Dear Editor,

My husband (who is a wheelchair rider) and I purchased round trip tickets to Hong Kong at a charity auction. We are receiving mixed reviews on accessibility. We are not worried about a hotel as we will stay in an upscale chain, but wonder about sightseeing.

My husband is a para, L-2 complete, due to a spinal cord injury. He uses a folding manual quickie. He doesn’t like to be carried up and down stairs. Any suggestions?

Thanks, Maggie

First off, Hong Kong is a spectacular city; one of the most fascinating anywhere in the world. You are going to love it!

As for accessibility, no, it’s nowhere close to what we have in the US, but part of traveling for anyone is to experience a different way of living, and making do with the more limited accommodations can be part of the adventure. That said, Hong Kong is very “do-able” in a wheelchair, especially for a para.

Hong Kong is divided by water into Hong Kong island and Kowloon. You’ll probably do better lodging in Kowloon which is flatter and more easily accessible. An accessible ferry (Star Ferry) makes regular trips between the two areas.

You’ll probably find that you can walk just about everywhere, needing a taxi (standard, non-wheelchair adapted) only to see outlying attractions such as the don’t-miss Stanley Market.

Curb cuts don’t exist, but curbs are quite low and can be gotten over fairly easily. Street shops are often tiny and cluttered, making them inaccessible to anything but the entertaining window shopping. However, hidden in the city’s massive skyscrapers are huge, modern, accessible shopping malls all interconnected by tunnels. Restaurants and other attractions will be accessible insofar as a chair can gain entry to them, but bathrooms will be a problem.

On a final note, unlike Europe, where local populations often go out of their way to help disabled visitors, the Chinese cultural view of handicapped individuals is that we are unlucky. Don’t be surprised or too put off if you get some unfriendly stares or find people avoiding you, it’s all part of the experience.