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  • : 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.

2 août 2007 4 02 /08 /août /2007 21:48
My favourite bit of Coventry  is the cathedral ruins. I  chanced  upon this short video clip on youtube. An older gentleman gives a bit of oral history.
It feels sad to see what it used to be but I do like that the new roof of the cathedral ruins is now open to the skies.
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15 juillet 2007 7 15 /07 /juillet /2007 00:32
Its the Godiva Festival season again in Coventry.  As usual the procession passes the block of flats I am in. I took some photos. Luckily the sun was out but I do not think it was as good as last year.

this year is the 10th year they've had a procession for the festival.

she was kind enough to wait for me to snap this photo!

Perfect.... way to go.......
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8 avril 2007 7 08 /04 /avril /2007 01:19
Its been a month since I last wrote. When you leave things, it gets harder to get back into the routine. Its been a busy month.

First of all, my project has finished so now I am officially unemployed. I've never signed on before so this was an experience. Its not a great one. I found out that I have not worked long enough so I am not eligible for contributions paid job seekers allowance nor am I so penniless that I would get benefits. The disability adviser was not very helpful - she was not even sure of Access to Work, which makes me think that sure it is the one thing she ought to be clued up about! Surely access to work as being that help for disabled people to get support to get a job would be something she should have information about. But she didn't.

I also had Gudrun and Sue to visit. It was Gudrun's first real visit to the UK (she lives in Holland). We were lucky in that we got to travel first class to London on Virgin train by a fluke, the guard put us in a compartment which already had a wheelchair passenger so to speed things up, they put us in first class. The weather, albeit a bit cool, was nice and sunny. I took Gudrun to the national Portrait Gallery where we had a lovely tea at the Portrait Restaurant with the wonderful view over London, Covent Garden where Gudrun thought was too busy  and ended up in a pub near Leicester Square. We waited at Zarzama Restaurant - with one step and no accessible toilet but the food is nice and very handy for Euston station.

          Gudrun, Sue and I having lunch at MyChina restaurant

It was also Sue's birthday so we celebrated it with her..and St Patricks's day. We went to  a couple of pubs  wih Martin and Jon joining us.

I have also been to Edinburgh twice. Once for work and the other to start a course on Inclusive environment (for access auditing) at Heriot Watt University. Why so far away? It is a distance learning course.  I cannot say that Heriot Watt is a wheelchair friendly University inspite of the course. I have never been to such a difficult to access library as the HW library. You had to ring a bell and then there were pallets in the way. All I can say is that I am glad I am not a full time residential student. Their rather expensive supposedly accessible guest room in the Business School had a bath and signage was terrible. Edinburgh in itself is very picturesque  with  it, I mean the cobbled streets  and hilly to boot. 

   Peter Ingram Monk at Heriot Watt

Before that I stayed at the Apex Hotel for work. Now their room is truly accessible and a delight to stay in. I hate going on and on about bathrooms but as I stay at more hotel accommodation, I really appreciate those who actually get it right. and the Apex got it right for me.

The shower chair was not a fold down slab but a chair with proper support. If I have any complaints - it is that there was no shower curtain so some spray got onto my wheelchair.

The room was quite spacious too and I can actually get to the tea making facilities without getting a cramp (sometimes it is in a rather inaccessible cupboard).

We did go out in the evening and had some rather good oysters. There were quite a few accessible and friendly eating places there and we ended up in the rather splendid and cosy Steak and Mussel . Not only was the food good,  the waiting staff was rather unfazed when I told them I needed a table for at least 3 wheelchairs.
Katherine and Simone smilingClenton and Joanna looking happy

Nick looking contemplative

With some of my colleagues (Katherine, Simone, Clenton and Joanna) and at the restaurant

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1 janvier 2007 1 01 /01 /janvier /2007 14:56
I was at the computer last night when I should have been seeing the year out at my local pub. But I didn't feel like it. I was sorting out my digital photos. After having been away for nearly a month on holiday with family I was relishing time again on my own. I must be getting old and cantakerous!

We were in Bangkok, Bali and Kuala Lumpur in turns. And Penang for 2 days. Where should I start?

