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'Dwarfism always seems to be the butt of jokes'

Mary Russell sitting in the pillion seat of a Vietnam motorbike
Mary Russell

Mary Russell, a black woman with dwarfism, set off on a 21-day, 900-mile trip down the Ho Chi Minh trail with five other disabled people.

The Londoner imagined it would be a unifying experience, but in fact she felt isolated among people she thought would be more like her.

"What made it for me was the beautiful scenic views," she says. "How can you be miserable when you're looking at mountains?"

For the journey through Vietnam, Russell, 48, travelled in a vehicle with Vicky Balch, who lost her leg in the Alton Towers rollercoaster accident and Steve Brown, a Paralympic wheelchair rugby player who's paralysed from the chest down.

But in fact, for some of the time at least, Russell would feel more isolated and different than she had done before.

Mary Russell's roadtrip story is told on Without Limits: Vietnam. The second episode will be broadcast Thursday 21 September at 20:00 on BBC One, and will be available to watch via BBC iPlayer for 30 days afterwards.

Mary Russell met a fellow dwarf during the trip through Vietnam

Beth Rose

BBC News

Mary Russell, a black woman with dwarfism, set off on a 900-mile journey through Vietnam with five other disabled people but quickly learned they were far from like-minded.

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