Lining up on the active
My wife and I would like to give a special thanks to Hong Kong based Passenger Services Officer, Ms. Koyi Wong from Cathay Dragon. After our flight was delayed from Shanghai Pudong to Hong Kong, we evidently ended up missing the HKG-KUL flight as well. Ms. Koyi Wong went out of her way to help us get not only onto our next flight, but also to make sure that our luggage arrived safely onto our next flight from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi (which was with Malaysia Airlines on a different ticket).
Koyi is a customer service professional extraordinaire, and in all my travels so far I have never come across an airline personnel who genuinely goes out of their way to help passengers. If it was not for her, we would have missed our flight to Langkawi from KL and it would have occurred us extra charges and delays etc. She deserves a special mention in your company newsletter or similar communication materials and I hope she can become more successful in her career and life. There are some truly amazing people in the aviation industry and Ms. Koyi Wong is definitely one of them. Amazing human. I did not take her photo, but here is a photo of her badge, which she quite rightly deserves to wear with sheer pride. People like Koyi ALL work for airlines (except for the ones who work in hospitals...or ambulances...or rescue helicopters etc.). My hats off.
Midnight full moon at Hong Kong Airport
There's a #Londonminute but also a #HongKongsecond, which is what I did on today. I flew from Shanghai to Hong Kong to London, stayed in London for 10 hours, and then flew out back to Shanghai that night! Makes me realise how globally connected we all are - we're only an email or a flight away from everyone!. #london #hongkong Definitely the shortest time I've ever flown to a city!
Goodbye London (again!)
Time to go back to Shanghai (via Hong Kong)...def will beat DHL to get my parcel to the British Embassy- as that would have taken 3 days...quickest turnaround...12 hours of running around London getting errands done (including a quickfire shopping trip to Harrods) and 8 hours of bliss sleep thanks to a great book by James (read his book...perfect for long-haul flights and short stopovers!). Ciao London...
Gobi Desert from 40,000ft
Hotel suites have always been a decadent indulgence, whether you want lavish style or barefoot luxury, these treats offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The Presidential Suite at the Intercontinental Shenzhen, being the largest Presidential Suite in the city, offers no less. As China's first Spanish-themed luxury hotel celebrates its tenth anniversary in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, the accommodation has something special to boast about.
Situated close to the city's version of Asia's Silicon Valley and surrounded by lavish man-made spacious boulevards that adorn lush greenery, the hotel sets an iconic tone. A number of things make it stand out from the growing number of five-star properties that have been adding to Shenzhen's high-rise skyline. Firstly, the hotel has a large lifelike replica of a Spanish Galleon ship, of which the mast extends over the main road. The ship houses the flagship eatery, Galleon. Then there are the views from each of the 540 luxurious guestroom and suites, each generously spaced at 50 square meters, with all the modern amenities one can wish for, including Agraria and Salvatore Ferragamo. Think jungle chic, the hotel houses a lavish man-made beach resort hideaway- a heaven for the senses slap bang in the middle of a modern city.
Paul Hugentobler Regional General Manager InterContinental Shenzhen, told me that in his seven years at the hotel he has seen remarkable change, especially on how the hotel, as well as the IHG group in general, has embraced digital (all guests can order daily newspapers through apps hence saving trees), and caters to provide a luxury experience while maintaining the local environment.
You can effectively feel like a king (or queen) here, with each room stunningly decorated with the emphasis made on Spanish art.
With eight dining venues, each of which can be classed as a separate entity compared to the hotel itself, you'll be spoilt for choice. If you want me to describe the taste of the food at any of the eight fabulous venues, then it has to be the word fresh. Whether it is Brazilian, French, Chinese or the general cuisine at the Mercado Restaurant and Bar, the chefs are very good at bringing out the freshness of the ingredients. Some people say that Shenzhen is a cultural desert, but I wouldn't say so these days. The eateries at the Intercontinental Shenzhen bring along old cultures, old design and explosive tastes in the mouth- highly appreciated by all that come here. What also fascinates me the absolute decor of the restaurants - the decor of a restaurant can yell you a story of its own.
Shenzhen, being so close to Hong Kong and Guangzhou, has a culture nowadays that embraces change (and it has done so for many years). The locals have sophisticated palates with a taste for expensive ingredients like sea urchin or fresh sea water oysters. There is a certainly a prestige to them. Tastes do change here quicker than most other parts of the world but there are certain dishes that people always come back for. There is plenty of space here, too. Everything is just on a glandular scale.
Nine hours into the flight flying en-route from London Heathrow to Hong Kong, we came across some spectacular sights over Mongolia. Outside air temperature is -65 Celsius degrees. Not sure of the exact place, but it is around 150 miles west of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
The Paracel Islands from 40,000 feet
The beautiful Paracel Islands belong to China and are located just off the coast of Vietnam. I took these photos while on the way to Kuala Lumpur from Hong Kong (Malaysia Airlines).
So Close...Yet So Far Away
The Chinese city of Shenzhen can be seen in the background as we take off from Hong Kong Airport (heading to Kuala Lumpur). It is always a sad feeling when I leave China or Hong Kong...Shenzhen and Guangzhou have a special place in my heart. I have so many memories in these cities. With this flight, while the take-off was fine, I was praying that my ears didn't blocked again!: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Dreamy Sunset in Shenzhen
Full Moon Over Shenzhen Bay
After I left Hangzhou, I decided to go and work for a company called DJI in Shenzhen for a short period as a copywriter.