First of all, I am wondering if I should embark on journeys like that in the future. As Naomi, my daughter says, one cannot go on a budget holiday when you are a wheelchair user. And I certainly do not recommend Qatar airlines - they lost my wheelchair and they do not seem to have a clue at dealing with wheelchair customers. I also thought I could use AirAsia - after all I use Ryanair successfully. I know about the complaints about Ryanair but I couldnt even begin to use AirAsia. This has to do with the availability of wheelchair handling crew and whether there is an airbridge from the air craft to the airport. The crew will not be responsible for getting you off an aircraft without the lift or the bridge. I was told I could get on the plane at Bangkok International but not get off the plane at Kuala Lumpur because they no longer use KLIA, the international airport  to land. I dont think airline people can imagine what a nightmare it is to be told that ones wheelchair got left behind. I was lucky in that Bangkok Airport authorities allowed me to borrow one of their wheelchairs for the day until my own caught up with me. I would not have a clue where to rent a wheelchair in Bangkok. why did I not buy a direct ticket to Kuala Lumpur? Because I had originally wanted to go to to Chiangmai. That did not happen.

We went to Bali instead. Bali would be a lovely destination if it had been more accessible and the whole family would have enjoyed it more if we had more time to absorb it. Bali has erratic traffic and pavements are equally erratic. Taxis are plentiful but not much good if you did not know where to go. It looks like a fun shopping place - I just wish I had been able to move independently. The swimming pool at the hotel was good though.

Anyway, I am back now - jet lagged and work begins tomorrow. Poo! I have put photos into the Flickr account.

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20 octobre 2006 5 20 /10 /octobre /2006 00:05
Yesterday I went to London for an interview - not entirely a job interview but for going on a sort of advisory board. Governmental type on disability.. I have been so busy in the last couple of weeks with work and all sorts that I did not have time to really prepare for it. However what will be will be...que sera sera.  I was never good at interview techniques.
They put me up in a lovely City Inn hotel  but I was so tired when I got there I went to bed quite quickly after dinner.  I had grilled pheasant with butternut squash. The pheasant was nice with the breast meat being moist however the leg was a bit overcooked and salty and the squash was nothing to write home about.Not sure it was worth the money.

This is a new hotel. The room itself was superior..my one complaint is that it was a very stiff door. I had difficulty geting in - the next time, I will ask for a receptionist to open the door for me. Lovely bathroom -

shower with seat on wall 
Hotel adapted bathroom/shower

This hotel isnt in the midst of much eating or drinking places so you are oblighed to eat there. However, they do have internet access free complimentary to your stay. Its a shame that the keyboard was a bit high so I couldnt make full use of it. They also offer dvds for room entertainment. My full english breakfast was included in the deal (English breakfast was £17a piece) . I wanted kippers but that was extra.

I met Joanna and Edmund, her son for coffee - it was great to see Joanna again. Joanna was my Open University tutor who is now becoming a friend. I admire her careful corrections so much that I have kept my essays through all my moves! They were waiting for me after the interview,.we went to Starbucks. Joanna has come into an inheritance and we were discussing about thhe difference it will make to her 2 sons.

Lunch was with David, who was my chaplain when I was an undergrad at Kent University in Canterbury. He took me to an indian vegetarian buffet behind Euston Station Divala Restaurant, I think is its name - it was an ' eat all you can' but it was very cramped and the waiters are none too friendly. Anyway this was my dish there.
                                               my lunch
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12 février 2006 7 12 /02 /février /2006 21:51
It seems like one big celebration after another - a big excuse for binging under the guise of cultural festivities. I had some dim sum to celebrate but I went on my own.

Chinese new year this year fell on 29th january. It felt just like any other day - I think I worked on that day. Naomi  said she couldnt come to visit me till the 10th Feb so I decided to have my party on the 11th.  It was actually the penultimate day of the CNY so it wasnt  bad timing. Chap Goh mei as we called it in Malaysia.

I invited colleagues and Mark (and Anabel, his wife)  from undergrad days came too. I havent seen him for close to 15 years. It was fun.
They seemed to have enjoyed the food and liked the apartment. I made char siew, pineapple freid rice, okra with sambal, shitake mushrooms, veg curry, suffed aubergines, grilled drumsticks, kung po chicken and tofu. Peter who came is a vegan, Iain didnt eat chicken and Gian and nez are diabetic. It was not so easy. I also did pineapple and coconut ice cream and strawberry ice cream with the thermomix.

