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Beijing with a wheelchair - taxi, National Theater, Badaling Great Wall

Beijing with a wheelchair - taxi, National Theater, Badaling Great Wall

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Old Dec 8, 08, 4:02 pm
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Borrego Springs, CA
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Beijing with a wheelchair - taxi, National Theater, Badaling Great Wall

A few notes on my recent weekend in Beijing. I'm a MS patient who can get around a little on forearm crutches, but use a manual folding chair by default.

The good news is that the hotel called me an accessible taxi - the LTI model out of the UK that has a simple ramp that folds out of the side door and gets one more piece the driver pulls out of the trunk to get all the way to the ground.

Heading for the National Centre for the Performing Arts (the "egg") the driver let us out at the West car park entrance. Goodf signage directed us around to the East side. Guards at the driveway directed us a parallel entrance that looked like a driveway, but was steps with a ramp down the middle. They were quick to help us down the steep sections.

Through a few more doors and a flight of stairs appeared - but there was a platform/stair lift (takes the chair easily) and an attendant standing by to operate it. One more corner and the main entrance appears. Staff approached me immediately, I was escorted around the magnetometer for a separate pat down screening and then directed towards the hall which was up a level via a public elevator.

At the entrance to the smaller hall, the usher directed us to a special elevator that took us to the mezzanine (1A) level. We were late, so he left us discreetly in a position with excellent sight and sound - my companion was seated in the row immediately below me.

Intermission was my chance to check out the toilets. There is a separate disabled restroom. The only glitch was the cover on some temporary cables running down the hall - that meant a short stretch of one wheel up on the cover and the other on the ground. Good facilities with a full set of grab bars. I didn't see any way to latch the door though...

Our driver had offered to wait until the show ended for an extra RMB 200, but we took our chances on flagging a taxi and ended up down the block near where the Tienanmen square dropoffs are.

The next morning I had arranged a guide with a van to go the Great Wall. Most recommendations are to avoid Badaling, but the press releases indicated it was now wheelchair accessible all the way to the top of the wall.

This is true - just across the road from the ticket plaza is good signage for the "no barrier" access. It starts with some new ramps, uses some existing blacktop road, back to new ramps until you arrive at a flat area with disabled toilets at the far end. The were closed for the season, but there is a family restroom back at the ticket plaza as well as narrow stalls with grab bars in the adjacent mens room.

Back to the flat area, there is a small hut to the left that had a ticket taker waiting. An easy ramp put us on a stone walkway leading up to a watch tower atop the wall. This had a moderate grade and at the end we encountered the first glitch of the day - a single step to enter the tower. This was where we join the flow of the general public along the wall and several helped lift me into the tower.

Here, we turned right (East) and shortly encountered a stairway with eight steps. I'm sorry to say I didn't try the left turn to see if that was the advertised 400 meter section of wall.

All said, a big improvement over what I read from the old days. There are also two elevators bypassing some of the ramps/road we used, but they were locked and not needed.

One other venue was the Sackler collection on the Peking University campus. Steps at the front entrance, but around on the East side is another entrance with one of those steep ramps in the middle of the steps. Guards helped open the double doors and such to get into the museum.
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