Official Chinese Wedding in Yangzhou
Exactly a year after we first met in London, we tied the knot on a cold day in the Chinese city of Yangzhou on the 31st of January 2017. Click here to see more photos.
Airline pilots are apparently trained not to spill drinks while in-flight. Interestingly, after our flight was delayed by nearly three hours (they like to avoid the insurance claims, so the delays are always just below three hours!), these chaps were in such a rush to get me to my wedding in Yangzhou that we ended up spilling the drinks in-flight!
The last time I stayed at a Kerry hotel was in Shanghai in 2012 (time really flies by...it feels like yesterday!). With that mind, I very much excited about checking out the Beijing branch of the Shangri-La group owned property. The best thing about the visit was that this is during the Chinese New Year - so it wasn't going to be as busy as one would experience otherwise.
Located in the heart of Beijing’s Central Business District (CBD), the Kerry Hotel is conveniently connected within waling distance to two luxury retail arcades offering plenty of tasty and convenient options for eating out (though, during this trip, most of them were empty because of Chinese New Year). The closest metro station is Guomao subway station (line one) and is only five stops away from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
Our experience started the moment we arrived. We were whisked away to check-in at the Club Lounge, where we were welcomed by the General Manager and the Communications Director. Complimentary welcome drinks, as well as personal welcome to make sure that my family and I had a carefree stay at the fabulous hotel, made the initial impression a positive one.
Some of the positive points of the hotel are that it offers a well-stocked complimentary bar in every room, complimentary wireless in rooms (naturally), and a paperless check-in that’s quick and easy. If you are staying at one of the Club level rooms, then there are added perks such as access to the Club Lounge, where you can have daily breakfast with stunning views across to Guomao in a quiet and much less crowded environment, and evening cocktail drinks and canape finger food from 5-8pm in the happy hour.
The bathroom is an adventure waiting to be explored. With a built-in TV in the mirror, a bathtub for loved-up couples and a rain forest shower and an entire drawer filled with items like shaving cream, toothbrushes and luxury amenities, you'll be spoilt for choice. The Japanese-style toilet won't let you down either- it comes with a nifty set of buttons allowing you to conjure water to wash and massage the various unmentionable bits- keep it clean!.
The hotel's 24-hour gym is one of the best things ever, especially if you want to burn those calories while you are jet-lagged in the middle of the night (actually pilots and cabin crew may want to do that- the hotel is a preferred choice for United Airlines, Thai Airways and few other airlines).
Back around 10 years ago, most tourists were lured to try the Beijing Duck at 32 Qianmen Avenue in the old part of Beijing. Nowadays, almost every top hotel in the capital is offering the best authentic Beijing Duck experience), so it was no surprise that we were offered one of the nest dining experiences for eating Beijing Duck at the splendid Horizon Restaurant, which is located on the ground floor, just after the lobby. Guests are welcomed by traditional Chinese design elements like a wall of bamboo strips inspired by dim sum steam baskets, wooden cabinets to lock away personalised tea, and elegant pendant lamps. I would highly recommended booking in advance.
We tried ten of Horizon’s specialities, including their Ya Yuan Authentic Beijing Duck. If you want to try the dim sum set then that would be highly recommended to. It will simply blow your mind away. So, go ahead and bag a table next to the glassed-in duck ovens to watch the gifted Chef Yuan and his team roast these beautiful birds over a traditional jujube wood fire.
Lastly, no visit to the Kerry Hotel is complete without the the liveliest hotel bars in Beijing – Centro – which is open 24 hours a day (did someone say insomnia for jet=lagged passengers and crew?!)- not to complain though. Kerry Hotel, Beijing, I will be back...sooner than I would like to imagine.
The Greatest Wall...Ever!
Beijing: Two Days...Same View
Below are two images of the same view seen exactly 24 hours apart at 7am from my bedroom window at the Kerry Hotel in Beijing's Guo Mao area. The first image shows Beijing's sky being blue and crisp clear (rare), while the second image shows what the weather in Beijing is usually like on most days, sadly.