The next day naomi and I went to the celebrations held at Coventry City Centre’s Lower Precinct. Not a bad turn out. There was a dragon dance, a choy sang...all sorts of dances and kids performances.    photo from bbc coventry and warwickshire

I really didn't think  there was such a big Chinese community in Coventry. There is a Coventry & Warwickshire Chinese Community Association, Queens Road, CWCCA on 7623 0930.
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31 décembre 2005 6 31 /12 /décembre /2005 00:00
Between Christmas and New year was a period in which we tried to really clear the flat. And between times, we went out with friends. I had dinner with Marisol and Philipe in town and after dinner, it was really pelting down with snow.

Marisol at dinner

I was leaving on the first itself and Vinita had invited me to stay with her and she would ask Jean to take me back to the airport.

Vinita was planning a Malaysian dinner to see the new year in. We started early in the afternoon - after lunch with Catherine M. we set off for Vendenheim, a village just outside Strasbourg. Jean and Vinita live in a typical Alsatian timbered farmhouse. She had other houseguests, a young couple,  John and Melodie. We had a great time in the kitchen cooking and Melodie taught Natacha, lea and I how to play crazy eights, a card game.

John B. and Lea in the kitchen

Soon the other house guests arrived.

Melodie, jayne and Irene

Vinita started the evening with one of my favourite foods - dosai which is a type of fermented rice and lentil pancakes from south India. And we ended with Natacha's beautifully concocted mangoes with mascarpone cheese and chocolate. I was too full to try Jayne's carrot cake.

John B, Claude and Jean

It turned out to be a house party. Even Claude had brought his sleeping bag. It was great fun but i went to bed after we toasted the  the new year in.

To 2006..how time flies.....
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25 décembre 2005 7 25 /12 /décembre /2005 00:00
I flew back to Strasbourg Wednesday before Christmas. Maria Louisa and Phillipe came to pick me up at Baden Karlsruhe airport. It was good to see them and then to the flat - not all the stuff has gone yet. Naomi, Tim and John had been clearing stuff out. The kitchen stuff remained because we are having a last christmas dinner there.

The surprise is that Naomi and Sayako (Naomi's japanese friend) had decorated a  Christmas tree  - apparently the tree was a gift from the David and Diana.
      Nathalie posing in front of the christmas tree
 Here is Natalie with the Christmas tree. She came over with Marisol to sort out some of the stuff - they are keeping them for me. I am not sure if I would ever go collect. Sometimes whe  you let go of things, there is a feeling of sadness tinged with the nostalgia for the memories that linger with the objects but it is also a way of lightening ones luggage.
Like Ryanair which only allows 15 kgs of baggage each. I feel like I really had to trim down to the bare essentials although I still possess more than I need.

In the picture is one of the folding chairs I bought at Ikea the year before. I sure can do with some in Coventry but they are left in Strasboug. Natalie showed me her nice boots borrowed from Fredericke, her mate, she looked like a musketeer in them. Entirely in leather and very light - I went to buy a pair for myself.

     John, Sophy, and Sayako

Over the Christmas period, it is inevitable that we over eat. This year we were not too bad, we had chinese steamboat on christmas eve with oysters to start with. Sayako proved to be very handy with the oyster knife. Earlier in the day, she cooked Tim, Naomi, John and I a japanese lunch

Here is a picture of John, Sophy and Sayako.

           Amy and Naomi

We went out with Amy for some pasta down the road. It was good to see old freinds like Amy back in Strasbourg.

Amy teaches at the conservatoire and shes a concert pianist. She bought me a nice cardigan with musical notes from the States. Unfortunately i didnt think I would be seeing her so I had left her present with Vinita.

I also met up with my god daughter, Martha,  and her family from Canada.  She was born on new year's eve  or thereabouts. I had given her a duck for christmas - one that she can use as a hot water bottle and warm up in the microwave.  For her birthday, i  gave her the Virago book of fairy tales.  We went to  the Chinese restaurant  down the road  for a meal..it was snowing too much to contemplate going too far away from home.

                       Martha and I
               and with her family: Bill, Catherine, Steven, and mum, Mary

