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Trips Taken

Taiwan

November 1 - 19, 2012

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Picture Albums
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Pictures Part 1 [Travel with Taiwan]
Pictures Part 2
Pictures Part 3 [12 Hour Tour]
Pictures Part 4 [12 Hour Tour]
Pictures Part 5
Pictures Part 6
Pictures Part 7
Pictures Part 8 [Southern Taiwan]
Pictures Part 9 [Southern Taiwan]
Pictures Part 10 [Southern Taiwan]
Pictures Part 11
Pictures Part 12
Pictures Part 13 [The Trip Back]

Description & Accessibility

 I decided to combine all aspects of the Taiwan trip in regards to the description and accessibility information.

This trip was a combination of being a tourist and visiting a niece from the Philippines that was working in a factory in Taiwan.

The trip there - most airports allow you to take your own powered mobility device to the actual airplane entrance at least that is the way in most airports in north America.

Tokyo, Japan - They had great concerns over the the type of battery used on the travel scooter. One person spent at least a half hour when I had already told them it was a Gel which is the same as dry cell. In the end they figured it out.

I transferred to a manual wheelchair and the powered travel scooter was taken at the gate not at the plane which is what I would have preferred.

When arriving in Taiwan they did not deliver the travel scooter to the plane or gate even though I had given instructions to do that. Instead they brought it to the baggage claim area. They pushed me in a manual wheelchair to the baggage area while the baggage was claimed and I got the powered scooter back.

We had a pre-arranged ride with meet and greet service, however the area in which we where met was outside of the baggage claim area, this was due to immigration and customs being after baggage claim. I had arranged for a van to pick us up so that there would be enough space for both luggage and the disassembled scooter.

I would like to point out the choice to bring the travel scooter instead of the heavier powered wheelchair because even with extensive research I could not find a service that could pick us up that had a wheelchair lift or ramp. The fact that a lot of the tour sites in Taiwan was in Chinese did not help in the research either.

I would also like to note that although I did not specifically enquire while in Taiwan, I never came across even one accessible taxi anywhere.  However the MRT (metro rail transit) as well as Taiwan's high speed rail was accessible with roll on capabilities along with elevators at the stations. I notice certain buses had the wheelchair symbol on it (but not all) but never witnessed anyone in a wheelchair getting on or off one. English as well as Chinese signs are posted at most of the transit MRT and high speed rail stations. The MRT does not go to the airport (at least not the international one that we arrived at), I did not check on the transit buses if they go to the airport.

A 4 star hotel, and we selected that hotel because it was in the same area that a niece of ours was living.

We stayed at the 'Chateau de Chine' Hotel located at...

82 Jhong-Jheng Road, Sinjhuang District, Sinjhuang District, Taipei, Taiwan

http://sinjhuang. chateaudechine.com/ en-us/About.aspx

It is considered 'New Taipei', Bathroom had both a bath tub and a walk in shower area. We also had free buffet breakfast every morning. What was strange was the bathroom had a large window looking into the bed area, but had a blind inside the bathroom that could be pulled down over that  inside window.

Large shopping in the area, a night market close by.

I do recommend that if you have mobility limitations and / or are traveling with a mobility device that you do have a fully able bodied companion with you.

Traffic can be hectic here, motorcycles can often out number other types of traffic, traffic patterns and how they drive can be very different than what we are used to, and it is often a game of chicken when trying to cross the street even if you have the correct light and walk sign. Some sidewalks can be difficult to pass when using a mobility device, motorcycles that park on the sidewalks can often block passage. Motorcycles can come off the driven path and across the sidewalks near intersections. Motorcycles can sometimes race up the side walk. Motorcycles at a lot of intersections who wish to turn left often have to loop to the right and stop in a designated marked section and then cross on the next light, that spot can often block or crowd the ramp area from the road to the sidewalk.

Holes in the sidewalk can be a hazard to mobility devices, ramps on and off the sidewalk can be dangerously steep. Sometimes it is safer to ride the side edge of the road than on the sidewalk. Certain ramps you need a fully able body person right in the back of you to prevent a travel scooter from tipping over, some can be so steep that it is simply too dangerous even with an able bodied person with you. If you have to ride the edge of the road wait for a break in traffic and then get on the side of the road until the sidewalk improves. As mentioned I feel it is much safer to have an able body person in this area to come with you that will be a traffic spotter and will help keep of eye on traffic and  stop approaching traffic as you pass or cross the street.

