Completed in 2005, and located 600 metres above sea level, the Sky Bridge is a 125-metre curved pedestrian cable-stayed bridge located on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia. Naturally, you can only get to it via a cable car, which does provide spectacular views of the surrounding forest and the nearby islands while on your way up. Go and see it....will blow your mind away!
Perched on the North coast of the island, The Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort, Langkawi is a truly exceptional vacation spot – offering complete comfort and five-star luxury, all while being neatly cradled by lush ferns and ancient forest on one side, with a view of Datai Bay ahead, which turns from sparkling blue, to deep turquoise, to a silver-flecked navy, as the day progresses. The beginning of the Spring season in Langkawi is the best time to visit the island - the temperature is bearable and the almost daily night-time showers leave everything clean and crisp during the daytime.
If you want the perfect honeymoon or a family holiday in south-east Asia, without the hassling crowds and noise, then book a place at The Andaman. Honeymooners should try to secure suite 139, otherwise known as “The Honeymoon Suite”, complete with the creature comforts one should and can expect for a romantic getaway. The place will blow your mind away. We spent five nights here and it was the time of our lives. Nothing beats the feeling of enjoying Veuve Clicquot with your feet in the sand at the beach bar, while watching the sun setting and leaving a glorious red sky behind, or spending an afternoon enjoying an open-air couples massage to the sound of crashing waves.
Flying Lemurs may be seen at dusk. This animal is not related to the Lemurs of Madagascar, and it glides rather than flies; but nevertheless, it is quite a beautiful animal to see. There are just two species of Flying Lemur worldwide, one of them is located here in Langkawi and the other being the Philippine Flying Lemur. As with most creatures of the rainforest, these fascinating animals are arboreal and nocturnal. The gliding membrane extends to each body extremity including the tail, giving it a kite-like shape when gliding. Most of the animals on Langkawi are human-friendly, and they feed on fruits, flowers and other vegetation. If you wonder around, then you may also come across and a Monitor Lizard in the surrounding ancient rainforest. The only advice one would give is not to touch or feed them- no matter how tempting the cuteness may be!
The resort is around a 25-minute drive from the airport and an equal amount of distance from the nearest town, Cenang Beach- which will cost you around US$25-30 each way, so come ready with a good credit card because you will need to use it inside the resort! But it is high worth while, especially if you are on your honeymoon. This resort is the best in the whole of Malaysia for honeymooners. The Datai is good too, but most of the crowd at the Datai tend to be the eldery generation or wealthy retirees who want to while away their time chilling around and reading books by the beach all day. For those on a honeymoon, it is the Andaman - without a doubt. You will have the time of your life!
The Honeymoon Suite (The Executive Suite)
All the 178 generously spacious room, which include 23 luxury suites, boast a contemporary tropical design and stunning views across the Datai Bay. You'll be spoilt for choice. With stunning views, whether during the early morning or during dusk, you'll never want to leave. Imagine waking up everyday and walking out to your own balcony overlooking the ocean, with the gentle crashing of waves as a soundtrack. For those on a honemoon, like us, it is the perfect picture of a tropical island resort.
One thing you will notice about the suites at the Andaman is that the lush forest is home to Macaque monkeys loafing around the property. These cheeky visitors have grown accustomed to dropping into your room and they know exactly what to take (usually the drinks from the minibar).
Dr. Gerry Goeden
The resort is also a great place to have team building sessions while helping to conserve the environment. Guests can educate themselves about coral conservation efforts by the resort at the Coral Nursery. The stretch of beach at the resort’s doorstep used to be rich with colourful coral reefs, believed to be about 8,000 years old. However, these were very badly damaged during the 2004 tsunami around the Andaman Reef.
The hotel's in-house consultant marine biologist, Dr. Gerry Goeden (known as "Dr. Gerry"), a nursery was set up in the hope to rebuild the reefs.
The dead corals are collected and then “recycled” at the Coral Nursery where their minerals are used by propagated corals to speed their growth. It helps the environment a lot and Dr. Gerry and his wonderful team are there to educate visitors from around the world of how important the value of marine life is.
As part of the team-building activities, guests get the chance to help create dead corals together with a mixture of concrete. The initiative aims to build a sustainable fishing industry for the next generation of local fishermen. The resort is very fortunate to have this amazing coral reef program- I think there should be more of these educational programs that make full use of the marine life around. It is sad when you see and hear stories of how tourists are damaging reef or are in some extreme cases in SE Asia (without naming countries!), they end up picking and eating seafood which they shouldn't- this is because they have not had the correct education about taking care of marine life. Not only do we have the opportunity to improve the environmental condition of the reefs and fisheries, but we also have the opportunity to educate our guests.
The environmental awareness activities had attracted many companies (for corporate clients) and tourists from all over the world, and even the local schools.
The beginning of the Spring season in Langkawi, Malaysia, is the BEST time to visit the island - the temperature is bearable and the almost daily nighttime showers leave everything clean and crisp during the daytime. If you want the PERFECT honeymoon in south-east Asia, without the hassling crowds and noise, then book a place at The Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort, Langkawi. The place will blow your mind away. We spent five nights here and it was the time of our lives. Highly recommended. Contact them HERE.
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.
OK, secret is out! For everyone who was wondering how I managed to stay warm during the Chinese wedding in the freezing rural village...I had these self-heating pads stuck to my back underneath my waistcoat. Inspired from Japan- they have limestones inside which react with the body and so heat up to keep you warm for about four hours on the go. There is no luxury of any Central Heating or AC there so this did the trick.
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.
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...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
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!
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!
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.
Looking for a nice, quiet and elegant place to have your anniversary dinner? I would highly recommend the Les 110 de Taillevent in Cavendish Square in London- just perfect. The chef may also conjure up a few culinary surprises too!
Sad to read about the death of British writer AA Gill, who provided inspiration to many writers, including me. I was never his friend but it was clear from his writings that the man possesed a talent and gift for words that rarely you come across in the industry...his mind spoke and his fingers danced...the heavens have gained a gifted food critic.
The UK Sunday Times columnist told the newspaper last month that he had been diagnosed with the "full English" of cancers. Gill, who had been having chemotherapy, said that he did not "feel cheated" and had been "very lucky" in his life. Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens said Gill had been "a giant among journalists" and the "heart and soul" of the paper he joined in 1993.
May god bless AA Gill. Amen
Many congratulations to my mate and colleague, Owen Smith, for being voted in third in the BBC's Countryfile readers photo competition. Owen made it into the top ten shortlist in his first photography competition, out of over 700 entries. He was voted by over 300 of his friends and family to come third in the public vote. You can see the final top 10 here, which includes some stunning shots.
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