For an aspiring modern city, coming across such epic accessibility fails in Kuala Lumpur is disappointing and really hard work!
Our main motivation to come into KL (apart from breaking up the journey a bit) is to give M a chance to satisfy his train passion with a ride on the monorail and other trains in the city.
We even booked our hotel in central Bukit Bintang based largely on how close it was to the nearest monorail station. So the walk from hotel to station was easy (great footpaths by Asian standards and pedestrian crossings that were actually – mostly – observed. But that’s where the easy access ended.
There is no lift up to the platform. There is an escalator which helps a bit – if it’s working. It was the first of several escalators we encountered on the day which had an apologetic sign on it. Not working, waiting for spare parts. Great.
So a long walk up. Then more stairs at the top from ticket sale point to the platform. The ticket booth was unattended so we purchased tickets via machine, which is fine but a map detailing which stations would provide most accessible transfer point from monorail to separate line for our destination. (KLCC) would have been appreciated.
We made the (as it turns out terrible) decision that the KL central station would be sure to offer the best transfer – but nope. Wrong. Another broken escalator, long walk from monorail to train station and then yet another broken escalator. There may have been a lift there (must have been!) but there was no staff to ask and the few locals we tried had no idea.
From there things got a little easier, though the fact different train lines exit from different points adds another factor of confusion.
Once at KLCC we were exhausted and enjoyed a lovely long long in the large food court overlooking the water display – impressive as ever! We had planned to finally visit the Petrosains Discovery Centre but boys were all a bit tired from the walk so we decided to look around then head back to hotel for swim in the pool.
You would think our trip back would have been more successful – but not. I think the staff member we got advice about best route back to hotel thought we said – make it as difficult for us as you can please! Or perhaps he just had no idea what it means to need an accessible option. It was harder than our trip there. Sure we saw a couple of wheelchair lifts to get up/down stairs but no one with a key and our “easy” transfer involved taking an overpass over a busy road – again with no working escalator. By the time we got the the hotel I have never been more pleased to see a pool! A relaxing afternoon followed.
I shouldn’t make it all sound doom and gloom. We did have fun. The boys loved the trains, the views, the tokens used to enter and exit the stations and they enjoyed KLCC – loved the food, the lifts, the hustle and bustle of the big city.
This morning M demanded more monorail, so headed off on his own with dad while the rest of us chilled out at the hotel. We were happy to have a quiet morning before our busy afternoon/evening (flying home tonight!) but even if the other boys had really wanted to go again there’s just no way we could have.
I have searched online for accessible transport options for disabled folk in KL and over and over with the same option: taxis – but even they aren’t always willing or able to take on wheelchairs.
Pull up your socks KL! Being an international city means international standards of accessible transport options should be available. So pleased to see some steps in that direction but a long way to go. At the very very least, a simple map outlining which stations are truly accessible (and we did find a few) would be super handy.