Dubai Airport...at 1am
Dubai Airport at 1am...the world's jet lagged come here to do shopping at midnight. Yep, people love buying gold at night (like you do!)!
Wedding cake and card given by Emirates airline cabin crew on flight to Dubai from London. Great flight...photos on their camera came out better (yes, hard to believe that a PHOTOGRAPHER could not take his own photo!)...never had 12 crew surrounding my seat...what a celebration!: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Canon 5D Mark III lens chops off
It is late evening on Saturday, you have four days left to go on your wedding and honeymoon to the Far East...and suddenly, without your own fault, as you turn around to answer a friend's call out, your arm hits a wall while you are holding your camera and the lens breaks off...what do you do?! The ONLY saviours in this emergency were Fixation in Vauxhall (London). I could not sleep the whole night, and knowing that they opened the workshop at 8am, I arrived at 7.30am. These guys deserve more attention than they get. Fixed my camera and lens in two days. Cost a bit but well worth it. Click here to check their website for more!
Homemade chicken noodle soup
Noodles, green peppers, diced chicken thigh, Chinese spices and voila! Though, I am just a student...chef in the making.
When your fiancée is flying from London back to her hometown in China for Chinese New Year and in order to prepare for our wedding (which is on Chinese New Year itself!), you want to do something to make her trip extra special. Unfortunately because of logistical and personal reasons, I could not go on the same flight as her, and will be joining her a week later in Yangzhou. So, I passed a kind request to the lovely team in the PR department at British Airways to see if they could do something. I was hoping that the Captain would make an announcement, but the wonderful crew of flight BA169 from London to Shanghai exceeded all expectations. Not only did they upgrade her to Business Class (known as Club World at BA), but she was given a surprise congratulatory announcement in-flight. I could only wish I was there, but what a flight she had. Great stuff. Massive thanks to the Senior Purser, Captain and the whole operating crew of BA169, and of course, the ground staff at BA's head office in London. You guys are amazing. The perfect customer service that one can ever hope for.
The tube strike in London has brought some positive news...had an interesting commute to work on an old London bus this morning- complete with a conductor, who not only collects tickets but provides a full customer service and controls the number of passengers on the bus: "Hold on tight then", "No passengers allowed to stand up on bus"... Last time I took one of these was in the 1980s!
London welcomes 2017 in style!
Finally, we can all say "Thank god it is over"....I am, of course, referring to seeing the end of 2016. In a year that saw Brexit, the rise of Donald Trump as President-elect of the United States of America, numerous terrorist attacks around the world, terrible natural disasters in Italy, Chile among other places, and the deaths of many famous people, I am sure we would all like to put this year behind us and move forward.
For me personally, 2016 has been good because I got engaged to a wonderful woman, and 2017 is going to be an even exciting time as we both prepare to get married in January during Chinese New Year. I have been overwhelmed by a feeling of thankfulness. This year has been perhaps the best year of my life so far. I am grateful for the support and love of my friends and family and above else, I am grateful for an amazing job and a career that many others dream of having- I LOVE my job as a writer. I am grateful for my fiancée, Vicky, for the incredible positive influence she has had on my life and the constant motivation she provides to me.
This was my first time to visit the New Year eve's fireworks in London. Usually, every year we stay at home and watch the event on TV. However, given that I was provided two media tickets to cover the event, both Vicky and I enjoyed what must be the best New Year festivities ever. It was also nice to bump into the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who took time out of his busy schedule to come and briefly chat to the media. What a year it has been for him and if there is one piece of great positive news in 2016, then it has to be Sadiq Khan being elected by the people of this great city as their mayor.
One piece of advice for anyone who wants to visit the fireworks display next year - try to stay on the Embankment side of the river as that is the place to capture the best views (and avoid the thick smog from the fireworks afterwards!). Here's cheers to a healthy, prosperous, safe and joyful 2017 for all of us.
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