DSC_0111.JPG
Before you give in to the temptation to reach for adjectives like "inspiration" or "brave" let me plead "No contest." Erik Weihenmayer has used up all the superlatives available for disabled travelers to Nepal. He as he fist blind man to climb Everest. My idea of "base camp" is the room with  roll-in shower at Kathmandu's Hyatt Regency overlooking the spire of Boudhanath Stupa.

I traveled Nepal from May 14 to the 24th, 2014. It was all arranged by Four Season Travel and Tours and I cannot imagine doing it without them. Nepal is not an easy trek even in the most developed parts.

Getting off the plane was a circus. First they claimed that that had no aisle chair. Then they wanted to charge me $75 for the lift-bed truck that they schlep you off in. There were tiedown slot in the floor but not straps or seatbelts! Nepal needs training by the experts at Open Doors Organization.

Stopover Singapore > Kathmandu

| 0 Comments

Banner-Group-2.jpg

SFO > Singapore (with a surprise stop)

Well, it wasn't a surprise to the crew or to those who planned to get off at Incheon Airport in Seoul, Sputh Korea. And I guess there was something of a clues in the fact that the flight announcements at SFO we being made in English and Korean. Anyway, nothing on my ticket said, "Thirteen hours to South Korean, hang our, get patted down by security, then 6 more hours to Singapore.

Fortunately, I was in the very last seat of the very last row (56 K). The downside being that the seat back was upright aginst the wall so could not recline. Th upside was that apparrently nnoboddy ele wanted to sit there either  so I quickly got horizontal annd slept off as many hours as possible!

Impressions s I looked around the cabin. There were three of us who were identifiably non-Asian. All three were grey-haired males bout double the median age of 30-something among the rest of thhe passengers. On the descent into Singapore I overheard some cute snippets of conversation from the young family, "Dada, I can't hear my ears anymore!" and a little later as the angle of descent increased, "Mommie, we're sinking!"

Service on Singapore airlines was very attentive. Clearly the cabin crew that I interacted with were well-trained in working with passengers in wheelchairs. The aisle chair for deboarding here in Singapore was substandard. New but too small,lacking legs straps and adequate brakes. I made the transfer with no injuries but not everyone will.

Safely on the ground the first person I saw waiting at the gate was wearing the yellow and green of team Brazil. Nod and a wink. Now I have 7 hours to pass in a Special Services lounge that has a fun-looking indoor playground for kids with plenty of comfy chairs and internet access for the adults. That opens onto a food court. Beyond that is Miracle Mile of the typical chic and duty free shops.

But already met  the wonderful young group of Indonesians returning home from a US Department of State exchange program in the picture above.

Nepal tonight for the evening lights at the Buddha stupa.

Playing in the background as Musak with fst ukelele (cavaquinho): "E pao, e pedra, e o fim do caminho... Aguas de Marco."


Rogélia Heriberta.jpg
In 2011 my friend, Brazilian psychologist Marta Alencar, visited Nepal.
She has a project that introduces people to mobility impairments in a unique way. Marta created an imaginary character named Tina Descolada who is a doll in a wheelchair. (http://www.tinadescolada.blogspot.com.br/) 
Sh also created a heartfelt slideshow for me to include in some of my presentations next week. You will find it here: 
 http://www.slideshare.net/srains/imagining-a-wheelchairaccessible-nepal-with-tina-descolada

413083_10150541930230850_1188176247_o.jpg

I am about to travel to one of the world's lower income countries - Nepal - which hovers near war-ravaged Afghanistan in most international rankings. So why promote international tourism for those with disabilities?

Because accessibility and attitudes of social inclusion benefit everyone.

Sure, we could cite the "Curb Cut Effect" where parents with strollers, kids on bikes, and workers with handcarts benefit from ramps up to the sidewalk. We could observe how often the general public prefers inclusive design like the absence of stairs or larger parking places (after all, they will only "be there for a minute.')