There are 2 MRT stations nearby, with elevators to the underground station. A lot of the stores on the street have a step up into the store which makes it not accessible, if it is a step up of an inch or so you may be able to enter with your mobility device, anything greater and you will not get in. MacDonald's in the area was first floor accessible, the Ikea shopping complex was completely accessible with elevators, a shopping mall in the area was completely accessible once you got there. The night marker was hectic to get to but once there you could easily go through the area, you could still get some motorcycle traffic through there but if you traveled on the side you where ok, large amount of pedestrian traffic in the evening at the night market. The night markets are not open in the daytime, they will gradually start to open by mid to late afternoon and in full swing by evening. Store stalls in the night market, can be packed and not easy to get into with a mobility device, some also have step ups.

No visit is complete without visiting at least one of the many night markets there. If you do not speak Chinese be sure to bring a calculator to help negotiate / bargain for the best price.

There is a temple right beside the  'Chateau de Chine' Hotel , and if you stay here be sure to visit this temple, one of the ramps going into the temple is very steep and if using a travel type scooter make sure there is an able bodied period directly in back of you so you do not tip over.

We found the people where all very friendly if you can manage to get past the language barrier when out shopping, you will come across some people that know some English but lots that do not. The front desk at the hotel will have some that will speak English. Not as many staff will know English where the breakfast buffet is.

12 Hour Tour

http://charles.yourchoice.tw/

Same agency that provided the airport transfers.

Two days after we arrived I had pre-arranged a 12 hour tour. The vehicle used was able to carry the powered travel scooter but was not roll on accessible.

The tour guide was not one of those that talked on as a lot of guides do when on  a tour, he basically just drove us from one spot to another so you could likely  if you can get past the language barrier do it far cheaper by taking a taxi from one place to another. However in my case using a travel scooter it was easier to pre-arrange with having an English speaking driver, than trying to make a Chinese taxi driver understand how to transport a travel scooter.

National Palace Museum

For those that are really into history and Chinese ancient artifacts then this is the place you, not so much if you are really not into all of that. If it is you thing and want to study, listen to all the optional audio tour then it could take a large portion of the day to see it all. We where there less than 2 hours as we had other places to go to. You have to buy admission tickets to gain entry.

They will refuse to allow any powered mobility device to proceed through the museum and you must transfer to one of their supplied manual wheelchairs which I found was too low and not as comfortable as it should be. The museum is completely accessible

Martyrs Shrine

Hourly changing of the guard ceremony. Good picture opportunities, spend about an hour here.

The area is accessible, never checked the bathrooms though.

Taipei 101

First few floors is a shopping mall, mostly high end stores with the higher price tags.

Going to see the view at the observation deck is worthwhile, you must purchase tickets to go up.

There is a food court there B level. Although the clean up lady tends to want to take away your food plate before you even finish eating all the food on it.

All accessible.

Wufenpu Fashion Area

This is a worthwhile shopping area to go to with thousands of shops, with bargaining room.

Accessible yes to go through but some shops can be very crowded had to get into with a mobility device and some will have step ups into them.

We had other locations on the agenda for the 12 hour tour but some places we went we used up a lot of time, so we never got to the remaining planed locations on this tour.

Visit to Southern Taiwan and the Buddha Memorial Center

We took one Sunday when our nieces where not working and went and visited an area in southern Taiwan.

Although we could have taken the MRT (accessible), we took a taxi van (not roll on accessible) to the high speed rail terminal.

Taiwan's high speed rail does offer discounts (at least on some trips) if you traveling in a wheelchair / scooter. The high speed rail system is roll on accessible.

The high speed rail makes it possible to visit other regions of Taiwan even with a day trip. It took about 1 hour 20 minutes to get to our destination with one stop along the way, coming back it was over 2 hours as we stopped at more stations along the way.

Our niece had a friend at our destination that met us and arranged for a taxi van (not wheel on accessible), the 'Buddha Memorial Center' is located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, about a 40 minute or so taxi ride from the high speed rail terminal.

