Posts Tagged ‘skylines’

Hong Kong skyline, as seen from The Peak

Hong Kong skyline, as seen from The Peak


I had meetings in Mumbai last week, and I need to be in Beijing next week for another series of meetings.  There are no direct flights between the two places, so I used my schedule as a good excuse for spending the weekend in Hong Kong – one of my favourite cities in Asia, and culinarily-speaking, probably my favourite place in the entire world.  It was a chance to recharge my batteries, visit old friends, and eat some good food.

Mumbai flight schedules are terrible, but mercifully my Cathay flight took off as scheduled at just before 2am.  I managed to settle in quickly and grabbed about four-and-a-half hours of sleep, arriving just before 10am in Hong Kong. 

My colleagues in Mumbai had presented me with a gift before I left.  What was meant to be a generous gesture has instead turned into a bit of an albatross around my neck.  I’d very carefully packed my suitcase to manage my two-week, three-city tour with nothing more than hand-luggage, but now that I’m lugging along a piece of artwork as well, my plans have been scuppered.   My bag went into the hold, and thanks to the efficient ground services at HKG airport, was waiting for me as soon as I’d cleared immigration.

My friend Sean was waiting for me, which was a real treat.  Flying as often as I do, it’s very rare to be met off the plane anymore, except by the airline representative, hotel rep, or driver.  Aside from flying home to see my parents, it’s rare for anyone to meet me off the plane.  But it’s great to see a familiar face.

Touristy photo in Hong Kong

Posing next to the mini-busses at The Peak. Mini busses, full-sized Matt


Sean dropped me at my hotel for a quick shower and change of clothes, then we headed out for dim sum at the Kee Club where I proceeded to make a pig of myself.  After eating, uh, “delicately” in Mumbai for the past week, I was ready for some real food. 

Matthew with giant dim sum

They take their food seriously in Hong Kong. Here I am posing with a giant meatball and an oversized tray of dim sum.


I managed to stay awake through lunch, then headed back to the hotel for some serious power-napping.  Got up in time for a quick drink at Sean’s apartment, where I finally got to meet his adorable daughter for the first time after more than a year of Facebook photos.  She lives up to her billing, and is even more adorable in person than she is in the photos.  We hit a local Japanese place for sushi, then followed up with a quick drink at the bar at the top of my hotel.

After a blissful ten hours of sleep, I got up late and wandered the streets around my hotel, grabbing a quick breakfast of pork-and-cabbage buns at one of the local shops.  There was a lot of pointing and gesturing involved.  Sunday afternoon meant more dim sum, this time at the Grand Hyatt with Sean’s extended family, something of a tradition and an event I’ve enjoyed with Sean and his family every time I’ve visited Hong Kong.  Loads of good food, including a roast pigeon ordered especially for me.  (Thanks, Sean!)

Roast pigeon at the Grand Hyatt, Hong Kong

From my "food with a face" files, this is roast pigeon at the Grand Hyatt, Hong Kong


After lunch, we headed up to the Peak for a short walk and a coffee.  Though it’s been seven years since I’ve last been here, and the skyline has changed somewhat, it still reminds me of my first trip to Hong Kong.

I’ve got one more evening here, and half-the-day tomorrow – tonight’s dilemma is basically “what should I eat?” followed by tomorrow morning’s dilemma of “what else should I eat”?  Then off on a plane to Beijing, where I won’t have to ask myself that question.  The banquets have already been arranged – all I need to do is turn up.

Beijing Skyline

Beijing skyline in the summer sunshine


Back in Beijing for three days of meetings, and greeted for the first time by warm, sunny weather.  Every other trip I’ve made to Beijing has either been clear but freezing or warm and hazy.  Definitely worth going out to do some sightseeing!

View from the Four Seasons hotel over the Worli skyline in Mumbai. Our offices are beside the circular building on the left-hand side of the photo.


Back in Mumbai for a three days of meetings.  Managed to avoid the worst of the monsoon rains, and even managed to get a room with a view of the water this time instead of the slums.

My trip nicely summed up a lot of Indian culture.  Coming out of the airport, I was greeted by a cacophony of horns and the ubiquitous trucks and rickshaws with ‘Horn OK Please’ painted in bright colours across the back. 