On Christmas day itself, we went to the Anglican service before getting back to roast turkey and christmas pudding. Tim played monopoly with the kids while I had a nap..I was never good at games.
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1 mai 2005 7 01 /05 /mai /2005 00:00
Its been sometime since I wrote – almost a month. It has been a busy April. I went to Vancouver on the 11th and came back to Strasbourg on the 20th. I had a couple of days to finish our paper for web accessibility in China for STC special edition (for which they kindly extended the deadline for a week). I edited and wrote the conclusion under jet lag. Timing is everything! It is a collaborative effort and what with Yuyu and Sean both starting their new jobs and Min dropping out – it was quite an effort to get the paper out. Even if STC turns it down – it was written on the hoof so to speak – I am quite proud of us. We were communicating between UK, France and Beijing –with our busy schedules and time differences and erratic internet access, I think it was quite a feat. We will see what happens. We posted it on Friday 22nd and I was off the the Cote d’Azur the next day for the weekend – that was a complete break. I am so grateful to Gianfranco for offering it to me and for taking such good care of me. Then I start on my rehab at the Clinique Clemeceau twice a week, every Wednesday and Friday. Physiotherapy, swimming and occupational therapy. It is about time I take heed and pay some attention to my health if I want to continue being able to work and stay independent.


With Jonathan, Sue and Jim at the Hyatt bar
(photo courtesy of Jonathan Bowen)

I went to Vancouver for Museums and the Web conference where I was to help Jonathan Bowen with his Making Museum Websites Accessible workshop. It was a good experience – I was not quite sure what to put in my slides since it was my first time. Jonathan is a good mentor. Thanks to him, I am also part of the Gender Issues and Museum Websites forum. I enjoyed doing that and using my research skills and experience from being part of the team on the Austin Women Commemoration Project with Martha Norkunas at UT-Austin. I hope she gets the funding to continue the project. I enjoyed meeting old friends at the conference as well as meeting new people. Sue Black and I have been meaning to meet for some time – and I got to meet her lovely daughters, Emma and Leah too. Poor Leah was not well and not her bubbly self it seems. Silvia Filippini-Fantoni was also part of the forum ‘team’ – she presented for some of the people who couldn’t make it to the conference. It was good to spend time with her too.

Sue and I at the MOA
(photo courtesy of Jonathan Bowen)

Apart from the conference program itself; we had several receptions in the evenings as well. We went to the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia the first evening. David Bearman had to fork out taxi fare for me again – very often chartered buses are not accessible – not unless they are specially requested. Maybe I should for the next conference remind them to get accessible buses. I do not mind taking taxis but David, Jennifer (Trant) and Sonya had to wait with me for nearly 45 minutes for a taxi to come and bring me back after the reception. The museum was great. Huge totem poles. At the reception, we met up with Jim Devine (from Glasgow) again. I haven’t seen him since Berlin last August at ICHIM conference. This time, he was wearing a kilt. As usual he had his audienceJ The food at the receptions here was great. I love seafood and we were offered oysters at the exhibitors’ reception. I think Vancouver is good for seafood but shrimp here is very bland. I think that they must be freshwater shrimp/prawns. Great dim sum – I went a few times to the Victoria Chinese Restaurant next to the Hyatt and Dennis and Fenella Sung took me for a dim sum lunch – according to Fenella, Vancouver has some of the best Cantonese food in the world – for the ordinary punter. The food there is consistently good. Richmond, apparently, is the place in Vancouver for Chinese food but unfortunately; we didn’t make it there. We did go to Victoria Restaurant for dinner one evening – after the exhibitor’s reception so I was not too hungry. But Nancy Proctor and her Antenna Audio team were (they didn’t get a chance to eat because they were exhibiting!). There was Roland Topalian (Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, La Villette), Norbert Kanter (zetcom, Berlin), and Xavier Perrot. Xavier treated me. He said it was the first time he was at a Chinese restaurant where the food was actually ordered in Chinese! He’s been invited to go to Beijing on behalf of ICHIM which is great news!

One of the evenings we went on a river cruise for dinner. It was fun and I met a few interesting folks. Nancy. Titus and I had a great chat with Martijn Arts (ZaPPWeRK Creative Web Development,) about their Culture around the Corner, via this location-based service, information about the nearest place of interest is sent to users and received by mobile phone, PDA or Laptop. We missed his presentation. I also had a great chat with Peter de Jong of Connected Culture in Paris. Hope to meet up with him for ICHIM, Paris in September. It was rainy and cold that night. But Sonya, the wonderful woman, had managed to get an accessible bus. I was happy not to have to wait for a taxi. Also back at the Hyatt, we went to the bar for drinks with Jim, Sue and Jonathan. I was feeling a bit chilled so I had a hot tea instead of a cold drink. That was good – Jonathan took a photo and I didn’t appear to be boozingJ. Last time I had a swig of Jim’s whisky from his hip flask.

