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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

2020-7-28-manila_travel

Photo: Hong Seo-yoon 
Hong Seo-yoon is a South Korean advocate for accessible tourism. In her book Europe: There’s No Reason Not to Go, she even has a section on paragliding.

International tourism may be in a Covid-19 slump, but there are lots of people aching to get back to it. At Public Radio International (PRI), Jason Strother reports on a South Korean world traveler who uses a wheelchair and has shown through her life and writing that sometimes it takes only small changes to enable everyone to travel.

“Hong Seo-yoon maneuvers through shifting clusters of picture-snapping tourists outside of Deoksugung, a palace in downtown Seoul. Before passing through the former royal residence’s wooden gate, she adjusts her motorized wheelchair’s speed ahead of a gradual incline in the stone walkway that leads into a tree-lined courtyard.

“The 32-year-old explains that even small modifications, such as replacing a step with a ramp, give people like her access to places that otherwise would have been difficult if not impossible to enter independently.

“Hong says that many people are often unaware that when it comes to tourism, sightseeing or even extreme sports, many people with disabilities, whether they are blind, deaf or use a wheelchair, ‘all want the same things.’

‘They want to travel, they want to visit places, I don’t think there’s a difference,’ Hong said. ‘Having a disability is not something special or weird.’

“Hong is the founder of Tourism for All Korea, a nonprofit that advocates for greater inclusion in the country’s tourism industry for people with disabilities and makes policy recommendations for improvements in this sector. She’s also the author of Europe, There’s No Reason Not to Go — the first travelogue written by a wheelchair user from her country.

“Her work has informed Seoul’s efforts to make its streets, transit and tourism locations more inclusive for citizens and visitors with disabilities. … A generation ago, a person with a physical or intellectual difference might have been ‘a  shame to their family,’ she said, theorizing this attitude was a consequence of South Korea’s postwar trauma that placed economic growth and competition paramount to other concerns.

“The Korean War in the early 1950s left the South in ruin and poverty. In 2007, South Korea passed the Disability Anti-Discrimination Act, but Hong believes some people still hold onto old biases. …

“Her own experience facing physical and social obstacles underlie her advocacy. When Hong was 10 years old, she suffered a spinal cord injury during a swimming pool accident that paralyzed her from the waist down. At that time, ‘Korea wasn’t accessible at all’ for wheelchair users, she said.

“She recalls her brother pushing her alongside cars in the street since there were no sidewalk curb cuts in her provincial hometown. Hong says she also faced discrimination when her parents were told to send her to a distant institution for people with disabilities because there wasn’t an elevator in the local, four-story grade school.

“Her family instead moved to the Philippines, where a nurturing teacher told Hong that ‘being disabled was not abnormal,’ she said.

“When she returned to South Korea to attend the university, Hong had learned to stand up for herself. She got a taste for activism when her school’s administration refused to relocate a class to the ground floor. Hong fought back and won. …

“Her book idea was rejected by two publishers that told her ‘no one would read about disability stories,’ she said. ‘It really hurt me.’

“After promising to buy any unsold copies, Hong convinced the company Saenggak Bi Haeng in 2016 to take a chance with her book. But, she did not have to live up to her end of the deal — all 3,000 copies sold out, and now, the title is in a second-print run. …

“She believes travel and tourism are ways people with disabilities and the nondisabled can connect with each other and help nondisabled people overcome their biases.

“ ‘Suddenly, they meet a disabled person in their life and they change,’ she said. ‘They change their mind about what [are] disabled people and how to live with disabled people.’ ”

More here.

 

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afdelingbeeld.nl-maaikepoelen-nsboekenweek2019-07-hr-832738

Photo: Nederlandse Spoorwegen
A special book given out as gift to readers during National Book Week is accepted instead of a ticket on the train.

The Dutch seem to be ahead of the curve on many things. I’ve posted about their friendly communities for people with dementia, about their environmental innovation, about their biking culture. This story is on their support for reading books.

Jon Stone writes at the Independent, “Dutch book lovers got free rail travel across their country’s entire network [in March] as part of the Netherlands’ annual book week celebrations.

“Every year since 1932 the Netherlands has encouraged reading with Boekenweek – a celebration of literature marked with literary festivals and book signings across the country.