If you can the Buddha Memorial Center is a very worthwhile place to visit, admission is free but lots of places where is voluntary donation boxes. The center is also accessible, there is a mountain / hill trail that I am told is very worthwhile going on, however that trail was closed the day we where there, and that trail is not wheelchair accessible due to hilly areas and stairs. For wheelchair users it is a worthwhile place to go see as for the exception of the mountain trail it is very accessible, once you arrive at the center.

After several hours here we took a taxi back into town (taxi not wheel on accessible), there was several places we would like to have stopped at if we had more time including a massive shopping complex we passed by.

We stopped at a high rise building 'The Splendor' and had a buffet dinner which was on a floor very high up in the building, great buffet, cost $ 1000 Taiwan dollars per person (around $ 36 or $ 37 Canadian dollars).

Then we returned back to the high speed rail terminal to travel back to Taipei at the end of the day.

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Hotel Notes:

Chateau de Chine was a great hotel, we had no complaints in regards to the actual hotel, but please note that this hotel is popular with sports teams as it is close to a sports stadium where televised sporting events are held. Sports teams are big business to this hotel, so there is a danger that in the event they miscalculated the number of rooms required or that number changes they would rather inconvenience individuals than to say no to a sports team regardless of who is at fault for the miscalculation of required rooms.

We had to move hotels twice through no fault of our own. You are not given a lot of say in it at all, however you can try and milk them for all its worth for them doing that to you. Free dinner, try to get perhaps room upgrades, and whatever else you can force out of them, and they will say sorry it is their fault multiple times. They will usually try to move you to their same group of hotels (same owners).

The first time was on the last Friday we got moved out of town to a Fullen hotel, the hotel was great, but it was a small town, and was not a good spot to be in as a scooter user, within 1 hour you basically saw what was on the only street, no complaints about the hotel, but not good for me location wise. The manager rep at my original hotel actually called me up and wanted to leave us there until we left, I said no, I wanted to be at Palais de Chine hotel near the Taipei main MRT station which was a far better location for me, so we got moved the next day to there. The moves really did burn up time, and it was far better at the last hotel location then the out of town one, and I wish they would had moved us to Palias de Chine hotel for both nights would have been able to see a lot more, but so much time was wasted each day moving.

At the 'Palais de Chine' hotel the bell people was at the ground entrance, the check in was on the 6th floor. It was a great location, close to the main bus station, MRT and high speed rail, next door and I do mean next door was the entrance to Q square shopping complex. Massive shopping complex multiple floors with elevators. Never had time to see it all, but was also interconnected to other shopping malls, B1 & B2 connect to other shopping areas (all accessible), City mall that you can get to via level B2, had good prices, the main Q2 mall was more high end.

There was a lot in that area that I would have loved to explore but ran out of time because we had wasted close to 2 days when we where taken to that out of town hotel for one night. If it ever happens to you make sure you research the area that they want to move you to before you agree, hotel management just want to solve their problem without putting into consideration of your wishes including mobility issues, and you have to be on the ball to make sure when they force you to more it will be where you want to go and benefit you. You paid a lot to visit here and you do not want to waste it.

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The last full day we where there we went to a Philippine district and a Philippine restaurant (not accessible) some staff help me in and carried the mobility scooter up the 2 or 3 steps inside.

The trip back...

We had a pre-arranged ride - large van (not wheel on accessible), the airport - I was not allowed to bring the mobility scooter past the ticket check in counter, transferred to a manual wheelchair, I wish they would change that policy and it means that you cannot go anywhere while waiting for your flight.

Tokyo, Japan the wheelchair came up a different gangway and not on the one the plane was at, used a supplied manual wheelchair until a short time later met up with my own powered scooter.

So in summary, Taiwan...

Would love to visit again, language can be an issue but you will get by, Street & sidewalk accessibility can vary, you will have more transportation options if you bring a mobility device that is lighter and can come apart easily, however these lighter travel type scooters tip easier than the 300 pound or more powered wheelchairs. An able body person coming with you can really be a asset on busy streets and to avoid tipping back steep ramps. If traveling alone pick you hotel location very carefully. Hope if you require it from the international airport - success in finding wheel on transportation capabilities in the event you simply must have it that you have better success than I did.

By: Donald Kerr

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