Hong Kong Winter 2016 by Amelia O’Hare

We first arrived in Hong Kong. It was a very long flight, about 16 hours. Traveling with a powered chair can be very challenging, but it is not impossible. A few summers ago, I went to London, Paris and Barcelona and was able take my powered chair. But I was advised to take my manual chair, because it would be easier to travel around and I am glad I took that advice!

 

Our first day in Hong Kong we went to Lady’s Market, and it was quite the adventure. It started off as a sunny day but suddenly turned into a down pour! So we ran, weaving in and out of any little spot to stay dry. My PA (personal assistant) had to push me. We finally found a place we could get into, and entered this fancy restaurant, completely wet!

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One of my favorite things about traveling is trying new food, and one of the best ways you can get a real taste of a city is through street food (plus it’s not as expensive). Don’t get me wrong, I love restaurants, but some times, you should follow the locals and eat at a small stand on some corner! My favorite street food experience was when my PA & I met a local who showed us around the area, and took us to a food vendor. They sold Takoyaki, which is a Japanese snack made of fried octopus.6

As a person traveling with a physical disability, I know how challenging it can be to get around a new place in a new country. But Hong Kong surprised me! Everyday we used the subway, which was extremely accessible. If an elevator was out of order, there was another working one near by.

So far, this is the second most accessible subway I have been to. The best, in my opinion, is the one in Barcelona.

As an urban planner, the accessibility of a city is very important to me, so when I travel, it’s (obviously) the first thing I notice.

Although their public transportation was great, walking around these Asian cities was not as impressive from an accessible perspective. Almost every building had a small step going into it. If I had brought my 450 pound powered chair, there would have been many days where I would be stranded outside. On more then one occasion, when we encountered a physical barrier such as a step, a crowed of strangers would suddenly appear and lift me and my chair into a building.

This is the Big Buddha. We took a cable car to get there, and it was amazing! If you are in a wheelchair or have a mobility impairment, you cannot get up to the top because there are a gazillion stairs. In my opinion, it is best viewed from the bottom anyway!

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Hong Kong is an amazing city  but I can’t forget Taiwan! We went to three different cities, Kaohsiung, Tainan and Taipei.

Taipei was my favorite and I wish we had more time there.

I found the food markets to be the coolest and most unique part of this trip.

None of this would have been possible without the enabled abroad scholarship! I truly never thought I would be able to travel half way around the world and get to experience such amazing and beautiful cultures. I would have to encourage everyone in college, no matter your abilities, to study abroad. It enriches your time in college, gives you exciting stories to tell,  an opportunity to meet new people, experience new cultures, and broadens your view of the world.

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