“Traditionally, a well-known Dutch author writes a special novel – the ‘book week gift’ or Boekenweekgeschenk – which is given out for free to people who buy books during the festivities or sign up to a library.

“But the special book – this year the novel Jas Van Belofte by celebrated author Jan Siebelink, can also be presented instead of a rail ticket on every train in the country on the Sunday of book week.

“Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), the Dutch state railway company, has long been a sponsor of the annual festivities – and even organises book readings signings by top authors on its trains.

” ‘It is good to see all those happily surprised faces of travellers,’ author Jan Siebelink said after boarding a train for the city of Utrecht to meet passengers and read his book. …

“This year the book week gift was given out by bookshops to anyone who spent €12.50 on Dutch-language books.” More here.

And check out this cool article by Feargus O’Sullivan at CityLab, in which he describes a wide array of unusual ways to pay fares — ideas from all around the world.

Because of a problem with rail passes, he writes, England’s Virgin Trains let people pay with an avocado for a while. And “Indonesia’s second city, Surabaya, came up with a novel way of clearing its streets of plastic waste last autumn: It has been encouraging passengers to trade in trash for bus tickets.”

Among other creative approaches, Russia promoted the Winter Olympics by offering passes for doing a certain number of squats, Berlin partnered with Adidas to offer sneakers with a pass in the tongue, and Japan started experimenting with cryptocurrency.

Can you think of other ideas cities should try? Maybe on Giving Tuesday, transit systems could allow free travel for proof you gave to a charity.

 

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Here is an idea whose time has come. Aux armes! We need to remove the barriers to napping!

Olivia Vanni at BostonInno explains the revolutionary new Sleepbox concept.

“Sleepbox, a startup that’s recently set Boston roots, is making our wildest dreams come true: You will soon be able to sleep soundly and safely in any public place conceivable. As the name implies, the company has developed cozy, technologically decked-out cabins that can be set up just about anywhere — in airports, offices or downtown metropolitan areas — and rented by folks looking to catch some Zs.

“How did this visionary venture come about? According to Mikhail Krymov, CEO of Sleepbox and research fellow at MIT, he and his business partner Alexey Goryainov started it as a theoretical side project for their architecture firm Arch Group. The two professionals travel a lot for work and were constantly subjected to flight delays and layovers where all they could do was wish for a comfortable, private place to rest. From their personal experience, they created an initial design for Sleepbox. But it was meant only as a concept, at first.

” ‘It was just a design idea, but then it was published — it was actually published quite a few times — we started receiving requests and orders from all over the world,’ Krymov told me. …

“There are some customers who are buying them for noncommerical uses — say, companies installing them in their offices for employees to use for free. However, there are clients who buy them with the intention of charging people to rent them, like airports and municipalities. …

” ‘I really want people to be more happy, productive and healthy by having enough sleep, and hope that our solution will help,’ Kyrmov said.”

Ye-es!

More here.

Photo: Mikhail Kyrmov

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Here’s an interesting start-up by a couple of entrepreneurs who love to eat. The two women decided to build a business around helping travelers find truly authentic cooking.

According to Aashi Vel and Steph Lawrence’s website, “Traveling Spoon believes in creating meaningful travel. We are passionate about food, and believe that by connecting people with authentic food experiences in people’s homes around the world we can help facilitate meaningful travel experiences for travelers and hosts worldwide.

“To help you experience local cuisine while traveling, Traveling Spoon offers in-home meals with our hosts. In addition, we also offer in-home cooking classes as well as market tours as an extra add-on to many of the meal experiences. All of our hosts have been vetted to ensure a safe and delightful culinary experience.

“Traveling Spoon currently offers home dining experiences in over 35 cities throughout Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam, and more countries are coming soon!” More here.

I have no doubt that Traveling Spoon is also boosting international understanding. What a good way to use an MBA! Business school is not all about becoming an investment banker, as Suzanne and Erik would tell you.

Photo: Traveling Spoon
Traveling Spoon founders Aashi Vel and Steph Lawrence met at the Haas School of Business.

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The last time I checked into the always intriguing website This Is Colossal, I followed a link to My Modern Met, where Katie Hosmer writes about a trampoline that people are bouncing on in the Llechwedd slate caverns of Wales.

