Christmas celebrations in London
An Astronaut comes to town
The former commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield, was in London recently promoting his memoir, which he published after he retired in July 2013.
While in space, Cmdr Hadfield tweeted about his life at the ISS to his one million followers, sharing striking images of the Earth.
It's not everyday you get to shake hands with an Astronaut. Thanks, Cmdr Hadfield, you're an inspiration.
Late-Autumn in London...
The Autumn 'leaf-drop' season provides quite a spectacle in London with streets, parks, pavements covered in a stunning sea of red, orange and yellowish Maple leaves. Technically we are in Winter (albeit a mildly warmer start to one), however the leaves (mostly Maple leaves) are falling because we are experiencing above-average temperatures for Winter, and that's why the leaves are falling everywhere now. However it is also by coincidence that many of the capital's roads are being repaved during this time....so this also brings along an unexpected and unintended street art where autumn leaves have been embedded into the new tarmac (how the devil can one get them out?!)
Damien Hirst eat your heart out as the capital's streets are automatically being tuned into art display extraordinaire (!). No doubt will give the Mayor of London plenty of sleepless nights though..!
On the 5th December 2013 at 18:50 GMT (20:50 UCT) at the age of 95, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, South Africa's first black president and anti-apartheid icon died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg after suffering from a prolonged respiratory infection.
Mr Mandela led South Africa's transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after 27 years in prison for his political activities. He had been receiving intensive medical care at home for a lung infection after spending three months in hospital.
Announcing the news on South African national TV, President Jacob Zuma said Mr Mandela was at peace. "Our nation has lost its greatest son," Mr Zuma said.
Celebrities as well as every living American president, along with foreign dignitaries ranging from Prince Charles to the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe attended a huge memorial service in Johannesburg's FNB stadium on the 10th of December.
At the time of Mr. Mandela's passing away, I was in London, and as soon as news of his death arrived in London there were scenes of many people mourning and paying tributes outside the South African High Commission in London. It was a moving experience to be there and share the moment in history with many who admired Mr. Mandela's leadership and vision.
While Londoners sleep...
The need for speed...
Dawn chasing us
Cruising at just over Mach 0.84 (600 mph at over 11,500 m/37,000 ft) the Airbus A340-642 is racing towards London as fast as it can (somewhere over Germany)....to escape the break of dawn which is behind us (over Asia/Eastern Europe). When you look out of the window you can't help but wonder...is it really minus 55 degrees Celsius just outside of this window?, and are we really travelling at 600 mph?! (the aluminium skin that surrounds the body of a modern Airbus or Boeing aircraft, and one that helps to keep passengers ALIVE is less than 2mm thick!).
Every passenger jet is a travelling life support system - it's a hostile environment. Carrying inside it the highly pressurized oxygen that keeps us alive. God forbid if it ever escapes, a simple flight can become a living nightmare. It goes without saying that many passengers take air travel absolutely for granted. The reality is that the jet-stream outside would kill you almost immediately. Thankfully, airplane designers have learnt from tragic accidents in the past to make sure that the aircraft fuselage of modern aircraft is as sophisticated and comfortable as possible.
Zurich Airport, Switzerland
Zurich Airport (the biggest in Switzerland) can be seen shining as a bright jewel in the night sky from 39,000 feet. To the top right of the airport is the city of Winterthur. The city of Zurich is to the south of the photo (not visible).
Trieste, Italy from 39,000 feet
City of Trieste in Italy, as seen from 39,000 feet, is one of the world's most underrated travel destinations...and one of Italy's wealthiest cities too. The city has a cultural heritage that derives from Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and Austria....list of places to visit!
The Chinese in Abu Dhabi
I landed at Abu Dhabi from Hong Kong to catch my my connecting flight to London...and I was met with the sight of the China Daily being give for FREE to all passengers. China's global dominance and presence is clearly being felt. At major international airports of cities such as Paris, London, Frankfurt etc. it's not uncommon/surprising to come across large billboard adverts showcasing Chinese banks/airlines and even 'Invest in China' adverts.
Wealthy Abu Dhabi...
If you had a few spare BILLIONS of dollars, then what would you do? The Emiratis have decided to invest heavily in infrastructure...including the airport. The airport is now undergoing a AED 25 billion (US$6.8 billion) expansion and is the hub for Etihad Airways.
Goodevening Abu Dhabi!
The magic of Disneyland in Hong Kong can be seen from around 3,000 feet as we are taking-off from Hong Kong bound for Abu Dhabi.
Sunset at Hong Kong Airport
Shenzhen's latest skyscrapers
Wedding in Shenzhen
Just like as in the majority of Asian cultures, one of the events that Chinese people like to splash out their wealth on are weddings (and birthdays too). The average price of a Chinese wedding can run into hundreds of thousands of Renmenbi. Seen here is a lavish wedding party taking place at The Ritz-Carlton, Shenzhen.
Dusk falls in Shenzhen
Humen Naval Battle Museum
Located on the banks of the Zhujiang River Estuary, close to the Humen Pearl River Bridge, the Humen Naval Battle Museum is a memorial complex exhibiting the naval battles that happened during the Opium Wars. The museum acts as an information centre (actually is one of China's top three such centres) to educate people on the dangers of drug usage.
Busy Pearl River Delta
Looking across the Bocca Tigris at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong Province while going from Guangzhou to Shenzhen.
Winter foods in Guangdong Province
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