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  • : freewheeling
  • : Blog on being a disabled person, different cultures, diversity, equality, disability, travel, being diaspora Chinese and disabled travel.
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Here are some of my photos. This shows some of my travels.


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Books I am reading

Xiaolu Guo
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
A love story - cultural differences, misunderstandings and yes, I see what she is saying.
Su Tong
Binu and the Great Wall

Binu and the Great Wall

Binu And The Great Wall is a wonderful myth retold in the words of Su Tong, the author of ‘Rice’.  The myth of Binu and how her tears washed away the Great Wall have been passed down through the ages. It is a tale of hardship, brutality and undying love. Su Tong’s version of the myth, brings to the reader the harshness and brutality that led to the constuction of the wall and the terrible effects it had on the common people.

6 août 2008 3 06 /08 /août /2008 20:51
I went back to Paris on Monday - this time armed with travel guides and a half formed plan about specific places I wanted to check out. I had wanted to stay 3 nights but as luck would have it I had to back in UK for an appointment. As I had not really decided whether I had wanted to go, I did not buy any tickets and to find out I could not buy a Eurostar ticket  for wheelchair space except for 2 days in advance. I took the risk and bought my ticket at St Pancras without problem.

Arriving at Gare du Nord, I bought a sim card so that I had a mobile phone with me. I also wanted to ask some bus and RER enquiries which would not have work with the enquiry phone  numbers had I not had a local phone but I thought I could save some money by having a local mobile number. I am not sure it was worth it now because the card cost 15 euros! and it seemed to go very quickly. I had also some accessible bus routes printed out with me. I also went to the Tourism Information point at the Gare du nord - the woman was not very helpful but she gave me a bus map

This time I was determined to get to the Eiffel Tower and get on a bateau Mouche! But I wasn't sure which bus to take so I called the 3246 number on the bus map ( Now I know that I should have used the No Azur 0810 646464 (helpline for wheelchair travellers which charges local rates). After a bit of time, using up a lot of my minutes on my new sim card) they told me to take the No 42 bus. Now this was not marked on the map as an accessible bus route but it was and I got off at the Eiffel Tower stop. I did not go to the iconic Parisian landmark immediately but passed the Musée du Quai Branly remembering with such a pang of loss, my friend Xavier Perrot  wishing he was still here  for me to tell of my excitement of actually being there. He was the first person to inform me about the opening of that museum when I was still in the US - urging me to get back to Europe, and even suggested I should apply for a job there.

I found my way to the Bateau Mouche and got the cruise I promised myself - feeling very proud because i got on an accessible cruise. After 2 hours, I got back on the river bank and set back but the museum was closed by now so headed to the Eiffel Tower. I did not eat at the Restaurant although I was tempted but thought I better get to my hotel before too late. It was back at the Gare du Nord.

Eiffel Tower

I managed to find a brilliant Ibis hotel near Gare du Nord. It was spacious, modern and the staff were very friendly. I am not sure of their level of English but they seem to cope. The next day, I set out to do some shopping and found my way back on the bus to go to Les Halles. I wanted some simple supermarket things, and Fnac to look up some books and French cds. I felt inordinately pleased with myself after coming out with some French dried ham, biscuits a French thriller a wheelchair guide by Lucie Fontaine  and the new Carla Bruni cd. Nothing great   but I am glad  I managed  to get Lucie's slim guide  before it sold out.  After I  visited St Eustache a really nice church and stroll around.
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2 août 2008 6 02 /08 /août /2008 22:19
After my gym today (I have some work out exercises with a trainer at Coventry Sports Centre) I thought I'd explore further afield and I went to try Golden Parlour Oriental Restaurant. I heard it did offal. Strange as it might sound, I miss eating innards! On the menu - Five spiced chicken feet, pig's tongue with chilli oil, pigs ear with spring onions, pig's stomach, spiced pig's offal.

It is a traditional Chinese restaurant with typical Chinese decor. The receptionist, waitress was very friendly  and best o0f all, it is incredibly cheap. I had an enormous bowl of soup noodles with pig's offal. for £4.40. It was big enough to serve 3 people. I couldn't eat it all, I took some away as a take away.

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2 août 2008 6 02 /08 /août /2008 11:56
Yesterday, an old friend invited me for lunch in a coutry pub and a walk in the park. He said I needed the fresh air and to get out of the country.

