Adventure Ends in Injury

A couple of days ago, Karen and I went ashore and walked the road that follows the coastline past the airport and along the beaches on the north side of the bay we are on. Karen had heard there was a cafe that serves pizza over there. We never found the pizza place, but we found lots of little resorts with a number of dive shop operators there. We stopped at one of the cafes and had some lunch anyway. We also stopped at the island marine center which had a little science exhibit about marine life.

Yesterday we decided to rent a motorbike to explore Tioman Island some more. Bikes and motorbikes can be rented here. We’ve rented motorscooters/bikes on lots of islands before. The one we ended up was different because it had four gears – but, no clutch. It took a little getting used to, but we were doing fine. At least until we decided to go up the mountain to cross to the other side of the island.

We had heard this hill was really steep. We came to a complete stop once and I had to restart the engine. You pretty much needed to be in first gear. But, on a flatter section I moved up to 2nd. Then another steep part. I tried to downshift, but we were slowing down too much. Suddenly I got it downshifted and the bike suddenly pulled a wheely. Karen simply slid off the back and stood up, I tried to grab the hand brake, which was on the same side as the throttle. Of course, I got the throttle instead and it popped a bigger wheely. Before I knew it, the bike was coming backwards and turning downhill. I must have pulled the left handle and it tilted left and slammed to the ground. I did a flip over the bike and on my left shoulder, rolled and stood up. Feeling like an idiot. Karen said it was impressive.

Three locals were just coming up behind us on their bikes and saw it all. They rushed over to help with the bike. Meanwhile, my finger was bleeding a bit. I suddenly realized it was going to need stitches right on the knuckle. Karen got some tissues out and we covered it. A quick check, and other body parts seemed ok. The bike headlight had popped out, had some scratches on the handlebar, and the left turning signal light was smashed. A sideview mirror popped off as well. Finally, the left pedal was bent so you could barely shift gears.

Even so, we managed to ride back down the hill with the motor off. Once on level ground, we got the engine started and put it in first gear. We rode it slowly back to the rental place. They were concerned first about us, and then said they were sorry but we would have to pay for the damages. I was imagining a big bill. But, they only asked to keep the 50RM deposit and for another 100RM. That’s a total of about US$50. They even gave back the fee I had paid for 3 of the 4 hours we had rented.

We explained I would need to go to the clinic, which was a short walk away. A woman from the rental shop came over to help because the clinic was closed on Saturday. She went to the doctor’s apartment and explained the situation. The young man came out and took us to his clinic, and he cleaned the wound, gave me local anesthetic, and put some stitches in. He also gave me antibiotics, pain killer, and anti-inflammatory. The bill? 15RM – about US$5. Yes, you read that right. He asked for my name, passport number, what country I was from, and phone number. That was it for the medical form. I said thank you very much and apologized for calling him out on Saturday. It took about 30 minutes. I shudder to compare what this would have been like in the US medical system.

We went back to the boat and I took it easy. My left shoulder had an old injury that apparently was re-activated by the tumble. So, my arm got a bit stiff and hard to move later in the day. I also have a scrape on the left elbow, but nothing serious. Other than that, and the finger, things seem ok. I’m very bummed I’ll be limited in water activity again, but glad it wasn’t worse. I’m also bummed we didn’t get to do our tour. Maybe we’ll try again in a few days, but we’ll take a taxi over the mountain.

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One Response to Adventure Ends in Injury

  1. Paul Gilster says:

    Good grief, Frank, you’re truly taking a medical tour of the world! Glad this didn’t turn out worse, and hoping for a quick recovery. Stay off bikes for a while.


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