Saturday, 23 May 2009

So What Did Happen the Day I Fell Off?

The problem with the lack of detailed maps in China is that it makes it difficult to venture far from the beaten track, and we have been invariably forced to follow the main roads. However, on the fateful Monday (27th April), we were leaving the hills behind us and nearing the flatter grasslands of Inner Mongolia. This also meant that we were able to get off the main road and ride along lovely little earth tracks to the side, occasionally passing through little rural villages. Above is Li Jing riding the thin horse and leading Hei Feng for the first time.
We passed a large area of marsh where a pair of lapwing were flying - here is Li Jing with the horses. Bajiu was having a lift in the trailer!

We stop for a rest roughly every 10 kms and are sometimes inspected by curious villagers. Here I am providing entertainment for some cheerful ladies in my guise as Mrs Darth Vader. They were particularly fascinated in playing guess the foreigner's age.

Below is the last photo I took of Zorbee about 15 minutes before I fell off - butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.

We had already covered about 20 miles and only had another 8 miles or so to go. I was too relaxed and not concentrating when Zorbee suddenly took fright and shot forward from beneath me - no doubt panicking more when I was taken by surprise and lost my balance. I was catapulted backwards onto my right shoulder and head. I have no recollection of hitting the deck, but suddenly realised to my surprise that I had not only fallen off and was on the ground, but had actually hurt myself - this is the first time in 50 years of riding that I have ever broken anything falling off a horse!
We carry a walkie-talkie, so Li Jing had summoned the 4x4 within minutes, and luckily we were just coming to a town with a hospital, so it was not long before I was being X rayed. It showed up the snapped collarbone (which I had realised) and broken ribs (which I had not), but not the punctured lung. So I decided as there was little that could actually be done, it would be better to brave the 7 hour drive back to Beijing where there was likely to be better medical care.
The horses were settled in a nearby racecourse before we set off. Back in Beijing I initially went to the SOS International clinic, and then on Wednesday to a Chinese hospital where they diagnosed my punctured lung, before ending up in the excellent Beijing Family Hospital once I was sure the insurance was sorted.
I also realised the day after that I had a tender patch on my head where I must have landed - I have no doubt that my injuries would have been far more serious, even fatal, if I had not been wearing my Charles Owen ProII helmet.

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