Earlier that morning, my travel-mate Mandira, a Dutch girl I had met at an ashram in Australia, and I had been driving around on a rented scooter, discovering the island. We drove past beaches vibrating with colorful energy, Thai markets boasting coconuts and bananas, and countless reggae bars. We also found many detox centers and Yoga schools, which we stopped into and learned about possible courses to take. We were getting excited to stay on this island for a while, make lots of friends, do yoga, drink from coconuts, and bliss out. Our energy was skyrocketing with excitement and gratitude to have found ourselves in the right place.
Then we crashed.
I don’t intend to blame anyone but myself for my accident, but I will mention for your travel references that in Thailand, the locals will rent you motorbikes without teaching you how to drive them, without insuring you, and without even asking you “Do you know how to drive this?” It was Day 2 of my improvised self-taught scooter “lessons” and we were driving on completely foreign, dirt-road territory.
Long story short, I didn’t understand the proper way to brake when driving down a steep hill, and I lost control of the bike. We fell onto some grass (thank God not onto boulders just a few feet away) and my fractured left wrist was the worst damage done. We went to a Thai government clinic hospital rather than a private tourist one, because I had no travel insurance. After resetting my wrist by hand with zero pain medication and wrapping it up in a cast, the Thai doctor hushed my screams and used his little English to tell me “Broken. One month.”
I’ve been procrastinating writing about this experience, mostly because I don’t enjoy reliving it. The accident was horrifying, and was the ultimate low point of my travels. But I recently read something that convinced me how important it is to share this story.
“Whether you like it or not, everything that is happening at this moment is a result of the choices you’ve made in the past.”
At first, it is hard for me to accept that I attracted this awful accident into my life. I am an extremely positive person who consciously tries to spread joy every day. So why did I deserve to go through this terrifying experience, to wear a cast for months, and later have to end my travels and go home for surgery?
Then again, it’s rather simple. I made the choice to travel without insurance. I made the choice to drive a motorbike without knowing how to. I made the choice to drive down that steep hill. These were all my choices, and they were made with minimal consciousness.
So I admit it. I deserved the accident. Karma got me, bad.
Chopra also says you can “transmute or transform your karma to a more desirable experience” by asking yourself:
“What can I learn from this experience? Why is this happening and what is the message that the Universe is giving to me?”
That’s exactly what I’ve been pondering since the day of the accident. Now that a few months have gone by, I have a more objective view on the event that clarifies a lot for me.
I think the Universe was telling me to mellow out my energy, slow down, and be more responsible. It’s easy to get high on travel-adrenaline, but we must remember, we are not invincible!
Chopra says we can “redeem our karmic debt” by passing on our learned lesson to others.
So, this is for you:
If you go to Thailand or another country in Southeast Asia, you will see that nearly all the locals drive motorbikes. I saw people from ten-year-old boys to eighty-five-year-old women nonchalantly scooting around without helmets. I saw entire families of five stuffed onto one scooter, babies squished between kids and adults. They make it look easy, but it’s not.
Be conscious when considering to drive a motorbike abroad. Many insurance companies will not cover motorbike accidents, because they happen so frequently to travelers and the damage is devastating and expensive. Get travel insurance that covers motorbike accidents, like World Nomads. Then, before you even think of driving one, make sure you properly learn how. Have someone really experienced teach you. Tour the area with a local who knows the roads before driving around alone. Lastly and obviously, drive carefully.
To end on a good note, my motorbike accident actually resulted in many ironically positive outcomes. A very kind, friendly, ex-pat French woman took my friend and I in after picking us off the road and bringing us to the hospital. We ended up staying with her for two weeks (free of cost) in her beautiful home in the jungle with her dog, two bunnies, and three cats. She became our good friend and even cooked delicious French and Thai food for us every day. We also befriended a Thai man who worked in a reggae bar just next to where the accident happened. He connected us to many other Thai locals who became our community in Koh Phangan.
Four months, one rushed flight home, one surgery, three casts, and sixteen sessions of physical therapy later, I am fully healed. My wrist has ten screws, bone from my hip, and a very bad-ass looking scar on it. My scar will forever remind me (and now you) how fragile the human body is, how precious life is, and to always be careful and conscious while traveling.
*Featured image PC: Alessandra Caprice
*All other images property of the author, all rights reserved.