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Pattaya, Thailand

1 June, 2017

I’ve been wanting to go away on holiday for a while now. Many people have been telling me how good and cheap Thailand is for a holiday. But they have also been telling me how inaccessible Thailand is. Even though I am a fairly independent quadriplegic, I didn’t want to go to New Zealand or Europe like everyone else and stay in a resort that I was guaranteed was accessible – I could do that in Australia. I wanted to challenge myself and do something different.

Discovering the Power in Me (DPM) is a goal setting workshop that AQA Spire facilitates. It gives people the tools to be able to set and reach their goals. It talks about the need to get out of your comfort zones to achieve some of these goals.

It was hard trying to book a place that had an accessible bathroom, which was my main priority. I decided that I would go to Pattaya and base myself around Walking Street. Apparently Walking Street was the place to be. I didn’t want to use taxis etc to get around all the time, and most of what I wanted to see was within walking distance of Walking Street eg; temples, shopping, the beach, markets, bars, restaurants, clubs etc.

"I didn’t want to go to New Zealand or Europe like everyone else and stay in a resort that was guaranteed to be accessible – I wanted to challenge myself and do something different."

"While in Pattaya, I caught up with my friend Gap who I met at the Royal Talbot. He lives in Thailand now and came from Bangkok to stay with us for five days."

Accomodation

My trip was delayed due to having difficulties finding accessible accommodation. I emailed many hotels asking about their wheelchair accessible facilities, however I had much trouble explaining my needs due to the language barrier. Considering only one hotel got back to me with ‘handicapped facilities’ I had no other choice but to book this place in.

I flew there alone but had a friend who was going to be there a week before me. Nathan is a paraplegic and pretty independent. He stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel ($110) before I arrived and at the LK President Hotel for the next three nights ($60). He was happy with both places and said the bathrooms had roll-in showers.

We had planned to stay at the same hotel once I got there but things didn’t work out well. We booked two wheelchair accessible rooms at the Jasmine Hotel but only one was available when we checked in (the other room's roof had collapsed). I stayed there for three nights at $30 per night. It was wheelchair accessible but as you’d expect it was a bit bare and run down. The staff were extremely helpful though with anything I needed.

We were fortunate enough to find two wheelchair accessible rooms for the next eight nights at the Siam Bayshore Resort, which was only a few hundred metres at the other end of Walking Street. Siam Bayshore Resort is a 4 star hotel and we got a good deal at $135 per room per night.

All of the beds I came across at the different hotels were pretty high. Too high for me to transfer unassisted, but I found a solution to reduce the height by swapping the mattress with cushions from a sofa. This did the job for me. Usually bed heights can also be reduced by removing the wheels from the base of the bed (if it has wheels).

While in Pattaya, I caught up with my friend Gap who I met at the Royal Talbot. He lives in Thailand now and came to stay with us from Bangkok for five days. It was great to see he was doing so well. We spent a day driving around all of Pattaya in his car.

Getting around

As expected, getting around the streets and shops was an issue. Don’t even think about using the footpaths in the streets (other than Beach Road) because they are not consistent. I pushed around on the roads instead. This may seem dangerous but the cars, tuk tuks and scooters are used to people walking on the sides of roads and are careful to avoid pedestrians. You still need to be careful but it’s common.

Taxis are abundant and cheap but you need to be able to transfer into the passenger seat. Accessible taxis are nowhere to be found in Pattaya.

I was very comfortable to ask people for help if I needed a hand e.g. up/down a gutter etc. Other than the Shopping Malls or Night Markets, shops are not accessible but I would get the staffs attention from inside and do my business in the street. I was amazed how friendly and accommodating the locals were.

Disability Organisations

Before I went away, I found a company that provide assistance for wheelchair travellers. Other than providing carer and transport services, the Help & Care Travel Company Limited, can assist in many other ways like finding accommodation and having guided tours. Here’s their website www.wheelchairtours.com.

"Nathan and I on the famous Walking Street"

Summary

Did I blow the budget… yes.

Would I go again… yes.

Would I recommend it to others… yes.

Naz Erdem is a four time paralympian medallist having won 2 gold medals (Rio 2016, London 2012) and 2 Silver medals (Beijing 2008, Sydney 2000) playing Wheelchair Rugby for Australia. He's also Team Leader of Spire. He has been living with a complete C5/C6 Spinal cord injury since 1990.

Tags: Blog, Travel & Leisure