Hi, I am Maria, a Dutch citizen. Since I got my mobile scooter, my life has been changed completely, and I am hardly ever in The Netherlands anymore.
Traveling has since become my favorite thing. In spite of my bad spine with scoliosis, hernias, a small fracture and immobile vertebrae, I have become unstoppable!
I would like to share some observations from my trip to Singapore – a top destination for wheelchair users.
To me, the city towers above Italy, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Turkey and even the UK – in wheelchair accessibility! Here are a few reasons why I love Singapore:
- The fast and fabulous MRT (the rail system in Singapore) is perfectly accessible and comfortable.
- Disabled tourists get VIP treatment when visiting resorts like Sentosa.
- Basically all tourist sites are accessible!
- Almost all hotels offer accessible rooms and accessibility.
But the best of Singapore is found in its people – Singaporeans will make your day, every day.
The national government pays extra attention to educating citizens about us, the physically challenged, and it certainly pays off! Even a little girl 4 years of age will call her sister (aged 3 something), and together they will proudly open a door for you to pass through. In my 3 months in Singapore, only 5 people did not press the button to keep the lift doors from closing. If you go about in this city state, you will be in a lift often – on average like 8 times a day, or more.
In most situations you do not even have to ask for help. Singaporeans understand what issue you are about to face… before you see it! They are already there, ready to help you out.
Most hotel staff will give you a free upgrade to a slightly bigger room, cashiers in the supermarkets will help you pack and show you how to avoid the cue (pay by card). On one occasion, everything seemed to go wrong – I got stuck in a people pile on Gelling Road and, from out of the blue like Superman, auxiliary police descended upon my predicament and guided me through the pile.
Instead of going on and on, I would like to tell you a funny story. While driving along the sidewalk, I noticed a man and a woman fighting and shouting in Chinese. My wheelchair scooter got stuck on some hump that I did not anticipate, something that tends to happen quite often.
I could not get out, so I waited. Within a few minutes, the Chinese guy noticed me – even while in the heat of an argument – and asked if I needed help. I said yes, please, and he came over and gently pushed me of the hump and a bit forward. He did not go back to the shouting match until he was sure all was fine and I could continue my trip – all while they continued the shouting and yelling behind me. So thumbs up for Singaporeans!
There were 3 things that Singapore could improve:
- If your wheelchair battery runs empty, it is very hard to find an eatery or business that will let you charge it.
- You’ll need to have thick skin if you want to take your chair in regular taxis, even when it fits in the boot (trunk). True, Singaporeans are skinny and small people, but the roads are crowded with helpful people and supermen – so why yell at the customer from pick up to drop off? Taxi drivers need to be more willing to transport wheelchairs.
- My personal experience with health care in Singapore was less than poor – it was a nightmare. But that could be different for more trusting patients.
Still, thumbs up for Singaporeans overall. I enjoyed my time in Singapore, and it was nice to be treated so well. I enjoyed having the freedom to go wherever I wanted!