We went to some 16th century (I think) pub in Barston.  While we waited  for our food -  I ordered sardines  - and we got into discussion and I was incensed when my companion made excuses for one of his lady friends behavior (her behavior which was in question here was that of one who was rude and intrusive and being possessive) as being a result of the place she was brought up - which he complained ,  was predominantly black. According to him, her environment as surrounded by a black community which indulged on drugs, on social benefits and generally unemployed has had an impact on her and her unreasonable behavior could be excused on the fact she was a survivor from that kind of background. This woman is a white woman by the way, and he fears that her daughter would end end up as a social misfit as a teenage mum (by having a baby with a black man). He told me that she ended up on the unemployment heap because she likes (his words ' a black cock') I told him I have never heard such nonsense and I cannot believe that he could harbour such ignorance. I cannot believe I was hearing this.

Do I excuse his racism on the fact that he is an Italian? This is just me being sarcastic and facetious- none of my other Italian friends are racist. Or on his age because he is nearly 70 and that would be ageism - being old does not excuse you from being ignorant. Maybe the fact that he left school very early and came to UK to work and never had formal education. Whatever it is, that conversation sickened me and I lost my apetite. Is there some way I can change his attitute? Or is it prevalent?

No. That conversation spoilt the whole afternoon for me.
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30 juillet 2008 3 30 /07 /juillet /2008 20:29
I found these two short video clips about what it means to be Chinese in Britain. Sometimes we integrate or appear to integrate so well, that people do not realise that there is a big cultural difference. It is not a question of not being able to speak the language, the people in this videos are very articulate but the feeling of not quite belonging and wondering if we ever would really belong........

And there are subcultures among the Chinese themselves, and if I am hard pushed, I would say I am more Malaysian than Chinese. I was born there, I happened to be ethnically Chinese. Which is not to say I am not also proud to be British which I am, more so, I reckon, than the man I married (and subsequently divorced) who never seemed to cherish his own birthplace nor his own birthright.

However, it could be that people who take their birthright as a matter of course do not cherish as much as those who have left their homeland and know that nationality can be a privilege. But then I am an immigrant of a sort, and a child of immigrants. Home is where I hang my hat.
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26 juillet 2008 6 26 /07 /juillet /2008 18:41
I cannot remember the last time I went to an open air theatre  and certainly  the last Shakespearean  play outdoors was some more than 20 years at Ludlow Castle and it was Macbeth. I was carried across the  field by a stranger because it was so muddy after the rain. 

Anyhow I suggested to Penny who came up from Reading way - that we met up in London to see Twelfth Night - one of my favourite plays - at Regents Park. We decided to go to the afternoon showing. What I did not know was that there were rail works and a journey which normally took 1 hour and 15 mins took nearly 3 hours and went via Ealing Broadway. Still I got there and we met up on Baker Street, had lunch and caught up on news.

The cast was superb and I thought it was excellently done. My one disappointment was the person who played Viola, who seems to shriek through the play and while she is supposed to be foil to Olivia, she did not match or come close to it. The actress who played Olivia was well within her element and I am sure the resemblance to Madonna was not a coincidence. My favourite was Feste the jester. He was really good in playing the fool and singing the serious airs.

Here is a photo of Maria, Olivia's serving lady and Feste before one of the staff told me I was not supposed to take photos.

Regents Park Twelfth Night - Maria and Feste
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25 juillet 2008 5 25 /07 /juillet /2008 12:37
First of all, I would like to congratulate (if he gets to see this post) Coventry's own hero - Simon Stevens who won UK Catalyst award 2008 (community awards for social technology).

The Revolutionary Award - Wheelies

For something that makes people in power more aware of the need for change.
The world’s first virtual disability nightclub. Based in SecondLife, it is connecting disabled users and providing a platform for them to discuss common issues.

When I met Simon at a launch at the British Library early this year , he told me that he was in one of Coventry's pilot scheme for indivual budgets, here is a video of him in a video made by Coventry University. Simon is a disability consultant.

Without wanting to put a damper on Simon's own support package, Coventry does not seem to be giving out that many support packages. So good on him that he is getting what he needs.
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15 juillet 2008 2 15 /07 /juillet /2008 18:03

P/S This incident while frustrating is nothing compared to what my compatriot, Peter Tan,  has to face in Malaysia. Read his blog entry.

PPS read the response of the manager of the bus company in the Hastings branch

Today I went to Hastings with Phil. We set off from Charing Cross Station and got to Hastings station at about noon.