I ate dinner at the hotel restaurant the first night, a hugely-expensive Asian-fusion place.  It wouldn’t be my first choice of restaurant, but it’s convenient when you’re jetlagged and don’t want to venture out.  I figured I’d order something straight-forward and quick – two orders of sushi rolls.

I counted 14 chefs and at least a dozen waiters for the ten customers in the restaurant. Yet still it takes more than 30 minutes for an order of tuna rolls and an order of salmon rolls. India at its chaotic finest!

The next day I caught an early flight to Hyderabad for the day.  Having flown a number of domestic Indian sectors, I think I’ve seen it all. Seatbelt signs routinely ignored, people standing up while the plane is still taxiing, seat swapping, the lot. And a very different sense of ‘personal space’ that we’re used to in Europe. No one bothers to get out of their seat to allow you access (eg, someone in the aisle seat getting up to let someone reach the window seat). They prefer you to crawl over them, no matter how limited the space.

The thing that always gets me, though, is deplaning in India. Rather than deplaning by row, there’s always a mad rush for the door with people climbing over one another to get out. On my flight from Hyderabad, I was in the (ugh) middle seat, and immediately upon reaching the gate the guy at the window was trying to crawl over me into the jam-packed aisle. I don’t know what he thought he was trying to do, or if he figured that I preferred to stay on the plane, or where he thought he was going to go once he’d passed me? Presumably onto the lap of the chap sitting in the aisle seat?

Still, we had a good series of meetings in India and it was a good investment of a three days.  Off to Beijing next for another three days of meetings.

Sunset in Mumbai, India

Sunset in Mumbai

Life has been busy with a lot of travel over the past month, including three weeks in Mexico and the US.  I’ve got a bunch of photos that I need to upload when I have some time, in a case of ‘Where was Matthew’ instead of ‘Where is Matthew’.  But for the moment, Matthew is in Mumbai for the week.

We’re staying in a different hotel than we normally do, located much closer to the centre of the city and many of the historic landmarks.  They’ve managed to arrange waterfront rooms for all of us, affording us some beautiful views over the water at the Mumbai skyline.  Despite forecasts for heavy rains (it’s the beginning of the monsoon season), the weather has remained mostly dry and the sunset last night was spectacular, with the sun hanging low in the sky.  Like so many cities, the dusky light hides the reality of the dirt and grime, transforming a grubby collection of buildings into a picturesque skyline.

I’ll be here all week conducting workshops.  We’ve got a big team dinner this evening, but the rest of the week is free, so we’ll hopefully be able to do some sightseeing this time.  Despite my many visits to India, I’ve rarely had the time to venture out of the hotel.  Now that I’ve got some fellow travelers with me, maybe that will change.

Hotel room at the Four Seasons, Mumbai
Hotel room at the Four Seasons, Mumbai


Bathroom at the Four Seasons, Mumbai
Bathroom at the Four Seasons, Mumbai


Soaking tub
Soaking tub looking out over the city


Another city, another hotel room. In this case, it’s the Four Seasons in Mumbai. The room was nice enough, on the top floor of the hotel, with a view overlooking Mumbai. The bathroom was lovely, with a big soaking tub that looked out over the city. I imagine it would have been nice to use, if only I’d had the time to use it.

View of Mumbai from the hotel room
View of Mumbai from the hotel room


View of Mumbai from the hotel room
View of Mumbai from the hotel room


The view out the window wasn’t as picturesque as some other places I’ve stayed. But this is pretty much the extent of what I’ve seen in Mumbai. (I suppose I could add some pictures of the office to give a totally comprehensive report, but you get the idea).

Anyone who thinks corporate travel is grand, or a great way to see the world, hasn’t done much of it. I’ve seen an awful lot of hotels in my career (particularly recently), but not much of the rest of what the cities have to offer!

A few last shots from Bangkok during the daylight. I had a room on the top floor of the hotel — seemed a shame to waste the view.

Bangkok skyline

Bangkok skyline

Bangkok skyline

Bangkok skyline, with the Chao Phraya river in the background