When Leah couldn’t possibly face another dreaded winter season, complete with restricting winter clothes, she decided to winter where the weather was a little nicer: Thailand!
Leah has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type 2, and is a wheelchair user. She admits that Thailand isn’t the most obvious choice for a getaway for someone with her condition, considering she has not only her power wheelchair to bring along but also a portable shower chair and mobile hoist. Nonetheless, the draw of Thailand’s warm sunny days was too much to resist.
Stopping over in Oman
Leah traveled with two personal assistants, and on their way to Thailand, they stopped and spent five days in Oman. This stop allowed Leah to avoid a long twelve-hour flight directly to Thailand, and it also gave her “a chance to acclimatize, lessen the jet lag and of course see and enjoy another very different culture,” she shares.
She stayed in Muscat at the Shangri-La Hotel, a magnificent establishment with “rooms that had been designed with a wheelchair user in mind,” Leah says. However, the “accessible transportation” Leah looked up while in Muscat wasn’t exactly what she had in mind: “It was basically a Toyota van with a portable and VERY short ramp that was a little steep to say the least.” Still, Leah was able to get out and experience the Omani culture. She visited a souq, an open-air marketplace or commercial quarter, “where the winding cobbled paths were bumpy but manageable,” she shares.
Continuing to Thailand
After saying goodbye to Oman, Leah headed to Bangkok, where she had pre-booked accessible transportation to Pattaya. Fortunately this accessible transport was better than the one she experienced in Oman. Unfortunately though, the company was based in Bangkok only, so she had to arrange for additional transportation when getting around Pattaya. Leah was able to acquire a folding 6-foot ramp with help from some friends and very friendly Thai people. She also decided to hire a modified van she could use to get around the city in. “We quickly discovered the roads were wild with no rules or laws, so although we had planned to drive ourselves, we decided it would be too dangerous, so I hired a Thai driver,” shares Leah. Paying for the driver turned out to be quite affordable, much more so than what she would have paid for accessible transport in Europe.
Places to explore in Thailand:
Sriracha Tiger Zoo
The Million-Year Stone Park and Crocodile Farm
the island of Ko Chang
Hua Hin, Thailand’s royal beach resort
the ancient city of Ayutthaya
Monkey Mountain (where Leah hand-fed bananas to monkeys!)
Leah also shared this insider tip. She and her traveling companions took great care with what they ate and drank so as to not get sick.
“Absolutely no salads or garnish, only fruits with skin on and peeled by ourselves. No lukewarm soups and we always bought a good brand of bottled water."
Leah clearly made the most of her time in Thailand. She describes it as “a place with a unique culture, where one can feel very comfortable, energized and empowered.”
Be sure to share this post with someone who is interested in exploring the wonders of Thailand!