When I first arrived in China in 2003, Guangzhou's Garden Hotel was one of the very few 5-star hotels in the city (the others being the White Swan Hotel and the China Hotel by Marriott). It still projects an air of nostalgia and has become a choice for hosting airline crews from Emirates, Qatar Airways, Saudia - Saudi Arabian Airlines, DHL, FedEx among others. The nearby areas of Xiaobei Lu (also known as Little Middle-East because of the large number of Arabs living there), and Sanyuanli (known as "Chocolate City" by the locals because of the large African community that lives there) have turned Guangzhou into a thriving international city in recent years.
Sunrise over India...flying over Ahmedabad with a Qatar Airways Boeing 777 keeping us company in the Indian skies (we are at 41,000ft flying to HKG, and they were flying to Shanghai Pudong)....this is the closest I'm going to get to India for a long time (until I get my hands on a Visa!!): Photo Copyright Navjot SIngh
Located 37 kilometres (23 mi) south west of Dubai, the Al Maktoum International Airport opened on 27 June 2010. It costs about 120 Dirhams and takes around 30 minutes by taxi to get to from the city centre. The airport is relatively underused by only a handful of airlines. I flew out of it with Qatar Airways to Doha: Photo Copyright Navjot SIngh
The trip to London was so short and snappy that it almost felt like a dream. Thankfully on the day of the flight from Heathrow we were gifted with a clear blue sky, and slight easterly winds, which allowed an excellent opportunity to take beautiful photos of London and beyond as the plane took off from runway 09R (heading towards Clacton-on-Sea, and then onwards towards Germany). I flew with Qatar Airways, so both the first flight (LHR-DOH, QR008), and the second flight (DOH-PVG, QR888) provided great opportunities to take some superb photos of the skyline of not just London but also Doha, Northern Thailand, Guiyang, Wuhan, Wuxi, Kunshan, and Suzhou (my home!!). And not to mention the magical sunrise that we were treated to somewhere over the Pakistan/India border.
I landed in London on the 23rd of January (a week after my birthday!). Last year I managed to fly back to London from China on four occasions, though I could easily have stayed in China to do more travelling. This time I was planning to stay back in Suzhou for the Chinese New Year festivities, however at the last minute I decided to go to London for personal reasons (via 1 night in Shanghai, and then 4 days in Beijing).
It's great to be back though! It actually made up for the time I missed being with my parents during Christmas and the New Year festivities last year. The great thing about working in China is that you get to enjoy national holidays (and annual leave) while the rest of the world is working. It’s a lovely feeling because it’s not so busy in the UK. as it would be during the festive season like Christmas or the New Year.
It’s also nice landing into Heathrow Airport, especially if you have westerly winds because then you get to fly right over Central London. The views are just magical as the majority of London’s famous landmarks were visible. As the photos below illustrate, I also got beautiful glimpses of some cities from the sky (Doha, Kuwait as examples shown).
It was also nice to be invited by the team at Resonance FM 104.4 on the 31st of January to give a talk about China Culture and how my books are assisting expats in adjusting to life in China. The presenter was the evergreen veteran Journalist Rakesh K. Mathur who managed to present the programme despite being heavily jet-lagged and also suffering from a cold. Click HERE to listen to the recording. They also played music by Sayaka, a Japanese jazz musician and pieces from the modern and traditional Chinese opera.
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