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Interview with Nalutporn Krairiksh, a Thai activist for accessibility

Nalutporn Krairiksh shares with her passion for wheelchair access in Bangkok, Thailand.

Nalutporn Krairiksh, is 28 years old. A human rights activist and journalist at the Prachatai daily web newspaper which is an independent non for profit web based newspaper in Bangkok. She focuses on topics related to disability in her home country Thailand. She has joined an activist group to improve the accessibility of public transport in Thailand.

Wheelchir traveller met with Nalutporn Kriaiskh in her office, in June 2017 to discuss her activities and passion for making Bangkok accessible and share some insights from her travel.

1. Why are you passionate about accessibility in Thailand?

Because I know how hard it is not to be able to access. For example, when I was at university I had to ask my dad every day to take me to Chulalongkorn University in the middle of the city. I found it unfair. Because with the public transport it takes 15 minutes and with the car with my dad it took over 1 hour.

That is why I joined a group called transportation for all. We consist of about 10 people with mobility and visual impairments. They do awareness raising for accessibility in the sky train called BTS. I assisted them to put together a checklist what is needed for the BTS system to be accessible. Actually, they partially cater already for wheelchair users. For example, they have a safety belt in the cart. Unfortunately, if you ask the personnel how to use it, nobody knows.
Also I have been many times rejected to use the Bangkok underground (MRT) and sky train system from because there is no elevator. One day I wanted to go shopping with my friends after work so I went with the BTS to Esplanade. Unfortunately, the elevator down to the street was on the other side of the shopping center, separated by a six-lane road. Basically, I had to take a taxi to be driven to the other side. Much easier just to take a taxi from the office directly.

2. Do you think Accessible tourism in Thailand has been recognised?

The concept design for all has been recognised in tourist areas such as Phuket or Chiang Mai. In Bangkok, I do not see so much promotions or efforts like that. When I go for example to Chiang Mai people are very helpful, for example they lift you up to access a temple. But in Bangkok if I go to the temple there is no access and no people are willing to help. In Chiang Mai there are a lot of tourist which come from other countries so perhaps in areas where there is a lot of international tourism accessibility is more prominent. But in Bangkok there are so many tourism places and also there is no advocacy group to demand access.

3. How do you think can we achieve to motivate more wheelchair travellers to go to places less travelled?

Everybody has a different style, different things that they look for and want to experience when they travel, and this is exactly the same in the world of the disabled traveller – there are people that want to know exactly where they are staying and know every single detail about the destination. Then there are people who want a very different type of experience and are happy to just see what happens and figure it out along the way. Then of course there are all the people that fall somewhere in between the two.

Information is our key resource. It allows us to make an informed decision about what is right for us. Other people’s experiences are inspiring, and it shows that a) it can be done b) it has been done and c) this is what it is like. We can inspire each other by sharing our adventures, our experiences and showing each other – and the world – that it CAN be done, and what’s more, it can be a fantastic experience!

Tags: Bangkok, Interview, Thailand

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