Description & Accessibility
I decided to combine all
aspects of the Taiwan trip in regards to the description and
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.
- 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
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
Large shopping in the area, a night market
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
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
Same agency that provided the airport
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
Hourly changing of the guard
ceremony. Good picture opportunities, spend about an
The area is accessible, never checked
the bathrooms though.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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