We were actually heading for St Leonard on Sea and after a lenthy discussion with the conductor decided to stop at Hastings station rather than St Leonards Warrior Square because access out of the station involves a steep hill which the conductor was not sure I could negotiate.

On leaving the station, Phil said it might be nice to have a look at the old town but it was on the opposite direction from St Leonards for which we were heading. So  I went to look at the buses and asked the driver which had a low floor wheelchair accessible sign on it. he said the 20,20A bus does go to the old centre and he lowered the bus for me but I still could not get on because there was a gap and a step. I asked him to get the ramp out but he said the ramps were stuck down and he couldn't do it. According to him, none of the ramps of the accessible Hasting buses  function which I found incredulous.

I gave up on the buses for the moment and got on the promenade and enjoyed the sea views and breeze. I stopped (Phil thought I accosted other wheelchair users all the time) another wheelchair user and asked her the low down on the buses but she said she had never been able to use the bus and told me what trouble she had just to go to Sainsbury in a taxi. It never seemed to have occurred to her to question why low floor accessible buses did not work for her.

I took photos of the buses and made a note to see my legal advisor for discrimination under the DDA.

 Accessible bus? I dont think so.....
Bus flap/ramp which driver says cannot be taken down

I really like St Leonards. I had not realized how much I miss the sea.

The promenade was very flat and easy to go along - we stopped at a restaurant at the seafront and ate a late lunch there.

Phil had the tagine while I had sea bass.
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5 juillet 2008 6 05 /07 /juillet /2008 16:15
Its on every year and today, I caught up with the Godiva Procession on my way home from buying fish at Coventry Market.  Unlike last year there was a Chinese contingent this year. They were a friendly lot and one sweetie allowed me to take her photo!

They are from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chinese Association

I am not entirely sure what this was about?

However more about the festival can be found here - on the Godiva Festival website and the rest of the music is at Memorial Park and the other photos of the procession are on my flick site.
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1 juillet 2008 2 01 /07 /juillet /2008 21:03
I am busy researching and writing to create a website to sell and promote London, and Paris and then Strasbourg.

In the mean time, I did this video  with the images I took of London " from a wheelchair user's  perpective" and added  Right said Fred's Stand Up for the Champions  sound track to it.  I think the lyrics are quite appropriate  and  sufficiently triumphant! It has the city scape of South bank, London Eye, Portobello Street, Blooomsbury, British Library, Brunswick Centre, Covent Garden, Westminister, Houses of Paliament and Southwark.

Comments are welcomed!
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22 juin 2008 7 22 /06 /juin /2008 15:18

Last night we went for the last drinks at Liquid before it closed for good. There were quite a few people there. I think they will come up with something else but in the meantime, its going to be quiet nights for me.

(more from Coventry Telegraph)

A POPULAR bar in Coventry city centre will close at the end of this week.

Liquid bar in the City Arcade is the latest in a line of independent bars finding it difficult to survive in the intense economic climate.

Co-owner Barrington Kenion admits to racking up £20,000 in council tax arrears and says he has no choice but to close the venue after a farewell party on Saturday.

The bar, which won the lifestyle category of the Godiva Awards 2006, opened nearly three years ago, and hosts events for local poets.

Last week the Coventry Telegraph reported how traders in the City Arcade said they were facing a bleak future, with many on the brink of closure.

Mr Kenion says other neighbouring businesses are also in dire straits.

Mr Kenion's wife, Jane, who also owns the bar, will be unable to attend the club's last event.

She is on holiday in Dubai because of stress caused by the bar's cash-flow issues.

Mr Kenion said: "I still believe that Liquid is a brilliant bar and the city needs a bar like it, but I could not keep it open with the £20,000 I owe the council and other overheads.

"I'm not going to bash the council because staff have been really good to me and offered me opportunities to carry on in the past - I know they wanted Liquid here.

"But more needs to be done to support independent businesses in Coventry. I know a lot of traders are in the same trouble as me. The council is focusing too much on attracting the big names."

Mr Kenion would like to reopen Liquid but says it will only be possible if he can raise at least £15,000.

Liquid is a well-loved haunt for poets and other creative people and hosts regular open mic events which offer individuals space to air their talents.

Jon Morley, manager of the coventry-based publisher Heaventree Press, says the sudden closure will be a huge loss.

He said: "The news is a great shame. As an organisation we hold monthly open mic nights there and it's going to be difficult for us to find other venues because there aren't many around which cater for our needs.

"I believe the closure will be very damaging for the city and it's a shame so many venues are being slowly squeezed out."

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