“This underground labyrinth of netting is a giant trampoline playground set inside a slate quarry cavern in the Welsh mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Developed by Zip World, Bounce Below [offers] visitors a playful experience deep beneath the surface of the earth.

“The tourist attraction features three giant trampolines suspended across the cave, ranging from 20 feet to 180 feet high. Ten foot net walls prevent people from climbing out, while walkways connect the trampolines, and slides offer an easy way to exit. As visitors jump around, the walls of the surrounding cavern are illuminated with glowing blue, green, pink, and purple lights.

” ‘We got the idea when my business partner saw this done in woods in France but this has never been done in a cavern, this really is a world first in Wales,’ says Sean Taylor, owner of Zip World. ‘It’s a one hour activity where customers get dressed up in a cotton overall and given a helmet; they then jump on a train and travel inside the mountain.’ ”  More crazy pictures at My Modern Met, here.

How do you keep ’em down in the bouncy house after they’ve seen cave trampolining?

Photo: My Modern Met

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My WordPress stats indicated that someone from the Åland Islands clicked on this blog today, and I said to myself, “Where are the Åland Islands?”

Naturally, Wikipedia had an answer. They are between Sweden and Finland.

They are “an autonomous, demilitarised, monolingually Swedish-speaking region of Finland that consists of an archipelago lying at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea. …

“Åland comprises Fasta Åland (“Main Island”, on which 90% of the population resides) and a further 6,500 skerries and islands to its east. Fasta Åland is separated from the coast of Sweden by 38 kilometres (24 mi) of open water to the west. In the east, the Åland archipelago is contiguous with the Finnish Archipelago Sea. Åland’s only land border is located on the uninhabited skerry of Märket, which it shares with Sweden.

“Åland’s autonomous status means that those provincial powers normally exercised by representatives of the central Finnish government are largely exercised by its own government.” More here.

What brought a reader from that part of the world to Suzanne’s Mom’s Blog? Was it the same person who (according to WordPress stats) searched on the word “lusthus”? A reasonable guess. Here are my pictures of Margareta and Jimmy’s lusthus, or gazebo, when Suzanne and Erik were visiting in Sweden.

I wonder if the reader from the Åland Islands is there on vacation right now or lives there all year ’round. And if you live there all year ’round, what kind of job can you have there?

Map from Wikipedia

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Even though she lived in Paris for several years, Melita is frequently startled by how kooky and fun the French can be.

Today she told me she just learned that they’ve been making a Riviera-type beach along the Seine for the past 12 summers.

I checked out Wikipedia: “Paris-Plages … is a plan run by the office of the mayor of Paris that creates temporary artificial beaches each summer along the river Seine in the centre of Paris, and, since 2007, along the Bassin de la Villette in the northeast of Paris. Every July and August, roadways on the banks of the Seine are blocked off and host various activities, including sandy beaches and palm trees.” More here.

The mayor’s website notes, “The summer transforms Paris. The cityscape dons greenery and the riverside thoroughfares become car-free resorts. The Paris Plages (Paris Beaches) operation kicks off on or around 20 July and lasts four weeks.  …

“A Seine-side holiday. That, in a nutshell, is what Paris Plages is all about – complete with sandy beaches, deckchairs, ubiquitous ice cream sellers, and concerts for French and foreign guests. …

“The first beach [opened] in 2002. It spans three kilometres through historical Paris, and features open-air attractions (rollerblading, tai-chi, wall climbing, boules etc.). Refreshment areas, play areas and deckchairs are available for your time out unwinding by the river.” More.

Photo: Wikipedia.org. Many amusing pictures here, too.

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The Globe travel section had some fun recently with unusual sleeping structures offered to travelers. This goes beyond accommodations on stilts in the South Seas.

Diane Bair and Pamela Wright report, “Cradled in a ‘human nest’ made of twigs and branches, on a hillside above the Pacific Ocean, we drifted off to dreamland to the sounds of barking sea lions and crashing waves, a relaxation mix tape made by Mother Nature herself.