The last night of the conference, we went to a Thai restaurant for dinner, after an afternoon drink with Marjo Mäenpää (University of Art and Design, Helsinki), Jonathan and Silvie. We were watching – what I can only call a bevy of red-garbed clergy – from the Anglican Cathedral across the road from the Hyatt. They looked very Christmassy but its not the yuletide season. It must have been Saturday evensong. Slavko Milekic (University of the Arts, Philadelphia), Maria, Marjo, Norman Arnold and his Nigerian friend, Silvie, Jonathan and I went for a Thai meal. It came out quite expensive- I think it must be the wine that made it so. Marjo told me about their program in Helsinki – it sounds great, I wish I can continue studying.

to be cont.
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1 mai 2005 7 01 /05 /mai /2005 00:00
Here are some of the sessions I went to:

Finding Stuff
New Ways To Search, Navigate And Use Multimedia Museum Collections over the Web Matthew Addis, IT Innovation Centre, Kirk Martinez, Paul Lewis, University of Southampton, James Stevenson, Victoria & Albert Museum, United Kingdom, and Fabrizio Giorgini, Giunti Interactive Labs, Italy
Search Engines and On-line Museum Access on the Web
Joanthan Bowen,Silvia Filippini Fantoni, Université Paris I-Sorbonne, ItalyTeresa Numerico, London South Bank University, United Kingdom

Pre + Post Visit
Cultural Visit Memory: The Visite+ System Personalization and Cultural Visit Tracking Site Roland Topalian

The Accessibility Of Museum Web Sites: Results From An English Audit And International Comparisons
Neil King, Helen Petrie, Marcus Weisen, United Kingdom
Providing Deaf and Hard-Of-Hearing Visitors With On-Demand, Independent Access To Museum Information and Interpretation Through Handheld Computers
Nancy Proctor, United Kingdom

Let's go mobile! Design issues in multichannel "accessible" applications for cultural heritage
Sebastiano Colazzo, Franca Garzotto, Paolo Paolini, Italy

Attentive Interfaces
Attentive interfaces for museum/gallery content Slavko Milekic,

The demonstrations were very interesting but one that really interest me because it will impact how multi media can be made accessible is Peter Seitel’s ( Smithsonian) Synchrotext: A Tool for Curating and Publishing Media Content

Vancouver folks are very friendly. Dennis and Fenella Sung came to pick me up at the airport and took me to the YWCA where I stayed one night. They took me to an Asian restaurant for dinner where I had my favourite roti canai and hainanese chicken rice. (a la Hong Kong style I suppose. The roti canai was like pâte feuilletée – like a croissant than the roti canai that I am used to. Dennis and I were at University of Kent, Canterbury and we have not seen each other for nearly 25 years. The Sungs moved to Canada from Hong Kong like so many others about 15 years ago. They have their own translation business now. It was so good to see them and catch up with news. They also gave up their Sunday to show Jonathan and me around. Considering that Vancouver city was blocked up by their ‘Sun run’ (some kind of marathon) – that was heroic of them to come and pick us up. They drove us round and we went to the North Shore, Stanley Park, Granville Island market and Lonsdale Quay market. Jonathan and I had some of the biggest oysters ever! And he had been having oysters in San Francisco just before arriving in Vancouver. I bought a hat – curiously enough, it was a sort of French beret. And then we went to a nice non touristy Chinese restaurant for dinner. Apparently the place to eat Chinese food in Vancouver is Richmond but we never made it that far.

Choosing hat with Fenella

Vancouver bay with Dennis and Fenella Sung

After the first night at the YWCA, I went to stay with Lawrence who had kindly offered me his sofa bed. It was really kind of him because the timing was not very convenient for him – his aunt had just passed away. But he got his friends to drive me around – I met Kia and Indie offered me a lift back to the airport. Considering she had to pick me up at 7 am for the morning flight- it was really nice of her. Lawrence is the manager of a condominium in Granville Island – with a really nice view of the marina.

The last Monday, I met up with Jonathan and we went to the Vancouver Art Gallery. After saying goodbye to some folks and shopping at Virgin megastore, we didn’t really have much time. Access is not very good at that Art Gallery for wheelchair users. You need staff to work the lifts – it was a bit cumbersome because the facilities were not all on the same floor. I was surprised- I did not expect that of a North American museum. We had lunch at the restaurant there. In the afternoon, I said goodbye to Jonathan. I was shown Gastown, an older part of Vancouver, which is very pleasant.

It took me nearly 24 hours from door to door to get home. I was glad to get home.
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