Today I wanted to highlight the comprehensive yet compact guide to Inclusive Tourism created by Scott and Sarah Pruett at Universal Design Partners. 

Have a look at "Universal Design Guide for Inclusive Tourism."


Boudhnath-09A.jpg

14 May   Arrival in Kathmandu on Buddha's Birthday (Buddha Jayanti)

Arrival at KTM ( MI 0412 / 1205 hrs). Meet, assist and transfer to hotel.
Kathmandu is unique and fascinating capital of Nepal, a spiritual land isolated by
the high Himalayas.

Check In to hotel. Rest for about 2 hrs.

Late afternoon : visit Boudhanath Stupa, to be part of the Lord Buddha's Birthday
celebrations. Boudhanath is one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world.
Boudhanath has all seeing eyes of Buddha and an UNESCO Heritage site.

See a spectacular copyrighted photo by Yadavop also taken on Buddha Jayanti (Buddha's Birthday):


Overnight: at hotel Himalaya or similar in Kathmandu . www.himalayahotel.com.np

Himalaya.jpg

Travel arranged by Four Season Travel and Tours, Kathmandu -- http://www.go-nepal.com/

Nepal - Fear the Dust!

| 0 Comments

As I prepare or my first trip to Nepal it's the small stuff I'm sweating. The really small stuff.


Lake in Boat.jpg

Stuff like stomach bugs and dust!

I've got the Cipro and know all the best practices for avoiding stomach problems. Apparently seeing to it that wheelchair bearings survive the dust can be something of an issue however. It is so fine that it enters everywhere. Then, if it gets wet, it cakes like clay.

I'm packing a toolkit and extra bearings!

The clear eye behind this story of crossing cultures with a disability as a woman stopped me in my tracks yesterday. I am in awe of the equanimity and insight that Megan Smith brings to an experience that I am certain I would have reacted o much differently. I m so glad to have stumbled across this gem. Read it!



The cow walks beside my wheelchair as we both travel down the potholed, monsoon-drenched road towards the freshwater creek, both his hooves and my wheels making sucking noises as we walk. I have a basket of laundry tied to the front of me and the plastic water tank hooked to the back of my push handles. I have stuffed the soap and shampoo between my legs with the intention of washing my hair along with the laundry. I join a crowd of squatting women who chatter about the ineptitude of their husbands and lazy daughters.

For the complete article see:

Nepal - Day 0 of 10

| 0 Comments

Stupa.jpg

From May 12 to 27, 2014 I will be traveling primarily in Nepal. My host for this professional familiarization tour will be Four Season Travel & Tours owned by Pankaj Pradhananga of Kathmandu.

Monastery.jpg

Posts along the way will appear here on days when Internet access is available:

http://www.rollingrains.com/travelogues/

Peaks.jpg

The itinerary you see below will evolve on the ground as I continue to connect with Pankaj's Inclusive Tourism supply chain in government, business and the civil sector. Arranged by Four Season Travel and Tours, Kathmandu -- http://www.go-nepal.com/

Two Hopeful Programs in Nepal

| 0 Comments

From May 14 - 23, 2014 I will be traveling through Nepal providing technical assistance to the tourism industry on accommodating travelers with disabilities.  I have been researching on the current situation for PwD there.


Here is a disability rights campaign implemented by National Federation of Disabled Nepal - NFDN in partnership with Handicap International and UNICEF.

 

Another positive program in Nepal is the English Access Micro-Scholarship Program.
 

From May 14 - 23, 2014 I will be traveling through Nepal providing technical assistance to the tourism industry on accommodating travelers with disabilities. This video is courtesy of the National Federation of Disabled Nepal - NFDN, the Government of Nepal, the Disability Working Group of Association of INGOs in Nepal and UNICEF. Focusing on physical accessibility it was produced for the Career Expo for People with Disabilities in Nepal, December 2013.