AQA

Exploring Sydney

02.11.22 09:54 AM By Dan
For this travel series, we collected three stories of people navigating travel with a physical disability. Below, hear from Mitt - he hopped on a plane to Sydney almost exactly two years after sustaining a spinal cord injury. 
Mittrajsinh, or ‘Mitt’, moved from India in 2019 to pursue a master’s degree in computer science. In September 2020, he sustained a T5-7 complete spinal cord injury. Because he was injured during covid, his parents couldn’t visit him until earlier this year. Making up for the almost three years apart, they stayed with Mitt for seven months, exploring Melbourne together, as well as Sydney. Heading to Sydney was Mitt’s first trip away from home since being injured.

By Mittrajsinh Gohil

How prepared were you feeling for the Sydney trip?

I asked Josh at AQA about how it’s all going to work with flights and accommodation, so I was feeling pretty prepared. And they taught me a lot in rehab, with wheelchair skills and transfers. We also went on a day trip while in rehab, which was good practice. Physically I was feeling ready - I go to the gym 2-3 times a week, every morning I push myself to a local cafe, about a 1km round trip with a big slope. 
After years apart it was a joyous reunion.
How did your transit go?

Getting on the plane was fine. Everyone was really helpful. Plus, I have some habits which help - my father is a teacher, so I learned to ask lots of questions from him. 

I went to a flight centre, and went with Virgin airlines. On the flight they had empty spaces, so I had a whole row to myself. And I used a condom catheter, which worked well for me. 

Before I left, I called my taxi provider in Melbourne and asked if he had any contacts in Sydney I could use, and he did. But when I called to organise a maxi taxi at the airport they were going to take an hour to come. So I had a look at the train, and I just caught that to my hotel, which was easy. I’d never seen a double decker train before!

Not only was this Mitt's first trip post-injury, but it was also his first time visiting an aquarium.

And accommodation?

The hotel we stayed at was nicer than our apartment, it was called the Wyndham hotel. I chose a nice hotel as I thought the accessibility might be better, but I also had a good look at the photos to make sure it would work for me, and it did.

What did you get up to in Sydney?

We went to the Blue Mountains, they were really beautiful, and we did a cable car up there. We saw the Harbour bridge via a ferry ride. Instead of the more expensive sight-seeing specific ferries, which were sold out, I just found a public ferry, which was a great experience, and wheelchair accessible. 

We also checked out Madame Tussauds wax museum, and the aquarium, which were both awesome. I’ve never been to an aquarium before! Everything was new for me, so everything was good. But you really need someone behind you pushing in Sydney, there’s lots of steep hills!

Just before my parents left, the Narvartri festival had begun, which is a Hindu festival. We went to a Garba night, which is a dance involving traditional dress. We danced together and it was a really special way to say goodbye.
As seen in the November issue of NewsLink - get your copy here

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