Having been hauling myself around in a wheelchair for a week now, I’ve had a SMALL taste of what life in Singapore is like for those whose time in a wheelchair is far less short-lived than my own.
Singapore has a lot of hills. I always thought of Singapore as a fairly flat locale, but now that I’m dealing with terrain from a far different perspective, it’s only really starting to occur to me that it’s incredibly difficult to just get around.
Those grates? They suck. There are tons of random metal plates in the sidewalks, just about every 5 or 10 feet. I have no idea for what…they’re welded shut, so I don’t think they have anything to do with drainage during monsoon season. Maybe they’re access for electrical wires? Phone lines? You don’t really see either in the air, so maybe? Regardless, they make the sidewalk bumpy and hard to manage.
Stop parking your bleeping motorcycles in the middle of the sidewalk! This was an annoyance when all I was navigating was a stroller, too. But imagine a motorcycle parked in the middle of a sidewalk. Imagine that to the side of the sidewalk is a huge grassy area (difficult to manage with buggy, a mire for a wheel-chair). Now feel the frustration of trying to get past the motorcycle. Yes, I do fantasize about leaving notes, but as far as I can tell, it’s legal so there’s no value in calling the cops.
I realize retail space is at a premium, but when you make aisles that crowded and tight, I can’t spend money at your store to help you pay your (I’m certain) absurd rental cost. There were points when again, navigating stores with just a stroller felt like playing the world’s most frustrating live-action version of tetris. In a wheel-chair, I’ve turned down aisles, only to realize that the end cap on the opposite end has a ton of floor displayed crap, and that I am trapped. There’s nothing like texting your husband/helper or calling out for them to help you. I’m sure the credit card bill will be happy, but my solution is that I just can’t patronize some stores right now. Harris, Kinokuniya, Toys R Us, etc…I’m looking at you.
A wheelchair ramp at a sharp angle really isn’t helping your “accessibility” The mall closest to me, while not the only culprit, is one of the biggest offenders in my every day life. The “accessible” ramp is so sharp that there’s no way in hell I could maneuver myself up it. Ravi/B pushing me is no picnic either (for them). Perhaps this is also an issue in the US, but when I was in a wheelchair pre-back surgery, it didn’t seem like we had this many issues with steepness.
Why is is that only Comfort Delgro cabs have a trunk big enough for a wheelchair? No, seriously…why?
To be fair, when compared with its neighbors, Singapore is a mecca of accessibility. We put the kibosh on the trip to Kuala Lumpur, and will possibly cut our trip to Hong Kong short because they are not wheelchair accessible cities. I’ve been to Bombay–it would be a nightmare. Most street corners are sharp drop offs and stores are even less accessible. I think back to Phuket’s sidewalks that were so troublesome we just stopped using E’s stroller, and wonder what it must be like for those in wheel-chairs there. I’m betting they stay home for the most part.
Granted, I’m at a place of great frustration right now. I hate depending on people, but I can’t so much as get to 7-11 on my own, and they’re just across the street. I can’t even leave the house without help, thanks to the 3.5 inch step down from the apartment to the corridor.
I’m also curious what this experience would be like in Boston. Granted, right now, I wouldn’t be going anywhere at all…not with 2 feet of snow on the ground, underground parking spot or no. I might be MORE frustrated and more stuck. But if the weather were comparable…say if it were June in Boston…I wonder how I’d fare. At my old apartment building in Waltham, I certainly could have left the apartment building, but moody street might have proven touch to navigate, even if all I wanted to do was go get some chicken tikka from Bombay Mahal or homemade ice cream from Lizzys (okay, now I’m dying for both of those…my bad). Would I have found getting around the Natick Mal equally as frustrating? I don’t know.
I do know that I can not wait until I get this bloody cast off and can start working towards walking again.
Sorry–I’ll try to keep the whining to a minimum in the coming weeks…but we’re bound to deal with these tantrums now and then–and for that I apologize in advance.