“This is camping? Nope. It’s a kind of ‘glamping,’ a.k.a. glamorous camping. While the human nest isn’t wildly luxurious, it’s certainly unique, one of the hallmarks of the glamping experience. ‘Yurts, treehouses, domes, eco-pods, barns, bell tents, cabins, and safari tents — whatever you choose, it’s going to be original,’ says Katie Stearns of Glamping Hub, an online site with 1,200 listings. In addition, ‘you have an incredibly unique access to nature,’ Stearns says.”

Click here to see photos of an Oregon tree-house for grownups, glass igloos in Finland, and lots of other imaginative places to bed down around the world.

Photo: Boston Globe
“Dreamcatcher” bubble, part of a colony of five bubbles set in a Provencal pine forest near Marseille

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Photo: MediaBistro.com

One day when I was reading the paper I saw a photo of North Korea. It was beautiful in a lonely sort of Edward Hopper way, showing a street that was empty of almost everything generally seen on streets, just a couple people in a hurry and blank walls of buildings, one pink, one blue.

I really wanted to buy a copy, but in spite of sending a twitter message, I never did figure out how to reach the photographer, David Guttenfelder. Since then I have seen other fans on his Instagram site asking for copies of North Korea photos.

According to Guttenfelder’s official website, he “has spent all of his career as a photojournalist working and living outside of his native United States. He began as a freelance photographer in East Africa after studying Swahili at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. As an Associated Press photographer he has been based in Kenya, Ivory Coast, India, and Japan. … Born in the U.S. state of Iowa, he graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology, African Studies, and Journalism.

“He now lives in Tokyo as AP’s chief photographer for Asia.”

In a National Geographic article that Elizabeth Krist wrote called “Reality On A Need-to-Know Basis,” Guttenfelder talks about his photo collection of “North Korean artifacts,” odd little bits from his hotel rooms and from banquets and events he has been allowed to attend. He is a frequent visitor and has an unusual amount of access.

The artifact pictures are a lot of fun. Check out a few, and follow the photographer on twitter: @dguttenfelder.

“North Korean artifact #155. A book of piano sheet music for a North Korean songs found in the town of Sinpyong, DPRK. The title is, roughly, ‘My Nation’s Bright Moon’ ”

“North Korean artifact #156. Hotel room key, Rajin, DPRK.”

“North Korean artifact #157. Toilet paper roll with no hole in the center.”

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I was talking to my neighbor on the train this week, and she told me that one of her daughters — the one who goes to Brandeis and was in a production of Eddie Coyle that I saw at Oberon — is spending a chunk of this school year in Morocco.

I was curious about how her daughter got interested in joining a program there.

Apparently she likes languages. First she learned Yiddish. Last year she decided to learn Arabic. Her mother says Arabic is much harder.

The daughter will live with a host family, take five classes, and … well, she has her own blog. There she writes that she will be in Morocco for four months as part of a program “called AMIDEAST, which, like most study abroad programs in Morocco, is stationed in Rabat. … I’ll get to intern/volunteer six hours a week for a local business/organization!”

I like her enthusiasm.

A word to the wise for readers from other countries. There’s a lot of joking in her blog, not to be taken seriously the way a Chinese news outlet once took seriously a story at The Onion that was of course a complete fiction.

Map from http://jojomorocco.blogspot.com

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Speaking of theater, here’s a new one on me.

According to Edward Rothstein in the NY Times, “Passengers on ‘The Ride’ — a tour bus with floor-to-ceiling windows and nightclub-style audio — tool through Manhattan, encountering such (pre-arranged) sights as a businessman breaking into tap dance, a juggler tossing hot dogs, and a ballerina in a glowing tutu dancing around Columbus Circle.” Read more.

I’d love to look out a bus window and see a businessman breaking into a tap dance. Years ago, I knew a tap dance teacher who wanted to organize groups of “shoppers” who could suddenly break into choreographed tap routines up and down supermarket aisles. Am still looking for them.

I do have to wonder what NYC tourists expect to see when they look out bus windows. An artsy guy, my brother’s classmate, was walking down the street in Greenwich Village minding his own business one day in the sixties when someone leaned out of a bus and called, “There’s one of them now!” One of what? he wondered.

Whatever you’re looking for in New York, you can probably find it. All you have to do is believe.

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