DJI, which stands for Dajiang Innovations, is a Chinese company founded in 2006 by mainland-China born Frank Wang Tao, after he graduated from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where he studied electronic and computer engineering. Wang developed the idea for the company from a research project at the university, which he effectively turned into an idea for him to get this first start-up up and running in Hong Kong. However, initially Wang's efforts went nowhere, due partly to a lack of funding, lack of government policy support and other operational issues in the city. In the process, Wang was forced to give up Hong Kong as the first choice for his start-up and later launched DJI across the border in Shenzhen.
The company manufactures commercial and recreational unmanned aerial vehicles for aerial photography and videography (the question of whether they are used for military purposes has never been, and I suspect, never will be officially disclosed).
Shenzhen is not only the home for DJI (whose offices are in the same building that houses the HQ of Chinese household electric firm, Skyworth), but also the hub for many other key technology businesses including Tencent, the parent of the popular real-time messaging app WeChat, Huawei, ZTE, Konka, Mindray, TCL and many other Chinese tech firms, some of which are mega household names in China.
DJI's HQ building is located in Shenzhen's science tech park, Ke Ji Yuan, while all the manufacturing and product testing is completed at a factory located on the outskirts of the city. During a visit to the factory, I was highly impressed to see how neat and clean the facilities were compared to most of the Chinese factories I have seen. The staff, all of whom we were told to be highly-qualified adults, seemed to come across as being very proud and happy to work for DJI.
So what is it actually like to work in DJI? While I cannot divulge much into the company's inner happenings, I would say that I had the pleasure of working with some of the brightest minds, both Chinese and International, of any Chinese company I have worked for in the past. While most Chinese companies have still a long way to go before they can class themselves as being the next Samsung, Apple, Nissan, Toyota etc., DJI on the other hand is one of the few Chinese companies which I feel is on its way of turning itself into a household name sooner rather than later. Why? Well, to start with, most of the engineers and product designers have a strong background in aerospace engineering or related subjects (some of them have no doubt been poached from Boeing, Airbus etc.), the content and video production team is made of professional writers and video editors (some of whom have a background in Hollywood), and most importantly, the PR team has strong connections with the media industry. They have certainly set the firm foundations of a long-term plan to aggressively go into a market, which is being increasingly competitive.
The offices themselves are very neat and clean, and have an international/multi-national feel to them. Outside it may be Shenzhen, but inside the premises it could an office based in London, New York or any other Western city. Some of the unusual behaviour that you may encounter while working for a local company is thankfully not clearly visible (I am not going to divulge into details).
Wang has been quite instrumental in securing strong financial backing from keen investors, and has made it his number one priority to really click the right buttons when it comes to digitally engaging with the consumer. They have realised that the future is mobile and that engagement through digital innovation is what is going to make DJI a leader in the technology- something that their competitors can only dream of.
It was a sheer pleasure to work with some of the brightest minds in the industry.
Below is a video I presented showcasing the capabilities of the DJI Guidance SDK, which was released in June 2015.
Below is a video I presented showcasing the DJI Matrice 100 and Guidance, which was released in June 2015.
DJI in Chernobyl
There were a few interesting projects I had worked on while at DJI. One of them involved writing about DJI's visit to Chernobyl with filmmaker Philip Grossman, who is making a documentary named ‘Exploring the Zone’. This documentary is part of a five-year personal project that Philip has been working on about the area surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, where in the early hours of 26 April 1986, one of four nuclear reactors exploded creating a 30km radius zone now known as the “The Zone”. Learn More
One of my colleagues, who went with Philip to film the project for DJI, came back with a little souvenir from Chernobyl - an unused film (as seen below in pictures), which is still intact from 1986. A nice to keep gift.
Making an effort to climb to the peak of Nanshan mountain (takes about an hour), is all the more worth it as it offers some of the best best views in town. I only wish I could have this lifestyle forever...you'll never need to go to the gym ever again!
An early morning hike up Nanshan mountain (Shenzhen) not only provides spectacular views but also an awesome sunrise over the Eastern hemisphere...in the distance is Hong Hong. The mountain is next door to my home. This means I can start the hike at around 6.30am, burn the calories by reaching the summit of around 336 meters by 7.30am, and then coming down, taking a shower etc., and in the office by around 8.45am- great lifestyle!: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Back in Hot and Humid Shenzhen
Just when I thought that I would be back in the UK for good, I was whisked back to Shenzhen (China) for a short fixed-term project for a company called DJI, the world's leading manufacturer of civilian drones.
After arriving at Hong Kong airport in the afternoon (around 4pm), it took me a further two hours to cross the border. Usually it should take around an hour, but had to wait for a coach with my four pieces of luggage (each weighing 23kg). Having left cold London, I arrived in a hot, humid and wet (raining) Shenzhen. My first meal was a chicken with rice from the local Yoshinoya Japanese restaurant in Ke Ji Yuan: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Heathrow Terminal 5 and I'm Off Again.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Flying from Hong Kong to Singapore with United Airlines, Boeing 777. After departure from 07L, the aircraft made a right-hand turn back towards Vietnam...passing around 3,000 feet and rapidly climbing, we passed Hong Kong Disneyland. I took a similar photo back in 2013 when I flew from Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi as shown here.
Hong Kong Again
OK, the good thing about the Hong Kong Regal Airport Hotel is that it is located right next to the airport terminal, within a 2-minute walking distance. Apart from that, I can think of quite a few other good airport hotels around the world that are good or perhaps ever better (Hilton Heathrow, Marriott Heathrow among others). Though, in my experience, it is perhaps just a bit better than the Shanghai Pudong Dazhong Airport Hotel. Most importantly, I'm not complaining because it does do the job in any case of providing a peaceful sleep in a quiet room.
She Never Fails to Impress
Paracel Islands...from 35,000 feet
The stunning Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, captured from 35,000 feet en-route to Singapore from Hong Kong.
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